(Note on the back, in my Grandmama’s handwriting states: “Vernon Aubrey Neasham is the handsome boy in the 1st row and second from right. He was born August 28, 1908 in Reno, Nevada. He became a PHD Historian with the National Park Service. He was the wonderful father of Ann Neasham and he died March 11, 1982 of brain tumors. These probably are his fraternity brothers at U. of Calif. at Berkeley, CA.”)
In previous posts, I have mentioned my maternal great grandfather, Vernon Aubrey Neasham- he was a historian for the state of California, worked with the National Park Service, and loved nature and history dearly.
(A note on the back, made by my Grandmama, reads: “Vernon Aubrey Neasham under arrow. Aubrey worked here in summers to pay for his college at U.C. of Berkeley, CA. 20 Singing Trail Camp for Girls Huntington Lake, CA 1933)
(The note on the back of this postcard, written by my Grandmama, states: “The Staff. Camp Kelousa for Boys, Singing Trail Camp for Girls, Huntington Lake 1932. Postcard. Vernon Aubrey Neasham 4th from left. Aubrey worked here in summer to earn money to pay for college at U.C. of Berkeley, CA.)
(My great grandfather, Vernon Aubrey Neasham, his wife, my great-grandmother Ruth Jackson Neasham, and my great-uncle Vernon Aubrey II, Berkeley, CA, 1930)
Recently, while at my parent’s home, looking through some family photographs and documents, I came across some of his typed documents- letters, stories he had written, photographs, and some other things.
Among these documents was a letter, written in 1961 to “A Future Generation:”
My great-grandfather’s message is even more fitting now. It is so important that we protect our country’s varied cultural history, artifacts and archives, and, more importantly, our natural spaces, landscapes and wild areas, because these have become, in essence, our nation’s monuments. Thankfully, fifty-three years after my great-grandfather wrote this letter to us, there are even more natural spaces being preserved and protected for future generations, but we still have so much work to do. Will we, or our Earth, for that matter, be around in 2061, like my great-grandfather hopes? He writes to a generation that is still forty-seven years off, and, in his positive view, that future generation is intelligent, responsible, and self-accountable. If I live to see the year 2061, I will be approaching eighty-two years of age. Fifty-three years after this letter was written, are we really any better at protecting and preserving nature for future generations? At this point, the serious work we still need to accomplish in terms of our care for natural, wild areas is evidenced by places like the Appalachian Mountain regions, which are endangered by mountaintop removal, fracking, and industrial chemical spills, the Chesapeake Bay tributaries, which are being monitored for rising rates of pollutants and toxic “dead zones,” and California’s current astronomical drought conditions. The work we still have left to do is evidenced by my visits to local fishing holes and creeks- which are overrun by garbage and sewer runoff, by the widespread corporate use of antibiotics, pesticides and GMOs, by the die-off of pollinating insects and a wide variety of other creatures, great and small, and by the very fact that global warming is even being disputed.
In the past fifty-three years, many, many advances have been made- wind, solar and water power, renewable resources, recycled materials, electric vehicles and so many other brilliant resources allow humans to live minimally on the globe. That being said, we have caused the Earth, our home, so much harm, harm that the Earth, and we, as humans, might not be able to recover from. Let’s hope there is still time to make even better choices that show we care for the home and wellbeing of our future generations.
(Aubrey Neasham, August 28, 1908-March 11, 1982)