Wednesday, July 4, 2018
THE UNKNOWN SAILOR
DOB - DOD UNKNOWN
There is one fact and one observation known about him. This hand-tinted photograph was found in San Bernardino County, California, in the early 2000's loose among some boxes full of ephemera and given to the California Room of the San Bernardino Public Library.
There is an unusual story about these boxes. Some people die as wards of the county, having no relatives, unable to care for themselves and/or who depend on county funds for their very existence. When they die, the county sees to it that they are buried, usually in a Potter's field and mostly in an unmarked grave, and then cleans out the place where they were last living. Personal material such as photos, bibles and the like are boxed up and, in that time period at least, were sent to the California Room. The thought was that perhaps there was something in these boxes that would be of historical interest relating to San Bernardino. It was a good idea, but in practice, the employees did not have time nor experience in opening and sorting through all the material in these boxes.
I moved to San Bernardino County in 2000, and as a genealogist I offered to work in the California room. That is where I saw some 30 boxes of such material in a back room, waiting for someone to care. I cared. Over the course of five years, I sorted through these boxes, and dispersed whatever material I felt of value, threw away things like pictures of pets (a most difficult job!!), and then made an attempt using genealogical research skills at finding someone related to this deceased person - by way of the internet. I had some spectacular successes, a few times of reuniting some family item with a distant relative, and more than a few simply being thinned out and repacked.
In among these 30 boxes, I found this lovely sailor photo lying loose, probably escaping from one of the boxes. There was no identification on it, and it was not connected to any box. However, it was someone's son, and I couldn't bear to throw it away. I have kept it in my possession since I left San Bernardino County in 2005.
This much I have learned: Whoever he was related to died in San Bernardino County, California, sometime between 1990 and 2004. And if the fellow in the Veterans Club of Country Village, where I live, is correct, his uniform indicates that he is a Radioman/seaman apprentice.
I have kept this picture safe since I brought it home, but there will be a time when that will not be the case. I am trusting that by means of this posting on Immortal Nobodies, he will get the honor and respect that he deserves, and mostly, that he will be found by his family. It's up to you who read this to see that this happens and that the picture will always be retrievable.