Betty Vetterli’s Matterhorn CD yodeled from my laptop. As the accordion pumped and the singer let out an echoing call, I was transported back to my childhood, sitting on my grandparents’ porch listening to the local radio station’s Swiss Hour. My maternal grandfather, 100 percent Swiss, tolerated my teenage self when I whined about whether there could possibly be something else to listen to after our noon meal.
How attitudes change as the decades pass! Now, I’m fond of that music, which seems to be becoming a lost art form. Both my grandfathers were 100 percent Swiss so I grew up with both encouraging us with Swiss yodeling. One gave us a cassette tape for Christmas one year encouraging us not to forget our heritage. The other used to entertain us by yodeling, wiggling the loose skin on his neck as he sang out what sounded like “old lady, old lady, old lady, who”. We all mimicked him, but of course, never got the true knack of yodeling.
My teenage son asked me if I was okay and what was I listening to. I asked if he wanted to polka, my toe tapping. My paternal relatives know how to kick up their heels and whirl a girl around the room in a fun polka. I don’t get to do that anymore for lack of a partner. It is lots of fun, not to mention good exercise.
My youngest informed me that the music sounded like the old sitcom The Hillbillies. Obviously, all this doesn’t mean as much to them now; but hopefully, they will take an interest someday, especially since my aunt and I have worked so hard to preserve some family history for the generations to come. She has done all of the time consuming legwork, and I’ve proofread, edited, and formatted it. It has been interesting reading the family memories and discovering who my family was a few generations back.
My mom’s cousin is doing one branch of her family tree, my grandmother’s side, which is 100 percent Norwegian. She has even traveled to Ellis Island and Norway. My father’s sister has done an excellent job covering my grandmother’s tree and my grandfather’s tree back to when they came to the United States. I have discovered my paternal grandfather’s relatives were from Interlaken and Canton Bern, Switzerland, and my paternal grandmother’s relatives were from Canton Bern, Switzerland, and Baden Baden, Germany.
One of my sons has spent a lot of time with my father’s younger brother working on construction and remodeling projects. My son claims that my uncle yodels as he mows. I think that’s great. Maybe I can catch him in the act sometime. I don’t think he has any loose skin to wiggle though. LOL
The stories that have been shared in these pages are glimpses into their lives, capturing what they did, how they survived hard times, and what they valued. In addition, I’ve learned about family health issues through the pages of the history collected by my aunt. I appreciate her details because the fact that my grandfather suffered with arthritis at a young age may shed light on why my daughter has rheumatoid arthritis now. Many things can be passed down through the generations in our DNA and in our stories. All of it has value for those today and for those in the future. I hope many in my family will be blessed by these works as the years march on. I know it is a family keepsake that I will always treasure.
Have you ever researched your family genealogy?