Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 5

by Sheri Fenley
(c) Sheri Fenley, June 2008

I am not a writer nor do I play one on TV. I had intended this to be a chronological accounting of my experience... but each time, as soon as I posted one part I realized that I had left something out. So to continue with that theme…. Dr. Debbie Abbott was on my scary list too. She was also a part time student in the Land Records class and sat next to me in the back of the room (this is were that “sitting in the back of the class was a good thing” comes in). Being the new kid in school I had no idea who she was at the time, but I had a check mark in the scary column by her name. When Birdie introduced her she stood and walked to the front of the class and gave me a little nod. I dug in my bag for the bottle of white out and took her off the list. My basic formula for the Scary List: Librarian = Scary, PhD = Very Scary, Elizabeth Shown Mills = Very, Very Scary. You’ll be pleased to know that I no longer have a scary list.


Today we had Birdie all to ourselves for almost the entire day. When it comes to land, the records they produce, maps and how to plot them - Ms. Holsclaw reigns as the Queen in my book. She took us through (what she likes to call) mini-case studies to teach us how to plot maps from the calls in survey descriptions and how to use that information to find our ancestors. We got into our groups again and Birdie gave us a hands-on case to solve using multi-partitioned deeds. The manner in which Birdie Holsclaw teaches her classes lets you know that she started out in the genealogical field just like everyone else - a novice who through hard work and a genuine love of her profession put her at the top of the field today.

After break was when IT happened. We heard a deep rumbling sound. Ann Staley said it was thunder and the rain would start soon. I told her that I had just come in from outside and the sun was out, sounded like a motorcycle to me.

She went to the window and peeked out the blind and said “Oh, it is a motorcycle” and started to turn away from the window looked again and said “OH MY GOD, IT IS A MOTORCYCLE AND CLAIRE IS ON IT!” We just about fell all over ourselves rushing to the window. I’ll be damned, there she was, Claire Bettag, wearing a skirt mind you, riding shotgun on a Harley, waving to us with the biggest grin on her face. I didn’t know Claire liked to ride. She did not have a single visible tattoo as most “Motorcycle Mama's” are known to exhibit. Maybe things were different in the East than out West. For more information on this historic event or to get on the waiting list to be Claire’s roommate next year, please contact her directly. P.S. - For those who want visual confirmation, photos are available.

Our 6th and final guest speaker was Carolyn Earle Billingsley, PhD. Ms. Billingsley was on the list, but I had bought her book and after the first few chapters I had erased her name. Her topic was “Kinship Theory and Migration.” Her explanations of how and why people migrated as groups made such perfect sense to me. I highly recommend her book. She was very entertaining and skilled at getting her points across. I may be wrong but I got the feeling that she and I both march to the beat of a different drummer. But ultimately we are all in the same marching band (See - I did understand the book!).

Before I could leave for the day Birdie asked me how long my presentation would take. Presentation? Yes, how long was it going to take and would I be using a PowerPoint presentation or would I need an overhead projector? I just about passed out. I thought she had wanted maybe a written paragraph or two about my work. OMG, I don’t have a laptop, much less any of those other things she mentioned. I had to sit down. I told her that the answer was none of the above. She smiled sweetly and said OK, an oral report 10-15 minutes would be just fine.

Samford has a tradition of holding a lovely banquet the last night of our stay. I am sure that anything you wear would be OK, but most wore something a little dressier than daytime wear. I went to the dorm to get dressed and made it inside just as the sky opened up and let us have it. It rained cats, dogs, sheep, elephants, you name it. I have since heard that the rain is traditional on banquet night. The food was wonderful as usual and the speaker, Paul Miller, was entertaining. I was having a hard time concentrating. I was still trying to make myself understand that I am going to talk to people, while standing in front of the class. Talk to them like I knew what I was doing.

I got back to the dorm and went to bed dazed and confused but with a smile on my face.


Sheri Fenley is a guest blogger here on Genea-Musings - previous blog entries include:

* An introduction, and a description of the IGHR program at Samford University in Birmingham, were posted 19 June 2008 as "Meet Guest Blogger Sheri Fenley."

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 1" was posted 20 June 2008.

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 2" was posted 21 June 2008.

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 3" was posted 22 June 2008.

* "Sheri Goes to Samford - Post 4" was posted 23 June 2008.

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