granny1912s.jpgIt turned out that it was my sister Kathy who had that picture of my grandmother at 20. She’s standing there, tall, before the Christmas tree (something which did not exist in Argentina until much later). Next to her is her sister Gertrude, Gerty. She was her elder sister – I think there were only three girls in the family: Gertrude, Grace (also in the picture) and Granny. There must have been 5 boys, but I can only remember Richard (about whom I never heard much), Frank and William (I think it was William). Those two were younger, and Gladys had quite a bit of contact with them when she attended Bennington. I guess they lived at the family home in New York, which is not that far away from Vermont. I have no clue as to the other two brothers. I do know that three others had died in infancy.
Margaret WeisheitI look at my grandmother’s face in the picture, and I’m surprised at how much she looks like Gladys and my father. I’ve always thought they looked a lot like their father – whom I knew only from pictures, and in particular, from one portrait of him in his Navy uniform. But now I can see they looked like their mother as well. The eyes and nose are clearly different, but the mouth and the cheeks are very similar. Actually, I think my dad’s eyes look like Gertrude’s – though my dad’s eyes are green, and I think Gertrude’s were brown. My grandmother, I’m told, always wanted to have kids with brown eyes – I think all her grandchildren had them.

My brother has sent me some more family pictures.
Richard Weisheitrichard2.jpg
That’s my great-grandfather Richard Weisheit, Granny’s dad. According to my brother Richard was born in Struth (currently called Struthhelmershoff) in the Thuringen region of Germany. He worked as a locksmith. My great-grandmother’s name was Elizabeth Kibben, her parents, pictured in the photo below, were also German. The other people in the picture are one of Granny’s brothers, a cousin, Granny, her aunt and another cousin.
Kibben-Weisheit family
ramonpibe.jpgAs for my grandfather, Ramón, I haven’t written as much about him because he died before I was born. I think his father’s name was Tiburcio and his mother María Elizalde, or something like that. They were Basque, from a little town in Navarra called Aoiz. Many years ago, Mike and I took our first trip together as a married couple to Spain, and we visited Aoiz. Navarra, in general, is beautiful – green, lush and mountainy. Aoiz, on the other hand, is a dump. Well, I won’t go that far, but there is nothing to the town beyond a couple of hotels and bars and ugly modern buildings. There is a nice, little Roman bridge, but that doesn’t help much. Very close to Aoiz there is a little town, if it can be called that, called Lakabe. When Mike and I visited we tried to make it to Lakabe, which is located up a mountain. However, it was raining terribly, and at some point, the little stream coming down the hill seemed more like a river, so we had to turn back. Too bad – I’d have liked to see it. In any case, as far as I know, my grandfather Ramón never went to Navarra.
Ramon joined the Argentine Navy, where he stayed until he retired as Capitán de Fragata.
As I’m posting family pictures, here are two of some members of my mother’s family. My brother, who gave them to me, has no idea who they are. The old lady in the picture is the woman in the other picture.
Well, my sister has informed me that the lady in question is Carolina Minolla de Andreoli, my mother’s great-grandmother on her father’s side. She was the mother of my great-grandmother Catalina (pictured below), my grandfather’s Tito’s mother. I know nothing about Catalina, perhaps my mother will write something about her, or at least tell Kathy, so she’ll tell me. I know that she died soon after I was born, and that my mother loved her very much. Of her husband, I know nothing at all. I think I did, but time robs you of memories – which is why I’m writing all these notes.
My mom (via Kathy) tells me now that Catalina and her husband Guillermo had a store/restaurant – I think than in the Paraná delta – for a while. I remember stories of my mother going to visit them by boat. We also inherited some things from that restaurant – some very heavy weights and a cash register that was even heavier. Catalina cooked and Guillermo fished – my mother says he was very lazy (maybe that’s where I get it from, my mother is anything but lazy). Later they moved to La Plata and Guillermo worked as a salesman for Llauro Soaps.
The other picture dates from 1880 – the year when Catalina was born -, and shows Carolina and her husband Agustín Andreoli and their sons José and Guillermo, neither of whom married. Carolina died in 1948, my mom barely remembers her.
I find it so strange to look at the pictures of people’s whose lives I know so little about. Even my grandmother and grandfather. I only have that one story from Granny’s childhood, nothing from Ramon’s. And yet, you can make up a whole movie in your mind about what their lives might have been like, at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. If your grandparents are still around, why not go and talk to them some more about their childhood? And then write it down, so you don’t forget 🙂