relative I decided to detail is my
grandfather on my mother’s side. His name is Robert Lee Rafferty.
He was born August 16, 1936 and lives
in Bloomington, Illinois. I picked him because this year my mom’s
brother has been working on a family history project and I learned a
great deal about my grandfather’s teenage life when he visited this
| The typical days
of my family are different from
person to person. My father Keith is a computer engineer at a company
called Intuit. He leaves for to work at about 8 o’clock every day,
dropping me off at school. He then returns from work between 5:30 p.m.
and 6:00 p.m. My mother Kristi is a homemaker. She does the most work
by far around the house; she cleans, cooks, shops, and organizes for
the family. My brother Doug is a 5th grader at Deer Canyon Elementary.
He leaves the house for school at 7:45 a.m. and returns around 2:15
p.m. His chores are emptying the dishwasher of silverware, dusting the
living room and banister, cleaning his bathroom, and vacuuming his
room. I practice my trumpet in the morning from 7:30 to 8:00. I then
leave for school with my dad. I get home around 3:25. My chores are
emptying the dishwasher of everything but silverware, vacuuming my room
and the stairs, mowing the lawn, emptying the trash, and cleaning my
bathroom. At night we have a sit down, complete meal from our wonderful
cooking mother. After dinner we do homework, housework, rest, and have
free time to play outside. I usually watch T.V. or read from 8 p.m. to
10 p.m., and then go to bed. We celebrate holidays with the whole
family, whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter. For example,
on Thanksgiving, my mom’s brother’s wife’s family (my aunt’s family)
comes to our house and we have turkey and a ping pong tournament.
However my grandfather’s life was much, MUCH different.
| My grandfather
woke up around 5 a.m. to milk the
cows. He would also feed the hogs a corn/grain meal before proceeding
to school. After coming home from school, he had his daily cleaning
chores and had to go out in the field and aid in various farming
procedures, depending on the season. If it was autumn, he would help
harvest the corn and soybeans. If it was spring, he would disk the soil
to prepare it for the planting of the crop. He would be in the fields
all day on weekends, barely stopping for rest and food. The most
interesting difference I found was in our meals. Instead of cooking
refrigerated food and going for groceries a lot, my grandfather’s
mother would go out to the coop and wring a chicken’s neck, cook it,
and feed it to the family. In contrast, our days are VERY different.
| My usual school
day here in 2005 consists of five
academic classes, seven courses, five teachers, and around 35 kids in
every class. In 1949, my grandfather had one room for the entire 8th
grade, and the whole grade had only 20 kids. He was taught math,
science, language, and history all from one teacher in one classroom
(before my grandfather moved to the city where he took 8th grade, he
was in a one room school house for seven years). I took algebra as a
7th grader, but back then they did not learn it until high school. His
elementary school was 1st grade through 8th grade. My middle school is
6th through 8th grade. The grading system was just like ours, but they
could not check it regularly like we can; the only time they saw their
grades were on report cards. His discipline was much different. If a
teacher thought a student was getting out of hand, he or she would come
up and slap that kid on the hand with a ruler. Now a teacher is not
allowed to lay a finger on a pupil. His school did have one sports
team, a basketball team. My school does not have enough money to have
| Currently, my
goals for myself are to finish high
school, go to a notable college, and get an honest job. I would like to
play sports through college, but it is becoming obvious that I will not
be a professional athlete. I would like to be teacher a or get a job in
law enforcement. My grandfather, on the other hand, had no others goals
at 13 than to get through high school. He did not want to be a farmer,
but being in the corn country of Illinois, other jobs were nearly
impossible to get. My goals are yet to be played out. However my 69
year old grandfather’s goals are well behind him. He finished high
school and ended up as a farmer. He got his first self-owned farm in
1966, two years after my mother was born. In an Illinois farm town, it
is hard to be anything but a farmer, and that’s what he became.
| It is amazing how
much information you can find out
about your family. My family traced our lineage all the way back to
1754, to Greenville County, Kentucky. My mother’s side of my family
comes from a rich agricultural background. This project has showed me
how different a life I lead from past generations, even from my mother.
From her down through the generations, all the Rafferty family farmed.
Farming in the Midwest was a much different life that I get a little
taste of when I visit in the summer back in Illinois, and boy does it
look like a lot of work. Every generation seems to have to do less
manual labor than the one before it, and that sure is true with my
family. My chores may seem like a lot to me, but now I know it is
better than waking up and milking a cow or walking soybeans. I respect
my parents, grandparents, and those who came before on a whole
different level now. I will not mind hearing long, thorough stories
because they tell me of a past that was much unknown to me before we
dug deep and found out these admirable facts about the Rafferty family.
and pictures copyright 2005 by Brad Sherwood. All rights,
writes, and rites reserved.