Monday, July 21, 2008


I plan to do something a little different here. I have ofter wondered about the planning and the trip here by Hyppoliet and Leonie Broidioi but I have always kept my thoughts in my head. I have sketchy details and I have mentally filled in the gaps. For the nest posts I want to take a little "writer's privilege" and tell their story in "their" words. Here goes.........................
They stood in awe as they looked up at the massive ship sitting dockside in the early morning sunshine with the word "Lusitania" at the top of it's bow. Even though it had been in service for a year it still looked new as the sun glistened off the top decks that were painted snow white. This day was much brighter than the previous days when they took a ferry from Calais to Dover. After that they boarded a train for the 250 mile trip through the heartland of England to the city of Liverpool. Since they left Calais the day before there had been a steady foggy drizzle, which dampened their spirits, but today was much brighter. Their trip thus far had been trying on the couple with a young son at their side but they knew that their ordeal had just begun.
As they looked at the ship you could see the strength in the eyes of Hyppoliet. He was a handsome man with dark hair and piercing blue eyes that showed his resolve regarding the journey they were about to embark on. Beside him were his young attractive wife, Leonie, and their one-year-old son, Kamile. Leonie was small in stature with long black hair and a natural beauty that Hyppoliet found irresistible. She was looking up at him feeling a deep love as he observed the giant ship sitting dockside. She was twenty-five years old and he was twelve years her senior which was a common theme during this period of history. It was easy to see that she loved and respected his judgement with every fiber of her being. Her father had died at an early age and her stepfather was a cruel abusive man. She had found just the opposite of her stepfather in Hyppoliet. He was a strong powerful man but he was gentle and caring in his relationship with both her and Kamile.
As they stood at the ship their minds went through the years previous to the present moment.
More later - hope you find this interesting. A lot of this is fact but I took the liberty to fill in the gaps. From conversations with both while I was growing up I believe that I am close to how it really happened.
I should have more pictures of their life in the next couple of days. They should really help out with their story.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Language has always fascinated me. I guess growing up around my grandparents with their mixed languages made me conscious of language both spoken and written.
When I entered the USAF my testing indicated that I had an aptitude for learning foreign language. For a kid from the Tennessee hills I was impressed with myself.
Studying from the bible God started all this at the tower of Babel when He "confused" the current language and gave each little group a separate language so they would spread out about the earth. Those folks must have had an "aptitude" for language also?
As a young teen I remember listening to a World War II vet from the Normandy campaign telling stories at the "liars" bench at the local gas station regarding his confusion with how to communicate with the French people in the area. This line of talk really appealed to me since I knew it was possible that he could have had contact with some of my relatives. At that time we had not made contact with our people there but I was aware of them.
Anyway, this guy in all seriousness, was telling about his fondness for the French people and how smart and imaginative they were. He said, "Even their children are super intelligent - even the very small ones speak perfect French." I was waiting for him to laugh but he never did????
Hyppoliet and Leonie both spoke with a combination of English, French, Flemish, and German. In fact Grandpa used the more gutteral German language for his occasional swear words.
I was constantly in trouble with my mom because she did not know what the words I was repeating meant but she knew that they were probably bad.
My grandpa had to be my favorite person in my life. Even though he died in the early 1960's I still miss him.
I remember sitting in his home-made porch swing (grandpa was a craftsman with wood) and looking down on the valley while grandpa puffed his pipe Sometimes we might sit for over an hour without talking. He always used Grainger pipe tobacco that he ordered by the case from Chicago I think. None of that sweet smelling tobacco for him. Grainger had a great masculine aroma but it was not sweet by any account. It was hard for me to be quiet but that's what he liked to do and I respected his peace. I think that's why he enjoyed my company because I never bothered him with unnecessary small talk. He had a great sense of humor but most of the time he appeared serious even though you could still see the gleam in those blue eyes.
Now I sometimes wonder what was on his mind back then? Was he thinking of his youth back home in Belgium/France? I will now never know but I will always wonder what stories he could have related to me if I had just pressed him?
Anyway, more next time regarding life growing up in an immigrant family.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Sawmill

