Monday, October 31, 2011

Randy, my grandfather or is he Sam...

I guess with Autumn approaching, I started thinking about how I celebrated holidays in the past and my family.  Here I've written about both my grandmothers and my great grandmother on my grandfathers side but nothing about the men in my past,. LOL.  That sounds wrong but I did start thinking about my dad and his dad, Samuel Randall.

 I have only one photo of Sam - taken at my mom's sister Virginia's backyard.  It was sent to me by a cousin, whom I didn't know until a few years back.  I don't know much about Sam at all except what a few family members have told me and what information I have found online.  The online info is mostly dry and factual.

He was born Samuel Randall Wederstrandt, although his brother Herndon said his full name was Samuel Jackson Randall Wederstrandt. (Samuel Jackson Randall was a pretty famous national politician - look him up.)   I got this from a letter I found in the Louisiana State University archives. (Marsden papers)  It was in the last box and was written in pencil explaining the genealogy for the Randall -Wederstrandts.  His father was Robert Carroll W. and his mother was Ida Loula Williams.  From another cousin who sent me a note, it was a rather happy family, she had been raised in the household.  Ida died about 1901 (Sam was about 10) and it looks like Herminia, Robert C.'s sister came to live with them).  I found evidence of this from various census. 
Sam was known as Randy during this time, Samuel is not a normal family name - we tend to do Robert, Charles, John, Herndon, Blake and Randall more.  

Sometime around 1914 (could be earlier) Randy met a young German girl somewhere and they married.  I assume Louisiana since dad was born in New Orleans. I have a copy of the birth certificate.   They went on to have two other boys and here's where the trail gets odd.  Since th elast boy was born in 1918, I assumed Sam got into the Army and was out in 1918.  I found references to them in a 1920's census for Dallas where they were living and working.  I also found a census for the three boys in New Orleans at the Protestant Orphans Children's Home for the same year so whatever happened happened fast.  Story goes that Frieda put the boys in the home and left, and Sam followed her.  He went to Los Angeles, California and I found him listed in the 1922 directory where he was working as a waiter. (Frieda dissappears all together).  He surfaces in directories and one odd news story I found in a newspaper log where a movie director who is drunk runs into him with his car.  He has minor cuts and bruises and his car is bumped up badly.  Sam dies in 1947 and is buried in the Los Angeles Veteran's Cemetery.

My family stories take over here.  My grandmother (the fount of all knowledge of this time) told me he was an unpleasant alcoholic who was mean to my mom.  She and Dad had to live with him when they moved to California.  I know he took great care of his house, his garden, with roses and a nice lawn.  Grandmother took me by this house on Patricia and showed it to me and  told me the story of how he broke is plate glass picture window one night by throwing a bottle through it.  It's a nice house.  I know my grandfather was an electrician at a movie studio and got my dad hired to do the same.  I know he's buried in the Los Angeles Veteran Cemetery as a Vet so he served in World War I and I have the unit listed somewhere. (My grandmother took me to his grave when I was living with her.)   But I have no other bits of info.  My dad never spoke of him but then he never spoke of anyone in his family.  My grandmother always called him Sam so I think somewhere he went from Randy to Sam.  Maybe when he became disillusioned with his life.  (Was it the War?  Did he experience something horrible in the war? Or was it Frieda who was German, maybe he never forgave her after the War for being German.) 

So who knows.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Update on being unemployed.

So I still am.  That sucks in some ways.  I learned that I really, really like having the structure of the 8-5 go somewhere and do things routine.  I don't think I used to like it but I've grown accustomed to it.  The first few weeks were really chaotic.  I had nothing to do so I invented some (limited) structure.  I filed and started receiving unemployment - filling out tons of applications and going to Unemployment meetings.  July finished and no interviews, August happened and no interviews although with the 100 plus degrees weather I was a little glad.  By now, I was feeling a little despondent - I thought I had marketable skills.  Plus my leg (the one with the bionic hip), started acting up and I began having problems walking.  I no longer had medical so that became a challenge,

Still I started as positive as I could get.  No interviews in 106 degree weather was a positive thing.  The time allowed me to open up the ETSY shop and start working on being self - sufficient.  The bum leg made me realise that I needed to lose weight and I started that.  I did more artwork which also was a positive step.  This week I'm going to train to do some volunteer work entering data for an archivist at the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. 

