Posted by: atarimonos | February 18, 2010

Journals

On my recent journey to PH. to see my grandfather, I was reintroduced to some old family history. My grandfather and I spent a better part of the morning reading my thrice-great-Grandfather’s journal from 1850. This particular journal of his documents his voyage from Baltimore to California via boat. Yes,  G. Everitt had the pluck to sail round Cape Horn.

The journal reads like an adventure novel. The characters take swims in the ocean, eat sharks, lament the lack of rain water for drinking, shoot pigeons for sport, have bouts of  persistent seasickness, and, of course, mutiny against the besotted captain. And all this occurs within the first third of the journal who knows what awaits the reader in the closing two-thirds. Whilst all this goes on, good G. makes meticulous notes as to position of the ship recording the Latitude and Longitude throughout the voyage … Once I’m done reading the journal I plan to plot the course of the ship … solely for my edification and most assuredly not on account of my geekiness. My biggest problem is deciphering the damn text. G. writes in seamless cursive that provides quite the challenge for the reader: double s’s appear as f’s and t’s have the constancy of l’s, but there are benefits. The author brings to my attention such verbiage as ‘stile’ [n. an arrangement of steps that allows people but not animals to climb over a fence or wall.], when he describes the fencing of goats. He also has a righteous personality. My ancestor was not above revenge: “I [G.] have always here to for succeeded in being revenged on those who offended me and revenge is sweet”. This after having  revenged himself upon a character known to us only as the “contemptuous whelp”. My my the rage of the day.

I remind myself that I too maintained a journal for the better part of my year plus abroad.  I wonder if some later generation will ever take up my journal and read (hopefully no angel will have to call it out … Augustine, anyone? anyone? no one? … I’ll refrain from referencing “The Confessions”). Will they have trouble parsing my script? Be bored with its monotonous tone? Read adventure into my daily life? Who knows, one can only hope, but I’m content to know that I’m sharing, in part, my ancestor’s journeys.  I’m very happy to hear that this boy of 22, carpenter by trade, left home on a whim and embarked on a  circuitous journey to the west.

Here here to G. Everitt. I look forward to reading the rest of your words.

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