Post 6 — The Family Has Questions

As Jean had suspected, the news that four of the grandchildren were about to be whisked away to some unknown island was not met with much enthusiasm on the part of the grandparents. “What the hell are you going to Africa for?” her father shouted. “You don’t know what could be hiding in that jungle!” It was difficult to calm the parent’s fears when they knew so little themselves, although they were pretty sure the island wasn’t in Africa. Lack of information was a major problem — it wasn’t like they could just Google American Samoa and get all their questions answered.

The relatives weren’t the only ones who had reservations. The thought of living in a strange new culture made the children uneasy as well. Although Detroit had a large minority population, their suburb of Harper Woods was overwhelming white. There were no black children at the parochial school they attended or on the block or anywhere else that the girls could think of. Their grandfather had made some rather disparaging remarks along the lines of “you’re all going to get as black as the ni–” which made Jean shout “Dad!” and shake her head at her father. Although Jean and Larry were hoping to broaden the children’s horizons and avoid this kind of thinking, it still gave Chrissie pause.

“Carolyn,” she whispered to her sister after they had dropped their dimes in the collection basket at church. “Is Samoa where the pagan babies are?

Carolyn nodded her head vigorously and said, “Absolutely. I’m sure Sister Donna Imelda said that’s where they live.” Carolyn was an expert at saying everything with authority. Even when she didn’t know what she was talking about, you still believed her.

The girls had been taught that as good Catholics, it was their job to help save the poor pagan babies who had never been baptized. Being denied this important sacrament meant the souls of these little ones would fly around forever in purgatory should they meet an untimely demise. Chrissie would often imagine that limbo was a very sad place, full of plump brown babies with tiny wings fluttering as they bumped against the floor of heaven. She and her sisters were required to contribute half of their allowance to the salvation of these unfortunate infants, and she frequently felt guilty about her resentment of this, as she had a fondness for Batman comics. But at least it gave her something to talk about in confession. She wondered if religion would be this hard on the island.

Catholics can eat meat here on Fridays and don’t wear hats to church. Wonder what the stand on birth control is out here. Would be interesting to find out. We went this morning enmasse and at end of mass just after the priest left the altar, the congregation broke into a closing hymn. “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in Samoan. Even the kids did a double take on that one. We figured some Texas missionary must have been working the neighborhood! We’ve been told they also have a rousing rendition of “Onward Christian Soldiers” that they do.


Eating out was a treat that didn’t occur very often, but a celebration was in order after the decision to move had been made. The Broquets had settled in at their favorite restaurant, a fish and chips place called Blue Gables where a family of six could eat for cheap. The placemats on the table had a map of the world printed on them, and after the strips of fried perch had arrived, Larry pulled out a pen and said, “Girls, I think we need a little geography lesson.” Carolyn rolled her eyes at Kathy and concentrated on her coleslaw. In their father’s opinion, life was full of teachable moments, even if his daughters felt he should stop once the cameras were turned off.

He drew a circle around the fiftieth state. “This is Hawaii. We’re going to stop there on our way to Samoa.” He drew another circle around New Zealand and then connected the two dots. “New Zealand looks like it’s right next to Australia but it’s actually a thousand miles between the two islands.” He drew the final ellipse around a speck that was barely visible. “And this is Easter Island. This place has gigantic stone sculptures that are very mysterious. No one really knows how they got there.” The only mystery Carolyn was interested in was how Blue Gables made their coleslaw so delicious. She missed the part where he connected all the dots because she was eating Karen’s.

“So that’s why this is called the Polynesian Triangle. Each side is over 5000 miles, which means the triangle is larger than the United States. Polynesia means “ many islands” and American Samoa is a group of six about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. Do you girls have any questions?”

Kathy started to say something but was drowned out by the wail when Karen discovered her coleslaw was gone.

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2 Comments to “Post 6 — The Family Has Questions”

  1. Chris, do you remember you tried to baptize me when we were little kids? It’s funny that you remember that still.


  2. Judy, I do not remember that at all! I hope you haven’t lived your whole life as a Catholic because you thought it was binding. I do recall that I married my cousin Albert at the party celebrating my First Communion, because, hey, I already had the dress on. I’m not sure there was ever annulment, so I think that makes Rosemary and me Sister Wives! Chris


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