Family history makeover

Welcome aboard the good ship Rock-and-Rye,* where I plan to refresh our family history archives. The current pages in Mad in Pursuit need revision — for easier mobile access, more conversation, and better searchability. I hope this “content management” platform will do the trick. So here we go…

Why “Old Green River”?

I like the river metaphor. A tree works well in laying out the descendants of a particular couple. But if you are puzzling about your origins, you have to explore all the riverine tributaries that flow into your life. While you may be searching for specific genetic links, you are actually entering a vast ecosystem where the meaning of “family” expands to community and culture. Your internal “river” carries it all — all the nutrients and all the trash.

I like rivers. They are powerful shapers of lives. My ancestors chose to settle along rivers — the Mississippi and the Meramec. In my mom’s family, “going out to the river” meant weekends at Castlewood, a place with its own lore.

And my Dad — well, he sang us to sleep with his Irish ditties and our favorite was “Old Green River,” if only because it involved making the sound of a cork being popped from a bottle. The song wasn’t Irish, it turned out, but was written by a New York vaudeville comedian. But that’s part of the magic, isn’t it? Our DNA gives us some precise math about our biology, but our families give us the world.

*from the song “Old Green River”