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How Far Back Do You Trace Your Roots?

Week of August 6, 2003


Mike Merbaum
Professor of Psychology, Washington University
"You know, that's interesting, we have such short memories [about ancestry] ... I can just go back to my grandfather who came over from Poland with my father, when he was a boy. They came through Ellis Island and went through all of the immigrant experiences in New York City, where I grew up. I did track down the ship that brought them over, saw their names on the manifest, but further than that it's become very obscure, unfortunately."

Sonya Roe
Cosmetology Student, Academy of Beauty
"I can trace it back to my great-grandmother on my mother's side. She was mixed, that's what I heard, and she didn't like the white blood in her so she married a dark, dark man so she could be closer to her roots. It kinda reminded me of Malcolm X, 'cause in the movie his mother dated a black man just so she could reconnect with her culture. But all I know for sure is we definitely have Blackfoot Indian in us."

William Stephens
Casino Greeter
"Only as far back as my grandparents, simply because we're not a tight family. We don't even have family reunions -- only family reunion is funerals, so I don't see my relatives unless someone dies. Basically I'm not looking for them and they're not looking for me, so it stops, you know. I mean it's not really something I ever had too much interest in."

Jen Schoemehl
Soil Tester, Great Pumpkin Gardening
"Oh, you know, just about as far back as to how I'm related to Vince Schoemehl. That's all I've had to learn, you know, at least being in this town. That's the question I'm most asked, the one I'm most readily called to answer."

John Rubin
Restaurateur, The Empire Steak Building
"I guess just three generations. Most of my family came from Trisk, a little stettel in Russia. When they left Trisk, my grandfather's brothers, seven out of the nine, went to South America. The two that came to America were hard-working butchers. Actually, we're a family of butchers, and when people ask me why I got into the butcher business I jokingly say that my great-grandmother was a butcher in Vilna."

Ayron Adams
Server, Laclede Street Bar & Grill
"I can trace my roots back pretty far, in fact, to early American aristocracy: President Thomas Jefferson."

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