A Recollection of My Grandfather

Do you have memories of the forties? I was born on 1945 and started kindergarten in the 1949-50 school year so I do have some.
Last night I had one that pops into my mind pretty often usually for no real reason that I know of. I have a frame by frame very detailed memory of walking with my grandfather from my grandparents house in Dover, NJ to the fish market ( gosh I am old). He held my hand in one of his… and a bucket in the other. The lobsters went into the bucket of water for their trip home, and we carried them, sloshing, back to the house where they met their gruesome end. Imagine a day where supermarkets weren’t the norm and you shopped instead at the butcher, the baker, the green grocer…… and the fish market. Imagine a day when lobster was an ordinary meal for middle class folks like my grandparents; when exploding human population, pollution, and declining lobster population had yet to relegate the lobster dinner to grand epicurean occasions and the red and white checked Better Homes and Gardens cookbook included a recipe for Lobster Thermador and the more economical Lobster Newberg.
This is an old memory. I had to have been between two and three years old, but I’ve carried it with me, unchanged, as far back as I can remember and don’t doubt its veracity, although filtered by the mind of a toddler.
At the time, and for many decades later, I had no idea that this same, seemingly ordinary grandfather, would ultimately pose a fascinating genealogical mystery: why did my grandfather claim to be adopted? He knew he wasn’t, he was executor of his mother’s estate. Part of the issue may be that his father died when my grandfather was months old so he did never personally know his father and, when his mother remarried it was to an Irishman who worked as a gardener and she became a servant.

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