Why a story about a sawmill on a family history site?
The answer is that most of the immigrants came over here during the early 1900's and were just beginning to get established in their new country when disaster struck - The Great Depression. This story gives you some idea, in a humorous way, how serious this time in our nation truly was.
This is a little story my dad told me and I'm not sure who the characters were - he never would discuss that? Who knows? It could have been a family member?
During the great depression sawmills were common places of work for whole communities. From the cutting of the timber through the sawmill operation to the distribution of the product was a very important facet of the community.
This was one of the few enterprises that was still operational.
This particular small mountain sawmill had about a dozen workers. They brought their lunches in personally marked pails and left them in a temporary shed while they worked.
A new man had been hired to the crew but his financial situation was so bad that he could not afford to bring any lunch. On his second day he was so hungry that he went to the shed before the other men on the crew came for lunch. He picked up several lunch pails and finally grabbed the heaviest one and ran into the woods and hid to enjoy his newly claimed “pot luck” lunch.
He was surprised to find a claw hammer and three black walnuts in the pail!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Unknown Broidioi(?) Family

I hope that this photo is not too small for you to get the points I am trying to make. I wish I knew who these people are?
This portrait was on my cousin Pascal’s family history website with hopes that someone could identify the family. He knew that they were part of our family, but who were they?
They are a nice looking family. You can easily see that the parents show pride in their family. The lady looks a bit tired but why wouldn’t she? Six kids that close together would probably cause some tiredness.
Notice the discipline of everyone in the portrait. Even the baby is participating. How in the world did they achieve that?
It stands out to me that two of the kids have little uniform type outfits on that are basically the same. The white baggy socks on the one child seem out of place? I’m sure there is a story there. Did he get his other ones dirty and have to wear his play socks for the portrait? Reckon maybe there was a family crisis prior to the portrait over these baggy white socks? These are the type things that fascinate me.
All eyes are on the camera. This is simply amazing! Is it possible that this family has posed for many other pictures? Normal class people would not be posing regularly – could they possibly be of the elite class?
Everyone visible in this portrait has clean shoes. The immigrant’s shoes in my “Faded Portrait” poem were worn and run down in appearance. They were wearing nice clothes but their shoes looked like every day work shoes. This family probably didn’t have work shoes?
The man shows dignity and class in his suit. His head is back and he looks proud. This tells me that he probably normally wears dresses this way. He shows security in every way. This whole family looks as if they do this all the time?
Again, at the time of this photo there were two World Wars in this family’s future. I wonder what happened to each family member? Sadly, their stories we will never know. Before the sadness of this thought overcomes me I realize that they all are gone now.
But for an instant in time they are together – peering into the lens of a camera for us to wonder about this many years later.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Henri Broidioi Wedding Portrait

I haven’t studied photographic techniques of the early 1900’s but I really believe that photographers must have attempted to have everyone in the portrait have the same expression. I call it the early 1900’s scowl. Look at today’s photos. Some smiling others looking solemn. Could you imagine someone in 1910 slipping and putting their hand behind some ones head in the “rabbit ears” sign? I have never seen that nor do I think that I ever will.
This is a happy scene but you have to realize that these same people will not be asked to survive one World War but two. I wonder what happened to each? Knowing that they were in the center of both.- did they all survive?
Less seriously, don’t you just love those hats? Is it possible that someone in the group might have operated a men’s hat shop?
Also, I see several neat mustaches in the group. Grandpa Broidioi wore one. In his own humor he called it his “soup strainer.” I remember that he always had a dignity about him even when he was in his overalls. I will always have that image in my mind.
I think that we have arrived at the fact that most of these macho guys are grandpa’s family – 9 brothers and 2 sisters. I believe that the top row plus the groom are probably his brothers. His two sisters are harder to pick out but 2 of these young ladies are most probably his sisters.
I enjoy looking for stories in each face and each pair of eyes. Even with the “1900’s scowl” their eyes and expressions show a window into their lives.
I enjoy studying and imagining each ones situation in life from their appearance and composure as the shutter opened. If a picture is worth 1000 words then I want to write them down. I enjoy pondering and questioning each face while trying to figure out what frame of mind each was in.
Have you ever been part of a group photo? Were you focusing on the camera when it snapped? If you are like me your mind may have been many hours and many miles away. You may have one expression on your face but have another one in your heart. That’s what I enjoy looking for in old portraits.
Try it for yourself on a group picture that you are a part of. Remember what you were thinking at the time. Then see if you can pick up expressions on yourself and others in the group. We all put on facades for photo shoots. That is a fact.
Many would consider this analysis a waste of time but I feel that the past is our link to the future.
We must treasure the past. If not, then why have family history sites?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's In a Name?

