Day 236: Sammy Moore’s Family Tree

Sammy Moore’s Family Tree
Matt Zurbo


One day Sammy Moore work up with branches coming out of his head.

Things only got worse,

and worse!

“Dad, Mum! What are you doing up there?” he said.

“This appears to be your family tree,” Mum confessed. “Look, there’s your Grandad, and Grandma, and Great Granddad, and…”

“I get it,” said Sammy Moore. “Boy you all sure are heavy!”

“Heavy, you don’t know heavy! In my day we had to –“ a very old man said.

“Oh, here goes your Great, Great, Great Grandpa again!” Grandma moaned, rolling her eyes.

“Well, it’s true!” Great, Great, Great Grandpa insisted. “We used to live in a tin hut, and haul coal. There was no school for us!”

“That’s nothing!” complained a boy in weird rags. “I had a job pulling the open manure carts during the Black Plague!”

Soon, the whole tree was arguing with each other about how hard their lives were.

“Please be quiet!” called Sammy Moore. “Or I’ll chop you all down!”

“What was that?” a frail on voice said.

Sammy Moore looked up to a very, very old man, cupping his hand behind his ear to better hear. He was in the very, very top branches, so must have been an early relative.

“He said ssh, Uncle Bobo,” somebody else said.

‘Well, in my day, we used to go out on a small wooden boat and hunt whales. Many of us died,” Uncle Bobo said.

“Ssh,” voices insisted.

But Sammy wanted to hear.

“There are so few whales now, why did you do it?” he asked.

“Well, we didn’t know any better back then. We thought they would last forever. The fat from the whales was put on sailing boats back to England to burn for London’s street lights.”

“So before electricity London was lit by Australian whale fat?” Sammy Moore asked.

“For a long time, yes,” the old man said. “We used to love the whales, so mighty. There were so many, at night they would sing to each other in the bay. We would sleep by fires, listening to them under the stars.”

“Did anyone else have an interesting job?” Sammy asked.

“I raised 11 children, and still managed to study chemistry,” said a lady with a Scottish accent. “Some of my notes were studied in turn.”

“I was a tracker,” an Aboriginal voice said.

Sammy Moore couldn’t believe it! ‘So cool!’ he thought.

“What a job!” he said.

“I was a part of the Barranbinya mob, then we got mostly killed, and the white fella make me track other mobs to enslave.”

Sammy Moore suddenly felt angry and sad. That wasn’t the history he was taught at all! History was so different when told by the people who were there.

Sammy looked white, but so what? He could spend forever talking to his Aboriginal relatives, about the Outback and hunting and their way of life, and colonisation.

Then it hit him!

“I could talk to you all and never, ever have to go to school again!” he cheered. “I could just listen to you tell stories!”

The family tree kept growing.

“Ahh, history. I remember when they first proved the world was round,” a voice said.

“Wh’re ye talkin’ aboo!?”protested another relative, in a Welsh accent so strong, Sammy Moore could barely understand it. “D Eart’ be flat!”

In a flash, the whole tree was arguing with each other! Over whether or not the Earth was flat!

And if cars were “Devil beasts!”

This was incredible!

“What’s going on with your head?” a Lilly Quiche asked.

“I have my family tree growing from it!” Sammy pointed, happily.

“Hmm, how will you get inside at school?” said Lilly. “What will you do if it rains?”

“And how will I wear my hat!?” Sammy squawked.

“I see the top branches are mostly Scottish villagers, Irish, Scandinavians, Aboriginals, and maybe a few Italians,” Lilly said. “I think I see some Russians, too!”

“I know, it makes me think about what being an Australian means,” Sammy confessed.

“Hey, if your tree keeps growing, there will be cavemen in it!” Lilly laughed. “And monkeys!”
“… Far out,” Sammy gasped.

“I’ve never heard such…!”
“Of course they’re right…!”
“How dare you think…!”

A hundred voices rained down! Traffic stopped. People looked.

“What was that?” Lilly yelped.
Sammy Moore was embarrassed. His relatives could be a pain.
“They argue about everything,” he said.
“Let’s take them to the park, then,” Lilly said.

