(Original & Digital Image Owned by Wendy Littrell)
(Original & Digital Image Owned by Wendy Littrell)
Before I started school, it seemed as if my parents and I were always going somewhere – to see my three uncles in Michigan (my dad’s two brothers in the Detroit area and my mom’s brother in Battle Creek), my aunt in Zanesville, Ohio, my aunt in Philadelphia, or my sister after she married and moved to Georgia. Then there were the short trips around Ohio and Indiana – to reunions or just to “sight see” (Hueston Woods in Ohio, Indian Mounds in Ohio). My dad’s civil service job at the base sent him on many trips (seminars) so I would find myself traveling with my parents to other places like St. Louis (loved the city from the first moment!). Even with all those trips, Mom and Dad wanted to take a long vacation before I started school so in the fall of 1966 – just before I turned five, we set out on a month long journey that would take us from our home east of Dayton north and west and back south to the Pacific Coast before heading east again for home. Our destination: Disneyland! More importantly, we were going to go through Kansas at some point and as a small child, I just knew we were going to see where “Dorothy” lived and perhaps see what was “over the rainbow” too!
On September 1, 1966 the three of us left our home and traveled to Battle Creek, Michigan where we visited my Uncle Glen and Aunt Mary.
(Facing the back of the house from the Lake; Mom and I sitting on the dock)
The next day we went north through the Locks at Saint Sault Marie and into Canada. We took the Trans-Canada Highway into Alberta. (Apparently Norm was there too!)
While we were on the Canadian side, we saw Niagra Falls.
We went to Great Falls, Montana, where my parents lived in the mid-1940s while my dad was stationed there with the Army Air Corps. We stayed with the George and Grace Kelso family with daughters Sandy and Colleen nearby (on a side note as I was just googling these people, I ran across Sandy’s obituary on Findagrave – she and my brother had played together as young children).
Above: Mom and Grace Kelso
After spending a few days with the Kelso’s, we traveled into Idaho and saw the Big Southern Butte, Craters of the Moon, Shoshone Falls and the Twin Falls.
Above Left: I’m getting a closer look at Craters of the Moon.
Above Right: Mom and I at the Big Southern Butte sign.
Stay Tuned for the next installment – where are we headed next?
Sources: personal knowledge and written description published in the Beavercreek News (Beavercreek, Ohio), Oct. 19, 1966.
Photos: Photographer on all photos – Gene Amore; all photos – print, slide, digital in the possession of Wendy Littrell to be used as needed. No reprints without permission.
Copyright for this blog post 2011 Wendy J Littrell.
No part of this blog post may be used or reproduced without explicit permission from the author and must be linked back to this blog.
Even though this is supposed to be “wordless” – I thought this picture would be great for “hump day”!!!
(Original and digital photo held by Wendy Littrell. Photographer – Unknown. Taken with my mom’s camera to be used by my mother however she wanted.)
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PAST
This picture (to the left) was taken in 1954; location – Japan when my parents were stationed at Tachikawa with the Air Force. My impression has always been – what a sad tree! I believe this was the only type of tree that would work as a “Christmas” tree – short of buying an artificial tree from the Base/Post Exchange. I hadn’t been born yet but my sister and brother were the children who had “visions of sugarplums” for that year’s Christmas.
This picture (to the right) was taken about 1968 when I was a little over 7 years old; location – the house I grew up in east of Dayton, Ohio. I obviously have some teeth missing! Those pants were not purple – from what I remember – but blue. This is the artificial tree we used – it was only a year or two old because I remember having live trees when I was very small. Mom used this artificial tree at least until the time I was 18 years old and then I think she gave it to my cousin. This tree is set at the corner of the living room and formal dining room. From what I remember, this was the same location it was set year after year. During my childhood, Christmas dinners were always at our house. Those who attended included my maternal grandparents, my sister, her husband, and two kids, my brother and his wife (and later their son), and sometimes my brother-in-law’s parents.
