Tags: family, memories, ramblings
How many of us played with paper dolls growing up? If we were good, my mother would buy my sister and I books of paper dolls. We would carefully cut out the dolls and all their clothes. Some of the books even had little accessories or animal pets to go along with the dolls. Who could ever forget Betsy McCall from Good Housekeeping Magazine™? How I loved her! I was probably more eager than my mother for each month’s new issue to appear in the grocery stores.
I suspect almost every child in America was required at some point to make a diorama. Remember those? A box would be set up to make a three dimensional display. We would gather shoe boxes usually from my mother to make doll houses for all of our paper dolls. We had a huge screened in porch out front where we would sit by the hour playing. My mother gave us old magazines and Sears catalogues to cut up for paper dolls. We would cut out furnishings and all sorts of exciting things for our paper doll families. The models became our paper dolls and they were able to ‘wear’ all the latest fashions and change as often as they liked! Flat shirt boxes became our storage boxes to protect all of them. We could lay all the dolls out flat along with all of their clothes and furniture!
I’m not sure where all of my paper dolls disappeared to over time but for a few years, that was one of my favorite past times. Although my sister doesn’t remember all the time we spent playing on the porch with them, it is probably one of my favorite memories of the rare things we did together. She was the older sister and I was the pesky younger one. Yet, she would spend time with me especially on rainy days out on the porch cutting out all the catalogues!
Tags: ancestors, family history, family research, genealogy, Review, Software
Let me begin this post by stating I am not paid nor am I employed by MyHeritage. This is a personal review of a program I use for my research.
For years I used a software that I purchased. Every year I had to buy an upgrade if I wanted to stay current and I thought that was necessary. Then I started to read others on various websites complaining about prices and software glitches. A few folks mentioned losing entire files and that was frightening considering the amount of work I put into it. I also started reading other reviews on software out there and began to search to find another choice. About four years ago I came across MyHeritage known as Family Tree Builder™. They offer a free download as well as Premium service. I am going to be very honest here. I am cheap! I use the freebie download and am much happier with it than with the premium software I have paid a lot of money for!
One of the issues that personally interested me was to find software that would be translatable to another language. We have most of our family still overseas and I wanted to be able to share information with them. This program allows you to choose any of over forty different languages! I took CD files of our GEDCOM to Italy, downloaded the free program to family computers and easily imported the family files. One click later I changed the language to Italian and viola! Now family could enjoy the research and continue on with more of their own!
This free program allows you to publish to a web page for your family. By a one click again, it automatically adds the family file to the website along with any photographs (more about those in a moment). You are limited in number by the free program versus the premium program. I still have been able to use this and get great results.
The nice part about the publish feature is that you can fix the personal setting to automatically update each time you work on the program offline. When finished adding your information, it signs you on and uploads the new information. No complicated FTP or other upload programs! When using this feature, you can also set the online preferences to be open so others can find you or make the site as private as you wish. I use a combination to keep living people’s names private but still be discoverable for potential matches out there. And yes, I have found family this way!
See those great little photo thumbnail shots? You can transfer as many photos as you choose or documents into the photograph folder and easily make a thumbnail of the favorite one to each person! I LOVE this! In one afternoon I transferred over 250 photos and assigned them to the proper person. That fast, that easy! My only complaint here? I wish it allowed an oval shaped crop of the photos and perhaps allowed some changes such as making photos sepia toned. It does accept any edit such as that if you did it ahead of time and then upload though. In addition to the ability to upload and organize photographs and documents, you can also upload videos. I haven’t tried that yet but am planning to soon.
Another nice feature is the maps portion of the software. If you enter as much information into the location fields for births, marriages, and deaths, the program searches worldwide locations and shows them. This is nice to familiarize everyone with where family originated and to trace their immigrations. It is especially nice for anyone compiling family history stories to be able to add this information via screen shots to your work!
One other feature available through the web is the toolbar. Now I know many folks do not like toolbar add-ons but this can be easily turned off or on. I happen to enjoy it allows for easy look-ups of SmartMatches™- a feature I have used to locate several great ancestor matches! Additionally there is a Family Chat™ feature. There is an easy to use event reminder to give alerts of special dates for family.
For the average user this software has a clean look and easy to navigate toolbar and buttons. For someone as a more advanced genealogist, this software also offers more in-depth features such as varied forms of making pedigree charts with as much or little information as preferred along with both ancestor and descendant charts. The area for notes allows as much or as little detail as one prefers. The citation/source area is easy for the beginner while allowing more detail for someone such as myself going into specifics of the sources. Again let me emphasize that some of the more detailed features are available only in the Premium version but I have yet to be totally stumped and left wanting in the free Basic version. I love the clean lines of the Family Group sheets that imbed a thumbnail photo of each person and follow with the notes entered on each person. The Pedigree chart also allows one to set number of generations and the amount of information you want to print. This is a great feature when printing to use for additional notes in my case.
