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to thine own scalp be true

February 17, 2015

I was Facebooking with a Kansas cousin recently, and discovered that we have two ancestors of note.  One of them, Peter  Wimmer, was the uncle of my great-great-grandfather, so you can imagine the closeness I feel for him.  His claim to fame was actually a claim.  He was a partner of James Marshall, who was building a mill for John Sutter in 1848.  Accounts vary, but the one I favour has Wimmer’s son John finding the nugget that started the California Gold Rush.

The more popular version has Marshall or the elder Wimmer finding it, but it’s fairly certain that John was sent with the nugget to his mother Jennie, who was doing the family wash.  She boiled it in a pot of lye, then let it cool off overnight.  Jennie had panned for gold as a child in Georgia.  She knew iron pyrites couldn’t survive that test.

And that, folks, is why the NFL now has the San Francisco 49ers.

The second ancestor goes back so far we’re not sure of his name, or really any authenticity, but I love the possibility.  He was supposedly Shakespeare’s barber.  Let’s set aside the notion that barbers of that time also performed surgery, at least according to the classic Saturday Night Live sketch “Theodoric of York” with Steve Martin.  Even with that factored out, I find it intoxicating that a relative of mine might have been anywhere near the Bard’s brain.

Imagine my ancestor standing behind Will.  As he clips away, the following ensues:

“Hey, Bill, how you doin’?  Writer’s block, huh?  I don’t know what that is.  Me?  Don’t get me started.  Okay.  Get this.  Last weekend me and the family are having a cookout in the backyard, and this punk kid Romeo comes over from the next block and starts hitting on my daughter Juliet.  For Christ’s sake, she’s just 13.  My old lady’s nephew Tybalt freaks out and wants to go all Black Plague on Romeo’s scrawny ass, but I break it up.  Then that night, the punk comes back and yells stuff in Juliet’s window.  You know we got a basement apartment over on Park Street.  If Tybalt finds out about that, there’s gonna be grief.  No, I don’t know why we live in London and have Italian names.  You want your sideburns trimmed?”

And Shakespeare thinks “hmmmm”.

As Rush Limbaugh says, it could have happened.


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