Sunday, June 25, 2017

Genealogy Journeys's Podcast #33: Father's Day Stories

Today we look at Father's Day and share some stories about dear old dad from our listeners. Have you thought about spending some time this month writing down your memories of your dad?

Our listeners have been generous with their family stories, especially the ones that show how caring, human, and sacrificial fathers and grandfathers can be.

For many of us, our fathers and grandfathers are gone - one aim of this podcast and the blogs posted earlier this past week is to inspire folks to write down those memories before they are forgotten. And if you father or grandfather is still living, get him to share the information before it is lost!

The Richley family: Michael, Mom Barbara holding Sharon, Dad Glen S. Player, MD, and Pat Richley-Erickson. Courtesy of Pat Richley-Erickson.

Dr. Glen S. Player (Dear Myrtle's father). Courtesy of Pat Richley-Erickson

Elliott Robbins Buxton, Lynne Baillargeon's father. Courtesy of Lynne Baillargeon.

Lawrence Shockey, Diane Shockey Wright Mellin's father. Courtesy of Diane Shockey Wright Mellin.

 Ernest Eugene Clark collage by Stefanie Clark Eskander, his daughter. Courtesy of Stefanie Clark Eskander.

Lee Alfred Wilcox, Jean Hibben's paternal grandfather. Courtesy of Jean Wilcox Hibben.

Albert Chlarson, Butch Hibben's maternal grandfather. Courtesy of Jean Wilcox Hibben

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Postcards from my Grandfather by John Boeren

Reprinted from the In-Depth Genealogist Blog of 24 September 2015, used with permission of IDG and John Boeren, author.
Short biography John Boeren is a genealogist, researcher and writer, who is living in Tilburg, the Netherlands. He conducts genealogical research in commission (in the Netherlands and the Flemish part of Belgium), gives lectures, teaches beginners courses and publishes in books and journals. His genealogy business is called Antecedentia ( John is the author of IDG’s column, Going Dutch.

Letter from the Regional Bureau of Labor, informing my grandfather about his ‘new job’ in Germany (10 July 1942). Photo: private collection of the author
One of the postcards, showing the Leipziger Strasse in Meerane. The guest house ‘Stadt Leipzig’ is the second building on the right. Photo: private collection of the author
My grandfather with his lifelong friend from Belgium, on a location somewhere in Meerane. Photo: private collection of the author

One of the postcards, showing an overview of Meerane. The image makes clear how many factories, with chimneys, were located in this city. Photo: private collection of the author

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Father's Day Memories - Vic Wagner

Most of us have friends we've had since childhood . . . best friends, the ones we can connect with almost telepathically. If we are separated by time and miles, when we get back together, it's like no time of absence has passed. In my life, that was (and is) Judy Wagner. Although we grew up less than a half a block apart, attendance at different schools and churches, plus parents with different connections, meant we didn't really form our friendship until about Jr. High (for me) and High School (for her - she is 2 years my senior). But from then on, we practically lived in each other's homes. I felt just as comfortable asking her parents for advice as I did asking mine (as teenagers, that was not necessarily a total comfort experience) - her dad and mine both played organ, but different styles (I liked her dad's style better, at times). So when I think of father's day, I not only think of my own father and grandfather, but of the many surrogate fathers I've had over time, and Vic Wagner was definitely one of those. I asked Judy to send some memories she has of her father and here is her input:

My father, Victor Wagner died when I was 26, and I am 68, so these memories are from a long time ago. 

The earliest memory I have may not necessarily be a memory, but a story that was told to me so many times that I 'remember' it.  We were babysitting a little girl who was my age.  I don't know how long she was at our house.  One night, when my dad got home from work, she called "Daddy!" and ran over to him.  Well, I was not going to allow that as he was MY Daddy, and got up and walked for the first time on my own.  I was 20 months old.

I remember once when I measured myself against my dad and found I came up to his belly button.

Dad would draw a circle with a dot on one of my hands and a circle with an X on the other hand.  When pressed, one would go 'Ding-ding' and the other would go 'Buzz.'

Dad took the shell of an old radio and somehow put 4 Christmas lights in it with a switch that would turn each light on individually.  This was my TV and I would entertain myself sitting and either making up stories for each show, or repeating ones I had watched.  The blue light was 'The Lone Ranger' and the green was 'Gene Autry.'  The other colors were yellow and red, but I don't remember what shows they were.  I'm sure one was 'The Cisco Kid.'

Dad would tell us made up bedtime stories about the exciting adventures of a dog named Dinky-doo.  I wish we had written them down.

When there were just four kids, we would go for bicycle rides.  (Actually, I have heard that this was done when there were fewer kids too.)  My older brother and sister would ride their own bikes.  I sat side-saddle on a rug on the cross-bar on Dad's bike and my younger brother sat on a blanket in the wire basket on Mom's bike.  No helmets, no safety seats and we survived!

1974 - Wagner Family, Wilmette, Illinois
Back: Dan, Chris, Jim, Vic Jr, Judy
Front: Tom, Bonnie, Gerry (Mom), Vic Sr. (Dad) holding Susan, Bonnie's daughter

Dad liked astronomy and shared that with us:
·         Our family went camping for vacations, frequently to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and several times near Mackinac Bridge.  We were there before, during and after the building of the bridge.  After dinner we would sit on the beach looking at the stars and the occasional meteor.  Dad would show us some of the constellations and stars, such as the Big Dipper, (and show us how to find the North Star), the teapot (Sagittarius), and most important, Cassiopeia, the 'W' (for Wagner).  Once, my little brother asked "Where is the 'M' in the sky?"  Dad responded with "Are you a Wagner?"
·         When the satellite 'Echo' was orbiting overhead, Dad would take us outside to see it.
·         One night we were able to see the northern lights from our house.

