Cultural Artifact Analysis


As I look back at all that I have collected I am struck by how my nuclear family, despite the fact that we lived away from our extended family, finds great connection to our ancestors. However, we have also developed our own unique traditions and family functions. For example, I have filled out numerous pedigree charts and have thought about those individuals to whom I am related and feel a deep connection with them. It is for this reason that I did my PRE on family history. Yet, my cultural artifact, Bunny, and my family photo of us at Dad’s work , my tradition of the Christmas tree, and my essay about autism, relate more to our family’s culture which was influenced greatly by the Air Force. Indeed my family’s story cannot be told without the presence of the military. Much of whom I am, my sisters, mother, and especially my father came as a result of the lifestyle inherent in the military. While at times I wish our lifestyle had been different, I am grateful for the experience I gained and I would not trade my life for any other.

            As I alluded to before, our family’s story is somewhat oxymoronic. We have made a different way of life for ourselves than any other member of either side of the family with the military, yet our story is also deeply rooted in that of our ancestors. No matter how much one tries to put their family behind, and make something different for themselves it is not possible, family affects every aspect of life even down to the toys and pets you choose. While the connection may not be readily apparent there is still some connection to that of one’s ancestors. My birth appears to have little to do with that of my grandparents’, but upon closer inspection there is a connection, one which helps me to persevere and connect to my past. My love of horses appears at first to be an anomaly since no one in my nuclear family is horse crazy, yet my great-grandfather, and my great, great-grandfather. My father’s choice of career which shaped me also appears anomalous, but in fact his, and my, several times great-grandfather was involved in the early American militia and in armed combat.

            Family is the start of an individual, the life of an individual, and the end of an individual, because in truth no one is an individual, for family impacts all, great and small, from career choice to choice of pets. This is what this blog has helped to solidify in my mind and that of my family.


Persuasive Research Essay

Family History: Voices Across the Generations
Audience: Individuals Not Interested and/or Involved in Family History

