Tuesday, October 3, 2017

DNA

Of course you still remember that Dawn called me at the end of June to announce that she is my brother Michael's daughter from 1967?

When we last spoke, Sandy and I were heading for Central Falls, RI, after the Ninigret Music Festival. We GPS'd it, pulled off 95 near the Pawtucket Red Sox's McCoy Stadium, drove down Summer Street into some ghetto, and came to Fuller Avenue. 9A Fuller Avenue in Central Falls, Rhode Island, is where my not-so-great-grandfather disappeared to, after abandoning his family of 7 in Adams in 1900. The 1910 and 1920 Rhode Island censuses place him in Central Falls with his second family. Well really, it was his first family. We find #8 and we find #13 but #9 turns out to be a PARKING LOT, fairly recently paved. Sandy takes my photo in the parking lot and we call it a day.



But Tuesday is another day. I know from the swimming pool business that when you fill in a pool, you let the town know, if for no other reason than you are paying taxes on a pool that you no longer own. I place a telephone call to the Central Falls Building Department. Eileen from the Assessors Office calls me the following day and tells me that a GARAGE, not a house, was torn down on this site in 2012. BUT she investigates further, and says that #9 Fuller Avenue and #73 Summer Street share the same address. It is on a corner lot. The Bachand apartment STILL STANDS. Sandy will be  so thrilled to go back with me to Central Falls RI.

So I finally received my DNA test back  Ancestry.com. I call Dawn and we are going to go through it step by step over the telephone. Everyone thinks that cell phones are awesome, but I still love the simple telephone. I don’t even own a Facebook. I am an amateur on the computer, but Dawn knows her stuff. She had her DNA tested -- and also her brother's. In July she sent me a side by side photo of my brother Michael and her brother. Wow! We think that her mother and my brother got together again to share the good old days . . . and produced brother Bruce.

Well … Bruce’s DNA comes back and it is NOT a match. So much for that theory. Bruce and Dawn had different fathers. But we -- Dawn and I -- are still related anyway.

We carry on. Ancestry screws my sample up and I have to do another test.

Finally it arrives. I call Dawn and we go through it together. I find it fascinating. I'm 60% European, and 0% Jewish. She gets kind of quiet. Then it dawns on me. (Dawn -- get it ?). Dawn and I are NOT related. My grandfather Frank Bacon used to say, “Hold your horses."

Are you kidding me? Instead of Jewish, I am 9% Irish. Dawn's DNA indicates she has 23% Jewish blood. Our DNAs do not match. We have enjoyed each other's company and shared family stories that Dawn is not connected to. Dawn has done a pile of research on the Bacon/Bachand family history. We even walked out to the Gurnet one morning. I think she loved the whole scene. If Dawn is not family, it is sort of like reminiscing with people that you don’t know.  But, but . . . our whole little Bacon family all feel such a strong connection. Sandy is convinced that Dawn looks like my mother, Nora. So what's up with that? 

Sandy says she has had plenty of clients for whom Ancestry has messed up. “Remember," she says, "They messed up the first DNA sample that you sent in.” She suggests that we try 23 & me. Marnie’s friend Kerry used Ancestry and did not like their answers. Tried 23 and Me and felt that they were more on target. We do 23 @ me and are currently waiting for the chromosome test results, and we are trying to hold our horses. But it ain’t easy.

October 3, 2017.  I am back. Just received my 23 & Me test results, and so did Dawn. She is still Jewish and I am still not. So we are NOT related. Are you kidding me?  

Dawn texts her mom again and mom sticks to her guns. She says Dawn is my brother Michael’s child, but Ancestry and 23 say nada, nyet, no way Jose.

23 and Me hooks me up with a second cousin. I e-mail someone named Julianna Menke. My father's sister Dorothy had a daughter named Greta. Greta married Curt Menke. Greta is my first cousin. I am in touch with her sister, Paula, who now lives in North Carolina. Greta is in Ten-ah-sea. Well, that is how she says it. ARE YOU FOLLOWING THIS? I don’t blame you.

