Treasure Chest Rethink 9/17/09

September 17, 2009 at 00:02 | Posted in Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Hints and Tips, memories, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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It’s hurricane season here in Florida again. California is still suffering though wildfires. And of course overseas many of you also worry through tsunamis and earthquakes too. How many of you consider from time to time what you would save if you had only minutes or less to evacuate your home? What if you weren’t hone and unable to save anything? I used to tell my family to save as many photographs as possible – everything else could be replaced. But overtime my opinion has changed sharply. Our family research has consumed over ten years of my life now. Every bit of free time I could, I would spend searching online or reading the rolls of microfilm as the local FHL. I’ve finally written a family history book and have started more. There’s also the tree itself in book format filled with photographs and timeless bits of history and timelines. Then there are notebooks full of all my research, color coded and cross indexed to ease my research. And photographs! Wondrous old photographs! And crisp clear new ones! Thousands of photographs literally. So all of this has meant I needed to rethink my strategy. First, I have begun the long process of scanning and labeling with names, dates, and locations all of our photographs. Then they are grouped and saved to a CD as well as backed up to a portable hard drive. Each of our sons has been given copies of all that are finished so far. I figured they would enjoy the ones from their childhood so I also gave them the originals applicable to each of them. (Helped clean out a cabinet too!) I have already scanned and labeled all the original documents and certificates and backed those up in similar fashion. Each son has been given complete sets of all family history I have completed to date and the books as well as photographs. So everything is protected in quadruplicate by a set going to each son in addition to my own backups. But I still wanted to preserve my own notes of the unfinished research. So I purchased a large plastic tub that seals tightly against water. It is kept inside my room in an easily accessible place. If we are hit with flooding, I have a chance to save everything. Everyone in my family knows about this plastic tub. All my CDs of photographs and certificates as well as the notebooks are kept in here. So now my family has their orders clear: save mom’s plastic treasure chest! Grab the laptop and grab the chest! Our lives obviously come first because they are irreplaceable – but the laptop and plastic treasure tub come closely behind!

Wordless Wednesday 9/16/09

September 16, 2009 at 11:03 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Wenz Hammerlee, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment
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Wordless Wednesday: My dad with his granddad

Dad in Baby Carriage

Dad in Baby Carriage

Dad as Toddler

Dad as Toddler

September 11

September 11, 2009 at 08:16 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Current Events, Political Opinions | 2 Comments
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Today many of us are recalling where we were that fateful morning. How many times do we do that exercise concerning the extreme events of our lives? Where were we when the call came that so and so died or was in an accident? I remember where I was for the Big Blackout of the 1960′sw, the riots of the Democratic Convention, the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the first Space Shot for the US, the first step on the moon, the Day the Shuttle blew up (both of them, I witnessed the first in person here in Florida) – my list goes on and on.

And I remember 9-11. That particular morning I was at work, alone in the office. I had a little portable 9 inch TV without cable. I was listening and watching The Today Show as background noise instead of the radio. It seemed time stood still as I watched the first video images of the plane hitting the Tower. Over and over it was played and I could not look away. My boss phoned in, he had heard the radio and wanted to know if I was watching it on the TV. We were in shock as then the second plane hit. We knew then it was not merely a tragic accident but something more sinister. And I cried. The decision was made to close the office immediately – we would do no more business that day but go to our families to be together, to hold them, to love them, to pray for others. No one knew if we were at war or what the next steps would be. We never suspected within a short time that we would hear the tragedy of two more planes approaching their destinations. Life as we knew shrieked to a halt!

I’m the mother of four sons. I began to feel a deep pain in me, deep in the pit of my soul that mothers have felt from time eternal. Would my sons be called to go to war, would we hang stars in the front window? Would this be like other wars? Pride and fear mingled as my young sons discussed their futures. Still too young to go into the service, they nevertheless were realistic and willing to serve if needed. No false visions of glory of war blinded them. They had seen the ravages of the family home that had been bombed to almost nothing in WWII before their father was born. Our family did not lose anyone that fateful day and yet it felt as if everyone lost was part of our family. I cried with each poignant story or photo wall or missing person’s poster that was shown. I felt their despair as so many searched for any shred of information about missing family.

