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What is your cultural background?
June 25, 2005
7:18 pm
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CODA_Mom
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Hey all,

Learning more about others' cultural, ethnic, religious, etc., backgrounds is a very interesting topic to me. Probably having grandparents who were immigrants to the USA, and growing up in a strong inner city ethnic culture increased my awareness of differences in others' history.

All four of my grandparents were Italian immigrants to the US in the early 1900s. The economy in Italy back then was very poor, so they came here with their kids to find work...in the coal mines of Pennsylvania, as barbers, restaurant owners and priests šŸ™‚

Though alcoholism was rampant on both sides of the family (along with domestic abuse), I learned the value of hard work, perseverance and a strong sense of God's presence ("Che sara sara" -- What will be, is -- meaning to accept all things as God's plan for your life).

Though I grew up in Philadelphia, here I am in N. New England...mamac, that would qualify me to be a hick, too ;). Some days I would give anything to go back to Philly, but most of the time I would rather be here, with the natural wildlife and the smell of pine.

What is your background?

June 25, 2005
7:32 pm
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My grandmother was slavic, my grandfather was German and English on my fathers side, Dad was born and raised in the midwest. My mothers mother was (is, I suppose) Irish and unknown (she was born of a steamy affair), and her father was Indian (blackfoot, not sure of it beyond that). My mother was born and raised in Oklahoma. Lots of alcoholism on that side. They where sort of the sort of people Jeff foxworthy makes fun of, big issues all over that side.

On my fathers side, he was one of the oldest of 9 children. My grandfather was serious and stern with a dry sense of humor, and my grandmother was very mean and abusive, I've heard even to the other Gradchildren. For some reason she was very kind to me though, I think I was an odd child and she liked that. Besides that, I don't beleive that her husband was all good and she was all tyrant, but her children all sort of did.

My father raised me and my brother, my half brother, my stepsister, my stepbrother, and a child of an ex girlfriend. We where very lower class, but he and my stepmother (an alcoholic and then a dry drunk) where hippies and always found a way to get by. We where raised to read everything, and apriciate all sorts of music, cinema, art, food..My father is a very smart man always eger to learn, but emotionally inaccesable...however, very funny.

I was born in Oklahoma, and spent nearly a year when I was 6 trying to drop the little accent I had, though in time it completely faded.

WOw, maybe that's more than you asked for? Well, with a breath of kindness...

June 25, 2005
7:34 pm
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on my way
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My ancestors are from Scotland, and traveled to the USA in the 1700's. Most were preachers, teachers, and affiliated with the law in some way. They settled in the southern colonies.

Interestly enough, one of the family castles is still standing in Scotland,,the MacLean castle. It was the same castle that was in the movie Entrapment with Sean Connery. Not braggin I just think to myself how awesome this truly is. I hope to one day go back and visit this castle. There is a family guest book n the entry way for all descendants to sign. Would love to see the signatures.

Apparently though, the Spaniards invaded Scotland. Some of my relatives havevery dark black hair and some are blonded in contrast. I beleive I have the very dark mixture of Spanish/Scottish genes, as my hair is very dark,

We have letters written to family from the Civil War explaining the conditions and the horror of it all.

The preachers in my family were Presbyterian. Somewhere along the line they switched to Church of Christ with a division split of Baptists. I was raised Baptist, but at 17 came to a clearer understanding of who God is.
So I too believe that God has always been the focal point of my family's history.

And alcoholics goes back on both sides of my family as well.

The women of my family have outlived their husbands, and my family has always been very close.

June 25, 2005
7:34 pm
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exoticflower
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As far as religion, we where encouraged to go to any sort of church with any of our friends, though they never encouraged any perticular beleif for us...though I went to catholic grade school for a few years for the structure.

June 25, 2005
7:47 pm
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on my way
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CM,
I was in Philadelphia a few years ago..i loved being there. The quaint little streets in town, the history is so impressive. Went to the whilt little church where Thomas Jeffreson, Ben Franklin went, and from what I understand ther are graves under the isle of the church?

And of course th Liberty Bell. Also had lunch at a restaurant where B. Franklin, etc, used to eat, drink and be merry!