“We are all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us,” (Callanan). This quote from author and University of Milwaukee-Wisconsin English professor Liam Callanan speaks of the reality of the individual, in truth we are not singular entities, but in fact are the result of many before us, our ancestors. Though long dead, these ancestors still whisper across the generations influencing the person we were, are, and can become, or as Roots author Alex Haley expressed, “in every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future (Hardy). However, in order to hear their voices, take to heart what they intone and build an interconnecting bridge across the generations; one must come to know the speaker and forge a personal connection with them. This bond is achieved by doing family history thereby allowing the individual to gain knowledge and an intimate perspective into themselves.
In order to understand the importance of being involved in family history one must first have an understanding of what family history is and what it entails. The term family history is used in many disciplines, most notably genealogical research and the medical field. Each of these fields defines family history differently, but both relate to familial connections to the past. While medical use of family history is an important reason for doing family history, as will be touched upon later, for the intents of this paper the term “family history” will relate more to the genealogical use of the term. In this sphere the term “family history” tends to be used synonymously with the term “genealogy” with genealogy slightly edging out family history due to very subtle differences between the two (Murphy). Despite this there is a distinction between genealogy and family history as articulated by the Society of Genealogists, an educational charity founded in 1911 in the United Kingdom, with the goal to “ promote, encourage and foster the study, science and knowledge of genealogy” (About). According to the society, genealogy is defined as the “establishment of a pedigree by extracting evidence, from valid sources, of how one generation is connected to the next” (Hints). In essence genealogy is the construction of a family tree, of which I have lost count of how many I have constructed. This field of study is mainly concerned with names, dates, and places. Although I enjoy discovering who my ancestors were and how I am related i.e. my great-grandfather, third great-uncle, myself as my cousin, trust me there are some strange things that happen, my passion lies with the broader topic of family history. Family history is defined as, “a biographical study of a genealogically proven family and of the community and country in which they lived” (Hints). Quintessentially family history is an all-encompassing study of one’s ancestors thereby themselves. Although names, dates, and places are important the foremost interest of family history is the formation of a more complete, personal picture of the life story of one’s ancestors of which genealogy is only a subcategory. It is a passion for this intimate perspective that my father instilled within me as a child. My heart is softened and I feel a deeper connection with people who are not nebulous, but in fact were just as I am. My ancestors had faces smooth when young and carved deep with the passage of time, hands that held others and worked, bodies clothed in tasteful and practical garments, feet which walked and ached. They had lips that whispered, kissed, and yelled. They had jobs to do and fun to be had. They dreamed and faced the harsh realities of life. They gossiped, had their hearts broken, and saw failure and success. Through photographs, heirlooms, artifacts, oral and written stories, personal mementos, letters, diaries, recipes, personal memories, documents, traditions, historical and cultural context, these people, my ancestors become fleshed out and their stories endowed with life (Bosney, Campbell, Funda, Heiner, Rosenbluth viii, Taylor 7).
Numerous reasons abound as to why one becomes interested and subsequently involved in family history, of which GenealogyInTime magazine has compiled an extensive list. The following are some of these reasons (GenealogyInTime Magazine). Many people are first exposed to family history with the completion of a medical family history questionnaire. Tracing medical conditions across generations is extremely important for preventative medicine and individual well-being. As a result of these questionnaires and family narrative I am aware that depression, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are among the several medical conditions that tend to run in my family. Therefore I have taken precautions to guard against their development or engage in means to mitigate their effects. Medical knowledge is often acquired through family narratives, or stories. These stories, though regularly based on truth, may need validation at times, for personal curiosity or more serious reasons, such as legal issues. While it may not be important as to whether or not family stories are completely accurate, researching their validity is an easy way to forge a personal connection to the past as it creates a strong understanding of the meanings and contexts surrounding an individual. Perhaps one of the most common reasons why individuals delve into family history is the possibility of relation to either royalty or famous people. Although, this is an interesting activity and allows for the development of further interest in doing family history, it is the seemingly commonplace which provides for greater personal connection as theirs is a life of more similarity and relatability than that of the extraordinary. On my mother’s side I come through many royal families including King John of Robin Hood fame. I find this to be awesome, but I experience a deeper connection with my extremely ordinary paternal great-great grandfather Elmer, not to be confused with my lesson horse Elmer. Elmer, the grandfather, not the horse was a farmer in rural Pennsylvania and he and I share much in common including our as our love of horses, which is totally why I should own Elmer, the horse not the grandfather, just saying. Anyway similar to famous people are historical events. Historical events provide connection not only to the family’s past but also the greater historical past giving a sense of continuity and importance to bygone eras and an understanding of the prominent events responsible in part for the way the family behaved, thought, and made decisions which effect individuals today. The French and Indian War proves to be much more exciting when I consider that my paternal sixth great-grandfather came to be involved in its militaristic events and that many of my Dibert ancestors were massacred by the Native Americans who too were involved. As such I have a greater sense of appreciation for the hardships of their lives, and in turn this gives me perspective when facing my own trials. Another reason for involvement is tracing family resemblance. Many are apt to wonder whom they resemble the most. My sisters and I frequently inquire of our parents which of them we most resemble. In some cases it is a contest to discover which side of the family a child resembles the most. If you were wondering I resemble my mother’s side the most, but I do have my paternal grandfather’s hands, not his actual hands, they just resemble his. This allows me to feel a connection to my grandfather for when I look at my hands I think of his. What he did with them and what I can do with mine to make him proud. As author Gail Lumet Buckley stated, “family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future. We make discoveries about ourselves and them” (Buckley). Other traits are also inherited such as character traits like integrity, loyalty, or disagreeableness. These take more delving into to discover from whom they originate. It is these traits that make connecting to ancestors interesting and more personal. To my father’s pleasure I inherited critical thinking skills from his family, yet to their dismay I also inherited my paternal great-grandmother’s snippiness. Finally, family history provides a means of preserving tradition and culture which is generally passed down through families. In a world of increasing globalization and homogenization, conservation and perpetuation of unique cultures and traditions becomes an issue of great importance. Appreciation of the original importance and purpose of a particular tradition or element of culture, gained through family research, provides a personal and prodigious reason to ensure its preservation and perpetuation. Quilting in my family originally arose from practicality, as means through which women visited with others while at the same time providing protection for the family. Nowadays quilting has little practical place and thus many traditional patterns and techniques are disappearing. Because I understand the importance quilting held for my ancestors I feel a personal responsibility to be involved and ensure its continuation in my life.
Each of these reasons builds upon and unlocks the way for deeper, philosophical motivations for involvement in family history (GenealogyInTime Magazine). After preliminary research resulting from the above reasons, many begin to ponder the questions of who am I? why am I here? and where am I going? Family history is the means by which these concerns are answered. Researching and connecting to the lives of those who have gone before gives individuals a sense of belonging to an institution which has endured for an extensive period of time. As a military child my world constantly changed from one state of chaos to another, leaving me feeling lost. To mitigate this, my father constantly inundated my sisters and me with family history. This in turn, provided me with a feeling of permanency and belonging in the world despite the constant change. These feelings and connections guided my future choices and actions, imparting substantive direction in my life. When it came time for college I felt unsure as to what I should study. Knowing my ancestors were involved with agriculture practically from the dawn of time, I initially entered the agriculture program, only latter realizing that I desired to preserve that which had, and still continues to guide me, the history my family. This prompted me to change my course of study to history.
Whatever the reason or the resulting discoveries, involvement in family history produces numerous benefits as documented by Dr. Marshall Duke, PhD professor of phycology and his associate Dr. Robyn Fivush in a study conducted through Emory University Family Narratives Project (Fivush, Duke, Feiler “Stories”, Feiler “The Right Way”). In this study sixty-five families with children between the ages of twelve and sixteen participated. They were visited in their homes twice over the course of approximately three weeks, during which time the children completed packets of questionnaires regarding individual and family life along with having their family dinner conversations recorded (Fivush). The questions, dubbed the Do You Know? scale, included questions of which the children would not be able to have first-hand knowledge about, either because the event occurred before the child was born or involved family members with whom they were less familiar (Duke). As a result of this, children were required to turn to parents or grandparents for assistance in answering the questions. Upon completion of these tasks, the children were subjected to a battery of psychological tests, the results of which overwhelmingly concluded that, “the more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. The “Do You Know?” scale turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness” ( Duke, Feiler, “Stories”, Feiler “The Right Way”). To further add to these results the same children were brought back in after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and were re-evaluated and “once again, the ones who knew more about their families proved to be more resilient, meaning they could moderate the effects of stress” (Fieler, “Stories”). Additionally, Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush concluded that individuals who knew more about their family showed, “higher levels of self-esteem, an internal locus of control, better family functioning, lower levels of anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and better chances for good outcomes if a child faces educational or emotional/behavioral difficulties” (Duke). I have seen this in the course of my involvement in family history. Despite struggling a great deal with anxieties I feel that these are greatly diminished because I feel peace knowing others in my family also struggled and overcame along with the peace that comes from being connected to my ancestors. Additionally, I am less inclined to act out for,
If you could see your ancestors
All standing in a row,
Would you be proud of them or not?
Or don’t you really know?
But here’s another question
Which requires a different view
If you could “meet” your ancestors
Would they be proud of you? (Randall)

