Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blog Caroling 2012

A blogging tradition in genealogy is Footnote Maven's Blog Caroling.  I am going to enter a Christmas carol I learned in high school when our choir decided to present an international program of carols at our Christmas Eve service.  We sang "Adeste Fideles" in Latin, "Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht" in German, sang "Jeannette Isabella" but not in French (we didn't have the words in French), and we sang this Spanish carol, "Pastores a Belén" (Shepherds to Bethlehem).

Pastores a Belén
Entrad con alegría,
A ver a nuestro bien,
Al hijo de María.
Allí, allí, allí nos espera Jesús.
Allí, allí, allí nos espera Jesús.

Entrad, entrad, pastores entrad,
Entrad, entrad, zagalas también.
Vamos a ver al recien nacido,
Vamos a ver al niño Manuel.
Vamos, vamos, vamos a ver,
Vamos a ver al recien nacido,
Vamos a ver al niño Manuel.

[Shepherds to Bethlehem,
Enter with gladness,
To see our Good News,
The Son of Mary.
There, there, there, Jesus awaits us.
There, there, there, Jesus awaits us.

Enter, enter, shepherds enter,
Enter, enter, ladies also.
We're going to see the newborn baby,
We're going to see the child Emanuel.
We're going, we're going, we're going to see,
We're going to see the newborn baby,
We're going to see the child Emanuel.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11

On that morning, I was home, and I did not have the television on, as I do not care much for daytime television.  Our younger daughter was at that time working for the Bank of America in Jacksonville; our older daughter was a student at the University of North Florida.

Our younger daughter called me and told me to turn on the television.  I saw the information about the first plane having hit the tower, and I thought they were discussing some horrible accident.  But then the camera picked up the second plane heading for and then hitting the second tower, and I said to my daughter, "This is an act of war."

I tried to call my husband, who was in federal civil service working as a computer programmer for the U.S. Navy at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.  I could not get through.  That did not actually surprise me.  I was fairly certain the base had been locked down and that we were at DefCon 3 if not DefCon 4.

I watched the rest of the day, wondering if my husband and I, both having served in the U.S. Coast Guard, were going to be called to active duty.  I wondered also who had done this terrible thing.  Then the towers collapsed in spectacular live coverage, and I saw people running from the advancing cloud of dust and debris.  It was the most incredible thing I'd seen, and I was one of the television audience who on November 24, 1963, watched as Jack Ruby murdered Lee Harvey Oswald on national television.

I felt myself morbidly glued to the tube, trying to determine what was going to happen.  As other news came in -- the third plane hitting the Pentagon and the fourth crashing in a field in Pennsylvania as the heroic cadre of passengers decided that their bunch of terrorists were not going to succeed -- it seemed as if I were participating in some weird technothriller movie.  No.  This was real, the sort of real where, after that day, nothing is the same as it was.

Prompted by Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vanilla Milk

I'm getting ready to go to live for two years in Pinellas Park while I work on my master's degree at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.  I've been loading my car with boxes of books, so I'm taking a break and having a small dinner of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and vanilla milk.

Vanilla milk is a treat taught to me by my brother, Arden "Ned" Packard II (1942-1996) when I was something like 7 or 8 years old.  The recipe is simple.  In a glass, put one or two teaspoons of sugar and about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (vary measurements to personal taste).  Add milk to fill the glass.  Stir.  It's yummy, and one of my favorite treats.  I do not indulge it very often, but when I do, I think of my brother.

My brother taught me lots of useful stuff.  He was five years older than I am.  When I was five years old, he taught me how to clean a fish, something our father had taught him.  We lived on Perdido Bay in Pensacola in what seemed to me at the time to be a large house, but then, everything looks big when you're five years old.

Ned died in 1996, of acute myelocytic leukemia.  The last thing he taught me was how to face death with dignity and courage.  That is the most important lesson of all.

And by now, I'm sure he has taught the cherubim and seraphim how to make vanilla milk.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Today, at the age of 65, I have laid eyes for the very first time upon the face of my grandmother, and found that I have had a photo of my grandfather all along, and assumed it was of the brother of his who adopted my mother after my grandfather died.

This points up the importance of labeling your photos!  We all have those unidentified photos which we wish had been labeled.

The photo of my grandmother is completely new to me.  With her are her two older children, my uncle and aunt.  But my mother is not in the picture.  Judging from the apparent ages of the two siblings in the photo, this was taken after my mother was adopted by her uncle and aunt.

I have been waiting and working for this day for a long time.  All I can say is, "Wow."

I may show these photos in this blog later.  I need to get agreement from my cousins first.

I'm just glad this day finally came.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life Events: the Experience of Loss through Death

We genealogists and family historians talk and write about all sorts of life events that occur in our families.  The event of death is often the most difficult.  Today my older daughter was once again brought into contact with that particular one.  She and her sister have dealt with such events beginning much earlier than I, as their mother, would have wished.  They've experienced the deaths of their grandmothers -- both within just a couple years of each other -- when they were very young, just on the cusp of understanding what death is and means.  As well, they have experienced the passing of two great-grandmothers and their uncle, as well as other people they have met in their time here on Earth.

My father died when I had just turned seven years old, and in those days (1954), it was thought that children did not understand at all.  That was to shortchange children, because they understand a lot more than we give them credit for.  And they're more resilient than we often give them credit for.  Certainly I was underestimated in 1954, as I was isolated and cut off from the family experience, and given no guidance whatsoever as I attempted to negotiate the frightening landscape of grief and loss all by myself.  That colored my emotional response for a long, long time, left me hostile and emotionally insecure, and made the adjustment much more long and drawn-out a process than it ever needed to be. 

When their grandmother -- my mother-in-law -- died in June of 1978, I determined that my daughters, five and six years old at the time, were not going to be left out of the loop as I was.  Likewise, when their other grandmother -- my mother -- died in 1980, I guided them through the process.  They did not need to be isolated and "protected" from the fact of death and its consequences for the living.  They needed to be kept very much in the loop, to have it explained to them as gently and honestly as possible, and to have their hands held by the caring adults in their family during that difficult time, to reassure them that life did go on, and that they would not be left entirely alone in the experience.  Considering how they have managed as young adults and now middle-aged adults, I am convinced that I did the right thing.

My older daughter heard today that one of her high school best friends died.  This is the second such event for her.  Her other high school best friend was killed in a highway accident thirteen years ago (1999).  I would have preferred she be spared that, and I would have preferred both my daughters be spared the events of their grandmothers -- and since then, other family members -- dying.  But we are not granted such requests.  We are charged with reacting compassionately and responsibly to these events.  It is demanded of us that we go through the steps of the grieving process, and it is hoped we take comfort where we can, and emerge from the experienced strengthened in faith and courage.