The houses are beautiful. And I love New England, but have not been there as of yet.

June 25, 2005
8:22 pm
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Wow, ef, you are a living melting pot!! šŸ™‚ What a rich history...you are also a child of hippies? I guess that makes you a "baby buster", too (children of baby boomers).

omw, one of my all-time historic heroes is Eric Liddel, a Scotsman who was an Olympic runner and missionary to China. His biography is worth reading, in addition to watching "Chariots of Fire".

Thanks, guys...I'd love to hear from more of you, especially any non-waspy folks.

June 25, 2005
8:31 pm
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sdesigns
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My fathers side of the family is Welsh. Don't know when they got to the US but many came out west in covered wagons. Some stopped in Colorado, the rest came to California. Some of them were cowboys, some were gunslingers, some were outlaws,- some pretty wild characters (gee- don't suppose any of them drank, do you?). Some were ranchers.

My mothers side of the family were pure German and settled in South Dakota as farmers. My Mom was adopted at about the age of 3 and I think she was one of those orphans that were shipped out in trains from the East. The time period was about right - born in 1928). So I don't know her true heritage, only that she was raised German. She was an only child but spoiled rotten- had 16 ponies of her own. I think the fact that she was adopted is the seed of her codependency, and the reason she has always treated my sister and myself (as well as everyone else) w/ contempt.

June 25, 2005
9:02 pm
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I am a combination of Irish and Meditterenean origin. My family is cocktail of all sorts of philosophies. There are materialists and spirituals side by side, even though the latter unfortunately represents a minority.

The dominant unpleasant genes in my family is depression, abuse, narcissism and codeps. So, I have to watch out for these phenomenon even though I inherited my dad's romantic, tender codep personality.

~Love, Rasputin~

June 25, 2005
10:47 pm
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Oh, And I've had Christian education in my childhood. I attended Catholic school and went to Protestant Sunday School. This instilled in me a spirit of tolerance and respect to all Christian denominations up to now.

Righy now, God is using all the past abuse, depression, and dysfunction I've had in my own family to help and minister to others of likewise background.

Unfortunately, right now only myself and my oldest sisters are the only true believers in our family.

But, He never promised us an easy life, right!? I least I keep praying for them!

June 25, 2005
11:58 pm
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readyforachange
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On my father's side, I am 100% Albanian. My grandmother was actually send to the U.S. by her brothers to marry my grandfather, also an Albanian immigrant, though she had never met him. My grandfather drove an ice and coal truck; neither of them attended school. My father was raised Greek Orthodox, but converted to Roman Catholicism after college.

On my mother's side, I am Scottish/Irish. My motehr grew up in the South - and is truly a Southern belle. She was raised in the Presbyterian church, but converted to Catholicism when she met my father. I was raised Catholic - and attended Catholic schools from Kindergarten through graduate school, if you can believe that!

Alcoholism is in my mother's family...her father was an alcoholic. She didn't tell me this until after my marriage starting falling apart. My father never drank, but was addicted to other things (work, food). She is as codependent as I am. I have three sisters...one other is married to an alcoholic (recovered, thank God).

One of my goals is to do more research into my family history...I find it fascinating.

June 26, 2005
1:30 am
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cpt1212
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Coda_mom-- my great grandparents came from Italy in the early 1900s and also went to work in the coal mines in PA. A couple of years ago I went to Southern Italy to see the town they came from and spent a wonderful evening with some very distant relatives.

June 26, 2005
7:07 am
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Wow! Your backgrounds are all so fascinating, and some are very romantic...sdesigns - covered wagons, gunslingers, yeah and probably saloon fights, too šŸ™‚

Ras - One thing that I really appreciated about my Irish neighbors while growing up was their strong family network, as well as spirituality. I particularly remember that they always wore green "to the hilt" on St. Patrick's Day, then the Italians would get mad and wear red on St. Joseph's day, 2 days later. Unfortunately, I also remember lots of drinking with both nationalities.

ready - Wow! I'll bet your parents had an interesting courtship...Albanian and Scot/Irish, lots of emotion there šŸ™‚ One thing that you may eventually want to do is to have a genogram made, not a geneology, but a genogram. It is a charted representation of family members (usually starting with grandparents) and it shows not only relationships (marriages, divorces, "live-ins", etc.) but also lists any mental or physical infirmities or major crises such as alcoholism, polio, bipolar, death of a child, etc.

