#109: Mail Call, Check It…

109.1  Dear Stolf: I was thinking about how people in everyday life tend to “simplify” kinship relations…like the example you always use, how on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Aunt Bee calls both Andy and his son Opie her “nephews.” But couldn’t they be? Like you also always say, there are 2 sides to every family…and can’t you be a 1st cousin to somebody, and also a 1st cousin to that person’s father?  …Just Wondering (real name), Androsquattamagansett, MA 

109.2  Dear Just: Sure, you’re right about 1st cousins…and yes, you could be an uncle to both a father and his son…except in that case, you couldn’t do it in a “nice way,” if you get my drift and I think you do. I’ll show you in detail, but the gist of it is this: 1st cousins come from the siblings of your parents, and since you have 2 parents, you have 2 sides of the family, 2 sets of parental siblings, and 2 unrelated (usually) sets of 1st cousins. But nephews come from your siblings, and you only have one set of siblings…well, full siblings anyway…with half-siblings, it would be half-nephews, and that’s another matter. With nephews, thru your only set of siblings, there is no “other side” to have additional nephews on, see?

chart 384

109.3  First, we’ll look at it with cousins. In Chart 384, Zeke on the right is 1st cousin to Junior thru their mothers. Zeke is also 1st cousin to Junior’s father Pop…since Pop’s father Gramps and Zeke’s father Bubba are brothers. Zeke and Junior are Able cousins…Zeke and Pop are Baker cousins…thus Zeke is a 1st cousin to both a son (Junior) and his father (Pop). This comes about because you have 2 sides of your family to have cousins on. You might call Zeke and Junior double cousins, which is to say irregular double cousins, since the 2 ways they are related to each other are different: they are 1st cousins on the Able side and 1st cousins once removed on the Baker side. Me, I wouldn’t call them any kind of double cousins, since cousins removed aren’t really cousins…I’d just say they’re related in 2 different ways and leave it at that.

chart 385

109.4  But there is no interbreeding in this case…simply 2 sisters who married a man and his nephew. Now could Zeke be both a Baker cousin to Junior and a Baker cousin to Pop? Yes, as shown in Chart 385, but now we need interbreeding…in this case Bubba has married his niece. This used to be popular centuries ago among European royal families…and presumably it trickled down to the common folk as well back then…today, not so much. On the one hand, Pop and Zoë are siblings, so their children Junior and Zeke are 1st cousins. And on the other hand, Zeke and Pop are also 1st cousins, since Pop’s father Gramps and Zeke’s father Bubba are brothers. So Zeke is a Baker cousin to both a son and his father. And if you noticed that Zeke is also a 1st cousin to his own mother Zoë…gold star for you.

109.5  As to the Taylors of Mayberry, there is no way Bee could be both Andy’s aunt and Opie’s aunt…without interbreeding. Bear in mind, Bee is not in fact Andy’s aunt in any case…they are 1st cousins once removed, Andy’s father being Bee’s 1st cousin. You can read about this shocking revelation here:  #41. But here’s the skinny: there is an episode where Andy refers to Bee’s niece Martha as his second cousin…and that cinches it.

109.6  Mind you, not once in 249 episodes is it ever stated or even implied that Bee and Andy’s father were siblings. On one occasion she does mention she had a brother who was so fond of spirits that they had to hide the rum-cake…but it is clear she is not talking about Andy’s father. Over the course of 8 seasons we do learn that Bee has 3 sisters…we only meet one of them, the youngest of the brood, Nora, who has 2 sons Opie’s age. The other 2 are mentioned but never seen, Ellen and Florence…and which is the mother of Martha we don’t know. But for the sake of argument…

chart 386

109.7  …let’s say Andy married one or the other, and they are in fact his aunts. BTW, this would be completely illegal, since an aunt and nephew are as closely related as half-siblings, CR = 1/4…and the cutoff point is 1st cousins or 1/8…about half the states allow that or anything more distant…the other half, it has to be more distant. But checking Chart 386, we find a situation similar to what we had in Chart 387…there is interbreeding, and cross-generationally to boot. But now at least we got what we wanted…Bee is Andy’s aunt thru her brother Andy’s Pa…and Bee is also Opie’s aunt thru her sister Ellen or Florence. And as before, Andy and Opie are also 1st cousins to each other.

109.8  Well, at least that might explain why we’re told absolutely nothing about Andy’s dead wife…not even her name. 😉 😉  And just to gild the lily, if Bee had a daughter Xenobia (don’t ask about the father…I tell no tales)…she would be 1st cousin to a father and his son. Are you happy? Sure hope so…and you’re a bird in this world, you know that?

109.9  Dear Stolf: Anything new from the wiseGeek “cousins” page?  …from Alicia McAffine, Stepfathersville, SC

109.10  Dear Alicia: Uh-huh. Couple a’ posts…the first one really didn’t need a chart, it’s so basic…

insert

109.11  And this next one, again relating to the definition and correct usage of “cousins removed”…see yez in 7…

chart 387

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Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

 
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