Tuesday, September 12, 2017

John Veckly, Jr. and The Forgotten War

Through my ancestral research, I've reconnected with my mother's cousin Jane, who is my closest living connection to the Voegtly family. I'm so glad that I was able to track her down, rather randomly actually, through a letter I found when I quickly stepped into my home office to grab my slippers, since it was so chilly today. I noticed this single letter sitting on my desk amidst all the boxes and piles of paper, practically shouting at me to pick it up.

I don't recall seeing this letter before, or setting it aside, but there it was. I grabbed it and brought it downstairs to continue my online research later, but a clue written on the outside of the envelope by my mother led me to wonder. It was probably an hour or two later when I found an email address for one of Jane's sons and I sent him a hopeful email. It was only minutes later that he wrote back and confirmed I had the right person.

This found letter was sent to my mom in 1978 from her cousin, Jane, letting my mom know that her uncle, Jane's father, John Voegtly, Jr., had died. On the front and back of the envelope, my mother had written the key to unsolving a mystery that has stumped me for several months. It was almost as if she knew someone (maybe me) would be looking for this after her death.

Her notes said simply "My cousin Jane – daughter of my Uncle John (VOEGTLY), mother's brother – he changed his to VECKLY. I've been searching for months for Voegtly, not Veckly, and as soon as I entered the correct spelling, it was almost scary what I could find online. And I couldn't be happier.

I also found out that my mother's only other first cousin, Jane's brother, was killed in the Korean War when he was only 20 years old. He was a Marine like my dad was. And for awhile he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA, where I lived right after college, renting a room from a Marine wife whose husband was stationed in Okinawa for six months. Interesting to have that connection so many decades later. When we were kids my family went to visit Arlington Cemetery and I wonder now if we looked for his tombstone. I found the details of his service and a copy of his tombstone that I wanted to share.

Private First Class Veckly was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in Korea on November 1, 1951 and posthumously received the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. "Jack" Veckly was stationed at Parris Island, then Camp Pendleton, and traveled to Korea in the Summer of 1951.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Life of Ed

In the interest of posting more regularly, I have about 30 saved drafts, some years old, that I am sifting through. For the ones that are slightly still relevant, I will post them despite not being current. This is one of them.

I've been picking through various papers, photos, and scrapbooks that my family has saved over the years, including all these wonderful images and clippings from my ancestors. However it's the computer files that are the most sobering, and not surprisingly, emotional, for me to review. I am tentative about opening files on my dad's computer, feeling a little bit like I'm snooping and not quite sure I want to read everything, since, after all – they are personal!

But what does one do when someone dies and leaves an extensive library of work, either electronically or print?

Collectively, my brothers and I are all reviewing the contents of my parent's house, including papers saved in various places in the house. I copied the contents of their computer after my dad died, pulling all his genealogy and whaling research files, letters to the editors, his lists, and his memoirs. I know some families where they throw everything in the trash, rather than take the time, or effort, to review all that is there. I could never do that. I want to least see what they have been keeping all these years, hoping to find a little more insight into their lives and what as people, not parents, they felt was important at the time. Looking through the computer files goes a step further; I'm learning more about my parent's daily interactions with people through the various organizations with which they were involved. They are numerous.

Did I mention that my father LOVED sailing and that my mother was TERRIFIED of water? I didn't know this until I was much older and I'm glad I never realized it when we were little. In a Christmas letter to his friends one year my dad referred to my mother as Chicken-of-the-Sea. Nice, huh?

We would spend three weeks every summer on a 35 foot sailboat; it was much like camping, only on water.  Whether we were living on the coast in Connecticut or in land-locked Ohio, we always had the Willy Wispe to sail the oceans and lakes. Thinking back, knowing how much my mom hated sailing, I'm sure she was quite relieved when we stopped sailing in the Atlantic. I'll share some sailing stories with you in future posts, including our "Children's Logs".

Among the documents my father had on his computer, I found this poem tucked into a folder with his whaling research. I somehow think it must've hit home for him when he read it. Maybe that's why he saved it. 

Being in a ship
is being in a jail,
with the chance of being drowned

                 Dr. Samuel Johnson
                            March 1759

From James Boswell’s Life of Johnson, 1791

Thursday, September 7, 2017

It's going to be a long day...

It's days like this when I start with 2 big cups of coffee laced with espresso.

Luckily, since my schedule is flexible, on days I head to Boston I leave the house around 5:30-6 and get into the office between 6:30-7. Which gives me a solid couple of hours to gather my thoughts before the rush is on and before my bluetooth headset gets permanently glued to my head.

Today, though, a rarity will occur. An in-person meeting with an outside vendor. One of many design launch meetings today for a product my company is working on. Usually, everyone is on the phone in multiple locations too many to list here (it would bore you). But today, a handful of people whom I haven't met or haven't seen in years will be here in person. A nice change of pace, and an opportunity to catch up with old friends.

However, as you can see from my schedule, a day like this is a little like Sophie's Choice. When you have 4 meetings at the same time, which do you pick? Do you show up late and leave early? To every meeting? With most of my team out of the office this week, it's not like I can send a proxy.  So I guess at least I will need to go to the meetings I've scheduled, since people would probably expect me there. Sigh.

This does make me wish it was a Friday instead of a Thursday. But I'll close my eyes and before you know it, it will be. Maybe I'll call and schedule a massage.