Saturday, June 01, 2013

life in clippings: why?

it started out simple.

i wanted to look up a few things about a couple of guys whose headstones i happened to have passed on my way to meet some people on a saturday afternoon.

as people, we mark the graves of our dead. we list our dates of birth and death and our relationships and sometimes our accomplishments. there is something about us that wishes to be remembered and commemorated.

so it's a thing i do pretty often, when i'm near a cemetery with old graves: i take a few pictures of stones that catch my eye and i try to put together a small picture of the person's life.

i wanted to say here is lawrence m. mintz. he was in the army. he had a family. he lived here in ithaca.

but it turned out that there was a LOT of information available with just a little digging and a great deal more information available with a lot of digging, and when you collect enough fragments about one person and then one family and then the community they lived in, you learn a lot about not just how this one guy lived, but how people lived.

there's broad view history, and there's narrow view history. i like the narrow view. ithaca ny is a city i care about. you can maybe tell its story in a general way but it is made of individual people living in a community. the really interesting things about the city are expressed in the lives of its people.

and you can't tell the story of all of the people, but you can take some small samplings. you can build a larger general picture from the fragments.

i kept finding interesting things, so i kept digging. it tickled my brain like a puzzle.

i still do not know in what year the clothing store closed. i still do not know in what year rachel died, or if jay married or had children. i still do not know in what year ruby was born, or the anything about the other infant who died. i don't know which of aaron's daughters married jack, and which married sol.

and they are no kin of mine, yet they feel to me like more than accidental strangers. i have a great fondness for them and the story of their lives, and i want to tell you who they were.

i keep thinking of ways to try to answer one question, but then a lot of answers to questions i didn't ask pop up, and of course more questions.

i hope you are not bored to death with them, because i'm going to keep telling their story.

i am not sure yet how to tie the pieces together.

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