I go back to my good friend Google, and come up with another Bachand -- Rebecca -- who owns a business in Rhode Island. Sandy and I leave for Sicily tomorrow, and hope to get a reply before then. Maybe I should have just quit at Fuller Avenue.

Married for 50 years and two days so far.  Not counting the fact that we met when we were 14 and 15. Looking good. Sandy’s father said, “I hope you know what you are doing." Her mom said, “You will never make it." Gramma Hattie Bacon said, “Ask her to marry you now."

su servidor and truth finder,
Roberto Francisco Tocino, Robert Bacon, Robert Francois Bachand, Bobby Baconi

I am very confused at this point, but we did solve the 117-year-old question of where Charles Frank Bacon/Bachand wandered off to. That has been my goal since 1976.

Our secrets for a long success full marriage I cannot share with you until I get to know you better.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Neptune Burped


José is finally leaving us. It has been raining for five days here in the south of Boston area, especially the Cape and the islands. I stop short on complaining when I hear what Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, and all the islands are going through.

This Saturday morning I finally get to take my 3-hour walk out to the Gurnet. It is low tide. This means that I can walk the shoreline in the soft sand but not today. The beach is a mess. I can see that the earlier tide has run right up to the snow fence where the piping plovers live. Never have I seen so many lobster pot buoys free from their pots. The wind is from the north and steady. Walking or running in the wind is not much fun but at least the rain has stopped.

Even though I am the only one on Duxbury Beach, I feel that someone is watching me. A movement catches my eye. Two large beautiful eyes with long lashes are looking at me from a pile of seaweed. I cannot believe what I am seeing. It is a seal. The waves have stranded it way in near the snow fence. It is small -- maybe four feet long. Is it a harbor seal or a grey seal. How can I help? 



 I place a white plastic basin next to him and ballast it with rocks making it easier for the rescue crew to find him. He is stranded between the first and second beach crossover. Maybe closer to the second. I will call the Duxbury Harbormaster when I get back to my pick up. Maybe it will be too late. Finally as I walk south, I see a couple walking towards me. “Do you have a cell phone?”

“Yes.”

“Could you call the harbormaster and tell them about the seal?”

It will be a long time before I get back to my truck. I hope he will be okay. I know that sometimes seals beach themselves to take a break, but this one is so far off the water line that I know he is in deep trouble.

I find an incredible buoy. It looks like a lighthouse. Sandy loves it when I bring even more stuff home. This one will thrill her. 

If I have to drive my truck down the gravel road to pick it up, I might as well do a clean up today. I have a final pool job to seal, but everything is still too wet. I have spare time. In the Navy, we called it Field Day. At Friendly Ice Cream it was called Spruce Up. Mom called it Spring or Fall Cleaning.


 I am finally back to the land side of the Gurnet Powder Point Bridge (constructed in 1892). Did that couple make the call to the Harbormaster? Did they relay properly everything I told them about the location? It is, after all, seven miles of beach. Most of the crossovers today are chained off. I call the Harbormaster he is vague about the rescue. I spoke to a policeman coming across the bridge, and he told me that they would normally call the aquarium. But what aquarium?  

I call the New England Aquarium. The answering machine says, “Press 6 if you want to report an injured or dead sea turtle, whale or seal.” I press 6 and leave a message. Even before I cross over the bridge, Nicole is returning my call. My news sounds like it is news to her. I relay all the facts to Nicole. She sounds responsible. She says, “A crew is on the way."

 
Boy, there are a lot of windsurfers out today -- and no fishermen. Many birders with their binoculars. I stop and pick up my stashes of litter and buoys. Is it bouy or buoys?

I finally reach the third crossover, where I left my lighthouse-looking buoy. There is a jeep parked there full of dogs. A woman is walking towards the ocean with a white pail. We pass as I load yet another buoy that I am sure Sandy will learn to love. OMG, it is Leslie Adams, daughter to my good friend Randy. She shows me the steamers she and her husband have collected. Randy is coming for dinner tonight. Leslie says that the bay water is kind of mucky and that is why she was getting a pail from the Atlantic, to keep them fresh.


