My husband and I were planning to attend my stepchildren's play in Hingham, MA and to pick them up to take them to California on Saturday, July 31th. My days off are Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday...hmmmmm. It took about a nanosecond for me to realize I could tag a brief genealollapalooza onto the trip. The thought of a trip, no matter how short, strictly for the the purpose of digging around the family tree sounded like sheer bliss - even if it was for a mere 48 hours. I would plan a guerrilla-style, genealogical assault - Bing! Bang! boom! I wouldn't be a bother to anyone in asking them to cart me around and listen to me blather on about dead relatives they couldn't possibly triangulate in their heads. It'd be a win-win for everyone. So off I went.
Despite having the nifty GPS app on my iphone, I wisely chose to get a real GPS with the rental car. An excellent move on my part since I'm utterly void of any sense of direction and would probably be in Canada now without it. Did you know if you fail to follow the GPS lady's chipper little instructions she suddenly takes on a decidedly bitchy tone with you? Oh, she's all sunshine and flowers when cheerfully instructing you to, "Please fasten your seatbelt!" but the exasperation is palatable in her tone when you've blown (yet another) instruction and she's "Recalculating." Trust me, she recalculated my happy ass all over New Hampshire and Massachusetts. I was on back roads, going around lakes and ponds, taking twisty two-lane roads though the woods; I even drove past The American Stonehenge - whatever (wherever) that is. I never saw a single highway from Manchester to Haverhill. I did see a number of roundabouts ("Oh hell, no!" ( exit stage right), "Recalculating") and 3-way stops ("What the...?"). I began to suspect that GPS lady was trying to kill me what with all those left turns into heavy traffic she was suggesting, but I made it to Haverhill in once piece; even if it did take an hour to drive a scant 30-odd miles.
I spent most of the first day tooling around Haverhill taking photographs. I had a list of my grandparents former residences though almost all of the actual houses are now gone. The property where their houses once stood are now parking lots, other people's backyards, or driveways which was a little depressing. Not really planning on a map the most efficient way to go, I was driving hither and yon and back around again ("Recalculating"). At one point, I stopped at a McDonald's for a salad and later discovered that the parking lot was on the former property of my grandparent's home. I can now say that I "ate lunch at over at Fred and Rose's place" - albeit inadvertently. I found my other Civil War grandfather, Luther Kellogg's house. It looked like the neighborhood was quite tony back in the day though it's readily apparent the years have not been kind. There were people standing in front of the house that took note of my car immediately. They didn't look like they wanted their picture taken so I moved along. I'll have drive-by another day; hopefully not while someone else's drive-by is already in progress.
|Headstone of Fred W Pratt and Rose (Towle) Pratt|
|The Merrimack River in Haverhill|
|Haverhill City Hall|
The clerk that pulls records was out that day so I had to fill out request forms and leave them. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my little notebook so I had to improvise...what records did I want again? I feverishly just scribbled out whatever I could think of on the spot. Sitting here, some three weeks later awaiting the arrival of the records (ahem), I can't remember exactly what I asked for. I guess when they finally do arrive I'll get to be surprised - sort of like getting Christmas in August. Or maybe September.
(t0 be continued)