I refuse to be pulled into the political fracas of groups such as The 9-11 Truthers. This tragedy was already politics at its worst. It was and is equal to any other war declared or not. I wish, no, I pray that we have had enough lives lost, enough wars. I pray for better solutions, better diplomacy but the reality of life is that wars exist. Mankind is not perfect. People fight, argue, rob, steal, kill. If we cannot convince father to not beat wives, to not rape children, to not kill each other or teenagers to not kill for someone else’s IPhone, war will not cease as men fight over land. War will not go away and men will not be tolerant of the rights of others to live, to exist. When we have zero murders in our small towns and our large cities, then maybe we can share how with other countries to live a better way. Apologizing to them for slights real or imagined will not make them like us or listen to us. Telling another country to stop building bombs will not guarantee them obeying or caring what our opinion is. Have we been a perfect country? No. Do I believe our government is perfect? No. DO I believe our government caused, or even allowed 9-11 to happen? Do I believe they knew and turned a blind eye? No. Is it possible I am wrong? Of course. But our country is still one of the greater ones. Since the beginning people have struggled and been willing to risk death to come here. They still do. They come because they dream of a better life here, convinced that what we offer is better than what they have. Few try to build rafts to sail from her to anywhere else. Our celebrities tell us that other countries are better, that we are wrong. They tell us those other leaders, dictators are really heroes and intelligent individuals. Fine – but then why do they choose to stay here and enjoy the benefits of our evil capitalistic society? Our country has not always been perfect and yes, she has even been wrong. But she has always been willing to give of herself to others and help where ever and whenever she can. She has joined in fights not of her own choosing, not of her own making.

One thing is certain as I reflect back on 9-11. It has been said that for one moment in time, one proud moment we were all Americans, all one family united in our pain and in our resolve. I say we are still one family. All of us. We are united still in our pain and in our pride and resolve. Some of us choose never to forget, to not lay blame at the foot of Lady Liberty. Rather we choose to support her tired arm as she holds up her torch. We are proud of our country – we still grieve for those lost on 9-11 and we will not forget them. We will not let their deaths be in vain to serve other’s agendas. This country is still the home of the brave, the home of the free. We are willing still to rescue those in need.

Sleep well precious souls of 9-11, sleep well. We stand guard still. We will not forget you – we stand united in our resolve, our pride, our love.

It’s Saturday Morning Again

September 4, 2009 at 22:51 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, memories | Leave a comment
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It’s Saturday morning once more. Time to take the old bus downtown. My mother would take my sister and I shopping Saturday mornings in Bridgeport. Lerners was one of my favorite stores. I was always fascinated by the tube system they had to send orders to the office. Easter was always the biggest excursion next to Christmas shopping. We would shop for our new dresses, spring hats with matching shoes and purses and a new spring weight coat. There would be little corsages of silk flowers to match our outfits like bunches of violets that we would pin often to our hats or purses. Those we would shop for at Kresge’s or Woolworths. Then it would be time for lunch. That meant sitting at the counter in Woolworth where my feet would not quite reach to the chrome foot rests. Packages would tuck into the little shelves below the counter. Even now I can remember the fun of a root beer float with a big hamburger platter with yummy French fries smothered in ketchup.

Later the big new Mall would come to Trumbull. That meant easy parking for my mother and we could shop in comfort and safety. The city had begun to deteriorate and my dad worried about crime. We began to shop E J Korvettes and Reid’s Department Store. Later still even Howlands would desert the city for one of the newer strip malls. It was there my mother would purchase that first “basic little black dress” for me before I left for college. It was a classic sheath by Jonathan Logan design that never went out of style. By then my mother was shopping interesting boutiques in Westport such as Ethel Walley’s. My dad was active in the community and there were many functions to attend. At Ethel Walley’s we would sit on long couches and dresses would be brought out for us to see one at a time. My dad would help her choose several to see her through the busy social season. Right before I left for college I too chose several to take with me. The bigger plus for me was that I rated most of her cast offs while I was in college so I was always appropriately attired for all the formal dances and fraternity parties.

