Lots of things happened this week.
We went to the symphony and heard three Copland pieces and Schumann’s 2nd Symphony.
We went to a friend’s Easter party and ate a lot.
We hosted a small writers’ circle and had some productive critique.
We finished revisions on four chapters of our novel.
We taped three scenes of LEAR for a DVD and rehearsed for shows next week.
We did a phone interview.
We posted our DamnedFool blog post.
We went to the gym.
We made love.
I finished reading two books.
I started booking tours to NW, SW, and East Coast for next season.
I wrote some political rants in response to political rants.
I dug up two garden beds to replace the gopher wire.
I read my son’s script for his graphic novel.
I did my daily Spanish lessons.
Nobody shot at me.
Nobody showed up with an order to put me out on the street.
Nobody put a bag over my head and beat me with sticks.
Nobody emerged from my dinner and scurried across the table.
Nobody threatened to send me back to Germany where my great-great-grandfather came from.
Nobody reported my kids had been poisoned by the drinking water.
Nobody cut back my hours.
Nobody told me it was all my fault.
I had a good week.
Well, I’m slowly shifting gears to start research work on my biological parentage again. I keep hitting roadblocks, stop for a while to rub my nose, and then start again. It’s a big world out there.
A couple of genealogy fans crossed my path and offered to pitch in. Great! I supplied some bare-bones information, and then got an excited response offering a discovery. Turns out it was for a different person, spelling error, whatnot, but it started me thinking.
In this case, my target was M. Burneice Larson (first name actually Mabel, no wonder she hid it), a nurse who was always held up for praise by my adoptive parents as being “the one who found you.” Given that there’s a logistical challenge in the chain of events that led a childless couple from the Chicago area to find a pregnant lady in Brooklyn, this is clearly one of my paths of interest.
When I was writing to the enthusiastic genealogy buddy to say, “Not that one, sorry,” I included some of what I actually do know about M. Burneice Larson. Bless the Internet, I actually know a lot of details, unhelpful as they may be.
She was born in Houghton, MI, in the Upper Peninsula, in 1895, and her full legal name was Mabel Burneice Larson. Unusual spelling of that middle name, and it’s what she used as her first name after she left the nest.
I do know something about the unusual spelling of her first name, and I have a strange tidbit about that. H. L. Mencken published work on development of the American language, and included in-depth citations of how unusual names are chosen. Tallulah Bankhead has her name examined, and immediately after that citation is Burneice Larson. It was originally Bernice, but the Cornish miner immigrants in that area always pronounced that “BUR-niss,” and her mother Jenny Larson responded by changing the spelling.
How’s that for an arcane piece of info?
OK, then there’s a doctor named Donald Taft, who wrote (but did not publish) a memoir called “Der’s Me”, and he wrote of getting his first post-residency job through Nurse Larson’s employment bureau. “Next, it was to Burneice Larson, in her elegant suite atop the Palmolive Building in Chicago. She ran a very successful placement service for M.D.’s. She was a very pleasant little woman, hunch-back?, who had just the right place for me. Tomah, Wisconsin.”
Actually, the memoir is really interesting, and I’m glad to have found it. I don’t think that I have a blood connection to Dr. Taft, but his story is fun to read, and it gives me a vivid flash-picture of Burneice Larson. She appeared to be quite the entrepreneur, getting a hefty slice of the first year’s salary from every successful placement. And Burneice had correspondence from other luminaries in governmental circles. She got around. How the hell did she get around to my future folks?
Maybe I should stop looking for Mary Fuller and write a novel about M. Burneice Larson.
—From the Fool—
In a little nearby town around April Fools Day they do a Fools’ Parade. I went on Saturday. The town is just two blocks long, so they parade up two blocks and turn and come back. There’s a loud band in funny get-up. There aren’t any flags or tanks or candidates. You can watch or you can walk along. I watched and then walked along.
They weren’t really Fools, in terms of being professionally qualified. They were people pretending to be fools in a funny hat or a tutu or dressing up their dog. At first I was disgruntled. Foolhood is a lot of work. You can’t just put on your Fool Suit. You have to find that still, small buffoon inside you and nurse it up to full bloom.
But when they looped around for the two blocks back, I started to see it another way. Here was a throng of humans, half the size of an Army battalion, and they were totally harmless. They weren’t in a contest for Best Fool. They weren’t making money. They weren’t trashing the planet. They weren’t doing one single practical thing except maybe boosting the market in funny hats.
Any time you can gather a tribe of humans together without the world getting worse, you’re onto something. Basic pledge for a Fool, like for a doctor: Do No Harm. They’re not yet fully qualified card-carrying Fools, but they’re on their way.
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© Bishop & Fuller 2016