LIFE: You either quit or keep going. They both hurt.

AN HUMBLE ARTICLE OF PRAYER SUBMITTED FOR THANKSGIVING

I grew up in a sibling family of leaders. We Burnett siblings were all taught by both of our parents to be independent in almost all things from a young age. And that was tangibly reinforced as each of us saw among the others of us the various stages of each one growing toward being the independent people our parents were hopefully training back then. Again, Mom Burnett used to say “you never know what type of person you are raising, you just do your best and hope.”

Music is among the most objectively honest things a person can do in life.
You can either do it or you can’t do it yet.
And neither condition is a permanent state of being.

I had four brothers and four sisters whom I got to know personally while growing up. Yes, there were nine of us children who had lived beyond birth. Our sibling birth years range from 1943 to 1964 a span of over 20 years. I am a late Baby Boomer, the exact middle in that birth order with two older brothers and two older sisters, and two younger sisters and two younger brothers.

That means our mother literally had school-age children from the age of 19 until she was 59 years old. Think about being nearly 60 and attending your youngest child’s high school graduation ceremony. Wow. Different times and societal eras.

Our two eldest brothers were NCAA DIV 1 varsity scholarship athletes.

And although there are literally two generations contained within my sibling family cohort, our parents must have done a great job raising us because I don’t recall any of my siblings ever being purposefully divisive, troublemakers, or liars against one another in order to gain favor or approval. Sibling rivalries, yes. Dustups and scraps, yes. But maliciousness, or vengeful intentions, no.

We each maintained a level of character and decency as we had been purposely taught by our parents and elders that was based on the “Golden Rule” and other standard biblical principles. That doesn’t mean any of us were or are perfect.

I grew up attending St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Paola, Kansas.

I heard my mother say on numerous occasions that if “something” ever happened to her, we’d be able to successfully fend for ourselves competently. She succeeded in that goal and all of us were equipped to live lives of quality. But it was and has always been up to us and our own choices. That’s key.

During this process parents inherently piss off their children. Most people have heard such parental lamentations like: “this hurts me more than it does you” and “you may not understand now but you will later.”

Every year my high school class still gets together for a reunion in the town where we all grew up.

As leaders, we were inherently taught how to deal with “bullies” of all types. We learned that bullies could be friends and strangers of course, but also among the people in your family and inclusive of other dear loved ones.

We learned all of this BEFORE we left our sibling home to make our own paths as autonomous adults in the world at large. I don’t recall ever hearing of someone taking advantage of (or deceiving) any one of my siblings by catching them unaware of such nonsense no matter how things often look in the short or mid-terms of development. And we didn’t get into many physical altercations.

A pre-growth spurt picture with my 8th-grade basketball team. I was 5′ 2″ tall and started at point guard.

We were all taught to play the “long game” as you do in chess.

Some lessons eventually stuck with us as base character traits. We were taught “right from wrong” and we didn’t act like it was someone else’s fault whichever of those we chose to do in a given situation or circumstance. At least we didn’t try to do that within our sibling family or in the company of close family friends because we knew someone or everyone would call it out.

Morning coffees with T 💕

Terri’s Anderson sibling family lived parallel to the Burnett sibling family ethos described here. I also observed how both of her parents interacted with her as an adult. T was groomed to be a refined lady and musical artist.

Professional photo shoot in T’s Office Studio

When she and I became our own branch of the family in 1979, we intentionally raised our two children to hopefully be confident leaders. And ethical people. However, we have learned that what they actually become is largely on them.

All of this “tough love talk” actually does take into account that we all get to a place in life where we’re beset by serious challenges that can hurt us to the literal point of permanent damage or actually kill us prematurely.

Thanksgiving and Homecoming with our eldest. 💕
Visiting our youngest and her family in England. 💕

These are among the “old people lessons” that my mother Violet and Terri’s mother Sintha used to try to give us forewarning of before we became parents of adult children. At some point, you have to let your children stand on their own. And sometimes they won’t like it. Sometimes they will get over it and sometimes they won’t, or at least it might take some living with their own adult children to come to terms with how their own parents have been previously judged. We have already learned that one.

