When I received the letter notifying the resident that the official census form would be arriving in a week, I felt as if a nice package was on the way, and put the letter in the center of my desk as a reninder. Yesterday, on schedule, the official form arrived. Last night, my husband and I sat down and responded to the so few, simple questions, mostly with a check mark. The act seemed worthy of more time, or of a brief ritual. That’s because I recall finally finding my grandmother’s name in the census. In the first record,the census-taker had written “Maurice” for the child in the household. Her name was actually Marie (Pearl Marie Kinder). I found her in a later census, same household, appropriate age, with the correct name. Since she had no birth certificate,no death certificate,and her crude tombstone had been washed away in the hills around Bell City, Missouri, the census records were like finding personal notes. Hello.
NewsThe Universe Playing Strings, a novel, recently released by the University of New Mexico Press. For details visit R. M. Kinder.