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  • My mother loved her English heritage. She studied and researched it, savored the stories she discovered over the years. In the 1970s she and my father traveled to the Isle of Wight with nothing but a piece of paper with a handwritten address on it, the street address where her father was born. They were able to find it, a modest home not far from the train station. It was still standing, even though many told them it might have been destroyed during the Nazi bombings during World War II.

    My parents also found a small cemetery near the home and graves with the last name Damp on them, ancestral connections. My great grandfather and grandmother worked for Queen Victoria on the Isle of Wight. He in the stables; she in the kitchen. They came to America just after the turn of the century and on their 50th wedding anniversary, held a big family party. There's a Life magazine photo shoot of the event, an amazing photo of some 100 family members gathered around John and Ada Damp waving to the camera. In that photo is my mother as an infant, and my grandfather - Fred Warren - is a young man.

    I recently re-connected with a member of that side of my family who was raised in the Pacific Northwest and she offered a photo, the one you see here. On the far left is my grandfather. He's the one with the open jacket and the too-short tie. I've seen pictures of him before, but in this one I find something new; I find my youngest son. I can see my 19 year old in this photo, his stature, his stance, even the way he squints to keep the son from his eyes. Generations have handed down the traits, and in many ways handed down my grandfather to me through my own son.

    My grandfather died when I was just a couple years old. I never really got to know him. But I understand he was a caring, compassionate man, a guy's guy who loved his beer, deer hunting, and dogs. And strong as a bull. Funny, I can kind of see all that in this long, lost photo.
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