Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hazardous Duty

Never let it be said that genealogy is only for the old, the weak and the faint of heart! Why, I can tell you stories of being chased by wild animals, attacked by killer insects and I even survived a dangerous earthquake! What? You don’t believe me? Well, let me tell you the details.

I have this friend in Kentucky who shares my given name. We also share a love of locating and recording abandoned cemeteries in her home county. To get to our destination on one such trip, we parked the car, climbed over a fence and started off across a pasture toward the top of a hill, the logical spot for a family cemetery. About half way across the pasture, these big beasts - cows, I believe they are called - started chasing me. They ran, I ran faster. Looking over my shoulder, I saw my so-called friend doubled over laughing. “Stop, Brenda. They are running after you because they think you are going to feed them.” Humph! I knew that. I was just running to get a little exercise.

Another day, the first day of April, if I am not mistaken, we were in another part of the county recording a cemetery that was nothing more than a large clump of woody brush in the middle of an old corn field. We both sat down on fallen tombstones to record inscriptions. Apparently, some predators that live in such an environment found us and decided to go home with us. The next day I called my friend, “Brenda, do you itch? And do you have red bumps around your waist and ankles?” Yep! Those killer insects (aka chiggers) had attacked both of us.

Neither of those events was quite as scary as the morning I sat in the basement of one of my favorite Kentucky courthouses and witnessed my first earthquake up close and personal. First the metal stairs began to rattle and moan. Then the floor above my head started to wave - just like it is does in the movies - and then the windows rattled. Well, if I was going to be taken out by an earthquake, at least I was in my favorite place and doing the thing I loved most. I worked on until the county clerk came downstairs to check for damages and found me happily transcribing records. It seems the employees upstairs had run outside when the rattling began, not knowing that I was still in the basement.

You have to be made of tough stuff to be a genealogist and I believe I have passed the test.

1 comment:

LSW said...

That reminds me of a recent trip to a country cemetery. I talked my brother into escorting me and we had to walk through a cow pasture to get to it. He suddenly stopped and said "that's a bull over there". The bull didn't seem like a nasty one, so I kept going. Little brother informed me that if the bull took one step in our direction, I was on my own. (The only animals that actually came up to us was a small group of friendly donkeys. I've been kidding him about being a city boy ever since.)

My real piece of advice on this topic is to always be careful when pulling weeds away from a tombstone in preparation of taking photos. I mistakenly grabbed a handful of stinging nettle one day. Not a fun experience.