Even though we are successful adults and successful parents with a family of our own by most of those common metrics, and Google searches didn’t exist back then, I was still actually mature enough to know that I was not my parents’ friend or peer – no matter how old I got. It doesn’t work like that in Black culture. I know that showing elders such respect actually doesn’t diminish me in reality, it shows that I can be counseled and taught.

We were fortunate to find out we were musicians.

Sometimes we parents can overprotect to the point of spoiling certain aspects of the development of our children. We all do it no matter how much we try not to make the mistakes with our own children that our parents did with us.

But I do know that I have yet to see anyone who practices evil deeds succeed in this life over the long term. Likewise, reciprocity is simply meted out to balance such extremely warped souls who think that they have all of the answers until they don’t. Sometimes we need such checks and balances to provide a path toward healing.

I come from a noble line of people and am proud to carry on my family’s heritage.

I have learned that familial love isn’t about keeping score. And it is a sad perversion when that type of mentality enters into family dynamics on any level. Weaponizing the Internet to “troll” or “bully” one’s family is comical to someone of my generation because people my age don’t actually need technology as a definitive part of our daily lives like that.

And in an age when you can literally search the Internet on your device until you find something (and you will) that validates or justifies your position, regardless of the topic, the possibility of miscommunication among loved ones is amplified.

We’ve done pretty well for two professional musicians who also became a family in our twenties.

This simply shows a lack of character, or a moral lapse in the least, and the hilariously incompetent use of a potentially marvelous communication tool. It’s like the unintentionally malicious use of email to send stupid chain letters that you didn’t compose to all of your friends without using the Bcc feature to hide their email addresses. Except on purpose.

Starting fights with me or “ghosting” me from behind computer or smartphone screens is like someone cursing me out in a language I don’t understand or speak. You really told me off, but did you? So, using a “meme” as the basis of the title of this article is sort of ironic.

I think the reason that I truly don’t buy into the hype of all that is because I learned enough lessons while growing up and know the difference between doing what is “right and wrong” at the core of my being. I know that hate never wins. I will not practice hate regardless of the situation. I will choose to leave you alone rather than hate you. Hopefully, peace will win.

Having lived long enough now to have been with some fine people at the ends of their lives and witnessing that to a person each one stated in their own vernacular and words essentially that life isn’t about winning arguments or one’s own selfish pursuits.

THANKSGIVING: We always have more to be thankful for than not. We all need the help of others.
Each day is a new opportunity to do something positive and use your talents for good. You might have the opportunity to help someone else help themselves to get through one more day and not give up.

We can usually overcome being imperfect humans and mend family relationships even if mental illness, alcoholism, or substance abuse are part of the dynamics that we need to mend. However, we are not to let ourselves be abused by such wounded spirits no matter if they are embedded within people we love deeply.

LIFE: You either quit or keep going. They both hurt. Read that again.

Shoes Older Than You …

PHOTO: “First Haircut” – Me at age 2, our Barber, and our Dad taken by our Mom

One of the first mentoring sessions that I can remember having from my father included his deliberate efforts to “teach” me how to mow our lawn – certainly a basic and practical skill set that he knew would be useful to me in life. Along with most of the lessons inherently learned from both of my parents, I have subsequently used Cliff Burnett’s method of cutting grass at the various stages throughout my entire life. And with most always excellent results too, I must admit here in hindsight.

These skill set lessons were applicable to learning most anything and largely taught based upon his already having established prior successful experience accomplishing a particular task.

Often he would not say anything verbally to me. He would do the task as I watched, then I would repeat the task the same way that he had done it successfully. I later found out that this process was and still is common, and many people today still learn to do many things this way – particularly within my own Black American culture.

He and my mother divorced not long after I’d completed 9th grade so those lessons ended after that. I have often wished that my own progeny could have interacted with him too. Perhaps they would understand me better in addition to being better themselves from having the experience.

Clifford LeRoy Burnett was born on Sunday, July 5th in 1925 and was a World War II veteran (Navy Sea Bees) who later served in the US Air Force – Greatest Generation. He served just over 19 years on active duty and had reserve time between when his Navy service ended in 1945 and he reenlisted in the Air Force in the late 1950s. Dad used to proudly exclaim that he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.” Subsequently with the advent of Ancestry.com, our family tree validates that indeed he was “the seventh son of a seventh son.”