I think my daughters have been prepared well, and I'm proud today of my older one for the way she has handled the news, of my younger one for the caring she showed, and of my son-in-law for being my older daughter's strength, both times.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three years; still going

I'm so sick.  I have a chest cold which is kicking me to the curb.  My voice is toast -- I'm channeling Lauren Bacall.  Or is it Robert Stack?  (You have to be a certain age to get that comment. If you don't, there's always Wikipedia and the IMDB.)  I have had to cancel a speaking engagement because of this rotten chest cold.  Feh!

Anyway, it completely skipped my cognizance that today, 16 May, is my blogiversary.   Been at this for three years now.  Wow - how time flies when we're having fun!  And now I have two other blogs -- my book and writing blog, Autobiography of A. Bookworm; and my newest one, my history blog, Clio's Daughter (links on the navigation bar to the right).

I've met a bunch of neat folks through blogging, and found some I had known previously, as well.  There's lots of good thought and information out here in the blogosphere.

Thanks to the two folks who sent me congratulatory comments, and who thereby reminded my poor sick, tired brain that today is indeed my blogging anniversary.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Merry Month of May Music Meme

This comes from Family History Across the Seas

The Merry Month of May Music Meme: a meme for your amusement.
Since the whole point of this is to have fun, retrieve memories and generally chill out (very 60s!), feel free to amend/add/subtract. I’m not even going to ask you to do the usual checklist of have done, want to do, don’t want to do. If you feel the urge, go ahead, you know how it works. And, geneabloggers, yes there is still family history value in this: give your descendants a laugh, let them get to know you with your hair down. Don’t forget, anyone can join in – it will make it much more fun.
I’ll be posting my responses later today and I’m even going to try to be spontaneous – first song/music that comes into my head. If you decide to join in please let me know via the links below (it’s supposed to be fun, so I’m not going to learn about linky-doo-dahs).
  1. Song(s)/Music from your childhood:  Rock Around the Clock, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing, Written on the Wind
  2. Song(s)/ Musos from your teenage years:  Louie, Louie; Garden Party; Stairway to Heaven
  3. First live concert you attended:  Kingston Trio
  4. Songs your parents sang along to:  My mother did not sing much; she could whistle like Bing Crosby, and would whistle his songs.
  5. Song(s)/Music your grandparents sang/played:  They died before I was born, most of them.  My grandma didn't sing.
  6. Did your family have sing-a-longs at home or a neighbours: No.
  7. Did you have a musical instrument at home:  No.
  8. What instruments do you play (if any):  None, but I'm learning recorder.
  9. What instruments do you wish you could play: Piano, guitar, recorder.
  10. Do you/did you play in a band or orchestra:  No
  11. Do you/did you sing in a choir:  Yes, I sang in the church youth choir.
  12. Music you fell in love to/with or were married to:  "The Wedding Song" sung by Paul Stookey.
  13. Romantic music memories: Live jazz at a local club my husband and I went to when we were courting.
  14. Favourite music genre(s): Classical, jazz, mountain music, old country (nothing after about 1950), very little rock, show tunes.
  15. Favourite classical music:  My favorite classical composers are all 20th century Americans -- Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, Richard Rodgers, and Leonard Bernstein.  I also like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, many others.
  16. Favourite opera/light opera:  Not much for opera.
  17. Favourite musical:  South Pacific
  18. Favourite pop:  Not much for pop.
  19. Favourite world/ethnic: Spanish, Chinese and Japanese.
  20. Favourite jazz:  Dave Brubeck
  21. Favourite country or folk:  Country before 1950, like the songs written or collected by A. P. Carter.  Folk:  lots of it!
  22. Favourite movie/show musical:  How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and The Music Man.
  23. Favourite sound tracks:  O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  24. What music do you like to dance to:  I don't dance!
  25. What dances did you do as a teenager:  The Twist, the Slop
  26. Do you use music for caller ID on your mobile: Just have not got around to it.
  27. What songs do you use for caller ID:  Haven't got around to it.
  28. What songs do your children like or listen to:  They listen to stuff I don't understand at all!
  29. Favourite live music concerts as an adult:  The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
  30. Silly music memories from your family:  Songs my grandfather made up, which were mostly puns.
  31. Silliest song you can think of:  I've Got Tears in my Ears from Lying on my Back in Bed Crying Over You.  (Really!)  Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road is a good one, too!
  32. Pet hate in music/singing:  People who play their radios/stereos too loud!
  33. A song that captures family history for you:  Back Home Again in Indiana.
  34. If you could only play 5 albums (assume no iPods or mp3) for the rest of your life, what would they be:  Dvorak's New World symphony; Beethoven's Pastorale symphony; the sound track to The Music Man; Instrumental Music from the Southern Appalachians, a heritage recording done by the Library of Congress; and an album I have of Andres Segovia.
  35. Favourite artists (go ahead and list as many as you like):  The Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields; the New York Philharmonic . . . you get the picture

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Six Degrees of Karen Rhodes

From watching the Kevin Bacon/Kyra Sedgwick episode of Who Do You Think You Are? if from nothing else, we all are pretty well familiar with the concept of "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."  Yesterday afternoon and last night I got two good doses of evidence of "Six Degrees of Karen Rhodes."

In the hallway in the arena at the University of North Florida, where a bunch of us soon-to-be graduates were waiting for time to line up and filter in to the arena floor where our chairs were, I made the acquaintance of two young men, Ray and Luis.  It started out with joking around about the tassels on our mortarboards, and led further to our accomplishments and future plans.  The conversation got around to the imminent departure of Dr. J. Michael Francis from UNF.  As some of you may have already read in my blog Clio's Daughter, he's going to the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.  Ray said he felt like he'd been blindsided, because as an archaeology major, he wanted to work up a program in historical archaeology under Dr. Francis's guidance.  When I mentioned that I plan on following Dr. Francis down to USFSP, Ray and Luis both said, "You're the one he was talking about!"  Seems that Dr. Francis had said quite a bit about me.  So sitting next to these two young men during the commencement, I was subjected to a stream of patter from Ray.  It was hilarious.  Even better, Ray had picked up his young son (5 years old) from his grandparents, seated in the audience, and had the lad on his lap -- and took him up on the stage with him.  That was just wonderful.  But there I was, with a connection with these young men and with Dr. Francis giving me an earful!

The second dose of "Six Degrees of Karen Rhodes" came that evening, at the party my husband and I hosted at Athens Café in the San Jose area of Jacksonville.  We had 22 people there (including us), and our assortment of friends is such that one commented that if all of us were stranded on a desert island, we would find food to cook and enjoy, materials with which to make shelter and clothing if needed, and materials to make a boat so we could return to civilization!  One friend came by himself as his wife had to work (we missed her).  Another friend came late, because her husband has been hospitalized for the past month or so, and is now at a rehabilitation center.  Turns out these two (and their spouses) have known each other for years!  They had lost touch, but now, because of their friendship with me and my husband, they have now been put in contact again.

