Saturday, October 31, 2009


I don’t play any musical instruments and I can’t carry a tune in a
gedcom file. When I lamented on Facebook about the fact that I
had no post for the next Carnival of Genealogy, some of my geneablogger
friends suggested I post about the “49 Genealogical Uses for a Flutaphone.”

This series started as a humorous challenge from Janice Brown of
“Cow Hampshire.” She posted her dream genealogy blog complete with
sessions hosted by her fellow geneabloggers on topics she assigned. We in
turn were supposed to post something for those “sessions” on our own blogs.

Finding 49 Genealogical Uses for a Flutaphones is not an easy assignment and as
you can see I got off to a way off topic start. But eventually, with the help of
Janice, Apple, Terry Thornton, and Schelly Talalay Dardashti, I completed the list
six months later. In fact, you’ll notice it’s actually fifty uses, since there’s two #29’s!

So here it is, for the first time, the collected, complete 49 Genealogical Uses for a

Hmm. They may take votes away from me on the FamilyTree magazine Top 40
Genealogy Blogs poll for subjecting the genealogy community to this once again!

1. Doorstop- It’s more humane than using dead cats
or dead Wesley Crushers. And it smells better.

2. Windchimes

3. A Habitat trail for Earthworms-All those finger holes.
“The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out…”

4. Tank decoration for guppies- All those finger holes.
“ The fish swim in, the fish swim out…”

5. A defensive weapon-For when that librarian finally
snaps when you ask her to find another dusty volume in
the stacks. Mouthpieces on flutaphones are pointy!!!

6. A diversion: used to exit an overly proprietary historical
society. Make some noise behind the bookshelf with it, and
while the volunteer is investigating the noise, grab your
first born child (the one being held hostage to make sure
you don't steal anything) and run like hell. (Janice)

7. Learn a snake charmers tune and play it when you need
to hypnotize a records clerk to get them to check the books
one more time for that record you KNOW is there.

8. A pry-bar, to break into old file drawers that have been
holding your genealogical notes from 20 years ago. You've
moved a few times, and lost the key. (Janice)

9. Flower holder- for when you visit the ancestral grave.
Stick sharp pointy mouthpiece into the ground and your
flowers into the other end of the flutaphone.

10. Bookmark-When you have to leave your chair for a
moment to ask the librarian to find you another genealogy
book in the stacks use the flutaphone to mark your place.

11. Bookfetcher- That particular tome on a shelf you can’t
quite reach? Using the pointy mouthpiece end, gently rock
the book loose and down.

12. Bookcatcher- See above. Quickly reverse the
flutaphone to catch the falling book on the wide-ended
mouth. If the librarian notices, tell her you are practicing
balancing the books.

13. Eartrumpet- For when a librarian starts yelling. Insert
narrow end in ear after REMOVING the pointy mouthpiece.
Remember, catch any books before they hit the floor if you
were performing uses numbers 11 and/or 12 when the
librarian started yelling. Turn wide end towards librarian
and say “Eh?”

14.backpatter - to pat your own back when you have
solved a particularly difficult family genealogical mystery.
Caution: do not run while performing this action, or you
may put your eye out. (Janice)

15. Temporary flag pole- Tape a Ppatriots napkin
(preferably one with a Patriots logo). Wave wildly when
the Patriots score. (Janice)

16. Distress Signal- IF you become lost in the stacks of a
major genealogical library, DO NOT PANIC! Use your
flutaphone to summon help by blowing as hard as you can
on through the mouthpiece. A series of the highest and
most shrill notes will be most efficacious and a friendly
librarian will arrive to escort you safely back to your chair.

17. Car Buddy-it easily slips over your car antenna (you ARE
still driving the vehicle you bought in 1960 right?) and helps
you to locate your vintage auto in the research library parking lot
(when you leave the library all bleary-eyed). (Janice)

18. Hidden Message DeCoder- It is a long held deep dark
secret that when a flutaphone is held lengthwise under a
bright light over a line of text that certain words in the text
are illuminated to reveal hidden messages only you can see.
It is recommended you only employ this method when there
is no one else present nearby who might steal the secret
message. Send the librarian back into the stacks first for
another obscure text to ensure they will not see you!

