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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Family Secrets - Teacher Jail

Family Secrets- Teacher Jail

In September of 2003 I wrote an article for the Independence Examiner that got be in all sorts of trouble.  It was a humorous article, or so I thought, of what lengths teacher's would go through or thought about going through to be able to drink alcohol in "dry" Eskimo Villages (see blog November 2010.)  My intent was to make fun of us, the teachers, and not them, the Eskimos.  However I hit a nerve when I mentioned that in Hooper Bay..."most native men and many women drank alcohol."  It was like I dared to mention the 600 pound walrus sitting in the living room that everyone was ignoring.

Eventually the Police Chief of Hooper Bay or one of his associates became aware of the article and some how it was circulated around the village.  The Police Chief was a nice person and not vindictive, so I suspect if he was the culprit he would have said something to me so the entire situation could have been straightened out right away.  However no one said anything for a very long time and no telling how long the pot boiled with displeasure.

One day in April the principal informed me that the village native chief wanted to talk to me.  I told him sure, send him on over to the the classroom.  The Chief never showed up.  A week later the District School Superintendent came to the village and told me to come see him after school.

When we met he immediately showed me a photocopy of the article I had written back in September and said he was concerned that I had written it.  I asked him if there was anything in the article that was not accurate.  He didn't comment directly, he just repeated that he was concerned.  We sat there in silence for awhile and then he told me that the village chief had informed him that the former mayor of the village was upset and had threatened to shoot me.  He went on to say that everyone knew the mayor had a tendency to get drunk now and then and that his threat should be taken seriously.  The superintendent told me to pack my bags and I was to fly to the district office with him.

I was a little dumbfounded and didn't know what the big deal was.  I mean how could a guy get into trouble just telling the truth.  Being a history major I should have known that the truth some times stings more than a lie.

The school district headquarters was located in Mountain Village a couple of hundred miles away.  They maintained a dormitory there for travelling employees.  The district fixed me up with a room, provided me with kitchen priviledges, and provided me with a charge account at the local store to buy food and necessities.  Other than showing me my room no administrator spoke to me for over a week.

Eventually I was given an assignment to work with a couple of local native ladies grading a district wide test.  I did this for the next six weeks.  The ladies and I became friends after awhile and one invited me over to her house for dinner.  She asked me why I was there and I told her.  She seemed sort of relieved and told me that the rumor was that I was a child molester and that I was taken out of the village while an investigation was taking place.  I asked her to please put that rumor to rest.

None of the administrative staff really talked to me about what to expect or when I could return or what my status was or would be.  I had learned many years ago that when you come to an impasse in any situation the one who seems most anxious to reach a conclusion is the one who talks first and the one who talks first usually looses.  I said nothing to anyone.  The administration and I were playing a waiting game.  I knew they could not fire me because I had done nothing to break the contract.  If I had lost my temper and just left then I would have forfeited my pay and be in breach of our contract and certainly would not have been employed by them again or any other district in Alaska.  I had signed a contract a couple of months earlier with the district but did not know if it had been certified by the board.  It was hard to make plans for the next year and I must admit I was stressed about the whole thing.

One day about a week before school was out, the Human Resource Director, whom I had known for a few years and were friends with somewhat, stopped me in the hall and asked me if anyone had shown me my contract for next year.  He then pulled out my file showed me the contract that had been approved two days before I was exiled to Mountain Village.  I did not mention the fact that I knew I had a job the next year to any of the administrators but did walk around with a smirk on my face for awhile.  I had won.

They flew me back to Hooper Bay and I mailed my stuff to the school I would be at the next year.  Most of the teachers had already left and all but three of the villagers ignored me.  Three men came by whom I had befriended and them me the last couple of years, part of the maintenance staff, and each shook my hand.  That meant a lot to me.

I was very bitter for awhile but as time passed I thought perhaps I should have been a little moor sensitive about making fun concerning the use of alcohol in the village.  Alcohol is a problem in every village I lived in and nothing I said in the article was not true.  However somethings should just be left unsaid I guess.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Family Secrets - The Wreck

Family Secrets - The Wreck

Mom and Dad had been dating for less than a year. It was drizzling rain when he picked her up from her home in Kansas City, Kansas and they went to a dance at William Chrisman High School. After the dance they decided to stop by a local drive-in and take the long way back to her house. While at the drive-in Dad and another guy got into an argument as to who had the fastest car. There was no drag strip in those days for the argument to be settled but there was always Kentucky Road just outside of Sugar Creek where such matters were easily delt with.

The two cars met at the appropriate place. A crowd had gathered and one of the two antagonist’s mutual friends gave the signal for the race to begin.

Dad did not win the race due to the fact that he hit a slick spot on the road, turned the car in a one eighty and went over an embankment. He was thrown against the steering wheel, bruised his chest and suffered some minor lacerations. Mom’s head went through the windshield.