It's a small world indeed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Grieving for Dead Infants

I found myself in the strange position today of grieving for children who died over 200 years ago.

I have been studying the family structure of St.  Augustine, Florida, for over two years now.  I have six file boxes of files on the people of St. Augustine during the Second Spanish Period (1784-1821).  Actually, I have not got much beyond 1790 on most of these people, so I have only a fraction of what will be the total when I'm done.  With all those dossiers on all those individuals, I feel like the J. Edgar Hoover of old St. Augustine!

And in studying these people, I have come to feel attached to them in some way, even to those whom I have a feeling I would not like were I to meet them!  So in reading the burial entries in the church records of 1784-1809, I felt grief, and found myself shedding tears for these little babies and their parents.  One couple lost two children in the space of a few months, and another couple lost two children in the same day!

It was a hard life, when diseases which today we have vaccines to prevent were routinely taking away these little lives.  I felt particularly sad to learn that a little waif whose parents were unrecorded, an orphan who was taken in by a St. Augustine couple, did not live very long.  I had hoped to find her in the records, married and with babies of her own, but that was not to be.

We historians can become involved in the periods we study, in the people whose lives we examine and analyze and try to make sense of.  The danger, of course, is the loss of the necessary distance we should and must maintain between us and our subjects, in order that we dispassionately examine and order our facts and come to the most logical conclusions.  I do not think that means we cannot at times put ourselves in their places, for in doing so, we may gain insights we would otherwise miss.

At the same time, we have to maintain that distance so that we can reach sound conclusions.  There is a time to feel emotion at the impact of events on people in the past, whether in the general past population, or in our own family histories, and there is a time to put the emotions aside and focus on the facts at arm's length.

The trick is to know when to do each, and when not.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 12

I give this post the simple title "April 12" because I am going to talk about several events which took place on that date in the past few hundred years.

We all know that on April 12, 1861, Confederate forces began artillery bombardment of Fort Sumter.  It was the opening salvo of the Civil War.

And we know that on April 12, 1945, Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States, died at his retreat at Warm Springs, Georgia.

What you may or may not know, depending if you have kept up with this blog and given a jellybaby about the fact, is that on April 12, 1947 -- two years to the day after the death of FDR -- I was born in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California.

And I think many are aware that on April 12, 1961 -- one hundred years to the day after the beginning of the Civil War in the U.S., Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man to fly into space.

I do not know whether it is because of the date of my birth or some other factor, but I have all my life been a "Roosevelt groupie."  I just love reading about both Roosevelt presidents, Theodore and Franklin.  And I think Eleanor Roosevelt was the greatest lady of the Twentieth Century.  She was active, intelligent, wise, and she carried on in the face of awful psychological blows.  She had strength of character and strength of purpose.  Unsure of herself at first during her husband's presidency, she became a strong advocate for the underdog and an ambassador of the best in the American character.

Speaking of Eleanor, the timing was right last night, when I attended the University of North Florida Graduate Students' Organization social.  We played the game where someone writes down the name of  a famous person, living or dead, and tapes it to your back.  You are supposed to find out who it is by asking "yes" or "no" questions.  I asked, "Is the person female?"  Yes. "Is she living?"  No.  "Was she white?"  Yes.  "Twentieth Century?"  Yes.  Then I made what to me was the obvious guess -- Eleanor Roosevelt.  I was right.

I visited Warm Springs many years ago with one of my college roommates.  I was by myself in the part of the house where the President's desk was located.  As I stood facing that desk and contemplating the man and his era, I felt a presence. I felt a touch at my back.  There was nobody there but me.  Nobody there but me -- and FDR. I do not ordinarily believe in "the supernatural" as far as ghostly manifestations and such, but I definitely felt a touch, a warm touch, at my back.

So every year on my birthday, I do spend a little while, if only a few minutes, thinking about FDR, and about Eleanor.  It wouldn't hurt us to have people like them in public life today.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Adventures in Indexing: Unusual Names

Today in my indexing adventure, the thing that stood out most was unusual names. 

As I was indexing rural Florida, and I live in rural Florida, I was not terribly surprised at the names, but all the same they are unusual, especially for city folk, more especially for those not living in the rural south.

Unusual women's names outstripped unusual men's names. 

Here are today's unusual women's names:  Charles (yup, that's what it said); Nondas; Milbra (though I wonder if that were a mishearing of "Melba")' Ovella; Avie; Selzma; Trellie; Delamier.

Unusual men's names:  Grose (can you imagine the teasing of a boy had that name today?); Dorthan; Verda.

I checked my stats, and so far the arbitrators are 98% in agreement with me.  My paleography training is showing.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Adventures in Indexing

I decided, as I am having difficulties finding family members in the 1940 census, that I would while away the time between now and the debut of the indexes I may be needing, to contribute to the hastening of that day by doing some indexing myself.

So I went to the indexing site, read the information, watched the tutorial videos, and downloaded the software, and got started. My practice download consisted in a draft record for a fellow in Puerto Rico. I see that there are records in Spanish waiting to be indexed, so when the 1940 census is done, I might take on some of those.

Some of the things I have found in my brief bout of indexing today:

In that Puerto Rican sample, mentioned above, though it was not in the 1940 census, there was something I was happy to be able to remedy.  Either the fellow who filled in the form was in the habit of making his lower-case r's look like lower-case t's, or he just did not know how to spell the place name.  Knowing a little about Puerto Rico and a lot about Spanish, I was able to correct it (which the instructions said to do if you have certain knowledge).

A family consisting in a Pennsylvania German and a Mexican, and their daughter. The surname of the daughter was entered and then crossed out, as it was different from that of the parents, yet she was young and single. And her name had been written as "Carlos." Very clearly, it said "Carlos." That's a little strange, but after all, I have already mentioned females named Clifford and Russell in this blog.

There was another family which made me feel kind of sad, because they were Japanese in California in 1940, and I knew where they would soon be headed -- the internment camps. The youngest daughter was only 3. I have heard George Takei -- yes, that George Takei -- talk about his own family being interned when he was something like five years old. Not a pretty chapter in our history.

I did not come up on any really humorous entries -- odd names and that (except for the daughter named Carlos).  However, having names mis-sexed is not uncommon.  My father-in-law's name was Marshall.  In one census when he was a youngster, his name is entered as Marsha.  And I have seen in the 1920 census the entry for an "Ella" Ness, daughter, in the family of Peter Ness of Chicago, a baker.  There was no "Ella" Ness -- the entry is a mistake, and the relationship should be son, and the name should be ELIOT Ness -- the famous Prohibition agent who busted up Al Capone's breweries and facilitated the IRS tax case against Capone.

But I'll be indexing more, and will surely find some more oddities.

Friday, April 6, 2012

At long last! First find in the 1940 census!