19. Treasure Finder- Another little known fact is that when
a flutaphone is held in a certain way outside on a bright
sunshiny day while the holder nonchalantly hums “I Can
See Clearly Now” the reflection of the flutaphone will
reveal the spot where buried treasure is hidden. There have
been recent reports of genealogy bloggers wandering about
Northern New England employing this technique while
searching for the legendary Money Pit. No one had found it
yet but there have been complaints from angry hunters who
claim “the damn humming scared all the deer away!”

20.Social Icebreaker- Use your flutaphone to socially break
the ice on your first Genealogy Cruise. Amaze and delight
your fellow genealogists with your musical prowess and
your unique knowledge of the more arcane uses of the
legendary musical instrument.

21. Nautical Distress Signal- If you should be accidentally
bumped overboard from the Genealogy Cruise ship or
set adrift in a lifeboat during the lifeboat drill. Keep the
flutaphone dry and periodically blow a series of high shrill
notes to help rescuers locate you.

22. Dolphin Repeller- To ward off overly friendly dolphins
who mistake your distress signal for the an invitation
to socialize

23. Icebreaker- Use the sharp flutaphone mouthpiece to chip
away at the ice forming around your lifeboat. Reciting your pedigree
while chipping might make the time go faster.

24.Paddle- Use the flutaphone to help propel your lifeboat after the
Genealogy Cruise ship. Note- If you were accidentally bumped overboard
forget paddling. Grasp the flutaphone firmly in your teeth so you don’t
lose it and swim after the ship instead!

25. Safety Device- Once you’ve been rescued, use the flutaphone to ensure
you remain safely aboard afterward by keeping your fellow genealogists
at least one flutaphone length away from you on deck. Hold the sharp
mouthpiece end outwards towards them at all times!

26 Snake charmer - play it when you see scary snakes in the cemetery,
where you happen to be browsing for your ancestor's stones. Heck,
it works in the movies! (Janice)

27. Measuring instrument- To measure the amount of snowfall
when you visit the grave of 3x great uncle Oswald, as in,

"I had difficulty in finding Oswald's headstone as the grave was
buried in snow over two flutaphones deep!"

28. Measuring instrument(summer)- in genealogy cemetery searches
during the summer: Just how long was that snake among the
headstones? How many flutaphones long? (Terry)

#29 Baton- What could be more appropriate to use when you're
leading the Genealogist’s Parade in the immortal musical
“The Genealogy Man?”

29 Decoration- as a holder for broccoli sprouts on
Schelly’s float in the Genealogists Parade. (Schelly)

30 Prybar- To help remove your backside from the chair
you’ve been sitting in for hours as you stare at the screen of
the computer tracking an elusive ancestor.

#31 Physical therapy- When your hands and wrists begin to
ache from hours of typing, do the following exercise: hold the
flutaphone with both hands at either end and extend your
arms straight out, hands palm side down and flex your wrists
downward. after three repetitions, turn your hands palms
side up and still grasping the flutaphone, flex your wrists
back towards your chest. Repeat three times Then still
grasping the flutaphone bend your arms up and down over
head and then thrust them out and in vigorously in front of
MONITOR!!) Not only is this therapeutic but it is good
practice for...

#32 Stage Prop -in a “Syncopated Genealogist” dance
routine for Talent Night on your next genealogy cruise.
Combine the moves from the physical therapy exercise with a
nifty soft shoe dance!(see Janice, our Music Director for more

#33 Genealogy CD holder- Crazy glue a flutaphone firmly
to the top of your computer desk (vertically so the mouth
piece is at the top). The open center of your genealogy CDs
should fit over the mouthpiece, with some room to spare).

34. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
-to the song “15 Miles on the Erie canal” on Apple’s float.

35. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
- to the song “Amazing Grace” on Becky’s kinnexions float.

36. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Musical Accompaniment
-to the polka dancers on Jasia’s Polish American float.

37. Genealogists’ Parade Prop-Agricultural- A corn stalk
whacker on Randy’s Genea-Musings flat.

38. Moose Defense- As the snow melts and old cemeteries
in more remote northern regions become accessible, use
caution when approaching those sites that might be in areas
where brush and trees are thick. Give several loud notes on
your flutaphone to warn off any mooses (or its that meece?)
in the area of your approach and hopefully you will scare
them away. If on the other hand you see a large moose
approaching with an amorous glint in its eye, use a different
sequence of notes. Quickly. If that fails, run.

