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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

baby mary

By the time I was born, the only set of grandparents still living were my mom’s parents – Glen R and Vesta (Wilt) Johnson. Forget about great-grandparents. My grandmother had four siblings still living: John and Clifford lived in Oregon, Nellie lived in Washington, and Clarence lived in Indiana. John Wilt died before I was old enough to meet him. As far as Clifford, I don’t remember meeting him but I may have as a small child. I knew Nellie from staying at her home in Washington when my parents and I toured the western states and because Aunt Nellie and her husband John Lilly visited Dayton many times. I also remember visiting Uncle Clarence in Indiana almost every year.

It wasn’t until I was almost a teen, that I even learned that my grandfather had an older brother who had died young as well as a younger foster sister, Eva. Apparently, everyone thought Eva had died as well (later I found out that Eva outlived my grandfather). But it never dawned on me until many years ago, even when I had seen her gravestone, that my grandfather had a baby sister named Mary who died before she celebrated her first birthday.

Several days ago, Ancestry published three new databases – Indiana marriage, birth and death records. I immediately began going through them for any new or correct information. Mary appeared on the 1910 census and the Indiana death index (no images) listed her date of death as July 1910. The search term of Mary Johnson 1910 did not bring her up. I tried various ways to find her until I gave up and just entered the month and year of death. Finally, her death certificate was located under Marry L Johnson (her gravestone reads: Mary A Johnson). She is buried at Maplewood Cemetery in Anderson.

Mary died at home – 432 W. 17th street – in Anderson, Indiana at the age of 8 months and 14 days on July 17, 1910. The cause of death was listed as brain tumor and contributory cause was cholera infantum. I had to look that up. Merriam-Webster online defines it as “an acute noncontagious intestinal disturbance of infants formerly common in congested areas of high humidity and temperature.” I am left wondering if the brain tumor killed her or if she had become so dehydrated that her condition deteriorated rapidly.

An interesting thing to note is that my mother’s sister, Genevieve, died from a benign brain tumor. My aunt’s tumor was not cancerous but it was inoperable and 48 years after her baby aunt breathed her last, so did my Aunt Genevieve.

I am also left to wonder if my mother was named after my grandfather’s baby sister. I never heard him speak about his sister or how he felt at her death. He had just turned 11 when Mary was born so he was old enough to remember her short life.

Years ago, I found a crate of large pictures. One of them was of a baby that my mom thought was baby Mary. I don’t know if it is but I have included it above. It seemed that for so many years, she wasn’t talked about. Perhaps my Grandad thought about her when he lost his own daughter, Lois Evelyn, at just six weeks old or when Aunt Genevieve was so ill. But documents pertaining to Mary’s short life have been found – she did live, she did breathe, and she was loved.

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Disregard the child (me) making a silly face in the photo. Look at my surroundings. Okay, I was clearly spoiled. Look at all that stuff! Regardless, I enjoyed every single one of those objects and toys, and I took care of them.

The blackboard is where I wrote “lessons” for my dolls. From an early age, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. Now, I realize that I didn’t really have a calling to be an educator – at least not to children. Back then, that young girl would not only draw – with colored chalk (my favorite!) – but write math problems and spelling words! Some of my dolls got very good grades but others not so much!

The record player was a favorite of mine. I listened to kids songs on my 45s (remember those?) which are held in my record organizer. I learned the words to Ferdinand, Farmer in the Dell, and so many more! I loved singing along with my favorite songs. I also used it to play “Read-Along Stories.” Back in my day, some books came with a 45 to be played while you looked at a story book. “Turn the page”!!

I loved my doll house! I received that for my birthday, and it gave me hours of play time! I handed it down to my oldest two daughters for awhile before it got stored in the attic. Last summer, as we gathered all of our belongings together to pack, give away, or trash, the doll house came down from the attic. I had forgotten that it was up there. I don’t have any granddaughter’s to pass it down so I let it go in the trash. All the furniture and dolls were lost eons ago.

Seeing the electric candle in the window tells me that this photo was taken around Christmas time. See that ceramic dachshund on the window sill? Today, my daughter has that – along with its twin and another one.

The Mary Poppins game was a favorite board game. I liked it so much that my grandparents bought one that they kept at their apartment for me to play with – along with their great-grandchildren. My kids were able to play with that game for quite awhile. Like the dollhouse, the game had seen better times so it was left behind when we moved.

Next to the doll house, was my table and two chairs. I spent hours sitting at the table writing and drawing. I also held tea parties there. At one point, someone (I don’t remember if it was me or my niece or nephew) spilled water on the table causing the laminate to buckle. I do remember at least one time when I was sick, that I got to eat my lunch in my room at my table!

On the wall is a Hummel wooden piece of art. I believe that it is wrapped up and in a box stored in our basement right now.

Those curtains are pretty colorful! As with most of the draperies in our home, I believe my mom made those.

The bookcase holding my record player, books, and games was white with trains. When mom and I moved from the house to a townhome in April 1977, that bookcase went to the basement and held more books, photo albums and other stuff. It was still in there when my mom passed away.

This photo makes me sentimental because each of those objects and toys gave me so many hours of creative pleasure as a child. Some even made me happy seeing my own children use them. What photos of your childhood playthings makes you smile?

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Blog Throwback Thursday

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I’ve realized that I just can not do Wordless Wednesday posts because I always have something to say about a photo. I picked the photo above for Throwback Thursday not for the person (me at a very young age) but the items captured by my father when he photographed me.

A few years after this photo was taken, my dad built a bookcase to separate the entry way of our house from the living room. He also laid laminate tile on the floor so the carpeting on the upper left side of the picture had to be taken up. The new couch next to me was black and orange. Mom was never crazy about the color but she liked the way it sat so she had it recovered in a burnt orange color. Some forty years later, that same couch was where family sat mourning her death. A couch that no one wanted and no one could haul off. I wonder if someone is enjoying it now almost seven years after she died or if it ended up in a dump somewhere.

