The Genealogist's Breakroom, On the Lighter Side
The Census Taker
It was the first day of census, and all through the land;
The pollster was ready ... a black book in hand.
He mounted his horse for a long dusty ride;
His book and some quills were tucked close by his side.
A long winding ride down a road barely there;
Toward the smell of fresh bread wafting, up through the air.
The woman was tired, with lines on her face;
And wisps of brown hair she tucked back into place.
She gave him some water ... as they sat at the table;
And she answered his questions ... the best she was able.
He asked of her children... Yes, she had quite a few;
The oldest was twenty, the youngest not two.
She held up a toddler with cheeks round and red;
His sister, she whispered, was napping in bed.
She noted each person who lived there with pride;
And she felt the faint stirrings of the wee one inside.
He noted the sex, the color, the age...
The marks from the quill soon filled up the page.
At the number of children, she nodded her head;
And saw her lips quiver for the three that were dead.
The places of birth she "never forgot";
Was it Kansas? or Utah? or Oregon ... or not?
They came from Scotland, of that she was clear;
But she wasn't quite sure just how long they'd been here.
They spoke of employment, of schooling and such;
They could read some .and write some .. though really not much.
When the questions were answered, his job there was done;
So he mounted his horse and he rode toward the sun.
We can almost imagine his voice loud and clear;
"May God bless you all for another ten years."
Now picture a time warp ... its' now you and me;
As we search for the people on our family tree.
We squint at the census and scroll down so slow;
As we search for that entry from long, long ago.
Could they only imagine on that long ago day;
That the entries they made would effect us this way?
If they knew, would they wonder at the yearning we feel;
And the searching that makes them so increasingly real.
We can hear if we listen the words they impart;
Through their blood in our veins and their voice in our heart.
WARNING: Genealogy Pox, very Contagious
SYMPTOMS: Continual complaint as to need for names, dates, and places. Patient has a blank expression and sometimes deaf to spouse and children. Has no taste for work of any kind except for feverishly looking through records at libraries and courthouses. Has compulsion to write letters. Swears at the mailman when he doesn't leave mail. Frequents strange places, such as cemeteries, ruins and remote, desolate country areas. Makes secret night calls, hides phone bills and mumbles to self. Has strange faraway look in eyes. TREATMENT: Medication is useless. The disease is not fatal, but gets progressively worse. The patient should attend workshops, subscribe to magazines, and be given a quiet corner of the house where (s)he can be alone. REMARKS: The unusual nature of this disease is that the sicker the patient gets, the more (s)he enjoys it.
The Family Tree
Many, many years ago when I was twenty three,
I got married to a widow who was pretty as could be.
This widow had a daughter who had hair of red.
My father fell in love with her, and soon the two were wed. This made my dad my son-in-law and changed my very life.
My daughter was my mother, for she was my father's wife. To complicate the matters worse, although it brought me joy,
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy. My little baby then became a brother-in-law to dad,
and so became my uncle, though it made me very sad. For if he was my uncle then that also made him brother
To the widow's grown-up daughter who, of course, was my step-mother. Father's wife then had a son who kept them on the run,
And he became my grandson, for he was my daughter's son. My wife is now my mother's mom, and it surely makes my blue,
Because, although she is my wife, she is my grandma too. If my wife is my grand mother then I am her grandchild,
And every time I think of it, it simply drives me wild. For now I have become the strangest case you ever saw.
As the husband of my grandmother, I am my own grandpa!!!
---Set to music by Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe in 1947, originally from a 1930's NBC radio show called The Jester's
The Elusive Ancestor
By Merrell Kenworthy
I went searching for an ancestor, I cannot find him still.
He moved around from place to place and did not leave a will. He married where a courthouse burned; he mended all his fences.
He avoided any man who came to take the U.S. Census. He always kept his luggage packed, this man who had no fame;
And every 20 years or so, this rascal changed his name. His parents came from Europe. They should be on some list
Of passengers to the U.S.A., but somehow they got misssed. And no one else in all this world is searching for this man,
So I play genea-solitare to find him if I can. I'm told he's buried in a plot-with tombstone he was blessed,
But weather took the epitaph, and vandals took the rest. He died before the county clerks decided to keep records.
No family Bible has emerged, in spite of all my efforts. To top it off this ancestor, who caused me many groans,
Just to give me one more pain, betrothed a girl named JONES. (published in the newsletter of the Association of Philippe Du Trieux Descendants)
A computer was something on TV
From a science fiction show of note
A window was something you hated to clean...
And ram was the cousin of a goat.... Meg was the name of my girlfriend
And gig was a job for the nights.
Now they all mean different things
And that really mega bytes. An application was for employment,
A program was a TV show,
A cursor used profanity,
A keyboard was a piano. Memory was something that you lost with age.
A cd was a bank account,
And if you had a 3 1/2" floppy,
You hoped nobody found out. Compress was something you did to the garbage
Not something you did to a file,
And if you unzipped anything in public,
You'd be in jail for a while Log on was adding wood to the fire.
Hard drive was a long trip on the road.
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived,
And a backup happened to your commode. Cut, you did with a pocket knife.
Paste, you did with glue.
A web was a spider's home,
And a virus was the flu. I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head.
I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash,
But when it happens, they wish they were dead.
Epitaphs, Strange but Maybe True!
On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:
Here lies Ezekial Aikle
Age 102 - The Good Die Young. In a London, England cemetery:
Here lies Ann Mann,
Who lived an old maid
But died an old Mann.
