Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Archive for the ‘Family History’ Category

Photo Challenge: Unusual Outcome not Expected

When I saw the wonder in Alex’s eyes as she gazed at the floating jellyfish, I missed something, that only revealed itself on looking at the photograph: the luminescence in the jellyfish and also captured in the hair ribbon.

Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish.  Charlie Chaplin

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unusual

Photo Challenge: Opposites

Christmas Day: we all have very different ways in which we enjoy the holiday, whether serving a family dinner or happily receiving a present that we always wanted.

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Weekly Photo Challenge:  Opposites

Weekly Photo Challenge: Time, Traveling into the Past

Recording family history has expanded my perceptions of time, how families lived out their days in cycles of births, marriages, and passings. Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am in their time or my own as these dimensions seem to meld together.

Video shows the passage of time for a little farm-house that belonged to my great-grandparents.  First photograph was taken a hundred years ago and the second when I returned to find the house along a back road on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

WordPress Photo Challenge: Time

 

Photo Challenge: From Every Angle, Above and Below on the Chesapeake Bay

For the past few years, I’ve been flying over the Chesapeake Bay. This was a route that I frequently drove, so I have photographs of many of these places along the route. I’m always amazed about the flying experience, that I have this incredible opportunity to see the earth from the vantage point of thousands of feet in the air. Sitting in a window seat, I grab my camera to capture the views. I unfold maps, following the coastlines of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia as I attempt to identify the locations below that are familiar to me. Rivers and streams snake across the landscape as the sun reflects the light from the water. The land is divided in a patchwork of shades of green and brown. It’s a perspective that stays with me as the plane returns to the planet

Tangier Island

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Ocean City, Maryland

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Cape Henlopen, Delaware

Cape Henlopen, Delaware

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

Poetic Reflection at Two

Alexandra, Sky

“The sky sees your face.”
–Alexandra Kerr S.
2/7/15

 

Yes, 
the sky sees your face
the wind whispers in your ear
the rain hears your splashes
the snow kisses your hand
the grass tickles your toes
the moon sparkles in your eyes
the sun warms your skin.
Yes,
the sky sees your face.

*
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*
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*
*
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*

Alexandra has continued with her memorable quotes, collected by Daddy and Mommy:

 

May 24, 2016 Alex: Mommy, I’m made out of elements
Oh really? What elements?
Alex: FIRE ELEMENTS! My skin is the elements. The fire elemental are right next to my heart!
What do you do with your fire elements?
Alex: I only play with the fire elements right next to my heart & they look like fire and if you were in my body than you could see it but only if you are mini-sized. But don’t touch them or you will be burned into a fire monster.

 

“I call the picture Turtle de Shelly”
–Alex

“can you tell me my grandpa’s name? I can’t find it in my memory.”–Alex

“what does orbit mean daddy?”–Alex

“Making messes isn’t my thing right now.”–Alex

Alex: can you get me some more water daddy?
Me: why don’t you do it?
Alex: because it is soooo boring.

January 11 at 7:56am · Newport News, VA ·

 When my heart beats that means I’m OK annnd you love me.
–Alex
 

“My aunty Kae is a nice aunty, I flew on a plane to see her and she took me to art class aaaannnddd gave me food to survive. I threw up in her car because my Nanna drove to much.”–Alex

Comments

Dear Alex, we are saving the date for you and Valeta to return to Pennsylvania in June. Can’t wait to see you both! There will be art classes again and dancing wearing our tutus. I promise we will drive slowly so no more worries about car sickness! How about another ride on the merry-go-round? Love, Auntie K
 

“our TV has blu-ray. I know about Blu-ray on TV’s you know.”–Alex

Me: Alex, would you like me to read some more John Keats?
Alex: yea.
 
“I knew that conflict was a bad idea, I knew it!”  –Alex
 
Alex: can I have some crackers?
Me: I’m folding laundry right now.
Alex (pouting): please
Me: not right now
Alex: why isn’t my pouting working.
 

Alex: What happens if this chip breaks?
Me: I don’t know, you will have a broken chip.
Alex: Will the whole world break?
Me: I don’t…
Alex breaks the chip
Me: think so.

She took out another and said “does this chip hold reality together?” before breaking it.
 
I look on the bright side when I give you hugs.
–Alex
 
 

A letter for Auntie Kae and Nanna Jean.

It reads: “I love Auntie Kae. I love Nanna Jean”

“I miss Auntie Kae, because she is really nice.”
–Alex

Comments:  I miss you and Valeta, too! Here’s a video of feeding the manta rays at the Camden Aquarium.


Portrait by Jean Kerr Strosahl, August 2017

“when I go to Kindergarten I’m going to miss being normal.”