I am finally no longer singing the blues. I have found my grandmother and aunt (though there is a story behind that; for now, we will leave it as is) in Pensacola, Florida. My grandmother, widowed, was living in a rented house. My aunt's occupation was listed as "graduate nurse." This signifies that she had finished her nurse's training. I'm not sure it was exactly this way in 1940, but when I was a nurse, we were called "graduate nurse" until we successfully completed the state board exams, then we received our certification as Registered Nurse. Later in the 1940s, Elizabeth would attend Columbia University and receive a B.S. in public health nursing. She was unmarried, and in fact, never married.

The monthly rent on the house was $65. My grandmother, Mary LeSourd Reed, was 50 years old and was the informant for this census, and my aunt, Elizabeth Reed, was 30. Mary Reed is shown as having completed the 11th grade, and she did tell me that she quit high school in her senior year to marry Perry W. Reed, her late husband. Elizabeth Reed is shown as having finished her third year of college. Mary was born in Indiana, and Elizabeth in Illinois. These birthplaces are corroborated in other records I have.

On 1 April 1935 they were living in the same place. Mary did not work; Elizabeth had a job, working for the "health board." It does not say whether that was the county health board or the State Board of Health. I know that at different times, she worked for each one, as she has told me tales of her time at the county health board, and in my living memory, she was employed at the State Board of Health (now the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services). I believe that in 1940 she was working for the local or county (Escambia County, Florida) health board, because the State Board of Health was (and the DHR is) headquartered in Jacksonville.

Elizabeth Reed had worked the entirety of 1939, making $1800. That is probably her yearly salary. She had no other source of income.

So there it is: my "first fruits" of the 1940 census.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More from Ancestry on the 1940 Census is scheduled to have all 3.8 million census pages online by tomorrow at about 2 p.m. -- "maybe sooner."  More places having the images available should mean a wider distribution of server load, which might help alleviate the access problems people have been having just because of the massive reception the census has had!

As well, tomorrow, will be launching additional tools to help in 1940 census research.  Their take on it:  "This is HUGE."  The whole 1940 census has been huge, from the sheer mass of the number of images to the frenzy for access to the fodder for us bloggers, to the topic having trended strongly on Twitter, to the effect it is having on people's research, advancing knowledge just that much more.  It is exciting.

Don't forget that has demo videos on YouTube.  The link takes you to the playlist, where you can choose which one(s) you want to watch.

Indexing progresses, having begun on Monday when the images went live.  Stay tuned for news of which states have been indexed as the work continues.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Those 1940 Census Blues

Been sittin' at my laptop
Looking in the ED maps,
But I ain't got no address
For my mammy and my paps.
Feelin' low down,
As low as my shoes,
I'm singin' those low down
1940 census blues.

I got 'em both in 1930
But they went from town to town,
They rented, never owned a house
Never settled down.
Feelin' low down,
Right down to my shoes,
Singin' those low down
1940 census blues.

Can't find my in-laws, either
Tho' I know just where they were
'Cause the house at that old number
Ain't listed anywhere.
Feelin' low down
As low as my shoes,
I keep on singin' those
1940 census blues.

My grandmaw done remarried
I even know the name
But again I got no address,
Oh, ain't it all a shame?
Feelin' so low down,
Lower than my shoes,
I search and keep on singin'
Those 1940 census blues!

So it's back to those direc'tries
Of cities far and wide,
Searchin' and a-searchin'
The US from side to side.
Feelin' so low down,
I'm shuckin' off my shoes
Goin' to bed just singin' those old
1940 census blues!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Technological Miracles, or: Taking a Break from the 1940 Census

I am being frustrated in my attempts to access the 1940 census and find my parents, my in-laws, other relatives in it. The high demand on bandwidth is one reason, and frustrations with just plain findin' 'em is another.  I have the right enumeration districts, thanks to the Steve Morse website, and the maps are clearly showing I'm in the right place, but I can't find my aunt and uncle in Glendale or my father-in-law in Jacksonville because their house numbers don't appear to be there!  I know that the street where my father-in-law lived was renumbered, but I'm fairly sure that was done in the 1930s, when that part now known as the south side of Jacksonville (in local usage, Southside), became part of Jacksonville, having previously been the separate town of South Jacksonville.

So let's get away from the slow loading, the crashes, the hangups, and the frustrations and talk about technology.  This morning my older daughter and I were on our way here, to the University of North Florida, where she works and I am a student.  My daughter is a technology geek, and spends the ride in (I drive) accessing Twitter, Gizmodo, and other sites on her mobile phone.  She regales me with all sorts of items, and it passes the time on the drive, which takes about 45 minutes.

This morning we were talking about how technology has changed our lives.  My primary example when I talk to my much younger college classmates is how it used to be at registration when I took my first trip through the groves of academe, at Florida State University in the 1960s.  On the day of your registration appointment, what you had to do was get a good breakfast, dress in comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes, and stand in line for up to six hours outside the gym for the privilege of getting into the gym and beginning the registration process.  Registration itself consisted in moving from station to station picking up a computer punchcard at each station for each class you needed that term.  Seniors came up against the wonderful experience of having picked up the last punchcard for one class they had to have to graduate, only to learn that the only available time for that class conflicted directly with the only available time for another class they needed in order to graduate!

I got around that situation by wearing a button that said, "I am a human being; do not fold, spindle, or mutilate."  (Punch cards had on them a warning not to "fold, spindle, or mutilate" so that the data on the punchcard not be compromised.)  The person sitting at the table with that second course I needed managed to pull out a reserve he had put by of the same class offered at a different time.  In those days, humanity counted and was a necessary consideration.

Nowadays the tradeoff for any possible loss of humanity, for us being converted online into just more ones and zeroes, is nearly instantaneous registration.  It's painless and you don't even have to get dressed!  You sit down at your computer, get to the page for looking up classes, look up the classes you want or need, click the radio button, and there you are.  Less than five minutes.

To me, that is a miracle.

Another miracle is that represented in the lifespan of my grandma, Mary LeSourd Reed.  She was born before the Wright brothers made their flight at Kitty Hawk, and died nine years after Neil Armstrong placed his footprints on the moon.

What miracles are yet to come?  Remember what Arthur C. Clarke said:  "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

I may grouse and complain at times about technology, the pace of change, and the lack of realization among younger classmates of just how miraculous an age they live in.  They take for granted things that I have seen develop from nonexistence to everyday reality.  That's magic.  As much as I complain, I am also at times awed by what has come to pass in such a very brief snippet of the span of human history. What miracles have your ancestors witnessed?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

1940 Enumeration District Maps: From the Known to the Unknown

Yesterday I tested the 1940 census Enumeration District maps on addresses that I knew - that of my aunt and uncle in Glendale, California, which I suspect will reveal a clue as to where my father and mother were in the 1940 census, and of the home of my father-in-law's parents in Jacksonville, Florida.

Remembering well the layout of the street on which my aunt and uncle lived, as well as the street on which they owned another home which they rented out, I was able to find the Glendale district map in no time.

