Birds and bees and Aunt Rita: My first genealogy lesson – #atozchallenge

B is for Birds and Bees and Aunt Rita: My first genealogy lesson. Second of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck!

When you’re a child in a house full of adults, you learn to listen closely to what they say — and to hold your own in a conversation.

During one of their dinnertime chats — when I was about five — I stumbled into the birds and bees and got my first genealogy lesson.

Gathered around the dining table in our farmhouse kitchen were me, my mom and dad, my mom’s parents (who lived with us), and my younger brother Mark.

Saving the Laurence family line

At some point, the adults’ conversation turned to the Laurence family name — an anglicized version of my Italian great grandfather Peter Di Lorenzo’s surname.

“It’s gonna die out,” my grandfather said. My mom was married, so she was now a Charboneau. And Gramps’s brother, Uncle Joe, had two daughters and they were married, too. So that was it — no more Laurences.

Everyone seemed sad about this, and I was too. Then I remembered my mom’s single sister.

“What about Aunt Rita?” I asked. “She’s still a Laurence. Maybe she could have a baby.”

Knowing looks and smiles were exchanged around the table. My grandmother spoke up to correct me.

The stork could save the day

“No, honey, Aunt Rita can’t have a baby,” she said. “The stork only brings babies to ladies who are married.”

By: William Creswell

“That’s not true,” I responded. “The stork brought a baby to a lady on T.V. and she wasn’t married.”

What lady on T.V.?” my dad blurted out, his face getting red.

“The one on the show Mom watches,” I replied.

Suddenly the smiles and knowing looks were gone and all eyes were on my mother.

My effort to save the Laurence name was soon drowned out by a louder discussion about what I should or shouldn’t be watching on television.

And I was left wondering why everyone was so worked up. All I was trying to do was keep the Laurence family going.

Up next: C is for Crayon Basket. Please stop back!

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18 thoughts on “Birds and bees and Aunt Rita: My first genealogy lesson – #atozchallenge”

  1. Oh yes, the good old soap operas. My mom’s was As the World Turns, and I overheard a lot! Cute story.

    1. I still laugh thinking about it! I’m thinking now the soap must have been The Secret Storm, because I remember the crashing waves during the intro — so I must have watched it, too ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Did your Aunt Rita have children? Presumably they were not called Laurence.

    Thanks for dropping by again

    1. No, she never did, so at least in the U.S. the name “daughtered out.” However, my great grandfather had a brother Antonio Di Lorenzo (the original surname) who came over with him, then went back to Italy . The name may have continued there through his descendants. I’m still on the search for those connections!

  3. What fun! I can’t wait to read more Whispering Chimney stories.
    I’m so glad you stopped by Vintage Daze so I could find you here. I signed up to get your posts so I won’t miss any.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Trisha. Part of my A to Z Challenge this year is finding kindred spirits without the linky list, so I’m glad I found your blog as well! Genealogy is all about research, so I am interested in reading your posts to see what tips I can pick up.

  4. I just finished reading Lisa See’s Beautiful Girls about 2 Shanghai girls who immigrate to LA before WWII, and there is a Chinese practice of childless couples adopting a son, and making the child take their last name. And I wonder how common this custom is in other cultures.
    Maui Jungalow

    1. That’s another interesting solution to the issue of a surname “daughtering out” — as was the case with my Laurence/Di Lorenzo ancestors. I will have to take a look at that book. Thanks.

    1. Now that’s a good research question! ๐Ÿ™‚ Her all time favorite, General Hosptial, didn’t start until 1963. So I’m guessing it was either Search for Tomorrow, The Guiding Light or Love of Life, which were the top soaps in the early 1950s — or maybe The Secret Storm, which went on air in 1954.

  5. Loved your choice of topic and title for B – a fun post, though your parents and gran might not have thought so!

    1. Thanks! I think I was in my teens before I realized why they were all so worked up over my helpful suggestion. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I enjoyed your birds and bees ๐Ÿ story, these stories are what make up our family history – it’s not just about the boring dates you search for – it’s the stories that truly bring your family back to life. That’s what started me writing years ago – I wanted to preserve my memories and my moms before they were lost to the wind!

    1. You’re so right! The dates and documents will always be there, but our family’s stories will be lost if we don’t take the time to preserve them.

  7. I have often thought in later years that I should have given all of my children my maiden name of Cleage. I’ve started using it myself. Although there are some Cleages out there, they aren’t from our line. My mother’s maiden name of Graham had also vanished with the deaths of her two little brothers, but two of my grandchildren are Grahams so yay!
    Finding Eliza

    1. Many women today keep their maiden name, incorporate it into a child’s surname or raise children as single moms. So my childhood suggestion was a good one — just way ahead of its time in the early 1950s.

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