Dad was also genuinely enthusiastic about life despite growing up through the Great Depression, segregation, and military service during a world war. Although he was a man of relatively few words, he still was a positive person and encouraging most of the time that I can recall. He was a great athlete in his youth and although he was over 30 by the time I was born, Dad was still a fine athlete when I came of age to appreciate such things although he was in his 40s by then.

He only lost his temper with me once that I recall. I was a teenager. I wasn’t listening to his advice as much as I once did because I had begun to have my own ideas and experiences.

PHOTO: T and me at the VA CPAC after a presentation.

Dad was also coaching me to be a baseball pitcher during that period of our life together. I just knew that I was not a baseball pitcher. Dad was a great baseball pitcher in his youth.

I was a fast runner and better suited to be a baseball outfielder. I could throw pretty hard but never had the control to be a baseball pitcher. My younger brother Donnie was the baseball pitcher among us. I liked playing centerfield.

I was also a saxophone player and wanted to do that with my time more than anything else by then. And although Dad was proud of my musical pursuits and appreciated my dedication, he felt I should still be well rounded and developed in other areas too. He was right, of course.

PHOTO: The last wearing of my 20 year old Sketchers today.

I recall from one occasion that I questioned him as to why I had to stand a certain way and go through the specific motions he was teaching me in order to successfully throw the baseball into the old tire used as a target on the back of the old garage.

Dad said to trust him because he already knew doing it that way was most efficient. I debated the fact that I could already throw the ball all of the way from centerfield to home plate and hit the catcher’s mitt – high or low, wherever it was placed. Dad said that was a different skill.

He must have seen the doubt in my eyes. For the first time in my life I had debated something my father was teaching me. That’s not a bad thing, it’s a growing up thing. He just cocked his head.

PHOTO: My most comfortable and favorite pair of shoes for two decades.

Dad said, “okay do it your way and hit the strike zone target, then.” I threw from my normal stance and was not able to consistently throw strikes. I would have walked in a run, or two, or three, or four had I been pitching in a real game.

He must have seen the puzzled look on my teenaged face and yet, I still verbally protested the validity of my own way of throwing the ball out of ego and ignorance. Just like most kids would.

Dad silently shook his head in what seemed to be disgust, picked up the baseball and proceeded to throw strike after strike into the exact middle of the tire target. He threw the ball so hard that it bounced directly back to his mitt for the repeated throws. And I had never seen anyone in real life throw a baseball with the velocity with which he threw the ball. He always hit dead center.

PHOTO: My replacement loafers. Here’s to another 20 years, boys.

Dad could see that I was a bit shaken by such a display of power that I had never witnessed from him before in my life. He calmed me with his big grin and said to trust what he shared with me.

I learned a big lesson that day, as I usually did during my interactions with Dad. I told him as much and how impressed I was with what he had just done. He said for me not to be impressed.

He simply said, “Son, I have thrown lots of baseballs before just now. You have only thrown a few by comparison. I should be this good at it. You will get the same type of experience and practice at something. Just like I have shoes twice as old as you are that I still wear. Old is often good.”

He said if we keep trying, we all usually keep getting better with time.

PHOTO: Lake Erie Duets

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians, educators, and entrepreneurs based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Family and Friends: both can be both

Many people have come in and out of our life together as The Burnett Family, est. 1979.

Including our parents, siblings, children, and extended family members such as aunts, uncles, and cousins – the number of family members T and I are connected with biologically is legitimately still a very large one. We love them all despite how close we may or may not be on a day to day basis at any given moment.

Likewise is the number of true friends we’ve made over these years a very large group of individuals. There are many paradoxical sayings about the life family you are born with and the life family you grow into along the journey, (with variations ad infinitum) … These friends are indeed our family too.

We’ve come to conclude at this point in our life continuum that both can be both. That’s been lots of work learning this lesson and finally arriving here is definitely cool.

DIFFERENT TRIBES

Our living blood relatives have come in and out of our lives over the years for whatever the reasons. We have come to understand that this is a natural order in life. Relationships with siblings and children naturally change dynamically with individual growth and interests. Lifestyle choices and personal belief systems impact familial relationships and closeness.