Jacksonville has been a much harder nut to crack.  As I said in yesterday's blog entry, the map for the district in which my father-in-law's family lived was not there.  I found, in Dear Myrtle's blog, another way to approach the ED maps, through the Online Public Access. What I found there was even more frustrating, because I was made to feel like King Tantalus, the desired goal being just out of reach.

What happened is that the access to the ED maps for Jacksonville revealed that there are more maps than are showing.  In fact, there are, under each of the three divisions mentioned in yesterday's entry, multiple maps.  Under Jacksonville itself, there are six maps, but I could get only one to show up.  I would select for "Jacksonville," and very briefly I saw six selections flash by.  The browser did not stop on the six selections, but jumped immediately to displaying the first one.  No matter how may times I clicked on the next page button, I could not get the view to budge off that first map, the same one I saw last night.

I do not know whether that was a glitch caused by too many hits on the website or what.  I guess I'll have to try again.  Or perhaps the National Archives need to put up instructions for the feebly inept, such as myself.

However, that is my adventure with the known.

Today I had a little adventure with the unknown.  It is a bit easier to use the ED maps if you have in your own head a clear map of the area from having lived there or visited there.  Much harder is it, says Yoda, if you have no familiarity with the area.  Just for a test, I picked Chicago.  I found someone, their identity is not relevant, in the 1930 census and noted the address of their dwelling.  I then went to the Chicago ED maps, and had the same experience I had with Jacksonville:  I could not access more than the first one.  There were more,  I just could not get at them.

Also, when I did look at the one map of Chicago I could get, there were no street names on a large portion of it.  A study of a marked street map, preferably one from 1940, would in this case be necessary.

So for me, there is a lot of work involved in using the ED maps.

I could just take the easy way out and wait until the index is done.  But I will at least search in Glendale, for which the ED map has been quite helpful, to see if my mother and father were there in 1940.

1940 Enumeration District Maps: Something found, something missing

We Ancestry Aces have been asked to take an advanced peek at the Enumeration District maps and play around with them.  The ED maps are running hot and cold for me.

I noted in my last post, the Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post about guessing my ancestor's 1940 census data, that I have no real clue where my parents were in 1940.  I looked at my father's U.S. Navy service record, and there is some indication, by no means conclusive, that they may have been in California, and I suspect that I might find them with his brother Jack in Glendale.

I called up the ED map for Glendale, California, and was right in their neighborhood.  It took me no time at all, remembering what I could of the layout of the streets when I visited Uncle Jack and Aunt Billie in 1962, to find their street and their house's location.  They are in the Sonora Precinct.  There is no ED number, as such, on the map, but at least knowing the precinct may help.  I know that my aunt and uncle at one time owned another house on a nearby street, which I also easily found,  though whether they owned it in 1940, I do not know.  So I do have a place to at least check in the census on Monday for the whereabouts of my parents in 1940.

I also thought I would try to find my husband's father's family.  He had not married my mother-in-law at that time; that didn't happen until 1944.  But in 1940, my (future) father-in-law lived with his parents, and I know exactly where it is from family records my husband and I have, and from actually visiting the house as a young girl, when my then-future husband and I were friends (and, yes, we still are, after 41 years of marriage).

However, when I went to the map for Jacksonville, Florida, I was disappointed.  The only map that shows for Jacksonville itself (as the city limits were in those days) is the north side.  My husband's parents lived on the south side, which, until the 1930s, was the separate town of South Jacksonville.  But that part is not there at all.  There is another link under Duval County, the county where Jacksonville sits, which says "other places."  Those other places are only those to the northwest of Jacksonville (as the city limits were in those days).  Strike two.

The third link under Duval County shows what is today known as the Riverside area, to the west, across the St. Johns River, from the south side.  Strike three.  The area where my future father-in-law and his parents and sister lived is just not included in the maps.  I cannot imagine why.  There is no link marked "South Jacksonville," either.  It just ain't there.

Do the maps for the south side of Jacksonville just not exist?  At least I thought I would see the St. Johns river, but on the first two maps, Jacksonville and "other places," it does not show up, because the maps are too far north.  The third map, of Riverside, shows the river and one tiny corner of Southside, called "Hendricks Point," which is where the Acosta Bridge and the railroad bridge next to it span the river.  Duval County was not much different than it is today, as far as its boundaries are concerned, and certainly included Southside, or South Jacksonville, at the time.

Or is it that the map I require has not been uploaded yet?   Let me hold out hope that such is the case, and that I will find the Southside, or South Jacksonville (some old-timers still call it that) when the time comes for me to search for my father-in-law in the census.

Oh, well.  I'm 50% so far, anyway.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Guess Your Ancestor's 1940 Census Data

This is a fool's errand in my case, but I'll play!  Live, from Randy Seaver's Genea-musings, it's Saturday Night! 

"Your mission, should you decide to accept it (come on, you know that you want to!), is to:

1)  Pick one of the persons from your ancestry who should be in the 1940 United States Census.

2)  Using the column headings below (from 1940 United States Census Questions), predict what the entries will be in each column.

3)  Share your predictions on your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status or a Google Plus post."

  I'm going to take my chances with my father, Arden Packard (no middle name).  I actually have no idea where he and my mother were in 1940, but I will take a stab at it.  My predicted column entries are in red:

*  State:  California or Florida
*  Populated Place: Could be Pensacola, Jacksonville, or Miami, Florida or Los Angeles (least likely), Glendale, or Pasadena, California.
*  Ward of City:  No clue
*  County:  Either Escambia, Duval, or Dade counties, Florida, or Los Angeles County, California.
*  Township or other division of county:  I do not know.
*  Block Nos.:  I do not know
*  Enumeration District:  I do not know, and have no basis on which to hazard a guess.

1.  Location - street, avenue or road:  I do not know
2.  Location - house number:  I do not know

3.  Number of household:  I do not know
4.  Home owned or rented:  Rented.  They never owned a house the whole time they were married.
5.  Value of home (if owned) or monthly rental (if rented):  $60-80/mo, and that is strictly a guess!
6.  Does this household live on a farm?  No
7.  Name of person:  Arden Packard
8.  Relationship of this person to head of household:  Head of household

9.  Sex:  Male
10.  Color or Race:  White
11.  Age at last birthday:  28 (birth date 29 April 1911)
12.  Marital Status:  Married

13.  Attended school or college any time since March 1, 1940:  No
14.  Highest grade of school completed:  college graduate

15.  Place of birth:  California
16.  Citizenship of foreign born: N/A

17.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - City or town:  possibly Norfolk, VA (stationed on an aircraft carrier out of Norfolk)
18.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - County: N/A (Norfolk is an independent city)
19.  Residence on 1 April, 1935 - State or foreign country: Virginia
20.  On a farm?  No

