My grandfather was born in the 19th century. 1898 to be exact. Some people are born and live their entire lives in one particular historical period and other's lives straddle the end of one era and the beginning of another. I have a theory that some people who witness great technological, social, economic, and/or political change during their lifetimes, especially when the change occurs during their formative years, have difficulties adjusting and gaining a purchase on life. (Yet some thrive under those same conditions). The year Grandpa was born William McKinley was president and was assassinated 3 years later, the USS Maine was blown up in Havana harbor precipitating the Spanish American War. When he was 5 years old in 1903 the Wright brothers built and flew the first airplane. He was 19 when the United States entered WWI and 43 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. I may be making excuses for my grandfather because when it came to navigating his way through life he seemed to prefer the fog of inebriation to the clarity of sobriety. He was an alcoholic.
His people were the English and Scot-Irish who landed on eastern shores two centuries ago and gradually drifted down Appalachia and settled in the hills of Arkansas and Oklahoma where they made a living farming and share cropping until the winds of change, just as strong as the wind that blew the topsoil away, blew them to California where they became known as Okies. My grandmother said they didn't notice when the Great Depression came because they had always been poor. So my people stayed for another decade or so. Grandpa sold vegetables from a horse cart and was content if he managed to buy some flour, bacon, and coffee each day. They lived for a time in abandoned farm houses. But, at the end of WWII the family was drawn to California by the lure of jobs that paid steady money.