By the time the on lookers got to the site, blood was every where, mostly Mom’s. One of the guys said they needed to take mom to the hospital immediately and there was a momentary hesitation as to whose car she should go in. “She’ll get blood all over my car,” one guy reportedly said. One of the larger of the group took charge and put mom in the closest car and sort of dared anyone to complain.

They arrived at the hospital where dad’s parents were called and he was immediately treated for his injuries. Mom’s mother was called but mom’s stepfather was hard of hearing and did not understand that they were supposed to come to the hospital and give permission for the doctors to treat mom since she was under age.

Dad’s mom and dad waited and waited, mom was kept from bleeding to death by basic first aid but no procedures were given to help her further. My grandmother decided she would sign the papers to commence doing whatever was needed to be done when finally Mom’s mom showed up, having realized what had happened via a second phone call that she answered.

Mom had a minor concussion and a slashed cheek. It took several hours to sew her up. She asked the doctor later how many stitches she received and the doctor told her, “Honey I stopped counting at 350.”

Mom had a terrible scar for the rest of her life. I never noticed anything out of the ordinary though because it was just part of the only her I had ever known. The scar was still visible if you knew where to look when I  kissed her on the cheek the night she died.  Wrinkles and sagging facial muscles had made it all but disappear to everyone else.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Family Secrets - With a Very Happy Ending

a yearFamily Secrets – With a Very Happy Ending

One day while in Arizona I went to the mail box and found a letter addressed to me but with my mother’s address. I opened it and it was from this lady who said she was trying to solve a puzzle. She asked me several questions about events that had happened many years ago and if any of those events sounded familiar. At first I was not real certain what she was asking. She did say she was not a stalker or wanted a kidney, in fact the letter was quite entertaining and funny in most respects, but the tenor of the letter was serious. She asked if I would write or call her and help her figure out the answers to some questions she had.

I let my mother read the letter and she picked up on it right away. She said for me to throw the letter away. I said I needed to think about this for awhile. My mind ran the gambit of what the letter was really asking and if the person writing this letter was legitimately wanting to know a certain fact or two or trying to set me up for something far more sinister . I asked a close friend of mine to do some internet stalking to see what he could find. His results found that indeed she was a real person, lived where she said she lived, and her bio seemed to be non threatening. She had suggested that perhaps I was her biological father but without coming right out and saying it.

Some well meaning friends told me not to contact her and others said for me to contact a lawyer before I did anything. I ignored both sets of advice. I figured that if I was or was not her bio father she had a right to know, and so did I. I called her.

We chatted on the phone for awhile, really for more than a while and we both sort of figured out that I was probably who she thought I was. I will never forget what she said, “I have wondered what this day would be like for over 20 years” I asked her if it was what she thought it would be. She told me it exceeded her wildest expectations. I was elated for reasons that might seem odd.

However, there were still some mysteries remaining. I was not sure of the circumstance of her birth. I was not sure who her biological mother was or even could have been. I am ashamed to say that I could not remember anything happening or that I thought might have happened to cause this with anyone particular girl, but on contemplating the situation I narrowed in down to three possibilities.

She sent me a copy of some information that she had been able to collect over the years, with some pictures of her biological mother, half sister, and herself. After reading the contents I figured out who the bio mother was from my past and the interlude that ended up causing the recent enlightenment. Those circumstance are not really important. Let’s just say that it was 1968, One Block West was the place to go and meet girls, and one could go and have a great time for a week or two without regards to consequences, or so we thought back then.

I had no idea that the girl I met and hung around with for a week or two got pregnant. No one informed me, no one even suggested that such a thing had taken place. I even new her sisters in college, but they never uttered a word.

Her folks would have none of it. They sent her to a home that unwed mothers went to in those days and she was forced, so to speak, to give up the baby girl. It had to be heart wrenching for her. I have known several young ladies, some very close friends that had similar situations happen to them and some who took more drastic actions, and they all say you never quite get over it and never forget it and wonder how the child’s life turned out or might have.

Well in my bio daughters case it turned out well. She was raised by a mother and father who loved her and she loved them, was a cheer leader in high school in a small town, she went to college on a scholarship, and now has a successful career helping others. She has three children of her own, a nice husband and 4 step children and a recent grand baby.  Believe me if I had been involved in her early life when I was young and more stupid then I am now, her life would not have turned out so well.

She has met my other children and we even took a “family” type of picture. When I am asked how many children I have I always say 5 and seldom have to go into the entire story of where the 5th one is. In fact I am just as proud of her as my other children and sort of relish relating the story about her doggedness of searching for me for over 20 years.

