Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

The Mahanke brood - June 1959
One of the major but worthy diversions keeping me out of the studio lately has been a concentrated effort to get the "family archives" in order. I am the keeper of old photos and photograph albums plus various newspaper clippings, letters and heirlooms my mother saved/collected and passed on to me. I've been a fairly good steward of these items, except that much about them is not really written down, too many oral stories bantered about by relatives, and bits and pieces stuffed in files to be left unconnected. I've said for years that, if nothing else, I'd like to get the pictures and letters scanned, then get what I know written down. I'm finally devoting significant time to this.

And I am loving it. I am a researcher at heart, and love history of all kinds. I love to tell a good story (you may have noticed), and I love to make connections that help me understand the bigger picture. It hadn't occurred to me, though, just how time consuming this would be. Nor just how much stuff I have that needs to be scanned and coordinated. I've set myself a monumental task that I now see will take longer than I thought. Yesterday, I pretty much removed everything from the two file cabinet drawers where most of this is kept, suddenly realizing what a daunting task this is. But it is an important task, and I owe it to my brothers and the next generations that are showing an interest.

So this accounts for some of the lags in posting here, though it doesn't mean I'm not going to be spending time in the studio too. Just that the way I divvy up my time has temporarily changed, weighted a bit more to family history than the creative journey. Today is a good case in point. My dad died back in the 1990's so normally I let father's day come and go without much thought. And if I did think about it, I'd be thinking about our personal relationship, looking for photos of the two of us. 

But today, I found myself wanting to find a different sort of picture, probably because I've been working with letters my oldest brother wrote back in 1956 and searching the family photo album for pictures from that time period. What I needed today was a picture of dad with all of his kids - there are so few of them because the age difference between the first and last child is 15 years and that oldest brother died about 5 months after the picture at the top of the post was taken.

I look at that picture, dad and his brood, see and feel the responsibility on his shoulders. Gosh, he was a hard worker all his life, and with this many mouths to feed, it was always a strain to make ends meet. He worked in the silver mines, rarely taking a sick day since it meant losing a day's pay. When the mines went on strike, he found jobs elsewhere to keep food on the table until the strike was resolved. He never wanted to be pitied and he certainly never wanted charity. He was a tough old bird, sometimes hard to love, but always doing what he needed to do no matter how hard. Happy Father's Day and rest in peace, dad. You deserve it.

4 comments:

Connie Rose said...

Lovely tribute to your dad, and your family. Have a great week. Hugs.

Living to work - working to live said...

That is a very nice comment.

I just lost my Dad, as reported, though in truth he slipped away ages ago with dementia. We have photos but there are gaps. Mum is the keeper of those and she has a lot in albums, but they could do with more work.

Where does the family name originate and are the silver mines in Idaho? Where did you grow up?

Xxx

Sherrie Spangler said...

What a nice tribute to your dad.

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thank you, all. In answer to Hilary's question about the family name, Dad always told us it was Irish, that his grandfather and great grandfather had come over from Ireland, remembered his Irish brogue. Then by chance (viewing an antique quilt with the maker's name embroidered on the back - Mahanke!), I discovered a relative who had done a ton of research on that side of the family. She had pictures I'd never seen and documents she said proved that same grandfather/great grandfather came from Germany. In both stories the spelling was purported to have changed coming through immigration, etc - my dad thinking there should have been an Mc in there while my new found relation said that h had not shown up until later. It was hard to discount her trail of documents but I also found it hard to discount that my father could have grown up mistaking a German accent for an Irish Brogue.

And yes, silver mines, although they also brought out lead and other metals in smaller amounts. This was in what became known as The Silver Valley in northern Idaho, Wallace being the town I grew up in. I'm currently less than a 2 hour drive from there, the same beautiful mountain ranges surrounding me.