Meet Me at the Library

The Utica Public Library, Utica, N.Y.
Imagine having 250 libraries like this for your use in your home.

As family historians, we all have a powerful tool to use in our research efforts. It is called the internet, and it is in many ways a magic key to getting the information we need to help complete our genealogies. While we all know about the many paid sites for genealogical records, I am going to focus on a group of free sites that too many of us overlook. They are called libraries; digital libraries to be more precise. These are vast storehouses of information flow right to us via the internet and is always open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

I would like to talk about an excellent website called, 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives which lives up to its name and more. I will give you the link to this site toward the end of this post since I would like to tell you a little about what you will find. I believe that this is a gold mine for anyone doing serious family research. You may find pictures and write ups about your ancestors that will surprise you. You certainly will find photographs of places where they lived and of the events that they were involved in. Local histories are plentiful and will add color to your family’s story. You will find every state has at least one digital collection except Rhode Island. Even with this, you will find much information on Rhode Island in some of the multi-state collections. Also, many universities such as the University of Chicago, University of Colorado, Cornell University, Columbia University, and much more are represented here. The Ryhiner Map Collection and the National Library of Medicine, and the American Museum of Natural History are on this site. County archives, historical societies, genealogy groups, and of course state archives can be found. Links to the Library of Congress, National Archives, and the New York Public Library digital collection, are all so to be found. It would be too lengthy to list all of the more than 250 links so let me tell you about a few I tried out in my family history search.

Dakin, Leonard. Mrs. George Dakin and daughter Florence by the piano at the Racimo Plantation. 189-. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. , accessed 10 May 2017

The above is a photograph I found in the Florida Memory Project. I am doing some research on a branch of my Dakin family line that I find interesting. I knew that some people from this branch moved to Florida, so I just put the name Dakin in the search field and had many interesting items come up. I liked this picture so I thought I would share it.

My wife’s father’s family comes from Rockland County and the New York City area so I tried a few searches. I made some very nice discoveries and thought I would share a few. On a website called the Hudson River Valley Heritage, I made the following finds. In the 1990s my wife’s late Aunt Eunice Lyon gave an interview on growing up and her family life. While we knew of the interview (we have a CD copy) I was surprised to find it on this site and was able to listen to it. Pictured below is a photograph of a shoe factory located in the same town and at the same time period that my wife’s great grandmother, grandmother and at least one aunt work in a shoe factory. I have to do more research to see if this is the one. But even if is not it does let me look into their world a little bit better. I was also able to read a 1938 article about her 2nd great grandfather James Slinn, coming over from England in 1832 and start a file manufacturing factory. Also pictured below is the NY State training school for girls in Hudson NY. This place figured in an ongoing research project in my family and was pleased to obtain this photograph.

This could be where my wife’s family members worked. Place and time is right.
Four women and three men hold shoes in the center of a large room. On either side are shelves holding many pairs of shoes. Shoemaking tools are visible on the right side of the room.
On the back is written , “Nyack shoe factory workers 1910 – may be King’s.”

 

A place in my family’s history.
New York State Training School for Girls (Hudson, N.Y.)

 

If you had ancestors that lived, married, died in the state of Washington you should visit the Washington State Digital Archives. You will find records of births, cemeteries, census, death, divorce, land records, military, naturalization, and much more. While many are just record numbers and or limited transcripts, it does give much information and a way to order exact copies. I have used this resource many times and have solved more than a few family mysteries by doing so.

In the Maine section of 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives, I found a bowl that was used by my 4th Great Grandmother Sarah Putnam Houlton. I also found a letter sent to her husband and my 4th Great Grandfather Joseph Houlton, complete with a transcript. I will have a lot of exploring to do in Maine for a large part of my family settled and lived there. The best part is I can do it while sitting at my desk anytime I wish to.