I realize that I am not her father, he is the one who set up with her and nights and guided her into adulthood. She calls me Conley and that is how it should be. She met my mother, who seemed just as thrilled as me to have her presence known and mom gave her a family heirloom. I have informed her of what her McAnally roots were and I told her I would be as little or as much a part of her life as she wished me to be. I told her I had no right to expect anything from her. We keep in contact via  phone, facebook, and email.  She lives in western Kansas but I manage to go by and see her a couple of times .  

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Family Secrets - Oregon or Bust

Family Secrets – Oregon or Bust

My grandmother on my father’s side was born to a tenant farmer in the back woods of Tennessee.  She was the seventh child out of what would become nine children in all.  For reasons not known to me her father decided to uproot the family and head for Oregon where I guess he assumed that life would be better.  They must have looked like the Beverly Hillbillies when they all loaded into a pickup truck and headed west.

They got as far as Platt County Missouri when the truck broke down and his wife decided to have their ninth child in the back of the pickup.  Out of money and vehicle and with another mouth to feed, plus a sickly wife he got a job on a farm for less than the going wage but a house was thrown in to the mix.  He thought according to what my grandmother could remember that he would only be there just long enough to scratch some money together to fix his truck and continue their westward migration.  However his wife was bitten by a brown spider and given the medical treatment available at the time and an already sickly condition due to her last child being born under less than desired circumstance she died.  He was left with nine children ranging from ages 10 years old to three months.  His dream of Oregon had busted.

It soon became obvious that he was not going to be able to take care of them all and with the help and guidance from the local child welfare agency of Platt County the children were placed in foster homes, no two children being placed with any one family.

Except for the youngest three, my grandmother included, all the brothers and sisters lost track of each other for several years there after.  My grandmother and her two youngest sisters some how managed to keep in contact and given their very young ages it is remarkable to me that they were able to do so.  I guess they had the same case worker and he or she stayed on top of things.

While the two youngest children seemed to have been placed in stable homes, my grandmother bounced from one foster home to the next for the next several years.  By the time she was entering the sixth grade at Mt Washington Elementary School,( the same school I went to years later,) she had moved in with one of her older sisters who had left the foster care system and married.

Times were tough and when grandmother was in the seventh grade her brother-in-law told her that she was going to have to drop out of school, get a job and help pay her own way if she wanted to continue to live with them.

The next day the school principal, Mr. Ritter, noticed that Tennessee, my grandmother’s name then and the cause of much teasing by classmates, was up set.  She told him about her having to drop out of school.  With the help of the principal at Sugar Creek, Mr. Stone, and the county welfare agency they placed her in another foster home.  Her new foster parents were pretty well-to-do and it just so happened that the foster family was also named Stone, the lady of which was always referred to as Mother Stone when I would be told a story or two growing up.  Others in the family called her Nono, a name apparently given her by my dad.

Her new home came with a new foster sister, a foster cousin, her own bedroom, and a new name, Marie.

Given the fact that she was now in an upper middle class well-to-do family that thought education important, her future looked bright.  She continued her schooling for a few more years but then my grandfather showed up.  He had just returned to Independence from his time in the army and he was a dashing blade.  He jauntily wore a round straw hat, a blue blazer, and white trousers and had a job.  He was considered to be quite the catch among the local females looking for husbands at the time.  He zeroed in on Marie against the wishes of Mother Stone but like in most cases the wisdom of adults was no match for the passions of youth.  They were married two years later.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Family Secrets - Mr. Truman

Family Secrets – Mr. Truman 

When I tell people I come from Independence, depending on their age, they always say something like, “Ah, yes the home of President Truman.  I always say yes.  I tell them that Independence is famous for Harry Truman, Jessie James, and Joseph Smith and “there was not much difference between two of them, take your pick.”  That always got a laugh.

I go on to tell them about how often I saw Mr. Truman, (as those of us in the know refer to him) and they are always thrilled by my accounts.  When they return to wherever they are from I suspect they tell everyone they met this guy who seemed like he and President Truman were best friends. 

The truth of the matter is that I only saw Mr. Truman one time and that was in a limousine he was riding in with President Johnson the day he (Johnson) signed the Medicaid or Medicare Bill at the Truman Library and then just briefly.

I did know a lot of people who knew him very intimately and their stories about him were the foundations of mine.  My grandfather did get Mr. Truman to sign my Masonic membership card via the bodyguard and I did drive by his house many times.  I was also once the Executive Officer of his old Battery D artillery unit, but that was about the size of his involvement with the “Old Man (the name used by the local politicians when referring to him.)  My mother on the other hand had a much more interesting contact with him.

 Mom and Mr. Truman lived on the same street.  She would walk south along 

Delaware street
to catch the bus down town and most every morning he would go on his famous walks north along Delaware.  They would pass and he would always tip his hat and say, “Good morning mam.”  She would nod and say, “Good morning Mr. President.”

