I’m on a quest to discover the traits that run in my family, and to write about some of the more interesting ones. As an identical twin, I early realized that more than simply eye and hair color can be passed along through the generations.
My family’s own unique genetic heritage include:
1. Musical ability. Instead of inheriting even a vestige of musical talent, my family rather has the knack of believing they WOULD have such talent if they simply work at it long enough. For several generations we have been born completely tone deaf. And yet for the same generations we delighted in singing in choirs (wondering why we were always placed in the far back row). It is quite a situation when one’s child asks you to be quiet when you sang along with the car radio. Several of us became barely proficient with a musical instrument. I’m sure our constant practice aggravated the neighbors during the summers when the windows were open, but they should feel blessed that we weren’t practicing on drums. We chose instead the accordion or piano. As adults we become more realistic in acknowledging our lack of rhythmic aptitude, and opted to hum Christmas Carols on kazoos at the holiday sing-alongs.
2. Costuming Talent. It’s a strange gift I know, but my family delights in dressing in odd “get-ups” and looking ridiculous. I’ve personally had many years of practice. When I was four years old I was even dressing my cats in costumes and jewelry (they were so laden down they could barely scrape across the floor when they walked). When I was 22 I attended a Halloween Party as a “Cone Head.” If I can find that photo I’ll post it.
My mum at age 4, dressed by her mother in a “teddy bear” suit.
3. Loving The Briny Deep. Although you would have to go back about ten generations before you find one of us actually LIVING oceanside, we all desperately crave the salty air, the sonorous crash of the waves, and the taste of fresh shellfish.
We’d be quite content if we were reincarnated as lobsters, or at least near one!
4. Mystery Solvers. My grandfather Manning enjoyed cigars and reading mystery novels. Some of us forego the smoke, but many of his descendants share his delight in brain thrillers and who-done-its. Speaking of “who-done-its“…. I’m sure all the folks (circa 1915) who were missing their clothing at Nutts Pond in Manchester after skinny-dipping, were all asking the same question. The answer is: my great-uncle George Miller. Quite a collection of pants and shirts of all sizes were discovered in his barn located near the above-named popular swimming hole.
5. Attraction/Distraction to Lightning. Here is where my family tree diverges. The maternal side’s reaction to St. Elmo’s fire is locking oneself in the bedroom, or flicking holy water on the lintels and kneeling to say the rosary (remember the “deliver us from lightning” part?) My paternal side confronted it fearlessly, and during ferocious lightning storms often sat on open front porches in metal chairs.
6. Humor Evangelists. If the corners of your mouth have not even slightly turned up during the reading of the prior five items, then I will have failed miserably, and I cannot claim to have inherited the family’s humor gene.
I am content with my strange genetic inheritance, and so I submit these not-so-scientific, but definitely-genetically-based recollections to the 46th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, hosted by Jasia at The Creative Gene, with the hopes she will forgive me for not having contributed to the past few carnivals!
Description of above photographs:
1. Mary (Manning) Webster playing the accordion. Possibly the sole member of the family for many generations who was musically talented.
2. Emma (Ryan) Ryan. The only ancestor for at least 3 generations who married a man with her own surname.
3. Mary Manning and her brother Robert Manning circa 1923 in “teddy bear” suits, designed especially for the winter months in New Hampshire.
4. From left to right: my great-aunt, Emma Ryan, my maternal great-grandfather, Patrick aka “Jackson P.” Ryan, and unidentified female, at Straws Point, New Hampshire (at the ocean).
5. The blue lobster sculpture in Portsmouth NH, near the boarding area to the Isle of Shoals tour boats.
6. George Miller and Mertie (Ryan) Miller, my great aunt and uncle in their house near Nutts Pond (now called Precourt Park area) in Manchester NH. Can you spell “kleptomaniac?”
7. Lightning. Nuff said.
8. Circa late 1950s. Front row right is of course my brother Peter, the ultimate humorist, shown with his tongue fully extended. I am in the second row, left looking grumpy. Both of our co-partners in rows 1 and 2 are the Coll neighbor boys. My brother John in the back row (with his finger in his nose) sits next to my sister Kathleen. We were a wild bunch–notice the gate on the porch, to insure we don’t escape? I think my sister is shown trying to pick the lock.