Times have changed and we no longer shop fancy boutiques. Ross and Marshall’s are favorites now for great mark downs! Even still, I find myself missing those rides on the bus and those great French fries smothered in ketchup!

Nanny’s Knick Knack Shelf

September 3, 2009 at 08:12 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, Treasure Chest Thursday | 4 Comments
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I can remember visiting Nanny’s house. It was painted gray and it had a huge front porch – or at least it always seemed huge to me then. I can still remember the dining room, probably because of so many photos taken at that table of family gatherings. I can also remember the old kitchen with its big stove and double sinks. Most of the memories of the old house are fuzzy because I was so young then. Later Nanny would move to “The Apartments” where my parents lived as a young married couple. Later still she would move for a while to our home in Easton and then with a daughter in Florida until she remarried. Then she moved to a beautiful old brick townhome back in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Through all her moves, I can remember three things as constants in her life. The first was the can of evaporated milk with its metal lid that punched a hole for pouring in the top of the can. It always sat on her kitchen table with the jar of instant coffee ready for everyone to use. Then there was her blue willow teapot. So old its glazed was crackled and much too fragile to use but it was her mothers. It sat on the shelf, a reminder to her of her childhood. Now it sits on my shelf, a link to generations gone.

And then there was the little knick knack shelf, a corner stand made of mahogany. Standing about 5 foot tall, it fit snugly in a corner with its tri-corner design, narrowing as it went from the floor to the top. The sides and top were ornate scrolls. When Nanny didn’t know how to keep me busy, she would give me a cloth with old fashioned paste wax. I would set about dusting and polishing all the intricate scrolls. I never saw this as a punishment or chore but rather I loved to trace the edges with my fingers over and over. It was pure pleasure to go up and down each side. I could spend hours lovingly polishing and dusting for her. And foolish little child, I would always say to her, “Nanny, someday will this be mine? Promise?” I have no idea if she liked that little curiosity but it made all the moves with her from house to house to apartment. It was always in the corner of her living room and always used in spite of other furniture that came and went.

 

Nanny's Knick Knack Shelf

Nanny's Knick Knack Shelf

Then came the morning that Valentino and I along with my parents were making the big move from Connecticut to Florida. That last morning Nanny came with her husband, Grandpa Bob, to say goodbye. I suspect she worried if we would see one another again – although we did the following year after our second son, another great grandson for her, was born. We were struggling to fit everything into the moving vans. Even with the huge trucks, two households took plenty of room. Grandpa Bob opened the back door of his car and there was the little knick knack shelf laying across the back seat. Nanny insisted I had to take the shelf with me. She had saved it all those years for me. It was her reminder of our hours together and she wanted to know it was safely in my home and not get lost later in the confusion of breaking up her home when the time came.

I can’t imagine this old knick knack shelf having any great monetary value for anyone else. To me it is priceless. It sits proudly in the corner of our living room now. I still find immeasurable pleasure in tracing the scrolls as I dust and polish them. I smile and think back to those moments of quiet pleasure in my childhood. With my smiles are a few tears too as I think of Nanny, someone who I knew loved me unconditionally. She loved me enough to not let go of a little old knick knack shelf until it was time to pass on to me for my home. For all her faults, Nanny loved me and that shelf is my reminder each day that her love still encircles me just like the never ending circles of those scrolls.

