Monday, November 25, 2013

What do you get if you cross the Atlantic Ocean with the Titanic? About halfway!


      I.        Intro


You could say that my family is very lucky. The story that Family was told by my Great Grandfather “Tata” or “Wielki Dziadzia,” grandpa in Polish, to my Great Uncle Al that is that the day my Great Grandfather arrived in New York City on April 12,1912, he got word via telegraph that the Titanic went down that afternoon.  He was planning on taking the ship to cross over the Atlantic; though, he probably would have been in third-class since he did not have too much money. However, as fortune would have it, someone stole his money and was unable to pay for the Titanic. Eventually he found enough money and took another ship the next day which beat the Titanic and safely arrived to New York City at Ellis Island. There he heard the tragic news about the sinking on the North Atlantic Ocean.  Just think, if my Great Grandfather had been on the Titanic, I, my mom, and my Grandpa would have never been on earth. This one tragic incident could have ended the culmination of what makes up my heritage and the three main cultural roots that really stand out in me.
    II.        Creativity

Creativity is just one aspect that can be traced back through my cultural roots. For years now I have been in love with the art of film making and bringing movie props to life. I recently received a national Telly award for a production I directed at my University of study, Reinhardt. Also, as a hobby, building props, especially from favorite scifi films, has played a major role in my life. With my prop building skills, I gained access to a very prestige costuming group known as the 501st Legion. The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work. These cultural roots, however, go way back to at least the 1900s with a famous actor, Vincent Price.

Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite his lasting association with the world of horror, Price started out as a dramatic actor. His tall, lanky frame and distinctive voice lent themselves nicely to character parts. Price enjoyed success in many arenas outside of cinema; he made numerous television appearances, ranging from The Brady Bunch to the TV series Batman. In the 1980s, he hosted the PBS series Mystery. He also added an ominous air to the Michael Jackson's 1983 "Thriller" video, by delivering an opening monologue. Price was the youngest of four children born to an upper-middle-class family. His father, Vincent Leonard Price Sr., served as the president of a candy company, and he had a cultured upbringing. Vincent Leonard Price also had a brother named Anthony Price and had many children. Anthony Price’s youngest Child was my Great Grand Mother Henrietta Price-Johnson, which connects me with one of my all-time idols in the film industry.

My cousin Alex Johnson, which is my Grand Father’s brother’s son, was a big history buff and had a love for the theatrics. He was doing a family tree research and knew that his grandmother Gordinier said her grandfather was in the Civil War. In fact her own aunt outlived her by four years and died in 1980. She would tell Alex about her dad. He used to play “Civil War” with his brothers when he was little and ended up joining the New York Engineer group in 1991 and then a local infantry unit (140th NY Vol. Infantry) in 1992.  When major film productions came to Buffalo New York, Alex was very eager to be a part of the experience. However, they said he was too "green" during the summer of 1992 for the filming of "Killer Angels / Gettysburg" but by the fall of 2001 he was well seasoned and found out they needed lots of extras who had their own uniforms and equipment for the film Gods and Generals .The production crew provided him with all the ammo and caps that he needed for the scenes. “It was a real cool experience, surreal with the various actors.” This was a very different experience than a typical reenactment since they were shooting the same scene over and over again. He did four different scenes over two days. Two as a Federal and two Confederate. He said that he sees reenacting as a combination of Boy Scouts, playing cowboys and Indians, an extention of his teaching and just having fun! He concluded by saying that “No one really dies!”

   III.        Traditions

Another part that makes up my cultural roots is the traditions that have been pasted down for generations with in my family. One of these traditions is the Licht family’s famous chowder. Chowder is a seafood or vegetable stew (or thickened soup), often served with milk or cream and mostly eaten with saltine crackers. Chowder is usually thickened with broken up crackers, but some varieties are traditionally thickened with crushed ship biscuit. However, our Chowder has its own recipe which makes it unique amongst the standard. The Licht family’s chowder was passed down for over three generations on the licht side of the family. It was near the great depression where times were hard when our chowder was created. During this time, food was hard to come by so my family had to make the food to last. This is the reasoning behind the abundance of chowder that is made today. Our chowder is not a stew but its closer to a soup. The ingredients consist of beef, chicken, and other assorted vegetables. This is not to mention of the secret ingredient that mixed in. The chowder takes several hours to make. Typically, my family starts the night before. The way to tell when the chowder is ready is by checking the potatoes. You will start to notice the cubed potatoes becoming round.

Over 3 generations another family tradition has been the annual firing of the family shot gun. Celebratory gunfire is the shooting of a firearm into the air in celebration, especially on holidays like New Year's Eve. However, the practice may result in random death and injury from stray bullets. Because of this, my family uses bird shot, which is far less lethal and will typically just fall to the ground without reaching terminal velocity. This particular tradition has always been a family favorite and will remain a part of my family culture.


  IV.        Service

Service has been a striving cultural root with in my family. Throughout high school, I was a part of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. I was very dedicated to being a part of a cultural that strengthened me physically and mentally. In my senior year of High School, I was the second in command of the entire Corps of over fifty cadets. Again, these cultural roots can be traced way back within my family as a very honorable tradition.

Defending our Nation is the ultimate calling of our troops, but there are many other facets of life for a military family member beyond war. The military is a rich culture of tradition, honor, and sacrifice and has a part of my family for generations. On Italian side of the Licht family, my Great, Great Grandfather, Anthony Maloney served under Mussolini’s rule in Italy. Contrast on the German side of the family, Great, Great Grandfather Adolf Licht served under Kaiser Wilhelm. My Great Grandma Maloney’s brother, Howard Walker, served in the United States Army in World War II. My household still has the two items he found during the war. The items were a Bayonet and officer sword taken frome dead Nazi. Unfortunately, it is said that Howard walker slept walked off the second story of his barracks the night he was scheduled to come back home. To this day, my family believes he may have been murdered.

The fire department has also been a large part of my family’s culture. My Great grandfather John Licht served the army during peace time and also the fire department in North Tonawanda New York. At the same time Great grandfather Maloney served just Tonawanda fire department. There children would eventually become my Grandparents on the Licht side of the family. My father continued the tradition and served the St. Johnsburg volunteer fire company as a captain. Later he would get married in the Fire hall to my mother.

   V.        Conclusion

In my conclusion, the three main cultural roots that truly represent me are creativity, traditional, and service. These roots are shown through my actions and bring meaning to my life. There are, however, so much more history out there within my family that I have yet to discover. This research paper not only helped me trace back some brief history of my family but helped spark an interest in my entire family lineage. Though most of the family members I discussed in this paper are gone, they still live on in me and the culture I will pass down someday to my children.

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