21.  Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): Yes
22:  If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No): No
23. If neither at work nor assigned to public emergency work. ("No" in Cols. 21 and 22), Was this person SEEKING WORK (Yes or No):  No
24. If not seeking work, did he HAVE A JOB, business, etc.? (Yes or No):  Yes
25. Indicate whether engaged in home house-work (H), in school (S), unable to work (U), or other (Ot): N/A
26. Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940: 40
27. If seeking work or assigned to public emergency work. ("Yes" in Col. 22 or 23); Duration of unemployment up to March 30, 1940 - in weeks:  0

28.  Occupation: Trade, profession, or particular kind of work, as frame spinner, salesman, rivet heater ,music teacher:  engineer
29. Industry: Industry or business, as cotton mill, retail grocery, farm, shipyard, public school: I have no idea
30. Class of worker: skilled [?]
31. Number of weeks worked in 1939 (Equivalent full-time weeks): I have no idea

32.  Income in 1939 (12 months ended December 31, 1939): Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions):  $8,000-10,000 [and boy, is THAT a guess!]
33. Did this person receive income of $50 or more from sources other than money wages or salary (Yes or No): No
34.  Number of farm schedule: N/A

Well, there it is.  Pure guesswork.  It will be interesting, once I do find out where they were, how well -- or poorly! -- my guesses line up with the facts.

1940 Census: Getting Ready has provided us, the 1940 Census Aces, with some information about Monday's release of the 1940 census images:

The National Archives and Records Administration will open the 1940 U.S. Federal Census on April 2, 2012—the first time this collection will be made available to the public. Once we receive the census, we will begin uploading census images to our site so the public can browse them. Initially, this collection will be what we call a browse-only collection. This means a person can scroll through the pages of the census districts much like you would look at a microfilm or a book. At the same time, we will be working behind the scenes to create an index of the census that will eventually allow people to search for their family members by name as they currently can with all other censuses on Note also that the 1940 U.S. Federal Census will be accessible free of charge throughout 2012 on

As to how long it will take to get all the states online, this is going to be a rather massive project.  As puts it:  "We like to use this analogy: think about how long it takes to upload all of the images on a memory card onto a home computer. Now imagine that memory card holds 3.8 million, very-high-definition images. You get the picture."

Sure, it will take some time.  And during the upload process, they will be working on the index, too.  I will be one of the ones waiting for the index to come out, because I do not have the slightest clue where to look for my parents.  I have other things to keep me busy in the meantime, including (and chiefly) getting ready to graduate from college.

So get ready!  The 1940 census is coming!

Now I think I'll go play with some ED maps, because I know where my grandparents were!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fearless Females: Words of Wisdom

Today's blogging prompt comes from Lisa Alzo,  The Accidental Genealogist:  Did you receive any advice or words of wisdom from your mother or another female ancestor?

My mother was a one-man woman  She met and married my father in Pensacola, Florida, where he was a young Naval aviator, not long out of Annapolis, undergoing flight training at Pensacola Naval Air Station.  They were together until he died in 1954.  She never remarried.

Like my mother, I am a one-man woman, and I found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with when I was in college.  And he was right in my own backyard - we had known each other since the age of seven, and attended the same church, though we went to different schools due to the drawing of boundary lines for each school in our district.  In high school, we were best friends.

But courtship is not always smooth, and there was a time when we agreed not to see each other.  That was a stressful time for me, and I felt very low at the time.

Then my aunt, who had never married, gave me some words of wisdom.  She told me that if he really loved me, he would return.  He did, and we were married in 1971, and have been together ever since.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Just how wrong can a source be?

Sometimes, it can be plenty wrong!

The other day, my older daughter and I somehow got onto the subject of errors in official documents.  I told her I had a doozy in my files.

The military has a database called the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, known as DEERS.  Several years ago, when my husband and I first got involved with the military health system, we went to get our data into the system.  There was some wildly incorrect information already in the system about me.

Hilariously incorrect.

First of all, I am old, but not this old -- it had my birth year as 1683.  Please, people -- 1947 is long ago enough.

They actually had two databases being compared.  The other one had my birth date correct.  However, the DEERS database had my sex as "unknown" and the other database had me listed as a male.

Does someone need a pair of glasses?  I am quite recognizably female.  Besides, I've known a woman named Clifford, and read a historical document which mentioned a woman named Russell, but I have never heard of a male named Karen.

The DEERS data also had me as being on active duty at the time.  No, by that time, it had been about 20 years since I had been on active duty.

The data got straightened out, and now the system has correct information about me.

Just remember, if you see an ancestor's information on a government report or document, do not assume automatically that it has been well-vetted!  The information on it could be incorrect, and should be verified in other sources.

Friday, March 2, 2012

North Florida Genealogy Conference

Tonight (Friday) and tomorrow (Saturday) is the second annual North Florida Genealogical Conference.  Last year, the conference was held at the main library of the Jacksonville Public Library system.  The conference was well-attended and quite a success.  This year, it has a different venue -- the LDS church in Orange Park.  One advantage to this year's venue is ease of parking!

I will be presenting one of my favorite talks, Spanish and English Paleography (old handwriting), showing attendees what to expect when looking at documents from the 16th through the 18th centuries.  This has been one of my more popular talks, and has been well-received wherever I have given it, from Tampa to Atlanta.

I will also be presenting my talk on beginning genealogy, which I call "Bare Bones."  I will be presenting this one in Spanish, and for that language, the title is "Primeros Pasos" (First Steps).  This will be a first for me, presenting in Spanish.  I hope it will go off well. 

And last night, I also volunteered to give "Bare Bones" in English in another slot, as one of the scheduled speakers has had to bow out due to an acute medical situation.  We all hope his health improves soon, and without complications.

The PowerPoints are all prepared, and today, after my class, I need to prepare the handout for "Primeros Pasos," and print all the handouts for the three presentations.

And Sunday, I think I'll just stay in bed!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tangled Web

This has been a terrible week - I've been sick, and everything has gone wrong, messing me up in my classes something fierce.  In the midst of all this, in working on my St. Augustine project, I discovered a problem.

Looking at the transcribed information in the marriage document of Diego Carreras and Clara María Pacetti, I found Diego's parents identified as Juan Carreras and María Triay.  In the marriage license application of Diego and Clara, which I transcribed myself from the microfilmed original, the information states that one of Diego's parents was dead and the other living in Menorca, the island in the Balearic chain, in the Mediterranean off the southeast coast of Spain, which was the family's home. 

Yet there is a married couple, Juan Carreras and María Triay, living in St. Augustine.  Other records state that Diego had two brothers, Juan and José.  This Juan Carreras, the one living in St. Augustine, was born in 1746.  José Carreras was born in 1755, and Diego in 1757.  This Juan Carreras was unlikely to have been the father of Diego. 

With some grim and ghoulish humor, we may be put in mind of Oedipus, but the records state that in the 1786 census, when Juan Carreras of St. Augustine (Juan the younger) was 40, his wife, María Triay, was 21 years old.  There is absolutely no Oedipal event here.  She whom I will call María Triay the younger was also apparently Juan the younger's second wife, as the 1784 census shows Juan as a widower.

