Where I’m From, a Poetic Assignment

This was inspired by Randy Seaver, at https://www.geneamusings.com/2020/05/saturday-night-genealogy-fun-your-where.html

Here is mine:

I am from California, coastal and inland, north and south.

Built-in bookcases with Snow White and Rose Red, Leaves of Grass, Somerset Maugham,

abridged books and World Book Encyclopedia,

so useful for plagiarizing my book report in a pre-internet world.

I’m from the ice plant, the bouganville, the pampas grass, and geraniums.

I am from the Easter Bunny, Christmas stockings, angel hair and icicles.

From Rivieras, Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, and my re-called Pinto.

I’m from flights on twa and PanAm, and cross-country road trips

With too many in the back seat.

I’m from Birthday parties with cousins and piñatas, the Wizard of Oz once a year,

and watching Walt Disney every Sunday night. In the den.

I’m from Mom and Dad and Nana and Grampa, Holmquists, Maloneys,

McCullers and Kelleys. Bradleys, Mounts, Svenssons, and Dustons.

I’m from Episcopalians, Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists,

Methodists and Quakers, and from those I sought refuge in the 3 jewels.

I come from families devastated by the Spanish flu and war,

Then by addiction, arrogance and general smugness.

I come from Walter Cronkite’s voice, the new Star Trek episode,

Saturday morning cartoons with Cheerios, and my kid brother Mark.

Afternoons at the beach with an AM transistor radio..

Cutting class to hang out at UCLA, pretending to be in college.

I am from Mom’s only two recipes, tagliarini and marinated mushrooms.

I am from Nana’s scrambled eggs and bacon, and banana ice cream.

I am from waking Kristine up too early, after-school employment,

sailing with Dustin, and eating raw cookie dough.

I come from race riots and war protests and sit-ins and campaigns,

And bombastic opinions from both sides of the aisle

I come from Cocktail glasses with clinking ice, my clothes smelling like parental cigarette smoke,

glass milk bottles on the porch in the morning, and fending for myself.

I’m from the endless dusty used bookstores of Downtown San Diego,

and DG Wills, Mithras Bookstore, Unicorn Theater in La Jolla.

Aromatic eucalyptus groves of UCSD then UC Berkeley, Telegraph Avenue,

The Med’, Fondue Fred’s, Cody’s Books and the Eastbay Express.

I am from La Jolla, Berkeley, Oakland, Castro Valley, Morgan Hill.

From Bakersfield, San Francisco, Healdsburg, Monterey,

From Salina, Kansas, Gadsden, Alabama, Derbyshire, Sweden

Old England, New England, Scotland & Ireland.

I am from fighter pilots, accountants, gun-runners and diplomats.

Ranchers and farmers, opera singers and government employees.

Frontiersmen, war Heroes, Mothers, teachers, blacksmiths, nurses.

I am from alcoholics, Mad Men, broken dreams and starting over.

I am from the adventurous, bootstrapping, sailing around the horn with 5 kids and $5, pushing a carted iron stove 300 miles on a rutted trail, baby born en route kind of people.

We are stubborn, both in ideals and afflictions.

And affections.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


Wow, what an inauspicious start! The photo and quote above is from almost a year ago and I have no memory of them. I wonder if Word Press provided it as a start prompt? I hope I wouldn’t have picked anything so bland and Hallmark-ish on my own. I’m afraid I signed up for this site in a burst of enthusiasm and then promptly forgot I did that. I did periodically remember, but it all felt so daunting as more and more time passed. Yet here I am, once again on a wave of enthusiasm. My goal is to do a “52 ancestors” type thing, eventually, but I am not there yet. I have to ponder and muse a little more first, and I think this will just be a general introduction to my take on family history. The main reasons I research genealogy are two-fold, and not ones I usually hear others provide. Although I do think it would be nice for my kids to know their history, I do not regard it as critical to their well-being. And while I enjoy the thought that I am providing voice for and remembering those who are long gone, that is really just a by-product of my entirely selfish hobby.

My favorite kind of puzzles, since I was little, are logic problems. I would actually get puzzle books (in the days before video games), the variety kind that were mostly crosswords and word-finds, and other puzzles I ignored, and ONE logic problem, or if I was lucky, two logic problems, and once I was done with it, the whole thing would be tossed aside, for the closest library bin or depot bench. Genealogy is my logic problem. It is my escape and my refuge, and it has so many corners for my restless mind to inhabit. I could kid myself and think it will be passed down some day, but it probably won’t – my kids don’t plan to have kids. SO, ok, my nieces and nephews are having kids, so maybe someone will carry on, but that’s not the point. At least it’s not MY point. My point is to puzzle out what happened and why and when and where. Untangling the past is so satisfying! Why oh why was history such a snooze-fest when I was young?

The other reason is one I discovered young, but didn’t really act on it until I was older, and that is that this is the vaseline in the gears of me getting along with my family. At family gatherings, disapproving oldsters, hipper than thou boomers (that’s me, I am a boomer with the hippiest of hips), revolutionaries, reactionaries, cat lovers, dog lovers, those who swing both ways, artists, accountants, teenagers, gucci or not, they ALL are capable of holding a civil conversation about dead relatives. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and one’s family is the next best thing. It is a way to bridge all the ways we are different, and chat, about things we have in common. Also, sometimes it’s easier to talk about the important things when you are talking about someone else.

As far as family ties and closeness, I’m not attached to it. My family can be SO MEAN to each other, as only siblings can, and not just my generation either. (In fact I think our generation is more forgiving than generations past.) Meaner than they would ever be to a friend or neighbor. Perhaps we are a uniquely mean family, I don’t know, but my view in that direction is not particularly rosy, so I am happy puzzling out my logic problems and sharing the information, and hoping to grow kindness in the process.

Carmil Dairy was named for my grandfather, Carl, and grandmother, Mildred, and was one of their ventures together, soon after they were married.