Sarah Houlton bowl, Houlton, 1807
My 4th Great Grandmother.
Aroostook County Historical and Art Museum
109 Main Street, Houlton, ME 04730
The Maine Memory Network provides access to over 12,000 historical items from over 180 museums, historical societies, libraries, and other organizations from every corner of Maine.

Tragedy visited my father’s family when he was just a youth. Something he would never speak of to me or with anyone else. The family was broken up, and brothers and sisters farmed out in all directions. The research on these events has been time-consuming and is still on -going. One of his brothers worked for a time as a child in a coal mine. I was able to find a photograph at The Library of Congress taken at about the right time frame. They say a picture is worth 1000 words and the picture below proves that saying.

The date of the photograph, the age of the boys in picture, and the right state makes this a possible scene in my uncle’s life.
Hine, Lewis Wickes, photographer. Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker of Pennsylvania Coal Co. For some of their names see labels 1927 to 1930.Location: South Pittston, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania South Pittston, 1911. January. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ncl2004002613/PP/. (Accessed May 29, 2017.)

If you have ancestors from Vermont who fought in the Civil War, you have to visit the site called Vermont in the Civil War. I found records of two of my relatives Peter Dakin and Peter Guyette. The information they cover would be a blog post by itself. I give you warning if you don’t have relatives from Vermont who fought in the Civil War after visiting this website you will wish you did.

All of the above sites are located under the one umbrella, 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives. But obviously what I wrote about is just a tiny example of what you can find here. In my bookmarks on my computer, I have a file named research. This is where I put places I find useful in my search for my family’s story. Under this one bookmark is over 250 first-rate libraries for me to use when I have the need. The best part it is free, all I have to do is put in the effort. Here is the link to 250 plus killer digital libraries and archives, but I warn you set aside some time because once you start, you won’t want to stop. Here is the link.

http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/250-plus-killer-digital-libraries-and-archives/

Please let me know if you make any discoveries.

 

 

 

 

 

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Trying to Understand the Whole Story

A very fun fast paced read.

 

To do a good job in your family genealogy research means hard work. Most of us know the time consuming and tedious search for records and then checking and comparing them. Also making sure you have the proper source citations so you and others can find the way back to the proof of your findings. Then once you have done all that you only have a bare bone family genealogy. Next, you must try and tell your ancestor’s story. Telling this story will involve more research. Looking up newspapers, reading old letters, perhaps being able to interview some of your older relatives, will be some more steps you will have to take. If you are one of the rare lucky ones, your ancestors kept detailed diaries that have been handed down over the years. Even if you have the letters, newspaper articles, and a diary, you still may not have a complete understanding of the times and events that they lived through. What you need even with or without all the great items named is a working understanding of the history of your ancestor’s lifetime

In 1927 Babe Ruth was having a very good year.
Bain News Service, Publisher. [Babe Ruth, New York AL baseball]. , 1921. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ggb2006008544/. (Accessed May 29, 2017.)

I recently read “One Summer America, 1927” by Bill Bryson. Please do not let the title fool you. While the book does center on the events of the summer of 1927, it is an excellent source for the flavor of daily life in the first part of the 20th century. The book is a fun read that captures the time, people, of the era, and of course the events of the summer in 1927.

You will read about crime, Lindbergh’s flight, Babe Ruth’s 60 home run season, the Mississippi Flood, and much more. Newspapers and magazines in this period were shaping and influencing our daily life with readerships so huge it is hard to imagine today.   Immigrants were in the news also. Ill-feeling was being shown toward some of our new citizens’ such as Italians. Those of the Jewish faith also found that they were not always welcome with open arms. Once you have read this book, you will have a much better understanding of life in the first part of the 20th century. By having that understanding, your ancestors will come closer to life for you. While you may not see or hear them laugh and cry, you will at least know what could have made them do so.

An Italian family has supper, East Side, New York City, 1915
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. “An Italian family has supper, East Side, New York City, 1915” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 30, 2017. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-4d93-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

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Armed Forces Day Parade or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Here comes the United States Air Force. I can recall being disappointed that they did not march with rifles. Armed Forces Day Parade, Plattsburgh, N.Y., May 1964.

