Monday, February 27, 2012

Mine Your Ancestors

My friend, Cindy, is a genealogy genius. She has traced her family all the way back to cave-dwelling times. You know, it was actually her great (great, etc.) aunt who painted those walls of Lascaux. Okay maybe I exaggerate, but she has told me some family stories that are equally eye-popping. After hearing plenty of Cindy tales, I became curious about my own.

Well, Cindy helped me shake out the old family tree. She told me to interview the folks who are still above ground, taught me how to track down census records, and which web sites were the most reliable. It didn't take long for me to find some fascinating stuff and realize the value of mining ancestors (having grown up in the anthracite region of Pennsylvania with coal miners on both sides, I can say that literally).

Take my great-grandfather. He was a miner who found himself at the Pearly Gates much earlier than expected. Lucky for him, it was a quick trip thanks to the dynamite... um... well, these things happen in mining towns. Anyway, at the wee age of eight, his son (my grandfather) was then shipped off to Girard College, a boarding school for fatherless boys.

Well, you’ll never guess who was there at the same time…

Russell Johnson! Yep, that dreamy Professor from Gilligan’s Island. Well, he was certainly dreamy to geeky girls like me. Sure, he was old enough to be my grandfather, but by the time I was 10 years old, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that someday I would marry someone just like him… But I digress.

The point is, there’s a story in there. Think of it – two boys, visited by sorrow at an early age, are sent to a faraway home for fatherless boys. While there, each receives a stellar education and opportunities (art classes!) the likes of which they’d never known before. One returns to his small mining town, finds a wife and fathers a posse of children; the other heads to Hollywood and finds fortune and fame. Both love, laugh, and learn on their journeys to the grave. 

The End. 

Well, maybe… You never know with real life stuff.

By the way, The Professor lives just down the road a piece, on an island (no lie) here in Washington state. No, I haven’t met him. Sigh.

PROMPT: Dig up those dead relatives (please-oh-please DO NOT take me literally here)! Who knows who you will find? A princess perhaps, or the man who made moonshine in his bathtub (sorry, you won’t find him – he’s one of mine. Seriously). Whatever you discover, you’re sure to have plenty to write, sculpt, paint, and create about. Enjoy your quarry!

Oh, I almost forgot – I said I’d bring the coffee…

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