This photo (to the left) was taken in 1991 either before we left or after we returned from Christmas Eve services at our church. This is one of the very few pictures I have of our family by the Christmas tree. Boy, my husband and I look so young! Our youngest was a few months shy of two years old and our oldest was a month away from 10 years old. Our second daughter had just turned eight and our son was six and a half. Over the years, our tree has moved “around” the living room. We had it in this location for a few years and for the last 10+ years it has been in the opposite corner. Our Christmas tradition since this photo was taken has rarely changed. There were some years that we went looking at Christmas lights after church. We’ve always had a meal of “finger food” late in the evening – I’ve made sausage balls, cheese and crackers, stuffed shells, deli meat sandwiches, fresh vegetables and dip, and more. The last couple of years we have had Wing Stop chicken wings and tamales from our local tamale factory. The first year we decided on wings, the restaurant was open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve so we picked up the order as soon as church was over. Last year it closed early, so I had to go pick up the wings and fries and try to keep them warm the rest of the day. The french fries did not fair very well – so I don’t think we’ll do that this year. On Christmas Day we’ve had the traditional dinner – turkey (and sometimes ham), dressing, mashed potatoes, homemade giblet gravy (and turkey gravy from a jar for those who won’t eat the other kind), green bean casserole, Christmas cauliflower, scalloped corn, and pies. There were years that I started making cookies in the middle of December and other times, I just don’t bother! I’ve made homemade chex mix for gifts to friends and family. The last two years one of our daughter’s has had us to her home for the Christmas dinner. Our oldest daughter hasn’t been able to be with us for Christmas in over seven years. For the last 5 years, we’ve enjoyed being with all four grandsons.
The only picture of our family with my mom was taken at my sister’s home in 1999. Our kids ranged from almost 10 to almost 17. That year we had Christmas dinner at my sister’s home and my contribution was my Christmas cauliflower and something else! See the red plaid skirt that I’m wearing? I wore this at almost every Christmas from 1978 until just a few years ago!
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT
Although this photo was taken in 2008, this could be a photo from today. The Christmas tree is in the same spot – although our present tree is a new artificial tree – and I haven’t added any garland to it. This year I will use strands of beads as garland. Our Christmas this year will begin on Christmas Eve when we attend our Worship Celebration at our church of over 20 years. Then we’ll come back home and eat our “finger food” dinner, culminating in the reading of “The Night Before Christmas” (a tradition since the children were all small) and the Biblical Christmas story. We’ll set our presents out under the tree after the grandkids go to bed and then later, Santa will arrive. He’ll find a cold glass of egg nog in the fridge in case he’s thirsty and a couple of cookies with a note to him on the kitchen table. This year Christmas falls on a Sunday – the first one in six years – so our morning will be very early! I have always had a family breakfast before presents are opened and this year, I think I will have a crock pot breakfast casserole that has cooked through the night. After we eat, it will be time to dig into gifts and take pictures. At 10:30 we’ll be at our church, celebrating the real reason for Christmas. Then it will be home to finish cooking the dinner. Hopefully, I’ll get the turkey in the oven before we leave. One of our grandson’s might not be with us that day – perhaps late in the evening. The kids will be playing with new toys, probably have new movies playing on the TV, and the aroma of delicious food cooking.
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME
In the future, I hope that we can still enjoy our grandchildren – and further into the future – our great-grandchildren – and our children and families at Christmas. Wherever we are, we’ll still decorate a Christmas tree – big or small. Some of our traditions may continue and some will be replaced with new traditions. We’ll still have some of our tree ornaments – especially the really nice handmade ones that the kids and grandkids have made. Pictures will still be snapped and food will still be eaten. I may prepare a traditional Christmas dinner, yet I see myself changing it in my golden years – especially if there are only my husband and I sharing the holiday together. No matter the year, we’ll always remember the joy of Christmas’s past and the true reason we celebrate the season!
(written for the 113th Carnival of Genealogy: A Charles Dickens Christmas)
all photos – digital and print – held by Wendy Littrell
I don’t know if anyone else has a “travel” day of the week, but I’m going to start one! This fits really well as I began my latest travels a week ago Thursday, March 31. I added 3 more states to my list of those I’ve visited or traveled through. One I had been to but only when the plane stopped there and we were able to get off and outside the terminal (pre-9/11). Didn’t think that really counted.
