Thursday, June 26, 2014

So, Where Are You From?

Where I'm From...
In an e-mail exchange with a good friend of mine, we were discussing our New England roots. But his Dad was career military and he himself is career military, so the concept of where he's "from" is probably a lot different from the concept where I'm "from." Where I was born and raised was pretty much the same place for over twenty years. His experience of growing up, like that of my progeny, is no doubt different from mine. For the children of career military folks tend not to stay in one place for very long. (And in the military, four years is considered "long.")

So my friend and all three of my kids are "military brats," i.e. the children of career military parent(s).

So the concept of where one is from has been on my mind lately.

I can say that I am from Vermont, born and raised. The Missus Herself can say that she is from Korea, born and raised. The kids on the other hand?

The Naviguesser was born in Korea, then lived in Colorado, Mississippi, Nebraska and then Germany. Until he went to college. In New England. Ask my son where he's from, he'll say "New England" - I'm not sure if he claims Massachusetts as his adopted home, but the Red Sox ball cap he wears out there in California makes people think he's from Massachusetts. He could claim Rhode Island if he wanted to, though he didn't spend much time here between being in college and then being in the Navy.

Shortly after his discharge from the Navy, he followed Horace Greeley's advice.

Now The Nuke was born in Aurora, Colorado and lived in that fine state until the age of 4 and a half. Then she did the Mississippi, Nebraska, Germany track, followed by high school in Rhode Island and college in Massachusetts (same alma mater as her brother). Now she's in the Navy. I do believe she tells folks she's from Rhode Island. Kind of...

The WSO was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming (we were living in Colorado at the time), then she followed the same course as The Nuke, more or less. Mississippi, Nebraska, Germany, followed by high school in Rhode Island and college in Massachusetts. She went to college in the same town as her older siblings, but a different institution of higher learning than the older two.  She's always gone her own way. The two older siblings are Surface Warfare Officers, The WSO is a Naval Flight Officer. She tells folks that she's from Rhode Island.

Oddly enough The Missus Herself will, from time to time, tell people that she claims Colorado as her "home state" (every American should have one and The Missus Herself worked hard to become an American) as that was the first place we lived when we were reassigned from Korea back to what we always called "State-side," some of the old-timers of my acquaintance would refer to the US of A as "CONUS" - which is (of course) an acronym standing for CONtinental United States.

One real old-timey Master Sergeant I worked with in Korea when I was a mere sprig of a Staff Sergeant always referred to CONUS as "the ZI." Pronounced zee-eye, this not really an acronym, it's simply an abbreviation for Zone of the Interior. Which is what they called CONUS back during World War II. I can't vouch for that, I wasn't there. While I am "old," I am not that old.

Now this whole "where are you from" thing gets interesting in small town New England. While I may have known this growing up in a smallish town in New England (I say smallish because back then we had a population of 10,000 people, nearby towns were smaller) I didn't really think of it until I retired from the Big Blue Machine and moved to Rhode Island.

I have had a few denizens of this region look down their noses at me and say "oh, you're not from here are you?" As if the ability to be born, raised, live and die all in the same town is a huge accomplishment. Seriously?

Then to brag about how your ancestors did the exact same thing. In other words, it's an uninterrupted line of people who were all born, raised, lived and died in the same town.

Of course, there had to be at least one ancestor who couldn't say they had lived in the same place their entire life.

So at some point in time there had to have been a family member who stepped off the boat, looked into the wilderness and heard...

"You're not from around here, are you?"

I am sure that the original inhabitants of New England would have preferred that our ancestors had all stayed back in Europe, Africa or Asia and left them alone. But they didn't. They migrated and moved to a new land. Made lives for themselves and their descendants. So that one day, those self-same descendants could look at someone new and say...

"You're not from around here, are you?"

The street where I grew up.
Nope, I'm not from around here.


  1. I answer the question with "I was raised in Texas". I also am a military brat and have packed all my things and changed zip codes 49 times in my life. Dad, Mom and the Kids moved to Texas when I was entering 5th grade. I lived here through College and Pilot Training. The USAF then decided to assign me elsewhere for my entire career. Upon retirement, we moved back. My next move will be into a box.