Alex started school today, and that is a big change for her… but it is also a big change for me, a milestone in her life and a threshold over which once crossed there is no going returning. She went out that door, got on that bus, and entered into a whole new world of experiences. It will change her, and in that change she will grow into someone new, someone wonderful. Of no less, and no greater beauty than the amazing person she is today. Yet the person she is today will be lost to me. The girl who holds my hand tomorrow isn’t the same person who held my hand as she toddles across the floor, isn’t the same person as the one who looked up at me with those eyes so blue on her very first day. She is the sum of those people, just as the young lady she will become is going to be the sum of the person she is today (and every person she is between now and then). But then am I not a different man than I was when I first held her hand (an eternity ago to her, an instant to me). That man is still here, part of the sum of experiences that makes up my life… just as the little boy who once held a hand (an eternity ago for me, perhaps a moment ago for others).

Time changes us, it brings us new experiences that shape who we are like the waves on a beach shape the sand. Even if we go back to the same place, be it days or even years later, we can never return to that same beach we once walked on. Nor are we the same people as the ones who once walked on that beach.

Tonight, after the excitement had calmed down she laid her head down on my shoulder and said “I can hear you breathing daddy” then drifted off to sleep. Tonight I laid there for a bit longer than I otherwise would… there being laundry to do and a dishwasher to run, lines on the endless list of things that need to be done. I laid there with the window open and lightning flickering in the distance.

Just for a moment, just one moment more.

* * * * * * *
 
Alex: Sometimes I run so fast on the ground it catches on fire 
It’s OK, I’m an ice dragon and ice dragons breath ice like a refrigerator for ice.
–Alex
 
I look on the bright side when I give you hugs.
–Alex
 
 

Alex: hi Daddy
Me: hi Snuggles, what’s going on in your world today?
Alex: Sunshine and RAINBOWS!

September 2018
“we are never alone, because there are always spiders nearby. They live behind the toilet.”
–Alex

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December 15, 2018

“What happens if your brain is  trying to make sense, but it ends up not making any sense?”

January 2019

 

“Every day is the newest day ever.”  -Alex

Alex: When I go to Art Camp its a long way away… you leave from here in North America and you land in Philadelphia.
Me: Philadelphia is in North America sweetie
Alex: 😲

Never go over the rainbow, if you do there is a monster there waiting to nibble you up!
–Alex

My Songs, 6.24.2019

 

Celebrating Symmetry in Needlework

My grandmother probably never thought of herself as mathematician, yet she had an understanding of rotational, translational and reflective symmetry. Fiber arts, especially as practiced by women, was seriously neglected in the cannons of artistic works until the 1970s. The feminist movement brought attention to the culture of women’s lives and their contributions as craftspersons and artists. Many women created quilts and other fabric art in hardship by gathering and sewing together little pieces of cloth, sometimes transforming even rags into art for their home.

I have no familiarity with mathematical subjects of plane and spacial symmetries, but I do know that nothing makes a room look more cozy than a quilt on a bed.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry

Summer Camp, Fifty Years Ago, and Almost Not Making it Back Home

Rite of Passage: the Summer Camp Experience 1957

For many children in the U.S., the summer camp experience has become a right of passage: separating from parents, friends and a familiar neighborhood to live in “the great outdoors” and learn life strategies of how to get along with adults and other children. According to the American Camp Association, nearly 11 million kids attend one of the 7,000 overnight camps each summer, with stays ranging from a week to two months. I had classmates whose parents sent them to camp for the entire summer. Research suggests that camp can build confidence, social skills, and independence. Probably for most kids, the experience is a mixed bag, like life.

Girl Scout camp Hidden Falls provided that experience for my sister, Jean, and her two friends. Jean wrote my parents the quintessential camp letter, “Please, please come get me! I hate it! . . . almost mimicking to a tea Allan Sherman’s hit single record years later, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” a comic song in which a camper bemoans his experiences to the tune of Ponchielli‘s Dance of the Hours.

Take me home, oh Mudda Fadda
Take me home, I hate Granada
Don’t leave me out in the forest where
I might get eaten by a bear

Camp Nik-o-Mahs, in the Mountains of Central Pennsylvania 

I remember being intrigued by the Camp Nik-o-Mahs brochure. The camp was once a scout camp founded in the 1920 and named for the nearby town of Shamokin, spelled backwards, that is. The Hall family, who lived in my hometown of Springfield, operated the camp. The list of activities sounded exciting: archery, swimming in a creek, campfires, canoeing, all in a woodsy atmosphere. The cabins resembled little clapboard houses with porches. The camp sponsored overnight hikes and a trip through a water cave. In 1958 the brochure read that campers can “frolic to their heart’s content” in the creek. [1] An adventurous 11-year old, I loved all of that so I begged my parents to let me go. They were not so enthusiastic. My folks were protective and not convinced that the experience would be as joyful as I was imaging. The begging paid off, however, and they submitted the application what I think was about $35 for a week. What could happen in a week, after all?

