The Stories of Our Ancestors

As we grow up, we grow with many stories–From goodnight moon at 3 years old, to the hundred pages books we read at 18 as well–as everything in between. But, when it comes down to it, nothing compares to the stories of heroism and struggle told to us by our grandparents and great-grandparents.

Walter Brzozowski (1918-2014) by Hailey Robinson

PPSitting and listening to Popop Brzozowski ramble about same stories I heard at every family gathering since I could remember wasn’t something I particularly looked forward to. Only now, multiple months after his passing do I truly appreciate what an astounding man my great-grandfather really was. From stories about how he met his one and only true love (my great-grandmother) at the age of 7, to switching from the army to the navy on account of a “bad feeling” only to find his whole platoon had been murdered in Normandy just in time for him to escape with his life,  to being aboard the Tuscaloosa for the Navy and fixing FDR’s wheelchair during the Presidential Cruise of Franklin D. Roosevelt. No one could ever say his life was boring, and thankfully he was able to share all his stories of adventure with me.

Klaus Kolmar (1925-2015) By Hailey Robinson

KLAUS

Colin Kolmar, an English teacher here at TA has many memories with his grandfather Klaus. Kolmar remembers hearing stories about his grandfather’s heroic adventures escaping from the Nazi’s just in time with his father before chaos erupted. He then managed to make it to America with German U-boats sinking more than half the ships behind him and ahead, an uncertain future in America where he would have to start from scratch. Komar’s grandfather can be seen as something of an inspiration because even though he went through more than any human being should and had to start over completely, he was able to get back on his feet and make is as a successful theatrical agent working with famous people who included: Robert Goulet, Sherry Lewis, and Hal Holbrook. Kolmar says that his grandfather would always read him and his brother The Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve, “Sometimes we could talk him into doing it in German and in English.” Kolmar will always remember his grandfather as a very important and strong person and will never let go of the memories he has with his grandfather.

Wilfred Raymond by Isis Guignard

WILFRED

Wilfred was my great-grandfather on my mother’s side. When he was 15 or so, his father, younger brother and himself worked out in the forest, doing logging and such. They stayed in a cabin in the woods, and one day Wilfred and his brother went out into the woods to prepare for their father, who would be showing up the next day.
The brothers went fishing, caught dinner, and then put the leftover fish on a table by the window, and went to bed. In the middle of the night, he woke up to the sound of something scratching at his window. He looked up to the top bunk and saw his younger brother holding a gun and pointing it at the window. At the window, there was a big black bear trying to get to the fish they had left out. Without a second thought, he grabbed the gun from his brother, aimed, and shot the bear right between the eyes. And then, the two of them went back to bed.
The next day, their father showed up and saw the dead bear laying on the ground. Once they went back to town and reported the bear, they got a reward for killing the bear.

Tony Tsomides by Isis Guignard

Tony is Sara Tsomides’s grandfather on her dad’s side. When he was going into kindergarten, he couldn’t speak a word of English. Since it was cold that day, he wore a sweater to school. He was so anxious about not being able to speak English, he started eating his sweater. By the end of the day, he came home with a bag of the remains of his sweater.

Ruth Stebbins by Kayla Martin

Mr. Dave Stebbins’ grandmother on his dad’s side raised three children, and had an open home. If someone needed a place to stay for a few days, they were more than welcome to stay with them. His story is a reminder of how the world used to be, when it wasn’t uncommon for people to reach out to strangers. Many people would open their homes. He also proudly shared that his Grandmother’s mom, Ruth Stebbins and her sisters sewed U.S. Military uniforms in a factory for US soldiers during World War One.

Guoshu Li (1933-2004) By Vanessa Li

Guoshu Li was my grandfather. His father (my great-grandfather) was a businessman. He was born in HeBei province of China, then moved to Tianjin at the age of 4 because of the Second Sino-Japanese War (Also referred as the Eight Year War of Anti-Japanese Resistance in China), then they settled down in Beijing finally. He was very intelligent and well-rounded as a child. Then he got into No.4 middle school which is one of the best high schools in Beijing, not only mastered all of the subjects in school but also played in the basketball team and was a lead in choir. He then was chosen by our country, being sent to Russia (known as the Soviet union at the time) and studied there for 8 years then became a nuclear scientist. He had a master’s degree in physics. He came back to Beijing afterwards then started teaching at the No.1 University in China – Tsing Hua University as a professor. He dedicated his whole life in science, wrote books about Nuclear Science to open up China’s science world and won several national awards. He was part of the team developing the first linear accelerator to cure cancer in China. He passed away in 2004 when I was 7 years old and I will always remember my grandfather, who is an extraordinary human being by heart.

 

Interested in Hearing More Amazing Stories? Or Maybe you want to interview an older relative and preserve their History? Check out: NPR’s audio collection Story Corps:  http://storycorps.org OR… Legacy Project: http://www.legacyproject.org

 

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Educating students for more than 200 years.