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Still alive. Have been writing & doing other fun fun things including hanging out with the BFF & eating new things like garlicky macaroni & cheese. I did not expect to like it, but it was really quite tasty. The family is fine & kid #2 is responding well to his new school set up. More talking there & even some displays of his inner ham. Kid #1 is well into preteen & you should all cross your fingers for me & him & our ability to survive puberty together. I am using Tumblr & Twitter a lot, so I seem to still be less than bloggy, but more than silent. After all these years, I may just be done with blogging daily, but I don't know if it's that or if this journal just no longer feels like a safe space for me. Plus, it seems like most of the people I interacted with regularly here have migrated to one or both of those platforms too, so I'm having daily interactions with folks anyway. Those of you that aren't there or G+, are you really still here & just quieter than I remember? Is LJ's latest security fail a death knell for this interface? DW has never really gotten the same kind of base that LJ had & now they're both incredibly quiet to me.
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Is anybody here reading me that doesn't use Twitter, Tumblr, or G+? Because I feel like I have so many convos over there with people who used to be on LJ & I'm wondering who is left with only an LJ or an LJ & DW? Have the new social media platforms killed the blog? For that matter, how do people feel about sharing their innermost thoughts along side everything else vs. only sharing pithy one liners, gifs, & political convos where in theory your personal life isn't part of the discussion? How are you doing the internet these days?
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For the last few years I’ve been trying to dig into our family’s heritage without upsetting anyone. It’s hard because my Great Grandmother was Blackfoot (I suspect she was actually Choctaw, but the family stories just say Blackfoot) and ran away from somewhere to eventually marry my Black great grandfather. He was a slave as a child, (though emancipation came while he was still young) to an Irish family. Becoming John Gamble’s wife seems to have given her a safe place to hide since outside the family she passed as a light skinned black woman. I’ve been talking to some of the Arkansas cousins who have also been digging back and asking questions of the few surviving relatives likely to remember, or have been told anything by their parents.

The consensus of spoken & written memory seems to be that my great grandfather knew what she was hiding from & offered her a place on our land possibly as a housekeeper. At the very least he instructed everyone to say that she was a quadroon if anyone asked, and she wore her hair covered outside the house. He may have offered some land to farm as well, but either way he brought her there at a young age (he was much older than her) to live with the family as an employee only to eventually marry her. She was his 2nd legal wife (though possibly the third woman to have kids with him), and she did her best to stay on the farm for the rest of her life.

It makes sense after a fashion, since he wasn’t by any accounts a mean spirited man so she wouldn’t have had any reason to be uncomfortable in her new home. And with all the relatives so close together she wouldn’t have lacked companionship, especially since after she started having kids of her own she would have been too busy to go many places. Living at the main house (which isn’t a grand building or anything, but that’s how we refer to the biggest house that was built on the family land which is a whole other story involving him and his siblings buying as many adjoining plots as possible over the years to form what amounted to a family owned collective), she could have easily spent the 10 years that she lived after the marriage and flying under the radar of whoever she was hiding from with no problem. They were far enough away from town that no stranger was just going to happen onto the farm, and the main house is far enough in that you’d be challenged 4 or 5 times by black people who were used to defending their land before you ever reached it.

My grandfather was her youngest surviving child, and he only had a few memories of her since she died when he was 8. The memories mostly revolve around her hair, her singing, and the “funny” food she’d cook for the family a few times a year. Most of what he described (or cooked for me over the years) seems to relate to some traditional Choctaw dishes, but it’s hard to be sure since she wrote down very little (if anything) so everyone is working from spoken recipes and most of what he made was obviously heavily influenced by soul food. This is one of those family secrets that was never really written down, or possibly even divulged entirely to anyone which makes it a hard mystery to crack. I just wish I knew what was so bad that she never tried to go home again. Reading over this entry I have a sudden urge to write this up as a romance novel, but I suspect I’d never be able to sell it.


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May 2015

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