What I am left with is the possibility that the parents of Juan, José, and Diego were named Juan Carreras and María Triay, who never left Menorca; and then Juan the younger just happened to marry a girl named María Triay, who lived in St. Augustine.

So what I need to do now is find a marriage document for Juan (the younger) and María (the younger), and possibly other documents which will name the parents of Juan and of José.

Genealogical truth is quite often stranger than fiction, and forms a tangled web, indeed.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Family History Writing Challenge: Getting to Know my Father

I had just turned seven years old when my father, Arden Packard, died in 1954.  Pneumonia took him off.  I never really knew him, save for a few stories my mother told me and some very sketchy memories.

A few years ago, I finally got around to ordering his service record from the National Personnel Records Center.  One of the surprising things I found out is that my father spoke Spanish.  It makes sense, I suppose, since he was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised there.  Has that anything to do with my own affinity with the language, to the point that I am about to receive a bachelor's degree in Spanish and history from the University of North Florida, and am studying a Spanish colonial period of Florida?  Who can say?

In the service record there is a document titled Acceptance and Oath of Office.  This is the document recording his promotion to Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Navy, dated 11 August 1937.  His signature is on it, and I can see how similar my brother's signature was to our father's.  The document also touches history a little bit, as it is signed by the then Captain W. F. Halsey, who as Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey, was one of the chief naval commanders of World War II. 

Unfortunately, my father had a delicate digestive system.  My aunt has told me how grandmother Packard would cook his meals in a special cooker called a "water cooker."  He learned to "Fletcherize," which meant that he chewed his food forty times before swallowing it.  My mother may have been exaggerating when she told me that he chewed Jell-O and milk, but possibly not by much.  Mom also told me that dad would look at us kids and tell us never to do what he was having to do.  I have to say that I have taken his advice much to heart!

These problems led to surgery in 1939, and he was then medically retired. This was a blow to him, because all he had wanted to do was join the Navy and fly.  He had taken flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Naval Air Station, and that is where he met my mother.  The telling thing about this is that he was called back to active duty in October of 1941.  Someone knew something was about to happen, if the Navy was calling back broken-down old pilots!

Kept from flying in combat, he became a flight instructor.  He would much rather have been in the air; however, he saw and did his duty readily.  On a fitness report dated 31 March 1944, Admiral A. C. McFall, his commanding officer, said:  "Lieutenant Commander Packard performs his duties of ground training officer in a most satisfactory manner.  He is a constructive thinker, which with his initiative, energy, and general ability, makes him an excellent man in his present assignment.  Packard is a man of excellent character.  He is fully qualified for promotion and is so recommended."

In his service record I also found an answer to a family story.  My mother told me that my father had, during World War II, been sent to England.  She said it was during the Blitz, the concentrated bombing attacks Germany made on England, hoping to break the spirit of the English people.  The Blitz took place between September of 1940 and May of 1941.  It turns out my father was not there during the Blitz. He went to England in 1944.  His assignment was to attend the Empire Central Flying School, outside of London at a location called Hullavington.  He was there to be instructed in the tactics the British had developed against the Germans in air combat, and bring that knowledge home to his students at the Jacksonville (Florida) Naval Air Station.

I know what he would have thought of my brother having joined the U.S. Marine Corps out of high school.  Mom and Dad had a dog whose registered name was Ceiling Zero (an aviator's term for being socked in with fog), but her day-to-day name was Smokey, which had been my father's nickname at the Naval Academy.  He would prepare two identical bowls of dog food, and set them down on the floor.  He would point to one of them and say, "Marine chow," and to the other and say, "Navy chow."  Smokey went for the "Navy chow" every time.  Dad also taught Smokey a trick.  "What would you rather be, a dead dog or a Marine?" he would ask the dog.  Smokey would roll over on her back, with all four legs in the air.

I have to wonder what he would have thought of me, however, when I joined the U.S. Coast Guard.  First, there would have been all the jokes about my height (5'4") and being a "shallow-water sailor."  In his day, women did not do such things as join the military -- until World War II broke out, then women did all sorts of jobs they had been "unsuited for" just a few months before.  I also think he would have been proud of me for having worn the uniform of our country.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Famliy History Writing Challenge: "Do Day"

When I was young, my aunt was the Director of Health Information for the Florida State Board of Health (now called the Department of Health and Human Services).  She traveled around the state giving lectures and teaching the public about health.  As she worked all week, Saturday was her day to get her errands (banking, shopping, etc.) done.  I would accompany her on these errand runs, which she referred to as "Do Day."

We all called our aunt, Elizabeth Reed, "Sissy" because she was our mother's sister. "Sissy" had a great sense of humor, and we would have silly conversations and sing silly songs.  She taught me "The Midwives' Song," which sounds silly but has a serious message.  The song was a teaching tool to educate barely literate country midwives in the necessity of such steps as washing the hands.  "Sissy" had a 1955 Chevy, wonderful car which is now a classic.  It was on that car that I, in 1962, at 14, learned to drive.  It steered like a truck, and was a great builder of arm muscles!

We would go to her bank, the American National Bank on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco, a shopping district of the old style -- independent shops lined up along the street.  Not like a mall at all, and the sort of shopping district the 21st-century "town center" style of shopping area is designed to imitate.  San Marco's shopping area is still there, and definitely is more authentic than the artifice of the "town center" design.  In the bank, an employee minded a cart which carried orange juice and lemonade, which she served in small paper cups.  The lemonade was just the thing on a hot Florida summer day.

"Sissy" patronized other shops in San Marco, too.  There was the Silk Shop, a fabric store owned by the family of an elementary-school classmate of mine.  When you walked into the store, if your eyes were sensitive to the sizing in the fabrics, you would very soon have red, itchy eyes.  It affected me, as did the smell of the sizing.  All of that is just a memory now.

"Do Day" was a fun time, and a great way to spend time with my aunt.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Family History Writing Challenge

I have signed up for the Family History Writing Challenge.  I have not committed to a word count, because I will be writing what I can when I can, as a busy college student with an honors thesis to get finished within the next five weeks!

Today I am going to talk about my grandma.  She was not genealogically or biologically my grandmother, but my great-aunt.  However, my mother was ain intra-family adoption.  Her father, Benjamin Franklin Reed, died in a railroad accident in 1917, not long before my mother's first birthday.  The Reed family ended up pretty much taking my mother and my aunt away from their mother and adopting them into the family.  My aunt went to one great-uncle and his wife, and my mother to another.

But my grandma was my grandma.  I never knew any of my grandparents, as three of them died before I was born, and the last one died when I was just four years old.  My grandma, Mary LeSourd Reed, was a baseball fan.  She loved to watch baseball on television on a lovely spring day or a warm summer day, and I would go over to her house, just around the block from ours, to visit.  I got into the habit of watching baseball with her.