Despite the benefits of family history Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush caution that simply knowing about the family is not enough (Duke). Instead, it is the manner and process by which the information is acquired, through involvement and interaction.
While most people would agree that involvement in family history is beneficial, most feel it takes too much time and is too hard, or do not know how or where to start, or perhaps that it is boring, it has all been done, or that some other member of the family is working on it or will do it (Campbell 1-5). To these thoughts or feelings Jewish-American professor, political activist, and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel responds, “for the dead and the living, we must bear witness. For not only are we responsible for the memories of the dead, we are also responsible for what we are doing with those memories” (Elie Wiesel’s). While there are many individuals who obsess over and dedicate countless hours to the pursuit of family history, Dad I am talking about you, family history research and involvement need not be complicated nor take a substantial amount of time. Dr. Duke and author/family columnist Bruce Feiler both suggest family meals, vacations, holidays and such, be designated as times during which members of the family discuss and participate in sharing stories or information from personal memory or research (Duke, Feiler, “The Right Way”). This is exactly how my father involved me in family history. I can recall many a trip wherein the only topic of conversation was one regarding our ancestors. For those unsure of where to obtain information, numerous free online resources are available, such as or, basically Facebook for dead people. (About FamilySearch) Users can also use these resources to put them in touch with professionals once the obsession has taken over. Libraries also tend to have a section dedicated to books on the topic of family history research for which I am grateful as this is where most of the books for this essay came from. While family history can be tedious it is never boring, if it is then according to an e-image “You’re doing it wrong” (“E-image”). Mystery, intrigue, shock, maybe murder or love, you never know what you will uncover about your family and in turn yourself. As it turns out one of my ancestors revolutionized the world of spiritualism with his séances, no we have yet to contact him or others through this medium although that may prove to be quite effective. Typically there is one family member who is dubbed the family historian, but make no mistake; everyone is a family historian as they each have their own take and perspective on what the family history is or what it means. Even though my grandmother and my father are the premiere family historians in my family, I still involve myself as I find different things to be intriguing than what they do. I am interested in artifacts, historical context, and animals whereas my grandmother and father get their thrills from genealogy. All of these chosen interests fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in order to complete the personal picture of the family. If only one of us were involved then only part of the story would emerge and we would miss out on much of the lives our ancestors and ourselves. Some ways in which I personally do family history include collecting and identifying photographs wherein everyone appears to be so happy. Transcribing family documents, such as land deeds, who knew one could plot land according to the location of a white oak. I have also amassed and recorded a small collection of family artifacts and stories, dead horse hair blanket anyone? Pinterest is also a great resource for what I call the “I wonder” game in which I think of something, such as what clothing my great-grandmother would have worn, and then searching for it, talk about fashion. Using writing prompts like those provided by genealogist and blogger Sarah Heiner on her blog, I talk to and record family members’ responses, these can be quite hilarious. Learning a skill, participating in an activity, or visiting a location my ancestors would have engaged in, lived in, or better yet, where they are now interred also helps me to build a personal connection by engaging my hands and mind as our founding father Benjamin Franklin articulated, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn” (Franklin). I have learned to quilt just as my grandmothers and I have visited countless cemeteries often against my will, thanks Dad. I mean who doesn’t enjoy walking on dead people? However, in all seriousness I am incredibly grateful for these experiences as they have greatly increased the personal connection I have with my ancestors and in turn I have learned about myself. All of these ideas are brilliant, but they are just some of the many ways individuals can be involved in family history, be creative, as long as one is diligently trying to be involved how can they go wrong.
Family history, the study of familial connections and the understanding that one is the result of many who have gone before, whether we like it or not. Often misunderstood or disregarded, but of which involvement in brings much personal awareness, regardless of the reason for which one initially becomes interested and involved. Most notable is the connection to the past and belonging to the present and future. If one participates one will “in the profound silences and space between your thoughts … hear the sounds of all those who came before you, whispering we love you (“Family History”). This is the reason why family history work is of utmost importance for it opens one’s ears to these loving, personal utterances of voices across the generations.





Works Cited
“About the Society.” Society of Genealogists. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Bonsey, Lynn, and Lorna Healey. It’s All Relative: How to Create Your Own Personal Family History Trivia Game. Bowie, MD: Heritage, 1988. Print.
Buckley, Gail Lumet. “Best Black History Quotes: Gail Lumet Buckley on Family.” The Root. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Callanan, Liam. ““We’re All Ghosts. We All Carry, inside Us, People Who Came before Us.”.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Campbell, Starr Hailey. Youth in Family History. Anaheim: Creative Continuum, 2005. Print.
Duke, Marshall P. “The Stories That Bind Us: What Are the Twenty Questions?” The Huffington Post., 23 Mar. 2013. Web. Apr. 2014.
“E-image.” LDS Family Search. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
“Elie Weisel’s Remarks at the Dedication Ceremonies For the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, April 22, 1993.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. United States Holocaust Memorial Council, n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
“Family History Quote.” Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Feiler, Bruce S. “The Right Way to Have Family Dinner.” The Secrets of Happy Families: Improve Your Mornings, Rethink Family Dinner, Fight Smarter, Go out and Play, and Much More. New York, NY: William Morrow, 2013. 40-43. Print.
Feiler, Bruce. “The Stories That Bind Us.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2013. Web. Mar. 2014.
Fivush, Robyn, PhD, Marshall Duke, PhD, and Jennifer G. Bohanek, PhD. “”Do You Know…”” Journal of Family Life. N.p., 23 Feb. 2010. Web. Apr. 2014.
Funda, Evelyn I. Weeds: A Farm Daughter’s Lament. Lincoln: Nebraska, 2013. Print.
“GenealogyInTime Magazine.” Why Genealogy Is Important. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
Haley, Alex. “Genealogy 101.” Family Tree Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
Heiner, Sarah. “52 Weeks of Genealogy.” Web log post. Teach Me Genealogy. N.p., n.d. Web.
“Hints & Tips Two: Genealogy or Family History? What’s the Difference?” Society of Genealogists. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Murphy, Nathan W. “What Is the Difference between Genealogy and Family History?” FamilySearch Blog. Family Search, 9 Aug. 2013. Web. Apr. 2014.
“A Quote by Benjamin Franklin.” Goodreads. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.
Randall, Nellie. “”If You Could See Your Ancestors” ~ Teach Me Genealogy.” “If You Could See Your Ancestors” ~ Teach Me Genealogy. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Randall, Nellie. “”If You Could See Your Ancestors” ~ Teach Me Genealogy.” “If You Could See Your Ancestors” ~ Teach Me Genealogy. N.p., n.d. Web. Apr. 2014.
Rosenbluth, Vera. Keeping Family Stories Alive: Discovering and Recording the Stories and Reflections of a Lifetime. Second ed. Point Roberts, WA: Hartley & Marks, 1997. Print.
Taylor, Maureen. Through the Eyes of Your Ancestors: A Step-by-Step Guide to Uncovering Your Family’s History. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.


