Poppy Makes a Comeback

This week’s theme is “love”. I wanted to put a different spin on it than I imagine others might. I’m going to talk about loving family history and how I think you can make that happen for our younger generations- with a story thrown in about Ervin Alonzo “Poppy” Drake.

I love genealogy. I have always loved it. I think that came from a lifetime of watching my parents care for the family members around them- whether closely related or not. It came from watching them ask their own parents questions about their history and their family. It came from yearly reunions where we spent time with extended family and also from my mom sharing her old pictures and talking about them with me when I was young. I can’t remember a time when my mom didn’t take my grandma around to the cemeteries to place flowers in May. I didn’t always go with them but when I did those visits were accompanied by family stories and talk of generations past. I’m so very grateful for those experiences. They helped shape my life and shape who I am. I’m certain they contributed to my love of family history. Even today when I face difficulties one of the things I do (after praying) is look at my ancestors to see how they handled similar situations.

I feel it’s the positive repeated exposure that will help our younger generations learn to love family history and see it as a resource for the rest of their lives. I’m not talking about the names-and-dates kind of genealogy but the personal stories of victory, courage, tenacity, love, hope, and faith- THAT kind of family history. That’s what kids need. They need to understand that in their life there will be good times and bad times and that they CAN get through it all with grace, faith, and hope and that there were generations of family before them who did it.

For about 10 years when my children were very young, we lived far away from extended family. I considered that a loss for them and tried to make up for it by telling family stories and talking about family whenever I thought it would hold their interest. One of the stories my kids always loved to hear (and often asked me to tell) was the story of Poppy’s trip to town for groceries. Now, I can’t tell this story in the same funny way it was told by my uncle, Richard Drake, but I can give you the gist of the story and you can ask Uncle Richard yourself if you want the really funny version. The basic story goes something like this:

One day Poppy rode his horse into town to buy some food. The store had canned
beans for sale. Poppy had never had canned beans before so he decided to try
some. He carried the beans home, opened the can, and heated the beans.
After taking his first bite he spit them out, put them back in the can, and
returned to the store on his horse. He put the now-opened can of beans on the
counter and demanded his ten cents back that he paid for the beans. When the
clerk wanted to know what was wrong with them he told the clerk they tasted
terrible and weren’t even fit for feeding to his dogs. He got his dime back and
rode back home.

Now, my kids thought this simple story was hilarious. They would start laughing during the first sentence when they imagined their 3rd great grandfather hopping on a horse and riding to the grocery store. It seemed that at every turn they laughed harder- when he tasted the beans and spit them out, when he got so mad he rode his horse back to town, when he demanded (and received) his dime back, and when he told the clerk the beans weren’t fit for his dogs to eat. My kids may not have been very interested in the names and dates- but they held on to the stories and enjoyed them. And isn’t that, after all, what we want the younger generations to do? I know this is a story that my grandkids will hear each year at cousin camp in the summer. The more they hear the stories, the more the people in the stories will become a part of them and a part of the fabric of their lives. The more they love the stories, the more they will want to know about their ancestors and that may later turn into a love for pursuing the names, dates, and other facts about their ancestors.

So, in tribute to Poppy, who hated canned beans and fast cars (if you’re asking Richard about the canned beans you may as well ask for the story about the first time Poppy rode in a motorized vehicle) but loved his wife Annie and his family, I give you this picture of Poppy with Annie and one of his dogs. This picture is circa 1948 so the dog is, sadly, probably not one of the too-good-for-canned-beans dogs in the story but one can always imagine…

Poppy and Annie’s graves:

By the way, it is believed that Annie (Mary Anne Baker) was Native American. If you know of any way we can prove her Native American heritage, there are many of us who would like to know for sure. If you aren’t certain but you know of family stories or documents, please let me know. Any little bit of information is helpful.

Don’t forget to drop by Down in the Root Cellar for Becky’s take on the theme of love. I’m sure her post will be fabulous, as always. Theology for Mom is taking a brief break from blogging to take care of real-life issues. We hope to see her back online and blogging soon. 🙂

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

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