First Day of Camp (me in the back)

First Day of Camp (me in the back)

Introduction to Latrine Duty

After a four-hour drive, but which seemed endless–due to my excitement, we arrived at the camp. Each cabin had three sets of bunk beds, with four to six sharing girls the quarters. About nineteen cabins lined along a dirt path, the girls’ cabins grouped together, then the boys’ cabins further down. I think there was a rule about not being allowed on the boys’ side.

After saying good-bye to parents, counselors explained the rules and regulations and gave us a tour of the camp. They pointed out the shower room. You could take a bath, but you had to do something with water, like build a fire, to make it hot. I didn’t take any baths.

I was nervous about getting along with the counselor and other girls in the cabin. I recall that I thought the counselor was a bit bossy, but I soon became friends with the other campers and enjoyed their company.

The next morning we dutifully cleaned our cabin, as instructed, and awaited inspection. Beds had to be neat, clothes put away, and the floor clean. Counselors marched in with clipboards and pencils and snooped around the corners of the cabin and found two “dust bunnies” under my bed. For the offense, they assigned our cabin the dreaded latrine duty. Later I would tell my mom about what happened, and she was quite indignant that she was paying good money only to have her daughter clean toilets. The job wasn’t that bad, actually, it was more the idea of cleaning toilets. Our cabin passed all subsequent inspections.

Campfire Philosophy

At the first evening campfire, the camp director introduced us to the hierarchy of swimming privileges. The top place was reserved for the members of the Walrus Club, who carried a card with their special designation and were permitted to swim in the deep water. I made up my mind that night that I would take the swimming test the next day, as I wanted to enhance my status with a Walrus Club membership.

Campfires were held almost every evening, and we would sing the typical camp songs.  Looking back on these songs, I’ve realized that the theme of mortality ran through the lyrics of many of these songs.

Titanic
There was a ship Titanic that sailed the ocean blue,
And they thought they had a ship that the water wouldn’t go through,
It was sad when the great ship went down.
Husbands and wives, little children lost their lives (in a high voice)
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Can’t Get to Heaven
Can’t get to heaven on roller skates, you’ll roll right past those pearly gates.
I ain’t going to grieve my lord no more, no more.

Found a Peanut
Found a peanut, ate a peanut, got a stomach ache, called the doctor, died anyway, went to heaven, said go the other way.

Maybe these songs were trying to tell us we wouldn’t always be carefree kids and that we’d better wise up to the ways of the world.

Not sure if singing these other lines from the Titanic song also put a psychological bent into my head for class consciousness, which I’ve been confronting of late?

They were nearing to the shore, when the water began to pour.
And the rich refused to associate with the poor,
So they sent them down below
Where they’d be the first to go.
It was sad when the great ship went down.

Food, Glorious Food

Reveille played over the intercom to wake us in the morning, and we lined up at the mess hall for breakfast. We sat on benches in front of long tables, food served in large bowls. At home, we didn’t usually have bread with our dinner, but here everyone scoffed up the bread. Mom told me that after I returned from camp, I ate everything. The camp experience had expanded my palate!

The camp operated a little store, and parents left an allowance for incidentals. I became totally addicted to string, red liquorice, which I considered the yummiest of candies and spent just about all my allowance on the red stuff.

Jumping into Penn's Creek

Jumping into Penn’s Creek

Notoriety on My Second Day: “Can’t get to Heaven”

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At the bottom of the slide

Standing on the pier over Penn’s Creek, I asked the adult counselor if I could take the swimming test for the Walrus Club. She said ok, and pointed to a wooden raft in the creek. Part of the problem may have been that I am nearsighted, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses and couldn’t see where she was pointing. Two rafts floated on the creek, one just beyond the sliding board and another way down the creek in the deep water. “Well,” I thought, “that raft beyond the slide couldn’t be the destination, it was far too close for any test for the Walrus Club.” I jumped into the water and swam toward the far raft. I was a good swimmer, I knew I could do the swim. On my return trip, I passed by the sliding board, and at that very moment, an inexperienced camper took off down the slide and panicked, grabbing me for support, pulling me under the water. I was tired by that point and could not cast him off. I told myself, “If I could just get one breath . . ..” Then realizing that was hopeless, I thought, “This is it.”