This I Used To Believe

Not Normal

Normal. Webster’s defines normal as, “usual or ordinary: not strange.” Normal, such a simple term, nonchalantly uttered so often in everyday conversation making it nondescript. Your blood pressure is normal. That’s a normal thing. He led a normal life. Test results exhibited normal distribution. It’s normal for kids to do that. Normally our office hours are from nine to five. After five days all side effects will dissipate and normality will resume. Normal. Normally. Normality. So monotonously commonplace. Yet, for an extensive period of my life, normal appeared to be something that one was either born with, taught, or achieved. It took a run-in with a bubbly, fun-loving square-shaped, sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea to alter my views on what it means to be normal.
As a small child I was slightly different. With two older sisters having set a precedent, my parents knew what to expect of a normal pregnancy, child development and behavior. Two pregnancies behind her, Mom foresaw no issues and that all would progress normally. As is usually the case, prior expectations were not to be followed. Six weeks prior to delivery, test results indicated white blood cell levels were far below normal, making it an awfully real possibility that either Mom or I could bleed to death. Fortunately, with regular assessments by excellent medical professionals, all progressed normally, resulting in a delightfully, adorable normal daughter.
Summers came and winters faded as time perpetually marched forward. Mom comfortably situated in a chair stitching away on her handicraft, enjoys time to herself as Heidi and Nikki are out frolicking with friends. Next to her sits her little lamb perfectly content to play quietly with herself. This was a typical scene from my early childhood. While my sisters spent time running with friends, laughing loudly with juvenile innocence as any normal child would, I was at home within an arm’s reach of Mom, playing discreetly like my namesake. Besides remaining quietly unsociable and declining to walk of my own accord until the age of fourteen months, there was nothing to indicate that I was anything but normal. Yet with each passing year, small idiosyncrasies began to surface. First, it was an extreme aversion to loud sounds. Crying would ensue as I covered my ears tearfully, exclaiming it was too loud. Fireworks, airplanes, rodeos and similar venues or events were out of the question. To combat this and make it a possibility of attending such events it was of paramount importance to have earplugs. After loud noises it was water which was so akin to evil one would have thought I was a wicked witch for as much as I dreaded getting wet. Bath time meant desperately running around and hiding to evade it. By this I earned myself the nickname of Tigger as he too despised baths. What had previously been an endearing attachment to Mom and disinterest in socializing soon became a pressing concern on the part of my parents and a stumbling block in my behalf. Obsession with stuffed animals and stickers soon took over any remaining desire for friendship. Tantrums exploded as a result of seemly small issues, such as the tightness of my shoe laces or the brushing of my hair. However, all of this was simply chalked up to being the sensitive baby of the family.
This all changed when we moved to Germany. As a six year old I was enrolled in first grade, a time for normal kids to be excited yet slightly nervous that they are attending big kid school. Not in my case. It was a living nightmare for me and subsequently my parents. Extreme crying and desperate tantrums ensued as I pleaded with my parents not to force me to go. For a time Mom was usually able to coax me to go to class. However, this behavior quickly escalated in severity resulting in me running away from school, sometimes into the surrounding forest, in an attempt to evade capture and return. The resemblance to a terrified rabbit, sheer panic and fear visible in its eyes as it realizes a fox has cornered it was frightfully uncanny. A flashbulb memory, painfully searing across my mind is that of an awfully, pathetic child. She is dreadfully small and alone, desperately trying to navigate a strange and terrifying world. No respite to be found except in the warm embrace of her mother’s arms unable to explain why it was so. From here it only grew worse. My parents helplessly stood by watching as their sweet, beautiful, normal lamb steeply spiraled down further and further into the darkness of frightful abnormality.
Much energy and TLC was invested in me by my family in an attempt to return me to normality. Mom discussed my issues with the school administration, who were more than unwilling to help, resulting in Mom pulling me from public school and into homeschool where I could fill out workbooks under her constantly watchful eye. My ever loving sisters unceasingly took me under their wings, playing lots of animal memory and wondrous games in the woods with me and doing everything in their power to cheer me up. After work Dad treated me as any normal child, playing with me and reading stories which filled my mind with fantastical worlds into which I longed to step into and leave my fears behind. He also fostered my desire for knowledge by providing challenges for me to solve engaging my mind and turning my focus elsewhere. While all of this helped tremendously it was still apparent that professional aid was required.
Dr. Hardaway, a child physiatrist, was the first among many. After some observation of clinical signs and case history he offered the diagnosis of generalized depression and anxiety. While this gave my parents something to work with, it didn’t seem to fill the missing piece they were looking for. Some of his suggestions to combat my fears and anxieties were ridiculous such as having my parents physically restrain me until I calmed down. My parents flat out refused, the thought bringing to mind an image of a lion gripping the throat of a wildebeest as it strives to evade the death grip until it slowly suffocates and stops struggling. Despite these sometimes peculiar suggestions he did offer a lot of help, such as prescription medication, and enrollment in a new school. However, much of the help I received and benefited from came as a result of my parents following their gut instincts and trying everything they could to help control the fears and idiosyncrasies that held me back from normality. Thus, began the arduous journey on the “fix-it” highway, the way replete with potholes, mile markers of success and signposts pointing to normality and giving warnings as to its passing.
Normal kids don’t take antidepressants since the age of six. How about some Zoloft with that chocolate milk? Normal kids have real friends. This is my friend Sarah. Well this is my friend Bunny. Um you do realize he’s a green stuffed rabbit? And your point is? Normal ten year olds don’t read at a post graduate level. History of the Vikings anyone? Eye contact is a normal social gesture. I will now stare into the depths of your soul in a friendly, non-creepy fashion as a way to connect with you. Normally kids have already outgrown school separation anxiety by now. You are fifteen, now get out of the car and go to class. Normal kids aren’t so sensitive and quick to cry from offense as a result of comments from adult authorities. Where have you been? Whaaaaa! It’s normal for kids to participate and enjoy extracurricular activities. Dance, soccer, cheer, swimming? No thanks, I’ll pass. Reading so much instead of socializing is not normal. Books don’t judge and they’re portable. Normal kids actually have hand-eye coordination and reflexes. Hit in the face by another ball, what a surprise?! Normal teens don’t need to have a free pass to the guidance counselor because they are anxious. May I be please be excused? I am having a slightly major freak out. Teenagers normally want to date before they reach the age of sixteen. Get in the car and chat with a real boy, like as in a human, does my horse count instead? Normal kids watch who knows what. After Jeopardy I think I will watch a documentary on the building of the Roman Empire followed by some cartoons. A high attachment to mother is not normal for one of her age. What apron strings? Oh you mean the ones that I am tightly gripping to? Seeing so many different counselors is not normal. Hi, my name is Dr. Jones…, Yeah, Yeah, just to get to the part where you fix me. It is not normal to be referred to as an enigma by my counselor of two years. Do you think you could have told me this like, umm I don’t know, twenty-three months ago? Obsessive behavior over certain aspects, such as clothing and food is not normal. This shirt is .3333 cm too short and the fabric is scratchy. I can’t eat this! It’s been contaminated by garlic! Being anxious over little things is not normal. I have to go to the store and buy socks. Ok inhale for four, exhale for six and repeat. Normal, normal, normal. My life became one lacking in normalcy, so much so that I began to think of and view myself as not normal, basing my identity around this belief. I desired so much to be taught how to be normal and attain the status of normality. Where did one go to learn how to be normal? It appeared that everyone had attended Normality 101, but I had missed the memo. Or perhaps in heaven I had skipped the line to be endowed with normality. I strove to become normal, to cast off my peculiarities so I could join the ranks of normal. I felt insecure and ashamed of my quirks and foibles, trying to hide them from others and assume the guise of normalcy, but like a leopard pretending to be a tiger it never quite worked.
Days faded into weeks and years full of unsatisfactory answers from bystanders and professionals alike as to the reason for my abnormality. Frustration, patience, moments of small accomplishments, and continued seeking for understanding marked the passing of time as I resigned myself to live in a tunnel of a not normal life. It cannot be said that I wasn’t happy because I was. Yet the puzzle of my life contained pieces that didn’t quite fit where they were placed along with several pieces missing. A marriage counselor deftly provided the missing piece. Autism. At the age of seventeen I found myself on the high end of the autistic spectrum. Turns out that I wasn’t normal. Finally the missing pieces were filled in and a clear image of the puzzle of my life became clear. I received specialized assistance. True, some of it came too late as I had already formulated my own coping skills, but much of it was greatly appreciated on my part and even more so on the part my family. Struggles still came and I was never completely comfortable with the label of my diagnosis, but it was more to work with than had previously been available. Nevertheless, a niggling belief that surely now normality was in my grasp, still germinated below the surface.
Flopped out in my reserved spot on the pluffy couch, gooey doughnut in hand, and surrounded by three small dogs, I grabbed and aimed the TV remote, the screen blinking to life. Flicking through channels I stumbled across SpongeBob Squarepants, a show I invariably loved despite the nonsense of it all. Taking a bite of doughnut I lackadaisically settled back to engage in some mindless entertainment before pursuing normal activities. The episode started out with the usual silly antics of SpongeBob driving sarcastic, intellectual Squidward to the brink causing him to accuse SpongeBob of not being normal. My ears perked up; there was that word that had haunted me since childhood. More attentive now I sat up doughnut forgotten in hand as I watched the episode unfold. Upset by this accusation, SpongeBob procured a self-help guide entitled, A Journey into Normality. He followed the advice and over time became a dull version of his previously boisterous self. Physically he transformed into a round, smooth version with proportional facial features along with thick straight appendages; nothing like the wavy, porous, big eyed, nosed and toothed sponge with wiggly arms and legs. No jelly-fishing, bubble-blowing, making of Krabby Patties, or any other nonsense. Just plain normality working behind a computer with absolutely no personality. Soon everyone around him, even Squidward, became annoyed with new normal SpongeBob, driving his attempt to regain what he had lost. With the aid of Patrick the starfish and some very strange activities it appeared as though he would return to his former bubbly self, but alas he was to be doomed to a normal life. That is until the astonishment of seeing normal Squidward shocked him back to his prior, not normal self.
Tropical music then ensued signaling the end of the episode. Stunned I sat back, took a thoughtful and final bite of doughnut as three eager eyed dogs looked on, pondering what I had just seen. To be normal is to be boring, to be bubbly and quirky is to be amazing. Everything I had believed growing up was blown away in eleven minutes by a talking sponge. Did I want to resign myself to normality or embrace my quirkiness? I realized that, no I don’t want to be normal; I want to be me, be Gemma. Quirky Gemma, shy Gemma, crazy Gemma, anxious Gemma (well to an extent), “I -don’t- eat-that” Gemma, giggly Gemma, witty Gemma, geeky Gemma, just Gemma. Surrounded by highly disappointed dogs, I resigned that I would be Gemma, no more of this normal stuff.
Some six months have passed since that spongy day. Through a large mental shift I have come to embrace myself, all the quirks and insecurities, and I love it so! Just the other day my sister inquired as to why I did something a certain quirky way. The explanation I provided caused her to laugh as she thought it was kind of silly. In retort I told her that if I didn’t have these sorts of eccentricities then what would my family have to chuckle at? What would life be like without silly Gemma to cheer them up? Normal? No, I am not normal, but that is how I like it.