18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”  20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

— Luke 15:18-20 (American Standard Bible)

We’ve learned there is no such thing as the static “perfect or dysfunctional” families that are too often depicted in popular media as cultural “norms.” All families are simultaneously dysfunctional and perfect. That’s cool too. We’ve also learned that in our desire to love our family as parents and grandparents of adult progeny that we must also care for our selves and our own empty nest family too. However, these are the types of lessons that most of us can’t truly learn until we actually reach this age.

MUSICIANS AND ARTIST CLASS

We have many lifelong and true friends made through the common bond of music. And many of those friendships have grown to be family-like in mutual commitment, being tested in strength over time, and genuine brotherly love for one another.

Musicians are our natural life community among fellow humans. Particularly those who play the types of instruments we do and the types of music we do were typically the “not cool” kids growing up. We’ve found that doesn’t change. That “not coolness” remains in adulthood, but we’ve been fortunate to find our “tribe” of like minds.

Military veterans are also our community to the extent of our mutual respect for voluntary service to the United States of America. We inherently share a common ethos and motivation to serve others. Considering how long we have been living autonomously, we’ve also found out that it’s “okay” if the people you share genetics and blood with, don’t like hanging out with you and doing the things you like to do.

We don’t always like what blood relatives like. We’ve often experienced this and it was uncomfortable to admit to ourselves at first. But, that doesn’t change the genuine love for them. Nor does it negate any love they may genuinely have for us as well. It’s life.

FAMILY + LIFE’S WORK

The Professional Musicians’ and Teaching Artists’ life is one of constant study, research, and growth that’s validated through public presentations and is preserved as permenant documents like printed publications and audio recordings. It’s a lifelong pursuit and lots of fun too. We have validated our long belief that professional musicians and teaching artists can engage family life in concert with being among the creative class. We continue to serve as living proof of this validated synergy at each stage of our journey.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

— 1 Corinthians 13:11 (King James Bible)

We started with a plan as a family and despite inherent challenges, have not varied too far from our original promise and commitment to each other as husband and wife when we formed The Burnett Family, est. 1979. Our parents are all gone now and it is only our generation and those who follow who remain. Just as our elders have become better understood, more wise, and insightful to us over the years, so will we to our progeny. Only time validates us.

YOUR LIFE: IT’S BIGGER THAN YOU

Only fools live for themselves and the single day. We have met and known many fools over the years. We were among the foolish at various stages of our lives. Such is life.

We have found it essential for us personally to live a life that is mostly of service to others and to our various communities. This life of service is based upon our own developed personal beliefs and Christian principles from our childhood upbringing.

Serving others makes you better. Serving others completes your own goals to levels that you alone could not imagine or achieve.

We have lived to see the tangible validation of this philosophy and credo over two professional music careers (serving with military bands for 22+ years and currently serving the at-large music industry for 26+ years and counting).

BURNETT MUSIC FOUNDATION

Burnett Music Foundation purposely began in phases by creating four Jazz music centered businesses as its core programs over the last 15 years. At the heart of all BMF programming is the inherent synergy of building community, building educational opportunity, and building arts infrastructure in the Kansas City metropolitan area.

See our work:

o Artists Recording Collective – ARC Recording Label (https://ArtistsRecordingCollective.biz)

o Bird Boot Camp (https://BirdBootCamp.org)

o Jazz Artistry Now (https://JazzArtistryNow.com)

o Kansas City Area Youth Jazz (https://YouthJazz.us)

Tax Deductible Contributions: We are a Tax Exempt Organization under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 501 (c) (3). Donors can deduct contributions they make to us under IRC Section 170. We’re also qualified to receive tax deductible bequests, devises, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522.

Get involved! 

Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

Adulting (“Grace, Strength, and Dignity”)

GRACE

If you’re over 60, it’s a fact that regular exercise is one of the most important ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We’ve resolved to get up every morning to do aerobic exercises of some sort for a couple of hours beyond practicing musical instruments of course.

STRENGTH

The beautiful weather this morning allowed us to get outside and walk along with actually hitting some golf balls too.

