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Well, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
Tell me, who are you? (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
‘Cause I really wanna know (Who are you? Who, who, who, who?)
written by Pete Townshend

glen-johnson-unknown-childI posted this picture on August 22, 2008 for Freaky Friday – 3rd Edition.  It is a picture of my grandfather (older child) and another unknown child.  I believe my grandfather was probably about 10 when this picture was taken and I am led to believe (due to the clothing) that the unknown child is a boy about 4-6 years old.  My grandfather didn’t have any younger brothers.  His foster sister was 12 years younger than my grandfather so it couldn’t possibly be her – dressed in pants.

So I ask – who are you little boy?  Could you possibly be a relative?

Possibilities include: Floyd Tyler b. June 13, 1906.  He was my grandfather’s first cousin, son of his paternal aunt, Olive Belle (Johnson) Tyler.  That would mean (since my grandfather was born in Nov. 1898) that Floyd would have been 8 years younger than my grandfather.  I haven’t determined if Floyd was born in Indiana but I do know he spent most of his life in and around Calhoun County, Michigan and was buried there.  However, some of his older siblings were born in Howard County, Indiana.

Could this child be glen-johnson-unknown-child-2Earl Goul, born June 15, 1904 and six years younger than my grandfather?  Earl was the second cousin of his as his grandfather, John Wesley Goul, was brother to my grandfather’s grandmother, Malissa Goul.  Earl was born in Delaware County, Indiana but spent time and died in Madison County, Indiana (where my grandfather was born and raised).

A very good possibility – looking at the following photos – is that this child is my grandfather’s half-uncle’s son, Guy Leston Johnson.  However, I would have to be off on the ages of both boys  as Guy was 10 years younger than my grandfather.  Here are the photos – the black and white was the earlier of the two photos.

guy-johnson-maybe guy-johnson2

 Whomever he is, this unknown little boy will continue to be a mystery to me until I determine his name and relationship.  Have you seen him before?  Perhaps in that stack of photos your great-grandparents left you?  Or in a framed photo hanging on a friend’s wall? 

This is why it is very important to not only label photographs – but to list the relationship of those in the photo.  Even if I had a name – would I be able to connect the dots back to my grandfather? 

This post was written for the 9th Edition Smile for the Camera – Who Are You.

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deck_the_halls_2007Miriam, at AnceStories, posted her first digital scrapbook page recently after reading Jasia’s post about a new Christmas Around the World digital scrapbook kit at her Creative Genealogy blog.  Not wanting to be left out of the fun, I’m posting this digital scrapbook page I made after Christmas last year.  I designed the paper and elements myself (since I also do “commercial” projects, I don’t want to have to buy licenses to use others’ kits!).  Since I do not own Photoshop and use Microsoft Digital Imaging, I had a pretty steep learning curve due to the lack of “instructions” on how to create digital elements on the web. 

Below is another digital scrapbook page I made to show off my grandson with the Christmas tree.  I didn’t add a whole lot to it as I wanted it to be very simple.

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“Official” Isaac Hayes, Tina Turner, Booker T & the MG’s Rest Stop westbound on I-40 in Madison County, Tennessee.

Photographed November 22, 2008.  Digital photo owned by Wendy Littrell (address for private use).

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Photographed by Wendy Littrell, December 2, 2008
Digital Photo in Possession of Wendy Littrell (Address for private use)

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Miriam Robbins Midkiff, of Ancestories2 and Ancestories issued a new word prompt on her Ancestories2 blog. The word prompt is Fall.

“How do you feel about fall? Is it a favorite season, or do you prefer another?”

When I was growing up in southwestern Ohio, I loved fall!  The changing colors, going back to school, Fall Festivals at schools and around the community, the smell of a fire in the fireplace, the warmth of “Indian Summer” days, and the beginning of the new television schedule!

“What are you favorite fall activities (indoor or out)?”

Once we had a “weeny” roast at my brother’s house in their outdoor firepit.  The temp was in the low 40s so everyone was bundled in coats and hats and either sat out by the fire or in their enclosed patio area.  My sister-in-law made hot apple cider complete with real cinnamon sticks and cloves.  After the hot dog dinner, we all roasted marshmallows over the fire.  Another activity I enjoyed as a kid was the large piles of leaves we would jump into!  As an adult one of our annual activities includes attending our community’s Western Day festival in the old part of our city.  There is lots of history to the shops on Main Street.  Each year there are bands that play on the stages set up, a longhorn cattle drive down Main Street along with a parade, gun fight re-enactments, and a chance to catch up with people I don’t see very often.

