I have a long and illustrious pedigree. Interestingly, furniture and mixed metaphors are woven throughout the warp and woof of my family tree like a tunnel left by a powder post beetle.
The earliest recollection of family goes back to 1736, when the local lord, a certain A. A. A. D’Artagnan Umslopagaas Dynamite Macaulay, took a decided interest in my Irish ancestor Brutus Sippican’s bodger business. He was egged on, no doubt, by Brutus’ wife, Fanny, who was described by the local constabulary as “comely of visage, and a real goer.” It is said that she would tout Brutus’ abilities in the making of his innovative “Two Legged Stoole,” and was unstinting in her efforts to attract potential buyers from far and wide, especially when Brutus was out gathering wood.
Not much is known of Brutus himself; but according to court documents he was called on urgent business to a British town called Newgate, and liked it so much he decided to take up permanent residence there. Mr. Macaulay kindly offered to look after Fanny, and it is said that Brutus’ youngest bairn, raised in the lap of luxury at the Macaulay estate, was so happy with his new accommodations that he began to favor his step-father even in his physical appearance.
After a time, old A.A.A. seemed captivated by the young lad’s proclivity for daubing interesting things on the walls, and legally had the boy’s name changed to Mene Mene Tekel Upharson Sippican, and turned him out of doors and bade him to make his fortune in the manual arts, though the boy was only three. We Sippicans are a doughty lot, and often make our way in the world early in life.
Mene Mene made his way to London, where he was a great hit. He was trained in the classical manner in an alley, and found many deep-pocketed patrons for his talents, especially on race day when people were crowded very closely together at the rail. Mene is said to have grown forlorn after a time, and was so stricken with longing for his long lost father that he followed him to Newgate and decided to “hang” there as well, to use the amusing vernacular of the time.
But before Mene left, he too had a son to carry on the line. Little Belvoir Sippican was born into straitened circumstances, but like all our line, soon learned to look after himself. He is the first of our line to make his way to the Americas, although his name did not appear on the register of any ship for some reason. Like many of our clan, he liked to keep an unostentatious profile. He was a gifted storyteller, and is said to have regaled many of his former British Isle compatriots with uproarious and detailed yarns about a certain G. Washington.
Various locals took umbrage at the silver-tongued devil’s ability to entertain his audiences, and Belvoir was chased from the burgs of New York due to such jealousies. He decided to make his way to Canada to make his fortune, which he no doubt would have done had he not succumbed to injuries suffered in an unfortunate mumblety-peg incident in Boston.
But the Sippicans are nothing if not lucky, and Belvoir was able to find a woman willing to carry on the line, who in an astonishing coincidence was married to the fellow old Belvoir was playing that exuberant game of mumblety-peg with. Cassandra seemed put off by her husband’s behavior and left him to raise little Cyrus Sippican on her own. Cassandra was a proud woman, and considered a style setter in each of the numerous towns she inhabited. She seems to have started the craze of wearing letters on your outerclothes as a fashion statement, a practice still in vogue among American footballers to this very day.
Cyrus grew up and was said to be a giant among men. He made his way out in the landscape as a wrassler, sometimes against other humans. His signature move, the eye-gouge, is still popular in modern wrestling circles as well as daycare centers.
Here the trail goes cold a bit, although you can espy Cyrus painted into the bottom left corner of a Thomas Cole landscape painting, bothering a bear for the amusement of a gathering of Mohican Indians who were Cyrus’ trading partners. The painting, though one of the finest of the Hudson River School, is too indistinct to determine what business Cyrus had with the Indians. He is reported to have purchased large quantities of corks in New York, so he may have been teaching the tribe how to fish using a bobber. We can only conjecture.
Cyrus lived to a ripe old age, and after his death, his son Archie Sippican made his way east once more. He is rumored to have been employed mowing the lawn at Thoreau’s Walden Pond cabin allowing Hank, as Archie called him, more time to write. Various items that formerly belonged to Mr. Thoreau have been handed down in our family for generations; we are planning to read the book some time in the future as well.
The trail goes cold for a bit again, but Archie’s peripatations led him to Chicago, where he was reported to be talking excitedly to the fellow that shot William McKinley just moments before the dreadful deed; but apparently the Sippican silver tongue was not enough to dissuade the gentlemen.
Archie’s bairn Cuthbert was said to have what sounds like some sort of door to door cutlery sales business, and traveled widely and quickly around the midwest. The exact nature of the business is unknown; but there are many references to families throughout the great midsection of our land counting their spoons after a successful visit by old Cuthbert.
Cuthbert had a brother, who was apparently both some sort of doctor and a convert to evanglicalism. He is said to have been very handsome and popular, and traveled widely throughout the south, and went by the unusual moniker of Positive Wasserman Sippican.
The Sippican line’s Irish-Catholic roots asserted themselves again later in the twentieth century, when my own father, Cuthbert’s grandson Zoltan Sippican, was testifying in court about some matter or another. When asked, “Occupation of Father?”, young Zoltan answered, “I think he’s taken the Holy Orders, your honor.” “Why is that, son?”, asked the judge. Zoltan replied that he was told that every time Archie was brought before a magistrate and asked his occupation, he was famous for answering: “Nun.”