Buy props used in MaryJane’s books and magazine!
All proceeds (minus shipping and packing) will benefit www.firstbook.org, a non-profit that provides new books to children from low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 5,892 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,416 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ
Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …
For this week’s Each Other/Know Your Roots Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I combed the National Archives, Ancestry.com, my local library, and the depths of my Grandma Barbie’s brain for some interesting and little-known facts/anecdotes/stories about me and mine. It turns out (as projects like this tend to do, my chickadees) that what I didn’t know about me could fill a book.
Strange, no? You’d think I’d be an expert on my family’s history, but it seems I paid about as much attention during holiday dinners reminiscing as I did in Mr. Potter’s fifth-grade history class. So basically, I know my own birthday and the year the Civil War started. I think. (Don’t quiz me. I get all twitchy and clammy when there’s a test coming.)
Finding your roots these days isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Thanks to the ol’ worldwide web thingamabobby, you can get started with something as simple as your mother’s maiden name and birth date, and lo and behold, all sorts of data will practically fall into your lap(top). And once you start? Well, it’s like homemade, organic, sea-salted kettle chips, ladies. It’s hard to stop at just one.
First of all, I opened up my grandma’s box of scrapbooks. Grandma Barbie is a hoarder collector of the finest degree. She saves everything from carefully folded tissue paper to twist ties to greeting cards to wedding invites to baby announcements to high-school-graduation programs to … well, you name it, she has it pasted into a scrapbook somewhere. And then she puts that scrapbook into a box. And then she mails me that box.
Anyway, I figured there was more info there I could possibly need for one little ol’ merit badge, and I was correct. I decided to get her on the phone and see if she could possibly whittle down some of our basic family history into something more condensed.
Say, like Tolstoy lengths.
What follows is a transcription of our conversation. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Me: “Grammy! It’s me, your favorite granddaughter in all the land!”
Me: “Haha, Grandma.”
Me: “Very funny. It’s me, Jane.”
G.B.: “Oh, I know, honey, I just like pulling your leg. You’ve always been so flexible and bendy.”
Me: “Yes, well, I get it from you. Now, I was going through some old eh, priceless family heirlooms, and had some questions about my family tree. Are you ready?”
Me: silence. “Pardon me?”
G.B.: “Shoot! Fire away! Proceed!”
Me, thinking the old-time expressions to be very odd indeed, hurried forward (Isn’t there a badge for learning another language? Does grandparent-speak count as an ancient language?): “Well, I was wondering about this Blaine fellow, first off.”
I hear Grandma coughing suddenly on the other end. “What’s that? I can’t hear you, sweetie! I think we have a bad connection!”
Me, suspiciously: “The connection is fine, Grammy. Now, as I was saying. I found these very interesting love letters to you, postmarked from Australia …”
Garbled, incoherent noises fill my ear, and also what sounds like a really bad imitation of static sounds. Then … click!
What in the name of torrid Australian love affairs have I stumbled upon?
A couple of years ago, I told you about a man who casts bottled messages off the coast of Canada, just to see who might write back.
If that story set your imagination bobbing dreamily out onto the open sea, then listen to this:
Last month, fishermen in the Baltic Sea hauled in their catch and discovered what may be the oldest message in a bottle ever recorded.
The message within was scrawled on a postcard dated May 17, 1913, and signed by a man named Richard Platz. His note asked the bottle’s recipient to forward his message to his own address in Berlin, reported the German online news source The Local.
Sounds like he just wanted to see if it might ever make its way back to him, don’t you think?
Instead of reaching Platz, though, the bottle ended up at the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg. Researchers managed to track down Platz’s granddaughter, 62-year-old Angela Erdmann, who lives in Berlin. Erdmann said she never knew her mother’s father, who reportedly died in 1946 when he was 54 years old, but upon hearing the news of his bottled message, she visited the museum to see it for herself.
“That was a pretty moving moment,” she told German news agency DPA. “Tears rolled down my cheeks.”
With May Day hovering on the horizon, I thought of a fun little geography quiz: Map the Maypole!
Just in case you’re not familiar, maypoles are decorative wooden poles that have stood at the center of European May Day festivities throughout the ages. It’s no surprise that the traditions of twirling ribbons and dancing ’round the pole have spread across the globe, but can you guess where in the world the following maypoles are located?
I’ll give you the answers at the end, so don’t peek!
A. A rainbow of ribbons …
B. Red, white, and blue? Might surprise you …
C. Those sure are tropical looking leaves …
D. Skirts and ribbons swirl …
E. Renaissance garb and … a plastic coffee mug?
F. And, perhaps, my favorite of all …
A. Los Angeles, California
B. Offenham, England
C. Victoria, Australia
D. Salisbury, England
E. Tuxedo Park, New York
F. Dalarna, Sweden
Interesting facts about George are as follows, in no particular order other than their fascinating-ness:
And you are welcome for getting some fabulous melodies stuck in your noggin!
What a couple of amazing guys, huh? Makes me want to brush off the ol’ musical instrument and get to making some sweeeeet music … or is that the Expert Level Badge? I hear it calling me: it sounds like a banjo playing Lady Be Good.
I’ve always wanted a theme song.
Arriving 12 days early, Beaumont showed up around 1:00 a.m. last Wednesday morning, born only a few minutes before I arrived for my nightly check. With a heart as big as a wash tub, no, his forehead, he came into the world looking for a heartfelt home.
This was Miss Daisy’s first calf.