In early March I started thinking about my dad – he was getting ready to turn 90 years old. I haven’t seen him in several years – since his and his wife’s last trip from Florida to Texas around Christmas. Age and some illnesses have curtailed their long road trips so I knew that they probably wouldn’t be back for a visit. Wishing there was some way I could see him around his birthday, I thought about how I could pull it off – especially with all my responsibilities at home plus my college course. I thought about checking for an inexpensive flight – but I wasn’t sure what the nearest airport would be and really didn’t want to add the expense of a rental car or having my dad drive any distance to pick me up. I went to sleep that night thinking that I’d think some more about it in the days to come. The next morning I woke up with the thought that it would sure be nice if my sister also decided she wanted to see Dad on his birthday and perhaps we could ride together. Our road trips have become famous (if only between ourselves)! As I was thinking about it, I checked my email and saw that she had sent me one about 30 minutes before. Her first sentence said that we needed to take a road trip to see Dad for his birthday because of his birthday and the second sentence mentioned that it felt like she’d been hit over the head with a hammer with that thought while she was out walking her dog. Sister ESP!
So with the opportunity, I made the necessary arrangements and she contacted Dad to let him know that we would like to come to visit him – there’s no way you surprise a 90 year old man like that. I’m not sure who was more excited – my sister and I or our dad.
So last Thursday morning she picked me up and by 7:30 am we were on the road going east toward Florida. We traveled through Louisiana – even going through the town of the airport I’d seen briefly back in early September 2001. Then on through Mississippi and we stopped for the night on the east side of Mobile, Alabama. We arrived at our Dad’s about early afternoon on Friday. My sister has been to his home a few times. I have never been to Florida – it was never a state I really wanted to visit.
The next day my sister’s daughter – who is only a few years younger than me – drove down from her new home a few hours from Dad’s and spent the rest of the weekend with all of us. They took us out each evening to the club they go to and the meals fixed at the house were delicious. We talked and visited and took pictures and relaxed!
My dad’s birthday was the day we left so we all went out to breakfast that morning to celebrate. He had not wanted a birthday cake or party or any fuss and at his age, he can get or not get what he wants. Yet I ask you – does he really look like he’s 90?
Dad and I
Leaving was bittersweet. Not knowing if I’d be able to get back and see him soon but so very thankful I had the opportunity to spend just a few days with him.
Where do your travels take you?
Posted in Life and Death, news, personal, Photographs, stories, tagged Amore, Bookless, Coshocton, Coshocton Tribune, genealogy, newspaper, Ohio, Photographs, photos, Roscoe, Salvation Army, Simon, Werts on March 15, 2011 | 2 Comments »
Mary Angeline Werts Amore
Mary Angeline Werts was born to William Washington Werts and Louisa Bookless on February 16, 1855 in Linton Township, Coshocton County, Ohio. Her father died when she was two years old leaving Lousia to raise Mary and her older brother, George. In the 1860 Census both children are living with others. In 1961 Louisa married John Simon and three years later they had a daughter, Sarah Ellen. On December 14, 1872, Mary married William Henry Amore. In 1881 Mary lost her brother, George.
Mary – known as “Annie” and “Henry” had seven children – a daughter first, followed by six sons (“Clemmie”, “Zade”, Roy, Lloyd, Rollo, Bert, and Clarence). The family was very involved with the Salvation Army. I just didn’t realize how involved Annie was until I ran across an article from the Coshocton Tribune dated December 14, 1941 (nine days after Annie passed away).
In the “Fife and Drum” column written by Al Cline, he stated, “Back a quarter century ago, at the Christmas times even before the first World war, you might have seen a tiny, birdlike woman, her face rosy with cold, standing on one of Coshocton’s snow-swept street corners, ringing a Salvation Army bell.” He went on to state that before many people knew what the Salvation Army was is when she joined as one of its first members. She was called “Mother” Amore, and as Cline reported, “very few people knew her first name was Mary. And there is no record how many derelicts she took into her little house, gave a bed and breakfast and sent on their way, because the true spirit of Christmas was with Mother Amore the year round.”
