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Ancestors, Part II

Ancestors, Part II

Back in March I confessed that I’ve spent years scouring old family albums in search of one - just one - presentable ancestor worthy of a frame above the mantel.

It’s a Southern thing, I think, the obligatory oil painting of a prosperous-looking relative hanging in a place of pride. Yet I’ve lived in the South long enough to want one, too.

Sifting through a box of recently discovered photos of my mother’s family, I find nothing but profoundly unattractive ancestors and eccentricity. My grandmother, Bertha von Blonske - stage name, Blanche Boyston - appeared in many silent films including “The Great Train Robbery” where she played a frightened passenger. She had a flair for the theatric. See for yourself.

 Bertha - er, Blanche - was not a beautiful woman. So all the good roles went to Clara Bow and Lillian Gish.

Bertha - er, Blanche - was not a beautiful woman. So all the good roles went to Clara Bow and Lillian Gish.

 Perhaps if she’d smiled more…

Perhaps if she’d smiled more…

 That’s Bertha, impaled on that pole. And smiling! That’s her sister, Mabel, holding her legs.

That’s Bertha, impaled on that pole. And smiling! That’s her sister, Mabel, holding her legs.

 We’ve always been a patriotic family. That’s Bertha, second from the left, with the earflaps.

We’ve always been a patriotic family. That’s Bertha, second from the left, with the earflaps.

 I can’t explain this one. But another rare shot of Bertha not looking like she wants to kill something. That’s her on the left.

I can’t explain this one. But another rare shot of Bertha not looking like she wants to kill something. That’s her on the left.

 This is Bertha at the helm of some vessel. No doubt she threw the captain overboard.

This is Bertha at the helm of some vessel. No doubt she threw the captain overboard.

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