The occasion in October 2014 was my 50th Hannibal High reunion, but my trip to the midwest was a reunion in more ways than that. As a student of history, I know the importance of connecting to the past, learning about it to enhance one's understanding of the present. I have sought to examine my ancestry, not just for the relative facts but to glimpse into the lives and stories of those who have gone before. While the distant past is fascinating, there have been aspects of those who created me that were unknown to me In some ways I was seeking a reunion with myself. My first stop was Chicago.

Leaving on a jet plane

At my mother's grave in Chicago at St. Mary's Cemetery

That leaning tree is unique.

There is no marker on her grave. It's between those two stones, where I put that white flower.

She died the day I was born, over half a century ago. I only recently learned where she was buried. This was the first time I could see it.

Chicago has some beautiful buildings.

I last saw this city in 1958, at age 11.

Tall buildings may be phallic symbols.

Builders love to show off their big erections.

Objects seen in the mirror may be closer than they appear.

Yes, it's a tall one.

There's a nice view from the top.

Sunsets are nice from up here, too.

In a glass box, high over Chicago.

It kind of gives one that floating-on-air feeling.

Back on the ground again.

Hannibal, Missouri: My paternal grandparents' house once stood here on Bird Street, near Mark Twain School.

Mark Twain School bought it and made it a playground. And parking lot.

The house behind my grandparents', on Hill Street. An inventor named John W. Shelburne used to live there. He built a jet-engine car back in the 50's, and kept in in his garage. Here's one of his inventions

Tom and Huckleberry

Up the old River Road.

The old railroad bridge across the Mississippi.

Someone doesn't want us to drive any further.

Jim's Journey The Huck Finn Freedom Center

George's place, down the road from where I grew up.

Clear Creek School, my one-room one-teacher 8-graded country school. Elementary.

Someone lives there now.

Clear Creek.

My family tree-- the walnut tree in the yard of my boyhood home.

The house I grew up in.

The Class Reunion

Me at 17, and me now.

Sounds like a bargain...Time travel is required.

My son, the computer technician

My son and his wife.

Custard's Last Stand

A rest stop.

That's not a McDonald's.

This must be St. Louis.

Abraham and I

The word reunion has another meaning. Lincoln brought the Union back together. It could not be restored perfectly, but he saved it, and brought freedom to the slaves.

My cousin, Ulysses S. Grant (or, as his mother called him, Hiram.)

McClellan and Grant, making General conversation

Generally speaking...

Sojurner Truth and Frederick Douglass

Lincoln Library and Museum, Springfield Illinois

Springfield Railroad Station

Lincoln was an idealist, with perhaps the toughest job of any President

Though now known as one of the greatest Presidents, Lincoln was attacked and insulted
by press and opposition without mercy, much like some now criticize President Obama.

A wedding in 1967, involving me.

There was another reunion, with my half-brother Keith, who I last met in 1958. His mother was my mother.

Keith and our mother

My mother and grandfather.

Flying by night

Landing back in Phoenix