I remember as a child wondering about my last name, Brodioi. Why couldn’t I have been a Smith or Jones? I remember young bullies teasing me about my last name and pronouncing it funny and laughing about it. As a six year old I guess that really bothered me.
Also, I really felt bad for my grandpa because his name was Hyppoliet August Brodioi. He got his mail as H. Brodioi and for some childish reason I thought that he was probably ashamed of his name too. That could not have been further from the truth. As I grew to my early teen years I realized that he was a strong man who was proud of his name and his heritage.
Now looking back I realize that the ones who made fun of me were basically insecure as to who they were and were simply using me to cover their weaknesses.
Over the years I have found that most people miss-pronounce the name with an Italian ring to it.
Now, finally, I see the humor in that Italianization of Brodioi.
I wouldn’t say that my grandma disliked all Italians but she did seem to hold them to a different standard.
I always wondered about that? I thought maybe there might have been some political problems between Belgium and Italy that troubled her?
On 3 July 2006 this question was answered in a very simple manner.
While looking at the Lusitiana’s manifest for their voyage I realized that they were traveling, cramped and crowded for 6 days, with the majority of the names on their page of the manifest being primarily young single men of Italian descent. I figure that in that six day journey my grandma probably had about enough of young macho Italians to last a lifetime.
I took the liberty to Google many of the names to see if any had become either famous, or infamous, but so far no matches have occurred. Who knows??
Looking back I am tremendously proud that I am not a Smith or Jones but a Brodioi, or actually Broidioi...
Nothing wrong with Smith or Jones but their base is so broad that tracing family is really tough to do. Now Brodioi is a different animal altogether.
I now realize that the uniqueness of the name is one of the things that I love about it. My wife has adapted to it well and is very proud to wear it. Our children also adapted well and seemed to not have the problems I encountered.
Here is something that just happened and I find it really thought provoking. Just this week our grandson graduated from kindergarten and as we were in attendance at the school I was looking over the hand out program. I noticed that his last name was spelled Broidioi in the manner that my grandparents used as they entered Ellis Island. I asked my son about the spelling and he said that it was probably a misprint. I thought this was amazing that an error could correct another error that was made one hundred years ago. Imagine the odds against that?
One funny and positive example of the uniqueness of Brodioi occurred during my military basic training. Drill instructors are normally not the most fluent individuals. My drill instructor never pronounced my name the same was twice during eight weeks of training. He never asked but his pronunciation attempts always had an Italian flavor. Many times I think that he intended to put me on KP or some other undesirable duty but simply gave up on my name and instead called on “Smith” and “Jones.” My unit had two each of these.
Now I am glad that my parents never allowed our name to be “Americanized.”
While I am proud to be an American, I am also proud of my European heritage. My grandparents came to America to start a new life, not to cut themselves off from their past life.
I will do my utmost to insure that our “across the pond” contact is never lost again.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

American Dream (Post 5 of 5)

After Grandpa died (1962) Grandma lived alone in the house they had built together on their farm snuggled up against the Cumberland Mountains. She was fiercely independent at age 78 and wanted to live on her own. When she was in her 90’s my dad and mother
insisted that she move in with them. Her independence showed again as she agreed to move to their new brick home on their farm about 2 miles away if she could add an apartment onto their house at her expense for her to live in.
An architect friend of my dad’s (Carl Bauer) designed the apartment add on. It not only looked good but was also functional. In the design he positioned her sitting room with a view of the Cumberland Mountain chain that she loved. She lived there until her death at age 106.
My dad passed away during this period so she not only outlived my Grandpa but she also outlived her youngest son, Henry.
She once told me a few years before her death that all her friends were gone. I never thought of how that must feel until she mentioned it. She had outlived all her friends and acquaintances both here and in Belgium.
For her 100th birthday the local newspaper sent a reporter to get pictures and to interview her. She received cards and letters from Congressmen and Senators plus a personal note from one of our greatest Presidents – Ronald Reagan. She also received the key to the city of her Belgium hometown with a nice note from the mayor. Many of her younger relatives in Belgium, who my sister, had corresponded with over the years sent her notes of congratulation.
At this point I would like to mention Grandma’s mental state in her latter years. She could still recall stories from her youth and loved to tell them in her broken English.
One local high school history teacher (Larry Majors) who grew up in the same community regularly visited her and once told me that to him she was a living history lesson. Just think, she was born in 1884 one year before Ulysses S. Grant died and not many years after
Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. Hyppoliet and Leonie Broidioi were part of the birth of this great nation.
Leonie Broidioi saw early automobiles and flying machines from the Wright Brothers to the Apollo moon landing. She also saw the Depression, two World Wars, and finally American fast food. She developed a great love for Kentucky Fried Chicken in her latter years.
There was a young Catholic priest who regularly visited her even though she never made it to Winchester to the church.
I often heard her remark - reflecting her Catholic upbringing - how vulgar television had become. She said that when she was growing up in Belgium a lady would not even allow a gentleman to see her feet. Much of what was on TV embarrassed her. Sadly I guess she lived long enough to witness the beginning of the decline of our culture.
When I think about the lives of Hyppoliet August and Leonie Marie Brodioi, my grandparents, I feel a tremendous amount of pride. The only reason that I am an American is because of them. They were pioneers in the truest sense. They gave up all their family and security ties and as a young attractive couple they traveled to a wild untamed exciting, ready to explode, country to begin a new life. In my opinion, they were the essence of pure courage. They and thousands of others like them made this country the great country that it is. They were people with a dream who were willing to work hard to achieve their dream. They had an aura of independence and pride that showed in everything they did. May my grandparents and every other hard working immigrant like them rest in peace. They served their new country well by working as hard as they did to build this great nation.
I feel that if we wish to save the culture we have in this once great nation we must revisit that pioneer selfless spirit. The immigrants never thought that their lives would ever be easy but they worked as they did to make a home for their descendants for generations to come. Most of the people in this country are from immigrant roots. Some by choice, others forced, but we are all from the same stock. We need to check our cultural roots and try to copy the immigrant passion and work ethic that built this great nation.
That, along with a rebirth of faith, is the hope of our nation.