 

This is being written with my apologies to the movie “Dr. Strangelove…” but I just could not think of a better title. I was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York, which is in the upper extreme right-hand corner of the state. Plattsburgh is a small city of about 20,000 people surrounded by dairy farms, apple orchards, and maple sugaring operations. It has a large state college which brings people from not only the state but from all over the world to study and teach. The Plattsburgh area is also on the shores of Lake Champlain and the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. It is a vacation paradise for those who love the outdoors. It also home to many retail stores. This brought many tourists into our area, especially from Canada. Many times the parking lots would have more cars from Canada than from N.Y. For many years (1815 to 1995) it also had a military base which of course drew in more people from many different places. When I was growing up, the Air Force Strategic Air Command was in full vigor in Plattsburgh. All theses things made the Plattsburgh area a unique and diverse place to grow up.

 

My sister Ronni taking a pose while waiting for the parade. Plattsburgh, May 1964.

 

The pictures were taken by me on Armed Forces Day in May of 1964. Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May. It was meant to replace the separate Navy, Air Force, and Army days that were (and still are) observed. Louis Johnson who was the U.S. Secretary of Defense created the observance in 1949. When you are young and live in a small town, a parade is a good way to spend part of your day. It was always a sight to see the airmen marching by in their dress uniforms. Local high school bands were sure to march also. Fire trucks, police cars, also were sure to be in the parade. So in 1964 my sister and I made our way downtown (yes we walked there all by ourselves) to watch the parade and take pictures

 

That’s me Charles Moore posing while my sister take a photograph. She showed more skill with the camera than I did. Plattsburgh, N.Y. May 1964.

 

My intentions originally in writing this post was just to share these pictures from the days of my youth and talk about family pictures. However, as I started to work on this, I got to thinking more and more about how it was to grow up in a town the was home to a Strategic Air Command base that had scores of B52 Bombers fully ready to strike at Russia or any enemy of the United States. Not only did we have the air force base but our valley was ringed by Atlas Missile Sites, ready to launch at a moments notice. It was no secret that our little town was very high on the strike list of any enemy the U.S. was to have. Most people today would be amazed how normal life was even with all this danger around them.

 

Armed Forces Day Parade with a local high school marching band. May 1964.

 

I can recall sitting on our front porch on a summers evening and listening to the roar of the B52 engines being warmed up on the runway tarmac miles from us. How that sound could carry. It was as normal to hear that as it would be to hear the crickets chirp at night. We, of course, had air raid drills at school. Sometimes we would take cover in our classrooms by or under our desk. Other times in the hallway outside the classrooms, and about once a year we would march to a door where we were told was the air raid shelter. I think it was just the furnace room. Also once a year we had what was called a go home drill. We liked this one because you were let out of school early at about noon. You were told to walk not run and have your parent sign a slip stating what time you got home. We were told in case of an attack if we had enough time we would be sent home. I remember during the Cuban Missile Crisis everyone was to keep a box of necessary items to be thrown into your car if we had enough time to get out of town. I had wanted to put in a checker game into the box, but my mother said no. I have no idea now why I thought this game was a necessity, but I did. I wanted it in my mother did not. So we argued until my father stepped in. Now my father never failed to back up my mother (a lesson I used when I had children) except this time, when he said “let him have it. It won’t make any difference anyway.” Something in the way it was said gave me a better understanding of the trouble we were in.

