I found my mother’s engraved birth announcement from Argentina; in another box, photographs of the estate her parents lived on while my grandfather, an engineer, worked on South America’s first dam. There were vineyards, flower gardens, and men digging a swimming pool. There was my great-grandfather’s discharge from World War I, passports from the 1930s, newspaper clippings, receipts, and even a bank letter of foreclosure—my father’s family lost their home during the Great Depression. This must be how people get sucked into genealogical research, I thought. The same way one gets sucked into a novel that you can’t put down. You just have to find out what happened.
February 23, 2008