A Little Family History
February 8, 2014 1 Comment
Welcome back My Dear Readers to The Other Shoe. Every three months I am required to make a long an arduous journey. That journey happen this Tuesday, and I am still feeling the pain. Gratefully my doctor improved my pain medications, and I have actually managed to sleep a night or two, in the past four. However, I am quite bereft of the physical ability it takes to produce. Produce the writing, at the quality and quantity, you My Dear Readers have become accustom.
Rather than just throw something together, that I will regret at a later time, I have elected to go another direction. For today, I have journeyed into my past, my writing past. When I started this blog, I had but a handful of followers, not like today’s following. Believe it or not, even back in 2010 and 2011 I could manage a good-to-great article. Today, I am going to share a little something that I wrote back in 2010. A little voice from days long past.
As I have mentioned, frequently in my 350th series, I started this blog as a counterpoint to the loud and angry diversionist voices that dominated the airwaves and cable television. This article was an (vain) effort to reach out from my past and ask for reason and thoughtful action. This article was written at the time of the hubbub over a Mosque planed near the site of the Twin Towers.
I have removed the content that pertains to the conversation of the time. I have looked over this article, and I realized that this content stands all alone. My readership was not was it is today, but my writing was not all that bad, even in the beginning. I am working on some up-to-date political works, and ‘A Week in Review’ should be ready later today. Look forward to a very special ‘Sunday Funnies’ tomorrow, as Alexander and I worked hard for this week’s show.
So, without further adieu I present ‘A Brief Family History’. By Daniel Hanning…
A Grandfather’s Love
A young Irish lad who had just arrived in New York, via Ellis Island, was working and happy with coming to America and becoming an American. It was 1920 and opportunity abounded in the city for young men willing to work hard. Irish immigration had seen it’s difficulties, but most of that prejudice was a part of a past he had not personally witnessed. Life was good for Oscar Hanning, and all that was lacking was a wife and a family of his own.
One spring day Oscar meet a vibrant and educated young woman from Germany. She was not like the lasses that he had meet so far. Her name was Betty Schulemberg, and Oscar planned on asking for her hand in marriage. This is when Oscar’s wonderful life in his new home took a turn that would change his life in unimaginable ways. You see Betty was from a Jewish family and Oscar had been raised Catholic.
In the months that passed, prior to their marriage, Oscar found himself; without work, shunned by his family and friends, evicted by his landlord and frequently harassed and beaten by people he once knew as friends. Betty’s life had taken a similar route. Even though Oscar had agreed to, and begun, a conversion to Judaism Betty’s parents were steadfast against marriage to an ‘outsider’. They insisted that no Irish convert to Judaism could be a good husband for her, or Father for her children. Her Father forbade her from marrying Oscar Hanning, and her mother begged Betty to find a ‘nice Jewish boy’ from the neighborhood to marry and make her Father happy.
This was paradoxical, because Oscar (through his studies) was actually finding his new faith fit him. As a boy he was always confused by certain aspects of his Catholic faith. The Jewish people came from a long and tortured past, but managed to keep a loving and nurturing home and family. He had found great wisdom and strength in what he learned. Oscar was moved by the story of Abraham and Issac, and the birth of the Jewish people and asked Betty to tell it to him again and again.
Oscar took to wearing his Yarmulke to worship and back. This proved to be a worse idea than Oscar had imagined. It was a night, like any other, for Oscar. He was walking home, from Temple, and his head was lost in thoughts of getting home and sitting down to the dinner Betty was (most likely) making for him this very moment. As thoughts of worship shifted to thoughts of a more corporal nature, there was a sharp pain in the back of his head and he found himself on his knees grabbing the back of his, now sore, head. His vision was undoubling when he heard a familiar voice;
“Hey, Ooscor, whatcha doin wearing that sissy hat?”
Followed by another even more familiar voice, that of his brother;
“Yeah, Ooscor, whatcha doin with that Kike hat on your head? Don’tcha know, lill brother, that’s a sure way of getting your ass kicked?”
Oscar went to stand up, and ‘explain’ things to his brother. He never got the chance. That night two men that Oscar; had been born and raised around, crossed the Atlantic Ocean to chase a dream with, and had loved as much as any good Irish son should, beat Oscar Hanning to within an inch of his life and dumped him on his door step for his wife Betty to find. Oscar never wore his Yarmulke, to or from worship again, but it didn’t matter. This may have been the first beating Oscar survived, at the hands of close friends and family, but it wasn’t the last.
How long ago, it seemed, when their lives were without conflict, but also without love. After six months of Oscar and Betty trying hard to make their relationship work with their families and friends. Six months of Betty fighting with her Father and holding her Mother’s hand as she cried at the thought of loosing her only daughter, and six months of sparse work for Oscar and regular beatings for his betrayal of his Catholic faith. Oscar and Betty moved to Columbus, Ohio to start life over and raise their family. They had one son, Kenneth Urban Hanning. Father of Kenneth R. Hanning, Darrell K. Hanning and Daniel L. Hanning.