Works Cited
“Normal.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2014.


Group Project

#SaveJosh: Excessive Computer Use and the Family Saving Solution by Blake Buchanan, Ashley Halverson, Austin Jelitto, Gemma Koontz, Natalie Miller


The stork dropped Blake Buchanan off in Ogden, UT, where Blake joined the Buchanans as the youngest, and favorite, brother. His family now lives in South Weber, UT, because they wanted to “get away from it all.” As a Mechanical Engineering Major, Blake uses the computer a lot for homework, but most of the time he just watches Netflix. Buchanan’s biggest pet peeve is when girls are wearing yoga pants but not doing yoga. This is in part because it’s impossible to know if they were just at yoga class or on their way there. Being a tall man, Blake sympathizes with giraffes, which are his favorite animal.
Ashley Halverson made her entrance into the world in Ansbach, Germany. As part of an Army family, Ashley lived in a many different, mystical lands. The Halversons currently call Fort Rucker, AL, home. Scott Halverson, Ashley’s dad, is the Inspector General for the NATO Forces in Afghanistan at this time. Presently, she is a sophomore majoring in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Ashley’s biggest pet peeve is bad smells, which somewhat contradicts her love for caribou. Ashley sort of enjoys using her computer time to watch Netflix, do research, watch funny cat videos, and write many, many essays.

