It all started when I heard that my great-grandmother was accused of murder.
There we were at Aunt Aila’s, sitting in the living room, sipping tea, munching cookies, and visiting. After a little while, Aunt Aila got up and left the room. She returned with a large box. She said Sammy had sent it (my uncle). She set the box on the coffee table and opened it.
She withdrew a large envelope from the box and from it a piece of paper which she passed to us. I had never seen such a paper. Printed in bold type across the top was "Descriptive List of the Prisoner."
At the bottom were two pictures of a striking young man, one facing forward, the other to the side. I read quickly down the page. The crime was murder.
"Who was this?" I asked.
"Archie," Mom said, "Grandma’s brother, your great-uncle."
Auntie Mary told us what happened. Oh, my. I hardly knew I had an Uncle Archie, now I knew why. Then she started talking about the fire and about finding the body and about Grandma T’s mother being arrested. I was floored.
"Was that the time Mother told the man’s fortune?" Mom asked.
"No, that was another time," Auntie Mary replied, another barn-burning story and another scandal. I had heard that one.
"I never heard any of this," said Mom.
"I was a middle-aged woman before I knew my mother lived in an orphanage," declared Aunt Aila in reply.
"Orphanage?" asked my brother, Jeff. "What was she doing in an orphanage?"
Nobody seemed to know.