    1. Once a Texan, always a Texan.

      And that's a good thing!

  2. Good post. Like you, I was lucky enough to grow up in one place until I was 18 but I had a couple of friends in high school that were military kids. I envied them all the
    places they had lived and yet looking back I'm glad I had roots in a place I still call home even though I no longer live there. By the way, is your wife the young lady you
    met when we were on the Rock?

  3. Reminds me of a great big Texan I served with. He was full of it and never missed a chance to remind us all that he was a Texan and could whoop any ten of us with one hand tied behind his back. One rather drunken night jin Olongapo he was loudly issuing his customary challange to fight any man in the bar and someone took him up on it. The result was that the other fellow beat the crap out of the Texan and killed him. The good news was that with all the crap beaten out of him we could ship the body home in a match box.

  4. "You're not from around here, are you"?

    "No, thank God".

  5. The really sad story is I can go back to where I was born, and lived the early years, and to where I was raised, not far from where I was born; and I can say to many, many folks, "You're not from around here, are you?"
    The places have changed, too, and not necessarily for the better.

  6. Dad wasn't military (apart from the war years when he was Home Guard), but he worked for a big electronics company that built radar and other secret squirrel stuff that ended up in all sorts of military aircraft and some in HMS Dreadnought, our first nuclear sub. So he got moved around. On thinking this post through, the longest I have ever lived in one place was 12 years and second place goes to my first nine years growing up in East London. As an independent adult, once I'd joined the police, I was settled in one of two places, London and Hampshire, but within those two large areas I was posted all over the place. It hit me only recently, when I realised that my son and my daughter, both now in their thirties, still socialise with friends and acquaintances they were at junior school with. I never had those sort of roots. They are basically from one small town in Hampshire and although I worked in that County for 24 of my 30 years service, the longest stay in the same family home for me was 12 years. But I am a Londoner, my parents were Londoners....but the twist in my tale is that I now live in a small place in Suffolk, where generations of my fathers family lived for over 350 years. For the first time in 50 years, I have blood relatives all around me - I just don't know who or where most of them are...yet!

    1. Now that is a story worth telling in some depth!

      (Hint, hint.)

  7. I'm a Navy brat, but managed to go 1st through 12th grade in the same school district. We moved around a bit when I was a wee thing, but once we hit Whidbey Island, we put down roots. So even though I'm born a Virginian Gentleman, when folks ask where I"m from, I tell them Washington. Never mind I haven't lived there in about 30 years.

    1. That is a long time to be in one place. Not a bad place to spend some time from what I've heard.

  8. I was a military brat, too. And there's this about that...

    About which… My father and I worked for hours…literally… in the waaay back when I had to complete my first DD Form 398 (Personnel Security Questionnaire). One of the questions requires the person filling out the form to list all residences, complete with address, in chronological order. I ultimately submitted the form with several “address unknowns,” simply because my father couldn’t remember the address of various and sundry places we had lived. I didn’t worry a whole helluva lot about those “address unknowns” since my father, being career USAF, provided the ultimate “get out of jail free” card when it came to background investigations. None the less, I used every bit of allocated space for addresses on that Form 398 and one full page of typewritten addendums for same… and that was when I was a young pup of 18 or so. The list has grown considerably since.

    I say I'm from NM today. I still can't quite believe that myself.

    1. Yes, my kids all had fun filling out that security questionnaire, though we didn't move as much as some. (I was a notorious homesteader. A real pigeon, they had to throw rocks at me to get me to PCS!)

      Throw in the fact that Mom is from Korea and filling out the security questionnaire got even more interesting.

  9. I grew up in Missouri until I was 10. After that, through parental Divorce and being an Army Brat and having a Mother that just won't stay still, to becoming Navy myself, I have hardly lived for more that two years in the same place. I have now lived in Victoria 13 years and this is the longest I have lived in one place in my entire life. Even so... that 13 years was interrupted by a Year in Port Lavaca and a few months in Florida. Even within Victoria I have had 8 different addresses.

    Though originally from Missouri, I consider myself Texan and Texas is "Where I'm from"

    1. The response I gave Juvat (above) fits here as well.


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