Monday, May 5, 2014

The Project!!!


I realize nobody is reading this, and possibly nobody ever will but I thought I would have some fun doing a little history project while I'm out of school for the summer. To start, I will tell you a little about the project and then a little about myself.

The Project: 
How to explain this? Well I came up with this project when I was dusting one day in the front room of my mother's house. We were going to be picking up a player piano that weekend and needed to get the room clean. There are two bookshelves in the front room (and yes there is now a player piano in-between them, although its not working) and I worked on one while my mother dusted the other. Being thorough, for once in my life, I decided to lift each book off, dust it lightly and put it back after dusting where it had sat. My mother made sure to remind me to be careful because some of the books on the shelf were my Great Grandfather's. Which I knew, because I'd help my mother unload them from the car when he'd died two years ago. As I dusted off my Great Grandfather's books, I read the titles and was pleased to see that he owned several classics. As I continued handling the books, I began to notice just how well-read these books were. Although still in very good shape, the spines were creased and the edges a little worn. I started thinking, what did my Great Grandfather or Great Grandmother think when they were reading these? My Great Grandparents were so well read that my Great Grandfather made sure to return his library books before he died. Could I, by reading these books, understand life the same way that my Great Grandparents did? By reading the things they read, could I understand their lives better?

Well, that's exactly what I'm setting out to answer. I plan to read almost every single book that we received from my Great Grandfather's stash. Because these books are old, I'm going to buy my own copies - as close to the original as possible - because I don't want to damage my Great Grandfather's books if I can help it. Many of his books are books that he inherited from his side of the family because he was an only child, so that means I'll be reading books from family members I've probably never even heard about.

A Little About My Ancestors: 
 My Grandmother
with her parents

Dot and Joe Gonsalves
My name is Kayleigh Last and I am a true product of American immigration. The books in question belonged to my Great Grandfather Joseph Gonsalves and my Great Grandmother Dorothy Zimpelman-Gonsalves. Both Dot and Joe, as they were known, were born in New York in the 1920s. Joe was born in 1924 to Carmen and Joseph Gonsalves, Portuguese who had immigrated to the United States in 1923 from British Guiana. (We know that this line immigrated from Portugal to British Guiana sometime in the 1800s.) Dot was born a year later in 1925 to Margaret Timko, a second generation Hungarian immigrant, and Frederick Zimpelman an American of German heritage. In my family history, these two great grandparents are my grandmother's parents on my mother's side.

A Little About the Books: 
The books are mainly from the Gonsalves line although there are sure to be a few that were Dot's. There are several classics, partially because of what my mother picked out but also because my Great Grandparents believed that reading was important. There are several other books that my mother picked out because they were interesting. Eventually, in the next few posts of so, I hope to have a complete list of all of the books we own on here. For right now, I was able to find four books that I bought which are either the version Joe and Dot owned or are reprints of them. There are some books I will never be able to find reproductions of and will most likely not read them for this project - though that doesn't mean I won't peek in them later. For example, there is a fantastic guide to The Art of Window Display from either the 20s or the 30s, I cannot recollect. There are several books of Russian literature because Joe was quite the fan of it.

I hope to not only understand the mindset of my Great Grandparents and ancestors, but I also hope to broaden my own mind by reading these books. Because, like Dot and Joe, I believe that reading is important not only for education but also for self growth.