Friday, June 22, 2012

Booty: Family Tree

When I was in elementary school we used to climb on the dinosaur about once a week and roam over to my mother's parent's home.  It was always something I looked forward to; not one of those horrible "eat your Brussels sprouts" experiences.  Gran and Grandpa were really wonderful people.  In many ways, they were far more easy going than my own parents.

One of the things I liked best about Gran's house (and it was always "Gran's house") was the two over-sized volumes of Norman Rockwell works that were always kept in the spare room.  They were books Gran bought when Rockwell was at the height of his popularity as the Saturday Evening Post illustrator and they doubtless cost her dear.  The fact that she and Grandpa allowed me to look through them, and then Grandpa left them specifically to me, has always been a wonderment in my life.  One I am thankful for indeed.

My favorite illustration, of all the amazing art in both books, has always been the one above.  Entitled "Family Tree", it shows the ancestry of the charming red-headed mite pictured at the very top of the branches.  I would literally stare at this painting for an hour, taking in all the detail, memorizing the faces and the fashions and - as you already guessed - marvelling at the detail of those ships.  Oh, those ships.

How I wished my family could be like this one, with pirates and prospectors, Native Americans and saloon girls.  I got lost in those faces and imagined something far less "white bread" for me and mine.

I think it was this painting, at least in part, that drove me to genealogical research, which helped me find those less "white bread" people in my family (pirates! African-Americans! smugglers! whores!) and ultimately led me to my historical novels and thus right here to Triple P.

In fact, when I look at that painting now, it is surprising how very close it comes to portraying my own family.  There's my husband's ancestors on the right, staunch backbones of the U.S. from hardworking, square-jawed Pennsylvania stock.  Then there's my antecedents on the left, rogues and trailblazers; people who always needed more space and a bigger sky.  We even have a red-headed mite to put at the top of the tree, although ours is - thankfully - a girl.

Happy Friday, Brethren.  Find what inspires you today, or tomorrow, and chase that horizon no matter what.

Header: Family Tree by Norman Rockwell courtesy of Curtis Publishing Co. (click to enlarge; you'll be glad you did)


Timmy! said...

Great post, Pauline! I'm sure we probably had our share of rogues on my side of the tree too (not sure about the trailblazers though)...

Happy Friday to you too, my Captain!

Capt. John Swallow said...

Everyone should have such an interesting group o' folks in their family tree! (and those o' us lucky enough to are proud o' it!)

Look closely at the rogue in the middle with the big beard...we're convinced he's the Great-Grandad o' our mate on the West Coast - the one & only (somewhat legendary and very large) TALDEROY.

Pauline said...

I'm sure all of our families have a few "bad apples", Timmy! It's just that the label depends on who is doing the labeling.

And thankee, Captain; I'm far more fortunate than I ever could have dreamed (right up to the red-headed mite). I think you're on to something with Talderoy. I definitely see a family resemblance.

Capt. John Swallow said...

Ahoy Timmy, me lad! It's funny ye say that ("not too sure about the trailblazers..") for it's usually the one's folk consider "slightly odd/off/bad apples/etc. that are INDEED the trailblazers - for they are the ones taking the chances, following their adventure and even if it doesn't end as planned, most certainly made a change in the fabric o' history (even a wee rip) to leave the path visible for others to follow. I've at least one relative who made the history books - described as a "crazy fur trapper dancing around on the stumps of his feet" (apparently the frostbite got his toes at some point)...but he also crossed unknown land - all the way from Quebec to N. Dakota and married into the family o' Chief Red Cloud o' the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and did his best to see that his family carried on and survived and perhaps missed the massacre at Wounded Knee...though some may still today live on the Pine Ridge Reserve...

Aye..Talderoy's a fine fellow (and mighty handy with Ink - The Pirates Charles (possibly the greatest Pyrate rock band) wrote a song about him - and have a page about him on their site

Timmy! said...

Good points, as usual, Captain. And good links too. Thankee!