My truck is so full of Neptune’s treasures that I decide to do an inventory when I get home. The sun still hasn’t come out. Kezia e-mails from Sutton, Massachusetts, where it is sunny and 80 degrees. WHAT THE …?


• 39 pieces of charcoal oak firewood
• 6 buoys bouy whatever
• 8 bags of dog shit in bright blue bags. I simply do not like your dog … but I hate you.
• 10 pieces of footwear, no matches found
• 1 red plastic kids’ shovel
• 109 bottles and cans, disgusting
• diapers -- How can you leave diapers on the beach road?
• 1 ball cap  -- 80% chance it was worn improperly.

This year's sand toy collection.
  
“Hello this is the New England Aquarium. Yes, the crew found him. Thank you. We carried him down to the ocean and he swam away."   

No one will believe his story when he finally sees his family. He was, in fact, a young grey seal. Nice job.

by Bobby Bacon        
a friend to all water creatures

Rosanne Cash


On a cool drizmally Sunday night, under Pat & Don’s tent canopy, we watched and listened to Johnny’s daughter -- September 3, 2017, Labor Day weekend at the 29th annual Rhythm and Roots Festival in Ninigret, Rhode Island. Someone thought to bring Drambuie.

Our daughter Kezia is a fan. Sandy bought Rosanne’s book and asked her to sign it as a gift. The name of the book is Composed. I am reading it now, in my casita. The first house that the Cashes lived in in California was at Casitas Springs. It was a large ranch style, with adobe and redwood shingles.

My personal favorite that night was “Tennessee Flat Top Box.” John Cash wrote it in 1961. “In a little cabaret in a south Texas border town ….”  It made Bob’s CD years ago. Hardly a CD is made without a John Cash tune. He liked to be called John, not Johnny.

John Stewart, in 1987, wrote “Runaway Train.” John was with the second Kingston Trio. Do you know his big hit “Gold?”

When the lights go down
in the California town,
people are in for the evening.

Well my buddy Jim Bass
he’s a working pumping gas
and he makes two fifty for an hour.
He’s got rhythm in his hands
as he’s tapping on the cans,
sings rock and roll in the shower.

Rosanne became a friend to John and used “Runaway Train” on her album “King’s Record Shop.” The store was in Louisville but, like so many records stores, is gone now. Do you remember Laflem’s Record Store in Adams? Google didn’t know it either. So don’t feel bad. When I was in 7th grade, I would stop in every day and browse. Do people still browse? Richie Valens, Rick Nelson, Little Richard, Fats Domino.  Mostly 45’s as I remember. That album, “King’s” was big for Ms. Cash. She had four hits off of it. Maybe the biggest was “Runaway Train.” King’s Record Shop was her sixth album.

John Stewart was a favorite of Kezia’s. While she was attending Hampshire College, Kezia went to his concert in Hartford. Hartford is a city in Connecticut. She introduced herself. John asked if she was coming to his next concert at Johnny D’s in Somerville, Massachusetts. She said no. He asked why. She said she was under 21 and could not get in to a club that served liquor. John said, “Come as my guest. You can handle the sales of my CDs.” She did. This led to John calling every time he was in New England. Sandy and I went to a concert of his out in Westboro, at the Old Vienna Kaffehaus and we became fans. Michael & Trysha Lynch know the Old Vienna.

Kezia went to a Rosanne Cash concert. When she introduced herself, Rosanne, being a good friend of John, said, “So you are Kezia.” Pretty cool. But then again, reading her book, you sense that she is very down to earth.

Last night in the book, a guitar player joined her on tour. His name is Vince Gill. He played with Pure Prairie League. Remember them?

I will keep you posted on the rest of the book. You do not have to thank me, but thank you for listening.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Seabee Memories



The first time that I heard the name was when our drill instructor Rumsey asked us, while we were in ranks after class and before PT, “Who would volunteer for a war we have going in Viet Nam?” Almost everyone stepped forward. “Here we go, round again, won’t stop, won’t quit, never die. Why? Whiskey, women, PT, Rumsey.”   

