Okay, so it has already been an amazing day, learning of 10 new direct ancestors and three times that many new relatives. Also, I didn't mention the general reading I did on the history of the Jewish community of Rzeszow, and the cursory reading on the same subject in Krakow. (This was to help gather resources for Walter's upcoming trip, in which by chance he will have two days in Krakow.)
So it was an amazing day and then an email arrives in my inbox from my long-lost childhood buddy Derek Jeffers. Now, I have been Googling Derek on and off for 15 years, or I should say I was Alta Vista-ing or Lycos-ing him. Remember those search engines from the pre-Google days?
Derek left very few tracks. The best lead I had found was an article about a French auto workers' strike from the early 1980s. That sounded like Derek, who had gone on from our youthful activism to become a committed Socialist. I had thought that since I hadn't found his biline in the Socialist Worker Party newspaper, that maybe he had fallen out with that group and taken another direction.
The idea of him as a strike leader in Paris was certainly romantic. If so, surely he was an international provocateur, riding closed trains across the continent. Such had Derek devolved into a mythic idea in my mind that I nearly jumped out of my seat when I saw the message arrive in my inbox.
Yes, it turns out he has been living in Paris for 30-plus years and he actually is an auto worker, though he mentioned the Peugeot plant is currently shut down waiting for parts from Portugal. He filled me in about his three children and wife Esther, an economics professor. They are coming next month to San Diego, where Derek's father had owned a condo before recently passing away.
(Digression: When I would sleep over at Derek's house when we were 11 and 12 years old, his dad would always start the day with a bang by playing Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" at top volume on the living room stereo.)
Since they are French, they will have six weeks for the vacation, which means there is every likelihood that I will be able to meet up with my old buddy during his sojourn in California. Plus, he mentions that Esther has an upcoming sabbatical in New York, so there will be more meetings after that.
Earlier today, I expressed my delight at hearing from him but begged off from a lengthy reply because I was getting ready to take off on a festival trip. Well, neither Twyla or I were ready to leave at a reasonable hour this evening, so we decided to go in the morning instead.
Thus, I was able to spend the last few hours updating this blog. Perhaps Derek will check it again before I get back. If so, he can enjoy this post until I have a chance to write to him directly.
One last thing and I am off to bed. Unlike Derek, I'm fairly easy to find on the Internet, though you have to avoid the red herrings like the legislator in Fargo and the sportswriter in San Jose. Walter the prolific author is even more discoverable. Now, with this blog, both of us are popping up even more.
I find it interesting that this blog lands high up on the first Google results page for searches on terms like "rabbi spektor" and "ruby family." After this item posts and Google spiders have taken note, we'll also show up among the first hits on "Derek Jeffers."