Sunday, December 23, 2012

A simple act of kindness in the information age ... .

Received an email message from new friends, Nigel and Raynel Hamilton, shortly after reaching home.
Their brief words confirmed that the New Orleans experience was, indeed, not wrought by my imagination, but had really happened.  They've promised to stay in touch, and to visit our park when next they travel to the West Coast where Raynel's mother still lives.

Corpus Christi School
Haven't yet decided just how I will begin to incorporate the new chapter into my twice-weekly presentations in the Visitors Center theater.  They were surely important to capturing my life as it progresses now with the speed of light!

There are still things learned that are too disturbing to share -- at least not yet.  I'd not realized how wedded I've become to what was once purely speculative and now needs to be given up for the sake of truth-telling.  But then I'm still not certain that -- since there is no way to know when one's speculations outweigh those of others in geneaology -- just why I shouldn't just keep to a "truth" that may be less disturbing remains a mystery.

There are two new elements in the tracing of our family histories that may provide a more accurate record than before.  My late  sister, Lottie, was doing some great work -- separate from mine -- using's program.  My work was largely based upon stories passed down from my mother's sister, Vivian, and my grandfather, Papa George.  I'd gathered what I could from census records and the Family History Center of the Mormon Church.  Two family researchers had helped along the way, son, Bob, and cousin Doug Allen.  Together we'd built a fairly accurate history that is online and accessible on the left side of the screen above the archives.

Recently, Cousin Paul Charbonnet (paternal line) opened up the work and invited me to join him in that endeavor, and a new channel of learning popped up in my life, and Lottie's earlier work was revealed to me for the first time.  How I wish we'd worked together before she took leave of this dimension!

This is also true of Cousin Sandra Colomb (maternal side), with whom I was able to share a wonderful day during my visit, and it was her work that revealed new speculations on our great grandmother Leontine Breaux Allen's origins that begins to make sense when one considers the times in which she lived.

If my visit to our ancestral home accomplished what I'd hoped for, it was that the Circle of Life was completed for me.  In the Tremé I was able to remember the sounds of the street vendors (now gone), and remember things from early childhood as if there had been no interruption that brought me so far from what was surely home.

I now have the answer to the question of what to do with the dozen or so engineering volumes, the blueprint of the banana conveyer; the fading photographs of my grandfather, Louis Charbonnet; of buildings, a baseball field in the Treme, and other structures should be sent to the Amistad Collections at Tulane University.  There are already articles based on his work there, and -- with what I've learned of the value of ephemera through our park's cultural resources division -- I need to send those artifacts home.   I will send copies of the original blueprints to be exhibited at the Charbonnet-Labat funeral home to be hung beside the rest of the family photos. The processing firm that reproduced a copy of the banana conveyor included a disk from which more copies can be made -- will donate that to Armand and Louis for their collection.

But first I will confer with my children over Christmas dinner on Tuesday. 

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