Sam Bass Wanted PosterjpgIf there’s a holiday that cries out “be careful what you wish for,” it is


Sure, we all tell ourselves we’re going to look up the old family tree, see what illustrious ancestors we have, but never seem to get around to it.

These days, however, we’re all hooked into the World Wide Web, and there’s no shortage of websites offering to trace back your genealogy to the year of the flood.

Visions of exotic Potentates and dashing Viscounts filling your family tree come to mind, or we’re thinking great explorers and cunning artisans are surely the stuff from which we spring, no? What joy it will be to review our glorious family histories!

Then comes reality, and that great-great-great grandfather who was hung as a pig thief, or your maternal great-great grandmother who was a grand success. Running a brothel in Marseille, with a different father for each of her 6 children. Then there’s distant cousin Jacob who led a wagon train West and wound up in Vermont, and his brother Lefty, the mediocre lion tamer. Not the loftiest branches on the family tree.

The fruit of your family tree reveals no shortage of scoundrels and borderline psychopaths, and you’re more likely to find peasants, fishmongers and victims of The Black Plague than Knights in Shining Armor and Enchanted Princesses.

To save yourself time, money and disappointment, just take a long hard look at the crazy, combative extended family you have now, and picture more of the same, only with chopping wood, drawing water from a well and dying young from consumption adding to the aggravation. Turns out we’re not aristocrats caught in temporary dire financial straits, so let our ancient jesters, dunces and knaves rest in peace, and deal with the ones that surround us now.

•Suggested Activities: Leaving well enough alone.

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