06 August 2015

Latvian Families in Revision (1)

Four years since I self-published My Latvian Families.

Two years since I visited the cousins and the family farms.

Time to update the family history, don't you think? One of the happenings to add:

This photo (1937) was my only clue to finding the family home of grandmother Marija Jurikas.

I knew the name of the parish and the former manor estate and the closest town, Limbaži. But this was driving in unfamiliar country where Latvian place names have replaced nineteenth century Germanic names. I'd had no contact with any living relatives if indeed there were some. Finding Limbaži was not a problem but finding a farmhouse on a country road was a different matter. One of the maps cluttering our car actually had rural houses marked on it, with no names of course. We would simply explore the local roads, right?

The local roads are bad. Bad, as in sometimes covered with pools of water disguising potholes the size of tectonic shifts. And we'd been at it most of the day, hunting up churches and cemeteries. Luckily there aren't many choices from Limbaži. North, south, east, west. Let's go south, I said, a speck on the map called Lāde beckons. It was slow going, peering hard at each house we saw, trying not to be distracted by getting the best stork nest photos. Around about the time my driver was fed up with the damage to his shock absorbers, I yelled STOP THE CAR!!

Yes, there it was. The house. Much altered but with the same tree (minus the pole) by the driveway. Most of all, the name on the mailbox, Krastina, confirmed that descendants of my grandmother's brother still lived there. Ķrūmiņi farm. Still in operation.

I would like to say we had an impromptu family reunion. But it didn't happen. The man working on his tractor was not Mr. Krastinš nor did he show much interest in strangers jabbering in a foreign language. Nevertheless, we rejoiced in our discovery. It was not the only serendipitous event of the day.

© 2015 Brenda Dougall Merriman

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