Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Today I lunched with my mom at Old City Grille. After running a few errands we visited the family plot at Evergreen Cemetery. I've been researching the family tree for a few years now, but hadn't visited this local graveyard since my great-grandmother Bernita died in 1997.
Earnest and Bertha Wiles brought their family from north-central North Carolina to St Augustine in the 1910's. Bert and Lillie Lucas moved here from Rockford, Illinois with their daughter in the 1920's. Together the men owned a sundry shop called Lucas & Wiles. Their children, Bernita and George "Randy" married in the early 1920's, and my grandfather is the second of their three sons. I was fortunate to know Nana quite well. After her husband died in 1962 she survived colon cancer in the 1970s. Before I was born, she managed the gift shop at the Marineland oceanarium south of town. She cared for me when I was a child and helped me memorize the names of her family members pictured in old photo albums from the turn of the century. We played school and church, and we ate cottage cheese and hot dogs. She was still living at home with her Bichon Frisé, Babydoll, when she died at age 94, just a few months before I graduated from high school. She is buried here with Randy, Bert, Lillie, and Bertha. They rest alongside memorial markers for Bernita's two sons, Randy Jr. and Jimmy.
During the genealogy research segment of our Chicago vacation in February 2009, Zack and I visited Nana's childhood home on Prospect Avenue in Belvidere, Illinois. The current owner invited us inside and gave us a tour of the house. It's quite an experience to walk upon the same paths that my ancestors traversed many years ago...