At this age, most people have paid some real life dues.

DIGNITY

It’s okay to take care of yourself. It’s okay to enjoy the life you have envisioned and worked hard for decades to create.

WHAT IS ADULTING?

Adulting is a neologism for growing up that became popular on English-speaking social media in the second half of the 2010s. American writer Kelly Williams Brown has been credited with coining the term. The term is commonly used to refer to the context of tasks and activities that are necessary to carry out in order to live and function within mainstream civilized society, but are typically only done by adults due to pragmatic, financial, physical, or legal restrictions rooted in age. (Source: Wikipedia)


Christopher and Terri (Anderson) Burnett established their branch of The Burnett Family in March of 1979 at Copenhagen, Denmark. They are professional musicians based in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. 

Visit BurnettMusic.biz for more information.

“ON THIS DAY” (February 13, 2011)

? “ON THIS DAY” (February 13, 2011) ten years ago, we took our late mother Violet to lunch at Fort Leavenworth. Mom would have been 97 years old on February 24, 2021.

Here are a couple of photos of us that came up on my photos feed today:

PHOTO: Violet Lorraine Jackson Burnett – February 13, 2011 at Fort Leavenworth

(1) our mom Violet,

PHOTO: We took mom to lunch at Fort Leavenworth on February 13, 2011

and (2) me with our mom Violet.

She’s 87 years old in these photos and you can see lots of dark hair on her head.

I get my red/brown hair coloring and skin tone from her side of the family.

She never dyed her hair and neither do I.

I still have a full head of hair and not much gray.


SOME CANDID MOM PHOTOS OVER THE YEARS


Grandpa “Jack”
(George Jackson)

My maternal grandfather was not bald, so current science says that’s likely why neither am I. Similar findings point to facts regarding specific genes contributing to my not having much gray hair now in the same manner as my parents did not when they were 65. Just the way it goes, I guess.

COVER PHOTO BY OUR FRIEND DUANE HALLOCK

Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions

This is our traditional end-of-year post. The conclusion of 2020 also marks the end of the second decade of the first century of this millennium according to The Farmers’ Almanac (and the US Naval Observatory). Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.

MMXX Remembrance

We completely purged and reorganized our home and life together in 2020 to match the phase of life we are now living. That’s pretty cool. As most of you likely know, doing this type of self-healing work has a renewing effect on the soul. Looking at one’s own history can be difficult. But it’s rewarding if you can. For us it was like having these 4+ decades of our life together put more firmly into proper perspective and giving us an objective balance moving forward within ourselves as individuals too. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


It’s great to be done with 2020 in lots of ways. The global COVID-19 pandemic. It was also a US presidential election year that fostered an objective appreciation for governmental officials who are public servants, but most especially for those who are truly civic leaders. The election reflected our paradoxical US population. More people in history voted for and even more voted against the incumbent. It looks like democracy will win again. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.

Graphic Headlines are courtesy of US Elections 2020 | The Guardian

The 2020 Elections revealed that the same 50/50 divide of the Civil War Era still remains to this day in our nation. What I think is ridiculous, many others think to be reality. Social media became a major distortion field in 2020. So much so that I had to disconnect from some people who I have known for thirty years or more because seeing their posts kept resulting in me thinking less of them. And, seeing someone’s posts shouldn’t do that. I decided to leave them with their own thoughts and musings, as we are all entitled to have and remember the collegial times we shared in our youth. I had a caricature of some people who I didn’t really know at their core and that’s not fair to either of us. Have a great rest of your life old friends. It’s too short at best. Hence why I rarely post about politics . Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


MMXX Renewal

As with every year, there were good things too.This year also marked both of our official retirements, the drawing of our respective social security pensions, and the launching of our family’s jazz music centered nonprofit organization, Burnett Music Foundation. We were able to safely produce three of our programs (ARC Student Jazz Jam Sessions, KC Area Youth Jazz, and Bird Boot Camp) utilizing the protocols used by US Army bands to mitigate coronavirus risk. Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


MMXX Resolutions

We resolve to be thankful for each day and each opportunity to interact with the people we love, to do the work that we love, and to have our health to enjoy each day together. Here’s to Remembrance + Renewal + Resolutions.