Another important point for me is the ownership of my work. I have written one book for family and am in the process of additional work. It was brought to my attention that certain sites claim ownership of any work posted to their site. There was a recent outcry by several respected genealogists that one well known site in particular was using photos posted there in advertisements without permission of the posters. Some of the site disclaimers are confusing and misleading. I therefore asked for a clarification from My Heritage. I was assured that the site does not claim to own anything from its users. Further they stated that all rights to that information belongs to the user as stated in their policies. They graciously allowed me to reprint the following:
“MyHeritage.com family sites
None of the personal, private information that is uploaded or entered on a MyHeritage.com family site by individual members is viewed by MyHeritage.com staff, or distributed to others outside of your site, except in rare cases involving reported abuse of our use policies or legal statutes. We do collect some data, always with your knowledge and consent, which is used to personalize the site for your convenience and for the benefit of other family members and friends who are included in your site.
A portion of this data, particularly that which reflects members’ lifestyles and interests, may be used in aggregate statistical form to attract potential sponsors and deliver advertising messages to appropriate users. For instance we may tell a prospective advertiser that 10,000 of our members have indicated an interest in tennis, and then distribute an attractive offer exclusively to those users.
In no case is the personal information about individual members sold or otherwise shared with advertisers, sponsors, partners or other 3rd parties. And under no circumstances is this information collected or distributed in any form without your prior knowledge and consent.”
The actual publicity release for Family Tree Builder 4.0 follows:
FINAL: To be released on August 13, 2009
MYHERITAGE.COM ADDS MAPS TO ITS FAMILY HISTORY SUITE
New version 4.0 of MyHeritage.com’s Family Tree Builder visualizes family history in colourful maps, and offers Family Chat™ in a new family toolbar
London, England & Tel Aviv, Israel – August 13,
2009 – MyHeritage.com, a leading family and genealogy Website, today announced the release of Family Tree Builder 4.0. With more than 5 million downloads so far, Family Tree Builder is the world’s most popular free genealogy software, allowing seasoned pros and beginners alike to build family trees, research their family history, add photos and videos, and obtain unique Smart Matches™ with other family trees worldwide. The key improvements of the new version include a map module, a family toolbar with Family Chat™ and extensive support for albums to organize a family’s photos, videos and documents.
“In recent years we’ve seen a growing number of people who want to learn more about their ancestors and where they came from”, said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage.com. “With the new map module, people can get an appealing visual representation of their family’s life journeys. They can also map the addresses of family members, quickly find all events and photos associated with a particular place and even standardize place names using smart suggestions. This provides a fascinating new perspective for millions of people interested in their family history.”
The new family toolbar provides direct access to family sites on MyHeritage.com, adds powerful genealogy search and features Family Chat – a text, audio and video chat system built specifically for family use. Members also receive useful birthday reminders on the family toolbar without leaving the Web page they are on.
The Family Tree Builder software – free to download at http://www.myheritage.com/family-tree-builder – is already well respected by family history enthusiasts for its ease of use and excellent handling of photos and other digital media. The addition of albums for organizing photos, videos and documents makes it an even more useful tool. Family Tree Builder 4.0 also adds slideshows for showcasing family photos in appealing ways; and a new screen saver that displays family photos based on tagging and face recognition technology.
MyHeritage.com is a leading online destination for families, where people can find relatives, research family history, and stay connected with family members across the globe. In addition, MyHeritage.com offers automatic photo tagging technology that makes it easier to label, organize and search for digital photos, giving families another fun way to stay in touch.
MyHeritage.com was founded by a team of people who combine a passion for family history with the development of innovative technology. It is now one of the world’s leading online networks for families, and the second largest family history website. MyHeritage.com is available in 34 languages, is home to more than 33 million family members and hosts profiles of 360 million people.
For more information contact:
Paula Santos, Sparkpr for MyHeritage.com
Mobile: +44 (0)779 551 8335
# # #
Tags: Current Events, famiglia, family, immigration, love of family, memories, Peace, Political Opinions, ramblings, September 11
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.
Tags: Carnival of Genealogy, Italy, Itri, memories, photographs
It’s Wordless Wednesday again –
Tags: Carnival of Genealogy, childhood memories, famiglia, family, family memories, love of family, memories, ramblings
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!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, famiglia, family, love of family, ramblings
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.
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.