“What are your favorite fall sports (to watch or play)?”

In high school the thing to do was go to the football games each Friday at home and spend most of the game wandering below the stands socializing!  Then after the game we’d all meet up at the local pizza hangout.  Living in Texas now (especially when I had children in high school), Friday nights just aren’t the same unless we are at the local high school football game!  Between the annual rivalry game that was played at Texas Stadium in Irving and having a son in band for many years, we always spent home games on Fridays at the high school stadium – eating hot dogs or nachos and hoping for our team to win!

“Do you have a favorite fall outfit to wear?  Cordouroy slacks and plaid flannel shirt, a cozy sweater, etc.?”

I don’t necessarily have a fall outfit that I pull out at the first sign of chilly weather but I have a pair of flannel pajamas that are nice and warm that I only wear in the fall and winter (and here in Texas that is only when the temps are low).  I have a nice pair of lined wool slacks that I wear to church when the weather is cool to keep my legs warm. 

“Do you have any particular household or garden chores that you regularly do just in autumn?”

No – other than get the living room set up in order to put up the Christmas Tree after Thanksgiving.

“Have you ever gone leaf peeping?”

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Well I had to google this term as it’s not something I’ve ever heard before!  I guess you could say that on my recent road trip from Texas to Ohio a couple weeks ago, I did take pictures of the trees and changing leaves as we made our way north.  Where I’m at the leaves change & fall – no chance to photograph them unless you are really quick!  I see a lot of interesting colors on the leaves that have already fallen – not much on the trees themselves!  But I love to look at others’ pictures of fall foilage!

“What observances of nature do you regularly watch (birds flying south, squirrels preparing for winter, etc.)?”

The birds come here – so instead of watching them fly south (like I did when I was young & in Ohio), I watch them land in my yard.  Then I watch the dog chase them away!  I do see some squirrels around – but they are mainly sitting on the fence antagonizing the dog! 

“What flowers that bloom during this season do you especially like?”

Many years ago when my second oldest daughter was in the high school choir, one of their fundraisers was selling pansies in October.  We ordered quite a few and planted them in an circular garden out front and then in an area in the back.  They stayed really pretty clear through the fall and most of the winter.  Of course they were purple pansies! 

pa140040“Do you visit any orchards, pumpkin patches or corn mazes?”

A few years ago I took one of my grandsons to the local pumpkin patch in mid-October.  There were many child-friendly activities for him, and we also took a hayride around the pumpkin patch. 

“What about the local fair?”

I’ve only been to the county fair once and that was only because my daughter’s choir was performing.  Our Texas State Fair is held in the fall but I have never gone.  Too many people, not thrilled with the (lack of) security, too expensive and not my cup of tea!  When I was in Junior High, my mom and I worked the school’s PTA fall fair.  We spent several hours in the soda truck selling sodas to fair-goers.  That was always a lot of fun – unfortunately for a few days afterwards I would always come down with laryngitus!

“Do you do any kind of harvesting or food preparation (canning, drying, smoking)?

No! Nada!

“What about hunting?”

No – never had the opportunity or place to go.

“Do you do any kind of fall traveling, other than holiday travels?”

Growing up we’d usually go visit my mom’s brother in Battle Creek and/or my dad’s two brothers outside of Detroit.  In 1966 my parents and I took a month long trip from Ohio to California and back in the fall.  And a couple weeks ago my sister and I took a road trip from Texas to Ohio to visit our Mom.  The other trips my family has taken have all been Thanksgiving trips to the farm in Missouri.

pb270365“Which is your favorite fall holiday, and why (Hallowe’en, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, or others)?

I always loved Halloween growing up because it allowed me to indulge my passion to dress up in different costumes.  I still love the holiday and watching my kids and now my grandkids dress up in costume and have fun!  Thanksgiving has always come in a close second (as my birthday is really close to Thanksgiving!) – with family around, lots of food, and of course the Cowboys football game!

“What are your favorite fresh foods that are in season at this time? Favorite fall recipes or beverages?”

Pumpkin pie!  I also hated sweet potatoes as a kid and it’s only been in the last 15 years that I’ve been able to eat them willingly!  I love baked sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar on them as well as sweet potato casserole.  I look forward to apple cider in the fall and making a cauliflower casserole.  I’m also not a turkey all year round person!  So I look forward to cooking the big bird at Thanksgiving along with all the trimmings.  Until I stopped eating whole eggs, I looked forward to the first jugs of egg nog in the supermarket!  Those containers never last long at my house!