I formed an attachment to the Brooklyn Dodgers, possibly because of the superb pitching of Sandy Koufax and the great catching of Roy Campanella.  The Yankees could have Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris (both of whom I did admire for the superior athletes they were); the Dodgers were my guys.

My grandma had a "curse" that we would chant when the opposing batter came up to bat.  We would make clockwise circles with one haind, fingers extended, and chant, "Cat fuzz around that bat!"  That was great fun, and a bit of "witchery" that we shared with no one else.

When my mom gave my grandma a Dachshund for Christmas one year, the dog, Peanuts, became part of the baseball audience with us.  He would curl up beside the ottoman on which my grandma rested her feet, and remain, ever faithful and vigilant.  He was not bothered by our occasional shouts at the game, or our practice of our "dark art."  Talk of "cat fuzz" disturbed the dog not.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for baseball and the Dodgers, in spite of revelations about the economics of the game that make my blood boil, and other shortcomings which have come to light in recent years.  But there's nothing like a good game on a spring day to cheer me up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What political animals lurk in your genealogy?

I am sitting at an outside table at the food court at the student union at the University of North Florida.  There is chaos on campus today because CNN, the Secret Service, local and campus police, and all sorts of subordinate supporting personnel are swarming all over the campus.  Tonight, CNN's latest in their series of Republican presidential debates (a term that is used loosely these days) will be here.  So it seems appropriate to discuss the search for the political animals lurking in our family trees.

None of my family, that I know of, has held political office of any sort since my eighth great-grandfather Samuel Packard was Surveyor of Highways and Collector of Minister's Rates (i.e., the tax man) in colonial Massachusetts in the mid-1600s.  I guess we're not much in the way of political activism.

Knowing how one's ancestors swung politically can help to flesh out the full picture of their lives, especially if they did hold local, state, or national office.  Politics informs our social views, and certainly today there are many ways in which peoples' political and religious views intersect.  Economic status may not be a good indicator at times of one's political views.  Sometimes, people's political views do not seem in concert with their real economic situation, but as the "John Dickinson" character in the Broadway play and movie 1776 said, "Most men would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor."

Do you have among your family's effects any political memorabilia?  Campaign buttons, literature, an autograph of a famous person or any of the Presidents?  My aunt graduated from Columbia University during the time Dwight D. Eisenhower was the university's president, before he became President of the United States.  I have her diploma, and thus I have Eisenhower's signature.  I have signatures of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, too, but they may have been machine signatures.  I have more optimism that the Reagan signature is the real deal, as it was in a personal note.

Obituaries are good places to look for political affiliation.  I have several ancestral obits which say what their political affiliation was.  There also may be meeting notices mentioning your ancestor, or feature articles in the newspapers, which might indicate political affiliation. 

'Tis the season for politics.  If you, like me, are up to the gills with the nasty advertisements and the sniping, turn off the television, get down to the library or online, and take this opportunity to research your ancestors' political affiliations.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Deja vu all over again

I was walking across the UNF campus after having had lunch at the Boathouse, the eatery upstairs in the Student Union, when I spied a banner hanging from the second-floor walkway of the Brooks Health Sciences building.  The banner, in very large black letters, said, "STOP THE WAR."  I nearly stumbled, because suddenly I had the feeling that I had been transported back forty-seven years (oy!  It has been that long!) to my time at Florida State University, the first time I went to college.  That time, of course, the war we wanted stopped was in Vietnam.  But it certainly did feel like deja vu all over again.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not blacked out, but I support efforts to kill PIPA

As usual, I was a day late and a dollar short with the "anti-SOPA/PIPA" strike on the internet.  So I'm not blacked out.

However, I support the effort to block the passage of this ill-conceived legislation.  Congress needs to do more research and get their heads on straight before they try to pass such laws.  They need to be more focused.  We do not need legislation that is so broad-brush that it contains the seeds of awful unintended consequences.

I am not just gassing off here.  I do not sit on the sidelines griping. I am a producer of content, I have intellectual property under copyright, not only in this blog, but also in two books.  I intend to write more books.  So I'm on the front lines in this thing.  But I agree with Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, who thinks this is bad legislation .

Congress needs to go back to the drawing board, do more research, and come up with a bill that will be more focused and more specific to get to the problem without opening the door for censorship and loss of our raucous, rough-and-tumble, open internet where we have a place to put our free speech rights to their widest use in a long time.

Perhaps it is time to elect younger people to the House and the Senate, people who have an understanding of the technology and of the world wide web.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"Tell the children about me."

Barry Ewell sent me an e-mail announcing his blog, and I went to take a look.  Er . . . give a listen.  Many of his entries are in the form of brief podcasts which are well-written and well-presented.  They are also informative or thought-provoking.  The most affecting to me was his entry "Journey of a Genealogist: Tell the children about me."

In this entry he tells of his mother's passing and of a dream he later had.  His mother tells him, in his dream, "Tell the children about me."

I think that is what all our ancestors are saying to us.  I think we all hear them, and we heed their request.

Tell the children about all their ancestors so far discovered.  And keep looking for more whose stories are waiting to be told.

And go give Barry's blog a listen.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

I hereby resolve not to resolve, resolutely

I have not blogged for the past few weeks, firstly because of preparing for final exams, which were on 5 December.  I did just fine, thanks.

Secondly, I haven't blogged because I've been a lazy bum.  I've been relaxing (though also dealing with a rather indelicate acute medical problem).  Christmas was lovely, with our daughters, son-in-law, and family friends -- two sisters who live not far away and who have spent Christmas with us for the past few years.

I have been catching up on blog reading today, and found quite a few talking about New Year's Resolutions.  I do not make New Year's Resolutions.  I feel they become too constraining, and I generally break them pretty quickly, anyway.  Also, I have found during my life that goal-setting and plan-making generally go completely awry somewhere along the line.  Life grabs me and sweeps me off in new, different, and unexpected directions.

As I get older -- I will be on Medicare in April, oh, joy -- I make fewer and fewer really long-range plans.  Part of this is because I come from a family that is not known for long life.  My grandparents all were gone by their mid to late 50s.  My father died at 42, my mother at 63, and my brother at 54.  So I have beat almost everyone so far.  How long my luck will hold out is anyone's guess.

My other problem is that I hate routine.  I despise schedules.  I am ill-regimented and not all that well-organized, but being regimented and organized is a drag.  Unfortunately, my husband and I are both of the packrattus accumulatus genus and species.  At our age and generally indolent inclinations, this is unlikely to change.

But I do have a few plans: a book based on my research on St. Augustine, Florida, during the Second Spanish Period.  Graduate school.  Hunting down elusive relatives, such as generations of my Reed family from the early 1800s on back into the 1700s, or my husband's mysterious great-grandfather Samuel Henston Rhoades.

Stay tuned to see how that goes.