Family Tree with Flair

This is the first revised edition of my family tree originally drawn up in 1965 at the dining table of my Grandma to earn a Camp Fire Girl bead and become a Faggot Finder or Torch Bearer, I'm not sure which. That first family tree was created during an oral history moment and sketched out on blueprint paper in pencil.

For eighth grade American Studies class we had to compile a neater and more detailed family tree. I had just received my very first set of colored felt pens. The twelve pens were in a black box that opened and folded back to stand ready to comply with my artistic wishes. This family tree is written with my op-art Papermate pen, and underlined with green, yellow, and red violet felt pens. I am proud to have grown up with the Beatles and the first felt pens. Where would we be without them?!

My walking bud wants to know why I am into this genealogy stuff. Maybe I just want to feel like I'm sitting to the left of Grandma at the big dark table in the light green dining room. I can smell the dark wooden buffet. I see the day's mail in the big glass bowl on the buffet, and the little pots of African violets and baby's breath on the shelves by the window. I can feel the anodized drinking glass at my place and see the tiny salt shaker with the bluebird design. Forty years ago, and we would have been anticipating cold pressed chicken, cukes & onions, mandarin orange jello salad, sugar cookies, and sweet iced tea from a cut glass pitcher.

Grandma would tell a bit about teaching in a one-room school near town. I would get more of the story from Dad as we walked off our big lunch. I especially liked the story of my great-great grandmother, Susa Smith, who was disowned by her parents for eloping with John Lee, the [handsome] gardener of their estate in England. The next generation had a different Cinderella spin, and Grandma had to go live with her aunts when her new stepmother came into the picture.

Behind the door to the kitchen were the shelves of games. Marbles for Chinese checkers were in a heavily waxed cottage cheese container. The Tinker Toys were in their original cylinder. Mom told us not to trip on the electrical cord running under the area rug. The figurine on the corner whatnot stressed, "Speak no evil, see no evil, hear no evil."

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