The Rooney Tree: Some Genealogy, Some Hearsay

Article excerpt

Byline: jackie rooney

One way to beat the heat is to stay inside and tackle some cool special projects. This summer, in lieu of my annual rummaging through closets to see what should be thrown or given away, I revived a genealogy research project that has long sat dormant.

I unearthed the family Bible and other evidence of life before the Rooney Bin at the request of my niece, who wanted help investigating her paternal heritage. The birth of my grandniece was the probable inspiration for delving into our family history.

"Family faces are magic mirrors," journalist Gail Lumet Buckley said. "Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future."

That's one way to view it. On the other hand, it's been said that we trace our heritage so we'll know whom to blame. Every family tree has some lemons, some nuts and a few bad apples.

I can trace about two generations with documentation of the actual existence of ancestors for my hubby, the Binmeister, and me. The rest is hearsay passed down by kinfolks who couldn't spell names, but had some great tales to tell. Perhaps that is why I'm having trouble tracing our ancestors; either that or most of our late relatives were in witness protection programs.

No. 1 daughter is enchanted with the idea that she's a descendant of Pocahontas based on the family legend that a Virginia ancestor wed a Powhatan Indian. There also is the tale of a relative who lost both legs in the Civil War; I do have a tintype of an unnamed soldier in Confederate uniform.

Besides curiously spelled names, a recurring dilemma is caused by the challenge of reading handwritten records. I can't fault ancestors for poor spelling and bad penmanship because I've created a couple of modern day knots in the family tree. Using Facebook, I managed to clone myself, and I don't know which one of me to delete. In a similar scenario with Family Tree Maker, I somehow have given the Binmeister two lives, one as my spouse and the other as a "single father." I can't erase the single Binmeister without committing Rooney family genocide. Woe is me. I've created faulty family records for generations to come.

RED HOT CHRISTMAS

Cooling off was a matter of mind over matter on July 26, when about 30 Red Hat Foxes got together for a tropical Christmas-in-July at Plantation Country Club. The foxy gals, most age 50 and over, wore Santa hats (red, of course), colorful leis and outrageous garb. Red Hatters get their name and proclivity for odd attire from lines in the poem "Warning" by Jenny Joseph: "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me." The gals sang Jimmy Buffett Christmas carols and brought "secret Santa" gifts to exchange at the luncheon. Mary Jane Brown presided as Queen Mother of the madcap group, and Jody Moore celebrated her birthday as Queen for the Day. All in all, the Red Hatters had a merry time, and it might have been my imagination, but I felt a decided nip in the air-conditioning.

CHEFS AT NIPPERS

Speaking of nips, Nippers Beach Grille at the Beach Marine, 2309 Beach Blvd., opened May 16, but didn't hold a grand opening until everything was just right. On July 27, all was perfect at Nippers' splashy opening gala, "From Surf to Turf, an Evening with Chef Kenny Gilbert and Friends." The bash raised money for Hook the Future Foundation, an organization that teaches kids life lessons through fishing. Gilbert, an alum of the Bravo Network series "Top Chef," invited area celebrity chefs to join him, and each prepared a signature dish. Gilbert's culinary pals included "Top Chef" alum Arnold Myint; Erika Davis of Just Desserts; One Ocean executive chef Ted Peters; Bistro Aix owner/executive chef Tom Gray and Restaurant Medure executive chef David Medure.

About 200 people packed the 9,000-square-foot waterfront eatery that has views of the Beach Marine and seats 300 or so inside and outside in an adjoining 6,700-square-foot patio area. …