“Oooohh,” teased Sammy’s relatives.
“Kissy, kissy…!”
“Hold her hand!”
“Get married first.”
“Another branch to the tree!”

“Be quiet!” Sammy grumbled.

In the park, which backed onto the bush, the top of Sammy Moore’s head almost blended in with the other trees and their mobs of white galahs, kookaburras and lizards.

“An insult!” a few of his relatives said. ‘We’re not galahs!”
“It’s beautiful,” Sammy’s Mum insisted.
Sammy poked his tongue out at all the noise.

Lilly Quiche looked up at all the branches.
“Your last name, are most of you from the English moors?” she asked. “The unused lands?”

“We are Nordic,” thick accents came. We gave the English that word. The name starts with us!”

“Nordic…? Like, Vikings…?” said Sammy.

“The word Moore, in Gaelic can mean ‘noble’ or ‘great leader’,” an Irish voice said.

“My son’s name was Kuparr! It meant ‘Red Earth’ to the Ngiyampaa people,” an Aboriginal woman said.

Sammy Moore’s head was spinning.
“Woh!” he relatives said, trying to hang on!

He sat down in a graveyard, where there were no trees, to think.

“Hey, are any of you famous?” Lilly called. She was having a ball! “Are there any King Wallywarts, or Erick the Vikings, or Tutankhamen, or Moses or something?” Most people loved to think they were a descendent of someone glamorous!

All Sammy heard was embarrassed coughs. “Anyone…?” he said.

“Well, the word ‘Viking’ means ‘raiders’ and ‘pirates’. So I guess I was a pirate, does that help?” a Scandenavian voice finally cried, from far up the tree.

“One of my relatives was a pirate?!” Sammy Moore beamed.

“A thief and murdered!” protested several farmers, and the tree was arguing again!
It was deafening!

‘Try working for a living!”
“Viking dogs!”
“A coward’s life!”
“Anyone can steal! But to grow a good crop…”

“Lilly, stop asking them questions!” Sammy Moore said.

“But just think of all the world’s problems they could solve!” Lilly whispered.

Mum and Dad were close enough to hear whispers if they dangled from their branch.

“Relax, darling, all that is us is now in you, anyway,” Mum said.

Sammy Moore looked at his relatives. To think he was made up of all of them, and all of their stories, was super daunting!

Then he looked at all the other trees, and imagined them with other people’s family history in each branch. All the trees arguing and agreeing and telling each other stories.

“Imagine if they all got along…” he mumbled to himself.

“That night, sleeping wasn’t easy. At least ¼ of Sammy Moore’s relatives snored!

Then, in the morning, about half of them wanted to share their dreams, and the other half were angrily telling him how he should start his days.

“Ride a horse before breakfast!”
“Get wood for the stove!”
“Heard the cows!”
“Prepare for battle! Prepare to die!”
“Dress neat for school.”
“Empty the rat traps.”

It was the best! And annoying at the same time.

A police officer approached.
“We’ve been getting complaints about the noise,” he huffed, and arrested Sammy Moore.

Sammy went to court where they ordered his tree be cut down and put in old books that no-one will read.

“NO!” the Scottish villagers protested, as two police with chainsaws approached. “It will be like being dead again!”
“Don’t let them cut the top of your head off!” shouted a Welsh dairy farmer.

Sammy Moore didn’t have any famous people in his tree, but he did have a small time thief who was good at picking locks! Or even opening handcuffs! And a convict uncle who told him how to run!

And somewhere in there was a lawyer who knew someone on the judge’s family tree.

Sammy Moore just wanted some piece and quiet – no arguments! To shut up his family tree, he and Lilly took them on a rollercoaster ride…

Then to the beach.

And the local skate park.

And the morning paper delivery job, where he earned the money for the rides.

Just to show them who he was. What they had made.

Then, Sammy Moore planted them where he could still visit and learn, then moved on to find his own way.

Eventually, all Sammy Moore’s bad decisions in life started growing like towers of talking termite mounds on his back, but that’s another story…



The End

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