Recently, my aunt Jan was cleaning and discovered a box that had belonged to my grandmother Clara Losee full of Losee genealogy notes, original source documents and the most precious thing I have found so far: “My Story” as written by my grandfather, John Losee.
When I started doing research and going through what I had, my mother said that this short autobiography existed but I couldn’t find it. We feared it to be lost.
It is 65 pages typed single space and is pretty comprehensive and surprisingly interesting for a story about a man who was born and died in Red Hook.
After scanning the document and converting it to text I am now editing the conversion (some of it came out greeked) and at about halfway through I realized I have a photograph for just about every detail he describes. Some of the images in the collection now make sense in context of the story. Just a few days ago I decided I should make a book…
The working title is “The Illustrated Life & Times of John Losee of Red Hook”. What I have envisioned sounds like a lengthy and daunting process, but I think it’s too good to pass up. The above snapshot is indeed of Grampa Losee c. 1933 lying on a rail road track with a lantern by his head.
Here’s one of the more eyebrow-raising excerpts from the manuscript about goofing around while attending Rutgers (1925-1929):
He was rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment and came back with his hand and face bandaged. He was treated to free drinks at a local speak-easy for the next two weeks while the bandages were on. Here ended the bomb making. Much later I learned that the New York State Conservation Department experimented with the mixture to fire trapping nets for bird-banding but abandoned it because it was too sensitive to detonation!
The c.1925 chemical burn victim above was his roommate Phil, who I now know is the same Phil who was setting decoys on the Hudson in 1940 in this favorite image. If you blew your roommate up in your dorm room today, you’d be booted out of school and his family would sue you out of existence. Not only did Grampa complete his degree at Rutgers, the roommate became his hunting partner! Sort of makes me pine for a less litigious time.