Monday, May 26, 2008

My problem

I have a dilemma.
I am having trouble figuring out how to work my stories into this family history blog and it is just not working.
You see I have an abundance of stories and I want to place all of them out for your reading. If I get close to posting them all - that will give me incentive to write more. I have a “treasury” of stories not yet written that need to be told.
Here is what I have decided to do.
I am establishing another blog for my short stories from my youth and I intend to link that site to this one for your easy search. The link for my short story blog will be:
Also I have an abundance of religious writings and poetry that I plan to put on still another blog. The link for that blog will be:
Sounds like a lot of work but it is a labor of love for me. I enjoy telling stories using this medium.
Eventually you will see that I have moved the short stories not applicable to my family history blog to one of the other sites.
If you link over and there is not much there, bear with me, it will be soon.
Thanks for your support.

American Dream (Post 5 of 5) to follow tomorrow....

American Dream (Post 4 of 5)

Here I will add a little tidbit of information that has always intrigued me regarding my grandparents move to Raceland, La.
As a footnote my dad - as a young man - rode his Indian motorcycle to Louisiana to satisfy his curiosity to see if he could find the swampland that was the original purchase of Hyppoliet and Leonie Brodioi. He never pinpointed the exact property but he did observe that oilrigs were everywhere in that area! Imagine that? An interesting turn in the road of life. I could just as easily have grown up to be an oil baron?
My Grandpa was a tall handsome man and my Grandma was a very small attractive woman under five feet tall who probably never weighed more that 100 pounds in her entire life. They worked together on their dream farm in the “Tennessee Hills” with both doing man’s labor.
They gained the respect of their neighbors in the community through their work ethic.
Grandma baked her own bread and cooked meals on occasion for up to 20 men during the wheat harvest threshing season. The whole community worked together to handle the wheat harvest at each farm. I never remember eating any fried food at Grandma’s table.
She was a great cook but she baked and broiled all her foods in the European tradition. I imagine that may have contributed in some way to their longevity. My Grandpa lived to be nearly 90 and my Grandma died when she was 106 years old.

Friday, May 23, 2008

American Dream (Post 3 of 5)