For the next thirteen years Oscar worked hard to fit into the world his love had guided him to, but even after moving to Columbus his pain and suffering did not stop. Being Irish but of Jewish faith, he seemed to never completly fit in to either world. Yes the Rabbi and the congregation accepted him as one of their own, but he never found his way to acceptance among the Temple’s Elders. His love had brought him to a faith that separated him from his family, his identity, and his past. The only place that he felt truly at home was when he was with Betty and his new son Ken.
The only place he could find work was making moonshine in tubs in the basement of his home to sell. This new line of work did not mix well with his alcoholism, and his marriage and his relationship with his young son were lost in the battle. A battle that started with loving a woman of a different faith, ended in a shattered family and dashed dreams.
A Mother’s Trial
The year is 1904. The location is little know place just outside Las Cruces, New Mexico known as the Mescalero Apache Reservation. The still of the turn-of-the-century night is broken by screams. These are not screams of fright or fear, they are the screams that come with the birth of new life… and the ending of another. On this night a female child is born. Her name is Margaret Nora Gary, and her mother is an Apache Indian (born and raised on the reservation) and her father is a Dutch immigrant brick layer. But all is not as it should be, this night. Shortly after giving birth to a beautiful and glowing baby girl, the daughter of the Apache nation dies. Leaving Margaret without her mother, and her father without his wife and love.
Margie (as she has become known) finds herself a child of two different and waring worlds. Being raised by her father’s mother, Margaret is not allowed to visit the reservation (just outside of town) that she was born on. She longs to know of her mother, and her mother’s people. To know them, she understands, is to better know herself. Her father is away with work, much of the time, and she is left in the care of her elderly grandmother/mother. Margie is raised as a ‘White’ girl and told not to speak of her real mother, or where she was born. She is made to were frilly patterned dresses, but she longs to wear clothes like the girls she sees from the reservation. She listens to the jazz and big bands on the radio, but longs to hear the drums and songs she knows belong to her people.
She, also, quickly learns of the ‘White Peoples’ distrust and hatred of the Apache. Margie sees how the Apache people are treated by shop keepers, not allowed in most stores and watched and monitored in those they are allowed to shop in. Humiliated and spat on in the streets and thought of by most white Americans as ‘drunken Indians’ or ‘horse stealing Indians’. At a young age Margie understands how important it is for her to keep her little secret. People in her town think of her as a white woman, and Margie knows it is best to keep it that way. Still, she deeply longs to know of her mother, her other people.
Then Margie learns, in school (white man’s school), of the massacre of her people, and the loss of their native lands. As she reads of each victory for the White man, she recoils in pain and confusion. There is no one in her life, but her elderly grandmother, to ask about what she is learning in school. Her grandmother tells her that “them Injuns deserved to die, they were savages, didn’t believe in God and the Lord Jesus Christ! Best you give it no never-mind.” This does not satisfy Margie’s curiosity about herself, or her people’s past. She knows where she might be able to get the other side of the story though, the reservation!
Being the willful and clever girl she is, Margaret eventually finds her way free to explore the reservation. She is twelve years old when she first ventures on the the reservation where she was born, and it was a day that she remembered as clear as it was yesterday, when she told me of it when I was eight. Her Dad was away on one of his many masonry projects in North Texas, and Grandma had a little too much to drink after lunch. This was the time that Margie had been waiting for, for as long as she could remember. She had been given a bike, for last year’s birthday, and she got on it and pointed in the direction of the reservation. She had put on one of her best dresses, combed her hair neatly and even used her fathers shoe buff to clean her Sunday shoes. Margie wanted to look her best when she meet her other family’s people for the first time.
It took Margie more than an hour to ride out to the reservation. She passed long stretches of road with nothing on the horizon for miles, just cactus and sand. It was an hour, or so, before dusk when Margie reached the edge of the reservation. She was confused, there was just a sign (and a rusty half standing wire fence) that tells you that you are leaving the United States of America and are entering the Apache Nation Reservation. Why were there no guard posts or soldiers posted here? From what she had read, and been told, these were very dangerous heathen people. As she processed this thought, she found herself at the edge of the town.
Shock, that is what Margie felt, when she rode into the reservation. Her mouth feel open, and her peddling slowed to a stop. Never in her life had she imagined what she was witness too. Yes, there were the people in colorful native clothing, but there were poorly made and maintained shanty houses instead of the beautiful wigwams she had imagined. There was sewage running down the side of the streets and the smell was making her sick to her stomach. Just as her stomach began to toss and turn, she noticed she was being approached by several of the ‘less savory’ people on the street, Indians in dirty and worn ‘white peoples’ clothes.