We got very use to having these big ugly fat fellows (BUFF) around. If you ever watched one take off with a full load you would swear that they flapped their wings just like a bird as the came down the runway.
Boeing B-52 Stratofortress: B-52F Boeing photo
PictionID:44795985 – Title:Boeing B-52 Stratofortress: B-52F Boeing photo – Catalog:16_005979 – Filename:16_005979.tif – – – – – Image from the Ray Wagner Collection. Ray Wagner was Archivist at the San Diego Air and Space Museum for several years and is an author of several books on aviation –

 

I do not want you to think the air base was terrible. It was not. Like the tourist, the area people, and the college it brought much life and good to the area. The air base gave me the chance to meet people from all over the Untied States and helped me to sharpen and form my opinions and outlook on life. Why many of us city kids knew where in the chain link fence we could slip through and attend movies on base for almost nothing. I wonder what would happen today if someone was caught doing that. Friends were made good times were had, and I am glad to have these memories.

This is one of the missile silo sites just a few miles from Plattsburgh.
Convair SM-65F Atlas, Site 6 Au Sable Forks NY.
This image or file is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Front Porch Picture

Picture taken in 1927. From left to right. Joyce Monty Smith, 1919 – 2006, Emma Craft Monty, 1866 – 1938, Etta Monty Smith, 1857 – 1942, Doris Monty Lyon, 1921 – 2006, and Oreon Monty, 1850 – 1930. Picture from the Carl Gonya collection

The above picture is what I call a front porch picture. You know what I mean where everyone gathers on the porch for a group picture. Many times a porch is not even needed. While looking at the photographs in my collection, I have noticed many of these pictures. I have come to the decision that I will feature these from time to time on my blog. We can learn so much about the people in these pictures, and we should take note of them in our own family’s history. The people all shown above are relatives of my wife’s. They are left to right Joyce Monty Smith, her aunt, Emma Craft Monty her great-grandmother, Etta Monty Smith, a great-aunt, Doris Monty Lyon, her mother, and finally Oreon Monty, her great grandfather. The sad fact is that we tend to lose our ancestor’s stories that are three or even just two generations old. Here is how you can learn a little about your ancestors and perhaps recapture some of their stories.

Flogging
Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “A Picture For Philanthropists.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 3, 2017.

 

Oreon Monty was born in the year 1850 and died 1930. The year Oreon was born California becomes a state, and New Mexico and Utah are now territories. The Fugitive Slave Act is passed making it illegal to shelter runaway slaves even if they reach a free state. The new law forces under penalty of law the return of these slaves. 1850 saw the first women’s rights convention in Worcester, Massachusetts. Flogging is abolished as a punishment in the U.S. Navy. Also “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathanial Hawthorne is published.

Etta Monty Smith was born in the year 1857 and died in 1942. In 1857 Kansas ratifies an anti-slavery constitution. The Supreme Court handed down the Dred Scott Decision which stated in short that under the U.S. Constitution, Scott was his master’s property and was not a citizen of the United States. The Court also declared that the Missouri Compromise, which prohibited slavery in certain areas, unconstitutionally deprived people of their slaves. The Mountain Meadows Massacre takes place in which 120 pioneers are murdered. The National Association of Baseball Players is founded. New York City saw Elisha Otis, install its first elevator. 1857 saw the first issue of the Atlantic Monthly Magazine.

Baker & Godwin. The laying of the cable—John and Jonathan joining hands / W & P. , ca. 1858. [New York: Published and for sale by Baker & Godwin, Printers, Printing House Square, corner Nassau and Spruce streets, New York] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Emma Craft Monty was born in 1866 and died in 1938. In 1866 the National Labor Union was formed, which is the first national association of unions. The Atlantic Telegraph Cable is completed. The Plains Indians score a major victory when Capt. Fetterman and 80 Soldiers are killed. The Jesse James Gang robs a bank in Lexington, Missouri. Tennessee is the first Confederate State to be readmitted to the Union. Also in 1866 Lucy Hobbs Taylor, is the first woman to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree.