Two of my dad’s cousins served honorably in WWII with one (Louis Montoye, son of Oscar and Eugenia) serving with the 101st Airborne at the Battle of the Bulge.
I understand that he was able to help many of his Belgian family members who were in deep poverty at that time. I haven’t discussed this with my cousin in Paris but hopefully some older relatives may have heard of Louis’ efforts. One story Louis personally told me regarded his efforts to help many of the locals to fish in a local stream. Without an abundance of equipment, Louis used what he had available. He used hand grenades to fish with. His efforts were tremendously successful. The locals were extremely happy to have food but there was a problem. Louis was arrested by the US Army for misuse of Government property. At his court martial the local Army General dismissed the charges when he found out that many of the people Louis was helping to “fish” were his family members. An amazing but true story.
The other cousin (Richard Broidioi - still trying to find out his family tree?) was a waist gunner on a B-17 crew flying missions over Germany from England. His crew never made their 25 missions. On limping back to England after a raid over Germany they were shot up really bad and their B-17 crashed on landing. Of the nine man crew only Richard Broidioi survived. He walked away without a scratch. He spent the rest of his life wondering why he survived? I think that they called this “survivors guilt” in WWII. Before the war Richard was an outgoing happy person but after the war my dad said that he was withdrawn and quiet.
In the late 1970’s I found out that my wife’s grandfather - Albert Vaughn of Oneida, TN - knew Richard Broidioi. I learned about his friendship with Richard from Mr. Vaughn while visiting him in the mountain town of Oneida, Tennessee.
Out of the blue one day he told me of a man near Clarkrange who had the same surname as mine but spelled differently. When I asked the man’s name he told me it was “Richard.” I told him that Richard Broidioi was my dad’s cousin and that I knew him. This was nearly unbelievable since none of my family in middle Tennessee knew where Richard moved after the war.
Mr. Vaughn was a salesman for Jellico Grocery Products and on his weekly route he traveled to Clarkrange, TN where he regularly met with Richard.
Richard had a wife and children and lived in a very private mountainous area in the vicinity of Clarkrange, Tennessee. On many occasions Richard would be at the country store near Clarkrange picking up supplies and Mr.Vaughn, who never met a stranger, would converse with him. Over the years Richard became close to him and they talked often. I thought this was really a coincidence since my wife’s grandfather knew my dad’s cousin even before I met my wife. I guess the old saying about this being a “small world” is truer than we could ever imagine.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

American Dream (Post 2 of 5)

On a trip to Ft. Worth, Texas to sell some cattle grandpa ran into a businessman from Winchester, Tennessee by the name of Herman Alexander. On hearing grandpa’s story he offered to help them get a farm in Tennessee. He encouraged grandpa not to give up on their dream and added that all American businessmen were not dishonest. He went on to tell them of beautiful rolling farmland in southern Middle Tennessee where he had his properties.
Before this contact I would imagine they might have had thoughts about returning to Belgium?
Mr. Alexander encouraged them to travel to Tennessee to see the land for themselves. He said that he would help them to restart their new life. This seemed to be the theme in those days. Always try to help some other worthy person get their start. This was the “Golden Rule” in action.
Grandpa told the Montoye’s, who were still in Chicago, about the Tennessee farmland and they decided to go to Tennessee to see for themselves. They liked what they saw and both men obtained land there to start their dream of being farmers of the land.
Over the next few years my grandparents worked toward ownership of a nice piece of “Tennessee Hills” farmland. Mr. Alexander, through his human kindness and generosity, helped my Grandparents get a start toward their American dream. He was like a guardian angel for my grandparents.
This area of Tennessee had a high influx of immigrants during that period of history. There was a huge German settlement nearby and a few Nordic families were immigrants
there also. Hyppoliet and Leonie Brodioi eventually became citizens, learned “broken English” and became extremely proud Americans – who had no hyphen before Americans.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

American Dream (Post 1 of 4)

My grandparents, Hyppoliet August (1872) and Leonie Marie Brodioi (1884), came to this country in 1909. Kamile, my Uncle, was around one year old when they made the voyage.
My cousin who lives just outside of Paris, France has traced the surname Brodioi, back to the 1750’s as Broudihaux.
They came to America from their native Belgium because of the “American Dream.” They spoke no English, basically did not know anyone, but they came anyway.
Grandpa was twelve years my Grandma’s senior which made him probably 36-37 years old when they came to America. Friends and close family members told them that they would be killed by Indians in the wild new world of America but they had already made up their minds to make the journey. Imagine the courage and the singleness of purpose it took to uproot your life and embark on a journey to a strange new land with not much more than love for each other and steerage, third class, boat ticket?
On April 23, 1909 they arrived at Ellis Island on the Lusitania. If you remember your history the Lusitania was made famous by it’s sinking in 1915 by a German submarine to bring America into WWI.
After looking with awe at New York City they took a train out west to Chicago. There they met up with Oscar Montoye who was married to Grandpa’s sister, Eugenia. The Montoye’s had come to the US two years earlier. In Chicago they both found work and on one occasion for entertainment they attended a “Wild West Show” where they saw Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley. Imagine as a child my hearing of this? It was just about more than a farm kid from the “Tennessee Hills” could comprehend. My Grandpa and Grandma actually saw real life western folk heroes. Amazing!
They worked hard and saved their money for about three years and decided to buy some land and start their new life as tillers of the soil. This was their plan before they came to
America. Based on a newspaper ad or a flyer they became interested in some farmland in Louisiana. In those days you couldn’t just drive or fly to view a piece of property. In most cases if you were an immigrant you just hoped that you were dealing with someone honest. Sadly, with the influx of immigrants in the early 1900’s scam artist were very active in large city areas where immigrants lived. So, on a faith equal to their dream they bought the land and set off with their two young sons for Raceland, Louisiana. My dad, Henry, was born during their time in Chicago.
More than likely they took a riverboat down the Mississippi to what they hoped was a good piece of farmland on which to start their new lives and to chase their version of the “American Dream.”
On their arrival they were literally crushed when they saw the rough piece of land that was a swampy snake infested property that was not really suitable farmland. For this, they had risked their entire savings.
They worked hard on their piece of land and raised cattle and fought the natural elements as best they could. Their thoughts were on what would they do and where would they turn next? Sadly many other immigrants met this same fate during this period in American history. They were so overwhelmed with the American Dream that they were to trusting of others.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Several years ago I tried to go to the Ellis Island website to find out the date of my grandparents arrival but I kept hitting dead ends and gave up. My computer was slow and the website was not complete for research as of that time.
In discussing this with my son a couple of years ago he said he would give the research a try……