It is a real eye-opener as to how certain traits (such as depression) are passed down from generation to generation.

cpt - I have not been to Italy myself, but my parents went over about 10 years ago. Their families were from Naples. You must have had a wonderful visit. I did find out more about my grandparents' trip to the US thru:

http://www.ellisisland.org

My dad told me in a letter once that the reason why the Italian and Irish immigrants went to work in the coal mines is because the US govt. promised them citizenship here if they did, which they were eager to get. The work was so dangerous that many established US citizens did not want it. Fortunately, my grandfather (dad's father) eventually moved his family to Phila. from Pittsburgh after obtaining citizenship.

June 26, 2005
11:26 am
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exoticflower
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CM, they where actually just shy of the baby boom. They are/where (mother has passed) both very young when I was born, 19 and 25, and both of my grandmothers where very young when they where born (my mothers mom was 17 and my fathers mother was 22).

Al the women on my fathers side of the family are very depressed and have hormonal issues (developing early, intense premenstural problems, postpartum depression)...I think often that if only we'd known then what we do now, how very different everything would be for my aunts and grandmother, and even for me as a result. This is such a neat thread, it really makes you think of how many things went into deciding so many years later who we would be raised by and who we would become!

June 26, 2005
1:36 pm
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Thank you CM for this lovely thread! It helps brings us close to each other.

I like where I live right now, we even have a parade each year for St. Paddy's day.

I believe it will be one of the beautiful things I am gonna miss if God decides to move me elsewhere!

~Love, RAS~

June 27, 2005
8:38 am
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Juanita
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French & a smidgeon Indian.

One of my great grandfathers was Indian - from what tribe in Canadian my mother can never remember (shame). All she remembers is all the kids called him Pepere Savage & although he liked kids, he also kinda of scared them.

My grandparents, both sets, lead very similar lives. Both of my grandfathers were lumberjacks in Canada, who during the course of their travels, married a daughter from the family they took room & board with. After marrying, they (both sets) moved to Maine.

One of my grandfathers ran moonshine between Canada and Maine during Prohibition and was nearly killed in a car crash while escaping the police. The Police did not see where he crashed, and he managed to get home thanks to his fellow moonshiners.
He ran Shine to support his family & his wife was none too happy with him.
They then took up to gardening and selling their extra produce. My mother remembers bringing their pull wagon to town to sell what extra they had.

So, I am mostly French Canadian & a smidge Canadian Indian.

June 27, 2005
11:09 am
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I was born and raised in New England and live here still. And yes, I have the accent to go with it. I'm wicked smaht! lol

I am your basic Heinz variety. My father is French and Irish. His mother from Belgium and father born here of Irish decent. My mother was French and English. Her father was Canadian and her mother born here of English decent. My mother's family was an intergral part of the founding of my state and her family dates back hundreds of years back to England. We are actually decendants of Miles Standish.

Lolli

June 27, 2005
11:42 am
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revelation
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Well...I must say I feel very unexotic reading those family history's. Did you ever wonder what one of your albanian/french/scottish/irish/indian/german ancestors would say if they met you now?!?!

I am Irish, I was born/raised and still live in Dublin, the capital city. My parents were also born here, but after that it gets a teeny bit more diverse!
Sailing and the sea features heavily in my ancestory on both sides...as does foreign first wives who died young!!
My fathers mother was a true-blue dub (That means you can't trace any relatives outside of dublin) she was the first woman in Dublin to own her own car! and her father owned but drank dry to pubs in dublin city centre. Dads father was from County Wexford but moved to County Waterford as a child, he was a twin and his mother was a mysterious character who hailed from the basque region of spain, apparently she was known in Waterford as the basque-witch, and there are some dodgy stories about her! She died young and her husband remarried. I'd say that because her husband my great-great grandfather was a sailor that he probably picked her up at one of his ports-of-call!!!
On My mothers side, her father was from sea-faring stock on Dublin's east coast, although he was very artistic and made hand-painted silk-scarves for a living. My beloved Nana was born in Wicklow, again her mother was said to be foreign (Scandinavian we believe) her father was a sailor and she had no memory of her mother as she died so young. She was raised by her fathers 2nd wife a scottish woman called "Nan".