We sincerely agree with these
sentiments of our 44th POTUS.
..

COVER PHOTO

Feb. 17, 2009 – Aboard Air Force One, a close-up of the Presidents signature on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which he had just signed in Denver.
(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

AUTHORIZED USES: The official White House photograph are made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Thanksgiving … is a daily condition

Most family people who also have children and grandchildren can relate to the state of being thankful. It’s actually pretty easy to be thankful if your life is good and your kids are doing well also.

T and I watched our parents at this age live with grace and dignity. I often tell my siblings who missed seeing our mom grow through her 40s, 50s, and 60s that they missed the best of her in many ways. I’m thankful that our children and grandchildren met her there too.

But most successful people also learn to be thankful for the balance that comes with the inherent challenges of living. Jazz musicians often call this the blues. These blues help us grow toward realizing those good times. We have found that good times simply result from many years of positive effort being rewarded in some cool tangible context. We’ve seen this in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives as well as in our own.


Our Children and Grandchildren help give us perspective.

During a conversation the other day, T and I decided that one of the coolest aspects of this stage and life is that we’ve lived long enough to have already had a significantly positive impact upon the lives of other people. Our children. Our grandchildren. Our friends. Our colleagues. As well as the general people of those communities where we have been fortunate to make our home over the years as a family.

A relatively recent photograph of me with my sons and grandsons

Micah is now the age I was when I retired from my active duty military career after 22-years of continuous service. Lorri is now the age I was when I was selected for the special assignment as the First Sergeant of the Student Company at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia. Seth is now the age I was when I was selected for the special musical assignment with the NATO Band in Naples, Italy. Ethan is now the age I was when I chose to go to the Army band at Ansbach, Germany where Terri and I first met. Ariana is now the age I was when I was accepted to the Army Band Group Leader Course at the Armed Forces School of Music. Owen is now the age I was when I got serious about music and practicing the saxophone. Avery is now the age I was when my father was still active duty Air Force and we still lived at Kincheloe Air Force Base in the Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan Air Defense Sector. Hayden is now the age I was when I got my first “big boy” hair cut.


As Parents and Grandparents we still learn from our kids.

When our children first left home as young adults our instinct was to protect them as we did when they were children. We didn’t know any better and had to learn how to be parents of adults. Over the years we’ve (or rather I have) learned to trust what they were taught and trust they have practical common sense. Over protective to a fault sometimes.

Our daughter Lor, our son Seth, and our two youngest grandchildren

I will add to this parental transition and growth was my own personal distrust of most people in our society and nation as a black man. Yes, that sounds really awful considering everything positive and wonderful that I have been part of and have done throughout my life and career. But, since everyone has something to confront, this issue has been part of the deal of me becoming who I am in a more mature form. Reconciling contradictions is the essence of life after all. And it’s often a challenge for others to understand we are all works in progress no matter how old or experienced.

Our daughter Lor, our son Seth, and our two youngest grandchildren

The cool thing about being a grandparent is that you can look at your children and grandchildren and they will show you that you won life. You ran the table. They help you realize that you already have everything you need. Yes, our children and grandchildren taught us that. Even that littlest guy who seems to have lost total patience with the photo shoot.

We are truly thankful everyday.

Jackson The Plunger …

“Jackson The Plunger” is a nickname we took from one of the articles about our maternal grandfather, Edward George Jackson, who was mostly known by his middle name GEORGE since he shared the same first name with his father. Born in February 1903 and died in January of 1945, he didn’t quite reach his 43rd birthday.

1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE
1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE

FROM OUR FAMILY TREE AT ANCESTRY . COM



Our formal family trees are located within our private account through Ancestry.com. Our family website is not intended to be any type of genealogical record.



It serves primarily as our contemporary blog. We do sometimes include commentary related to our family genealogy here from time to time though. This post is one of those.


HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH: A candid photo opportunity with our second eldest grandson, OWEN, who is one of GEORGE JACKSON’s 2nd great grandsons.

Our mother Violet Jackson Burnett and other relatives often told me that I “favored” GEORGE JACKSON. As was common of elders from those generations, they didn’t speak about him or anyone else in our ancestry with any specificity. Upon discovering these old yearbook photos at our family tree website, I actually had no idea what he looked like until now.