I spent time refining my resume. I learned how to do cover letters and really tell people how wonderful I truly was.  I stayed social and made inroads on being friends with people I promised myself I'd stay in contact with.  One of those friends helped me get an interview at the University - my first since being laid off.  That helped a lot and although they didn't hire me seemed to be a crack in the door.  I started getting interviews at uniquely odd and interesting places.  I learned how to answer questions I find hard and somewhat too personal.  I learned how to manage walking with a cane (due to go to crutches this week) and do time management.

I also learned alot - because I went looking - at the unemployment situation here in Texas, if not the US.  How the unemployment rate for disabled people (regardless of what people tell you) is 30%.  No one wants to hire a person who has a disability even though people will tell you that it's against the law.  It takes a unique company to do so.  I learned that everyone has a separate set of statistics about how many people are unemployed and even then - no matter how accurate the statistics are, it doesn't include the people who have given up or run out of unemployment.  I've learned that state agencies are as different as night and day from each other.  That being said, I have met some very nice people who are friendly and encouraging and I've met people that I was glad didn't offer me a job. I've now read that if you are over 55 the odds of getting a good job is also difficult - so if you put that with a gimpy woman, it makes the odds even more of a challenge.

I'm not saying this so you - invisible interested reader -  will feel sorry for me.  Honestly, except some brief frustration with pain and not being able to walk much I'm actually doing well.  But I ask you to reflect on the nature of this country and how invisible people have become.  On my facebook page I have listed "I am one of the 99" and I now feel like no one who is in government or business cares what happens to me.  If our money runs out I could have to move - living with friends or worse living at the Salvation Army or becoming a street person.  But I'm not alone in this and I certainly won't go down gracefully.  Perhaps I will find a place in Rick Perry's yard and become a squatter.  Or sit for hours in the Student Union at UT. 

In December I turn 60 and have decided that if unemployed with no health insurance I will apply for early benefits for retirement.  I will lose money because of it but it comes with health insurance and I will be able to get the old bionic leg (or whatever) fixed and working again.  I will find a job doing something profoundly menial and take pride in it.  I will do artwork and we will survive.  And that perhaps makes me feel like there is always a solution.  As long as I can figure out a solution then I will stay positive and keep going. 

Maybe the country should take a tip from me. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why it took so long.

It came in the mail Thursday.  I thought what junk mail was sent to me in the big plain white envelope.  Then I saw it was from my junior college and opened it to reveal my hard earned diploma in an thinner white envelope inside.  Pretty fancy.  It's my free one. (You get one free one cheerfully provided by the college, After that you pay out for duplicates).  Still I admired it since it's a hard earned piece of paper.  I'd been working towards any college degree since 1969.

I'm afraid I was one of those dreadful underachievers when young (still am) and college started out doomed for failure.   I majored in doing nothing and not figuring out if you don't drop courses they really affect your GPA.  I think I was down to a negative 1.5 GPA when the big enlightenment happened.  So I started the slow path to getting it higher.  I repeated every course - one class a semester, sometimes not being able to afford my one class a semester so there were gaps - until I made at least a C or better (except Chemistry).  I got it to a respectable 2.3 by the time I moved to Austin in 1980.  Making inroads, I started at ACC (see photo above) with a side trip to Texas State for a few semesters. I majored in art - realising that this degree would be for my personal pleasure more than anything and I happen to really love Art.

So this past summer, I finally made it.  I completed school and (surprise) with an overall GPA of 3.72! 

I regret I didn't get a clue about the importance of working towards a degree before I totally had hit bottom on the school route.  It would have helped me a lot in life - it would have shown me that I could finish something I started.  It's a lesson I would gladly give people who think degrees aren't valuable.  If for nothing else, it would have shown me that I was smart enough to make it out of college (and in this case, talented enough) and that I could finish something I started.  A lot of people just really don't understand why I'm proud of this here piece of paper.

The power of a degree lies not so much  in what it can get you or what you majored in.  It shows you  that you can. One of my personal heroines is a woman by the name of Nola Ochs who at the age of 95 received her bachelors degree at the age of 95.  I might barely get there before her but I have dreams.  Texas State isn't that far away.  I'm figuring out the how to get there right now.