Friday, October 14, 2011

What Are Friends For?

"It's all your fault!"

I laughed. Jackie is so dramatic. But she got my attention. 

"What? What did I do?"

"One thirty in the morning! I was up until ONE THIRTY! And if my laptop battery hadn't died I'd have stayed up later!"

Okay. I know I was asleep at 1:30 am. I'm never up that late. 

Jackie and I used to hang out at the family history center every Tuesday night when we lived on the Cape just a year ago. It was so fun. We became best friends. She'd bring me Dairy Queen Blizzards. I hid them whenever one of my children came in from playing in the gym. We would laugh and laugh about nothing. Truth be told, we'd get a kick out of listening to each other mumble not so nice things at the computer screens. I loved the occasional screech of "Agh! I found him!" 

Family history centers are like productive and happy coffee shops. Everyone cares about what you're working on and almost everyone is a bit perplexed about something. It's not unusual to hand your chair over to someone who has been looking over your shoulder so that they can sit down and fix your mess.

I listened for about 10 minutes as Jackie told me story after story about her late night on You see when we worked at the family history center there was free access. It was more than either of us could afford to subscribe to privately. We had two hours week of intense searching and printing. And laughing.

Finally I got to the bottom of her "complaint" against me. The day before, less than 24 hours earlier, she'd called frustrated that she hadn't been able to get to the center and she really wanted to work on some family history. I asked her what she wanted to use in there. Was it the microfilm, fiche, or It was Ancestry.

"Jackie, I have a subscription. You KNOW that! Use it. That's why I got it!" 

I can't afford things until they become vital! is like that for me. 

I waited while she got the Internet up and got to the home page. I wasn't sure I remembered the user name and password, and she kept leaving her caps lock on. It took a few minutes before she screamed, "I'm in!" and I knew the conversation was done. It's like that when you have the family history bug. It owns you.

I giggled listening to Jackie tell me how much she loved "those little leaves" that pop up when the site finds new leads. She went on and on and on. She was like a breath of fresh air to my soul. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I so wanted to teach her some things that I'd learned. But as I started to I felt the shift in her telling me, "This is my moment! Let me enjoy it." Shut up, Betsy (me to myself!)! Don't say a word! Listen.

There has to be at least one of you who wants to use my with me and Jackie, and some woman in Ohio whose name I can't remember. (We met over the phone by mistake last year. She uses it a lot. I just have to remember to tell her when I change my password.) I'd be thrilled if you do. 

It's a lot more fun sitting as a group of friends in the family history center on a Tuesday night or Saturday afternoon, eating ice cream and laughing. I miss those days. 

One of my other dreams was to buy a big Victorian house and set up a few rooms with computers and, etc. I'd bake some bread and we'd have a blast just hanging out. You could pop in whenever and stay 'til whenever. But I go to bed really early so you'd have to lock up. It would be you, me. and all of those dead people! Problem is you'd have to live nearby! 


In the meantime...please share my subscription.

Email me:
 I'll send you the info. you need to start playing.

Update: As of today, Tuesday the 19th October, there are 2 new people using my Ancestry subscription. Two more and we'll have to set up a schedule so that we don't run into each other!

Update: Nov.15th: Hooked another one!
Update: Dec 11th: One more added!
Update: Jan. 9, 2012: One more added today!


  1. Betsy, aloha. What a fun post. Thank you for sharing your story and the evolution of Jackie in a full fledged, out-of-control family history buff.

    Betsy, what I truly appreciate is that you "listened" to her and told yourself to "shut up" and let her enjoy her moment. That's fantastic; that's what friends are for. Besides, Betsy, you know you will have plenty of opportunity to share the "tricks of the trade" with her.

    While I appreciate the the offer to share your subscription, I will pass on it. Look forward to a future post when you tell us who took you up on your offer.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Until next time, aloha. Janet

  2. Janet!
    No, I know how you feel about family history. I would have been shocked if you took me up on it! Funny how when something's free it's not of as much value to someone. At least that's what I've learned. Jackie, however was already using it and it was easy to plug her in because it was something she needed and wanted. Those are the people I'm hoping to connect with. People like me who have the passion, but can't afford all of the tools to break through a few more walls.
    Thanks for your ongoing support and friendship, Janet. You are one of a kind!

