I think that I shall never see, the finish of a family tree,
as it forever seems to grow from roots that started long ago.
Way back in ancient history time,
in foreign land and distant clime.
From them grew trunk and branching limbs,
that dated back to time so dim.
One seldom knows exactly when,
the parents met and married then;
Nor when the twigs began to grow,
with odd-named children, row on row.
Though verse like this is made by me,
the end's insight, as you can see.
"Tis not the same with family trees,
that grow and grow through centuries.
There's been a change in Grandma, we've noticed her of late.
She's always reading history or jotting down some date.
She's tracking back the family, we'll all have pedigrees.
Oh, Grandma's got a hobby - she's climbing the FAMILY TREE.
Poor Grandpa does the cooking, and now, or so he states,
That worst of all, he has to wash the cups and dinner plates.
Grandma can't be bothered, she's busy as a bee,
Compiling genealogy for the FAMILY TREE.
She has no time to babysit, the curtains are a fright,
No buttons left on Grandpa's shirt, the flower bed's a sight.
She's given up her club work and the soaps on TV,
The only thing she does nowadays is climb the FAMILY TREE.
She goes down to the courthouse and studies ancient lore,
We know more about our forebears than we ever knew before.
The books are old and dusty, they make poor Grandma sneeze,
A minor irritation when you're climbing the FAMILY TREE.
The mail is all for Grandma, it comes from near and far,
Last week she got the proof she needs to join the DAR.
A monumental project all do agree,
All from climbing the FAMILY TREE.
Now some folks came from Scotland, some from Galway Bay,
Some were French as pastry, some German all the way.
Some went West to stake their claims, some stayed there by the sea.
Grandma hopes to find them all, as she climbs the FAMILY TREE.
She wanders through the graveyard in search of date and name,
The rich, the poor, the in-between, all sleeping there the same.
She pauses now and then to rest, fanned by a gentle breeze,
That blows above the Fathers of all our FAMILY TREES.
There are pioneers and patriots, mixed in our kith and kin,
Who blazed the paths of wildness and fought through thick and thin.
But none more staunch than Grandma, who eyes light up with glee,
Each time she finds a missing branch for the FAMILY TREE.
Their skills were wide and varied, from carpenter to cook,
And one, alas, the records show, was hopelessly a crook.
Blacksmith, weaver, farmer, judge - some tutored for a fee.
Once lost in time, now all recorded on the FAMILY TREE.
To some it's just a hobby, to Grandma it's much more,
She learns the joys and heartaches of those that went before.
They loved, they lost, they laughed, they wept - and now, for you and me,
They live again in spirit around the FAMILY TREE.
At last she's nearly finished and we are each exposed,
Life will be the same again, this we all supposed.
Grandma will cook and sew, serve cookies with our tea.
We'll all be fat, just as before the wretched FAMILY TREE.
Sad to relate, the preacher called and visited for a spell.
We talked about the Gospel, and other things as well.
The heathen folk, the poor and then - 'twas fate, it had to be,
Somehow the conversation turned to Grandma and the FAMILY TREE.
He never knew his Grandpa, his mother's name was...Clark?
He and Grandma talked and talked, outside it grew quite dark.
We'd hoped our fears were groundless, but just like some disease,
Gramdma's become an addict - she's hooked on FAMILY TREES!
Our souls are filled with sorrow, our hearts sad with dismay.
Our ears could scarce believe the words we heard our Grandma say,
"It sure is a lucky thing that you have come to me,
I know exactly how it's done. I'll climb your FAMILY TREE."
I started out calmly, tracing my tree,
To find if I could find the makings of me.
And all that I had was Great-grandfather's name,
not knowing his wife or from where he came.
I chased him across a long line of states,
And came up with pages and pages of dates.
When all put together, it made me forlorn,
Proved poor Great-grandpa had never been born.
One day I was sure the truth I had found,
Determined to turn this whole thing upside down.
I looked up the record of one Uncle John,
But then I found the old man to be younger than his son.
Then when my hopes were fast growing dim,
I came across records that must have been him.
The facts I collected made me quite sad,
Dear old Great grandfather was never a Dad.
I think someone is pulling my leg,
I am not at all sure I wasn't hatched from an egg.
After hundreds of dollars I've spent on my tree,
Can't help but wonder if I'm really me..
Dear ----, I have spent several years looking for family information and have, as of this week, decided that I am a descendent of the family branch called UNKNOWNS.
I find kazillions with the names of my branches but my branches don't seem to attach to any trees in the known world. Therefore, I have concluded that there are three ways in which the UNKNOWNS originated:
1. We were sent to the colonies by the British government in the 1700's to spy. We so excelled in the art of blending in with the flora and fauna that no one knew we were here...even the British lost contact with us.
2. We were dropped off here by one of the space ships that some think visited our planet. Again, we were outstanding in the ability to blend in and so were never noticed. Somewhere down the line someone forgot to tell us that we are from another planet. I think the space ships some people report seeing and being captured by, are our true family and they are looking for us to take us home.
