Monday, September 17, 2012

Westward, Ho! Day 6

Day 6 was The Big Driving Day. 14 hours with no tourist or genealogy stops. Oh my. But it truly didn't seem all that long, until the last half hour or so, when I was almost unbearably struck with ants in the pants.  

Perhaps our perception of the amount of time spent in the car was somewhat skewed by the fact that we simply did not know what time it was for most of the day. Wyoming and Montana, of course, are in the Mountain Time Zone. I believe this is because they have mountains. 

South Dakota, which has large hills that some might call mountains, is in Central Time. Mom hails from Michigan, the western edge of the Eastern Time. There are a few large hills that some might call mountains in Michigan. And Oak Park is in the eastern edge of the Central Time. There are no hills anywhere in the state of Illinois, and certainly nothing that ANYONE in their right mind would call a mountain. 

Not that I have an issue with Illinois being flat or anything. 

Even further parenthetically, when I first moved to Central Time, I was quite enamored of it. In my early days, I was a tv news watcher. And I loved getting to watch the evening news at 10pm--or the early news on WGN at 9pm. 11pm is too late to hear bad news. Impinges on the sleep process.

The downside of Central Time, particularly on the eastern edge, is that in the winter, it grows dark shortly after 4pm. People who work in windowless offices can go for days without seeing natural light. Kids just barely get home from school before the sun (it's still there, hiding behind the permacloud) goes down. 

But I digress. Let us unparen and move on. 

So we had several time zones with which we were dealing on this trip. We determined that we would be proactive. We would change all available clocks whenever we moved from one zone to the next. How hard could it be?

Well, geez. At one point, Mom's phone said time A, my phone said time B, and the GPS said time C. I consulted the map, to determine exactly when and where we switched from Mountain to Central. It seemed to indicate a switch at the state line between Wyoming and South Dakota. Additionally, one of our phones switched times as we crossed the line. 

So we changed the clocks. But it was wrong, wrong, wrong! Later googling provided us with the fact that Central Time doesn't occur until midway through South Dakota. So why did one phone automatically switch at the state line? And then why did both phones switch at the time zone line? 

And at some point, we thought the CAR clock had switched times. But the car does not have satellite connection!! Oooo. 

We asked people throughout the day what time it was. But, in all honesty, I really didn't trust them with the answer. By the end of the day, I was fairly convinced that there was a vast conspiracy going on, trying to brainwash us into thinking that we had spent either way more or way less time than we'd have liked DRIVING. 

However much time we spent sitting, we were mostly busy flapping our ruby red lips. Even after a week together, Mom and I still had plenty to talk about. More family history, for starters. 

Selfish GG Grandfather Alex begat G Grandfather Emmet, as previously mentioned. Emmet first married Wilhelmina Caroline Schlief, of Arcadia, Michigan. 

 Doesn't Minnie look like she had a spark or two in her? She looks like she had spunk and, unlike Mr. Grant, I love spunk in a girl. 

She and Emmet were married at Trinity Lutheran Church in Arcadia, in the same sanctuary where I enjoyed a Carl Schalk hymn fest held over 90 years later as part of Camp Arcadia. 

Not that I'm bragging or showing off my scant Lutherans roots or anything.

Minnie's oldest daughter, my Grandma Dorothy, most definitely did NOT have spunk. She had a difficult life: lost her mother Minnie when she was 10; lived apart from her father for 4 years after that; had to adjust to a step-mother; and finally made a rather disastrous choice in husbands. 

I suspect that Dorothy was never very happy, regardless of the circumstances (standing, below.) On the other hand, Dorothy's little sister, Marjorie (on Minnie's lap), was known as "Little Happy." 

So, when we weren't discussing the time, Mom and I spent most of the day discussing Emmet and Minnie, Dorothy and the disastrous husband (otherwise known as Mom's father and my grandpa, who was bipolar), Great Aunt Stella (murdered in Big Rapids) and Great Aunt Grace (alive and kicking at 96 but still prevaricating about her middle name, as she likes Ann rather than Agnes.) 

We also discussed my other Grandma Dorothy (Dad's mom), whose mother died when she was two and the mystery surrounding Dorothy's name. There is no birth certificate for Dorothy Jean Porter. There is, however, a birth certificate for Eulalia Porter, born the next day, with the same mother and father. 

Were they twins? (No death certificates were found.)Was there no one alive who knew her correct date of birth, since she was orphaned before she was three? Did the rather proper Scotch Great Aunt who raised her prefer the name "Dorothy Jean" to "Eulalia"? And, if so, could you blame her? 

We pondered these things for 14 hours. We think. Then had filet mignons that absolutely melted in the mouth at Chef Louie's Steak House in Mitchell, South Dakota. And went to bed. :-)


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