February is Family History Writing Month

I remember many years ago when I first learned (from my daughter Sarah) about this new way of sharing information on the internet through something called BLOGS. I distinctly remember thinking – “I’m already bombarded with information overload through TV, newspapers, magazines – why would I want another way of getting information? NO THANKS!

Of course-that was in the dark ages before I became interested in family history, before I realized the benefit of sharing information through blogs. Silly me! Now I can’t imagine not blogging (even though I do let it slide from time to time.)

Through the world of blogging I learned that April is National Poetry Writing Month (NAPOWRIMO), November is National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) and February is Family History Writing Month – sorry no catchy acronym.

So I’m gearing up for February and here is the advice from the blog that sponsors the project:

Choosing Your February Ancestor
Welcome to the first Pre-Challenge post. There will be 4 in total to help you get organized for February.
 Some of you may already have your ancestor chosen for this year’s Family History Writing Challenge. Perhaps many of you are still mulling it over. So I thought for your first bonus post I would offer you a few thoughts on choosing an ancestor to write about and then help you get that ancestor organized for writing.
If I could offer you one piece of advice, it would be One Ancestor, One Story. I would love to see you choose one ancestor to write about for the entire month of February. Why? Because it’s about going deep. I know some of you like to write about a variety of ancestors, and you know I’m not going to stop you.
But, this year, we’re going to dig deep into our descriptive writing, bring that ancestor to life on the page and make them dance in their world, making our stories, vibrant and real for your reader. If you stick to one ancestor, one story you can make some inroads, actually spending some quality time with your ancestor. Unlike most writing challenges you don’t necessarily have to go for huge word counts with little quality sentences to show for it.
What I have found in our online classes is that when we take one ancestor and spend some quality time with that ancestor,  students start to see great results and begin to believe in themselves as writers. So let’s not make it all about quantity (word counts) or all about quality (writing the same paragraph over and over again) but a compromise, something in between.
It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this blog that I’ve chosen Custode Iacobucci as my February ancestor. But since I don’t have any personal memories of her, this is only gonna work if those of you who do remember her tell me everything you remember. All of your stories, from what she wore, to what her house looked like, to how she talked, to how she smelled. EVERYTHING you can remember.
I know – you’re probably thinking – “AWWW… do we have to??? She was not my favorite relative – in fact, she was down right cantankerous and mean. Why would I want to write about her?
A fair question I suppose but from someone who didn’t know her (or only knows her through the information I’ve found in online sources and from the stories that each of you have shared with me) but she is really the reason we’re all here together enjoying these stories on Trovando Famiglia.
And once I’ve written all there is to write about her – I promise to move on to other relatives. Are you in? Can I count on you to tell me what you remember and share what you know?
Don’t worry – I’m taking all necessary precautions against mal ‘occhio – I even have a necklace with a cornicello  it that Rick gave me for Christmas. Plus the bracelet that Will gave me last year – guaranteed to ward of the evil eye. So I think I’m good to go. Now I just need your stories.

10 thoughts on “February is Family History Writing Month

  1. Grandma George was an amazing woman. I think any woman who knew her story would would come away inspired by her grit and determination. Sure ~ I make a face when I think about all those glasses of warm milk she made us drink but that is just being nit picky and not looking at the bigger picture.
    Grandma George was small in stature but huge in spirit. She came to this country with limited English and means but became a force to be reckoned with in her community. People describe her as a “successful” and “shrewd” business woman. She became the liaison between two cultures in her community and people respected her for that.
    When her husband betrayed her and tried to put her and her children out on the street she fought back. She didn’t let herself become a victim. When the first ruling didn’t go her way she persisted and won! That is so remarkable to me and I respect her so much for it.
    How horrible for her to have lost Lucy. This must have really hurt her soul and hardened her heart but she carried on for her other children. She was a very brave woman and most of her accomplishments were done as a single mother. Kudos to Grandma George!!
    To this day, when I have any success in business, I say, “I get that from Grandma George”. Her legacy to us is her strength and spirit and I am eternally grateful to have had her in my life.


