Oral English

Sample Homework

R. Jeffrey Blair

Family and Relatives

http:// www3. aichi-gakuin. ac.jp / ~jeffreyb / family.html

Robert = Rita
Bob Jr. (= Peggy)
Russ (= Deni)
Jeff (= Yoko)
(Jenny =)
Greg (= Angie)

        I have three brothers. After teaching English with the Peace Corps in Thailand Bob moved to the Washington, D.C. area and became a government economist. Russ used to be a politician, a prosecuting attorney, and then a judge in Hawaii, but retired and now lives in California. Greg worked his way up from a surfer boy in Hawaii to a bank manager in Florida, but still surfs.

        Our mother died a few years ago and our father died a long time before that--the same year I graduated from college--and came to Japan. Dad was an army officer. During World War II Mom worked for the Red Cross in Europe. When the war finished she went to the Philippines where she met Dad. Our family moved about every 3 years and raising four boys kept Mom pretty busy, but she found time to work as a teacher and librarian and play golf.

        My wife Yoko and I have two children. Makoto went to high school in America. Now he majors in anthropology at Sophia University in Tokyo. Nagisa graduated from Meito High School in Nagoya. Now she studies English literature at Doshisha University and practices rhythmic gymnastics with the gymnastics club. Both are busy looking for jobs, because they will graduate soon.

Important Points: Notice the use of
    (a) the verb ''have''--I have 3 brothers and 17 cousins;

    (b) the adjective ''my''--my brothers, my mother, my wife; and

    (c) names--Bob, Russ, Greg. ''Mom'' and ''Dad'' are used like names for the parents. This makes the paper more interesting and continued discussion much easier.

Paragraphs are used to break up the text and signal changes of topic (brothers, parents, children). It makes the text much easier to follow.

        My brothers have children, too. Bob's oldest, Matt, briefly taught English in Korea and worked for the Red Cross. His brother David works in a coffee shop. Both are living in New York. Greg's oldest, Jessie, has a master's degree in counseling and works at a university, but the other two American nephews and one neice are still in school--all the way from elementary school to college.

George aka Faz = Anna aka Muz
Bob (= Rita)
Bob Jr.
Russ (= Sunny)
Russ Jr.

        Dad's parents grew up in Philadelphia and lived there after Faz, as we called our grandfather, retired from the army. We called them Muz and Faz, because that's what Dad called them when he was first learning to talk. Faz came to America from Ireland with his mother when he was 4 years old. He joined the army at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. It ended before he could ship out of Florida to Cuba. He was discharged, but joined up again and made the army his career. He hunted for Pancho Villa in Mexico, fought in Europe during World War I, and commanded a fort in the States during World War II.

Edward = Kathryn aka Nanna
Rita = Bob
Bob Jr.
Marty (= Buzz)
Joan (= Walter)
Dan (= Mary)

Dan Jr.

        Mom's mother Nanna grew up with her many brothers and sisters in Syracuse. A couple of them, Tom and Jim Walsh, played Major League Baseball. That's how she met Mom's father Grandpa Ed. He grew up in Providence, but went to college in Syracuse. He played baseball well and became freinds with the Walsh boys and then their sister Kathryn (Nanna's real name).

Important Point: ''Family'' in English does NOT mean the same as ''kazoku'' (Ƒ) in Japanese--relatives and sometimes even pets that live in the same house. In its broadest sense, ''family'' includes all relatives--no matter where they live; whether living, dead, or divorced. So if you have any interesting stories to tell about some of your relatives, please do so.

        I have 14 cousins and 3 step-cousins. For the most part they have led quiet lives--working their jobs and raising families. Once in a while, however, they get involved or caught up in events of historical importance. Mom's sister Marty was Wheeler Field on Oahu with her husband (an army pilot) and my 1 year-old cousin Susan Toner, when Japanese planes attacked in 1941. Marty and Susan took cover at home and were later evacuated by ship to San Francisco.

        Two cousins made careers in the armed forces. Cousin Bob Blair (not to be confused with my father Bob and my brother Bob) was a Green Beret in Vietnam. In fact, he was one of the models for the best selling book The Green Berets. The book was followed by a song and a movie, starring John Wayne. Bob kept going back to Vietnam until a bullet in the head ended his combat tours ... but not his life. Even now he makes business trips to the world's hot spots as a security consultant. A younger cousin, Warren Fox, joined the Marines and served in the Middle East before retiring in San Diego.

        Two other cousins with more peaceful careers in New York City came close to being victims of terrorism on September 11, 2001. Mike Toner worked as a lawyer high up in the World Trade Center. He took that day off from work to be with his son, who was having his appendix removed. His brother Stephen, who worked just across the street, was very close to the collapse, but his wife would have been even closer. She was going to attend a conference at the top of one of the twin towers, but decided to be late, so that she could make breakfast for her family. Luckily it wasn't their destiny to be at Ground Zero when the planes hit.

Family Links

For more information about and images of my extended family just click on a link.

Last updated May 2010
Copyright (C) 2007-2010 by Jeff Blair
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