One day he stopped her and said that he had been passing by her almost every morning for the last several months and wanted to know where she was always going and what she did.  She told him she was a telephone operator in Kansas City and she caught the bus each day on Truman Road by his house.

  There was an awkward silence and mom said “And what is you do now?”  He responded, “Not much really.”

Every morning there after when they passed one another Mr. Truman would tip his hat and say, “Good morning telephone lady,” and then she would respond, “Good morning Mr. Truman."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Family Secrets - The Melting Pot of Diversity

Family Secrets: The Melting Pot of Diversity

America: The great melting pot.  The McAnally family: the melting pot of diversity.

Recently I found out two things that had long gone unknown to our family.  One, I cannot trace very far, and could be just a family type of an urban legend and the other, with a little speculation of historical migratory facts, could be true.

My oldest cousin let the cat out of the bag by saying that his mother had told him that her father had ancestors that were of Asian decent.  None of the family look Japanese or Chinese but there is a slight family resemblance with the Mongols of the western steppes by some of the older pictures I have seen of my relatives on my grandmother’s side.  So I could be related to one of the Kahn boys.  But who knows and will ever know.  My grandmother’s side of the family are 100% Americans whatever that means.

My grandfather’s side of the family was also 100% Americans.  Of course his great great grandfather came from Scotland, via of Northern Ireland, then back to Northern Ireland, where his father was probably fathered by a Spaniard whose ship was wrecked along the coast of Eire after the Spanish Armada failure.  The Spaniard was probably descended from either Moors or maybe even a frisky Roman legionnaire, who gained his freedom fighting in the Coliseum as a gladiator.  But the McAnally family is 100% American whatever that means. 

The McAnally family of this day and age are Americans by choice.  I have an array of cousins, grandchildren, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and a brother and sister, that when we get together looks like a meeting of the United Nations.  For example I have African American grandchildren, Hispanic and Greek nieces and nephews, a Korean daughter-in-law and granddaughter , a son-in-law from the Balkans, the Gay community is represented, a female impersonator vaudevillian (two different people,) several republicans, a couple of democrats, one bomb throwing anarchist, and one in prison.  Some are still fighting the civil war on both sides.  We have a couple of rich ones, more than enough poor ones, doctors, lawyers, and candlestick makers.  The only group not represented is Native Americans but I do have a half brother and sister that by the tone of their skin is suspect, and I dated an Eskimo girl while I lived in Alaska but I don’t think that counts.  But all in all we are all 100% Americans what ever that means.

Family Secrets - Aunt Daisy

Family Secrets - Aunt Daisy

Aunt Daisy lived alone.  She was born the same year that President Truman was and out lived him by ten years.  Daisy never married and was the only non retarded daughter in a house hold of 6 boys.  She was 21 years older than my grandfather and was responsible for much of his parenting. 

Daisy outlived all her family even my grandfather so therefore she was the recipient of all the collectables that the family acquired through the years.  Daisy never married because the family, so my grandfather told me once, never thought anyone was quite good enough for her.  She never worked at a paid job in her life so had no social security and no visible means of support.  My grandfather helped a little in paying for a one room apartment close to where we lived and for a time being she lived with the oldest brother, Frank, a not so nice guy so it was said, who had a wooden leg due to a rail road accident.  She took care of the youngest boy at the beginning of his life and took care of the oldest boy at the end of his life.  Daisy never had a life of her own.  Some how she managed to survive through some sort of old age pension and a rail road pension that some how her brother or father, who had also worked for the rail road once, had managed to arrange.  Her limited income and survival technique was never really explained to me but that is not the family secret.

When Daisy died she left nothing to anyone, basically because she had nothing.  There were some knickknacks around the apartment that were sort of interesting and held some memories for me due to the fact that I had seen them all my life. 

It was left to my grandmother to get rid of anything that was left including Daisy who was buried in the family plot.  My grandmother asked me what I wanted and I said I liked the picture of the Gilded Age lady in the oval frame with the bubble glass.  I use to think it was a picture of Daisy when she was a young lady and when I asked as much she would laugh in what can only be described as a little embarrassing giggle with her hand placed over her mouth and mumble “no.”

Wife Marty wanted the frame with the bubble glass and was not interested in the picture, I was interested in the picture but not the bubbled glass frame.  

I extracted the picture and dutifully gave Marty the frame. (Which she has hanging in her house today, picture being replaced by a McAnally original of some sort.)  After the extract I noticed that on the reverse side there was in inscription in what I recognized as Daisy’s hand writing – “Charlie as Woman.”  I was a little puzzled.

I asked my grandmother about it and she said that was a picture of Cousin Charlie who was a female impersonator some time prior to the 1920’s.  He was an actor but specialized in playing a woman on stage.  “We never really talked about him much, I sort of figured he was just a little strange,” my grandmother said.