Austin Jelitto was birthed in West Point, GA; but that didn’t stop his family from moving to Centerville, UT, where they now reside. Austin is majoring in Engineering but is open-minded and willing to look into other fields of study. Dragons are reportedly his favorite animal. High on Austin’s pet peeve list is the NASCAR off-season. Austin is moderately computer literate and uses them sparingly, mostly for homework and sports updates.
Natalie Miller hales from Lindon, Utah which is merely a stone’s throw from her birthplace of Orem, UT. Because of her decision to major in Human Movement Science, with an emphasis in Exercise science, she chose the Snow Leopard as her favorite animal due to its strength and ability to camoflauge itself in the snow. Like most people, one of Natalie’s pet peeves is when those around her “hint” at things and don’t speak their minds. Ironically, we’re not sure what she meant by that. In regards to computers, Natalie gets sick of them very quickly, but sometimes she doesn’t have a choice but to use them to do her homework. At the end of the day, when the dust settles and the leaves have fallen, Natalie wants all of her fans to know that she puts her right shoe on first every day.
Gemma Koontz may be best known for being the heart and spunk of Menden, UT, where her family currently lives, but she was actually born in Rapid City, South Dakota. Koontz has lived all over everywhere while being raised in an Air Force family. Her father, a security forces specialist, works for the Pentagon. You would never guess it from looking at her, but Gemma really dislikes it when people talk to her while she is reading. Not counting horses, owls are Gemma’s most preferred animals. Gemma is currently studying History at Utah State University. She is following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, who were also Aggies.

Audience Analysis

As technological advancements are made, we, as a civilization, embrace new and exciting opportunities. Readily available information allows for strides in societal evolution. However, each story contains two sides. As computers become standard in each household, the family
faces different challenges and negative implications arise. To evaluate the effects of these complications, as well as address the benefits, we have chosen a traditional family as our audience; the Halverson family.
At the heart of most families lies a love story, and the Halverson family is no exception. Karyn Halverson, maiden name Esplin, grew up in modest circumstances as the daughter of an Idaho potato farmer. Her family moved around the gem state quite a bit while she was young, but she eventually chose to leave Idaho and attend college at Utah State University. Karyn held a position as a dispatcher for the college’s police department. There she met her future husband, Scott Halverson, who worked as a security guard and was enrolled in the university’s Army ROTC. After a short courtship the two were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple and Karyn became an Army wife. Military service carried the Halverson family all over the country and abroad. While living in Germany, Karyn gave birth to their first daughter, Ashley Coral. In North Carolina, Joshua Trent, their first son, was born, two years younger than his sister. Four years later in Arizona Taylor Anne came into the world, completing the family. Karyn and her husband raised the children to have traditional values, a love for their country, strong religious
convictions and great respect for their fellow men. Love and laughter flourished in their home, no matter how often the location changed. As Karyn loves to say, “Home is where the Army sends us.”
Growing up without the modern conveniences of technology that they now enjoy, Scott and Karyn continue to learn what role these inventions play in their family. Colonel Scott Halverson has been deployed all over the world. This means the Halversons endure months at a time without being physically together. Because of recent advances, the family is able to use technology to close the emotional distance between them. Karyn spends a few minutes every night on “Facetime” with her husband. She owns an iPhone and hosts a very successful Facebook page. Fostering relationships is not the only result of technology in the Halverson home, however. Computer use became a topic of tension within the last year, as 17-year-old Joshua’s grades began to slip because of too much time spent in front of the monitor. Although she finds satisfaction and joy in technology, Karyn feels anxious about finding a solution to the negative effects of its overuse on her family. As an audience, she welcomes an increased understanding of the effects of computer use and how best to help her children succeed. Joshua possesses an equally receptive attitude to learning more about the implications of his minor addiction. He recognizes that he spends more time than necessary in cyber-space and would be more efficient if he limited his usage.
As a college graduate and third-grade teacher at Fort Rucker Elementary School, Karyn is very intelligent woman. Due to his advanced placement, Joshua attends college courses through his High School. The intellectual capacity of these two main sources, as our audience, allow us to use dignified and scientific language.

 Exec Summary

As technology evolves and the availability of electronic resources increases, worldwide usage of computers grows as well, specifically within the home. American teenagers and young adults are deeply affected by this growth. Videogames, social media, online homework programs, and many other such activities have sucked these generations in, distracting them from the world that exists beyond their glowing screens. The time spent on computers has many effects, both positive and negative, on the cognitive, social, and physical abilities of an individual.


It is believed that computer usage can improve multitasking skills, decision-making, critical thinking, language development, and math skills, depending on the mode in which the computer is used. For instance, studies indicate that the imagery and movement in certain action games can “provide them [children] with ‘training wheels’ for computer literacy” (Princeton University). This means that the skills that the games teach to children will be helpful to them later in life when they use computers in a workplace atmosphere. However, the use of computers may also be detrimental to the cognitive development of the teenage/young adult mind. As a result of the violent nature of many videogames, it has been suggested that videogames may make users more aggressive outside of the games. In a study on this topic, researchers discovered that high school students that played violent videogames were much more likely to lose self- control and to become aggressive (Whiteman). This worrisome discovery shows that computer usage in teenagers/young adults can truly cause serious flaws in cognitive abilities.


Time spent on a computer also has huge effects on the social capabilities of teenagers and young adults. Social media is huge in today’s society. Through pictures, links, statuses, and games, individuals can connect with one another in spite of any distance between their devices. Nevertheless, this connection is superficial; all that one sees is what shows up on the monitor. By wasting time on computers, teenagers/young adults miss out on real-world social interaction. Rather than getting out and meeting people at public events, people often choose instead to stay home and watch the world go by from the comfort of their electronics. Smartphones, which are essentially portable computers, make it even easier to miss out on the experiences that life has to offer. Instead of communicating in social situations, teens and young adults tend to fiddle with their devices, rather than attempt to start conversations with new people. Though humans are more connected than ever before because of advances in technology, they are also much more alone as people choose to view the world through digitized windows.


Physical health is also largely impacted by the time that teenagers and young adults spend on the computer. It is common knowledge that obesity is prominent in American life. Having computers in the home influences individuals to choose the internet and other components of computer capabilities over other more active undertakings. Many teenagers and young adults would prefer to stay in and scroll through Facebook and/or Instagram than go out to the gym or just to enjoy nature. This stationary behavior can lead to obesity, which can then cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and various other serious health concerns. Prolonged exposure to computer screens also has very negative impacts on an individual’s eyesight. Straining one’s eyes to see a computer screen, rather than adjusting for comfort, can eventually lead to a need for glasses or other forms of vision correction, which can be a very costly issue. Musculoskeletal problems can also be caused by extended amounts of computer time, as most
people do not practice proper posture while using computers in the home. These issues, along with many others, pose a high risk of poor health to those who devote too much time to electronic devices.