I was educated in catholic convent schools (As are about 80% of the population in Ireland). Strict but good, although I am still afraid of Nuns!! We were raised in a leafy suburn about 10 minutes from Dublin on the southside and now I live a little to the west of that in one of the new towns that have sprung up since the 80's.

June 27, 2005
12:03 pm
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((((Lolli))))
I too am Wicked Smaaht, And J is Wicked retahded.....He named Kitty "tahd" short for Retahd because he was really weird when we first brough him home.
LOL. Now he is tahddy, or Toddles as Jigsaw named him.

Anyway ....
My Mothers Father was born in newfoundland, came to Northern Maine at some point (No one is sure) My Grandmother on My mothers side was born on the Border Of maine and Canada and was French and Native American. She gave birth to Ten Children,my mother being the oldest. my granfather was married before he married my Grandmother.. He fathered 18 children... (farm help)
He was a very bitter angry mean abusive alcoholic, and was never really supportive or had a postive thing to say about many.
They were Catholic, With Mostly shame and fear and guilt passed down under the guise of religion. My mom moved down to CT. "with her H.S. Diploma in her hand." and shes been here ever since.
She married a man who was a control freak abusive manipulitive "napolean com;plex" psycho. She divorced him after about 3 years and met my father (who apparently thought my mom had money from her divorce)
He was 2nd generation of irish American con artist abusive alcohics to the greater HArtford area, but was very sharming and smooth and apparently "handsome" at first. My mother and he were married and things were downhill from there. I was born shortly after about a year of their marriage, and my mom began fearing for our lives.she filed for divorce while he was in jail for something or other ((again))
he was a career criminal and could never be sure ofwhat he was capable of.The dtails of what my mother went through would be an award winner on The lifetime channel, I am sure. he was also a stalker, bu we finally seemed free of him for a while but would show up on our porch, or notice we werent getting mail any more becasue hed find out where we were and put a change of address in or something bizzarre like that.
he died of some alcohol/drug related diseases about 2 years ago.

It has just been me, my mom and my illnesses and cat(s) for years. despite her huge family, she isnt close with really any of them,and I noticed that a couple years back I always referred to them as "her family' never really calling them "our family" the majority of her relatives are mean, condescending, demeaning rude uncooth folks who always seem to go out of their way to make sure she is upset or feeling like Sh&^ about htings. so We dont really have much to do wit hthem, even though she'll cook and have them over for holidays.
She (my mom) came to the shocking conclusion that she doeant like her sister ________. and she is learning that it is okay. and that she really doesnt have to feel obligated ot keeping in touch wit hher since all ehr sister does is lash out at my mom,and hang up on her when she calls.

sooo, In short, I am an irish french native american only child of an amazing , yet overbearing, and over protective neurotic mother whom I adore.She taught me good manners, how to be caring , nurturing, and how to speak up for myself openly. I have also inherited her sence of humor, work ethic and creativity. Im sure she wishes I were a college graduate, and not just a trade school graduate, but she always has positve, supportive ,enthusiatic things to say about where I am and what is going on in my life.she consideres herself a "recovering Catholic" and I really sont have a denominational preferrence. ive studies and sought out a lot of different religions and beliefs and am kind of ecclectic. I have always believed in a god, but not so much the "organized religion" As the followers have scared me, andI had some bad experiences as a young child that stayed with me. But i ma very spritual and do my own praying and have a church in my head that is beautiful. I enjoy the chruch J grew up with and we have been trying to organize our time better ot actually get to his church.. it seems to interfere with Race season. LOL

June 27, 2005
12:33 pm
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revelation
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Lolli and AW I Loooovvvee that accent! I think its the best of all the US accents (Sorry the rest of ye!!). I'm always trying to imitate it! I also love that real southern (I think its Alabama) accent and of course that Noo-Yawwk accent!

