46. Roots “R” Us

Today is the 85th birthday of my brother-in-law Bob Ford.

Here he is as a little tyke on the left with his older brother Don, and younger brother, Gene (my husband).  Don’t let the angelic countenances fool you.  My mother-in-law Mabel told me that all their friends and neighbors were dead-sure all three of the little rowdies were going to end up in the hoosegow.  Somehow they made it through the bruises and scrapes of their teen-age years just in time to be faced with fighting for their country in World War II.

Don in the Army fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Europe.  Bob in the Navy was a radio man in the Pacific.  Gene graduated from high school and enlisted in the Navy Air Force as the war was ending.

After that, Mabel said, things finally begin to calm down. All three of the former hell-raisers got married and settled down.  Don achieved his Ph.D. and the rank of full colonel in the Air Force, Bob became a distinguished district court judge in Iowa, and Gene became a successful businessman and author in Seattle.

According to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation (also referred to as the “human web”) everyone is at most six steps away from any other person on earth, so that a chain of, “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in six steps or fewer.  In Bob, Don and Gene’s case, it took a lot less fewer steps than six for what followed.

Like many of us, Bob was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  So was Don and Gene. And like many of us, I think Don and Gene were born at Mercy Hospital. Bob may have come in too much of a hurry because he was actually born at home. Otherwise, he might have been born at Mercy Hospital also.  Bob’s wife Arlis and sister-in-law Lois did their nurse’s training there and I worked there during four years of my schooling at Mount Mercy. My family lived two blocks from the hospital during the years I was in high school and college.

I and all my siblings were born at Mercy Hospital too. I am guessing that my sister-in-law Lorraine (Don’s wife) and her siblings were also born there. All of Bob and Arlis’ children and my sister Joan and brother-in-law Tommy’s children were born there too. So are several of my great-nieces and great-nephews on the Fitzpatrick side. If this is beginning to sound like some kind of inbreeding, stay tuned.

All of the Fords and all of the Wilsons and all of the Gormans lived in St. Patrick’s Parish.  All of us were baptized there by either Father Lenihan or Father Peters. Our First Communions and Confirmations and Catechism classes were all under the auspices of the same Sisters of Charity.

We all attended St. Patrick’s School, and everybody but my brothers and me graduated from there.  We shared some of the same teachers, the same uniform styles, the same hangouts –(like the Maidrite), the same Shamrocks’ basketball teams, the same school plays, recitals, and dances in the gym.  We spent our youth struggling together through the Great Depression and World War II.

You might say that Roots “R” Us.

Of the three brothers, Bob is the only one who stayed planted in Cedar Rapids, but all of us still call it “home”.

It took him years, but Bob compiled an exhaustive report of the Ford family geneology.  Ths result of that effort still amazes me.  On the Fitzpatrick side, Kelly Fitzpatrick (could he possibly be Irish?) did a similar report. Such treasures are real legacies to their families.  Bob and Kelly are the heroes behind those chronicles.

Here’s a photo of Bob and Arlis with most of their brood.  Most of the kids have scattered across the map, but, somehow, they remember their roots.

Of course, Bob isn’t exactly “planted”.  To prove it, here’s a photo showing off his Dancing with the Stars technique.


Happy birthday, Bob.  Cherish the day!

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One Response to 46. Roots “R” Us

  1. Linda Lewis says:

    Now about that first pix of the Ford boys. Who was their hair stylist?

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