Still crazy after all these years…

Dad and Dianne, Tennessee, 1992

Dad and Dianne, at the farm in Tennessee, 1992   (last photo of him before he died at age 79, and only one of two of me with Dad)  Connie took it.

 We had a lovely weekend, gardening, reading and generally futzing around.  Then off to the doctor yesterday for annual physical exams, where we were both pronounced alive and fit for our ages.  My iron level is low, but sugar is excellent.  David said all his numbers are lower and he was bragging to Kathy last night that he would live at least to age 90. David’s bone test showed he needed to do some exercise, but I have the bone density of a 25-year old. Or to put it another way, I have 127% of the bone density of a 25-year old.  You are descended from ancestors with good bones, the doc told me.

The Celiac test proved negative for me, but endoscopy with biopsy scheduled for June 2, to be followed by me swallowing a camera.  Yes, if you hadn’t heard, they now have cameras that can travel through your insides and take thousands of photos…to be analyzed later.


Dad told me once that he didn’t think his family was as crazy as Mom’s family.  So far, that appears to be true, although I have not found any crazy people in Mom’s family outside one brother (who was a high-ranking FAA official and lush and tried to kill Dad at Mom’s funeral). In researching Dad’s family I have found no smoking guns, i.e., jail birds or people assigned to lunatic asylums.

I have found a whole line of Dad’s family affected by a lung ailment that may have been consumption (called lung fever on their death certificates and tuberculosis today). One of them died at a sanitorium in Saratoga Springs, New York, but her sister, my second great-grandmother lived into her 70s in Wisconsin.

Given these sisters had husbands who fought with the Union Army I wonder if they came back from the Civil War with the disease? (They died about 10 years after the war.)  “Lung fever” had made its way from India to England to the US by the mid-nineteenth century.

Thus you have people whose own ancestors had died at comparatively extremely old ages, who died in their 30s and 40s.  For a long time Industrialization was blamed for the deaths of so many, but most deaths were owing to a bacterium which may have spread in close quarters.  (I had a colleague who wrote her PhD dissertation on this topic.)


A friend of mine said she was present in the 1950s when her mother answered a census interviewer’s questions. She says she heard her mother lie to the interviewer. When questioned about this later, her mother said she wasn’t having the interviewer, who happened to be a neighbor, spreading stuff around the neighborhood. One of the lies was about her age.

I noticed one of my ancestors lied about her age and place of birth.  Given her grandmother’s oldest son (my ancestor’s half uncle) by a bigamist first husband became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, and traveled to Bountiful Utah with his several wives, she might have wanted to alter her past for the census interviewer neighbor. So they were not mad, but certainly concerned about what others thought.  God love them.

Below, my sister Michelle and me holding baby brother Michael.  Myrtle Beach SC, 1947

Michelle, Michael, Dianne 1947, SC

16 thoughts on “Still crazy after all these years…

  1. Morning Dianne…..Yes, lunch and a trip to the shop sound fun. Just let me know well in advance, and I will put you in the book. I googled “Lung fever,” and Mirriam-Webster tells me that it was pneumonia. Many of the soldiers came home with this one and promptly died.

    No crazy uncles here. Mine was utterly delightful.

    What an adventure you are having. Hugs.


    • Miriam-Webster is not the final word. Pneumonia was certainly a problem, probably both viral and bacterial. But when one ends up in a sanitarium they most likely had ‘consumption’ which today we call tuberculosis. Another lung issue was cancer.


  2. None of us knew my dad’s mother’s age until she died and it was posted on a leaflet handed out at the funeral. I’m sure she was fuming about that. Anyway, interesting family history you have. Always enjoy your colorful stories. 🙂


    • So strange that women (and some men) were concerned about their ages. As a demographer who has worked with historical census and vital statistics data since 1973, I have found many anomalies like this.


  3. Too bad about the tuberculosis decimating your relatives at such a young age. My father’s father had TB and was confined to Leahi Hospital for the rest of his life. He died there at age 97.


  4. Aha, your note about fibbing to the census taker is sending me back to our census records to see what my Mom gave as her age. We had a little family joke about her shaving a year off the truth whenever she could get away with it.


  5. True about the rum. And yes, I blogged under Celia’s Blue Cottage, just changed the header to Celia’s Blue Planet when I sold the house and moved. Haven’t changed anything else. Thanks for stopping by my page.


  6. I enjoyed this post and especially your old family photos. Thanks for letting me know one of your comments disappeared. I don’t remember seeing one and always check my spam folder and didn’t see one there either. All are usually anonymous and I get rid of those without paying too much attention.


  7. Thanks for sharing your family photos, I love seeing those. We are starting to sort through ours these days. Seems we all have some eccentric relative in our weave of our family life, and secrets, even from us.


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