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My great grandfather, George Larsen, was born in 1899 and died when my mother was three. My great grandmother never remarried and lived until I was 18 and she was a fairly constant presence in my life. In a small way, so was George Larsen, with those pictures of him in that smart looking Navy hat or the box of letters to my great grandmother that my mother has now, or the dolls and trinkets from China. He spent much of his life at sea, serving in the Navy in WWI and as an officer in WWII, and after the war worked for a cruise and shipping line. The idea of him was I suspect far more noble than the actual man, who I’m told drank quite a bit and possibly caused my grandmother to marry a man who turned out to be a jackass just to get out of the house.

My great grandparents married in 1925 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I easily found them in the 1930 census, and found her living with her parents in the 1920 and 1910 census. But I couldn’t find any trace of him in the 1920 census, possibly because he might have been at sea in 1920. I didn’t check in the 1910 census for until tonight, for various reasons involving boring things like which website has which census index. And I found him, not more than ten minutes ago.

In 1910, George Larsen and his sister Thelma lived at the Home For Friendless Children in Northampton, Pennsylvania. “Inmates” they were charmingly called according to the census rolls. I’m not ashamed to admit that I actually cried at the sight of these 64 little Oliver Twists, and god knows how many others on how many pages.

I’ll tell you what the census doesn’t tell you. When their father showed up at the Home For Friendless Children to fetch them sometime after this census, he had his new wife in tow. George had a fit or cried or did something, so his father took Thelma and left him in the orphanage.

He left him in the fucking orphanage.

Jesus Christ, I hate the human race sometimes.

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