Friday, April 9, 2010

Internet power

My grandfather (mom's dad) was a Hungarian immigrant who came over with his family in about 1890 or so. He was young, but we are not exactly sure how young. He had a bunch of older brothers and sisters, most of whom went to work immediately upon getting here - mostly as tailors and cigar makers - on the lower East Side in NYC. Their father was listed as a cigar maker on the census, but family rumor says that all he did was to study Torah. Their mother, Hannah, must have worked like a dog to support her family, and her husband. More kids were born after they got to NY.

Eventually everyone married and did pretty well for themselves and most moved to the suburbs...Brooklyn! My mom had a slew of first cousins that she grew up with and was close to, and when we were growing up we saw these cousins and their children frequently. Some of them I liked...some I didn't. Some had moved further out to the 'burbs - but we stayed in Brooklyn as did others.

Life goes on, people move, get married, we all lose track...until this week when one of the second cousins posts a YouTube video of my mom, uncle, aunt, grandma etc from 1934. It gets to me via my mom and BOOM!!! I email someone, who emails someone else, who contacts someone else and before you know it - 20 long lost cousins are in touch. Many live in CA, some in NC, two in MA, a few still in NYC (but none in Brooklyn anymore, except for the son of one) Some are my age, some used to babysit me and some are so young I never met them.

Eventually we'll all meet again. When I travel for work, I will try to meet up with one or two of these cousins. We're talking reunion, but that probably won't happen - too much effort and work.

But one of the funniest stories involves a family whistle. Does your family have a whistle? Mine always did - it's the way we find each other in stores, or on the street, or when we were playing outside and mom wanted us in. Our family's whistle was the opening bars of "He'll Come Along, the Man I Love" and when ever I hear that tune I charge around looking for a family member - I'm like a Pavlov dog. It turns out that one of the cousins has the SAME TUNE as his family whistle!!! He lives in Southern California and his brother in NC. If I was in one of those places and heard this whistle I'd be convinced that my Dad was playing a trick on me and had come back to haunt me in a silly way. I'd be running around looking for the whistler and probably would have assaulted them with "why is that your whistle" or some other inane question. Then I would have realized they were family, we'd fall on each other shoulders with tears and laughter and be joined forever. Okay, I go a bit far but you get the picture. A family whistle is a sacred tune and if shared, should only be by immediate family - not remote second cousins. But it was fun to figure this all out, involving early morning whistling and sending out emails with whistles attached.

You never know what the week is going to bring.

Be well, have a lovely Friday. Do a good deed if you can.


marianne said...

Oh wow Mim what a miracle!!!!!
What a great story!
And that whistle!!
How nice it willl be to meet up with some of those lost cousins!
Somtimes internet can be a blessing.............

have a wonderful day!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

How exciting to find long lost cousins. The whistle story is interesting. I used to whistle for my children but not with a tune. It was just a loud whistle. Have a great weekend.

Cat said...

What a wonderful story!! Three cheers for the internet!!


sukipoet said...

I love this story and the way modern technology led you all to reconnect. Can we see the youtube video??

I've never heard of a family whistle, but when I read the story at first i pictures an actual whistle that someone blew into with that tune. now i understand though, whistling w/the mouth kinda thing. that's so wonderful and if i still wrote stories i would steal it.

Lynn said...

What an awesome story. Your family stories always get to me in one way or another! Love the grandfather reading Torah while the family works to put food on the table! Especially the mother. Oy Vey!!!
Love how you all found each other after all those years. And I love how modern technology allows for this to happen.
As for a family whistle we sure were called in by both mom and dad whistling, but I don't remember it being a tune as much as a few sharp blows/whistles of a certain cadence.I think I do something similiar today to call in the cat (Henry).
This was really fun to read, thanks for sharing Mim!
And am happy for you.

Mim said...

suki - you should be able to click on the Utube link and see my mom (roz)in her prime!!!

ElizT said...

Confusing for the family dogs.

Teri C said...

That is REALLY an amazing story Mim!!!

Baino said...

Who'd have thought. The internet is indeed a wonderful thing. I marvel at it every day. Love the idea of a family whistle. We never had one. We did have a big 'triangle' at some stage to call the boys in from the back yard. No idea what happened to it. Have a great weekend and plan that reunion!

soulbrush said...

what a great post, thoroughly enjoyed it.