Friday, July 31, 2015

Another Piece of the Puzzle

Sometimes old news is new.  The other day I was looking on line renewing a book from Pennsauken Library, when I saw that the library site has a link that allows me to search Heritage Quest for several kinds of family records including censuses, slave schedules and cite directories by using my library ID number.  Because U. S. censuses only go up to 1940, I decided to take advantage of anything that I could find on city directories  that might tell me a bit more about my parents, who were not married until 1942. 
I found an address for James and Elvera Northen in Long Beach, California in 1952 (2313 W. Willard), listing him as being in the US Navy.  This makes sense because my sister Judi was born in Long Beach in 1951, and I have it in my head that when I was four years old we lived in El Sobrante and that I moved to Long Beach when I began kindergarten.  I did, in fact, find a listing in Long Beach for my dad in 1953 as well.  It is on a page that is putatively a city directory but lists a series of numbers rather than addresses. Our was 70-0677, whatever that signifies.
            According to a 1954 city directory, however, Dad is listed as living at 2024 Ward St. in Oakland.  This was a surprise to me because in my own memory, the next place we lived of any duration was in Berkeley where I finished out second grade and began third. I thought perhaps that – because Berkeley and Oakland were relatively close to each other that, we had actually lived in Oakland rather than Berkeley.  When I found the address on Google Maps and looked at just where the address was, I was in for a bit of a surprise.  That section of Oakland is right next to Alameda and I know that I lived in Alameda at some point during my early life. My only very vague memory was that it was near a train track.  I’d thought that Alameda was prior to living in Long Beach, but now I realize it must have been after.  It is actually is a perfect fit.  There is a gap in my memory between when I first started school in Long Beach and when I moved to the apartments in Berkeley and finished out the end of second grade in Washington School. I also vaguely remember having to leave a school before the end of the year around the time of my birthday to move in either first or second grade.  That time period must have been my time in Alameda.
It is definitely true that even one’s past can continually change. So I reconstruct the sequence of this time period as El Sobrante when I was 4 (in 1950), Long Beach -where Judi was born - from 1951-1953, Alameda 1953-4, and then on to Berkeley 1954-5.   In Berkeley, I finished second grade in Washington Elementary school and then we discovered that I as in the wrong school district so started at LeConte Elementary in the fall of 1955. Shortly after school began we moved to Concord where Ed was born in October 1955. So that is where Alameda fits in.
But wait – as they say in TV commercials – there is a small fly in the ointment. My brother Dave, according to his birth certificate, was born in Alameda in August of 1950.  So how does this fit in? Did we live in Alameda prior to moving to Long Beach in addition to living there after as well?  It is a possibility, but looking at a map I discovered something else as well. More than likely in 1950, Dad was working at the Naval base in San Francisco.  San Francisco is about mid-distance between El Sobrante (where I thought we lived) and Alameda (where Dave was born).  Perhaps the hospital where Dave was born was a naval hospital, so he was born in Alameda even though we actually lived in El Sobrante.  For now, I think that is the hypothesis I will choose.
 Rediscovering the past is a continual adventure.