After each school day, Rumsey would run us around the base, close to the palm trees and the chain link perimeter fence. You feel you can run forever when you are running as a company or platoon. Even in your combat boots. Rumsey was like John Wayne. One tough sonofa. . .

We were nearing the end of the Navy Seabee Class A Electrical School in Port Hueneme, California, sixty miles north of L.A. The name Port gives you a hint that it is on the coast. The year was 1964. It was before the Summer of Love in San Francisco. “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear a flower in your hair.”

It was a three-month school that ended with a month of power pole work. Not telephone pole work, power pole work. I guess they put it at the end, because if you broke your leg during this phase, it really didn’t matter. You still had the knowledge of the previous two months.

That is Elmer Berkee sitting on the cross arms, with me gaffed in under him. He was from Oregon and he did get orders to Da Nang. In country, sitting like this, you were a fun target for the Vietnamese snipers. I wonder how Berkee did over there. I heard of a Seabee who got shot in the ass upon arrival, as his plane was landing.

Mark Ruane was from Malden and he got orders to Reykjavik. Harvey went to Roda. Most everyone else went to Viet Nam. Somehow I ended up at the Naval Air Station in South Weymouth, Massachusetts. I met John Waltner at South Weymouth. John and Frank Sinatra were both from Hoboken. Every time you see John, he reminds you of that fact. Every single time. He had done two tours in ‘Nam. One on an aircraft carrier, and one in the mud and torrential rains at Da Nang. Once while crossing a river on a barge, the guy sitting next to him was shot dead. John was an Seabee Equipment operator which meant bulldozers, graders, front end loaders, and tractor trailers. When he came aboard the carrier, the Boatswains Mate Chief asked him what the hell rate was that under his crow. Waltner told him, “Seabee Equipment Operator.” The chief shook his head and said, “And what the hell am I suppose to do with you?”   

John did end up operating something on the carrier. It was called the ship’s movie projector.

My boss and friend of 52 years now got orders from South Weymouth to an Army base in Ethiopia. Chet was wounded in Viet Nam and ended up putting in 44 years in the Navy. Spain, Viet Nam, Sicily, Guam, Puerto Rico, Gulfport, and his very last duty station was American Samoa. He came to the Seabee reunion here this summer with his wife, Carmen, who he met in Puerto Rico. He is legally blind and you have to speak to him through his microphone, but he still has that same positive attitude that he had the very first day that I met him. Chet Urbati -- Navy Seabee Electrical Senior Chief and a first class person . . . and does he ever have stories to tell!

While at the landfill recently, a guy stopped by the side of my pick up. “Were you a Seabee?” he asked. I only have one sticker on my truck rear window and it is the Seabee one. “I was.” He said he recently was also, and was just returning from Fallujah. “What did you do over there in Iraq,” I asked? He said, “We built a hospital.” I said, “Thank you for serving.” He returned the compliment.

Bacon R.F.  CEW 2   693 -10 - 63

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Light Overview of the Bachand/Bacon/Lemanski/Zaik/Zabek Families


In 1976 / 1977 I started my family history research while living in Marshfield, Massachusetts. This was before computers. In 1956 our house telephone number was 743-W. At first I interviewed relatives that were still alive. Right away I found out that the dead ones did not have a lot to say. I also visited the National Archives in Waltham and in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The microfilm on the 1900 Adams Massachusetts census was chock full of pertinent information about the Bacon family of Brown Street, Zylonite. Thank you Chuck.

 
Bacon Family circa 1890-1900. Only known photograph of Charles Francois Bachand.
My educated guess is that this was taken in front of the current Lime Company. It was easy to guess the year by the baby. In my time there were cute small houses lining Howland Avenue along with the beautiful Dutch elm trees of years ago. Three generations of Bacons worked at “The Lime Company.” Annie Boudo’s gravestone is a piece of marble taken from New England Lime Company in Uncle George’s automobile, and resides in upstate New York. I can prove it. I have photos and Uncle George’s letters.

