Monday, December 23, 2013

Prompt 16 - Message In A Bottle

I worked with a woman who did find a message in a bottle once. It was from a person who lived in Australia and they had launched their message during a cruise. My acquaintance had found the bottle while walking on the beach in Florida. She wrote to the author of the message and they were able to meet in person. It is something that I have thought about and considered what I would put into such a message.

I think I would give a very short description of my life and provide my address, both physical and email. I would love to be able to launch my message in the Ohio River where it passes my hometown of Wellsville, Ohio. I would hope that my message would be found by someone that would read it and respond in kind. What I would hope for is to begin a dialog by mail or email that would last for many years. 

Prompt 17: Toys and Games

The earliest toy I remember having is a rubber doll whose arms and legs did not even move. It had a squeaker in it and was very similar to toys that my dog plays with. It was fine for a little girl to cuddle and it kept me company at night. I do actually have memories young enough to have still been sleeping in a crib. For someone that describes themselves as not being a “girlie girl” I loved dolls. I had a Tiny Tears doll that would drink from a bottle, cry tears and blow bubbles with a bubble pipe. Later I moved on to Barbie and Tressie dolls. I gave my dolls away to the daughters of one of my mother’s friends. I am sorry that I did so and wish I still had my dolls to pass along to my granddaughter.
My early playmates were my brother and sisters. Later I would play with neighborhood children, some of whom were my cousins. We did not play board games very often. When we did we usually played Monopoly or card games like Fish, Old Maid and War.

The fun part of being a grandmother is having children who will allow me to play with them. I have a new set of games that are ready for visits.
Marta with Christmas loot 1956

Monday, December 16, 2013

Prompt 9: Halloween

The events I remember on Halloween when I was a child were the two nights that we would trick-or-treat in Wellsville Ohio. That’s right I said two nights. We don’t know how that came into existence but we children made the best of each night. There was a citywide costume contest each year but I only attended that once. For those two nights of trick-or-treat we would pass the word to each other where the best candy could be found and who was passing out apples. One house you had to be sure to visit and the other house you had to bypass.
The earliest costume I can remember was a nurse’s uniform that my mother made for me. I was 5 years old and my big brother accompanied me. He was dressed as a hillbilly wearing my father’s old work overalls and carrying a moonshine jug. In later years I would take my mother’s friends’ children out for trick-or-treat. The most memorable night was the one when I ran into a rural mailbox face-first while accompanying my young charges. I was wearing two black eyes the next day and didn’t have a decent story to go with them.
We went by the rules that if there was no porch light on that meant that the house was to be bypassed. It was possible the owner did not celebrate Halloween, or they simply didn’t want to be bothered or they had run out of candy.
There were some who did take advantage of Halloween in a negative fashion by going out to steal bags from smaller children. We kept an eye out for those ruffians and tried to protect each other from them. You could always tell the serious trick-or-treators were the ones with a pillow case instead of a shopping bag to collect the candy.
Over the last 30 years I have missed Halloween. My house was set 300 feet from the street down a very dark driveway. It was the perfect atmosphere for Halloween, but no one seemed to want to risk the trip.
My son Sean getting his make-up for Halloween

