An Excerpt from Search for the Shadowman
Excerpted from Search for the Shadowman by Joan Lowery Nixon. Excerpted by permission of Yearling, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
The minute the bell rang in history class the next morning, Mr. Hammergren
asked, "How many of you have begun your interviews with relatives?"
Lee Ann Dooley waved a hand. "I can't! My grandma in Florida just got
married again and is off on a honeymoon. And my grandma who lives in a
rest home can't remember much of anything."
"Then ask your parents if they've heard any of your grandparents' stories.
Go back as far as you can. Maybe your family history will begin when your
parents were children."
"Everyone else has grandparents." Lee Ann's lower lip curled outward.
Her glance fixed on J.J. "Or even a great-grandparent."
"Tell you what," Mr. Hammergren said. "I'll let you borrow my grandmother.
She won't know any stories about your family, but she can tell you about
riding streetcars when she visited the big city and canning vegetables
and making jam and sewing all the clothes for a family of six girls..."
Luke Martin raised his hand. "I've got a problem, Mr. Hammergren," he
said. "When my mom's father was young, he got in a fight and went to jail.
Mom said under no circumstances could I put that in my report."
"I certainly don't expect you to include every single family story you
discover," Mr. Hammergren said. "Record the best. Make your report interesting.
And remember that it's better to leave some things out of the report."
"Like the mystery man." Andy realized he had spoken aloud when some of
the kids turned and looked at him.
"What mystery man?" Lee Ann asked.
Andy carefully gave his explanation. "He's one of my dad's relatives,
from way back in the eighteen hundreds. His birthdate was listed in the
family Bible, but then his name was crossed out. My great-aunt Winnie
first said he never existed. Then she told me not to ask questions about
him because she wouldn't answer them."
"Then I'd suggest you forget this mystery relative," Mr. Hammergren said.
"This report is not intended to cause family problems."
But Andy's mind was on Coley Joe. He wasn't about to forget him.