Monday, September 15, 2014

Genghalia, meet the Roosevelts

I originally intended to post a RAVE review of Ken Burns' new mini-series "The Roosevelts" which is airing for two hours every night this week on your local PBS channel.  He is the genius who brought us "The Civil War", "Jazz", and "Baseball" to name a few of his previous series for PBS.
But then I also wanted to talk about my own identity search...

So first, The Roosevelts.

I watched the first episode last night.  As you may have guessed, I'm a history buff, always have been and always will be.  Most of my fiction is historical (or is that hysterical? - Naaaaahhhh, don't digress.)

ANYWAY, "The Roosevelts" lives up to the hype.  I've seen many of the reviews claiming it's Burns' best one yet.  I concur.  It is an excellent series, well researched and presented in an unvarnished manner - i.e. showing these three people as they really were, warts and all.

The series follows Teddy Roosevelt, his niece Eleanor Roosevelt, and her distant cousin whom she eventually married, Franklin Roosevelt.  Their individual stories are the stuff of legends, but taken altogether, they become an amazing American saga of an incredible family.

Of course Teddy Roosevelt died decades before I was born.  Franklin Roosevelt died several years before I was born.  But I had the  privilege to come to know Eleanor Roosevelt from afar.  She died when I was thirteen.  I was so taken with her work for the poor and the disenfranchised she inspired me into my adult life.  Also, she was an amazing woman who faced great adversity and used it as impetus to make her stronger.

This is a common trait among all three of these people.  They each knew tragedy and sadness enough to break them. But it never did.  Instead they became stronger, reaching goals many would have said were impossible for them to meet.

I may be prejudiced, but I think FDR was our greatest 20th century American president.  I hate to think how the country would have survived the Great Depression, much less World War II without his leadership. That this man who could not walk worked a schedule that would have killed a lesser being and ran the country through its greatest economic disaster to date, and served as commander-in-chief until the last four months of WWII was a miracle in itself.

These three people were larger than life, sometimes with hubris that large as well.  They were fascinating and are realistically seen in Burns' new work.

Watch won't be sorry.  We need inspiration in our current world situation.  You just might find it in these three remarkable people.


I've had a bug in my ear for several months.  I've been wanting to get my ancestral DNA researched.  Like most of us, I only know my heritage back for three or four generations.  Admittedly, I am a mutt (a mixture of several nationalities) - but that's the norm for Americans these days.

Besides as an amateur historian, I know there's a strong possibility that some of my ancient forebears went to some interesting places - I am Italian and those Romans got around...

I've been teasing my dad that we might have Mongol blood.  I told a friend I might even be related to Genghis Khan (or maybe Khan Noonian Singh) she asked me what would I call myself, Genghivita? (among others) I chose Genghalia...

Anyhow, I ordered the kit and yesterday did the deed.

First you have to spit into a that may sound easy, but it took me five times to get enough spit into that little have to fill it to a black wavy line.  I hate to think what anybody would have said to walk in on me spitting into the tube, checking the level, and swearing before I spat again. (oooooohhhh, I get to use spat - good word!) The only witnesses were my Shi Tzus who after an initial head cocking went back to sleep, supremely disinterested in the whole process. Honestly they're that way about most events unless food is involved.

When you have reached the desired level of spittal, you unscrew the funnel from the tube and screw on a new tube to the existing one.  Once they are screwed together tightly enough, the new tube releases a liquid into the tube with your DNA.  You have to shake it five times (I do believe in spooks - I do believe in spooks - I do believe in spooks...) Then you place the whole connected tube into a plastic bag provided in the kit, seal it shut with it's own adhesive band, put it in the postage paid, preaddressed box and drop it in the mail.  Then you get to sit and wait for the results.

So now it's out of my hands...I will sit and wait to receive the email telling me my countries or origin...while I yearn for something exotic, it will probably come out English, Italian, German, with just a hint of Native American...which means my ancestors fought each other a LOT.

Oh well, at least I'll know.  But if it turns out I'm part Norwegian, I flatly refuse to eat ludafisk...tried it once and put it on the same level as poi (sorry Hawaii)...I'm Italian enough not to eat either of those concoctions again...

I'll let you know the reveal ...

Take care and enjoy our rich and varied Pop Culture - made so by the many nationalities who came to our wonderful country and blended together.


  1. How exciting. The series sounds great. I have a lot of admiration for the Roosevelts. But somehow I missed the debut. What channel is it on - please don't say this is another paid station? But the really exciting part is finding out more about your roots. Good luck.

  2. My hubby and I stumbled on it the night before last and have watched the first two parts with avid interest and look forward to the next five. I always love these documentaries because I learn things I never knew about the subject of the show. These documentaries should be required in every history classroom.

  3. These documentaries have already taught me a few things I never knew before. I have devoured several books about Eleanor and Franklin, but never knew until last night that they lost a child. I'm not as well read on Teddy, so I have learned quite a bit about him. He was a most efficient killer of animals which I don't like in the least. Oh well, different time - at least he preserved the habitats and saved the buffalo from extinction.

    As to finding my roots, I may be alienating the remaining family by my search. Some of them don't really want to know. Bless them.

  4. Just watched the last of the Roosevelts. It was a good series and as others have pointed out, there were things to be learned that I had not known before. But in the end, I was disappointed that there was so much more, especially about Franklin and his impact on how we do business here in the USA that was NOT even mentioned. Did you know that he was the father of our modern CIA? In his day it was the OSS - Office for Strategic Services and it was highly controversial so it was kept out of the public eye. His "friend" William Donovan was tagged to fill that enormous gap in knowledge for Franklin as he strove to guide our country into a war we could not avoid even though most wanted to. Wild Bill Donovan was hated by FBI head Hoover with a passion and Franklin was the man in the middle. Nothing at all was said about the efforts to beat the Germans to the development of the atomic bomb except a passing reference to the fact that he did not let his VP know what was going on. I'm sure there were other equally enormous holes in the story, but these two alone changed the face of this country and the world and Franklin was in it up to his eyeballs.

    1. It could have been 24 hours instead of 14 with the wealth of material on these three people who impacted the political scene and our society in such important ways. I, for one, was astonished that they only mentioned TR's death in an offhand statement. They didn't say when he died (except it was in 1920), how he died, or where he died. I had to Google it, otherwise I might have thought he was run over by a streetcar or something. He died of an embolism at home at Sagamore Hill in January of 1920. I, too, thought more on the Manhattan Project should have been included. But I was tremendously pleased that the mini-series devoted time to Eleanor's accomplishments after Franklin's death. She was the voice of civil rights, equality for women, and a driving force in the creation of the United Nations. The latter prevented a nuclear war between the USSR and USA, by giving us a forum to show the world that the Soviets lied when they said there were no missiles in Cuba. Otherwise, none of us might be here now. All in all, I thought it was a great series. I learned many things I did not know, especially about TR. And also about the Roosevelt children and grandchildren, their participation is WWII. I also thought it was telling Stalin was afraid FDR had been poisoned. Sounds like transference to me. I already knew Hitler's reaction...I'm glad I watched it, but am glad it's over. I don't like to be "saddled" watching something night after night, no matter how much I like it.