Friday, February 26, 2021

HARLEM, KANSAS CITY

I was in the sixth grade when we left the farm where Daddy was a hired hand and moved to Kansas City.  I cried for weeks, perhaps months, for my old way of life.

I'd been a free spirit there, after all.  Mother worked all day in a dry goods-grocery store, and Daddy was busy with farm chores.  I could play with the calf in the barn that belonged to the cow Daddy milked twice a day.  There were kittens in the same barn.  I watched setting hens hatch out their babies.  In May, I found wild strawberries along the roadside, and in July there were blackberries, back in the woods.  I was in heaven, and nobody bothered me at all.

Daddy shot my old dog, Cookie, before we moved to the city.  She had a huge tumor on her belly that dragged the ground, and she was at least ten years old.  I remember hearing the gunshot.  It was a mercy-killing, but it was rough for me.

We got an apartment in Harlem, an unicorporated village just across the Missouri River from downtown Kansas City.  I had cousins nearby, and that helped me make the transition from country to city.

Most people, when they hear "Harlem", think of New York City.  Well, Kansas City's Harlem was all white folks, but it was a very poor neighborhood.  There were times I felt unsafe on the school bus.

However, I found some pleasant diversions in Harlem.


Back then, the big airport in Kansas City was the Municipal Airport, and it was only a few blocks away.  Every time a plane took off, it messed up our TV reception.  In summertime, I'd walk down there and watch airplanes taking off, and dream about the romantic places they were headed.  Me and my mom once met Pat Boone's plane when it landed, and on the front-page picture in the Kansas City Star, you could pick out me and my mom reaching toward Pat as he got off the airplane. 

And then there was the levee.  I'd go up there, walk right down to the riverbank, and watch the strange (and sometimes nasty) things floating past.  I could go right up to the ASB bridge and climb steps that took me to the top, where cars whizzed by.

Underneath that bridge I'd see evidence of the places where hoboes had camped:  traces of campfires, whiskey bottles, and sardine cans (now I find out sardines are one of the safest seafoods to eat, because they are at the bottom of the food chain).

My parents became home-owners in Harlem, then sold that house and escaped as soon as possible (to "Kansas City, North").

Isn't it strange that I can have so many good memories of such an impoverished place?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I'm out of my element

I'm messing with family trees now, which can be pretty dangerous:  I am hopeful of doing a family tree for my husband, as well as getting my own family tree done.  On my mother's side, my cousin Pauline has done an excellent job of investigating and has us going far, far back.  Thanks to WikiTree, I've found more information about my father's geneology than I've had before.  

I know Cliff's mother's line (Silvey) goes back a long way, thanks to the fact I once saw a huge chart at a reunion in the Ozarks once.  The Silvey tree goes back to Charlemagne.  That impressed me greatly at the time, and I announced, "Hey, look at that!  Charlemagne is on there!" 

Whereupon a distant relative made a racist comment insinuating ole Charlemagne might have been from Africa.  But I digress.

I somehow have created a daughter that never existed, and here's what happened:  I listed my daughter on my family tree, then also added her to my husband's family tree.  Suddenly I had two daughters named Rachel, born on the same day.  There is a merge feature, and I will eventually find out how to use it.

The reason I've never tried to do all this stuff is because it takes time to learn things, and I never want to take the time.  I was very happy to see a lot of relatives added to my dad's family tree immediately, simply because a second cousin has done one.  That is encouraging.  

Cliff doesn't get it.  He doesn't understand why anybody cares about the people who "made" us.  I had to force him to do his DNA, and he still doesn't understand why I'm so fascinated with it.  He has many, many second cousins and beyond that have shown up on 23 and Me.  

I did my DNA with Ancestry.com.  We are both about as white as people can be.  All these years I wanted to think I got my curly hair from Africa.

Here's what my DNA says about me:



Here's Cliff:


Wish me luck, and let's hope I get rid of my daughter's non-existent twin before long.