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Prompt 7 - Grandparents

I thought I knew a lot about my grandparents before I started doing my genealogical research. Since starting I have learned quite a bit, but I have also added to that knowledge through a Facebook group that contains memories of those of us that grew up in the village of Wellsville Ohio. I’ve learned more about the history of the village from others that grew there and because of it I realized how it was that my grandparents came to live in that area.
Joseph Hughes, dating in 1923
My paternal grandmother Mary Gillespie emigrated from Ireland at the age of three with her mother, her twin sister Rose and her brother Lawrence. Her uncles Thomas and James had come to this country several years previously to earn money as coal miners. They had purchased farm property. When my great-grandmother and her children arrived there was a farm in place. I don’t know if my grandmother’s brother Lawrence went to work in the mines straightaway or if he worked the farm for a couple of years first. But I do remember my grandmother telling me stories of her mother clearing rocks from the fields in her apron. I do know from stories my grandmother told that their home was near the railroad and I have since been able to find maps that showed they are holding and where the railroad ran. My grandmother got to know the schedule of the trains that went by, so she would be out hanging up laundry or doing other types of womanly work around the farm when the locomotive my grandfather was driving went by. She would wave to him because she thought he had beautiful curly hair. I learned later from my cousin that he would write notes to my grandmother and wrap them around rocks and toss them out of the cab of the locomotive as he’d go by and now way they were able to keep in touch with each other. I don’t know how they actually did meet in person but they did and were married in 1912. My grandfather had grown up on a farm in southwestern Ohio and I don’t know what it was exactly that drew him to Eastern Ohio, but it was most likely the railroad. After all young man needs to work a few years before he reaches the status of being an engineer on the locomotive.
Katharyn Muessig, dating in 1923

My maternal grandmother was born in Brooklyn and led a rather sheltered life as a young woman. Fortunately for her parents did send her to secretarial school so that she was able to earn a living, but of course was never allowed to move out of her parents’ home. Her sisters left home simply because one of them had gotten married and another sister had gone into the convent. My grandfather was born in Wheeling West Virginia and his father became very active in establishing the Operative Potters Union in Eastern Ohio. My grandmother knew both of my grandfather’s sisters Catherine and Eva. They had decided their brother was old enough that he should be married after all he was in his 30s. They played matchmaker and introduced their brother to their friend Katharyn and the two married in 1924.

Joseph H. and Mary Rawlings wedding picture 1911

Prompt 6: Journals and Diaries

During stressful times of my life, I do keep a journal. I use them to be able to handle my feelings. I kept a journal while my sister Zoe was terminally ill. It was a time of conflicting feelings. Writing helped me to at least get my feeling on paper. There were many nights that I was able to sleep only after writing in my journal.
I keep all of my journals. Sometimes I do go back and read them, especially if things are rough. I am not keeping a journal right now, but I probably will if I find myself under stress again. I don’t think I would ever destroy them. They are not something that you write intending for other people to read. If my son reads them after I pass away, he may find them to be of value or they may be junk. I will leave that to him to handle in the future.
I handwrite my journals in pen (gel pen is easier when one has arthritis in their hands) and just use small size spiral-bound notebooks. They aren’t pretty, but they help me get through the days and weeks.

Prompt 5 - Your Childhood Home

When I think about my childhood home, there is not a specific building that comes to mind but there is a village that is a very big part of my memories. Wellsville, Ohio is approximately 50 miles west of Pittsburgh, PA. The village is on the Ohio River. The location is due in part to the railroad. When trains where still pulled by steam locomotives, they needed a refill of water every 50 miles. My grandfather Joseph Henry Rawlings had moved from the southwestern corner of Ohio to Wellsville to work on the railroad. He became an engineer on the steam locomotives. Having a fairly well paid profession my grandfather was able to buy a house for the family in 1912. That house was my grandmother’s home until she went to assisted living in 1983.

Wellsville, Ohio still feels like home, even though I moved away when I was 13. During the last couple of years a group was formed on Facebook for residents of Wellsville and former residents to “get together” and remember our childhoods. Since the group was formed I have learned more about the history of the village than I learned when I lived in Wellsville.

The first residence I remember was a 3rd floor apartment. My parents would put my playpen on the roof outside the kitchen so that my mother could watch me through the window. They would put the family parakeets outside with me in their cage. When I was 4 we moved into a house next door to my grandmother’s house. I never realized then that we were living next door to my father’s boyhood home. Eventually my parents bought a house. It had been converted to a duplex, so the first thing we needed to do was to convert it back into a single family house. We lived there for 5 years. When my father passed away, my mother sold the house and we moved away from Wellsville.

Even though I have not lived in Wellsville since 1968, it will always be home to me.

