Friday, June 22, 2012
Booty: Family Tree
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)