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Tuesday, July 21, 2009


"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Their sons ought to study geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."

John Adams (Letters to Abigail)


Found myself thinking about this memorable quote after newly-discovered cousins Mike and Patricia Charbonnet and their lovely daughter, Fabienne, left yesterday afternoon after a much too brief first visit. We were meeting for the first time, and it was wonderful!

Fabienne is a recent graduate in art history from UCLA who is leaving in a few weeks to take a teaching position under the French Ministry. She will live there in the place from which our ancestors sailed some time in the 1700s to start a life in the New World. What an adventure! I'm hoping that she'll take the time to visit the Charbonnet's ancestral home in Thiers before returning to the States. Wouldn't that be something? Mike and Patricia will travel with her to locate and get her settled in her new living space -- stopping off in Paris before returning to their home in Santa Barbara.

We talked about how many of the current generation are into one or another of the arts (which is what brought the Adams quote to mind). I recalled how strong were the craftsmen represented in our lineage. All of my father, Dorson, and Mike's grandfather, Joseph Charbonnet's brothers, were carpenters, plasterers, bricklayers; "Builders." But then there have been the politicians and technocrats, I'm sure. Find myself wondering about just who we all turned out to be over succeeding generations? There are many writers among us, and now that I'm officially published -- I'll count myself among them.

Here's hoping we'll begin to come together soon in order to have the chance to explore just where life has taken us over time; to learn whether we've finally reached the place on the continuum where wars are behind us in our venerable ages-old Charbonnet Family's development -- and that final stage in social evolution so eloquently spoken of by John Adams has been attained. Perhaps we mirror the nation in that respect ... maybe. It's possible, right? We've been around long enough (since long before the Revolutionary War) to serve as a measure of national progress, don't you suppose?

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