It was a lazy Sunday afternoon. This professional genealogist found it a perfect day for wandering the countryside and getting an ice cream cone from the University of Nebraska Dairy Store in Lincoln. There, in a free Shop Nebraska magazine, this family history researcher noticed an article about a local boy made good : Nick Nolte. He has had a solid acting career the last 40 years receiving numerous nominations and awards. The article cast Nolte as something of a curmudgeon and focused on some of the low lights of his life including the youthful indiscretion of selling phony draft cards. There was mention that he did play high school football.
So, this week, I’m borrowing Nick to talk about genealogy services.
This brings up two points a family historian needs to keep in mind:
- Look at events in context
- View the bigger picture
Sometimes, the 1950s and ‘60s are difficult for me to view as history. Then… I begin talking to young people and I see blank expressions when I mention a manual typewriter or a black and white television with knobs and tubes.
When Nick Nolte was growing into adulthood – and Omaha was no different hundreds of other towns and cities – it was a given that someone in one’s high school class would creatively use driver’s licenses and draft cards to create fake ID cards. There weren’t yet many magnetic strips and pictures on plastic cards. This professional genealogist’s first driver’s license was but a slip of paper in a sleeve made of slightly heavier paper. Our biggest worry was that they might go through the wash. Many younger people wound up in court for trying to create false identification cards in the hopes of purchasing cheap beer or wine.
The genealogist needs always to be thorough.
In researching Nick Nolte in the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, this professional genealogist did find that there were a couple of times when Nicholas King Nolte wound up in court. The first time was in 1959, in traffic court, for failure to produce a driver’s license and a sticker violation. The referenced sticker was a safety sticker that was briefly a part of a local law. The next time was a draft card incident that occurred in spring 1961.
Next, I found something else that was interesting about Nick Nolte.
The first hint came in an item that appeared in the newspaper in the autumn 1954 when the 13-year-old midget football player named Nick Nolte was rushed to the hospital after falling on a piece of glass in practice. And then, he played football. In an October 1957, Omaha World Herald sports article, Benson Bunnie (sic) quarterback Nick passed for two touchdowns in a trouncing of Fremont. In December 1958, Nick led all scoring with 17 points when the Westside Warriors defeated Hastings in basketball. In April 1959, Nick pitched Westside to a 2-1 victory over Lincoln Northeast and along the way struck out 13 batters.
The genealogy researcher will find that Nick changed high schools between his junior (1957-58 when he was a Benson Bunnie) and senior (1958-59, Westside Warrior) years of high school. To be a good three sport athlete in high school, a person has to have some smarts and can’t spend all of their time getting into trouble. Excelling in both athletics and academics, however, can be difficult.
Finally, when the genealogy researcher is looking for clues, one has to consider locations, as in where some place or institution is located. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Benson was in the northwest part of Omaha. Westside High School was on the west side of the city, a little further south. Benson is a part of the Omaha School System. Westside High School was in an area of people considered to be where the new elite where. Originally, the school was District 66, separate from Omaha and, at that time continuing even to today, the residents were willing to support a separate school district. That fact may have played a role in Nick Nolte’s education.
When you search for a genealogy services company, the professional ancestry researchers will know that if an ancestor seems to have dropped out of sight, but not moved, a family history specialist will know to take a closer look at what was going on in the area.
A genealogy services company such as RecordClick features professional genealogists who know the nuances and technology involved in the family history research process. We make touch downs for our families.