Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ancestry: My Murder and Bootlegging Legacy

It's the latest trend; you can tell by how many celebrities are lining up to do it. Droves of people are peering into their ancestry, clawing in the dirt to dig up their roots and embracing who they are within the context of their own personal history.

People clamoring to see where they came from has become so popular that there's actually more than one television show about it. Famous people follow their stories as far back as they can, proud to have come from royalty or patriots, identifying personality traits literally running through their veins.

 But mucking in that dirt is a bit like a gambling trip to Vegas. A big old crap shoot. Before you bumble into the ancestor casino, you may just want to be absolutely sure: do you really want to know who you are? Because while some of us are reveling in connecting with our ancestors, there are others who have succeeded in exposing our families' big, hairy backsides. Kind of like what happened to Ben Affleck. Jumping on the discovering-your-ancestry-on-tv bandwagon, he went off, cameras in tow, to ultimately find out that his ancestors owned slaves.

He wanted the show edited.

Edited? Our histories? We can do that? Let me know how because here I sit, trying to figure out how I rolled those dice and ended up with these snake eyes from my family tree: murder, bootlegging and marrying a brother-in-law.

For me, it all starts with Bobe. Bobe, what I called my great grandmother, had her some balls. She said whatever, whenever. That woman was footloose and filter free. I remember a time - and she was in her 90s at this point - when she was at my aunt's house, over an hour from where I lived. Many family members were there to spend the day with her and since I was at a boyfriend's house nearby, we decided to stop by for a short visit.

Bobe had to be painstakingly prepared. Meaning begged, cajoled and threatened not to say anything that would embarrass me in front of Jon. The relationship was new and we were still in the hiding-the-crazy phase.

Simple Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting: A one bowl quick bread perfect for breakfast with or without the frosting. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #breakfast

Simple Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

We all sat down around the table when, without so much as a slice of Carrot Bread or a civil pleasantry, Bobe looked at Jon and said "so when's the wedding?" All the way around the table eyes rolled. You could hear it. Well, not all the way around the table. I'm pretty sure the guy sitting next to me peed his pants.

That's OK, who needs a guy that your great grandmother can intimidate anyway?

At about this time, two of my distant cousins decided to put together an extensive family history. No disrespect, but the end result was a thick tome filled with 70 bajillion names that meant absolutely nothing to me. But they did something else that did have enormous meaning. They sat Bobe down in front of a tape recorder and said "Talk. Start as far back as you can remember and tell family stories. And out of the backsides of my ancestors came real nuggets of gold.

Bobe remembered the pogroms in Russia. She spoke of her father, his first wife and children. When that wife died the obligation fell to the wife's sister to marry the husband and raise the children. Gives me the heeby jeebies, but this was how it was done back then. And if Bobe's mother hadn't married her dead sister's husband, I would not be here. Not really something I'll have embroidered onto a pillow, but true.

She spoke of one of her brothers being accused of murder. I think it was after a bar fight, but you didn't hear that part from me. He ended up fleeing the country and little by little, as they could, the rest of the family joined him. Murder isn't really what I had in mind for the legacy of my ancestors, but it's how we all ended up in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Well, the brave and those running from murder charges, apparently.

Ancestry: My Murder and Bootlegging Legacy | www.BakingInATornado.com | #humor #family #MyGraphics

There were stories as well about being immigrants in this country. She married and had 5 children but making ends meet was difficult. Bobe and her husband had a small store but she decided to supplement their income. This was during the time of prohibition and she knew just what to do. I mean, it's logical, right? Give the people what they want.

Bobe built a still and made booze in her bathtub, of course.

She did well too. Until the day she came home and found my grandmother and her twin sister biting their nails and peeing their pants. The police had stopped by and would be back the next day to talk with Bobe and search the house.

Not willing to give up another country because of running from the law, Bobe got to work. She broke down the still and put the pieces into a baby carriage. Head held high she walked that baby right down Main Street, then a little more furtively through back alleys to a place she could safely dispose of it. Bobe didn't just have balls, she had big brass balls.

So there they are: my roots. Slightly twisted but they run deep. now it's up to me to carry on the traits that have made this family what it is today. I don't know about running from a murder charge, but I have teenagers so I won't rule it out. A still in the bathtub? Now that intrigues me. But I think I'll start small. The next time one of my boys brings a new girlfriend home, I promise you Bobe, she is SO gonna wish she had worn a diaper.

Genealogical Responsibilities:

? Run from a Murder Charge
? Bootleg some kick-ass hooch
X Marry a brother-in-law

Embarrass the crap out of a guest

I'm one for four. It's a start. Think I'll work on that bootleg thing.

Note: This post was originally published on BLUNTmoms as Ancestry: Do You Really Want to Know Who You Are? on 4/28/15.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Simple Carrot Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Opt: 1 TBSP milk

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan.
*Cream the butter,  sugar, brown sugar, eggs and 1/2 tsp vanilla. 
*Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, 1 tsp cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, then beat for one minute. Mix in the grated carrots.
*Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the center springs back to the touch.
*Cool in the pan for ten minutes, then run a knife along the edge and remove. Cool completely before frosting.
*Cream the cream cheese and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Slowly and carefully beat in the powdered sugar. If the frosting is too thick, beat in the milk, a little at a time until it's of spreading consistency. Spread onto the top and sides of carrot bread.
*Store in refrigerator. Bring to room temp for serving.


  1. It is really a very interesting post!! Loved reading it :)

  2. Your Bobe lived life large! I love a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. It is one of my favorites. I grew carrots in the garden one year and made carrot cake cupcakes and froze them. It was wonderful to just take them out and whip up some cream cheese frosting!

    1. Those cupcakes sound like the perfect thing to have in the freezer, great for when a friend comes by for coffee.

  3. I love carrot cake and ancestry, win-win! I have dragged my husband around the U.S digging up my ancestry for the past ten years, I couldn't imagine doing it with a camera in-tow though.

    1. As much as I love watching those shows, I couldn't be on them either. You have no control over what gets dug up.

  4. I LOVE THIS!!! Best post ever! (And that record didn't need breaking!) I, too have ancesters. Horse thieves, murderers, Pirates. And I'm proud of every one!!! 😜

    1. Looking into your ancestry can be part fun and part terrifying. I'd love to hear more about yours.

  5. I found some doozies in mine too, but nothing like Bobe I'd love to hear her stories!

    1. There's something pretty amazing about hearing those stories in her own words.

  6. I think I would have loved Bobe. She sounds like a hoot and yes she had some big balls. Good for her! And the Carrot Bread sounds wonderful

  7. Oh my - LOVE this! The description of fearless and filter-free was great. What a wonderful woman who lived through so much. My maternal grandparents have stories of letting hobo's stay on their farm or stop by for a small bite to eat in the 1920's. Apparently some gypsies came through and stayed on their land year after year as well. I regret not having my both of my grandpas record their stories. There are some doozies that my parents re-tell.

    On another note, I tagged you in a 3 Day Quote Challenge. See my post for details – it’s easy and fun to participate if you'd like. If it's not your thing, no worries! See ya around the blogosphere. https://gomamao.com/2016/06/01/3-day-quote-challenge-day-2-the-little-things/

    1. You should get those stories that your parents re-tell recorded in some way before it gets lost.

      And I saw your post, thank you so much for thinking of me!

  8. Funny - I realized that I read this post before! I still enjoyed re-reading it the second time. Cheers, my friend!


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