Given that I was infected with the genealogy bug at a very young age, I tended to look at scenes around me with a different perspective than the friends of my youth. Baseball, football and tennis were fun but they weren’t my passion. Dusty, musty old documents and photos were at the top of my list.
Even though I got "A’s" in math, science, astronomy and gym, history was where my heart lived. At age 5, I knew the capitals of all U.S. states which was useful to impress my teacher but the reason I memorized them was because they contained the libraries that had the records I knew I’d need to find my ancestors.
What a warped perspective from a youth! How do you tell your friends, that you’d rather read an old document than watch the Yankees win another pennant? In my case, you didn’t. You just feigned interest in their world of sports hero’s and championship games.
Imagine the thoughts that ran through the mind of my then girl friend, now wife, when I suggested we drive to the ghost town in Mammoth, Utah for a Saturday date. "Ok." "What are we going to do there?" "Well, I have a couple of garden trowels and a screening box and thought we could dig through the old city dump."
The visual inspection of my face and posture was intense. I watched a range of thoughts move across her face as she evaluated her relationship with ‘this nut’.
The answer was, "Let’s Do It!" and our relationship only grew in strength from that point on. Fortunately, she’d been somewhat infected with the genealogy bug early in her life too, so even though my infection was much worse than hers, she was able to recognize the symptoms of my illness and accept the tacit implications for our future life together.
My grandparents, father and aunts lived in Mammoth for a time in the second decade of 1900. Grandpa hauled ore, food and fuel in the mining communities of Mammoth, Silver City and Eureka.
I hoped to find a few items from that period of time in the dump. The old square bottles, some of them purple from years in the sun, were prized finds for both of us. The board with the surprisingly almost rust-free square nails tickled me. We didn’t expect to find any soft items like paper or even thin wood, but hoped to find a few items like china shards and possibly rusty tools.
We found broken plates, a few included the manufactures stamp but most were just pieces. One or two had beautiful examples of blue designs but these were the dishes of hard rock mining families, they didn’t have money to buy fancy designs, so plain white ruled the day.
I didn’t know the location of my grandparents house. It wouldn’t have mattered as 99.9% of the homes of that day were gone anyway. We settled for photos of the area, an old rail spike and really dirty clothes.
The biggest reward from the day was that I knew this girl was mine. Any woman willing to dig through a dump as a date activity had to be the one or close to it. The fact that she was beautiful and understood my need to search for the dusty and musty and even supported it sealed the deal. What wasn’t to love?
How about it? To the hard cores out there like me. Did you find the ‘one’ that supports your slightly strange genealogical addiction? Did and do they put up with your need to spend vacation time walking through cemeteries and digging through old records books in the basements of florescent lit, tile-walled repositories? Do they understand that you really do loose all track of time when you find genealogy gold in online documents and that the new day sun is the only thing that tipped you off to having missed a night of sleep?
Yeah. I know you are out there. We’ve passed each other in the halls, in cemeteries and in genealogy social groups online.
What a bunch of genealogy nerds. Ain’t it great?