 

 

Telephone
Horydczak, Theodor, Approximately, photographer. Telephone. Disk type dial phone I. Washington D.C, None. ca. 1920-ca. 1950. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Joyce Monty Smith was born in 1919 and died in 2006. The year she was born saw the signing of the Versailles Treaty (drawn up at the end of World War One) and the creation of the League of Nations. However, due to the politics of the day, the U.S. Senate rejected the treaty and adopted an isolationist view in our dealing with the world. We also passed the 18th amendment which prohibited the sale of alcohol. Also in the year of her birth race riots broke out in 26 major U.S. Cities including Washington D.C… The dial telephone was introduced to the public by American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is confirmed. Johannes Stark from Germany (discoverer of the Doppler Effect) wins the Nobel Prize in Physics. Cincinnati won the World Series over the Chicago White Sox’s. This resulted in the Black Sox scandal in which eight White Sox players were banned from baseball for life, for intentionally losing games.

Unknown
Harris & Ewing, photographer. [Tomb of Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia]. Arlington Virginia, None. [Between 1921 and 1929] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress. (Accessed May 03, 2017.)

Doris Monty Lyon was born in 1921 and died in 2006, the same year as her sister Joyce. In 1921 Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknown Soldier had its first burial. Governor Miller of New York told members of the N.Y. League of Women Voters in a speech “that the league had no excuse for existence.” The speech was not warmly received by the women. Albert Einstein is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. “The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton, wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Rudolph Valentino is becoming known as the movies best-known lover. James Joyce’s “Ulysses” is published in Paris. 500 copies which were sent to the U.S. were seized by the U.S. Post Office and burned as obscene material. The N.Y. Giants win the 1921 World Series, defeating the N.Y. Yankees.

Charles Lindberg by his plane The Spirit of St. Louis.
Charles A. Lindbergh, with Spirit of St. Louis in background, May 31, 1927. , ca. 1927. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress

 

The picture was taken in the year 1927. Here are some of the events that took place in 1927. The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) goes on the air. Saudi Arabia becomes independent of Great Britain. The last Model T Ford is produced. The pilot Charles Lindberg crosses the Atlantic in the first non-stop flight in his plane “The Spirit of St. Louis.” Golfers in S.C. are arrested for violating the Sabbath. The U.S. Supreme Court permits forced sterilizations of various unfits by states where such surgeries are practiced for eugenic reasons. Perhaps the worst school mass murder was committed in 1927. In Bath, Michigan 45 people are killed of which 38 are elementary school children. Also, over 50 more people are injured. The “Jazz Singer” was the first movie to synchronize sound and picture. A Roman Catholic priest Father George Lemaitre was the first to espouse The Big Bang Theory. Babe Ruth hits a record 60 home runs in a single season. His N.Y. Yankees also win the 1927 World Series. The must-read book of the year was “Elmer Gantry” by Sinclair Lewis.

While we have learned very little personal facts about these people, we have in fact learned much about them. By knowing and having some understanding of the events that took place in their lives you gain some understanding about these people. These events could not help but have an influence on their beliefs, opinions, and how they lived their lives. All the events of each generation have an effect on the people living through them. This is passed down to each new generation which is mixed in with their new experiences until finally, it is our turn. I guess the best way to say it is that my great-grandfather on my father’s side (who I never met) has through the years echoed down to me his life experiences. My wife’s Mother Doris Monty Lyon was to have a child (my wife’s brother) with Downs Syndrome. Now read once again the events of 1927 and imagine how Doris was affected. So take out those old front porch pictures and see what you can learn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Going To the Movies

This is me in my Davey Crockett shirt. While not really released as a movie I was a big fan

 

A few days ago I was watching on television the original King Kong movie. I remembered as a child when I first watched this movie and feeling very sorry for King Kong. This caused me to reflect on my lifelong affection for movies. I also started to think about how these movies played a part in the narrative of my family’s story. Movies seem to weave in and out of some of my fondest memories.

Westerns were and still are a favorite movie to watch.
Picture from Flickr, The Commons. Contributing Library, The Library of Congress, from the book The Story of Montana year 1916.