While traveling, we would always stop at the historical markers.  One time, Dad got an idea that he thought would save time.  When we got to the sign, each person had a specific line to memorize – Dad the first, Mom the second, etc.  Then, as we drove away, each person, in order, recited what they memorized.  It didn't work, because we were so concerned with remembering our line that we weren't listening to the other lines, and not all of us were able to remember our lines.

Dad was a Cubs fan.  When working around the house when a game was on, he had the TV on with the sound off and listened to a portable radio he had with him.  If something exciting was happening, he would go into the living room and watch on the TV.  That way he could still get his work done around the house and listen to the game.

When I was in high school, we got rid of our piano and got an electric organ.  Dad got the free lessons that came with it, and learned to play pretty well.  He was able to play a large variety of songs.  His song for me was 'Daddy's Little Girl'.  Sometimes when Jean came over he would play 'I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.'

My high school graduation was at 4pm on a Thursday, and Dad wasn't sure he was going to be able to get off of work to be there.  From my position on the stage, I was unable to see most of the audience.  As I was walking off the stage, I could see him in the audience.

After my first niece was born, I was the first one to see her in person.  When I got back home, I showed Dad a photo of her.  I said "Isn't she the cutest little girl you have ever seen?"  He pulled a picture out of his wallet and showed it to me and said "Cuter than her?"  It was a baby picture of me.  A year later, he and Mom went to visit her.  When they returned, I asked him again "Isn't she the cutest little girl you have ever seen?" and he said "Yes".  I guess I set myself up for that one.  What just occurred to me is that he was carrying around a baby picture of me in his wallet!

Dad had an interesting sense of humor. 
·         When my brother went into the Air Force, he had a growth spurt, growing 4 inches in his first 4 months.  Dad said that at that rate, he would qualify for a control tower when he got out. 
·         There was a street near us named Noyes.  Dad said it couldn't make up its mind (No-Yes). 
·          Cashews were the allergic nut (ca-shew – bless you). 
·         One night we had beef tongue for dinner.  He said "Taste it quick before it tastes you." 
·         Once we were camping at Interstate State Park which crosses the Wisconsin/Minnesota state line.  He thought it should be called either Wisci-Sota or Minne-Sin, combining the names of the two states. 
·         He told us a story about an Indian brave named Falling Rock who went out hunting and never returned.  Subsequently, the tribe put up signs all around the country saying "Watch for Falling Rock."

When I was in college, I frequently took the train to/from school.  Dad would get me to the train just in time.  One night, I could see the train leaving the previous station and Dad was still in the house.  We made it, but after the train arrived in our station.  To this day, I still get stressed when traveling by plane or train, and have to plan to get there with plenty of time to spare.

When I registered for college, Mom and Dad went with and got an orientation of the school.  On the way home, we stopped at Starved Rock State Park for dinner.  When I graduated, we stopped there again.  I was told that during the first trip, I said that I wanted to stop there when I graduated.  I felt that Dad was really proud of me.  I was the first child to graduate from college.

After I graduated from college, I moved away.  A few times, Dad made cassette tapes for me to communicate some adventure he and Mom had.  Once, on one side of the tape, he recorded their visit to a train museum - he read the signs to me.  On the other side he recorded himself playing the organ.
Gerry & Vic Wagner, Wilmette, Illinois

Dad was very patriotic, and would put up the flag every Memorial Day, Flag Day and July 4.  It was tied on a rope that stretched between the house and the oak tree in the front yard.  One year, Mom found out that she could get a flag that had flown over the Capitol in Washington D.C.  We gave it to him for Christmas.  His response was "A used flag from my family for Christmas."  He put that flag up on the 200th anniversary of Paul Revere's ride and it was to remain up 24/7 until the Bicentennial – 7/4/1976.  Unfortunately, he passed away in November 1975, and the flag was destroyed a few months later in an ice storm.

One year, for Father's Day, I asked Mom if she could put some flowers on Dad's grave for me.   She told me that she couldn't do it.  Since Dad used to have hay fever, the thought of flowers was unthinkable.  I changed my mind and decided on a flag instead.

I still get very emotional when thinking about Dad even though it has been more than 40 years since his passing.  I look at my family now, my Mom and (6) siblings, and feel really blessed.  We are all still talking to each other and are close, even though we are separated by miles.  Mom and Dad did a good job!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Genealogy Journey's Podcast #32: National Sewing Machine Day

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June 13th is National Sewing Machine Day. Do you have family history stories about sewing machines? The sewing machine was an important purchase for our  ancestors. Sewing machine history, our own family memories, and perhaps sewing heirlooms can help tell the story of our female ancestor's lives.

What role did the sewing machine play in your family? Join us as we discuss sewing machine history.


Prezi - The History of the Sewing Machine
Wikipedia - Sewing Machine
Wikipedia - Walter Hunt
Time Toast - History of the Sewing Machine 
The Great Idea Finder - Sewing Machine 
Sewalot - Sewing Machine History 
ISMACS International - Sewing Machine History 
Smithsonian Magazine - Martha Stewart on How the Singer Sewing Machine Clothed the Nation

Museum of American Heritage - Sewing Machines
Threads - Q + A: Sewing Machine Prices Then and Now
Harvard Business School - Easy Payments: The Rise of Installment Selling 
History of Quilts - The True History of the Sewing Machine  
(Judy Breneman article)

American National Biography - Women's Rights
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - The Legal Status of Women, 1776-1830  
Loyola University - Women's Rights Before the Civil War 
Prezi - Women's Rights 1800-1860

--Jean Wilcox Hibben