I arrived at Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree on Wednesday afternoon. No name tags yet, but there were genealogists lurking about. How can you tell? You just know. A couple of years ago I was on a train in Australia and I could spot ‘em there, too, even in a foreign country. As I wandered the halls, finding the room where I will speak on Sunday morning (climbing up on the dias where I will be speaking just to check out the view… deep breaths) I ran into a Lisa Harding and George, the volunteer coordinator and the father she “dragged” into helping her with her conference duties. As gregarious as George is, I don’t think Lisa dragged him anywhere! Of course when you meet complete strangers, initial introductions often include the where-are-you- from?s and when I told George Seattle, he said, “I’m from Seattle.” I asked what neighborhood – “The Ravenna hill.” Hmmmm… “What street in Ravenna?” I asked. He replied “32nd… 6050 32nd.” I told him my address, a mere five blocks away, and we were instant friends!
George’s house was one in from the corner of 32nd and 62nd, site of Assumption-St Bridget school, alma mater of my three kids. Looked quite different, George assured me, as he described the big open field where he played as a kid. And even his block, now filled with cars parked on both sides of the street in our two-cars-for-every-household world, was nearly devoid of traffic in the war years when he grew up, so all day long the kids had free reign to run and play ball or tag in the street. We reminisced about the nearby University of Washington campus, also much changed from his tenure there. And he told me a bit of a remembrance of a neighbor girl, Mary Maxwell, a few years older than George and most of his buddies, the unofficial “big sister” on the street, keeping all these boys in line. Mary Maxwell? Quite an accomplished woman when she grew up – served on the board of regents for the University of Washington, the United Way and several major corporations.  And Mary Maxwell’s training, keeping on the kids on 32nd Ave NE in line must have given her some training for what’s probably turned out to be her most famous job, that of mother to one Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft.
Nice to come to Jamboree and learn more about my neighborhood a thousand miles away. Thank you, George, for making me feel welcome, in both places!
 Miles as the crow flies from Seattle, Washington to Burbank California per https://www.freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm
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Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.