Genealogists and family historians get a lot of satisfaction from chasing their ancestors’ stories. Finding a diary, a message on a postcard, or a photo with a name attached is like the sun coming out after a storm. One day we will be somebody’s ancestor. We need to leave our descendants a little bit of sunshine too. So here is my story told alphabetically, not chronologically: Growing Up in Cradock.
When I was in high school, there was not a whole lot to do. My best friends Pat and Lynn and I did not have cars and we did not have jobs. In those moments of boredom after school and in the summer, our favorite activity was walking. Cradock was a large community with unlimited options for routes to take and streets to explore. It was quite walkable from any of our three homes which were just blocks from each other, but no one would want to try to walk ALL of Cradock in a single day.
So there were many evenings when we walked and we talked, what about, I don’t know. What do any teens talk about? Probably music, our other friends, an upcoming history project, and just stupid stuff. At one time or another, we probably walked every street in Cradock, including Quackenbush.
I know for a fact, though, Quackenbush was not a street we hit often because it was just a single short block and not appealing for whatever reason. Maybe the houses were too small or too plain for the imagination, or maybe the street just went nowhere more interesting. The name of the street was its only draw. Quackenbush. What a funny name. Why Quackenbush?
Not until I had to provide a letter Q for the A to Z April Challenge did I try to answer that question. Almost all streets in Cradock are named for naval officers and heroes. Stephen P. Quackenbush entered the Navy as a midshipman in 1840 and retired in 1885 as Rear Admiral. He served up and down the eastern seaboard throughout his career, most notably during the Civil War on the side of the North. Therefore, I find it amusing and ironic that this Southern city would honor a “Yankee” (gasp!) by naming a street for him. But apparently “Quackenbush” was the best the city fathers could come up with to fit the scheme of naming streets alphabetically. Phelps. Quackenbush. Reid. Sampson. Wuddayaknow – the City had an A-Z Challenge too!
The funniest Quackenbush story though involves one of my father’s friends who grew up on Quackenbush: the Duckwall family. It’s a wonder they just didn’t move!
Don’t quit now. Are you in a quandary? If you’re quick, you’ll enjoy some quirky and quotable quips at the A to Z April Challenge.