by Vanessa Mason/Library Member
“You are going to hate school!” I can still hear my sister’s voice. She was one year older and had started kindergarten the previous year. My own first day of school was rapidly approaching.
She painted a scary picture of the school experience. But this was only her perspective and somehow I realized this and it brought me comfort. “Don’t get Miss Benson. She is mean.” How did she know? She didn’t have Miss Benson as her teacher. She had Miss Fox. Oh well, my first day was here and I knew that from this day forward, my life would be different.
I was the youngest of six and all my siblings were already situated in elementary school and junior high. I vaguely remember entering the school building with my mother. But at some point, she disappeared and I found myself sharing a large room with several other children. I don’t remember their faces. The only face I do remember is the teacher’s. Finally, I was able to put a face to her name. Yes, I got Miss. Benson.
She was old and somewhat stern, but I stayed out of her way so I never experienced the wrath that my sister spoke of. Maybe she exaggerated. I hoped that was the case. I got through the first day of school. It felt like a great achievement…the first down payment on a lifelong investment. That’s how it felt to me.
When I got home, all I could say over and over was, “I love school?! Amazing that I can remember saying this. Maybe I do because it so sharply contradicted my sister’s warning. I did love school from that first day of kindergarten to this present day.
by Dennis Smith/Library Member
I just found out what that is, I had never heard the term before. It is a list of things you want to do before you die.
I had never considered making such a list and am not sure what I would put on it. Hopefully I will have time to compile and complete a very long list.
There are a lot of places I would like to go, but probably won’t. There are a ton of things I would like to do, but most are not really important.
I suppose I would be happy with one noteworthy thing, something people might remember.
by Terry Connelly / Library Member
My mom was not a great storyteller. She didn’t read books or magazines or even the daily newspaper. She did watch television news, but only those stories that weren’t about war or killing.
There was one death that intrigued her, that of Princess Diana. For some reason, the tragedy of her death touched my mom.
I think she saw in Diana heritage lost. A genetic pool which would not be carried on. And that was important to my mom.
From the time I was a little girl, my mom bragged about her Native American roots, although she did not use that term. According to my mom, almost everything she did could be attributed to her being “Indian.”
She loved bread because she was Indian. She tanned easily because she was Indian. Her hair did not turn gray and she did not wrinkle because of….
The foods she fixed were, according to her, based on her Indian roots. Her rhubarb pie was a good example, as well as her apple dumplings and fried chicken.
When pressured, she could not name the relative from whom her heritage came. She believed it was from her great-great-great grandmother on her mother’s side, but that person had no name or place of birth.
No matter the lack of concrete evidence, I believed her. I loved the idea of being part Native American, no matter how tiny that part was in reality.
When I was in fourth grade I discovered that the nonfiction part of the library held a treasure trove of information on Native American tribes from all over the country. One by one I devoured the books, looking for any similarities between my mother and a specific tribe.
When I read about the Shawnee, a tribe that lived in the same Ohio region where I did, I was elated. Here was my connection to the past. My heritage that I could pass on to my children and grandchildren.
I drew out a map of their homeland, memorized Shawnee terms, dreamt about their foods, and romanticized their lifestyle.
When looking at old black and white photos of the Shawnee people, I saw a clear resemblance in my mother’s face. Satisfied, I grew up believing that I was part Shawnee.
Well into my twenties I attended my first pow-wow, something in the keening of the songs and the pounding of the drums resonated deep within me. I felt a kinship that I had never felt before, and I really wanted to join in the dance. Until I realized how very white I was compared to all the other dancers.
I have been continued to be intrigued by all things Native American. Several years ago I began collecting artifacts. None of them have any historical value, but I love the dolls, the vases, the baskets and the jewelry. I have enough stuff that it fills an entire cabinet and enough black and white prints of old photos that my walls are covered.
My daughter began researching our genealogy several years ago. As she delved into the past, she was unable to locate a single relative that appeared to be Native American. This was disappointing in so many ways!
Over a year ago she asked me to submit a DNA sample for study. Because I was still interested in finding the familial link, I did so.
A few weeks later the results came in. I have zero percent Native American heritage! This was a disappointing discovery.
It destroyed my beliefs about who I was. It meant that all those years of reading and dreaming were wasted. It also meant that there was no truth behind my mother’s stories, which was devastating.
I hated losing that part of me because it was ingrained by sixty years of believing.
Sometimes I wish that I had not done the DNA test. If I hadn’t, I could continue to naively believe that I was Native American. However, even though I lost a huge part of what I saw as my link to distant peoples, I am glad that I did the test.
It is better to know the truth than to be spreading falsities.
Write Your Story @ Union City Library
Join our library group, headed by Bruce Hasse, for an informal gathering of aspiring writers of all types of genres. Your writing can be memoirs, creative non-fiction, poetry, song lyrics, science fiction, plays,essays, you name it! We just want to hear what you have written and support each other as we grow as writers.
Third Tuesday of the Month: September 19 , October 17 , AND NOVEMBER 21 1 p.m. — 3 p.m.