Adding Fruit to the Family Tree
by Calendar Hacksaw
A couple of kind ladies came by the house last Saturday, both considerably younger than me, wanting to excavate my tired, old mind for some genealogical information they were putting together. One was from Oklahoma, with a husband and 12-year-old daughter in tow, the other was a solo number out of San Diego County somewhere. It took me all of 5 minutes to firmly suspect that the 12-year-old would run away from home long before she turns 18 and find her way back to California. The second Okie migration.
I'm not quite sure how it came to pass that I became a genealogist of the Hacksaw clan, but I think it dates back to about 1979 when I was stuck working the graveyard shift with nothing to do and a whole lot of time on my hands. My father was still alive, and I learned from him that his mother had many siblings. Unfortunately, he didn't remember any of their names. So, in my boredom I set out to see what I could learn.
I traveled around California interviewing various tired and rusty old Hacksaws and finally came up with a list of the nine children (and one stillborn) who lived on the homestead of Luther and Eunice on the plains of western Oklahoma in the late 1800s. In addition to my grandmother, Dora, there was Sarah, Bernice, Frieda and four other gals, plus a poor fella named Peter who reportedly had no use for women and ran away to Canada to become a lumberjack.
I didn't have much job seniority back then, and although my employer was quite generous with vacation -- three weeks the first year -- I was told I could have my choice of any three week period I wanted as long as it was in February. Needless to say, this didn't square with Betty's vacation schedule, so I was on my own. Betty bought me a 10-day Greyhound bus pass and told me to head east, so that's just what I did. The first stop was Riverside, where I had a four-hour layover and got cornered by a singing nitwit who claimed to be Elvis' brother.
Around midnight, we boarded up for the all-night drive to Arizona but before we even got to Indio I knew we were in for a long night when a maniac sitting in the back of the bus started raving about killing people of a certain religious persuasion. This went on for a few hours until we came across a big wreck on the highway and the driver got out like he was gonna see if he could help the highway patrol officers who were busy sorting things out. But in less than a minute, the driver came back with two officers in tow, and they took our little terrorist into custody so we could get some sleep.
Our next stop was Flagstaff, where we were delighted to find that beer was served in the bus terminal. But it was the last such beer terminal we would find, and from then on whenever we had a 10-minute break in some southwestern city, me and a half-dozen other like-minded idiots would make a mad dash off in search of the nearest tavern.
Well, after about 34 hours or so of this nonsense, the bus pulled into the Biscuit Hill Truck Stop near Sayre, Oklahoma and the driver said it was time for me to get off. It was about 2:00 a.m., and the wind was blowin' plenty hard for a February. The driver searched the luggage compartment for my bags, and finding none he told me they were probably still in Amarillo and would come in a few days.
Having no clothes, no toothbrush, no nothing, presented certain logistical challenges, and after hanging out in the coffee shop until dawn, watching some cowboy hit on a very receptive young waitress, I elected to book a motel room in Sayre so I could wait for my worldly possessions to catch up with me.
So, I killed a few days and nights in town, and while sitting inside an ammo bunker disguised as a bar for hours on end, a local farmer took me under his tutorage and taught me how to read section maps with townships and ranges. This ability serves me well even today, and makes me very popular on the party circuit.
Well, my suitcase finally arrived and I hitchhiked 30 miles south to the Duffer Motel in Mangum, which would serve as my base of operations for a few days while I searched for my roots.
Traveling everywhere by thumb and foot pretty much wore me out as I headed back north a few miles to the Willow Cemetery, then east to see the old homestead on Billy Dudek's property, and on to Granite, all the while collecting limbs, branches and twigs of what would ultimately bear some resemblance to a family tree.
From there, it was back on the bus to Oklahoma City, then north to Denver and Cheyenne, westward to Reno and finally returning to California, ten days richer.
After returning home and doing some more work via a certain computer system that would land me in prison if I did it again today (the statute of limitations has expired), I found that I had documented the existence of no fewer than 192 dead or living descendants of Luther and Eunice Hacksaw. Betty and I threw a party and invited the whole gang over to get acquainted, and 74 of the living ones and a handful of the others actually showed up.
Which brings us, limp and tired, to the present -- 2003 -- with Betty preparing to celebrate a real milestone birthday three days after I write this.
Now, mind you, Betty passed through menopause many, many years ago, long before God invented Al Gore. Recently, her doctor prescribed a little Prozac to help her get through some mild depression.
But after taking the Prozac for a few days, poor Betty felt some physical discomfort that wasn't listed among the documented side effects.
So, Betty did what any logical person would do under similar circumstances: she called her doctor and described what she was experiencing. Without missing a beat, the doctor replied, "Why, Betty; it sounds just as though you might be pregnant!"
Gosh, this is just what a woman wants to hear as her husband busies himself with retirement paperwork. Do they make a "Baby on Board" placard that can be affixed to a walker? How about an embroidered shawl?
Anyway, it's too early to tell where this sudden development in family history might lead. But we'll take no chances. I'll evict one of the grandkids to free up a bedroom, and prepare to add a 193rd name to ol' Luther and Eunice's legacy.
Calendar Hacksaw rides the gray dog at firstname.lastname@example.org and he recommends that anyone who elects to experience a long journey by bus also take along a shoulder towel to absorb the spittle and drool of your sleeping mate. And, don't make any mention of it when the sorry fool finally wakes up, if you know what's good for you.