Furry Friends Friday

August 21, 2009 at 15:37 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday | 4 Comments
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About the time I was 2 years or so, Smokey the Bear became a famous teddy bear. He was based on a cute little cub found by firemen during a forest fire. When the firemen found him, his paws were burned and his fur was singed. He smelled as if he was in a fire. Hence the name Smokey. He became a well known mascot with the slogan “Only you can prevent forest fires!” He was a jaunty teddy bear with yellow felt forest rangers hat and yellow plastic shovel. I’m not sure how I learned about Smokey but I really REALLY wanted one! Yet somehow I also understood this special bear was not a cheap toy at the time, something I was not expecting. It would have to something magical almost to get a Smokey the Bear for my own.

Dad was involved with the Naval Vets Club locally, was even Post Commander at one point. He helped to organize the family Christmas party about a week before. They had a Santa Claus there to talk to the children and hand out small gifts. I made sure to tell him all about Smokey the Bear. My parents had already done most shopping and hid the presents in the attic shelves of the garage. I have no idea if they were surprised by what I told Santa or if they were already prepared for it. I do know I had been pretty vocal about it so it probably was not too big a shock. But I was whiny that night and kept rubbing my eyes with my mittens and generally not happy. Soon enough I was a sick little kid with some cold virus and pink eye to go along with it. This was before there were many antibiotics, and penicillin was being touted as a miracle drug. My parents seemed to be pretty worried about how ill I was. Dad finally thought a surprise would help calm me and help speed recovery. He went to the garage and brought in an early gift telling me Santa was worried and wanted me well soon. Of course it was Smokey the Bear! All I kept saying was “Smokey! How did you know I wanted you so much?” I’m pretty sure my folks were thinking because I was generally obnoxious talking about nothing else that the whole world probably knew I wanted him! Ha!

Every now and then we get around to viewing grainy old 8mm films of that Christmas and there my sister and I sit under the tree surrounded by wonderful gifts. My parents must have sacrificed a great deal to show their love. After all they were not wealthy people and struggling like many young families after the end of the WWII and Korean War was under way. But there I am sitting with Smokey and he was all I had eyes for! I was oblivious to everything else!

Christmas now is still my favorite time of year. I go all out baking and decorating inside and out including every room of the house. My four sons are grown now with children of their own. But they still know Christmas is arriving when Smokey comes out to sit in a place of honor with a big bow under his chin! His hat and shovel are long gone and his fur is well worn from all the hugs and caresses he has had from me over the years. Yet it is Smokey who is one of those powerful reminders of family and the love my parents showed us!

Smokey the Bear

Smokey the Bear

Wordless Wednesday

August 19, 2009 at 10:19 | Posted in ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, Fun Reminders of Italy, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment
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Woman Carrying Water

Woman Carrying Water

 

Valentino with Prickly Fig Cactus on Farm

Valentino with Prickly Fig Cactus on Farm

Treasure Chest Thursday

August 14, 2009 at 09:04 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, family research, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Treasure Chest Thursday | Comments Off
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This is the childhood home most of the family remembers best in Itri, Italy. Thiswas not the home until after WWII as it was a replacement for the one destroyed during the war. But it is the one that holds a special place in their hearts because it represents safety, security, love, and family.

Childhood Home

Childhood Home

Furry Friends Friday

August 14, 2009 at 08:38 | Posted in Bits and Pieces, Carnival of Genealogy, Furry Friends Friday, genealogy | Leave a comment
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It’s Furry Friends Friday – and these photos of my grandchildren with their best friends is prime example! How many of us remember a special friend like one of these? It’s a great topic to bring up with an elderly relative too as you research family stories – it is a subject tht will give your readers a real chance to “know” an elderly relative they may not ever have a chance to know in reality!
Best Friends

Best Friends

Where You Go, I Go

Where You Go, I Go

Wordless Wednesday

August 12, 2009 at 07:38 | Posted in Amore di Italia, ancestry, Carnival of Genealogy, family history, genealogy, Italy, Itri, Italy, Wordless Wednesday | Leave a comment
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La Famiglia

La Famiglia

Family after the War

 

View of Itri 2009

View of Itri 2009

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