I have titled this story “Dorntgehood” because I employ the concept of hood as a metaphor. That term, as well as many others in my writings, are plays on words. I use them to relate to terms my audience will understand. My audience, in this case, is made up of Dorntges. This is my attempt to look under their “Hood.”
Dorntges have reunions every three years, and have had since 1987, when Alice Jaqueline Donrtge Tunkey (my “Aunt Jack”) started the whole shebang. The first of these reunions was held at a beach resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and it featured a memorable event that still reverberates through the reunions. A volleyball game where the “Inlaws” (bloodline Dorntges) were pitted against the “Outlaws” (non-bloodline Dorntges). It is worth mentioning here that bloodline Dorntges are lousy volleyball players. To my understanding they have won only in one of the ten triennial reunions. A pitiful performance that would not inspire one to bet on their volleyball abilities. The term “Outlaw” had come to mean in Dorntge-speak: better volleyball players.
The term “Hood” has a much deeper meaning. It is a Dorntge-redemptive term, that restores the Dorntge name to respectability. According to Google the word “Hood” has several definitions. A covering for the head and a neighborhood are among them. My main efforts at this point in my life are focused on writing stories. In doing all that I love to use metaphors to draw attention to what might normally escape understanding. So, I chose “Hood” as a metaphor for a story of one of the outlaws of the Dorntge clan. By “Hood” my stories refer to a hood, like in fatherhood, and/or neighborhood.
Let me start with fatherhood.
My uncle, a Dorntge outlaw named William P. Tunkey, was born in Buffalo, New York in 1899. He served in the Navy in WWI and came back to court and marry Alice Jacqueline Dorntge in 1922. As a result of that marriage he assumed a fatherhood in every sense of the word, in one form or another over all of the Dorntges who are, or are not, at this reunion.
Uncle Bill died in 1984. Three years before the Dorntge reunions began. But to my belief, his spirit inspired their coming into being. Uncle Bill had heart and family at the head of his life agenda. Here’s a short personal story to get at my point. I’ll try to be brief: In a fit of childhood ignorance, I had committed a very grave offense. It was, if committed by a mature adult, a mortal sin. Being an eight-year old child, allowed those with wisdom and heart, to intervene and reinstate a behavioral balance that would resolve all the issues contained in so serious a matter. I will not go into the complications, except to state that many critical relationships were involved and that resolution could only be accomplished through application of wisdom and heart. My own father was vexed by the problem and couldn’t figure a strategy to resolve it. He was sensible enough to know that his direct approach would probably do more harm than good. To his credit he called upon Uncle Bill to bring peace. He knew, deep down that Bill Tunkey had the heart and brain to make everybody a winner.
I never forgot it. Bill Tunkey, not only saved me in that situation, but in ever so many more. In one later incident, I remember my hot-shot behavior in damaging a very expensive brand-new convertible while working for him in one of his many parking lots. The guy who owned the car probably wanted to murder me, but Uncle Bill knew him well and was able to save me from consequence (however, he did remove me from ever working in that lot again. A very wise move, since I would then, not be in a position to encounter my angry victim).
I could go on with endless stories about Uncle Bill and would invite you to ask me in person. I will have no trouble to oblige. In fact, it would make me happy. He was a great inspiration. As stated earlier, to my mind he was the inspiration for these reunions. There are several reasons.
First, he was a transformer. He transformed everybody with whom he came in contact. When he died in 1984, he had two memorial services. Both filled to overflowing. One in Florida and one in Buffalo. I attended his celebration in Buffalo. It was held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, the largest Presbyterian Church in the city. They were literally crowding at the doorways. Peter Tunkey, his grandson, gave a most heartfelt eulogy to all who attended. He can recall it for you if you ask.
There were people from all walks of life, from doormen to top floor executives of the same buildings. He knew them all. They all loved him. He made his mark on them. More importantly, he made his mark on all of us. Let me relate my reasons. You have already heard one of mine. Here’s one more, then I’ll get to the “Hood” part of this story.
In the late 1970’s when my father had an unrecoverable stroke and my mother was in a resultant period of disorientation. She depended on him a great deal. She tried several attempts to right her balance. All were unsuccessful. Among them were various locations from where she dwelled. She relied upon her Dorntge sisters for support. And they did. Especially did Aunt Jack, so much so that Jack verbally reprimanded me at a family gathering for what she believed was my lack of support. To some extent deservedly, but, to a greater extent, over the top.