Here is my wording as to how my son reacted as he researched our family history..........

It was near midnight, his wife and young son were sound asleep, when he sat down at his computer to do the family research for his dad. His task was to try to find the ship manifest where his great-grandparents arrived at Ellis Island in 1909. His dad had got as far as that a few years earlier but never found which of the arrivals in 1909 they were on. He knew that this could be a fairly quick task but he had no idea what else he would discover.
As he assumed the task of finding the information - which was as simple for him as a few well worded Google searches.
Shortly, he found that they had arrived at Ellis Island on the Lusitiana, April 23, 1909. He thought how his young son would enjoy reading of his ancestors when he got older. At five years of age his son was the youngest of the Brodioi’s in America. As he built a file of information for his dad he copied the ships manifest for the page that they were listed on. Something odd caught his eye as he worked with the files. The name on the manifest was spelled differently but he knew that he had the right “Brodioi” because the first names of his great-grandparents were Hyppoliet and Leonie as listed on the manifest. As he studied the spelling of the name “B-R-O-I-D-I-O-I” on the manifest he notices that it had an extra “I” before the “D.” He had heard his dad say that Grandma Brodioi had indicated that the name was spelled differently in the old country but no one had ever pursued how the name was spelled in Belgium. His mind was working overtime as he got an idea. He decided to do a Google search on the last name by placing the “I” before the “D” to see what might happen.
This was a very important decision because it would open doors that had been closed for nearly one hundred years. As the search results came on screen he noticed a website that had an odd "French twist" to the name listed besides the new spelling of our surname. He made the decision to open this site and that is where things changed. He was so excited that he could hardly sleep that night as he waited for morning to tell his dad that we were about to make “contact.”

July 3, 2006 – The early morning after late night research……

As we read through the information on the website we noted that we had relatives in Belgium, France, Canada, and New Zealand. Talk about an international family!
We noted that many questions were posed regarding whatever happened to the USA family?
I noticed an email address soliciting information. I excitedly sent a simple two line email stating that, “I believe that I am the one you seek.” I went on to state that Hyppoliet and Leonie were my grandparents.
The following morning, July 4, 2006, I excitably saw that I had a reply to my short email sent across the pond. It was from a previously unknown cousin living in Paris, France who is about the same age as my son. The feeling I had at that time was indescribable!
I had often wondered what it was like to have an extended family. I would read of large families having family reunions and I never really understood what that involved?
I now understand how people who were adopted feel when they make contact with their blood relatives. In a sense that is what happened to the American branch of the Broidioi family. America adopted us from Belgium and France. I plan to go into this more when I describe growing up with a rather uncommon name. Sometimes I felt like I did not belong here?
Anyway, we then went through a series of emails swapping information to help fill in gaps regarding the US branch of the Broidioi’s.
Since then we have got to know each other better and regardless of our national differences we have established a bond.
We are, after all, family!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Faded Portrait

Inspired by my thoughts while viewing an old family portrait hanging in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Manchester, TN.


Faded Portrait

A family portrait from long long ago
Faded and dulled by time it does sadly show

Each face with expressions that attempt to say
The kind of lives they lived each and every day

Were they happy or were they sad?
Were their days mostly troubled or sometimes glad?

We can intently study for a hint of their life
But the faces are unfeeling on both the man and his wife

The couple portrayed has long since passed on
Years from now we too will also be gone

Our life is only a flickering shadow in time
We must explore life fully, not just the sublime..


