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Monday, August 28, 2017

How fast the past separates from us


Or, further Friday night thoughts.

My parents swept us all over the country. We children were to see all 48 states before we graduated high school. For me, the oldest, that meant many states more than once.

My dad was an aeronautical engineer. I could not even estimate his annual earnings, but my parents were depression children, and made sure we knew the value of a dollar. We camped everywhere we went, and especially in the west, where camping was as basic as dad’s service days.

Dad was an Army man, from the day he turned sixteen. I think he was alternatively destined for truant’s confinement, but I blogged that to death long ago. He packed his radio equipment on mules. He learned all he could from every person he met and every book he encountered. He marveled he was born the same year the Wright brothers flew a plane, and lived to help put a man on the moon.

Reading a map while riding in the front seat made mom ill, so the job often fell to me. I wonder if she knew the gift she gave me. My dad was an encyclopaedia of natural history, geography, meteorology. Back in the days we drove this country from town to town (“66 goes right at this intersection, Dad.”), Eisenhower was president, and I listened for hours to “this man’s army” being able to move from the Atlantic to the Pacific, Canada to Mexico, on one unified highway system. To dad, the proposed Interstate Highway System was first and foremost to move troops.

Dad designed electrical systems for space capsules and flew around the country and the world to visit Lockheed engineers and Boeing engineers and army bases, but his heart and his discipline always were “this man’s army.”

Interestingly, my father-in-law was a civil engineer. He was after my dad’s depression era, had the benefit of a real education. My dad snatched three semesters at Tri-C college in Indiana, between the army and unemployment. My father-in-law graduated from Case Institute of Technology.

I wonder if my daughters remember how often I told them Grandpa Noragon was an engineer of State Route 2 along the top of Ohio, and becoming Interstate 90 into Pennsylvania and New York State. Probably as much as they remember Grandpa Lytle worked on both Project Mercury and Apollo Eleven. Grandpa Noragon went on to engineer infrastructure for Sun City, Arizona. I think they only returned to Ohio because their first grandchild was born.

I tried the civil engineering story out on Laura the other day. I drank up every syllable of my dad’s civil (military) engineering stories. I’m sure they were lost on my kids, and they surely were lost on Laura. Old news. Whenever you want to change the subject, Grandma. I know all this history isn’t lost on a new generation. They are learning it from a new source.


My dad, John Lytle, at a family picnic in the fifties. I wish I had a corresponding photo of my father-in-law, James Noragon.


29 comments:

  1. Your father was a very lean man. Those cheek-bones!

    Sound like you had some great adventures as a child. I too liked to hear my parents' stories before I existed, but my grandchildren are not at all interested.

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    1. Today is his birthday. 110 years, were he here to enjoy it.

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    2. Aww, my dad's 109th birthday was just a week ago. They are of the same era.

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  2. I miss being able to ask my Mother more about her childhood and growing up. I never really knew my grandparents and would love to know more about their lives. That photo of your Father reminds me of photos of my uncles, back on the old homestead for a visit.

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  3. I am impressed. You had two such important people in your near family. Your children and grandchildren have bragging rights if they pay attention.

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  4. My parents kept their histories to themselves. Which I mourn.
    Love that you at least got to share yours.

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  5. Aw happy birthday to your belated father. It is on special days like this that we tend to remember our loved ones most. It sounds like he taught you a lot and you certainly are an intelligent and talented woman. I'm sure you got a lot of it from your dad.

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    1. I meant, happy birthday to your late father :-))

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  6. Did you continue camping as you got older with your own family? Very interesting histories of your father and father-in-law. Laura may not realize how "seriously cool" her grandfather's job was, but when she looks back several years from now, she may. -Jenn

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    1. We camped until Mom got too old. She and dad were the campers; my heart was never really into it.

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  7. An interesting life traveling from coast to coast and all places in between, but did your education suffer from having to change schools so often?
    I remember moving with my soldier husband and four children and when they were grown, they told me how hard it had been to settle into each new school, make friends and then have to say goodbye within two years or less.

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  8. It's a different world now. No adventure involved in traveling around the country anymore.

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  9. That picture reminds me that America has always been good at making very good shirts.

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    1. Yes, and good ironers, too. Every Saturday I ironed shirts for two brothers and my dad. When one brother complained about his shirt, mom taught both of them to iron. You can still see the crease in dad's sleeve. I did a good job.

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    2. Ah, lovely to still see the crease after all these years. I have many American shirts, and many ones made in Jermyn Street, London. My favourite was made in Hollywood, California.

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  10. Hari OM
    Oh that history is getting registered, Joanne - somewhere in the future that history will matter more to Laura, so it is never wasted time telling it... and we, your readers, benefit too!!! My own father, being an engineer, was responsible for much of my travel bug and love of maps... and now some early history is being revealed too! YAM xx

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  11. Love this post! My father would be 100 this year and was with NASA during the Gemini and Apollo missions. He loved every minute of it. Your stories to your granddaughters will sink in one day--but I keep telling them to kids, just in case.

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    1. My sister is a crack quilter, too. She blogs a tiny bit (Janice loves to quilt), but most of her stuff is on Facebook. You can track back to her from her blog, if you wish. Your quilts are beautiful.

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  12. Those stories will bubble to the surface of her mind at some time in the future. The important thing is to keep telling the stories.

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  13. Wow - how cool is it that your father helped with the space program! Ever since reading "Hidden Figures" with its rich detail on how man was put into space I have had a deeper appreciation for those who were responsible.

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  14. Wonderful family history, Joanne. Such an exciting career for both men. So much to be proud of...

    Your dad was tall!

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  15. She'll remember. My Mom died at forty. She never told us about her growing up as she was ashamed of where she had come from. Didn't hear the story until after she died.

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    1. My dad was ashamed of being a "shanty Irishman" and I did not know his history until mom told a little after he was gone. So, I flung myself into genealogy, to learn about as many ancestors as I could, and started this blog to write it down. My kids still weren't interested.

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  16. Ah the generations move on Joanne - I think we have to be getting on in years before we really want to hear about those who went before us and then it is often too late.

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  17. You take after your father in looks and always endeavoring to learn new things.

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  18. Good memories. I couldn't read a map if you paid me. Thank goodness I have GPS!

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  19. Great to learn about your father. He sounds like a good one! Navigating with maps at a young age would have taught you a lot. Glad you were tasked with that job in the family car.

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  20. In the future, Laura will be glad she heard those stories. My father-in-law was an engineer.

    Love,
    Janie

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  21. What a fascinating post this is. Unfortunately family members often only become interested in their history when it is too late to find out the details! I think that blogging is the perfect vehicle for gathering these memories and storing them for the future generations.

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