The lighter side of family history.
Days-ed and Confused
Think your family tree is tangled and confusing? Believe us, it could be worse: Just check out Beth Porchey's pedigrees www.bethsdayspage.com/days/familytrees.html for the folks on NBC's daytime drama "Days of Our Lives."
Sorting out run-of-the-mill divorces, adoptions and stepfamilies is tricky enough—so imagine the difficulty of diagramming common-law marriages, marriages later discovered to be invalid, affairs and resulting
out-of-wedlock births, evil twins, foster children and artificial inseminations. How would you indicate babies swapped at birth (such as Bo and Hope's son, JT, whom the nefarious Stefano Dimera switched with Lexie and Abe's adopted son Isaac)? Or a "deceased" character who returns
with a new identity and a raging case of amnesia? (Yep, you also can blame
Stefano for John Black's perpetual search for his past.)
Porchey, whose site has drawn more than 6 million surfers since its 1995 launch, doesn't employ any daytime-TV trickery to untangle these twisted scenarios. She records the Hortons, Bradys, Devereauxs and 31 other fictitious families with the same Reunion software www.leisterpro.com she uses to track her real clan. Some of her soap-opera research methods are traditional, too—the St. Louis resident consults "histories" such as Days of Our Lives: The Complete Family Album by Lorraine Zenka (HarperCollins, $18.95). Of course, Porchey also turns on the tube to catch shocking disclosures that
necessitate pedigree updates. "When the mysterious alien twins landed in Salem," she says, "their parentage was revealed, then changed more than once over the course of several months."
Research you do with a TV remote instead of a mouse might sound fun, but Porchey finds her own past simpler to plot. "No one in my family has ever said, 'My half sister and half brother are getting married tomorrow.'" Just a few months ago, Rex Brady uttered those words when his half siblings Lucas Roberts and Sami Brady were about to get hitched. (Alas, they never made it to the altar.) Now you know why soap characters are never into genealogy.