“Share favorite fall memories from your childhood.”

This particular memory has to be from my teen years.  Since I loved Halloween but at age 13 was “too old” to go out on beggar’s night any more, I looked forward to having a costume party.  The only problem was I wasn’t allowed to have a “boy/girl” party until I was 16 and since my birthday fell after Halloween (and after Thanksgiving!), I lobbied for and won the debate and was able to have my costume party at age 15 right before my birthday.  The theme was to come dressed as your favorite rock star or musician or celebrity.  There were about 15 people there which my brother insisted that he “chaperone”.  After an hour in the basement listening to our 70s music and watching us talk and dance, my brother went up to sit with my mom proclaiming us “Boring” (which meant we weren’t doing anything we shouldn’t be doing!).  My other favorite autumn memories are of my birthdays.  As a child I’d have friends or neighbors over to celebrate.  Normally we still had family in town from the Thanksgiving holiday.  Many times we had left over turkey – which ceased when I was about 13 and started insisting on pizza.  As a teen there were slumber parties on or close to my birthday.  An equally fun memory was going to the local charity run “haunted houses” as a teenager.  That was when they only cost $1 to get in and volunteers ran and acted in the houses.  All the money went to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  A bunch of us – either high school friends or my church youth group would go a few weekends prior to Halloween and have fun.  For awhile a friend and I would always walk the annual “Hike for the Handicap” or March of Dimes walk each fall.  Normally it would be about a ten-mile trek around one of the neighboring cities.  We didn’t raise much money but we sure had a good time.  And a few years ago, my daughter and I participated in the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Dallas.

“What do you like least about this season?”

The unpredictable weather!  Here in Texas Halloween normally marks the time when the weather turns really cold and biting – but this year it was still warm and nice. 

“What family birthdays, anniversaries, or events are commemorated in the fall?  Are there any signficant family history events that occurred during the summer?”

My mother’s birthday is at the end of September and as a young teen, I always made sure to make her a cake and employed some of my friends to help me surprise her when she got home from work.  My birthday is in November and my sister’s and my daughter’s wedding anniversaries are in October. 

What about you?  What are your answers?

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This post was written on July 13, 2008 and has been updated for the 61st Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy!

Webster’s Online Dictionary defines Tradition as: 1 a: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b: a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable2: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction3: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions4: characteristic manner, method, or style <in the best liberal tradition>”  It is Synonomous with: convention, custom.  Related words include: ethic, form, mode, mores, norm, values; birthright, inheritance, legacy; folklore, lore, superstition; culture, heritage, lifestyle.

Many families have passed down traditions such as:

  • A family story that has been told to each generation.
  • A custom associated with an event (wedding, holiday, birth, etc.)
  • An heirloom that has a certain function at a certain time.

There are many others.  As you’ve accumulated information about your ancestors and distant relatives, what traditions – or customs – have you found AND recorded?  In small towns or villages in Germany there is a wedding custom of “kidnapping the bride”.  German Wedding Traditions list this tradition as: “kidnap the bride and the groom has to find her. Normally, he has to search in a lot of pubs and invite all people in there (or pay the whole bill). Sometimes this ritual ends badly.”  Irish Wedding Traditions mentions that “An old Irish tradition calls for the wedding couple to walk to the church together before exchanging their wedding vows. As they walk down the main street to the chapel, onlookers would not only throw rice to bless the marriage, but larger items as well, such as pots and pans.”  Holiday Traditions – England mentions that “The day after Christmas is known in Britain as Boxing Day, which takes its name from a former custom of giving a Christmas Box – a gift of money or food inside a box – to the deliverymen and tradespeople who called regularly during the year. This tradition survives in the custom of tipping the milkman, postman, dustmen and other callers of good service at Christmas time.”  And in America, we know that the tradition on July 4th is to view fireworks as a celebration of our Independence.

Yet, sometimes it’s the unusual traditions that tell us more about our ancestors.  We may learn important things about their character, their financial situation, their environment or even why a tradition changed.

