I went to Dallas for Thanksgiving, where my great-grandfather settled for reasons lost to the mists of time. He was a blacksmith. There will be a family reunion there around Xmas, and for some reason I can't remember I exhorted all my relatives to attend. Now in order to show good faith, I need to go, too. I tried to recall why I wanted to go, aside from finding out about cancer in the family, but I don't think there's much interest in that. I probably don't need it, since I don't have that gene mutation. Anyway, I realized the reason I want to go is to find out why Great-grandfather Max R ended up in Dallas. There was the very strangely-named Industrial Removal Office, which existed to remove Jews from New York City. It was founded by German Jews who were afraid that if there were too many greenhorn Eastern European Jewish riffraff (such as my ancestors) around the city, speaking Yiddish, gesticulating, and being Orthodox, they would destroy all the hard-won assimilation points that the earlier immigrants had earned. (OK, they also wanted the new immigrants to have jobs.) This is how the removal service worked: Agents of the IRO would travel around the hinterlands and find out what sort of workers were needed in various towns. Maybe Atlanta needed a cobbler and three tailors. The guy would report back to New York, which would send out a new immigrant cobbler and three tailors post-haste. The IRO was founded in 1901, which was after Max R had settled in Dallas, so the records of the IRO won't help us. Maybe the other R relatives at the reunion will know something. My aunt said that she heard that the Rs set out for the Far West from Texas in Conestoga wagons, that the Rs were the scouts at the head of the line. This is laughable, considering that our family motto is Not So Fast. But maybe the ones who went West were fast, and left the cautious ones behind. We shall see. I am more timid than most of my friends, but to my family, I'm Amelia Earhart. I came North at 18, thinking it was East. It took me several years and as many plane rides to realize that Chicago and New York City were not in the same region.

These are the little cousins, the ones a generation in front of (behind?) me. Some of them are ruby- and white-eyed from the flash. Three little cousins weren't there. In the napkin-covered baskets are squares of excellent corn bread--not sweet like the Yankee style.