The neat thing about volunteers is we get to chose where we want to volunteer! I’ve volunteered for Meals on Wheels, Salvation Army, a Kindergarten Classroom, United Way and different Historical Societies, and have received untold blessings from each one of them! The people and their stories are probably what I enjoy the most.
This week I volunteered at the local Historical Society on two different days, and on each day I met a person who touched my life, both in different ways.
On Friday, as I was showing a lady how to thread a microfilm machine, I noticed she was from Virginia, and casually asked her if perchance she went to the Inauguration. Since I was an Inauguration Junkie it was still on my mind. Her reply was she hadn’t gone, but her husband had. Since he was sitting at a computer while waiting for her, I went directly over to talk to him, and he was the first person who touched my life!
I actually had tears in my eyes while talking to him. I explained why this inauguration meant so much to me. I was a child of the 50’s and 60’s and memories of Watts Riots and Medgar Evers, James Meredith and the Little Rock Six are still vivid for me.
Growing up overseas I knew no prejudice. Moving to the shores of our Nation in the 50’s taught me that. I couldn’t understand why the color of a person’s skin made him less a person than I was . . . I still don’t understand the theory.
This gentleman shared his experiences with me, from the “Scouting Trip” several days before, to the 4AM Metro ride into the District on the 20th, the bitter cold he endured with his daughter, sister and her friend, and the spirit of the crowd. I was thrilled to talk to a person who had been there! He pulled up his website for me with over 400 pictures of that day and showed me shots of the crowded train into the Washington, Riot Police, crowds of people, and many, many candid shots of the crowd. Then! He offered to send me a link to the pictures!!!
I have gone over and over the pictures! They are awesome and I am so thankful to him for sending me the link. I now have a first person view of that day. Unbelieveable!
The second person who touched my life was the next day and she touched my life in a completely different way. She was a researcher and the stories about her husband’s family are the stories that make a family real ~ warts and all!
In tracing his heritage they came across prison records, arrests and an ancestor who ran a “Bawdy House!” Think of all the information there is on that family! Newspaper articles, court documents, information in prison records, but the one thing she was looking for was not to be found. An actual maiden name for the ancestor who ran the “Bawdy House.” Why? She couldn’t be found in Church Records and that would be the only source that would have marriage records in the time frame she would need!
This woman told the story in such a Story Teller’s fashion that I was fascinated! She knew details of their arrests, who some of the clients were (Lawyers and Judges of the day) and where her “Bawdy Houses” were. She and her husband had gone by each location and seen them since the buildings still stand today.
Did I help my family research this week? No. Was the time I spent volunteering spent not in vain? To quote a defeated Vice Presidential candidate ~ You Betcha! Do I look forward to this week and my days at the Historical Society! Of course I do.
I never know how the next person I meet is going to affect my life.