I still don't have the time to properly review this show but last night's episode really spoke to me on a personal level, so I felt compelled to comment on a few things:
- When Joshua Taylor was helping the first guest, the man whose family lost all their photos and documents during Katrina, he visited and talked about local archives and historical societies, smaller, localized repositories where one can find family Bibles, letters, photos, and other mementos that have been donated to their holdings. Everybody should know about these places. Does every archive have every single family Bible ever made? No. Is it guaranteed you will find a photo of Great-Grandpa Cletus in their files? No. But you never know who might have inherited this photo or that letter and who might not have had anyone to pass it along to...and it's actually a wonderful suggestion for anyone who has their hands on these things who doesn't have anyone in their family to pass it to - don't throw it out! Donate it to somebody - I guarantee some society or archive will want it. I came across a wonderful photo on the Internet, completely by accident, from the late 1890s of my great-grandfather, about age 10, his little sister, and his parents - I had never seen a photo of any of these people any younger than 50 years of age, and I had only ever seen one other photo of my great-great grandparents. And where did I find it? In a digitized photo collection of the Freeport Memorial Library - somehow they had gotten their hands on a photo of my family. I don't know who had been in possession of it but I'm glad the photo made its way there and not into the trash bin!
- My husband's family is from Honduras, and many of them worked on the banana plantations, or for the railroads or shipping companies that brought the produce from Central America to the United States...several of his relatives, including his great-grandfather, sailed into New Orleans many times in the early 1900s. There's actually a decent size Honduran population in the city because it is the port through which most people from that country arrive...so hearing the woman's story about her great-grandfather was of particular interest to me.
- The woman who was trying to find out if her great-grandfather actually had a sister, Alice, or if he had imagined her all those years...that story was heartwrenching. The fact that he actually did have a little sister, name unknown, who died as an infant when he was about 5, and then he lost his mother only a few months later, and then his father remarried to "New Mother" - she didn't even have a name! - then the FATHER died only a few years later, and New Mother sent this woman's great-grandfather away to school, didn't return for him, and he ended up in an orphanage??? Yikes. But that's sometimes what we discover - the hard, sad side of life. The story reminded me a little of my own great-great grandmother, who lost twin girls as infants, then her husband died quite suddenly in his late 20s leaving her a 20-something year old widow with two young sons, one of which died shortly after before the age of 10. She never remarried and because she had to work, her late husband's three siblings basically raised my great grandfather, the only surviving child. Life is hard and sad sometimes.