Wednesday, April 18, 2012

And time marches on...

I'll be honest. I was not in a rush to get to the 1940 census. I was hoping the fervor would die down among die-hard genealogists, and I could browse through without technical issues when I got some spare time (which I obviously have oodles of with 5 kids). However, I was excited because this was the first census that both of my maternal grandparents were counted in.

So I finally got some time today to do some leisurely browsing (tongue firmly in cheek). Since there is no full, functioning index up for the 1940 census, yet, I set aside a chunk of time to browse page by page where I knew both my grandparents were living at the time. Thankfully, both were in small towns in Utah, so I was able to find them in less time than it takes for my kids to smear peanut butter and jelly art on my walls.

My maternal grandmother, Lily Darlene Taylor, was born and raised in Park City, Utah. Park City was not the ultra-hip, ski resort back then that it is now. It was a very small and struggling mining town. It almost became a ghost-town before the first ski resort opened in 1963. Up until then, its entire economy was centered around the mines.

Lily was 5 years old at the time of the census in 1940. She, her little brother, and her parents, lived with her uncle, Joseph Moroni Taylor, a lifelong bachelor. Both of my grandmother's parents had health problems, so Uncle Rone (as they called him) helped support them. He worked in the silver mine, like most of the residents of Park City at the time. They rented a place at 135 Norfolk Avenue, which according to GoogleMaps is no longer there. Well, there's something there. A little skiing condo probably worth more money now than I'll ever pay for a home. It's just not the original home Lily knew as a 5-year-old.

Five years later, in 1945, Uncle Rone would buy a house on Park Avenue for $1660. Two years after that, at the age of 11, my grandmother would lose her mother. Three years later, at 14 years old, she would lose both her father and Uncle Rone within a week of each other, leaving her an orphan, along with her 12-year-old brother. They moved in with her older half-sister, but my grandmother would soon meet my grandfather and get married.

All of this got me thinking about time and how funny it is. Did Lily play like my 5-year-old does now, with wild abandon and not a care in the world? Or had her parents' health already darkened her life a little? What did she dream about? What had her parents' dreamed of for her and her brother? The 40s for her should have been a time of learning and laughter, struggles mixed with triumphs. She should have been playing with the Slinky and Frisbees, which were invented in the 40s. Or marveling at jet aircraft, television, and microwave ovens. Instead, she saw economic hardship her whole childhood, nursed her mother and father through serious illness, lost a baby brother a year before the census, lost her mother, father and uncle by the start of the 1950s, and moved in with a half-sister she hardly knew.

She was an amazing person, and I have even more respect for her knowing she went through all of that and still came out the other side an amazing person. It makes me realize how little I have to complain about. And reminds me to not waste a precious second of my life or my time with the ones I love. We never know what the next decade will bring, let alone the next day.

Here is a picture of my grandma (circled) in the 40s with her parents, brother (to the right), and some extended family in Park City.

No comments: