The Waiting Room

When I think about my genealogy subjects — my dead people — I like to amuse myself by picturing a waiting room. By that I mean an actual modern waiting room, full of non-modern people.

I like to imagine them, in their various period clothes, seated on polyester chairs and doing that waiting-room fidget. They check pocket watches and thumb through wrinkled copies of US Weekly, shifting impatiently until I call them in for attention.

In my head, my Prohibitionist great-grandfather has to manage an Ikea-style chair, while pretending he’s not seated next to a gangster reading about Rachel Ray.

Sometimes the wait takes a while. Sometimes I leave them sitting for months.

I feel like breaks in genealogy research are not only natural — they’re absolutely necessary. The dead, as we know, can be overwhelming. Some painful stories are too much for a heart to hold. A few years ago, one of my cemetery walks turned up a little boy who had died on Christmas Eve. Just learning those bare facts did me in. I didn’t touch my research for six months.

The rest helps the brain as well as the heart. More than once, a genealogy break has allowed my brain to offer up a new research angle that I would never have thought of otherwise.

And if genealogy teaches us anything, it’s that life is to be lived NOW. In the past month I’ve used my non-writing time to complete a Christmas card design for a friend, bake cookies, host guests, and spend more evenings with my husband. It’s been really nice.

But I have these clients in the waiting room… including some new ones:

  • a turn-of-the-century astrologer;
  • a savvy con artist;
  • an ex-slave;
  • an enterprising hairdresser;
  • a terrifying quack doctor;
  • and a few society dames.

And I know Graveyard Snoopette is anxious for another assignment. Time to get back to work. ☗



© 2019 Tori Brovet/All rights reserved



Author: Ms. Snoop

ABOUT I was lucky to be born into a family of genealogists, and to be gifted a family tree already bristling with names. Along the way, other names have somehow found me. My job is to listen to their stories.

5 thoughts on “The Waiting Room”

  1. A great post. You made me smile at the thought of the waiting room, and then you brought home your message. Just buckle up when you get back to the waiting room for as you know it can be a bumpy ride.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the waiting room thought! I often wonder if they know we are talking about them.
    But…. thanks so much for writing about one of my very interesting relatives!
    I am not related to the Ingles side, but the Weed side… Chas Leander is a cousin a few times removed, our family descended from the OG Jonas Weed in 1600s. Found this story a few years ago and visited Virginia City, looked for photos he might have taken. What an adventure, but he did contact TB and was treated in Santa Barbara. His daughter’s cause of death later , was TB, in her teens, unfortunately. But you are correct, the obit, and yes, that was Matilda, was faulty. Doubt she attended Mills, looks like she left Wisconsin for Asia, where she married the Scots banker. But family could have gone from NY to Wisconsin in a wagon. And maybe she did somehow attend Mills for a bit. Matilda and spouse retired to LA. The house in LA no longer exists, now an apartment.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL! I am back and eating my words! Apologies to your waiting room…silly mortals.. I jumped the gun w comment on Cousin Matilda. Obit really could be correct. Smithsonian magazine and art journals have lots on C Leander and I found a book .. sort of a society log.. called California and Californians by Hunt… and some snippets refer to Matilda post 1920 -LA move- where they speak about her 1863 trip to San Francisco as a “girl”and pursuit of education prior to the trip to Asia with James and Leander. Railroad wasn’t done until ’69 so unless she did New Orleans to SF by ship, she might have traveled Oregon Trail, maybe with James.
    What a woman! Thanks for bring her to life for a minute!


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