3. Immaculate conception...which explains itself.
4. I really don't exist. I am but a figment of someone's imagination but I don't know who that someone is.
I am very frustrated as you can tell. Do you have a section in this area for us UNKNOWNs to apply to families for adoption so that we can attach our tiny branch buds and belong to some tree...any tree?
|The family you are looking for will be on the last page of the unindexed (of course) census film that you check. However, if you begin at the end of the roll, they will be on Page 1.
|The microfilm that you have diligently searched page-by-page will have an index at the end.
|All of your spouse's ancestors will be mentioned in county histories. None of yours will be.
|If you need just one record, the microfilm will have page numbers. If you need 3 or more records, there won't be any page numbers and the records will not be in proper order.
|The book you need most will be out being rebound.
|You will need item 23 on a microfilm roll that has 22 items. The rest of the film is continued on another roll that will not be in the drawer, and librarian will tell you that it is "missing, and presumed lost."
|Just before the entry you need, the records will end. They will begin again two years after the date you need.
|If one brother is left out of the genealogy of a family, guess whose ancestor he will be?
|If there is a family history on one branch of the family--it won't be yours.
|When you finally find the microfilmed probate records of your missing link to a rich and/or famous line. The book will be so tightly bound that you can only make out the first two letters of the name of the one who MAY be your ancestor.
|The researcher you hire to read the original records at the courthouse will inform you that only the particular probate packet you need is missing.
|During the last hour of your trip to the Family History library in Salt Lake City you will find everything you've hunted all week for, but you won't have time to copy it. (There is a library gremlin that sees to this.)
|The public ceremony in which your distinquished ancestor participated and at which the platform collapsed under him turned out to be a hanging.
|When at last after much hard work you have solved the mystery of the skeleton in the closet that you've been working on for two years, your tight-lipped spinster aunt claims, "I could have told you that all the time."
|Your grandmother's maiden name that you have searched for for four years was on a letter in a box in the attic all the time.
|You never asked your father about his family when he was alive because you weren't interested in genealogy then.
|The will you need is in the safe on board the Titanic.
|Copies of old newspapers have holes occurring only on the surnames or maiden names.
|John, son of Thomas, the immigrant whom your relatives claim as the family progenitor, died on board ship at age 10.
|Your great grandfather's newspaper obituary states that he died leaving no issue on record.
|The keeper of the vital records you need has just been insulted by a another genealogist.
|The only record you find for your gr grandfather is that his property was sold at a sheriff's sale for insolvency.
|The one document that would supply the missing link in your dead-end line has been lost due to fire, flood or war.
|The town clerk you wrote to in desperation, and finally convinced to give you the information you need, can't write legibly, and doesn't have a copying machine.
|The spelling fo your European ancestor's name bears no relationship to its current spelling or pronounciation.
|The critical link in your family tree is named "Smith."
|None of the pictures in your recently deceased grmother's photo album have names written on them.
|The relative who had all the family photographs gave them all to her daughter who has no interest in genealogy and no inclination to share.
|That ancient photograph of four relatives, one of whom is your progenitor, carries the names of the other three.
|No one in your family tree ever did anything noteworthy, owned property, was sued or was named in wills.
|You learn that your great aunt's executor just sold her life's collection of family genealogical materials to a flea market dealer "somewhere in New York City".
|Ink fades and paper deteriorates at a rate inversely proportional to the value of the data recorded.
|Yours is the ONLY last name not found among the three billion in the world famous Mormon archives in Salt Lake City.
|The 37 volume, sixteen thousand page history of your county of origin isn't indexed.
|You finally find your gr grandparent's wedding records and discover that the brides' father was named John Smith.
|The portion of the index you need is continued in the next issue, only the publisher died prior to publication.
|The records you need for your family history were in the courthouse that burned.
|Records show that the grandfather, whom the family boasted, "He read the Bible at four years and graduated from college at sixteen." was at the foot of his class.
|The family story your grandmother wrote for the family, never got past the typist. She packed it away "somewhere" and promised to send a copy, but never did.
|A great-uncle changed his surname because he was teased in school. He moved away, left no address, and was never heard from again.
|Brittle old newspapers containing the info you desired have fallen apart on the names, dates, and places.
|The vital records director sends you a negative reply, having just been insulted by a creep calling himself a genealogist.
|When you find the obituary for your grandmother, the information is garbled. Her name is exchanged with her daughter's, the whereabouts of her son is unknown; and the date for her father's birth indicates he was younger than she.
A man who smelled like a distillery flopped on a subway seat next to a priest. The man's tie was stained, his face was plastered with red lipstick, and a half-empty bottle of gin was sticking out of his torn coat pocket.
He opened his newspaper and began reading. After a few minutes the disheveled guy turned to the priest and asked, "Say, Father, what causes arthritis?"
"Mister, it's caused by loose living, being with cheap, wicked women, too much alcohol, and a contempt for your fellow man."
"Well, I'll be damned," the drunk muttered, returning to his paper.
The priest, thinking about what he had said, nudged the man and apologized.
"I'm very sorry, I didn't mean to come on so strong. How long have you had arthritis?"
"OOh I don't have it, Father. I was just reading here that the Pope does."
This is forwarded from a graduate of the U. of Oklahoma Chemical Engineering Dept., citing one of Dr. Schlambaugh's final test questions for his final exam of 1997. Dr. Schlambaugh is known for asking questions on his finals like: "Why do airplanes fly?"
In May 1997, the "Momentum, Heat, and Mass Transfer II" final exam question was: "Is Hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof." Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however wrote the following:
First, we postulate that if souls exist, they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls also must have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it does not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.
As for souls entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some religions say that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there are more than one of these religions, and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to Hell.
With the birth and death rates what they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change in the volume of Hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of the souls and volume needs to stay constant.
[A1] So, if Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
[A2] Of course, if Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase in souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Theresa Banyan during freshman year, that 'It'll be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,' and taking into account that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then [A2] cannot be true;.....thus, Hell is exothermic.
The student got the only A.
E-mail contributions to Rob Nelson.
Nov 1, 2001