October 22, 1910. Clarksburg, West Virginia. My dad, Fernand Andris was born a first generation Belgian immigrant. March 9, 1909. New York City. My grandmother arrived in this country from Belgium with my dad’s two older brothers, Louie and Alphonse. She joined her husband, Arthur, already in Clarksburg. My grandfather, Arthur, came first in November of 1908 with his two young teenage sons, Arthur and Amie, from a previous marriage. He had found a job as a glassblower where his older sons could also assist and find employment. Arthur was to be, in fact, the last in a line of 10 generations of glassblowers. Finally, in June, 1911—with the arrival of Julia, the daughter by a previous marrage of grandmother, Victorine “Torienne”—the family had stretched itself from Europe through the black hole of the Atlantic Ocean and emerged still together on the other side in America.
Jim grows up during the war in a river town and in a family who loves him, and how he learns to give some love back.
When I was six year old, we lived on Quarry Street, one of the steepest streets in Marietta, Ohio. I don’t remember exactly when we moved from 107 1/2 N. Fourth St., but I suspect it had something to do with the almost annual floods we had to deal with. Marietta, the county seat of Washington County, has a lot of historical significance, since it was the first permanent, organized settlement in the Northwest Territory. Its location at the confluence of the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers no doubt influenced its significance, since local, regional and even national trade flowed through the city. But we paid a price for that fortuitous situation with those rising, raging waters. I suspect, but do not know for sure, that my mother, Lorene—witness of many such floods and poor as a rural church mouse throughout much of her early life—wanted her domicile to be a haven away from the river.