Watering my Roots

I caught the genealogy bug early.

As a child, I delighted kinfolk with my ability to reel off — in animated and rhyming fashion — the names of every one of my grandmas’s siblings, all 13 of them.

I still pay attention to my roots.

I’m Welsh on my father’s side, whose kin is related to Daniel Boone and can be traced in this country to the Morgan Log House in Pennsylvania. My mom’s family hails from the Land Between The Lakes in Kentucky.

No wonder I love basketball.

My maternal great-grandmother, a Fulks, was related to “Jumpin’ Joe Fulks, a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

A Marine who served in the South Pacific during World War II, Fulks went on to become a three-time All-NBA first-teamer. He 1949, he scored 63 points, almost as much as teams averaged before the advent of the 24-second clock.

Every time I return home, I learn something new about my family history.

In August, my mother and I had to make a round trip to St. Louis. So I turned off the radio and picked her brain about great-aunts, great-uncles and her hardscrabble childhood during the Depression.

The stories I could only start, she finished.

“Ask me anything you want,” she said.

So for the better part of four hours, pages of anecdotes passed from a mother’s mouth to a son’s ears.

Oral history not only is important, it is necessary. Next time you head home, disconnect from the Web, pull up a chair next to a family member with wrinkles.

And listen. You, your children and your grandchildren will be glad you did.


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