Friday, January 28, 2005

#12 - Woody Does Family History

Mrs. Woody is scrapping again. It is, for her, a tremendous outlet for her considerable talents, and gives her an equally tremendous spiritual and emotional boost. I strongly encourage it.

Tonight, she's working on a family vacation we took nearly two years ago. We had gone up to visit our friends in Vancouver, Washington, and planned a few day-trips from there. One such trip (actually an overnighter) would take us up to Sequim (pronounced "skwim" by the locals) to visit an uncle of mine, and thence across the Puget Sound to Seattle. I love the area just as a matter of course, but this time I had a purpose in mind.

You know by now of my own interest in family history and, particularly, genealogy. I've had the bug since a month or two after Dad passed away. My personal belief is that he's worried about my becoming lazy (too late!) and is having old dead relatives visit me in my sleep. Gee, thanks, Dad. So, I spend copious amounts of time digging (sometimes literally!) up information about my ancestors. I never knew, for example, any of my great-grandparents. In fact, I grew up with only three grandparents. My Dad's dad, Harry, had been a dentist in Idaho Falls in the 20's and 30's. Unfortunately, he developed a drinking problem (Dad used to say he drank too much of his own anesthetic), and Grandma divorced him when Dad was young. Grandpa remarried, but apparently was never happy and finally took an overdose of sleeping powder on a train to Colorado some fourteen years before I was born.

Since developing Family History Syndrome I have developed a desire to get to know my ancestors better. I never knew much about Grandpa Harry. The stories Dad told of him were sketchy, at best. After all, Dad was taken to Los Angeles at about age 9, so he could only recall just so much. Plus, Dad was not one to discuss his own past very much. This puts me at a distinct disadvantage where research is concerned because I'm shooting blind most of the time.

This particular year I was determined to follow up on a valuable piece of information about my great-grandfather Elam. Elam had died about four years before his son. I had tried once to get information on where Harry might be buried, but was completely unsuccessful on that score. (I did, however, find out that my Dad had truly been adopted at birth... something we had chalked up to the rantings of our Alzheimer's suffering grandmother!)

I have in my possession a copy of a certificate showing Elam's last known address and the name of the cemetery where he had been interred. Some quick Googling verified that both the house and the cemetery were still standing. It was our intention to visit the house, photograph it, then visit the cemetery and find Elam's grave.

Mrs. Woody just had me "journal" the experience in the scrapbook she's making. I still recall the visit very clearly. The house was a quaint brick affair, a few miles from the Puget Sound. I felt no desire to bother the current inhabitants. I was just thrilled to see the house and snap a couple of photos of it. We left before neighbors could sic the gendarmes after us, and drove a few miles up the road to the cemetery. A quick visit to the cemetery office, and I was on my way to the mausoleum where Elam was interred.

Mrs. Woody was feeling achy, and opted to stay in the car. I took the Woodyettes with me, along with our camera, and wended our way through the maze of corridors in the huge mausoleum. Along the way, I tried to explain to the girls what I was doing and why. They asked a lot of questions, but they were probably more excited just to have an adventure with Daddy.

It was one of those moments you sort of feel should be in a movie. There's the swelling music as the protagonist reaches his goal. A sweeping camera angle from behind to reveal the crypt. There it is! Elam's resting place! His second wife, Cora, is interred with him, and... I don't believe it! Camera closes in on Woody's face, which registers surprise and shock. Camera returns to the crypt plate to reveal a third person interred with Elam and Cora. Grandpa Harry! There he is, that sonofagun! No wonder Idaho has no record of his burial! He was cremated and interred with his own father. If that doesn't beat all...

I love family history. I love being a part of it. I love discovering it...

...I love making it.


Mark said...

My wife is a major scrapbooker. I've even tried it a time or two, but don't tell anyone. I've used "Freehand" to do some pages on my computer. I guess guys can scrapbook if it's done on a computer, right?

BTW, I just discovered your site off a link from "Soft Answer". I've linked my blog, to both of your blogs. Cool stuff!


Woody said...


Reciprocal linking right back atcha, and thanks!

By the way, when guys do that sort of thing, it's called "graphic design," not "scrapping." Just keeps things from becoming gender-confused. ;-)

Peggy Snow Cahill said...

I love family history, too!!
What an amazing experience! I am looking forward to moving to North Carolina soon, where both my parents' lines go back (my husband is there right now!). The thought of having a similar experience, finding the headstones of my ancestors, what a thrill, what a joy.... You are a wonderful writer!