“Hey Dad,” one of my kids asked the other day, “what was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?” “We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,” I informed him. “All the food was slow.” “C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?” “It was a place called ‘at home,'” I explained. “Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.” By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:
Let’s say that your great-great uncle Remus Starr, a fellow lacking in character, was hanged for horse stealing and train robbery in Montana in 1889. A cousin has supplied you with the only known photograph of Remus, showing him standing on the gallows. On the back of the picture are the words: — Remus Starr: Horse thief, sent to Montana Territorial Prison, 1885. Escaped 1887, robbed the Montana Flyer six times. Caught by Pinkerton Detectives, convicted and hanged, 1889.