  3. I've kicked around the free stuff, but lately because social has somewhat 'consumed' me it has been on the back burner.

    I do enjoy genealogy however, I find it fascinating learning about your relatives.

    Yes, once you get the bug, you really get it.

  4. There was a time Bill, for years actually, that the family history bug came for a few months and then went away as I got busy with life again. It feels like it has stuck for good these past two years, but I still struggle with the daily routine of it. I succeed when I focus and do the small stuff. Keeps the passion burning!

  5. Betsy,
    Your Victorian house dream sounds awesome! As I read I was thinking, Aw, we don't have a family history center here, "like productive and happy coffee shops". They sound so cool!
    I'll be over anyway - what kind of bread are you making ;-)

  6. You might have one near you...
    My bread is just plain white with a lot of butter! Wouldn't it be fun? I could laugh with you Lori!

  7. Omigoodness, Betsy! I so share this passion of yours! In fact, I was so excited to recently learn that an aunt of mine (who I had never officially met before) was into compiling a family tree as well. She already had 6 generations down on her mother's side and was working on her father's side (my side). We put our information together and I'm now her assistant. =)

    You know, I dream of studying a Master's in Library Information Systems or Archival Studies one day because I love organizing information and making them accessible to the user. It's just so exciting to know that you're opening up a new world of knowledge to someone! =)

  8. Samantha! I'm so excited to find you! I have an organizing system that has saved my life. You can modify the materials. I use it every day. Take what you want or leave it all if you have a system. Thanks for stopping by. You made my day! Betsy

    Instructions to the File System

    Some free downloads of 18x24" charts. Print them out at Staples for $1.99. Family Reunion Cousins Chart 4 Generation / Family Group Chart

  9. Betsy,
    A beautiful and powerful message. Thank you for this. ~Amber-Lee

  10. Amber-Lee,
    So fun seeing you here! Have a fun day. See you around.

  11. Hi Betsy,
    My Uncle who is retired and has an abundance of time set up a family history tree website. It is really cool and it was something that I wanted to do.

    Your idea about a Victorian House and setting up computers and About a mile down the road is a big Victorian house that was renovated and turned into a B&B several years ago.

    The owners could not afford it anymore and it is for sale. I was thinking it would make a great office hub but I like your idea better.

    The name of the B&B is, "The Slades Inn." It is located in Monkton Maryland. There are pictures of it on the web if you want to do a search.

  12. Oh my goodness, Justin! I looked it up (I couldn't find a real estate listing) and it's EXACTLY what I want. I'm sure it's expensive! But can't you imagine how fun it would be? Thank you for going the extra mile and sharing this dream with me. It means a lot. And Maryland! Beautiful place!!

  13. I know that the owners put 3 million into rehabbing it plus the purchase price. I am fairly sure that the bank is asking under one million for it now. It sits on 23 bucolic acres too.

    I know that is a lot of money but with a couple of investors it could be possible.

    The for sale sign is down now but the sign holder is still up. Maybe someone bought it. I don't know for sure though. Take care..

  14. Wow! From what I could tell it was exactly what I was dreaming about. But it seemed like the community was too stuffy for what I wanted to do. The interior was very nice. The house I'm looking for is beat up with lots of charm. You've got me thinking!

  15. Hey Ms Betsy....Hmm... Daddies still out there somewhere. I know this doesn't add much. But I just wanted to let you know..I love the way you write. The way you suck me straight in...then spit me out smiling at the end. Thank you.xx

  16. You're soooo funny! I still say he's hunkering down in NYC. Thanks for being so patient. I've got a hole that my passion is dripping through. Know what I mean? All I want is a fire, a few books, some herbal tea and some comfy blankets. Maybe THAT's why I want the Victorian you could come over and WAKE ME UP!


What do you think? I'd love to know.