Grandma Mary with me behind her house
Marta on the roof with the parakeets
Sisters Barb & Zoe next door to Grandma Mary's house
Christmas in the only house my parents bought
Zoe & Marta playing in the snow

Monday, December 9, 2013

Prompt 4: Favorite Season(s)

I would have to name spring and fall as my favorite seasons. They are both fairly mild and in my opinion the most colorful seasons. During the spring I mark the passage of time as the buds develop on the trees and then the blossoms begin to open. In the fall there is also a lot of color change. The leaves of the oak and maple trees change to such wonderful colors. It is the main reason that I have fond memories of my wedding even though the marriage ended in divorce. It was October and the trees were at their peak color in Ohio. My cousin and I carried bouquets of fall-color flowers. I also loved the marquee at the hotel where the wedding dinner was held. It was rather humorous not only in its wording, but also in the fact that my now ex-husband hated all music produced after 1950!

Prompt 3: Your Physical Self

I have battled my weight for most of my life. Right now I have maintained this approximate weight for 14 years. I would describe myself as “dumpy”. The medical establishment may even call me morbidly obese based on my Body Mass Index.

I am not a “girlie” girl. I am just me. I prefer jeans and t-shirts to any other clothes. I think the last time I wore a dress was at my nephew’s wedding in 2000. I have tried wearing make-up at various times, but it itches. I wear lipstick when I leave the house now. That is I wear lipstick, if I remember to put it on.

I know most people are uncomfortable with their bodies, but I keep thinking that I deserve to be uncomfortable more than most. I started having pain in my legs when I was 8, started developing breasts at the same age, have had surgery 16 times so far, suffer from chronic pain, was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at 47 and have Psoriatic Arthritis. I try to do yoga to keep my body moving, but I would rather bird watch.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By Me Prompt 15: Snow

I made a conscience decision to move away from snow in 1978. My then husband and I moved from Ohio to Georgia. I always joke that I moved here to get people to understand the spelling of my first name more easily since the Atlanta transit system name is the same as mine.
I was a summer baby so I probably did not see snow until the age of 5 months. I may have even noticed it, but just don’t have any memory of it that first year. I probably remember the next winter. I do remember a dark blue quilted snow suit, but my family could not afford boots for me so I remember my parents putting old bread bags over my shoes and then placing rubber bands around my ankles. I wasn’t doing a lot of walking so it didn’t make any difference. I do remember making a snowman with my brother and 2 sisters. Winters did not become clear in my memory until about the age of 5. By then we lived next door to my paternal grandmother and I rated a pair of snow boots. Most of our neighbors had coal furnaces so the snow did not remain white for long, but was quickly speckled black with soot. I thought for years that snow had an odor, but I think it may have been the smell of burning coal.
I vaguely remember someone riding a sleigh through town, but it was a very rare sight. What we did see and we members of the memory pages on Facebook discuss often was sled riding. I don’t think any of the streets were officially closed off for sledding, but I think people realized they would be very unpopular if they ruined our sledding hills by driving on them. There were injuries every year, but it was a given that some would suffer for our fun.

When I grew up I learned the work that Ohio winter brought. I was very happy to escape to Georgia. Now I get to see videos of the excitement of my grandchildren when we have rare snow or ice in Georgia. I don’t think they will suffer for not having the same winters I did as a child.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Prompt 11: Military

I did not have any personal experience with the military so I decided to interview my cousin Arlene d’Arbonne. Arlene was born at Ft. Benning, GA while her father was in the Army. We were rather close growing up.  She is about 18 months younger than me. Arlene was in Reserve Officer Training Corps while she was a student at Bowling Green University in Ohio. After graduating in 1978, Arlene was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. She not only served, she became an Army wife.

Arlene and her husband Greg now live in New Hampshire. Greg is retired from the Army, but recently donned his dress uniform again when their daughter Jess was married.  Jess was born at Ft. Bragg and grew up with her dad in the Army, so her desire for him to be in uniform for her big day is understandable. When I think about my cousin’s family there is always a link to the Army even though neither of Arlene and Greg’s children Jess and Paul are in the Army.

