Sentimental Sunday

“Uncle Lee”

Leopold Alexander Bough (1893-1975) was best known for his weekly visits to his relatives with bags of goodies.  Every child and adult looked forward to having Uncle Lee at their home.   He was my Great Uncle born in 1893 in St. Croix, Danish West Indies, now a United States Territory. He worked as a salesman along-side his brothers for his father who was a Grocery Store owner on St. Croix.  By 1925 he left the Virgin Islands and came through Ellis Island, NY.  Unlike most immigrants that left the old World for a new life, my ancestors came with their culture, music, food, dance and dialect.  They were known as the “Proud West Indians.”  The family settled in New York between Harlem and The Bronx, where most of their relatives and friends from the Virgin Islands lived.

Because the family grew up tight-knit in the Virgin Islands, Uncle Lee was always eager to see his family so he scheduled weekly visits to see them.  He would take the long journey on the subway from the Bronx to Brooklyn or to Queens. By 7pm every Tuesday we would look forward to seeing him.  Our young faces would just brighten when we saw him.  I remember running and embracing him with the biggest hugs.  “Uncle Lee, Uncle Lee!!”  His visit would consist of bringing many goodies which we looked forward to: roasted peanuts, pretzels, candy apples, Bazooka gum, and Baseball Cards.  He knew how to make a child happy.   After being stuffed with all the goodies, we would be in a hurry to go to bed just to hear his bedtime stories.   He had plenty of stories in his head.  One story that I recall was titled  “one eye, two eye, and three eye.”  His stories did not come from a book instead straight from the heart, stories that taught history, culture, which included a song like, “Guava Berry and Cinnamon Jelly.”  These stories ended with his signature, “The Wheel Bend and the Story End.”  Oh how we cherished Uncle Lee!   He was never married and never had any of his own children.  But he had the neighborhood children and his many relatives who he touched with his kindness and dedication to family.  Leopold Alexander Bough died in Bronx, New York in 1975.  As I think of dear Uncle Lee it reminds me to reach out to my grandchildren to re-create the many memories that I have with my Uncle Lee.

 

 

By shelley dewese

As I continue to search out my history, I am discovering how much I did not know. The more information that is disclosed about my ancestry, the more I learn and understand how I am the person that has evolved today. As a native New Yorker, with roots in Coastal Georgia and deep roots in the Danish West Indies, now the Virgin Islands of the United States or commonly referred to as the United States Virgin Islands, I have always had a yearning to return to my maternal homeland. In September of 1976, my family and I relocated back to St. Croix. While living in New York, I was always telling my friends about my trip back home, but here I was actually waking up every day, walking among the streets and people that I have identified myself with all of my life. At the time, I was not involved in any genealogical work, but I knew there was a missing link that became completed after I was offered the opportunity to transfer Danish documents into a database. That opened up my world and I realize that this was my niche. I now had the tools to explore and document my ancestry. Growing up, my mother always impressed upon her children the pride in being a “Bough”, which was her surname. Now I was able to track where that pride came from, through participating in family history projects and meeting new family, as we gathered together for the Bough Family Reunion on St. Croix in July of 2012. As I continued to research, I found my passion extending to photography. Sunsets and street art are my favorite features, as shown in my tumblr blog http://minkyadoo.tumblr.com/ I also began blogging, and found that it has help me to improve my writing skills. Through the comments and well wishes, I have been encouraged to continue to write the stories and events of my life. Whether or not your roots trace back to the Danish West Indies, you will find a beautiful tapestry of life that reflects our “baseball and apple pie”. This site affords you the chance to transform yourself to a time during the Danish period (1734-1917) where life was both simple and complex. If you have any questions, comments, or need assistance in searching for a Danish West Indies ancestor, I invite you to drop me an email.

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