For my new book, Family Time, I had done a lot of research about my ancestors. I combined that research with my own memories and imagination and voila!
Some family history occurred in unfamiliar territory. I checked locales online but they were not imbedded in my consciousness. Still, I should have raised my antennae when I learned that one of the streets to get to Highway 41 from the Fresno airport was Fowler. My great grandmother’s maiden name was Nell Miriam Fowler.
My antennae stayed down until I boarded the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, a restored steam train whose purpose had been converted from logging to tourists.
The setting was charming. The people there delightful. Still I didn’t get it until I boarded and from the broadcast narrative learned that this was a logging train.
Only then did I remember that for a brief period my great grandparents and their two daughters lived outside of Fresno and my great grandfather earned his living hauling logs down from the mountain on a buckboard.
So, the forest we traveled through could have been the source of his cargo. And the hour-long drive down the mountain to Fresno could have been retracing his route.
Back then, the round trip took a week. My great grandmother roasted a ham and packed other essentials to keep him going. My great aunts went to a local school and their mother taught Fresno ladies painting.
I knew all this but until I boarded that train, I had no mental picture of their world.
What a grand connection.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
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