Appropriate time constraints must be placed on computer use in the home in order to counteract the adverse social, cognitive, and physical repercussions that occur as a result of spending excessive time immersed in technology (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). But how should a family go about setting such limitations in a world that has become so dependent on computers? We have come to believe that this dependency may actually be the key to creating balance between personal computer usage and family life.
Parents in contemporary society often pay their children varied amounts of money to do their chores. However, this often causes those pre-adolescents to grow up believing that they are entitled to compensation for things that they should be doing without monetary motivation. This sense of entitlement is a plague within the recent generations, increasing the desire for instant gratification and decreasing ambition. We have discovered a method which could motivate teens to do chores, finish homework, and accomplish other worthwhile goals in addition to limiting the time that they spend on the computer.
Parents are able to access the security components of a Wi-Fi router and adjust them as needed fairly easily (Mitchell). A parent could utilize this ability in order to improve the lives of their loved ones. We suggest that parents change the Wi-Fi access codes each day, then use the password to encourage their children to be productive throughout the day. In Megan Garber’s article, “Sorry Kids, Want Today’s Wifi Password? Do Your Chores,” there is an image of a handwritten list of chores that a parent has compiled for her children to complete before they will be allowed to access the internet. By doing this, parents teach their children about time management and responsibility. They learn that hard work and sacrifice is required before fun times can be had. It is “a set of rules that treat Internet access as carrot and stick rolled into one” meaning that it is both a reward and a possible punishment (Garber). If the teen completes the assigned tasks, he or she will be rewarded with the password. However, if he or she were to fail
to complete that day’s tasks, then the consequences would be his or hers alone.

So what makes this so different from rewarding teens with cash for chores? Rather than paying them for a task that they should have already done, this makes the reward a privilege to earn instead of a right that is inherently held (Children Addicted). The internet is highly motivational as well; teens desire to check on their social media networks, play games, and be entertained by all that the World Wide Web has to offer (Jelitto). Knowing that the sooner they complete their assignments, the sooner they will be able to access said resources, is most likely enough to persuade them to accomplish their goals successfully.
We also suggest that, once a teen has received the Wi-Fi password, that a limit of two to three hours of internet time be set (Children Addicted, Ghose). Any length of time beyond that amount is excessive and may cause damage to the still-developing physical, cognitive, and social capabilities of a young adult (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). A timer of some sort, whether it be a simple kitchen timer or an application on a cell phone, would be more than helpful in this endeavor, as it would emit an audible and unnegotiable signal to end the teen’s computer time (Matte). Having the computer in a public place would also make the monitoring
of internet usage simpler and less stressful for all those involved (Children Addicted). This will also prevent pre-adolescents from accessing sites and pages that the parents may deem inappropriate for viewing.
These restrictions are particularly apt to reduce the risk of adverse effects upon teens and young adults, as well as to improve the atmosphere within the home (Developmental, Impact, Liffick, Subrahmanyam). As chores are completed, homework is finished, and internet usage is wrapped up at a reasonable time, families will have the opportunity to use the time that is left over to bond with one another and grow as a family unit. Time together is priceless and will infinitely benefit those who value its importance and seek it often. By applying a system of time constraints on computers, negative consequences will be avoided and the benefits will flourish.

Works Cited

“Children Addicted To Computer Games â Top Ten Tips For Parents – TechAddiction.” Children Addicted To Computer Games â Top Ten Tips For Parents – TechAddiction. Tech Addiction, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
“Developmental Risks: The Hazards of Computers in Childhood.” Drupal 6 Alliance For Kids.

N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Impact of Computer Use on Children’s Vision.” Impact of Computer Use on Children’s Vision.

American Optometric Association, n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.

“Narcissistic and Entitled to Everything! Does Gen Y Have Too Much Self-Esteem?” Aspen

Education Programs. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Badger, Emily. “How Smart Phones Are Turning Our Public Places Into Private

Ones.” N.p., 16 May 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2014.

Garber, Megan. “Sorry Kids, Want Today’s Wifi Password? Do Your Chores.” The Atlantic.

Atlantic Media Company, 31 July 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Ghose, Tia. “Pediatricians: No More than 2 Hours Screen Time Daily for Kids.” Scientific

American Global RSS. LiveScience, 28 Oct. 2013. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. Halverson, Ashley. “Computer Usage.” Personal interview. 12 Feb. 2014. Halverson, Joshua. “Computer Usage.” Online interview. 10 Feb. 2014. Halverson, Karyn. “Computer Usage.” Phone interview. 13 Feb. 2014.
Jelitto, Dillan. “Young Adult Computer Use.” Personal Interview. 18 Feb. 2014.

Liffick, Blaise W., Ph.D. “Social Impact Characteristics of Computer Technology.” Social

Impact Characteristics of Computer Technology. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Matte, Christy. “Limiting Computer Use for Kids.” Family Technology. N.p., n.d.

Web. 17 Feb. 2014.

Mitchell, Bradley. “Change the Default Password on a Network Router.” Wireless / Networking. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Princeton University. Princeton University. Trustees of Princeton University © 2009, n.d. Web.

04 Feb. 2014.

Subrahmanyam, Kaveri, Ph.D, Robert E. Kraut, Ph.D, Patricia M. Greenfielf, Ph.D, and Elisheva F. Gross, Ph.D. “The Impact of Home Computer Use on Children’s Activities and Development.” Princeton Education, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Whiteman, Honor. “Violent Video Games Reduce Teens’ Self-control, Study Shows.” Medical

News Today. MediLexicon International, 29 Nov. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014.


Gemma Koontz


Mendon, UT

January 28, 2014



Bunny, the stuffed rabbit



Cultural Artifact



I am a twenty-one year old woman. I grew up in a military family and moved often. I now live in Mendon, Utah and attend Utah State University where I am working towards a BS in History with minors in Equine, Agribusiness Management, and Folklore along with a certificate in Museum Studies. I enjoy reading, doing geek related things, and spending time with my eleven pets.