We spent part of a morning talking about her Army experience.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Prompt 2: Your Birth

I was born on Sunday, August 15, 1954 at City Hospital, East Liverpool, Ohio. My mother’s obstetrician was Dr. Gladys McGarry. My mother always told me that her labor with me was very easy and very quick. Afterwards she requested something to eat, preferably a steak!

I was born with a nearly full head of black hair that I never lost. That hair was a trait that ran in the family. When my father brought my siblings to visit, which in those days meant standing on the sidewalk while my mother held me up to the window, my brother Ralph turn his back in anger because I was not the brother he had been promised.

I was the youngest of four children. At the time of my birth my 2 webbed toes on my left foot and my “outtie” belly button were only things that were remarkable about me.  That is until I came home from the first day of kindergarten and announced that I was a genius which is something that my sister Zoe would never let me live down.

A birth announcement sent to my mother's Aunt Bea

Prompt 1: Who Are You?

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

  • Middle-aged woman
  • Mother
  • Sister
  • Daughter
  • Niece
  • Cousin
  • Grandmother
  • Caregiver
  • Systems Analyst
  • Student
  • Wife (ex-)
  • Family memory recorder
  • #1 troubleshooter of computer problems (retired)
  • Friend
  • Dog lover
  • Bird watcher
  • Me

Oh yeah, a klutz!!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Prompt 12: The Year You Were Born

This week’s prompt is The year you were born
What happened:
    •    Historical
    •    Films
    •    Music
    •    Books
    •    Television

****If the events of 1954 that I copies are showing as white lines, I will fix them Monday morning. I have not used this blog for several months and I don't know why it is so wonky!

Television always played a big part in my life. My mother admitted she would use it to babysit me when there was a working television in the house. Much of the historical events of 1954 seemed to revolve around television which was still in its younger years. It was difficult to choose which events to list here, so I tried to stay with the ones that dealt with television, popular entertainment and the development of computers which became very important in my life.

Jan 1 – KSLA TV channel 12 in Shreveport, LA (CBS) begins broadcasting
Jan 1 – Rose & Cotton Bowl are 1st sport colorcasts
Jan 4 – Elvis Presley records a 10 minute demo in Nashville
Jan 7– Georgetown – IBM experiment the first public demonstration of machine translation system is held in New York at the head office of IBM
Jan 12 -Queen Elizabeth II opens NZ parliament
Jan 17 -Jacques Cousteau’s first network telecast airs on”Omnibus” (CBS)
Jan 26 - groundbreaking begins on Disneyland
Feb 1 – first TV soap opera ”Secret Storm” premieres
Feb 2 – Bevo Francis from Wellsville, Ohio (my hometown), Rio Grande College, scores 113 points in basketball game
Feb 14 – Sen. John Kennedy appears on “Meet the Press”
Mar 1 - US explodes 15 megaton hydrogen bomb a Bikini atoll
Mar 15 – “CBS Morning Show” premieres with Walter Cronkite and Jack Paar
Apr 1 – first Army helicopter Battalion forms, Ft. Bragg, NC
Apr 1 - earthquake/tsunami ravage Aleutians, 200 killed
Apr 1 - US Air Force Academy forms
Apr 6 – TV dinner was first put on sale by Swanson & Sons
Apr 23 – Hammerin’ Hank Aaron hits first of his 755 homers
May 24 – IBM announces vacuum to “electronic” brain that could perform 10 million operations an hour Jun 12 – Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, is originally released
Jun 14 – Pres. Eisenhower signs order adding words “under God” to the pledge (which explains why I always knew the pledge of allegiance with those two words)
Jun 19 – Tasmanian Devil debuts in “Devil May Hare” by Warner Bros.
Jul 12 - Pres. Eisenhower put forth a plan for an interstate highway system (where would we be without them?)
Jul 30 – Elvis Presley joins Memphis Federation of Musicians Local 71
Aug 15 – WCHS TV channel 8 in Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia (ABC) begins
Aug 15 – I was born at City Hospital, East Liverpool, Ohio
Aug 31 – Census Bureau forms
Sep 20 – first FORTRAN computer program is run
Sep 27 – Steve Allen’s “Tonight Show” premieres
Oct 3 – “Father Knows Best” premieres
Oct 18 – Texas instruments Inc. announces the first transistor radio
Oct 22 – West Germany joins North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Oct 23 – Britain, England, France & USSR agreed to end occupation of Germany
Oct 26 - Walt Disney’s first television program, “Disneyland” premieres on ABC
Nov 7 – US spy plane shot down north of Japan
Nov 22 - Humane Society forms
Dec 10 – Albert Schweitzer receives Nobel Peace Prize (28 years later I become a mother)
Dec 23 - first human kidney transplant is performed by Dr. Joseph E Murray at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts
Dec 26 - “The Shadow” airs for the last time on radio