She starts to back up, on her bike, when she hears mumbling in Apache. Suddenly her regress is stopped, someone has come up behind her and stopped her bike. She looks over her shoulder to see a very tall, very thin, very old Indian with brilliant eyes and beautifully adored hair. She was making note of his clothing, native and with many symbols and markings on it, when two things happened. First, she felt the warm and firm embrace of the large hands of the Indian behind her. The second was the dirt clod that smashed into her freshly cleaned and ironed dress.
“Half-Breed! We know what you are, Margaret!”
This from one of the Indians blocking her way forward. There is more shouting, from those in front of her, most of it in Apache and she does not understand what is being said but she is certain that it is not nice. More clods of mud and dirt strike her, as the crowd in front of her grows closer. Fear and confusion are flowing over her in waves, she falters on her bike, begins to cry when she hears a deep and fluid voice speak behind her. It is the man that is holding her, and she can not understand his words but she can tell his is reproachful to the Indians in front of her. There are more screams of “half-breed” and yelling in native tongue, when suddenly she feels she is being lifted up, bike and all.
“It is time for you to go, my Little Sparrow. My heart is filled with joy at seeing you, and sadness for what you see and hear today.”
It is the voice of the large Indian behind her, he has lifted her around and back down the road facing out of town. He is very strong, but very gentle. He smells of leather, and fresh air, and camp fires. Nothing like the Indians she has passed in town, there is something haunting her in this smell. The large Indian has set her safely on the road, as dirt clods and garbage strike his back. Carefully he leans over to her ear, still shielding her for the angry Indians, and he whispers in her ear:
“It is time for you to go, my Little Sparrow.” He says again.
“Do not judge your people by the actions of these few haters, Little Sparrow. There is love for you among your people, just not now.”
The people that had been in front of her are now right behind the old Indian, and fear begins to grip her again. She feels the Indian gently push her bike down the road, and hears the Indian say;
“Now fly Little Sparrow, fly! Peddle your bike quickly, and go home.”
Margie peddled her bike as quick as her legs could, faster than she had ever peddled before flying down the dirt road. Behind her she hears yelling and arguing, and above it all the deep voice of the Indian that just saved her from a fate she dare not imagine.
From a young age, I heard these stories. Early in life I learned what being a different religion meant, in this world today. Or a different heritage. Mother never spoke of; the reservation, her mother, and that day to anyone else in the family. I don’t know why my mother choose to share her past with just me. I don’t why Oscar told me the stories he did of New York and his love for Judaism. That is, until recently, I didn’t understand.
One hundred years ago the Jewish people were hated and demonized in lot of America. It was written that Jews practiced animal sacrifice and mutilated their children (circumcision). Jews were accused of everything from controlling the nation’s wealth, to devil worship. They were beaten, stoned and killed just for what they believed. For worshiping the same God we do (Judea-Christian God) in a different way, in a different language, with different rites, on the wrong day of the week. American media (at the time) was convinced that they were right and Jews should be separated for fear they would take over our country and government. Sound familiar?
Genocide. That is how our great nation managed to expand so swiftly. Genocide of the Native American Indian. Over eight different tribes of American Indian wiped off the face of the Earth. There was never a real count going on (from 1500-1880) but it is estimated that American Armies and civilians killed some eight MILLION American Indians. They were thought of as heathens and Devil worshipers, too. Now Americans loose hundreds of millions of dollars, each year, in their casinos. The run for, and win, public office and have improved they way of life of many tribes throughout California, Arizona and New Mexico.
And, with that I will take my leave for today. My Dear Readers, I published this work from yester-year today for one reason. During my visit with Dr. Gorlick my father and mother came up. He did not know that my mother was an American Indian born on a reservation. He did not know that my father had met my mother while working at the Los Alamos Project (Fat Man and Little Boy). This is a story that my mother relayed to me late in her life. My father, to his credit, never spoke of his work at Los Alamos. I have put together his history from photos and letters (from that period) between my mother and father during that time.
This is just the beginning… of a Love Story that I am working to finish. The story of my parents meeting, at a time of war… in a place where the two single most destructive devices ever known to man, were built. I am a product of that love built in a place of darkness and death. Some people believe that the use of these atomic bombs was necessary and merited due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Some believe that the use of these bombs changed mankind forever, and not for the better.
Regardless of which side you may find yourself, we live in a world where these two bombs changed mankind’s future and fortunes. For me, if it was not for these bombs, and the project that made them, I would not be alive today. This is where my story begins… in a dessert in New Mexico… at the site of a project, that changed mankind.
As always I am deeply honored that you come here and read my work.