A Century of Family Photographs

Joyce and Jillian Joyce and Philip in 1930 Philip and Joyce Reunion in 2001

Joyce's Story

My brother, Phil and I had been estranged for almost 37 years. We were young adults (he - 28 and I - 25 ) when we last had any contact. We are now 65 and 62, respectively. During all that time apart, we both thought of and prayed for one another.

Then one day in March of this year, my son, daughter and son-in-law decided to surprise me with Webtv for my birthday. My son set it up in my home, gave me some basic instructions and went home.

The very first thing I found myself doing, though never consciously planning it, was searching for Phil on Webtv. I was having no success. I tried all the connections I could think of, but couldn't get a match. I had been concentrating on the north-eastern seaboard, since that was where he had spent his life, as far as I knew. Then I noticed that I could enter his name in a country-wide search. Well, after a while, someone with his name come up, but that person was living in SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, of all places. I wrote the address and phone number down and promptly threw it on a table, thinking to myself, "That couldn't possibly be him. Why would he be way out there?"

Two days went by. It was late at night, when I was continuing to acquaint myself with my new Webtv. As I was viewing a web page I noticed an ad on the side of the screen. It caught my eye, as it was saying something like, "Looking for a website? Try Yahoo! We'll find it." I clicked on to Yahoo, then typed my brother's name and, to my astonishment, a website called "Whatrain," appeared. The website featured Phil and our entire family! It was entitled, "A Century of Family Photos."

You can only imagine my reaction upon seeing photos of my parents, grandparents, great grand-parents, Philip and me! These photos did span a century or more of time in the lives of our family. There were also a few photos of close friends in this 'album.' My emotions were all jumbled up. They were a mix of shock, bewilderment, sadness and joy. I suddenly became very tearful, thinking to myself, "Why is this here? They must all be dead and someone has set up a memorial for the family!"

Since I couldn't find Phil's e-mail address, I immediately e-mailed Tim Radonich, who, along with his partner, Diane, created and now design and set up the 'Whatrain' websites. In that e-mail message I asked Tim to please, please have my brother contact me if possible.

Then, as I scrolled down, I noted there were several web pages in 'Whatrain' that were located in SEATTLE, WASHINGTON! I immediately scurried to the table, where I had thrown that address and phone number a couple of days earlier. I concluded that my brother, Philip, must be alive and now living in Seattle, Washington!

How could I sleep that night? I hardly did. Morning couldn't come soon enough, but I had to wait until 10:30am New York time in order to call Philip at 7:30am Seattle time. I managed to wait it out and finally dialed that number. A male voice answered. I was very apologetic for calling so early in the morning. I asked, "Are you Philip Pelino." The voice answered, "Yes." I then asked if he had a sister named Joyce. After a brief pause, he replied, "I have a sister, Joyce, but we've had no contact in almost 40 years." I was absolutely exhilarated! I then said, "This is Joyce!"

Philip's response was precious. He was so delighted. Neither of us could believe all this was happening. We laughed and cried together for an hour and a half. We spent the time on the phone getting re-acquainted and making plans to meet in Key West in May, when Phil was planning to come to the east coast. So, we had about six weeks to e-mail one another and talk on the phone, before we would actually meet.

Getting to know one another again was so exciting. Our lives had taken completely opposite directions. Yet we were becoming closer than we had ever been.

Then it was late May and time to board the plane for Key West. Again, many emotions flooded my heart. They were a blend of joyful anticipation, wonder, great gratitude to God, elated excitement and even unexplainable apprehension.

When I arrived at the airport, Philip was there waiting. I recognized him immediately and, as I approached him, I said, "You look like my brother!" He replied, "You look like my sister!" We tearfully embraced and kissed and that was the start of the most wonderful weekend of my entire life. We were up early each morning and up late each night, just talking and talking. Philip had grown into a marvelous person. I admired his insight, his strong faith, his loving ways and his ability to face every day with confidence, in spite of many difficulties in his path. It was obvious that his life was full and that he had acquired much knowledge over the years.

We shared sumptuous meals (Philip knew the best places to dine) and went sightseeing. We spoke on the phone to my daughter and son. Philip was so happy to learn of his extended family. My daughter has a husband and three children as well. It all flew by too fast for before we knew it, it was time to leave.

We have been in close contact since our meeting and the rest is still 'history in the making.'

I'm so grateful to my childen for their gift of webtv. I'm so grateful to Tim and Diane for setting up that web page for Philip (and me) on WHATRAIN. AND I'm so grateful to God for allowing it all to happen!

IntroductionFamily TimelineBest of Show
Charles TesteraWilliam N. TesteraLillian Kemp Testera
Ella Testera PelinoPhilip E. Pelino Sr.Philip E. Pelino Jr.

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