As a way to introduce ourselves to the class we brought a cultural artifact to share. I brought Bunny.


Bunny is a green stuffed rabbit. I got him shortly after we moved to Germany when I was seven. I choose him because I loved/love rabbits, but was unable to have a real one when I was younger. Bunny and I did everything and went everywhere together. The only time we were apart was while I was school and when he had to get washed. Bunny is very well traveled and well read. He was my best friend and constant in a world of perpetual change. While I had few real friends, Bunny was my always there. He helped me through many hard times and wiped away many a tear. Everyone in my family had some sort of relationship with him so much so that he was a member of the family.



I told the class how much Bunny meant to me by speaking of him as though he was real which he was when I was growing up and still is now. When I speak of Bunny I am usually happy, but sometimes he brings memories to the surface that I would rather forget.


Bunny was my best friend and helped me through so much. He was and still is a member of the family. He is always there for me and understands my fears and knows my sorrows and happiness. Bunny is the Hobbes to my Calvin.










Four Generation Chart


The names on both sides of my family are conservative, partially due to the times in which the individuals were born, but also because both sides are conservative. This conservativeness in part arose from the area in which my family members resided. My paternal family has been in Bedford, Pennsylvania since the mid eighteenth century. They were farmers and members of the Lutheran church thus, the life which they led was conservative by nature. Similarly, the maternal side of my family resided in Utah and Idaho and is still there to this day. Some were farmers, while others lived in the city however; the majority were and are members of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints having crossed the plains with the pioneers. Until my parents married, much of my family hardly, if ever moved. In fact, one of my fourth great uncles on my father’s side moved to Chicago, Illinois and was basically ostracized from the family for moving, amongst other reasons. As can be seen on my chart it is not until me that a new location appears on the family tree. It is because of the military that my family has moved and in fact the reason why my parents met. My father has said if it was not for the military he would still be in Bedford.

            Interestingly enough every one of my grandparents was born during an era of hard times. The origins of my four generation chart were born around the time before, during, and right after World War One. The birth of my grandparents fell during the Great Depression and World War Two. My paternal grandparents were the ones born during the Depression and while I am sure it impacted the family, as farmers in Bedford they were already poor. The same goes for my maternal grandfather growing up on a farm in Idaho during the war. I do not know what it was like for my maternal grandmother, but I discovered just yesterday that very few pictures of my grandmother as a baby exist as film was not available during the war and as such the ones that do exist mean so much more. Just as my grandparents were born during times of difficulty and change my parents births occurred in the era of change, the sixties. My father was not impacted as much by this since like his parents he grew up in rural Bedford, but I do know that Star Trek and the lunar landing shaped his love of astronomy today. The same was true for my mother, she jokes about growing up with hippies but I know that this affected her as much as a loose hair on a dog to use a phrase my father’s family would probably use. Like the members of my family I too was born in a time of change as well as on a date connecting me to my grandparents. The year of my birth and the following year saw the end of the Soviet Union and a resolution to some of the lingering tensions of the Cold War which had influenced my parents growing up years. It also saw the third Star Trek series which I vaguely remember watching with my father. The day of my birth was the day of infamy, Pearl Harbor. I feel that this date that I celebrate every year connects my in some way with my grandparents and the era in which they grew up.

            Analyzing this chart has helped me to look deeper at the information contained in it. Growing up I have looked at and made numerous pedigree charts, but never before have I considered why the names one there were given to the individuals, or how the place and time in which my family grew up would affect me. Overall, it has given me a better appreciation of what a pedigree chart means, I have a family that I am connected to no matter what time or place they lived in of I live, families speak across the generations.


Dorothy Luella Spiers

Family Prank

Gemma Koontz

David Koontz

Mendon, UT



I’m The Gunner




David Koontz is fifty-three year old man who was born in the rural farming community of Bedford, Pennsylvania. As a young adult he joined the United States Air Force during which time he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then went to BYU and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in International Relations. He has served in the United States Air Force for over thirty years and earned the rank of Colonel. Currently he is stationed in Washington DC, but plans to retire next year and move to Mendon, Utah to live with his family. David enjoys Family History research, reading history books, doing yoga, and looks forward to the time when he can have his own colony of beehives. David is my father.



I recently Skyped with David and asked him to refresh my memory of exactly what happened and this is what he told me.


Pappy and his friends Landy Henry and Earl Imler were out shooting deer illegally. They went up in the fields on the ridge at night using a spotlight. Landy shot at the deer and missed. So Pappy said “Landy give me the gun, you can’t even shoot the broad side of a barn.” Pappy shoots and misses. Earl says “Koontz give me the gun.” Earl shoots, hits the deer and kills it. They loaded the deer up in back of the truck and to Landy’s shed to skin it. Put the deer up and start drinking beer and whiskey. They end up doing more drinking than skinning and after while they decided to skin the deer up. It’s important to know Earl Imler could never hold his liquor and became drunk quick. Pappy was always skinner. The deer was hung up and as Pappy was skinning it and got to the part where he was going to take out the entrails Earl was siting in the corner drunk saying, “HA HA I don’t have to skin the deer cuz I’m the gunner, my father was a descendant of Daniel Boone. You guys can’t hit anything; I got it, I’m the gunner. After listening to this for a time Pappy leaned over to Land and said, “Watch this.”  He took the knife and punctured the stomach. Now the deer in the area had been eating alfalfa and corn and it ferments in their stomach. All of the gases in the stomach came hissing out and filled up the shed. Earl had a weak stomach for smells so once he got a nose-full of the fumes he exclaimed, “Dammit, Koontz why’d you go and…” He said this as he ran to the door, cursing under breath. Once he made it outside he stood over the manure spreader just started heaving. Pappy and Landy watched this and died laughing saying, “Yep you’re the gunner.”


Dad was tired so he wasn’t as animated as he usually is when he tells stories, but he chuckled throughout.


This is one of the many pranks and practical jokes my grandfather did. He was a jokester and I can’t think of him any other way. I think sometimes we think of our grandparents as boring old people when in most cases that is far from the truth and these stories of Pappy prove that we are the same person as we grow older as we were when we were younger.