It was obvious as I looked at this “Faded Portrait” that the couple portrayed were dressed in their Sunday best. It was also obvious that they were immigrants who had endured a hard life. Their faces and eyes reflected the tiredness in their bodies. They had probably come to this country with a dream, they probably still had it, but their lives must have been full of hard work and pain. Even through the facade of their serious stares into the camera I could see what they were hiding.
I felt a sadness as I contemplated the scene and what I could see past the portrait.
At the time of this poem I had not made any contact with my European relatives. I remember my Grandma had occasional contact with some relatives in Belgium over the years but these stopped when her contacts probably passed away.
My Grandma passed away at the age of 106 years. During the last 30 or so years of her life she probably had no one left to communicate with?
I had no family portrait of any of my ancestors past my grandparents.
Was this one of the reasons I was so captivated by a faded portrait?
Was this the reason for my curiosity?
Things would change soon when I made contact with my European relatives.
That story will be next.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


This is a true account that happened at a church we attended at Winchester, Tn. The gentleman who "played" the part of God laughingly related the story to me. Hope you enjoy.
As Art Linkletter used to say, “Kids say the darndest’ things!” That saying was probably never more true that on the occasion of a young boy’s trip to church with his Grandmother.
It was fairly obvious that the little fellow had never attended church very often in his young life. He was extremely curious about every detail of what was going on and was constantly quizzing his Grandmother.
Just before the passing of the collection plate his grandmother handed the wide-eyed little guy a crisp, new, one-dollar bill. His eyes widened even more as he immediately took the dollar bill and shoved it deeply into his little pocket. Seeing what he did the Grandmother gently leaned over and told him to get the dollar from his pocket because that dollar was “for God.” She explained that she would give him one for himself after church. As he withdrew the dollar from his pocket the confused child raised his head. He was shocked to see a distinguished looking gray haired man holding a shiny plate covered with money in his hand standing next to his seat. The gentleman smiled as he held out the shiny plate. Not really knowing what to do next the astonished and confused little fellow did not take his eyes off the distinguished man with the snow white hair as he very slowly placed the dollar bill into the plate. After placing the dollar in the plate the distinguished man with the shiny white hair moved up to the next aisle. As the little fellow slowly looked up at his grandmother he said in a very timid quiet voice, “Grandma was that God?”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pasteurized Milk

This is a true account of an event during my youth...
Were you raised on “store bought” milk? Have you ever even tasted milk that came direct from the cow?
As a person raised on a family farm in Tennessee during the 1950’s I had never tasted “store bought” milk until I was eight years old. After that tasting I was convinced that the city folks had the right idea.
We got our milk from our cows that fed primarily from the pasture. Normally the milk was sweet and good but certain plants that grew in the pasture would make the milk bitter once the cows ate the plants. This was especially true with wild onions in the spring of the year. My mother’s rule was that I still had to drink a glass of milk daily regardless of the taste or smell. For some reason mother felt that if I drank a glass of the foul smelling onion milk each day it would keep some kid in China from starving. I really never understood how the process of that theory worked?
Anyway, once I was spending the night with a school friend of mine when we were in about the third grade. He lived in a nice large home in town with his parents who were a good match for Ozzie and Harriet. He had his own room as opposed to my sleeping in a bed with my snoring brother in a corner of the dining room. As we cleaned up and put on fresh clothes for “dinner” which meant “lunch” to me but as he explained it his “dinner” was equal to my “supper.” I figured it didn’t really matter what he called supper as long as the food was good. His Mom served us food similar to today’s fast food that was a far cry from the “beans” and “taters” served almost daily on the farm. Sometimes Mother mixed it up and we had “taters and “beans” on alternate days.
To my amazement she brought a container and started to pour milk for us. Since it was onion season I immediately declined her offer. She urged me to try the milk and it was as sweet as any milk I had ever tasted. His Mom explained that the milk was pasteurized to make it better. It was written right on the carton. What an idea!
On returning home I gave my Dad my sales pitch I had rehearsed regarding pasteurized milk. He listened as I explained that if he sold all our milk to the milk company then we could buy pasteurized milk in cartons from the general store in town. That way he could sell more milk and we could all drink pasteurized milk. What I didn’t say was that I hated the thought of ever tasting, or smelling, onion milk again. For my part it could all be sent over to that starving kid in China who probably wouldn’t drink it either. After my sales delivery he looked at me and asked if I knew what “Pasteurized” meant? I tried to explain but finally gave up and confessed that I had no idea.
He just shook his head and with a tone that I now recognize as tongue-in-cheek stated that all it meant was that the old cow had stuck her foot into the milk bucket. That’s how it became “Pasture-ized.”

