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Watercolor illustration of an average American family tree going back for several generations to the early 1900s.  The tree features family members from every notable decade of the twentieth century, including a Flapper, a Flower child,  a disco dancer and even Miami vise wanna-be.
**click illustration to enlarge**
(watercolor on paper, 18X24, 2005)

"American Family Tree"

As someone who knows very little about her own lineage I envy people who have family trees that can be traced back for centuries. Most of my grand and great-grandparents were orphaned at an early age and I guess survival took precedence over keeping up genealogical records.

I'm very proud of the ancestors I know about, but I can only imagine how inspiring it is to know who your ancestors were a few centuries ago. Just knowing what they had to endure so that one day you can be born should be enough for a person to try to be your best. I believe that being aware of one's family history gives a person an extra incentive to try harder to become something in this life, because if he screws up - he'll let down all those who came before him... Just a thought, but I digress...

Although, I, personally, will never be able to compile a big family tree reflecting my own lineage, as an artist I'm free to create imaginary family trees, as I did in the illustration on this page. I called them the Hayner clan. The patriarch of the Hayner family came to the U.S. from Germany in the beginning of the twentieth century.

Albert Hayner found his Irish Catholic bride Elizabeth Burt in America. They had two daughters - Emma and Margaret. Emma the older of the two sisters was shy and quiet, so the Hayners were extremely happy when she managed to attract a wonderful suitor whom she married shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, her husband died in his early thirties and Emma never remarried. The younger sister, Margaret, was a wild child. She thoroughly enjoyed the 1920's and as her parents almost started giving up on her she decided to settle down with a man she just met. Nobody expected the marriage to last, but it did.

Margaret and her husband became wonderful parents to a baby girl whom they named after Elizabeth. Elizabeth in her turn had two daughters; one, (Mary), inherited her grandmother's wild spirit, while the other, (Ann), took after her more quiet great aunt. Everyone was very excited when Mary gave birth to the first boy in the family. Ten years later Ann had a baby girl. Of course no one was surprised because they were used to the Hayner women only giving births to women...

"Why waste your time and money looking up your family tree? Just go into politics and your opponents will do it for you!"
Mark Twain

"Family: A social unit where the father is concerned with parking space, the children with outer space, and the mother with closet space."
Evan Esar

"We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies."
Shirley Abbott

"I don't have to look up my family tree, because I know that I'm the sap."
Fred Allen

"A tree is known by its fruit."