My family has the usual traditions:

  • Christmas Eve meant going to services at church and coming home to await Santa Claus’ visit.  How it evolved – when my own children were small, we’d go look at Christmas lights after church and then come home to a “finger food/appetizer” type of meal.  Afterwards I read “The Night Before Christmas” and the Biblical Nativity story.  Then to bed for the kids!
  • Memorial Day was the first day my grandfather bought a watermelon and we’d have a picnic.  How it evolved – with both of us working, most of the time Memorial Day is just a Monday we are off work and take a moment of reflection to honor and remember those who gave their lives or a part of their time to serve our country.
  • July 4th – we’d go to parades and then watch fireworks.  How it evolved – if we are at my in-laws’ in Missouri (where it is legal to shoot fireworks) – they are being popped all day long!  If we are at home, it means our big church ice cream social and watching the fireworks from the parking lot (which has a great view!).pb270363
  • Thanksgiving – a large family dinner, watching a football game, and the men sleeping.  How it evolved – not much!  Except sometimes even Mom gets to nap!
  • New Years Day – we would have roast beef or roast pork and watch the parades as soon as they began in the morning and then the Rose Bowl Game (especially when Ohio State was playing!)  How it evolved – since I live in Texas and am now required (since I’m in the south) to cook black eyed peas, I fix a big pot of them with cornbread and ham.  Sometimes I’ll have pork and sauerkraut too (just to cover my northern roots!).  Only the grandson really watches the parades and when was the last time Ohio State was in the Rose Bowl?  There’s no more Cotton Bowl parade (which is pretty local!).  Generally the Christmas Tree is being taken down as well.christmas-looking-at-tree
  • Putting up the Christmas Tree – I really don’t remember much traditions associated with this except I loved to hang these ornaments of my mom’s that looked like huge, red teardrop earrings and I was allowed to hang the ornaments I’d made.  I enjoyed watching my mom decorate our house more than anything.  How it evolved – I don’t have a lot of stuff to decorate the house (because that would mean having a place to store it afterwards!) – but when the kids were little, I’d take a picture as each child put their first ornament on the tree and then take a picture of all four of them gazing with wonder at the lit, decorated tree.  It’s evolved even more – now my husband puts the tree up, he and the youngest daughter put the lights on & everyone haves at it putting the ornaments on while I just watch.  I get to put on the garland – sometimes strands of beads, other times I “throw” the tinsel, and the last couple years it has been ribbons.  But I undecorate it so I can put all the ornaments back into their rightful places.
  • Birthdays – it was “your” day.  Mom would make me a devil’s food cake with homemade chocolate icing and I got to lick the bowl afterwards.  Sometimes there were friends and other times it was just family (having a birthday right by Thanksgiving can sometimes cause problems).  I usually picked my favorite meal and we had the birthday song, blowing out the candles, and opening gifts.  How it evolved – sometimes I make the cake and sometimes I buy it.  It’s still the child’s “day” and is special.  They request what they want for dinner and the type of cake. 
  • Weddings – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  Not evolved – still the same!
  • Easter – getting dressed up in a little more than Sunday best with new clothes, new patent leather shoes with a new hat and gloves and an Easter Basket on the end of the bed when I woke up.  How it evolved – the Easter Bunny leaves the baskets on the kitchen table.  New clothes and still attending Easter services (no hat or gloves though!).  A big dinner at mid-day (which is one of the few Sundays I even cook – see below!)
  • Sunday Dinner – my mother never fixed a regular evening meal on Sundays.  As a kid, she always fixed a big lunch but dinner – you were on your own.  That was sort of nice – ice cream, a big bowl of popcorn, peanut butter on a spoon right of the jar (see “food” traditions below), a bowl of cereal, etc.  How it evolved – Mom still doesn’t fix an evening meal on Sundays and neither do I!
  • Food Traditions – my dad is the one we “blame” for most of these.  Pepper on cottage cheese; chocolate cake (no other flavor) in a bowl of milk; peanut butter on a spoon; fried baloney; tobasco sauce on everything (my sister does that but I don’t!); sardines; slim jims, beef sticks or hot sausages (the kind you find at bars!); steak once a week (yeah, I don’t get that as often anymore!); pepper on everything; bleu cheese or roquefort salad dressing.andy
  • Taking pictures of other people taking pictures!  (See Unusual Photos – that I posted back on June 23, 2008)
  • Singing a very long and convoluted version of “I Found a Peanut” when we go on vacation as well as “100 Bottles of Beer”.
  • Going through all the photo albums at my mom’s when we are visiting – each time we are there, all the albums come out.  I was even able to show my sister some photo albums she hadn’t seen before!
  • When all four of the kids are home we watch two or three of their musical videos taken when they were all in church musicals years ago.

So what have you learned from your ancestors?  Please share your family’s traditions – either in the comments section or on your own blog.  Please provide me the link so I can send others to read your post!

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japanese-clothesline

Clothesline on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan – mid 1950s
Photographer: Gene Amore
Original photo property of Wendy Littrell (Address for private use)

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