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Global Warming

This item was written based on a NY Times article in late 2005. I had to have some fun with this politically correct subject.

Short and sweet -- I made my case in less than 5 minutes effort! Ain't "poetry" fun sometimes?

Note: I sent Dr. Walter E. Williams, Economist at The University of Virginia, an emailed copy after he discussed the same article while filling for Rush Limbaugh on his radio show.

I was surprised when he sent me a very nice email regarding my effort.

Here goes......

Global Warming

The New York Times says the poles

Are melting on both Earth and Mars

Hollywood wacko activists say that global warming

Is mostly caused by cars

If this is the case

Then where on Mars

Are they hiding

All the cars???

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The TV Set

This one was published but with rights reverting back to me. A very true story!!!


Have you ever picked cotton? Do you remember the first TV set you ever saw? Unless you grew up during the

1940’s or 1950’s in the south you probably can’t answer “yes” to both questions. You may wonder how these two totally unrelated questions might mesh together in one short article? During the next few paragraphs I plan to show you how it’s done.

My early teen years were spent during the late 1950’s in southern middle Tennessee. A local joke was that we were so far back in the “sticks” that the Grand ole Opry, a Saturday night radio tradition, did not arrive in our area until Sunday morning.

The high school I attended took two weeks off each October for what today would be called “fall vacation.” At that time in history it was referred to simply as “cotton pickin’ vacation.” Before mechanical cotton pickers were in common use people picked cotton. There was a good-sized labor pool in the local school of both good and bad quality. If your family didn’t raise cotton then you could “hire out” to farmers who did.

Dad gave my brother and me an acre of land down by the creek to use for whatever cash

crop we wanted to grow on it. It was not a prize piece of farm property since it was normally underwater due to the creek flooding during heavy rains. We planted cotton and in the fall as we picked the cotton we stored it in a shed until we got enough for a bale to take to the cotton gin to sell. A bale was a minimum of 450 pounds of ginned cotton. We not only worked during fall vacation but after school and on Saturdays. One good year we made two bales and had money to burn. We bought all our school clothes, saved some, and purchased a TV set for our family. Our family had never had one before. It was great! It was a nice black and white Sylvania with probably at least a 13” screen. We also bought an antenna system. We got two stations from Nashville and one more from Chattanooga by simply moving the antenna. I think that if Lawrence Welk’s show had been on 24 hours a day my folks would have probably watched it.

For younger readers if a station needed to be changed the viewer had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and sometimes go outside to redirect the antenna. This was an early form of aerobic exercise. I consider myself to have been an early wireless remote. Dad would tell me which channel he wanted to watch and I would get up and turn the knob. I guess you could also say that I was also a voice-activated wireless remote. A very ahead of its time item for 1960. It was probably a guy like me who invented the TV remote?

When color TV first hit the market I remember our family going to the hardware store to see the new color TV set in the store window. This was a major event in our area. Perry Como had a Saturday night variety show that was broadcast in color and that is what we were going to see. The sidewalk crowd was fairly heavy in front of the large display window as show time neared.

Looking through the large window as the show began I was shocked to see that Perry Como was a green person who had strange clothing taste since he was wearing a fuzzy purple suit. For some reason the colors would blend and change as you watched. Sort of a rainbow effect.

My thought on walking away from the hardware store window after the show was that color TV would probably never be a success. It would more than likely never be more than a status symbol.

J. Glen Brodie

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tennessee Hills and French Fries

My title came with much thought and wonder as to how I could tie a family history blog to a storyteller blog.
I then realized that my stories all relate to my growing up in Southern Middle Tennessee at a time when life was fun and simple.
Throughout my whole corporate career I always thought that "I should write about that" when events happened that had a measure of memorability. I never did but I always kept notes.
During my high school years and college years I enjoyed writing for various papers and postings but I never pursued writing after that. During this same period I also enjoyed poetry writing. This caused me some problems with many of the guys on the football team. Sort of like playing piano in those days. It was thought of as "sissy."
I persisted and used poetry effectively during my dating time with my wife to be. In fact, she still has a box of my letters as keepsakes. Sorry, but these are not for public viewing!
I do have a good mix of stories and poems that I will share along with information about my "French Connection."
A couple of years ago I made contact with my family in France. I definitely will share that with you.
More later.