Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Downton Abby -...yeah, doubt that's in my past.........

When I was a young girl, my mother and her siblings shared fascinating stories about my grandfather.
You know how it goes:  When families tell stories and shared histories of their ancestors, unless you've done a thorough geneology search, the (lack-of) fact-checking, fiction, lore and fairy tales, can all run together.
And if your family wasn't one of those that kept every letter, every yellowed photo, (you know) the painstakingly embroidered Family Tree, (much less an ancient Bible with the 'Tree' carefully preserved between the onion skin pages), it's even more difficult to sort through what's real and what is a patina'd embellishment of the past.
Truth is a whole other subject for a blog.  Especially the "truth" as seen through the eyes of each family member. Because, as we all know, one sibling's reality is an entirely different one from the other(s) in a family.
Thus, at a dinner table, ritual story telling of family history helps us travel back in time, tracing a connection with generations before us.  Sitting and listening with the others, each one casts an imaginable crew of family members we would hardly recognize today.
Finding Our Roots, a PBS series that runs Sunday nights, introduces us to a man so curious about his family's origins, that he turned his passion into series for television. On this weekly show,
 Henry Louis Gates invites 3 guests to have their geneology traced as far back as possible.  Using sophisticated technology experts, and the top geneology hounds in the country at his disposal, the program dissects the remarkable family trees of his guests.
Starting with the "paper trail" which eventually dead ends, he then turns to experts in genetic testing to locate their ancestors.
What I would give for a paper trail of my own history.  From what I've learned, the story of my mother's family begins in Lyme Regis, identified as the Pearl of Dorset, England. A World Heritage Site, Lyme Regis is the center of the Jurassic Coast, renowned for it's fossil collections.
Think Jane Austin where her novel Persuasion takes place, or John Fowle's The French Lieutenant's Wife and Lyme Regis' most famous literary location; The Cobb..
It's the setting for my family, the Emery Family, a boy named William is born in 1890...nearing the end of the Victorian era.  The new century dawns the Edwardian Period.  The rise of the middle class begins to creep into and dislodge the fragile and embedded lines drawn between of the classes.
So How do I get to my Blog Title....?
Downton Abby is a story about a family in the context of history -- earrily during the timeframe of the stories in my family's past.  Do I hear ghosts when I watch it?  Maybe....Haven't we all had some type experience like that when something feels familiar.
In tomorrow's blog.... my messy journey to retrace the origins of my own Family Tree.

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