1922 PAOLA HIGH SCHOOL YEAR BOOK – THE ORIOLE

Edward “GEORGE” Jackson of Paola, Kansas (1903-1945) was my maternal grandfather. He attended and graduated from the same city school system that I graduated from with the PHS Class of 1923. As you can see by the above school yearbook page, GEORGE attended an integrated school system.



GEORGE was the son of EDWARD Jackson, and EDWARD was the son of SOLOMON Jackson – see the names highlighted in green and yellow in the image of the 1880 United States Federal Census for Edward Jackson above.



Further observation of this census document shows the ethnicity or race of both Edward Jackson (my maternal great grandfather) and his father Solomon (my 2nd maternal great grandfather) listed as “Mulatto” a term of which most dictionaries define as a (dated or offensive) noun referring to a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent. Interesting.



ALSO FROM OUR FAMILY TREE AT ANCESTRY . COM


That’s just only a glimpse of my maternal Jackson family tree. My paternal Burnett family tree is just as interesting. I discovered as the eldest son of Clifford Burnett (b. 1925), I am also the grandson of Charles Burnett (b. 1846), I am also the great grandson of Peter Burnett (b. 1798), and I am also the 2nd great grandson of Doe Burnett (b. 1750).



Much of the textbook history I was taught in school growing up doesn’t match with the history I have found in the historic records, deeds, and census documents which reveal that most of my ancestors were farmers, property owners and not enslaved in the late 1700s. Discovered other interesting history too. It seems that life is always full of drama – good and otherwise. Go figure, huh? This information doesn’t change who I am as a human being, a man, a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, nephew, or son. However, it does give me a positive connection with the continuum of my heritage in the most objective context possible. My children and grandchildren don’t have to wonder who came before them in this sense. That’s pretty cool…


COVER PHOTO

BURNETT FAMILY TRADITIONAL THANKSGIVING DINNER (2012 – LANSING, KS)

John Henry was a man … was a real man

“Often we can find all of the #motivation and #answers we really need from the #history within our own #family” … 

John Henry Pratt was married to my great aunt Willa Beecham Pratt. Aunt Willa was the sister of my maternal grandmother Mary Jane Beecham Jackson. John and Willa Pratt were leading citizens and well respected among both the black and white communities of Olathe, Kansas.

John Henry worked for the railroad and Willa took in laundry along with cooking for various people and functions around town. By most standards they were considered “well off.” They had no biological children of their own. And I got to know them both pretty well during a good part of my childhood of the 1960s and 1970s after we came back to Kansas when my father’s active duty Air Force service was finished. I loved and respected them very much.



PRATT CONNECTION

When our mother’s mother was killed in an automobile accident in 1930, our mother was only 6 years old and her sister (our aunt) was a toddler.

HISTORIC NOTE: The Oriole – 1922 Paola High School Year Book. I graduated from Paola High School in 1974 as the Panthers. Our maternal grandfather George Jackson is featured prominently throughout the pages of this publication. And, as you see the Paola, Kansas school district was integrated 32 YEARS BEFORE the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka school desegregation case.


ALL HER CHILDREN ROLL CALL

Our family folklore tells that it wasn’t proper for a widowed man to raise two young girls. Thus the reasoning Willa and John Pratt took our mother and her baby sister in to live with them. And our maternal grandfather George Jackson would subsequently die in a house fire several years later, truly leaving the Jackson sisters orphaned. Our mother, Violet, as a very young girl, would naturally remain inconsolable for many years but would ultimately overcome and have a great life in her own right. That’s another story …

HISTORIC PHOTOGRAPH: “Our NCAA Division 1 Athletes” – Richard (d) and Nathaniel at Kivisto Field, University of Kansas where Richard was a music education major, varsity football star, and remains an all-time letterman. He went on to greatness as a successful musician in New York City. Nathaniel was an education major, multi-event varsity track star, and walk-on varsity basketball player at Wichita State University. They were adopted by Willa and John Pratt after our mother divorced their father.

