When I was in grade school, my dad told me he was a World War I artilleryman.
He told me that he was a high school track star.
He told me he broke his leg playing football against Notre Dame.
He told me he cooked jackrabbits in a snow cave.
You can see at what point I started being skeptical.
But my late father's credibility started a comeback this week when I took advantage of a new online feature brought to us by Ancestry.com. To commemorate Memorial Day weekend, the Utah-based Web site offered free access (until June 6) to more than 90 million U.S. war records.
I searched for my dad's name, his state of birth and in which conflict that he fought. And there it was: his draft registration form. He really was a World War I veteran (actually, the doughboy outfit in my dad's garage and the photo on the right were hints as well).
Now, I had independent confirmation.
Dad's draft registration card also revealed another clue. He listed a broken leg that he suffered at Haskell Indian Institute. Sally Jenkins' latest book about another American Indian school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School, reveals that it wasn't far-fetched for one of those schools to play football against the big boys.
Hmmm. Maybe he did break his leg against Notre Dame.
Now, about cooking jackrabbits in a snow cave ... Where do you verify that?
Tommy Cummings | firstname.lastname@example.org