The dining chair now sits in my home in Missouri – along with the table and other chairs of the set. Who knew that when this picture was taken back in 1965 that I would know exactly where that chair was going to end up?

The table between the chair and the television sat under my vanity for a very long time in our Texas home. Inside – where once was magazines and needlework books – were wooden Disney characters from Bambi. Those figures had graced my bedroom wall as a young child. Now, they are packed away.

That old black and white television set was the only TV in our house. Many times when the TV would get a “snowy” picture, Dad would climb on the roof to adjust the antenna. I would stand at the open door while he moved it around so that way I could relay what was happening on the TV as Mom watched to see if a picture was coming in. I’m not sure what commercial was on the televison when Dad snapped the picture but obviously whatever medicine it was “effective as codeine!”

Many years later, that TV set was put in the basement when we got a brand new color television! But we still had to get up out of our seat and cross the room to change the channel!

When I see pictures of objects that were familiar to me as a child, I always feel a sense of nostalgia. For me, genealogy is so much more than searching for ancestors who have come and gone. It is a history and what transpired within the lives of those people to make them who they were. Such is it for me. Remembering how I felt at certain points in my life – and the objects and places around me – is part of my history. My kids and grandchildren will not know details about why a particular place, or thing, or moment in history is important to me unless I tell them. And tell them again. And again.

Have you shared your memories and history with your family?

(Photo by Eugene J Amore; original slide and digital version in possession of Wendy Littrell – Address for private use)

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santaya

True? False? Somewhere in between?

Those of us who were alive and cognizant of the world around us on September 11, 2001 surely do remember that morning, what took place, where we were and what we were doing, and how it made us feel.

For me it is not only a remembering of that September morning but of the loss of my brother less than two weeks before. I also remember how just years prior to 9/11 that my husband had flown on each of those doomed flights during the days that he traveled very frequently – almost weekly – for business.

Here are my previous posts beginning with the first: Remembering Those Lost; My Thoughts on 9/11; Reflections on September 11, 2001; and Anniversary of the Last Day of Normal.

Today, I’ve put the flag up as a way to honor all those who have lost their lives on 9/11, who were first responders, and those who have been lost due to the war on terror.

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My husband, grandson, and I began a new adventure recently – selling our home and moving 600+ miles away to another state. The knowledge of the move was known for quite awhile but the logistics and details were filled with stressful moments. How long would our home need to be on the market before it sold? How much would it cost to make sure the home was ready to be sold (cosmetic and other repairs)? Would there be enough “profit” for us after the sale? Move ourselves? Hire a moving company? What to take? What to pitch? What to give away? When to start packing? Where to put the boxes that were packed? And for the love of everything – what is this going to cost? (If you have ever moved, you know what I’m saying!)

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U-Haul with some boxes in the over cab

Luckily for us, the selling of the house was almost the easiest part – we closed even before we had to move. Then it became a matter of how quickly can we get everything packed. Once we started packing boxes, it became pretty clear that there wasn’t any place to put them and be able to pack more! So we decided to rent a U-Haul truck in order to start getting things out of the house. 

 

My husband very meticulously figured out the best way to maximize the space inside the truck in order to pack everything in to it. There were some (in retrospect) funny moments such as when my husband and son-in-law was moving our reclining sofa and loveseat from the house into the truck. Our daughter mentioned that hers came apart to make it easier to move but since the company who delivered our furniture years ago brought each piece in as one piece and not apart, no one bothered to check. (It was only after they about killed themselves getting it out of our house, into the truck, off loaded from the truck at our new home and just before figuring out how to get it from an outbuilding on the property to the basement of the house, did my husband realize that yep – they did come apart!)

Time seemed to be our enemy on the day my husband had wanted to get on the road. Without any place to sit or sleep, we ended up staying in a local hotel overnight before braving the last bits of cramming more items into the truck or the vehicle I was going to be driving and being sure to leave enough room for our traveling items (luggage and a couple bags of “important paperwork”).

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Husband and I with our daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons

With good-byes, hugs, and tears shed, we finally hit the road and left our home north of Dallas in the afternoon of June 11th. We stopped for the night at a nice hotel in a small Oklahoma town and enjoyed a delicious meal at the diner next door. The next morning, we began the last leg of the journey to our new home.

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That picture and the one below is what it’s all about! Big sky, rows and rows of corn, soybeans, and wheat! Gravel roads and country lanes. Barns and tractors. People who wave as they drive by. Neighbors who bring corn, corn, and even more corn! Furry critters and feathered friends to watch and marvel over. Small towns and big hearts.

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Our life is a little more slower paced these days – at least until our grandsons starts high school soon. My deadlines are 7 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. (breakfast, lunch and dinner – oh wait, here it’s called breakfast, dinner and supper!). There’s always laundry to be done, weeds to be pulled, flowers to be watered, and new places to discover. It’s not quite retirement but it’s pretty dog gone close!

Stay tuned for more stories of our life in Missouri – and what this means for my genealogy research (hint: I’m really excited!!)!

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Mid-Hiatus

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I’m just “sort of” back right now. Isn’t that a beautiful sight? That’s our new view looking down the road.

We’ve moved. To Missouri. To a farm. Up-sized – not down-sized. This is land that has been in my husband’s family for 5 generations.

Many stories to tell. Stay tuned.

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Indefinite Hiatus

Due to a big change in my personal life (all good!), my posts haven’t been as frequent as I’d hoped they would be. It may be awhile before I can post again. Thanks for sticking around !

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