Dec. 8, 1767 In a Ribbesford, England, cemetery:
The children of Israel wanted bread
And the Lord sent them manna,
Old clerk Wallace wanted a wife,
And the Devil sent him Anna. Playing with names in a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery:
Here lies Johnny Yeast
Pardon me for not rising. Memory of an accident in a Uniontown, Pennsylvania cemetery:
Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake. In a Silver City, Nevada, cemetery:
Here lays Butch,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw. A widow wrote this epitaph in a Vermont cemetery:
Sacred to the memory of my husband John Barnes
Who died January 3, 1803
His comely young widow, aged 23, has many qualifications of a good wife, and yearns to be comforted. A lawyer's epitaph in England:
Sir John Strange
Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange. Someone determined to be anonymous in Stowe, Vermont:
I was somebody.
Who, is no business of yours. Lester Moore was a Wells, Fargo Co. station agent for Naco, Arizona in the cowboy days of the 1880's. He's buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery in Tombstone, Arizona:
Here lies Lester Moore
Four slugs from a .44
No Les No More. In a Georgia cemetery:
"I told you I was sick!" John Penny's epitaph in the Wimborne, England, cemetery:
Reader if cash thou art
In want of any
Dig 4 feet deep
And thou wilt find a Penny. Margaret Daniels grave at Hollywood Cemetery Richmond, Virginia:
She always said her feet were killing her but nobody believed her. In a cemetery in Hartscombe, England:
On the 22nd of June
- Jonathan Fiddle -
Went out of tune. Anna Hopewell's grave in Enosburg Falls, Vermont has an epitaph that sounds like something from a Three Stooges movie:
Here lies the body of our Anna
Done to death by a banana
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low
But the skin of the thing that made her go. More fun with names with Owen Moore in Battersea, London, England:
Than he could pay. Someone in Winslow, Maine didn't like Mr. Wood:
In Memory of Beza Wood
Departed this life Nov. 2, 1837 - Age 45 yrs.
Here lies one Wood
Enclosed in wood
One Wood within another.
The outer wood is very good:
We cannot praise the other. On a grave from the 1880's in Nantucket, Massachusetts:
Under the sod and under the trees
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there's only the pod:
Pease shelled out and went to God. The grave of Ellen Shannon in Girard, Pennsylvania is almost a consumer tip:
Who was fatally burned March 21, 1870
by the explosion of a lamp
filled with "R.E. Danforth's
Non-Explosive Burning Fluid" Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:
Born 1903--Died 1942
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down.
It was. (Antique Weekly, 24 Apr 1989) In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:
Here lies an Atheist
All dressed up
And no place to go.
The death notice of Jim Barrett in a Dakota newspaper, reprinted in the March 21, 1874 Adams County Press (P2C5):
"Jim Barrett had been shoveling snow, from which he caught a bad cold,
which turned into a fever. The fever settled Jim's mundane affairs;
He won't have to shovel snow in the country he has gone to."
Your tombstone stands among the rest, Neglected and alone. The name and date are chiseled out On polished marble stone. It reaches out to all who care, It is too late to mourn. You did not know that I exist, You died and I was born. Yet each of us are cells of you, In flesh and blood and bone. Our blood contracts and beats a pulse, Entirely not our own. Dear Ancestor ... the place you filled One hundred years ago, Spreads out among the ones you left, Who would have loved you so. I wonder how you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew, That someday I would find this spot And come to visit you.
The Story Tellers
We are the chosen. My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called as it were by our genes. Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us? How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say. It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do? It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family. It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers. That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones. ( Unknown Author )
A Soldier Died Today
In Remembrance of my Dad, 1919 - 1986, a WWII Navy VeteranHe is getting old and thin, and his hair is falling fast, And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past. Of the wars he once fought in, and the deeds that he has done, In his exploits with his buddies, they were heroes, every one. And tho' sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke, All his buddies listened quietly, for they knew of where he spoke. But we'll hear his tales no longer, For ol' Sam is pasing away, And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier will die today. He won't be mourned by many, just his soldier friends, children and his wife, For he lived an ordinary, very quiet sort of life. He held a job and raised a family, going quietly on his way; And the world won't note his passing, 'tho a soldier died today. When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state, While thousands note their passing, and proclaim that they were great. Papers tell of their life stories, from the time that they were young, But the passing of a soldier, goes unnoticed, and unsung. The politician's stipend and the style in which he lives, are often disproportionate to the service that he gives. While the odinary soldier, who offered up his all, Is paid off with a medal and perhaps a pension, small. It's so easy to forget them, for it is so many times that our Sams and Bobs and Johnnys, went to battle, but we know, it was the the politicians with their compromise and ploys, Who won for us the freedom, that our country still enjoys. He was just a common soldier, and his ranks are growing thin, But his presence should remind us, we may need his like again. For when countries are in conflict, we find the soldier's part Is to clean up all the troubles that the world's politicians start. If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise, Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days. Perhaps just a simple headline, "Our Country is in Mourning, A Soldier Died Today" --Sam Pardee
Recipes for Busy Family Tree Researchers
If you are working on family history very long, there are days when you need something that can either cook while you work on the 'puter or at a library, or be made ahead and baked when you return after a day of meeting new relatives. Hope you will enjoy trying something new and creating good family memories of your own from this new area of the breakroom. Reader contributions welcome, but a few simple rules: nothing complicated or requiring alot of last-minute fussing; preferably food that is appealing to both youngsters and grandparents. Crockpot and make-ahead recipes are especially welcome.
Grandma's Busy Day Casserole Can be made ahead and baked later
Creamy Cranberry Salad Impressive and not too sweet
Cranberry Apple Cider Warms in Slowcooker and Smells Wonderful
Beef or Venison Stew Slow Cooker Convenience
Three Bean Cassoulet Slow Cooker Convenience and Healthy
Caesar Chicken Healthy Grilling
Creamy Italian Chicken Slow Cooker and Nice Enough for Company
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