Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Choosing who to invite to dinner was the hardest part, well,
at least on my father’s side of my family. My mother’s side
was easier:I invited my two great grandfathers John
McFarland and Edward J.White. I wasn’t too sure how
friendly they might be with each other but I needed to speak
with both of them about their families’ histories in Ireland.
Great Grandfather White might also be able to provide me
with information on his wife’s German family as well, so
inviting the two of them was a no-brainer.

Dad’s side had some tempting choices: witches, Minutemen,
Puritans and Pilgrims, even that possible Plantagenet
connection. So many temptations for someone with a love of
history! But in the end I settled on two logical choices: John
Cutter West and his wife Arvilla Ames West. I could find out
who his parents were and perhaps more family history, while
Arvilla had lived for 97 years and would have to know a lot of
anecdotes about the family. Besides, having a woman present
might help keep the two Irishmen on their best behavior
when I broughtup the subject of the end of their children’s

Next, the menu.

I don’t cook much myself so I hired a caterer who’d delivered
the food a short while ago. Reasoning that it was best to keep
it simple, I settled on steak, potatoes and various side dishes
of vegetables for the main meal. But there is also a small
buffet table with some dishes that might seem exotic: a
Chinese food pu-pu platter, spaghetti, and other ethnic food.
There is also a Ham and Pineapple pizza. Why? Because I
like any excuse to eat Ham and Pineapple pizza. Also, French
fries. I figured if there was one thing two Irishmen and
two people from Maine would had to have in common, it was
potatoes and they might enjoy a differnt way to eat them.

The beverages are red wine to accompany the meal, coffee,
tea, and beer. If Arvilla is anti-alcohol there are bottles of
lemonade in the refrigerator. No need for her to know it is
hard lemonade. Who knows? She might like it.

With the food all set, there's time before their arrival to run
down the list of things I want to ask them about besides
family history. My ancestors might notice that they have
much in common there, too.What was it like for them to
leave the places they were born to start new lives in a new
place? What had their childhood been like? What was it like
for Edward’s and John’s parents to live through the Great
Potato Famine and for John and Arvilla to live through the
epidemic that had claimed many of their children? What was
life like on a Maine farm and in a bustling city in the 19th
century? What had they thought about the great world
events of their times?

If they could, would they change anything in their lives?

After that, I’ll show them some of the things in my apartment.
The telephone and electricity would be familiar to my Irish
relatives and perhaps explaining the tv and radio might be
easier if they have seen some silent movies. Arvilla might also
have had some experience with them and could help explain
them to her husband.

Then I’ll show them my bookshelves and tell about my job at
the bookstore. I’ll talk about my brother and sister and their
families and answer any questions my ancestors might have
on their own children.

I expect the awkward part between my great grandfathers
White and McFarland might occur about then so I plan to
move them along out to the car to drive them over to my
sister’s house to meet Cheryl, Peter, Phil and the kids.

Along the way we’ll stop at the Dairy Queen drive-up window
and I’ll see what astonishes them more: banana splits or girls
in halter-tops and shorts.

Alright. It’s nearly time. I hope that man with the Acme
Temporal Transportation knows where….and when he’s

Ah wait! Here they come now!

((written for the 41st Carnival of Genealogy))


Jasia said...

Oh I so enjoyed your post Bill! What a kind and thoughtful host you are to take them to the Dairy Queen.

"Along the way we’ll stop at the Dairy Queen drive-up window
and I’ll see what astonishes them more: banana splits or girls
in halter-tops and shorts."

LOL!!! It is a very interesting thought, isn't it?

Colleen said...

Fun post! Having two guests that may end up at odds adds a bit of suspense to the story!

Jewelgirl said...

I am sure it would be the girls
in halter tops and shorts since
in their day the women were covered
up,or possibly the banana itself,
when did we start importing bananas?