I grew up going to the movies at the Strand Theater. The Strand was a fixture in downtown Plattsburgh, N.Y., and still is even today. My mother, Veronica Deloria, worked there for a short while selling tickets and worked the concession stand. She often told the story of how they stopped the movie and announced the bombing of Pearl Harbor. All military personnel had to report to the local base right away. Soon everyone was listening to the radio trying to get the latest news on what would be for us the start of World War Two. My early story at the Strand was very different. I was about six or seven when my mother brought me to see the Walt Disney movie Old Yeller. If you have not seen the movie, you may want to skip the next few lines. It was a great movie about a boy and his dog. I can clearly remember how thrilling the movie was and that I was on the edge of my seat for much of the movie. However, the ending was gut-wrenching when the dog came down with rabies after fighting off a rabid animal saving once again the family. The young boy had to put down Old Yeller. At that moment I stood up and let out the longest and loudest booooo that I could muster. My poor mother grasped my arm and tried to calm me down. That’s when I wailed “but mom they shot the dog.” I have never to this day fully trusted a Walt Disney movie. However, I was hooked on the movies and the many worlds to which they would transport me. My wife and I who I meet in high school went on countless movie dates to the Strand. Over the years times grew hard on the single screen, downtown movie theaters. Many towns have lost these gems. However due to the efforts of far-sighted people, a very small town was able to save and restore this special and wonderful place. Their website is; http://www.strandcenter.org/ and well worth the look. They were very helpful and sent me the pictures below to use with this blog.

Theater restoration, inside the Strand Theater, Plattsburgh, N.Y.. Picture courtesy of the Strand Center for the Arts.

The restored Strand Theater. I remember that is was never a good idea when I was young and attending an afternoon matinee to sit in the rows just in front of the end of the balcony. One never knew if you would be the target of flying missiles of candy. I played it safe and sat underneath the balcony.
All pictures of the Strand Theater courtesy of the The Strand Center for the Arts. Plattsburgh, New York.

 

The newly renovated Strand Theater in Plattsburg, N.Y.. For many years many of my dreams would start with this curtain being drawn back and my dream starting on the movie screen. Picture courtesy of the Strand Center for the Arts, Plattsburgh, New York.

Also, we had several drive-in movie establishments located in our area. Plattsburgh did a large business in the tourist trade bringing down visitors from north of the border. On most weekends during the summer you could see their cars filling up the spaces at all of our local drive-ins. When I was about 16, my Aunt Verna treated me to a movie at the drive-in. The movie was The Dirty Dozen, and as many of you know, it was an action packed movie. I enjoyed the movie, and today I own a DVD so I can watch it whenever I want. However, I cannot watch the movie or catch a glimpse of it on television without thinking of my aunt. After we had come home from the movie when my aunt thought I was somewhere else in the house, I overheard her talking to my mom in a hushed voice. She was horrified at all the profanities in the movie and could not believe they were allowed to do that in a movie. To tell the truth, I had not even noticed. Also, I am sure now looking back, that the movie had many other parts that would have made my aunt uncomfortable. It always brings a smile when I think about it.

My wife Sandra Lyon Moore also has fond memories of movies and television shows. Her father would come home from work and relax by watching TV. He had installed a very high-end antenna on top of the house that could draw in stations from Canada. While many of the shows were in French and his understanding was very limited it did not stop him from enjoying all types of science fiction and off beat movies. I think one of the reasons we got along was the fact we both liked Star Trek. He also enjoyed cartoons such as The Flintstones and Huckleberry Hound and was on a first-name basis with Bugs Bunny and his whole gang. How they could make him laugh.

 

My Father-Law Robert Lyon in his easy chair after a day of hard work. The shoes and socks are off and soon he would be in a tee shirt and a bib overalls. My wife Sandy recalls all the strange movies he would watch from this chair.