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books were published. The second James Bond novel “Live and Let Die” was also published. The book was very different from the movie. And the most important to me the book “Horton Hears A Who” by Dr. Seuss was published. It was an excellent year for literature.

The films of this year were also very memorable. Two of Alfred Hitchcock’s best-known movies were released “Rear Window” and “Dial M For Murder”. Dial M was originally filmed in 3-D but because Hitchcock was a very meticulous director the movie ran past its deadline. 3-D was passé by the time the movie was ready to be released, so it was released in normal format. The other well-known movies of that year include “Seven Samurai”, “On The Waterfront”, “White Christmas”, “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea” and “The Creature From The Black Lagoon”.

The most important television show to me was “Capt. Kangaroo” but it didn’t start until 1955. I can remember being in my jumper chair watching TV for hours at a time. The drooling one in the picture below is me.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Finally, a visit to Rock Springs Park

I took a little time off because of my Psoriatic Arthritis. In my case it appears to be genetic since Grandma, my mother, my sister Barb and my son Sean have or had Psoriasis. It makes me a little worried about my grandson. I went a little off the subject of genealogy, not much since genetics is important to genealogy.

Back in September I did a blog entry about my grandmother not being allowed at the age of 21. I also mentioned that she finally found a man to date and eventually marry when 2 of her friends decided to fix her up with their brother. I found pictures they took during a summer date in 1922 to the very amusement park where my grandmother would listen to the music and wish that she would be permitted to go to the dances. I was able to identify the amusement park from a blog that is written about the history of the park. I also belong to a Facebook group for people who grew up in or currently reside in Wellsville, Ohio. I also belong to a history group about East Liverpool, Ohio. I never lived there, but it was an important shopping destination when I was a child. That Facebook group led me to the blog about Rock Springs Park in Chester, West Virginia (across the river from East Liverpool). People offer old photographs that illustrate the memories they write about. By the time I was born the streetcars and trolleys that connected East Liverpool, Wellsville, Toronto and Steubenville, Ohio as well as running to Chester, West Virginia where long gone. I did get to see these earlier forms of public transit in the pictures offered by other members of the group.

I have been preparing to move soon and checked my computer for the scanned pictures from one of my Grandmother’s photo albums. As I was checking I rediscovered pictures of my grandparents during their dating days. And in the photos is what I now recognize as trolley tracks. If it had not been for the “memory” groups on Facebook I would not have seen the street cars and trolleys that had been common in my home town and the surrounding area. It appears from the pictures taken that day Joseph and Katharyn used the trolley to visit Rock Springs Park and paddle around the lake in a canoe. Grandma may not have gone to the dances when she was 21, but she did spend time at the park with the man she would marry in 1924.

I did not realize how valuable these Facebooks groups would be to my genealogical research until the days I saw this photograph of my Grandmother standing on the end of the Newell Bridge complete with trolley tracks.