31.7.18

Today is Harry Potter's 38th Birthday

Harry Potter turns 38 years old today (and yes, I am keeping up with the birthday of a fictional character). Also, it's J.K. Rowling's 53rd birthday. If you don't know what I am talking about, then you can pick up a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and start reading.

Greig Roselli Wears a Harry Potter themed Halloween Costume on Halloween in New Orleans, Louisiana
In 2008, I dressed up as Harry Potter
Our lives have run parallel, Harry. When you were 11, you were on your way to Hogwarts School of Magic and Wizardry. I was in Sixth Grade set for middle school in Louisiana. At 38, you were a husband with three kids and slightly depressed working for the Ministry of Magic. At 38, I was gay and single, working as a High School English Language teacher.

Where do our storylines lead us now? Will J.K. Rowling write stories about a forty-something Harry Potter? Has the world had its full of Harry Potter and his wizarding world?

30.7.18

Three Observations from People Watching on a Recent Trip to Washington, D.C.

In this blog post, I recount conversations overheard and undertaken on a recent trip to the nation's capital.
At the Penn Station Amtrak Waiting Room, N.Y.C.
Two women from Nanjing ask me how to find the track in Penn Station for their Amtrak train to D.C. The women are surprised I know how to say "Hello" in Mandarin. Coincidentally, I am boarding the same train, so I help them out. *** On the D.C. Metro
Two deaf teenagers have an in-depth conversation in sign language at the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metrorail station. Their signing is rapid-fire, and they apparently have a lot to talk about. I feel happy for the two of them. ***
N.Y.C., Penn Station Food Court Two would-be customers in the food court at Penn Station at 10:15 in the morning are slightly miffed that KFC and Pizza Hut aren't open yet. ***
The Neighborhood of Anacostia in D.C. When I board the train at the Anacostia Metrorail station, I notice two five-year-old kids seated side-by-side on the train. One of them wears a charcoal gray t-shirt that says: "Cheer up, Dude."
***
East Hall of Union Station, Washington, D.C.
In the East Hall of Union Station, waiting for a friend, I watch two professional photographers take photographs of the station. I am inspired to take my own. Creativity is contagious.
A mural of a Centaur killing a stag in the East Hall at Washington D.C.'s Union Station
A centaur aims his bow at a fleeing stag

National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C.
I slightly embarrass my friend in public by shouting out exuberantly - "Hey, miss you!" - to the official portrait of President Barack Obama, whose likeness hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.
Image Credit: Greig Roselli © 2018 East Hall, Union Station, Washington, D.C.

23.7.18

The Killman Family Story Constructed Through Census Records, Oral Tradition, and Family Photographs

How I created a story of my family's genealogical history using data from the 1930 United States census - with help from family photographs scanned and labeled dating back to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and more.
An example of a census record as it looked like in 1930.

I was going through old papers, and I found this family project I had done based on the 1930 United States Census, that my friend Bonnie Bess Wood encouraged me to complete.


At the time, my great-aunt Ida Killman Spiehler had spent some time with me during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and because of our close proximity, I learned a lot about my maternal family tree. I wanted to learn more about my family, so I started to put together details. Thankfully, my Aunt Sandra, (who was also Ida's niece and my mother's older sister), had already done a lot of work. So we teamed up and created a fuller picture of what life may have been like in New Orleans, Louisiana from the turn of the century, to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, leading up the 1930 census.

Here is the letter I wrote to my Aunt, a kind of gift I had given her after I had done some genealogical research.

Dear Aunt Nen*,
A Story Gleaned from the United States 1930 Census 
I wrote the following ‘story’ based on information from the United States 1930 Census**. It’s neat what you can find out from genealogical research!

When a Census Taker Comes A-Knocking
On April 17, 1930, in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mr. Frederick Schell knocked on the door at 5141 Arts Street (Between Elysian Fields and Franklin Avenues, and a few blocks South of Dreux Avenue) to get information for the United States Census (being conducted that year). 

This is what I found out by looking at the Census record (Combined with stories you had told me):
Mrs. Albertine Killman answered the door, and she told Mr. Schell that she was 41 years old and that Mr. Francis Killman, Sr. was the head of the household, her husband. They had married on July 9, 1913, when Albertine was only about 24 years old, and Francis was almost 30. Francis, Sr. was 46 years old at the time of the Census, and he worked a salaried job as an engineer at the local ice plant*** to provide for his family who lived with him on Arts Street. Mr. Killman had been in the Navy as a youth as a fireman first class from 1908 to 1912. His first assignment was on board the U.S.S. Colorado. 
A Postcard Depicting the U.S.S. Colorado (ca. 1908)
U.S.S. Colorado (circa 1908)
How Much Did a Family in New Orleans in 1930 Pay for their Rent Each Month?
The Killman family paid $18 a month for their rent ($509.07 in 2018 money) and did not own a radio of their own. They had four children who, in 1930, were all in school. It costs 7 cents ($1.07 in 2018 money) to take the streetcar to school. 