    • Well said Lainie. Custode has always been an inspiration to me (but I’m not sorry to have missed the warm milk – LOL) Was it warm because it was from her ice box that I understand she didn’t get rid of until the ice man retired in the 50s and she was forced to buy a refrigerator – or was it warm like warm to help you feel better before you went to bed?
      I think sometimes when I hear about mothers who seem “hard on their children” or maybe not as nurturing as those of us who have had the luxury of easy lives are able to be, I wonder if those women made themselves harder than they wanted to be because they knew would help their children in the long run.
      I am lucky to have received so many bits of family history from so many of Grandma George’s grandchildren – I just want to pull it all together in one place so that the next generation will have something to look back on. Thank you for responding. Happy New Year!


  2. It was definitely warm from lack of good refrigeration! Ugh!! I often wonder how much of her perceived coldness was from a broken heart. To leave Italy and never return would be heartbreaking. The depth of that betrayal from someone you loved and the loss of a child would change you forever. One thing for certain – she raised wonderful and successful children who loved her. And ~ she was a great cook!!

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  3. So happy to hear about her being a good cook. As she got older I think she left much of the cooking to Aunt Phil. From independent sources I’ve heard that both Aunt Phil and Aunt Lena were good cooks so they had to learn it somewhere. Add to that that Aunt Phil was the mother to a famous chef.
    The only glimmer of what Custode was like that I have from Rick’s father, was that he spent some time with his Italian grandmother in Dunbar and he remembers sitting around a table with lots of relatives and eating his grandmother’s gnocchi.
    From his description, it set the standard for what good gnocchi should taste like and has rarely been matched.
    Remember too, that Rick’s father who was born in 1923, probably had very little contact with the George family after his father remarried Lynnette’s mother in November 1932 s0 his memories must have been from before he turned 9.
    If you factor in that he and his brother Richard were living with their mother Evelyn in Santa Monica, CA when the 1930 census was taken (we don’t know how long they were out there) that probably narrows the time for his memory to somewhere between 1927 and 1931 at the latest.
    UNLESS – his father Fred was still involved with the children from his first marriage after he married Betty.
    Oh the things we wish we knew!


    • I think that there is a very good possibility that Uncle Fred kept in contact with his children from his first marriage. We had home movies of a visit with Rick’s father and mother. Rick’s father was in his naval officer uniform and looked so handsome. He was holding a baby that was in all likelihood, Rick, because there were little girls there also. I think we went there to see the family but also to see the new baby. Small world, huh? The only way my dad would have known where to find them was if Rick’s father kept in touch with “Uncle Joe” or if Uncle Fred kept him in the loop. I do know that my father was extremely proud of Rick’s father judging from all the photos and home movies we had of him.


      • Oh Lainie fur some reason this post makes me cry. I’m not sure if it’s from picturing handsome young Dad in his uniform surrounded by his extended family or seeing Rick as a happy baby knowing that the happy little family didn’t last very long. Thanks so much for sharing that.
        I’m probably also affected by having gotten very little sleep last night. I don’t get it often but insomnia is awful.


      • They should be tears of joy because even though I was very young I could tell that at that point in time that family was very happy. What month was Rick born because there was snow on the ground.


      • April – also if it was a visit with Rick as a baby it would have been after Uncle Fred died because Rick wasn’t born until 1953. His sisters were born in 1948 (February) and 1949 (September) so maybe it was his sister Lynn as a baby.
        I’m gonna work on a timeline for Dad starting with his marriage to Bea and his jobs and Navy service. That will help narrow down when he might have visited.
        Thankful for your great memory and closeness to la famiglia!


      • My dad, Joe George, was very family-oriented. When I go home to Pennsylvania, I am always amazed at the number of photos that he has of his nieces and nephews. He really made a point of visiting his family. I remember trips to New Castle, Dunbar, Connellsville, and East Liverpool. If you were lucky enough to come to our home on a Sunday afternoon there was always a feast. His sauce was made from ingredients that he grew himself in his beloved garden. The gnocchi that he made from scratch were always perfect. We devoured them!! He was very proud of his Italian-American heritage and from a very young age my sisters and I knew the word Abruzzi. He was a very quiet and refined man as were his brothers and sisters. Our father, like his gnocchi, was perfect!!

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