In 1900, Charles Frank Bacon deserted his wife (I have never have been able to find a marriage license), Anna Agnes Boudo, and six children -- the oldest, Charles, being 15, and the youngest, Leda Hattie, at six months. Can you imagine this?  The full story on the desertion is in one of the sons’, George Washington Bacon of Florida, letters to Robert Francis Bacon. Hand written on both sides of unlined paper by George, and I saved every letter. They are all on that fine crispy type paper.

The best tip: Great Uncle George Bacon -- one of my grandfather Frank’s brothers -- gave me was that his father came from Saint Hyacinthe in Canada. Grampa Frank always said, “Boys will be boys, and you boys are more trouble than all my money.” He never had much money. Armed with this information I hired, by letter, for $12 dollars an hour, a Mrs. John Cordeirre of Canada. She found no Charles Frank Bacon in Saint Hyacinthe but said, “the name Bacon in Canada is pronounced Back-ON, and did I want to spend another $12 dollars to check that out?” I did, and she found him. Charles Francois Bachand (the “d” is silent) our real last name. Born in August 1856 in Saint Hyacinthe, Canada. That was fairly easy.

We now have that Bachand line all the way back to Saint Cloud, southerly outside the city of Paris in 1646. Nicholas was the first to settle in Can-a-DA. He was a French soldier, and twenty nine years of age when he married a lass of fourteen. Now there are four thousand of us. Most from my brother Michael Allan Bacon.

Sandy and I went to the church in Saint Cloud (sann-CLUUD) that they more than likely attended. I filled a church collection envelope with francs and asked for information on my family. It took two years before a letter, written in French, was delivered to 110 Stagecoach Drive, Marshfield, Massachusetts. Our daughter Kezia had a French teacher who deciphered it for us. Had to Google deciphered -- lo siento. It said that all their church records were burned during the French Revolution, but thanks for the dough. Actually the research goes back to Belgium, but France just sounds more foreign and sexier.

Statement. The best solid family information you can get is through personal interviews. For instance. I was told by my Polish/American mother Nora Lemanski Bacon and her four sisters -- my father called this group the Pentagon -- that their mother had walked from her village in northern/west Poland on the Russian border while pregnant with my Aunt Blanche, for two days, to Gdansk, to catch a steamship, the White Line, to the United States. As soon as her husband knew she was safe, he would desert the Russian army and make his way to the U.S. Up until July 2017 I told that story over and over again. Especially with Wladislaw Lemanski’s stories of “sleeping in snow 20 degrees below zero on Russian ski patrol.” Walter had a gold tooth on his front left side. He had a nice smile, but I got the feeling that you would not want to cross him. His eyes were a beautiful blue. My dad, Francis “Joe” Bacon, and our daughter, Marnie Bacon, have them. Check it out. Why would I lie to you? The favorite movie star of my maternal grandmother, Alexandra Zaik, was Bustom Crap. Buster Crabbe for all you youngsters. Tarzan, etc. World-class swimmer.

Good story, right? But was it true? No it was not. Dawn says we have Jewish blood. I say we do not. She says she is a biology teacher and we do. OK, I guess we do. My DNA test is hurtling towards me at this very minute.

Dawn Biagini Valenti of Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- one of my younger brother Mike’s children, found the United States entry reports. Alexandra Zaik probably was pregnant, but was not married, and was traveling with her older sister, Mary. Written sideways across the Ellis Island N.Y. report, it simply says, “Sisters.” I saw this with my own eyes. Oh and they did not come through Gdansk, Poland -- they came through Antwerp, Belgium. Which also explains why I could not trace my wife Sandra’s Polish grandmother, Aniela Pater Zabek, because she also came through Antwerp, when she was only sixteen. She did travel by herself. Can you imagine her trip?  She never did learn to speak English. Her husband was a butcher, across from the Saint Stanislas Kostka Polish Church on the corner of Hoosac Street and Summer Street. If you are not related, you can stop reading because it only gets crazier.

