Monday, JUNE 9TH
At an hour of the day that I did not know existed (6:00 AM) I dragged my behind out of bed so I could peel the bed sheet off of it (my behind, that is) and get ready for the day. Now I could have said that my eyes popped open at the sound of the alarm clock and as I leapt out of bed ready to greet the new day, blah, blah, blah. But you and I both know what a big fat lie that would be! There is a nice air-conditioned shuttle bus available to take you where you need to go on campus. Upon checking the schedule for the morning departure times I came to the conclusion that it would not work for me. It is perfect for those perky; "early bird gets the worm" kind of people who can make it out the door in time. For those of us who are perhaps a tad cranky upon arising, do not like worms, and are fond of our snooze buttons, the walk from the dorms to the cafeteria is downhill and if the wind is blowing in just the right direction it is a very short 5 minute walk. I would recommend taking the shuttle on any return trip to the dorms until your body acclimates to the heat and humidity. No amount of wind, blowing in any direction, is going to get you up that hill without your calves screaming in pain that first day. Oh, did I forget to mention earlier that the campus at Samford is a kajillion acres of rolling hills?
I am used to 100 degree summers here in Stockton so the heat was not a problem for me, and neither was the humidity once I learned how to breathe without absorbing excess moisture and drowning. Having breakfast with a couple of hundred fellow genealogists is worth getting up for. The food served in the cafeteria is very tasty. I do not like grits but have a tip for new people on how to make friends and fit right in - scoop some of those grits onto your plate and surround it with some more of the local favorites. You are allowed to eat all the food you want, so get an additional plate of food that you are more accustomed to and voila’ - instant friends. Beware however of meat that appears to be a chicken fried steak - it is catfish in disguise and does NOT go well with spiced apple oatmeal. At 8:30 a.m., I walked to my classroom and feel silly admitting that I was very nervous. All the bright, perky, worm-eating people were already there. I took the last remaining seat in the back row (which as I will later relate was the best seat in the house) and tried not to call attention to myself.
(Note to self: - Wardrobe color and selection DO matter. - Save the fluorescent lime green mini skirt for day 3 or 4.)
Birdie Monk Holsclaw was the instructor for Land Records Case Studies. I felt at ease as soon as she began the class. She provides a stress-free learning environment. This is a term we use in California. It is meant to encourage blonde girls to get an education. It basically means that blondes are capable of learning and that previous theories of an overload of information does not make your brain explode, as first thought.
I knew the basics of land records, but Birdie taught me how to use them more effectively. She gave me tools I had never thought of using before to make those kinfolk connect. I am the registrar for our local DAR chapter and need to make sure that applications for membership that I send in are well documented and verifiable. Many times that magic piece of paper in which someone declares…”to my son/daughter…” does not exist. I learned from taking this course that different pieces of evidence, when analyzed and correlated properly, can present a convincing argument for the case you are trying make.
Claire Bettag was up next. Now I have to explain something here. I had done a little snooping to find out about the instructors I would be learning from. Claire was one of a few that scared the hell out of me. I just knew that she would be able to take one look at me at say, “Aha! You’ve never been to Washington DC; you’ve never filled out a slip of paper with all those numbers on it to request a single case file from NARA.”
(Note to self: Preconceptions are a bad thing to carry around.)
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Claire is not scary at all! Claire gave us a wonderful presentation on the use of Private Land Claims. She made sure that no one was getting left behind in the class. She didn’t move on until everyone’s questions had been answered. She is just as passionate about teaching and sharing her knowledge as I am about learning.
I was in bed that evening at another time that I did not know existed - 9:00 pm. I learned so much, my head did not explode, and I had a smile on my face.