In my own little family, we made good use of the new must have VCR to bring countless movies home to the family. It was for us a good way of watching and enjoy movies as a family. While most of the movies we watched are long forgotten to this day my adult children recall the huge “popcorn bowl” that the five of us shared while watching the movies. I was myself a manager at a movie multi-screen complex for a couple of years. The family including the grandchildren enjoyed the perks of free movies which they enjoyed to the fullest. However, I discovered my own movie watching went way down during this period as you were way too busy working to watch the movies and the last place you wanted to go on your time off was back to the workplace to try and catch a movie. So a much smaller popcorn bowl was often used at home while I watched my movies on a DVD.

Do you have stories about movies, television, plays, involving your family? Perhaps you should tell the stories, so they will be remembered and become part of your greater family legacy. One day an elderly woman who was a regular customer came into the movie theater I was working. She carried with her a large scrapbook which she wanted to show me. In the scrapbook she kept many of the tickets to movies, baseball games, Broadway shows, and other events she had attended throughout her life. She had started when her father many years ago brought her to her first show. While most of us will not be able to draw upon such a precious resource even one or two stories are better than none.

 

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A Christmas Gift

Christmas 1954. Here I am on my rocking horse, no doubt chasing outlaws.

Christmas 1954. Here I am on my rocking horse, no doubt chasing outlaws.

 

While I cannot say that we were rich and always had huge piles of presents under the tree I can say we always had presents, a beautiful tree, and plenty to eat. I do remember my friends being able to rattle off a long list of gifts they received and that my list even with the socks and underwear thrown in was much shorter. I was only 3 1/2 when Santa brought me the rocking horse for Christmas and to be honest that memory is rather dim. It was a few Christmases later that the rocking horse was a centerpiece in a life long lesson.

It was several years later and hard times were all around us. A labor dispute had broken out at the foundry where my father worked. It had been going on for almost a year, and in fact, it would still be a while before it would be settled. Money was very tight, and Christmas was to be small for us and nonexistent for many. One man, my father, worked with had a large family and no real hope of giving them any Christmas.  For several days my father took some of my old and now outgrown toys and cleaned and fixed them up as best he could. My rocking horse was among them.

Just a day or so before Christmas my father loaded our car with these now spruced up old toys. I can recall wanting to go with him the night he brought the toys over to his co-worker. He at first said no but I kept up the campaign to go and was finally given permission to go, with the strict orders that I was to stay in the car. When we got to the house, Dad quickly unloaded the car and put all of the items on the front porch. He then knocked at the door, and a man came out. A few words were exchanged a handshake and then we were driving away. Dad never spoke of this again. Some lessons just don’t need words the deed is all that is required. The lesson was clear to me even at that young age. If you can help, then you help. You don’t draw attention to yourself and at all times respect the other person’s dignity. My Dad could not have known it then, and it took me a while to realize it, but that night I was given perhaps the best Christmas gift any young boy could have hoped for.

In 1980 my daughter gives the new rocking horse a workout.

In 1980 my daughter gives the new rocking horse a workout.

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Minds Influenced by the Same Things Think Alike

I have been following and reading a blog by Dennis Peterson titled dlpedit, and have found it interesting reading. I suggest others give it a try. Dennis is a teacher and a writer of American history. This is a post of mine he thought worth repeating. I hope you agree.

dlpedit

landmark-booksLast week, I posted some thoughts on two book series that had sparked my early interest in reading and influenced my careers in teaching and writing American history. I’ve since learned that I’m not the only one so influenced by the Hardy Boys series of mysteries or the exciting history recounted in the Landmark books.

Shortly after I posted that essay, Charles Moore, who has been following my blog for a while, contacted me to suggest that I might enjoy a blog post of his that he wrote a couple of years ago. I checked it out and was so impressed that I read it twice! In a gesture of friendship and for the sake of the possibility that his essay might encourage someone else to read and write stories about their own life and genealogy for future readers, Mr. Moore gave me permission to reprint his story here on my blog. I…

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