Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Family Stew

When we lived in eastern New Mexico we met quite a number of very conservative folks. Because New Mexico shares a border with (old) Mexico, border issues are always of interest. In discussions about the border, many of the people we talked to seemed to be angry at any immigrants, whether legal or illegal.

In their minds, I believe, there was a clear separation between us (those of us who have been in this country for a while) and them (those people who have very recently arrived, or who want to come here)I found it a fascinating distinction, since we are truly a nation of immigrants, and there must be only a rare few among us, if any, who can claim a pure native American background. Of course, that means that we are all immigrants, or the children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren of immigrants; many of us were born outside of this country, and many more are just one or two generations removed from a beginning in some other faraway place.

Our family is a case in point. I was born in the U.S., as was my father. My mother was born in Canada and became a naturalized U.S. citizen when she was an adult. My mother's family came from early English Loyalist settlers who left America to go to Canada during the Revolutionary War. On my father's side, his fairly mysterious and unknown family came mostly from Ireland, and I believe that his paternal grandfather was an immigrant.

America, Canada, England, Ireland: My parents, Daniel and Elva Crabtree Harris

After those generations, however, the family stew thickens and gets ever more flavorful. There are infusions through marriage of Italians (Mallozzi), Germans (Zarges, Goldsmith), Dutch (van den Boom/VandenBoom, the spelling variations are legion), Mexicans (Rodriguez), and Cape Verdeans (de Sena). No longer is English the only language spoken at extended family gatherings. One might hear Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, or the Creole that is spoken in Cape Verde.

America, Germany: Ellen and John Zarges (my husband Bill's paternal grandparents) with their daughter, June

America, Italy, Germany: Uncle Gene Mallozzi, holding little Bill Zarges at age one year

America, Canada, The Netherlands, England, Ireland:
Dutch boy with tulips, Ben VandenBoom
America, Mexico, England, Canada: Ernesto and Elva Crabtree Harris Rodriguez (Elva had been a widow
for over 10 years when she met Ernie)
Here is one of the most wonderful benefits of all this mixing and stirring of our family stew: The newest generation of children are a lovely coffee color, so beautiful!

America, England, Ireland, Canada, Germany, Cape Verde: Rafa and Paloma


  1. This is such a lovely post, Clair! What a treasure you are creating for the next generations in your family.

  2. I agree Deb. Thank you, my dear sister. And what a beautiful stew!


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