Y'know what, I dunno whether anyone has noticed, but there is a common feature running thru almost all of these history's ALCOHOLISM...Its just staring us all in the face!!! It obviously has had a ripple effect down through the generations and that worries me. When does the ripple effect stop?? I also noticed that quite a few of those alcoholics were Irish.
Yes, being Irish that also worries me, because I think that over here we have just as much abuse and misery caused by alcolholism, but a lot of it was and still is hidden and denied...I think in maybe the next 20-50 years there will be a huge outcry from Irish people about this...

June 27, 2005
12:34 pm
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revelation
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Oh and I love the accent from the movie "fargo" I think its from somewhere near the north...anyone here got an accent like that?

June 27, 2005
1:30 pm
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My grandfather on my father's side came from India, but I never met him. Apparently he was quite the alcoholic. He had an Indian wife, but my father was the product of an afair with my randmother who was part Indian (meaning from India) and part black.My great great grandfather on my mother's side was French, and he married a black woman also. I have spent almost no time with the Indian side of my fmily, so culturally, I am very Jamaican.

As an interesting aside, one of my mother's sister's married a man who is part Chinese, so my cousins are part Chinese, my sisters and I are part Indian, and several of my cousins and aunts are green or hazel-eyed brunettes.

Physically, my family is very diverse, but we are culturally the same, because being Jamaican definitely transcends racial background.

June 27, 2005
2:26 pm
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What fun!

My mom's family are British I believe, but have been here, fishing, for generations now.

My dad's grandfather was from Latvia- interesting story. He was in the Navy when he decided to "jump ship" Landed on the Eastern Shores of Canada and my family has been here ever since.

So, Latvian and English, but truth be told...I don't really identify with that. I am a huge patriarch...I love my country and am proud to say:

I AM CANADIAN eh?! šŸ™‚ Born and bred in Eastern Canada (known here as a Maritimer)

Canada is a culture unique unto itself, and that is the culture I identify with the most. I am always fascinated by the differences between Canadians and Americans, as we live so close to each other, watch the same tv shows, read the same magazines etc. Fascinating šŸ™‚

kc

June 27, 2005
3:23 pm
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coda_mom...I love this kind of stuff. I love history, and learning about people...Thank you.

My father is of Irish and native american, Cherokee decent. My mother is a thousand-percent German, as we like to say. Achtung! We grew up in a very rural area in the midwest learning to hunt, fish, and live off of the land. My youngest sister and father have a beautiful arrowhead and Indian artifacts collection found mostly on our property. (I have seven brothers and sisters)

I have stayed in my hometown, but have moved to the city--had to have some culture!

June 27, 2005
4:19 pm
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Rev,

The "Fargo" accent comes from the north of the US.....Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, etc. It's also one of my favorite accents.

And while were talking about accents....Irish is my favorite. I have a few friends from Ireland and when I still drank, I hung around in an authentic Irish pub near my home, so I got the accent down pretty good (which also explains why I read your posts with aforementioned accent!)

Speaking of not drinking anymore....

I too noticed the alcoholism running through this thread...so I might as well add mine in, as I neglected it before.

Alcoholism runs rampent in my family (mainly the English side though šŸ™‚

Lolli

June 27, 2005
8:29 pm
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Juanita, could your ggfather have been Maliseet or Iriquois? Reading about your grandfather running moonshine reminded me that both of my grandfathers used to make wine in their basements. I remember my mom carrying her big empty Gallo bottles to their houses for refills.

lolli - Wasn't Miles Standish the captain of the Mayflower? Ah yuh, ahm a Yankee, too...don't tell anyone that I'm really a flatlander šŸ™‚

AW - Your mom sounds like quite a woman, she has experienced it all. It took a while for me to catch on that when Mainahs say "wicked" it is a good thing šŸ˜‰

jw - The word that comes to mind when I think of your family heritage is "kaleidoscope"...it is a kaleidoscope of colors šŸ™‚

2b - I have heard from others how German moms can be - Achtung - one of my closest friends is German and has filled me in. This friend and her siblings are all high achievers and brilliant!

kc - I didn't know you were from Canada -- we are practically neighbors, eh?

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