I have been going through some notes I made a year or more back while researching one of my grandmother's history before traveling to Slovakia a year and a half ago. In those notes were a lot of infomation I gathered on Dad's side of the family, too. I use Ancestry.com, which I have found to be a useful, if not exactly user-friendly sight. At any rate, I discovered lots of data related to my Grandfather, but not so much on my Grandmother. I know she went to the "conservatory", but not sure at what age, or which conservatory she attended. (She was a music teacher - piano and organ.) I always thought she attended the music school instead of college, but I think perhaps she went for what would have been her high school years. I found a census record that says at age 18 her occupation was "music teacher." She didn't marry until she was 27, so there are a good many years to think about in between.
There are so many questions I wish I could ask her about her life and the times in which she lived. I've been wondering how she felt about marriage to a man who traveled nearly constantly for his work, as I find myself in that predicament a lot of the time. (Though our circumstances surrounding that a very different - Grandma made the money in the family, not Grandpa. I think he earned enough just to keep himself on the road.) She really was extraordinary. Strong willed, prideful and fiercely loyal. I never heard her raise her voice, though she must have I imagine. When she was miffed my experience was she would clam up with a grim expression on her face. I'll have to ask Dad about that. She ended up having a life I think much different than the one she imagined for herself when she was in school. I would love to ask her about that, but of course, she is gone now nearly 30 years. And as cool as the geneology sites are, they cannot tell you those things.
I am lucky. My parents are alive and healthy, and so are a good source of information, but they see their parent's lives though their own eyes, not through their parents'. Letters my grandparents may have written were burned after they were gone, so I haven't any of that to fall back on either. The reason I'm curious is that the subject for the book project I am beginning is loosly based on Grandma's early life, which I must imagine more than anything I guess. And again, the geneology research can give me only so much - where she lived during the major census', marriage dates, birth and death dates, etc. I have tried to find alumni info for the conservatory, but it's not online, so I'll have to either write to them or go there to see if I can find any records of her matriculation - if I have the right school, that is.
What I am wrestling with is how to do her story justice while imagining much of it. It cannot be a biography because there just isn't enough data to support a life story, other than what I remember when she was already quite old. So I will focus on the first half of her life, and figure out how she may have handled things based on the era, family values, characters involved and situations she found herself in, like the Great Depression. I feel the need to honor her, but at the same time, show the flaws and struggles too, which is difficult for a granddaughter to do. She was a big influence in my life and I admired her greatly. She played the piano with feeling and gave me an appreciation for classic music I wouldn't otherwise have had. (I play too, after taking 12 years of lessons with her, though I play only fairly these days.)
So I am about to embark on this geneological mission and really look forward to putting together the facts and stories of her life, or at least the one I imagine she must have led. I'm not sure how to research the era (10's, 20's and 30's) in the 20th century, but I hope to garner more information from my Dad, as much as he may remember being a boy himself in the 30s. So off to the ancestry sites I go, looking for more clues into their lives. Let's hope it leads to better understanding of the issues every generation faces. Wish me luck!