Where Are You From?

I was born in Columbus, Ohio, raised in Poughkeepsie, NY, Yorktown Heights, NY, then the Bronx, NYC.  I left at age 19 and moved to Tumwater, Washington.  I lived in Olympia, WA, Friday Harbor, WA, then Seattle, WA before moving to Lorane, Oregon in 1991. 103-0318_IMG copyAbove is a picture of my father and his parents, Emil and Eva Blum in Stelton, New Jersey.  Eva was born Eva Spinner, in Zitomir, Russia (Now Ukraine).  Emil was born in Kiev, Russia (Now Ukraine).  I never met them.

The world is always turning.

103-0318_IMG copy

All humans are citizens of diaspora.

I visited my grandfather, Emil Blum’s grave 20170307_090811 in Colorado Springs, Colorado six weeks ago.  I never met my grandfather but we share two names and I’ve always felt a connection with him.  Emil is buried in The Sons of Israel Cemetery beneath Pike’s Peak.  Emil was born in Kiev in 1895,https://tse2.mm.bing.net/th?id=OIP.5Wt-DegdtFTNs3mIW_GXWAEsEs&pid=15.1&P=0&w=300&h=300 fled to Germany to escape pogroms, returned to Russia, then was shipped by his family with a first class passage to NYC (not everyone marched through Ellis Island) in his early teens.  He lived in NY, worked as a printer, moved the family to Stelton (New Brunswick) New Jersey and a year after my grandmother died in 1947, moved with his daughter, my Aunt Lillian, to Colorado Springs when his employer, Shepard Citations relocated.  Why they moved there I don’t know, but it is a lovely place, and maybe the air was better or they knew the country was growing westward.

“By the early 20th century, the Frank Shepard Company was binding the citations into maroon volumes with Shepard’s Citations stamped in gold on their spines, much like the ones still found on library shelves.

Under the leadership of William Guthrie Packard, the company endured the Great Depression and continued to grow. It moved to Colorado Springs in 1948; in 1951, it adopted the name Shepard’s Citations, Inc.”

CunardWhen I saw my grandfather’s gravestone beneath Pike’s Peak in Colorado, I thought, “Holy Shit, Grandfather, how did you get here?”  pikespeakColorado Springs is where my Aunt Lillian met and married my Uncle Wesley, a soldier stationed in Colorado Springs, from Tumwater, Washington.  103-0308_IMG

I spent summers in Tumwater starting in 1967 and eventually moved there in 1974.


I met my wife Nancy while going to The Evergreen State College in Olympia, though we didn’t really know each other then.  Nancy is from Shelton, Washington, about twenty miles from Evergreen.


Now I live in Oregon.  In the future will my grandchildren find my grave somewhere and ask, “Grandfather, how did you get here?”


3 thoughts on “Where Are You From?

  1. Great question. Many other questions to be asked…
    Great photos.

    And yes, all humans (hell, I don’t like that word) – all people are in diaspora… if they want to be… or even if they don’t…

  2. The Shepard Company was headquartered in NYC from the early 1900s up until WWII. The rest of the below is all based on family conversations and I can’t substantiate it with hard evidence. The Shepard offices were unique in that they needed open floors for their large printing equipment. An open two-story building with professional office space in Manhattan was as rare then as it is now. Buit it was advantageous so they could conveniently access their downtown client base of lawyers and judges. The original offices were on Lafayette St. just south of Canal St. which is a few blocks north of City Hall. I’ve been told that in the late 1930s, the US government forced them to relocate saying the space was critical for a research project. Shepard’s moved to a larger space still in NYC at the Port Authority Building (now Google’s NY offices) where after a few years they were again told they needed to relocate for similar reasons. The secretive research project was later believed to be in support of the Manhattan Project.

    Moving a company with large capital equipment across NYC was grueling and impacted the entire company. Not knowing if they would continue to be forced out of building after building, management decided to make a more meaningful move. After a 1945 tour of several sites across the Western U.S., Colorado Springs was selected.

    I know my grandfather, WG Packard, spent several months around 1915 in Arizona when he was in his 20 recovering from spinal meningitis. He returned to NYC after his recovery but never fell out of love with the natural beauty of the West. My father was born in Arizona in 1945 on that tour for a new HQ. I’m not positive what specific selection criteria my grandfather used, but he relocated the entire Shepard’s company to Colorado Springs in 1948 and I have to think much of that decision was driven by the facts you mention: beautiful setting, fresh air, prospect for future opportunities in the West.

    • Thank you Trey for this thoughtful and informative comment about the piece. I never imagined anyone would know so much about that time and the people and events that took place. It made me very happy to read your words.

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