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?