a’shamin’ and a shunnin’ we will go!


The one thing that I will never understand, and may never be able to forgive, is the shaming and the shunning Jane’s family perpetuated the moment they heard she was pregnant. It wasn’t enough to put her through hell during the pregnancy, they continued the shaming and the shunning of me too. When I was old enough to kind of understand what they were doing, it was incredibly painful. To me, it meant the mere act of breathing was something my own family found offensive and less than human.

My family has a long and illustrious history of shaming and shunning. The earliest family member I can remember being a victim was my Great Uncle Henry. They shunned him all the way out to the West Coast! It was all because of who he fell in love with when he was younger. He committed the cardinal sin of falling madly in love with his First Cousin.

Kind of sounds like a Greek Tragedy, doesn’t it? 🙂  

Oh they were head over heels in love! They planned to run away together to get married, but that plan got the wind knocked out of it. So Henry moved West, much to the delight of his family. He worked as a Gaffer for the Motion Picture Industry in Hollywood, CA for many, many years.

My grandmother wasn’t allowed to stay in contact with her own brother and to do so would have meant being shunned too.

Geez! My family must have a little Amish in them!

My grandmother was rebellious about this though. She and Henry kept in touch through the US Postal Service. They wrote letters to each other in French. That way if one of the notes was intercepted, no one could read it, or tell who it was from because no one spoke French, but my grandmother.

I remember growing up I would peruse Jane’s photo albums and ask questions about each of the pictures. She had a stack of autographed 8×10 glossies of movie stars sent to her from my Great Uncle Henry. Henry would get them signed for her when he was working at the studio and send them along in the mail for her collection when she was growing up. I had no idea who most of them were, except one. It was a picture of Elvis Presley and he was wearing a sheik’s head dress. Oh my, he was handsome! It was signed “To Jane with best wishes from Elvis”


Henry remained out of the family’s favor until the day he died. Imagine that. His body was flown all the way back home and he is buried next to his parents in the Oakdale Cemetery. I wonder what kind of eulogies were given at his funeral.

“Dearly departed Henry. I regret never getting to know you beyond the gossip and intrigue that got you shunned from the family for the better part of your life. But now that you’re dead I guess it’s okay to say that you WILL be missed.”

Oh and the First Cousin he fell in love with? I remember hearing that the two of them finally did reunite later in life and perhaps resumed their doomed love affair. I’m not sure if that’s true, or not, but it sure sounds romantic to me. I don’t really know what happened to her, but I do know that her brother became kind of famous.

He was a newscaster and his name was David Brinkley, and he was also one of my cousins.


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to a’shamin’ and a shunnin’ we will go!

  1. Pingback: What’s normal? | Madeline Scribes

  2. nikkifrankhamilton says:

    Oh Katy, I love the story, wish it were fiction! Obviously, you have taken lemons and made the best damn Lemon Drop martini….EVER! I am coming to a better understanding of you and your strength. Much love! Xoxo


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