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. Above 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.
All humans are citizens of diaspora.
I visited my grandfather, Emil Blum’s grave 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, 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.”
When I saw my grandfather’s gravestone beneath Pike’s Peak in Colorado, I thought, “Holy Shit, Grandfather, how did you get here?” Colorado Springs is where my Aunt Lillian met and married my Uncle Wesley, a soldier stationed in Colorado Springs, from Tumwater, Washington.
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?”