39. Goose Defense- Use the flutaphone to ward off flocks of
Canadian geese that might be attracted by your attempts at
warding off the moose.

40. Bear Defense- If as you retreat from the cemetery
back to the safety of your car you should encounter a black
bear, try using the pointed mouthpiece end of your flutaphone
to tickle the bear while saying “kitchy kitch koo.” Then run.
(Warning: Should this be successful, remember to thoroughly
wash the mouthpiece before playing the flutaphone again. You
don’t know what sort of germs may lurk in a bear’s armpit.)

41. Surrender Flag- If there are hunters in the vicinity who
mistake your flutaphone notes for the mating calls of Canadian
geese and they start shooting in your direction, quickly tie
some length of cloth to the end of your flutaphone and wave
the flag vigorously while screaming: “I am a human being!
I am NOT a goose!” (Warning: Do not do this if you are
already being chased by an amorous moose and a non-ticklish
bear. In that instance, the smart thing to do is to just keep

42. Genealogy Record Retrieval- When you are certain that
the moose, bear, geese and hunters are gone, return to the
cemetery and use the pointed end of the flutaphone to
hygienically pick up whatever is left of the paperwork you
might have dropped and upon which the moose, bear,
geese, and hunters might have left signs of their extreme
displeasure in the encounter.

43.Unit of Measurement- Use your flutaphone to measure the
depth of the water in your basement caused by the Rain
Storms of `08. Confound future generations of family
historians by writing an entry in your daily journal:

"The neighborhood flooded and there was water 8
flutaphones deep downstairs.”

45. Family Reunion Picnic Bug Repellent- Use
flutaphones as citronella candle holders. Stick the sharp
end in the ground and balance the candles on the wide
mouth end.

46. Family Reunion Game Part Replacement- If for
some reason the goalstick thingy from the croquet set
should be missing, the flutaphone can be used as a
substitute! Again, sharp end into the ground!

47. Family Reunion Etiquette Instruction Device-
When two or more of your younger relatives reach for
the last piece of cornbread for themselves, rap their
wrists gently and firmly while commenting on the lack of
manners in their generation. Then, reverse the flutaphone
for the next step…

48. Family Reunion Food Fetcher- Use the flutaphone
to pull the plate with the last piece of cornbread closer to
you. If someone else tries to take the last piece, spear it
with the mouthpiece.(NOTE-Be sure you have cleaned
off the mouthpiece end if you have used it as a citronella
candle holder or as part of the croquet game.))


49. Family Reunion Picnic Fanfare Instrument-to
announce the end of the picnic, and to let everyone know
that you have at last finished the list of 49 Genealogical
Uses for a Flutaphone!!

((revised for the 83rd Carnival of Genealogy))


Lori Thornton said...

I was hoping you'd resurrect the flutaphone for this!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Number 50, er, make that 51 tomorrow. LOL Good times. When did we stop having fun once in awhile? Or is it just me?

Bill West said...

Thanks Lori!

Bill West said...

Part of it might be because Janice
left blogging. She and Terry Thornton helped keep a bit of silliness going in the genablogging

Glad I made you laugh with this.


Karen Packard Rhodes said...

Regarding #19: It is not generally known that Ponce de Leon actually FOUND the Fountain of Youth, using this very technique. I discovered this fact in a heretofore untranscribed and untranslated document at the General Archive of the Indies in Seville in 2007, using the technique in #18.

(snicker . . . giggle . . . guffaw)

Thanks for the laughs. Particularly the reference to "dead Wesley Crushers." My friend Barbara will enjoy that one!

Bill West said...

LOL! Ponce had a flutaphone?

Who knew?

Thanks for the comment.Glad you enjoyed this!


Bill West said...

LOL! Ponce had a flutaphone?

Who knew?

Thanks for the comment.Glad you enjoyed this!


Alice Keesey Mecoy said...

Thanks for the laughs. I love the image of the dead Wesley Crusher as a doorstop. (okay I admit that I am a Trekkie)

Tracy said...

Oh this was hysterical. I remember my own ill-fated flutophone experience many moons ago, but I certainly didn't find this much amusement with it!