The Four Killman Kids (My Grandmother and You, Aunt Nen)
Everyone in the family was born in the United States, but Albertine’s parents, Margaret Frank, and Friedrich Burkhardt, were born in Frankfurt Germany. They emigrated from Germany circa 1860.

Francis, Jr. was the oldest at 16 years of age, Frederick (Or, Freddie, as he was called) was 13, Ida was 11 and Dorothy was 7. All the children were in school at the time this census was taken, and the entire family spoke English.

Two months after this Census was taken by Mr. Schell, a tragedy struck the family. At approximately 14 years of age, Freddie drowned in the Seabrook area of Lake Pontchartrain near the neighborhood of Little Woods.

19.7.18

Throwback Thursday: Greig is Poolside Wearing Floaties (Sometime in the Late 1980s)

In a family photograph, Greig Roselli eats potato chips and wears floaties at the beach.

Throwback Thursday: I'm pretty sure this photograph was taken in Pensacola, Florida (or maybe it's Destin). I remember this vacation well because as you can see, I'm learning to swim. I can still feel the chafing effect of the floaties on my skin - mixed with the chlorinated water. Also, that bag of Ruffles ® Sour Cream & Onion potato chips were all mine!

If you look closely, someone's hands (maybe mom’s hands) have inserted itself into the photograph. I'm thinking that's the hand that feeds you; or, someone is requesting that I relinquish my bag of potato chips.

13.7.18

Review of Frederick Wiseman's "High School" (1969) and Jean-François Caissy's La Marche à Suivre (2014)

I am a teacher, so I am familiar with the strained relationship students sometimes have with authority. And most teachers - especially the best ones - are in tune with this tension between youth and adult, between power, and submission, obedience, and freedom. However, taking a psychological view, High School is also an exciting time where teenagers are becoming self-reflective, and the adults in the room have a front row seat to their pupils' on-going development. I use the word becoming on purpose. Adolescence is a messy progress.
La Marche à Suivre (2014)
High School (1969)

12.7.18

Throwback Thursday: My Mother at the Anubis Carnival Ball in New Orleans (Circa the 1970s)

Pamela Perronne dressed up in purple brocade as a maid in waiting for the Anubis Carnival Ball in New Orleans, Louisiana (c. 1970s)
Mom at the Anubis Ball in New Orleans, Louisiana (circa 1970s) 
Throwback Thursday: 
A few Thursdays ago, I posted a Throwback photograph of my maternal great-grandmother at the Anubis Carnival Ball in New Orleans. As a successor to that post, here is a photograph of my beautiful mother Pamela Roselli. She was a maid escort in the ball. The photograph is circa the 1970s - I'd say. As far as I can tell from my research, the Krewe of Anubis was a non-parading krewe - which basically means they did not have a parade during the Mardi Gras season. The krewe was originally established by local businessmen in the pharmaceutical industry. I don't think Anubis is still functioning as a krewe today. Does anyone in my family have an exact date on this photograph? I'd love to add it to my family history files.

10.7.18

Attributed Quotation: Abraham Lincoln on Happiness


The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

- Abraham Lincoln, American elected head of state in the 1860s

N.B. This quote is apparently misattributed to Lincoln, according to the website Mental Floss. The quote gained traction because in 1914, a guy named Frank Crane wrote a newspaper article that attributed the quote to the President.
Image Source: Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C. 

6.7.18

Advice on Friendship from Charlotte's Web

“The quickest way to spoil a friendship is to wake somebody up in the morning before he is ready.”

- Charlotte, from Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

4.7.18

The American Holiday The Fourth of July (Alternatively, Independence Day)

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia) I found on a hiking trail in the Catskills.
As I sit on my tuffet (a hard, wooden chair I use as my writing chair), I raise a glass of ice-cold filtered water poured from a bonafide Brita dispenser, and make a few stray comments:
***
  • It is hot, and humid in New York City. I hope you have air-conditioning - if not, get yourself to a New York City cooling center.
  • I am thinking of setting off some fireworks in the middle of the street and yelling, "I am from Louisiana!"
  • Nationalism is deeply taught in this country so I find myself humming patriotic tunes and feeling nostalgic about the colors red, white, and blue.
  • Last year, I did stake out a spot in Sunset Park with my buddy Anthony Charles to watch the Macy's Fireworks display.
  • This year, supposedly, I could go to Long Island City - but I am thinking of just staying home and watching BBC adaptations of Terry Pratchett novels.