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Family Value

Pulling the family bible from its place of prominence on the top shelf of the bookcase on a recent visit to my mother’s it fell open, automatically, to Leviticus, Chapter 18 and out tumbled a 75-year-old photograph.  A pastoral scene, hay wagon in the foreground stacked high with an array of ancestors; some posing, some cavorting.

As I gazed, wistfully, into the past, I realized…either some overly dressed livestock had wandered into the photo, or Great-Aunt Wilma’s kids were much less attractive than anyone had dared to mention.


This was the moment I decided that instead of tracing my family history, it might make it a tad more palatable to do it freehand.

Looking backward my genealogical knowledge ceases, roughly, with my parent’s generation.  This shouldn’t hinder me, as looking forward my knowledge stops almost as abruptly.  I still plan on continuing in both directions.  As with any freehand depiction the lines sometimes fall outside of the space intended, but with proper shading no one will, likely, notice.  And trust me, when you’re recounting your heritage and have a relative that everyone around town referred to, generously, as “Goof”…to his face… shading can make all the difference.

Don’t get me wrong; Goof Dingus wasn’t a bad person.  I never saw him harm a fly.  While some attribute this to an honorable and sympathetic nature, most folks saw it as lack of initiative.  Since I was denied entry to the local taverns due to age limit, I can also honestly say that I never saw him drink.  The only flaw in his character that I could discern was that he was allowed to reproduce.  Where Harlan was concerned, the apple didn’t fall far from the pie.

There was a persisting rumor that Harlan had a goat who would dance all of the parts to the 2nd Act of “La Sylphide”, if it were played on an accordion, at a suitable rhythm.  If this was true the goat was no doubt the most talented, not to mention most intelligent and handsomest member of the Dingus family.  The validity of the story was never tested because the goat was the only one well versed enough on the instrument to be able to master the arrangement.

Rumors and the Dingus family had never been strangers.  It was once thought that if you were to look up “vacant stare” in the dictionary there was simply an arrow pointing to a likeness of Harlan in the margin.  It turned out that this was only in one printing of a local edition and, as Harlan had been unavailable to sit for the photo, the publishers had substituted a bowling ball with eyebrows.  It was 6 years before anyone noticed the discrepancy; and they never did convince Goof that it wasn’t his son in the picture.

If there is a moral lurking here, somewhere, it’s probably that I either need to learn a deep appreciation for every single member of my family…or, burn the family bible.

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