SIBLINGS ROLL CALL: Richard Dean (d); Nathaniel Anthony; Joyce Nadine; Bonnie Jean; Christopher LeRoy; Penny Lynn (d); Mary Jane; Donnie Ray; Michelle Antoine (d); Keith Duane (d).


JOHN HENRY PRATT FAMILY FOLKLORE

John Henry Pratt is a legend in our family and I want to make sure that our children and grandchildren know how significant he is to them too. I hope they tell their assigns about John Henry Pratt for generations to come.

Growing up, we called him “Dilloy” or “Deak.” I still don’t know why or what these nicknames even mean to this day and I’m in my sixties now. My lasting memory of John Henry will be his unpretentious modesty and humbleness. It was clear, even from my perspective as a boy, that the man had his priorities together.

They told me that John Henry was a World War I veteran and he fought in Europe and saw combat duty in Germany. So I asked him about it once and he told me that when his segregated unit encountered the Germans they would not fight the black soldiers. John Henry said a German soldier told him face-to-face that they didn’t have anything against the blacks who were actually politically oppressed peoples like most Germans were then. I was surprised by this but he insisted it was truth.

John Henry built his life around his family, rather than building a family around his life. I liked that. Every successful man I have been in contact with has had their own version of this ethos. At this point in my life, it’s objectively safe to say I have successfully modeled this in my own way. John Henry was a man you could look up to and admire.

They told me he adopted my two older brothers and I asked him why. John Henry told me that it was the right thing to do at the time so he did it. And that was the extent of what he had to say about that topic. John Henry was not at all mean or angry for my asking, but so matter-of-fact about it that my childish curiosity was satisfied and I left it alone.

I recall one terrible argument between my parents and the Pratts were visiting our home. My dad and John Henry used to talk outside by their vehicles. They’d talk about their cars and any other subjects of the day. My dad was frustrated with my mother and was talking lots about their issues to John Henry. John Henry listened and didn’t say anything or interject during my dad’s passionate oration.

When my dad finished, John Henry told him that all of those things were part of being a husband to a woman and a grown ass man. He told my dad that he understood his frustrations as best he could knowing the two of them and their relationship at a distance. John Henry also told my dad that my mom and us children would be taken care of if he were to leave us. That ended the conversation on that topic and they moved on amicably to discussing the football prospects of the Chiefs.


FEATURED PHOTO

“PLAY IT WHERE IT LIES” Father’s Day golf with my youngest brother Keith Duane used to be an annual tradition. He was actually a more than pretty decent golfer. Me not so much. Average at best. Golf is one thing that I actually simply do for “fun.” We simply made a point to do it so we would spend time with each other. That’s cool. I’m almost certain he’d be happy knowing I had my clubs re-gripped and am golfing again.

They Call It Retirement… But, Is It Really?

We, in the USA, have traditionally mostly worked until a certain age range between 62 to 72 and then we typically retire to a terminal vacation status. That was literally the tradition for the generation before our late Baby Boomer cohort.

We both have decided to “retire” in July 2020. And we are very happy about this decision because it has come by our own choice. Our lives will not change drastically in the sense of most activities. We will simply now be our own bosses. That’s pretty cool.

We both have worked almost literally our entire lives, having had jobs since we were teenagers, having served in the active duty Regular Army as professional musicians, and having engaged successful careers as educators, as well as having worked in both federal government and corporate settings too. We’ve always been entrepreneurs.

We both made a point of subsidizing our art as musicians with day jobs that afforded a good living for our family but didn’t detract from our primary calling as artists. It was a difficult balance to maintain at times. However, we have always seemed to find synergy in this regard throughout these years.

We are going to enjoy this next phase of life and look forward to the opportunities it will bring. It’s going to be cool engaging the music-related projects we have established over the years, and the unlimited positive possibilities of our nonprofit organization.

We plan to golf, bowl, walk, and enjoy our ornamental gardening activities. We plan to visit our family and friends while engaging cultural sites around the USA.

We plan to visit our musical friends in Europe again and enjoy interacting with other people throughout the world as artists and humans. We hope to visit England (UK), Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Austria among other places.

And of course, there is the music. It was our mutual love of music that literally brought us together those decades ago. We plan to continue creating, practicing and teaching lots of music going forward.

Retirement? No, “next chapter.”