It did not go unnoticed. Within a week I received a letter of apology from her. Dorntge’s are not noted for apologizing. To receive a written apology from a Dorntge is a notable event, especially from an older generation. I never forgot it, and it lives among my most treasured memories. It, also, lives with my memories of Uncle Bill. He was the one behind the whole deal. At a later time, she told me that after all the family had departed and they were alone, he sat with her and shared his wisdom. Talk about transformation, that set of actions was as big to me as was the one of the eight-year old mentioned earlier.
Jack and I were both transformed. Our love for each other took over. Our grievances were forgiven. We were on a new plain. This picture was taken when Aunt Jack was around 100 years old. Jean and I were at Jim and Judy’s house in February 2000, during one of our annual Florida Wholesale Antique Jewelry Shows
Aunt Jack was always a strong woman. She was not the prettiest of the Dorntges, but by far, the strongest. Interestingly enough, she was so strong that she actually lived in three, yes three centuries. She was born on October 1, 1900 (last quarter of the last year of the 19th Century. Died on October 12, 2001 (last quarter of the first year of the 21st Century). An amazing and unusual feat. He strength inspired and supported all her Dorntge siblings. A strength brought about and nourished by her husband and partner. They were truly one, as their strengths were not only supportive, but lasting. Lasting even after Uncle Bill’s departure.
Lasting to the extent that Aunt Jack took it upon herself, in conjunction with her daughter Judy, to generate and memorialize family. Family is the essence of neighborhood. This is the other “Hood” part of my story. Our neighborhood is the United States of America and any other country where a Dorntge dwells.
For 30 years we have expanded this neighborhood by many more Dorntge births and childhoods. Look at all the family pictures we exchange at these reunions. How amazing is our brother and sister hood in this process. A process that cries out for recognition and repetition. Repetition is accomplished through reproduction – a talent at which the Dorntges excel. Recognition is more the subject of this story.
In the military, it is partly accomplished by headgear. As mentioned in the next short “Spirithood” story, one definition sees hoods are coverings for the head. Soldiers in helmets, sailors in swabbie hats, construction workers in hard hats, baseball caps, on and on. All of these forms of headgear are similar to hoods. They cover the head and identify, all at the same time. Many have symbols, names, or other forms of identification. All are markers designed to show who their owners are, and for what they stand.
We know Dorntges by their markers. Motherhood is a good marker for Aunt Jack, and to no small extent, to her daughter Judy. Fatherhood is a good marker for Uncle Bill. Motherhood and Fatherhood are what carry families. The Dorntge family, all of us, are marked Dorntgehood, through their efforts and guidelines. It is up to us to carry through what they started. Maybe we could even get Dorntgehood caps for our 2020 reunion, whaddya think?
In addition, my daughter (your cousin) Patty and I have established two websites. They are Relighting Us (relighting.us) and Seniors Ink (seniorsink.com). They are set up for people to post thoughtful stories. Mostly family-based. Check them out. A good way for Dorntges to keep to connection lines going. Especially, between reunions.
Aunt Jack, at the time our first reunion was being planned, appointed me as Dorntge historian. Part of that would be fulfilled if you would keep in touch through the websites. And I offer them and this little story as a continuation of my duties from that appointment.
Please consider doing your Dorntgehood duties on both sites.
Bob (Dorothy Dorntge) Whelan
Spirit does exist… Seeing it as a “Hood” is one way to visualize it. The Dorntgehood story is a story of “Spirithood.”
Words have spirit. They have power. They describe. They inspire. We generate them. We exchange them. They are us. Our words, when combined and related, put a unique “covering” upon each of us.
A hood is a head covering that existed before caps. Both men and women wore them. Many were adorned with symbolic references to the status of their wearer. Today, many of us wear baseball caps. Most feature logos of one kind or another that tell others where a part of our spirit lies. It is that kind of spirit this story is about – it is about “spirithood.”
A way to look at spirithood might be to consider it in relationship to one’s body. In this case, the body is an imaginary car. The hood and its coordinated metallic cover shelter its major working parts. Especially its heart, brain, and limbs. Those parts analyze, choose, and activate the direction our body takes.
In a car, its heart is under the hood. It is its engine. So, too, is the heart an engine for our body. Most importantly, the heart has the final say. Our direction ultimately depends on the heart. We need to keep that engine running. Our words and stories will do it when they come from the heart.
Our spirithood depends on our hearts.
Write them. Share them.