In 19??, I received a phone call from Mary Ann Coppens of Manitowac, Wisconsin. She is related to John Bouda, a brother of Anna Agnes Boudo. Dawn says her last name was Boudreau, with two official forms to prove it, but I disagree intensely. Yah, I know. Just to confuse us, they changed the spelling for male/female. Here in the U.S. it would be Robert or Roberta. Or even in Mexico. Someone in the family went to Bohemia and traced that whole side of the family and Mary Ann graciously shared all her information with me. I gave her, and her daughter Kathy, a tour of Adams.

In 2012, purely on a hunch, with no facts to back it up, I asked my good friend from Scituate, Massachusetts, Barbara Sylvester, to check Rhode Island for the Charles Bachands. Within fifteen minutes, she was back to me with her findings through Ancestry.com. Charles Francois Bachand and his wife Rosalie and two or three sons, two of which have the same first names as the deserted family of Brown Street, Adams, in the 1910 census of Central Falls R.I. The factories of Rhode Island in the 1900’s are filled with French speaking Canadians.

For seven years I try to get more information with no luck. Out of the blue on our house phone on June 29, 2017 at 10:32 am we receive a call from Dawn Biagini Valenti, claiming to be my niece. A likely story. Dawn B.V.  -- just one of my brother’s daughters -- finds a C.F. Bachand in Canada, married to a woman named Rosalie in 1888? My thick Polish brain does not at this time make the connection. So C.F. Bachand was married before he came to the U.S. and actually had two women pregnant at the same time. This is familiar. A women in Can-a-DA, Rosalie, and one in South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts, Annie, a domestic from Bohemia. Charles was a canvasser, which means door-to-door salesman. Did he walk? Did he have a car, or a horse and wagon? What did he sell? Insurance? Furniture? Silverware? How did he get back and forth to Canada? From Albany to Montreal is 221.1 miles. I don’t know. Why the hell did they move to Savoy before Adams? Even today, Savoy is desolate. Low rent? Hiding out?

Early on, I somehow find the address of the very first place that the Bacons lived after Savoy, in Adams. The first one I did not recognize the name. It started with a “k,” but I left Adams over 54 years ago. It was Kipper Avenue, actually. August 2017 I receive an Adams Historical Society newsletter. In it there is a story about a street in the Zylonite section of Adams that was changed, because of a battle in France, where Adams men beat the Germans that they were apposing in WWI. The name of that French town was Apremont. I grew up on Howland Avenue, only two streets from Apremont Street. Kezia says Apremont means “at the base of the mountain.” Apremont is currently, in fact, at the base of Mount Greylock. ZowieBatman!  

P.S. There are only six streets in Zylonite. The first Bacons lived there (Kipper/Apremont) initially, then Howland Avenue, a couple of times, and finally Brown Street, named after L.L. Brown, a company in Adams.

So July 2017 -- I have found Charles Francois Bachand living in Central Falls R.I. The 1910 and 1920 censuses say it is true. I would never lie to you, Mi Amor. For the past five years I have somehow been collecting R.I. obits. They are piled on my desk. I call the R.I historical number, but no one ever answers. Time to declutter. One night I bring them down to my casita, beyond the swimming pool, where I sleep, and start to sort through them. One page in my handwriting is the name Rosalie. OH MY GOD! Rosalie of Canada and Rosalie of Central Falls are the same person. Search suspended. Now I know where he went after the desertion. I think.

Monday, Labor Day -- Sandy and I will explore Central Falls Rhode Island. We will look at the falls, just like Charles and Rosalie did. “Walk down the same streets that your grandparents did,” says the old travel ad. We will walk up and down Fuller Avenue until we come to 9A. Will a Bachand answer the door? What would the reaction be of his six children and wife in Adams to this 117-year-old mystery? Every single abandoned child thought that someday he would return, especially Mother. The Bacon children referred to their parents as Mother & Father. Uncle George often said, “His father was of fine carriage.” What would beautiful Rosalie think?  We will never know. Or will we? My work here is done, and I am moving on.

Nos vemas mas tarde.

Robert Francis Bacon, or Robert Francois Bachand, or Roberto Francisco Tocino          
August 30, 2017         
I am totally confused