I grew up a Grandfather less child. My maternal Grandfather died before I was born and my paternal Grandfather shortly after I was born. It was just one of those unpleasant flukes resulting from my late in life birth and their early demise.
In fact, you could say I was for all intents and purposes I had no Grandmothers either. Both my Grandmothers were born in Poland and spoke no English. I was not taught Polish. As a result any connection to my ancestral heritage was weak at best. If I were to ask a question the response was short and ended with it drifting into a Polish dialogue which left me with half the story.
Every family has its tales of trial and woe. Many have changed so much that the story had lost it’s validity after being whispered down the buffet lunch line at funerals. One particular the story that was told to me in bits and pieces was about my Great-Grandfather and the “Fractured Fairytale” of his tumultuous marriage to my Great-Grandmother.
My mother had told me the same story about him over and over again. She described him as evil, cruel to his wife and children to the point that Great-Grandmother had chased him from the house and to the barn. There he remained the rest of his life. According to my mother when he finally died the men of the neighborhood put him into the back of a wagon and buried him somewhere in an unmarked grave.
I was so intrigued by this story of my heroic Great-Grandmother that when I needed a subject for an essay at school I wrote about her and her bravery in defense of her children. She had become a heroine. That is how easily I took the story as fact.
It was only when I did my family tree that I was able to gather information from a much broader view. Only problem was that everything was making less and less sense. I was coming up with more questions than answers.
Then I met with a cousin of mine at a local burger joint to compare notes. There was one new piece of information she offered me; my Great-Grandparents had gotten a divorce. I was stunned. Great-Grandmother had divorced him for “cruel and unusual punishment”.
When I asked my cousin how she had found this out, she explained that she had gone to the County Clerk’s office and they had looked it up. That same week I went down to the County Clerk’s and asked about the divorce records.
“This is all we have. See it shows the “Plaintiff” Julius divorced Mary Anna on this date in 1920 with a cause of extreme and unusual cruelty……..”
This fact opened up a Pandora’s Box of information, gossip and innuendo that has led to my current project of writing Julian’s story and clearing his name.
Using prose or poetry, explain some piece of folklore or an old wives’ tale you heard when you were growing up and have found out that it’s either true or false.Challenge: Using prose or poetry, explain some piece of folklore or an old wives’ tale you heard when you were growing up and have found out that it’s either true or false.
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