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Posts Tagged ‘Photographs’

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In the mid to late 1960s, my parents and I traveled to Pennsylvania and then to New York. My dad’s sister, Marie (Amore) Werkley lived in Philadelphia so we visited her after we had toured the Hershey’s factory. That was before OSHA and health safety laws prohibited people from walking through the guts of the chocolaty preparation areas. We were thisclose to the huge vats of milk chocolate. For a very young girl who never could say no to chocolate, that was a huge thing!

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

Seeing the birthplace of our freedoms and walking through the streets once trod by the Founding Fathers was too complex for my young mind to comprehend. Luckily, I was able to do that again as a teen when it meant more to me.

Gene & Aunt Marie in Philadelphia

Gene Amore & Marie (Amore) Werkley

In New York, while my dad was at a work seminar, Mom and I shopped, went to Radio City Music Hall, shopped some more, walked in Times Square, and shopped some more! Mom’s favorite daytime drama was “As the World Turns” and it was filmed live in front of an audience. Oh, how she wanted to see that. I was one year too young to be allowed in as part of the audience – even though it was my fault that she watched soap operas. Back then, no one thought anything of sitting a child in front of the television in order to complete the daily chores – and in my mom’s case, doing some sewing. So while I watched the shows, she got caught up in them too!

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While in New York, we visited the sister of my uncle’s wife. She, her sister, my uncle and mom all grew up together in present day Fairborn, Ohio. Irene and her husband lived on Long Island.

We took a faerie boat ride out to Liberty Island to see the Statue of Liberty. We never landed but just saw the beautiful gift from France from the boat. I still get goosebumps whenever I see film of her – and in the case of the last scene from the original “Planet of the Apes” – it terrifies me. On the way back to Manhattan from Long Island, my dad took a wrong turn and ended up in Queens. I had fallen asleep in the car and when I woke up – some three hours later – we were pulling in to the parking garage of our hotel!

I loved that trip and remember so much about it – including being a little sea sick on that boat ride!

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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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(I started this blogging prompt late in the month so will try to catch up!)
Lisa Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist has listed blogging prompts for each day of March to celebrate Women’s History Month. The blog prompt for March 4: “Do you have marriage records for your grandparents or great-grandparents? Write a post about where they were married and when. Any family stories about the wedding day? Post a photo too if you have one.”

I am lucky enough to have original my maternal grandparents’ original marriage records as well as her parents (Joseph N Wilt and Martha J Stern) and my great-grandparents’ (Emanuel B Stern and Nancy Caylor). I don’t have wedding pictures of either of those couples, but I do have a wedding picture of my maternal grandfather’s parents (Katie J Blazer and John L Johnson).

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John Lafayette Johnson and Katie J Blazer – married on Wednesday, July 4, 1883
Katie was not quite 19 years old.

I have digital copies of marriage records via FamilySearch for John L Johnson’s parents (my 2nd great-grandparents), James Wilson Johnson and Amanda Eveline Mullis, and for Amanda’s parents – John Mullis and Darlett Stanley (married in Wilkes county, North Carolina) on February 22, 1811. Recently, I found the marriage license and certificate (digital copy) for my great-grandfather, Joseph N Wilt, and his second wife, Anna Park. On the line that asked if he had been married before, he listed “no.” When I saw that, I exclaimed “Liar!” at my computer screen (he had walked out on my great-grandmother, Martha, and 6 kids under 14 years old). Perhaps, he didn’t know if the divorce had ever been finalized (it had) and didn’t want to have to legally be bound to getting that information.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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