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, family, family history, family research, genealogy
Thought I would throw out a few more names we are always searching – but this time they are from my side of the family. My maternal line hails from Scotland and then Ireland – we are looking for Hyndman, Brown, Nelson, and Fleming there. They were in Edinborough, Glasgow, Johnstone, and a few later in PA. My paternal line were from Germany. The surnames we are searching are Wenz, Schutte, Schatz, and Nagel amongst others. If any of those sound familiar, email and let’s find out if we’re connected or not!
Tags: ancestors, Carnival of Genealogy, famiglia, family, family research, food, genealogy, Holiday Spirit, ramblings
One of those crazy earliest memories of my early childhood is my Uncle Clifford. It was always a toss-up in my mind as to who was more handsome, Uncle Cliff or Uncle Harvey. Even as a little one I knew they were both very handsome but Uncle Cliff in his wonderful police uniform usually won the toss-up! We always had wonderful family dinners together, everyone gathered for the Holidays. My dad was a big believer in family and loved entertaining everyone. My mother would make fantastic dinners with enough food for an army. Even her buffets were sumptuous meals. She used pure white damask linen tablecloths that I would watch her iron until no wrinkles were left. Then she would set out stacks of her beautiful china and her prized silverware. Plastic and paper plates were never used inside – only rarely and then only for picnics!
I was about four years old the Christmas I tagged after my Uncle Cliff at one of these dinners. This was the era when women would dress in their best right down to their high heels and men wore suits and ties, even to family dinners. Uncle Cliff, where did you find the patience to tolerate a little one hanging on your every move? As we all progressed through the buffet line juggling plates over-laden with food, I was in awe as Uncle Cliff tucked his silverware in the suit coat breast pocket near his handkerchief. I was sure no one else in the entire world could possibly be that smart!
Soon enough the evening came to an end and family were leaving. One of my aunts was helping my mother clean up in the kitchen. This was before automatic dishwashers, mind you! My mother could not sleep if there was a dirty dish or glass in the sink. Every piece was washed, dried, and put away. Silverware was counted as it was slipped back into the silverware chest. She always worried a piece might get tossed accidently and this had been a special wedding gift! Sure enough – the count was wrong and a spoon had gone missing. They searched kitchen, dining room, and living room looking for it. And then began the messy task of looking in the garbage! I tried to explain that Uncle Cliff had the spoon in his pocket! The two women looked at me mortified! Uncle Cliff was no thief!? What was I talking about? I was in tears now. My Uncle Cliff WAS TOO SMART! He had the spoon in his pocket! My poor mother was so confused by my carrying on! A few minutes later Aunt Bev called. They had made it safely home and then Uncle Cliff realized he still had a spoon in his pocket. Aunt Bev knew Mom was probably searching everywhere right now and wanted to reassure her the spoon was safe! Mom told her I had insisted that Uncle Cliff had the spoon and everyone had a good laugh as Uncle Cliff explained. I was finally appeased as everyone agreed with me that my Uncle Cliff was indeed a clever fellow!
For years family would tease at every family gathering and tell Uncle Cliff to check his pockets. Uncle Cliff has been gone a few years but even now as I wash and dry my own silverware, I remember again my handsome uncle with a smile in my heart. Once again I am four years old tagging after Uncle Cliff, the policeman with a silver spoon!
Tags: Carnival of Genealogy, Christmas, famiglia, family, love of family, ramblings
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!
Tags: Carnival of Genealogy, genealogy, ramblings
When I was very young, I loved unusual boxes. my parents were avid ‘antiquers’, spending weekends taking long drives throughout New England in search of more great items. Then they would spend hours together over the snowy months lovingly restoring their finds to new glory. While they would be looking over interesting pieces of furniture, I would be scouting out the dusty corners of the shops looking for treasures too. Always it would be an interesting box that would catch my attention. I’m not really certain why I was fascinated with boxes. I used shoeboxes to hold my homemade Sears Catalogue paper dolls and I loved the smell of the old cigar boxes my dad used to hold his photographic negatives. But it was especially the old wooden boxes that captured my imagination. Trunks were fun and later I would love jewelry boxes too. And metal trinket or dresser boxes. But wooden boxes were my favorites! Finally came the evening we were at a local auction. I spied a great wooden box slightly larger than shoebox size. My mother laughed and told me if I wanted it, I had to bid and to watch how high I bid considering my meager money! A few dollars later and I was contentedly holding my first auction win, a great wooden box all my own! Oh, I would go on to become an auction fiend and a collector of many things including all sorts of trunks and boxes and trinket cases. Yet, I still own that very first wooden box. Nothing special about it – just a plain box that has had many uses over the last forty years or so of my life. But it was my first treasure box and one I still treasure today!