My Ancestry

My family antecedents were, on the whole, a humble lot. As I have written here before, my lawyer father went to prison for embezzlement when I was a child. He was in and out of jail throughout my youth, forged checks against my bank account when I was in college, and died in a bar brawl. My mother was an alcoholic and heavy smoker who, long since separated from my father, died just before him of lung cancer.

Their parents weren’t much better. All I remember of my father’s father was that he was a sour, nasty old man without much to say. His wife, my grandmother, was a self-pitying old lady who blamed her husband for her unhappy life. I never knew my mother’s father, Ben Dunman, who died long before I was born, but he was notable enough to have a school named after him in Mullens, West Virginia. My mother’s mother, Ora, took care of me as an infant on her farm in the hills near Mullens.

I know nothing of my ancestors further back. I faintly remember hearing that my paternal grandparents moved to Los Angeles—where from I don’t know—before my father was born. My mother spoke of her family coming from England before the American Revolution but gave me no details.

My lack of notable progenitors only redoubled my feelings as a youth of having to depend on myself. Because of my parents’ neglect, I sometimes found myself without enough food or clothing. I took jobs as early as I could to earn money to feed and clothe myself. I worked as a paper boy, delivery boy from a drug store, restaurant busboy, and, eventually, a waiter. Determined to get an education, I worked twenty hours a week while I was in college and missed my graduation ceremony because I was in the university hospital suffering from exhaustion. I went on to become a linguist (seven languages) and spy and was promoted to the top of the government executive service. That allowed me to retire thirty years ago with a generous annuity so that I could write fulltime. I now have six books and 17 short stories in print.

Not bad for a neglected child with no notable forerunners.

2 thoughts on “My Ancestry”

  1. All I know about my grandparents on my mother’s side were, My grandfather came off of the Orphan train, at 4 years old…With a note pinned to his shirt that said Billy. 4 yrs. .. The Smith family took him in as their own.. His wife, my grandmother was born on a Cherokee Reservation, with no birth certificate.. ( 1800 something )….. The otherside of my family tree, is a tad sketchy… Not completely positive whom to call daddy.. My birth certificate has a name on it. but according to references. this man was in the Army when I would have been conceived… Oh well ! I found in my 73 years of life. the ” Mutts” were always the best choice because they had nothing to prove ….No long Pedigree for me, but I think it has made me a better person..I learned mostly everything I need in life from reading or watching others… More to come…..


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