Shakey S. Smith

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Branching or Blame my June birthday

Posted by [email protected] on July 8, 2014 at 5:40 PM

I will be tackling the Dupee Family Tree in the next few days

There is a genealogical style family tree that Mary created for me.There are a lot of characters.  I, myself, enjoy reading books with lots of characters. I grew up on Wodehouse and the Oz books, lots of interlocking characters and that is the way I see the world. —well, I draw the line at “100 Years of Solitude.” 100 characters named Jose? I won’t do that to you. I do not have Garcia Marquez' talent for weaving storylines.

There are a lot of Dupees, 5 generations of them all crammed into one small, hardscrabble, dusty, Kansas County. Gray County is kind of like Garcia Marquez’ Macondo—sleepy, isolated, a little backwards but always humorously forgiving of its own.

I write what I know. I live in a sparsely populated place, myself, where everyone is connected to everyone else, whether by blood, experience or paper. The names are few and repeat over the generations. Even the most obscure citizen has six or seven legends attached to his/her name, some from infancy.

I came here as a stranger 8 years ago. I came here from another place, a lot like this and I grew up in yet another dreamy backwater. Not a lot happens out here so people tell stories. When a person moves to one of these Kansas Macondos, she hears stories about characters before she knows the characters. These stories are fascinating but seem unconnected, like blocks in a colorful quilt that has yet to be pieced and stitched. As time goes by the quilt blocks come together and the stitching that holds it all together becomes visible.

This is how I envision the reader picking up my stories and piecing them together. There is no order to them. Any story the reader picks up will eventually become a part of the whole.

Like a real family the Dupees do share family names. This aspect of family life has fascinated me since I was a little girl. My own Helfrich family tree has the names George Valentine and Valentine George used over and over since the 1500s. It strikes me as funny, weird and, somehow almost spiritual; almost as if families are entities in themselves and one generation heals the karmic wounds of the last generation, passing its errors on to the next generation to correct. At least that is one way to explain my “branching” characters. Another explanation is that I am a Gemini—always seeing double.

Anyway, I plan to write a short thumbnail description of each Dupee before trying to load the tree. I will arrange the tree chronologically beginning with the first Jaks (Jaques) Dupee, his partner Timoteo Le Barre and their Kiowa wives, Tea Kettle and Tin Cup.



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