There were many Sundays she walked from her home in Roscoe to the Salvation Army home so she wouldn’t miss a service. My great-grandmother (her son Lloyd was my grandfather) saw the new citadel finished in 1929 when she was in her 70s. Unfortunately that was about the time she fell and was hurt pretty bad. The columnist reported that for more than ten years after her fall, Mother Amore was “an uncomplaining invalid, tied to her bed and crutch.” Salvation Army Captain Douglas Bethune told Al Cline that he always had a strange feeling in her house; one that felt as if she was comforting him instead of the other way around when he came to call on her weekly after her fall.
Cline summed up his story by writing, “I guess this is a story of faith. Mother Amore had faith, like an imperishable little . . . flame, burning inside her and shining thru her eyes. It took faith and vision to help build the snug Salvation Army citadel, and it took faith to lie calmly in bed, at 86, and wait for the quiet touch of death.”
As I read that article, tears sprung from my eyes. No, I didn’t know my great-grandmother in the traditional sense (I also did not know my grandfather as he died six years before I was born). I didn’t even really know her through memories of others. The only thing my dad has said is that she was in bed all the time. He was an adult by the time she died – so perhaps I can find out more about this woman from him.
However, I did learn a lot about this woman, just from this article. It told me that she didn’t complain about any hardship that she encountered. Whether she learned this at a young age from losing her father and then her brother and being “farmed out” from her mother, I don’t know. I have a sense that she seemed to always have a sense of purpose – helping people, nurturing them, giving hope to others, and bringing the word of God into the lives of those who didn’t know Him.
I have three pictures of Annie – the picture above is one that my cousin, Sharon Amore Brittigan, uploaded to Ancestry. The picture below is one that my family has also shared with me of Henry and Annie and their children. One other photo I have shows the couple surrounded by loving family members on the occasion of the first Amore reunion held at their home.
Annie died on December 5, 1941 seven years after losing her husband, Henry. Her funeral was held in the Salvation Army citadel and she was buried in Roscoe Cemetery.
R.I.P. Great-grandmother (“Mother”) Amore.
Summer in the mid-1960s (not sure which year). This picture was taken at my paternal aunt’s home in Zanesville, Ohio. Pictured left to right: my 1st cousin, June (my dad’s oldest sister’s daughter), my Aunt Eva and Uncle Bervil (my dad’s brother), my Aunt Gertrude (Dad’s oldest sister), Eric (June’s grandson), and me. Notice the span of ages between my first cousin – who has a grandchild a little younger than me – and me!
I haven’t seen June or Eric since the real early 1970′s. The last time I saw my Aunt Gertie was in the summer of 1972. I saw my Uncle Bervil and Aunt Eva for the last time in the late 1960′s. Luckily, I am now in touch with their son, grandson’s, great-granddaughter’s, and their daughter.
Posted in Life and Death, On This Day, personal, Photographs, stories, tagged anniversary, death, genealogy, grandmother, Johnson, life, Nana, Photographs, photos, Wilt on January 19, 2011 | 7 Comments »
Twenty seven years ago today, I was at work when my boss, the owner of the printing company for which I worked, opened the door to the graphics room and told me I had a phone call. It was early afternoon and I still had an hour or so of work yet. No one usually called me at work. As soon as I heard my brother’s voice, I knew. I knew because that was how I had envisioned it happening a week or so before. It wouldn’t be my mom calling me or anyone else – it would be my brother. The words he spoke brought forth too many polarizing emotions. I didn’t have to wonder anymore about when it would happen. I knew that a life lived had been to the absolute fullest. I knew that while everyone else in the family would be falling apart, that I would draw on my inner strength and remain strong for them. This woman we spoke of had been a constant in my life since birth – the only grandmother that I knew. When it seemed that my life was falling apart throughout different periods, she was my champion. When I was at my absolute lowest and disappointing everyone else, she hugged me and let me know that no matter what she wouldn’t be mad at me and would love me unconditionally. Walking into my grandparents’ apartment later that evening and seeing my grandfather all dressed up in a suit – for he had been waiting to go see his beloved wife – stabbed my heart. My mother expressed that my grandmother had really wanted to see her newest great-granddaughter, my baby, just a little over a month old, and had never gotten to. I broke down in grief.
