A Very Foutz Thanksgiving, 1949
As a writer, what turns me on about genealogy is the stories you uncover. And it’s a bonus that the characters starring in them are bound to you by blood.
The intimacy of it — their history is yours, too — is what tantalizes. Not necessarily the dates and thrice-so-and-so-twice-removed semantics dance. But tromping around cemeteries and ancient homesteads and unearthing the true tales up until then clumsily, erroneously told, or otherwise forgotten.
Pictures, when you’re lucky enough to research your way into a trove of them, are the real goldmine. Worth, as is proven true, the otherwise thousands of words you could spill in service to your ancestral quest.
My favorite collection comes from a forgotten box in a stack at my parents’ house. Collected and saved from my late grandfather’s things. Of a Thanksgiving where nearly all the people pictured were just names in a family tree to me, and many of them distant branches at that, until I chanced upon snapshots of a captured holiday from nearly 70 years ago.
The stars of this Thanksgiving pageant? My grandfather, Don Foutz, young and merely a father of two (my own dad hadn’t come along yet). His mother, my great-grandmother, Christina Laurina Catherina Zeigler Foutz, or plain Laura if you will, big and bustling in apron, as my Uncle Bob perches in a high chair, eyeing the Thanksgiving spread.
Grandma is there, Erma Foutz, slender and leaning back at the table, smoking a cigarette, when she’s not breezing into the kitchen to help. And Grandpa’s oldest brother, Roy, his wife, great-Aunt Louise, and their daughter, a teenage Donna Foutz, sharing the table with her older cousin and schoolmate, Suzanne Foutz, daughter of grandpa’s other older brother, Carl.
Extended family got their supporting roles pasted into the family album, check-check-check and check. But it’s the fun Laura and sons Don and Roy have, posing with a big leg of the Thanksgiving turkey, that just welcomes you into the fun on Front Street, Dover Ohio, circa 1949.
Here’s to hoping your own 2018 family time is filled with the same fleeting, fortunate light and laughter. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.
1949 Thanksgiving Slideshow