It starts with the documentary about the Roosevelts that Ken Burns did for PBS—this overwhelming nostalgia that comes over me. I streamed the program on Netflix last week, and once it hit 1910, the year of my mother’s birth, I began to use the timeline to mark the progression of my parents’ lives.
The Great Depression especially roused my interest. My father would have been sixteen in 1929, a farm boy who had to travel ten miles to town to go to high school. How early did he have to rise to do his chores? Did he have money for a hot lunch? Were the seats of his trousers and the elbows of his sweaters shiny from wear?