Within a week the family gathered to remember this matriarch of our family. We laughed and we cried. Six of us – grandchildren and great-grandchildren – were pallbearers. It was such a cold day – the day we carried the casket out of the church into the waiting hearse. Snow covered the ground. We traveled to the cemetery and had a final service in the chapel. It would be several more years before I went to the gravesite. When I did return, it would be to visit not only my grandmother and my mom’s baby sister, but also my grandfather, who wasn’t able to go on after the love of his life was gone. He passed away a year less a day after she did.
Like me, my grandmother was a child of divorced parents. When I was young and going through the rough patches of my parents animosity, she would always comfort me and tell me she knew what I felt. As a young child, I used to spend weekends with my grandparents. I was the youngest of their eight grandchildren – by fourteen years – so to say that I was spoiled by them is an understatement! In my defense, I never asked for them to spoil me and in their defense, during the time the others were young and growing, my grandparents lived in Germany and were always traveling due to my grandfather’s military duty or for pleasure. They missed a lot of holidays and birthdays with my siblings and cousins.
Vesta Christena Wilt was born on May 7, 1898 in Noblesville, Indiana to Joseph N. Wilt and Martha Jane Stern. She was the oldest girl and fourth child. Another daughter and son followed her. Before she was 12, her parents had divorced. Her mother married her widowed brother-in-law, Frank Clawson. The family moved from Noblesville to Anderson, Indiana and on Easter Sunday 1916 she met the man she would spend the rest of her life with. Vesta dated Glen Roy Johnson for several months and the two got married at Martha and Frank’s house on Christmas Eve 1916. The following December their first child, a son named after his father, was born. As the years went by the family added their first daughter, Genevieve, and then a second daughter, Mary (my mother), and lastly baby Lois Evelyn who was born prematurely and died just a little over 2 months later.
My grandmother knew her own heartache. She was separated from her beloved Glen for quite awhile while he went to training for the Signal Corps and then went overseas to France during WWI. She had been separated from her mother and two youngest siblings after Martha moved to Oregon before my mother was born. She lost a baby and then much later watched her oldest daughter suffer from a brain tumor and ultimately succumb to another inoperable one. She lost the father that she hadn’t seen for so long without having that estranged relationship mended. As the years wore on, she watched her youngest daughter struggle and grieve for the end of an almost 30 year marriage. She lost her mother and three brothers. She sat by her husband’s hospital bedside for months as he recuperated from a blood cot on his brain that he had suffered in a fall.
Then her health began to fail. She wasn’t a stranger to health issues – having one ailment and surgery or another throughout her adult life. But after she broke her elbow in the early 1970s, she was never as healthy as she had been. All too soon she was experiencing a heart attack every three months. I was very scared about losing her – not only for myself but for what it would do to my mother. After hospital stays and a change in her diet and medication, it seemed she rallied from the heart issues (although they were still there).
The family would gather for a surprise birthday we had for her at our house. She was so surprised when she walked in through the garage to the dining room and most of her family. Then there was the 60th wedding anniversary celebration at their apartment complex. Long time friends, church friends, military friends, and the family and extended family came to honor them. We were only missing one of my cousins and her family.
I moved away for awhile and when I returned back to my hometown, I realized just how she had aged – my grandfather too. I knew that as the years had ticked by, time was winding down for their life among us. My grandfather had been the one who had several health issues before I had moved away and I guess I had thought that he might be the one to go first. Then she was hospitalized and then again several weeks later. That visit was one she wouldn’t return home from. I learned later that she had told the apartment manager as the EMTs were wheeling her to the ambulance to make sure her husband would be okay. Did she know she wouldn’t come home? Did she decide that it would be okay to go if it was her time?
My grandmother – Vesta Wilt Johnson – born on May 7, 1898 – died on January 19, 1984. My grandfather – Glen Roy Johnson – born November 21, 1898 – died on January 18, 1985. They were the glue of the family. There are times during holidays and celebrations, the family left an empty chair – in honor of our grandmother. Our Beloved Nana – the woman whose “grandmother” moniker I have assumed for my own grandchildren – the woman whom I will never live up to as a grandmother – the woman who is always beside me in times of trouble – smiling and cheering me on.
(Photographed by Gene Amore; digital scan owned by Wendy Littrell)
Photographed by Gene Amore, 1966. Original: slide; Digital scan held by Wendy Littrell