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  • Nancy Spear

She went full speed ahead

I’ve been seeing 76-year-old Susan for months, she’s learned many functions on her iPad. When I walked in the other day, she surprised me by saying she wanted to search her family’s history on a Jewish genealogy website called JewishGen. “Okay, we can do that,” I said.

It wasn’t a race but she went full speed ahead as she told me about the relatives she hoped to find. First were the descendants of a cousin from South Africa who immigrated to Boston; she didn’t know the spelling of his first name, knew there were a few daughters, and then said, under her breath, “I used to have one of their phone numbers.” Second, was a cousin from Lithuania who had worked at the Smithsonian in ethnology. Finally, her husband’s family was from Latvia, what could we find on them?

“Let’s take one at a time,” I said. “You used to have the phone number of the family in Boston?” She nodded her head. “Do you still have your phone book?,” I asked. She got up, I heard rustling from the other room, and she came back with the book. She found the number! She called and I heard the moment the cousin realized who Susan was and how happy they were to reconnect. First relative found….check.

We moved on. “You said your cousin worked at the Smithsonian,” I said, “Let’s try Google.” She typed “Smithsonian,” his name, and his specialty and up came a whole Wikipedia page on him. Second relative found…check.

Finally, for the one from Latvia, we needed I showed her where to enter the family’s surname, then the country. She stopped when she had to enter the city. She couldn’t remember it. It was on the tip of her tongue, she said. “Was it Riga?,” I asked (because that’s where my grandma was from). “Yes!” She then found a few possible relatives on the site and emailed them. Third relative…I’ll keep you posted.

The moral of this story? Don’t forget to look in your old phone book, Google can find almost anyone, and sometimes your tech teacher knows a little bit about Northern Europe.

Nancy Spear

Nancy's Tech Help for Older Adults

310-365-9951 • •

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