I blacked out. I came to as the lifeguard carried me to the shore. I was crying, but not sure why as I couldn’t remember deciding to start to cry. The waterfront came to a standstill as I sat sobbing on the sand. From that moment on, I was known as “the girl who almost drowned.”

By the next day, I had completely recovered from the ordeal. I wasn’t fussed over, not even sent to the infirmary. What occupied my thoughts now: did I pass the Walrus Club test? I was ready to retake the test. When I asked the swim counselor, she told me, yes, I had passed, and remarked, “It was a good thing I had been watching you.”

Summer Romance 

One serendipitous happening from the almost drowning incident: I met my first love. A seasoned camper at Nik-o-Mahs, “Plottsie,” as everyone called him, approached me on the path to the waterfront, “Are you the girl who almost drowned?,” he asked. Thus, began the romance. Plottise was a thin boy with glasses and usually wore a plaid shirt. We hung out and sat together, and of course, we were teased by the other campers for our attachment.

A special event on the night before we left marked the end of our stay. The counselors handed us candles on little cardboard floats, and we gently placed them on the creek, watching them glide downstream until they fell over the waterfall. The flickering lights in the dark forest reflected on the water, and Plottsie and I held hands as we walked along the path that followed the creek. All was perfect.

Then Plottsie popped a question, “Can I kiss you?” Thrown into confusion, I asked myself, “Was I old enough to kiss?” “Was I allowed to kiss?” “What did this mean?” I replied, “I don’t think right now,” and with that remark, coolness came over the night. The next day, I went looking for Plottsie as I wanted to take his photograph before I returned home. He stood at a distance as I snapped the photo and hurried off. When I returned home, I mistakenly opened the camera, exposing the picture to light. Plottsie had disappeared in a cloud of whiteness.

The Following Year

The next summer I returned to Camp Nik-o-Mahs. The red liquorice had lost its appeal, and the trips and hikes were no longer new experiences. The candle ritual on the last evening was still beautiful, but I stood alone looking through the silhouettes of the trees thinking I probably wouldn’t be back.

De Ja Vou, Returning to the Camp, 50 Years Gone By

For whatever reason, I decided that I wanted to return to Camp Nik-0-Mahs, which had been closed for years. I wasn’t sure what I’d find there, but a road had been named for the camp. I thought that I might be able to recognize the place along the creek, even if the buildings were no longer standing.

Returning to the camp meant a road trip through the Allegheny Mountains, part of the Appalachian Range that runs through the eastern United States. Traveling in mid-October the leaves were at their colorful best with reds, yellows and oranges between dark green trees not yet turned. The sun would occasionally peek out from behind heavy cloud cover, casting a glow on the landscape, highlighting nature’s pallet of colors. The road twisted around the mountains as we drove upward, only to come back down on the other side. Farmlands spread out in the valleys with fields of dried cornstalks and sunflowers against meadows of green clover. Barns, some unpainted and rustic, others vivid red, dotted the landscape. Little villages of clapboard houses clustered along crossroads.

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Penn’s Cave

An outing to Penn’s Cave was one of the trips we made during our stay at camp, so on this trip, I planned a stop there. Penn’s Cave had been a popular tourist stop back when I was at camp and is still is today, as it is one of the few caves accessible only by boat. Since my camp days, the cave had been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Entrance Penn's Cave

The area looked much the same, with the Penn’s Cave House, the three-story frame house built in 1885, standing near the entrance. Steep stairs still led down to the cave and the familiar flat-bottomed boats that took us through the watery cavern were the method of transport. After gliding through the cave, we came out on the other side to a large pond and then returned through the cave again. The tour was almost exactly as I had remembered it.

Finding The Camp

We followed Route 235 through the towns of Laurelton and Glen Iron, making a turn at Creek Road, near the end of which we found Nikomahs Drive paralleling Penn’s Creek. We drove until the road disappeared into the forest, so we got out of the car to look around for any sign of the camp. The house at the end of the road looked very much the era that I had remembered, painted cream with green trim. A sign confirmed the name of the house, Windy Inn, which the Mifflin Times reported was built sometime before 1920. [2] We found several stone structures, now abandoned and left to the elements. One lone building stood intact with a slab inscribed with the date, 1926. A stone sign above the door read: “Erected in Honor of our Mothers.” I guessed that the building may have been the old mess hall. I couldn’t find any trace of the cabins.

I walked to the edge of Penn’s Creek, which looked quite impressive as the current moved swiftly from the heavy rains on the previous day. I guess those many years ago I could have been lost in those waters, but the fates prescribed that my destiny would be to stand here on the bank of the creek decades later.

[1] “Camp . .  Nik-o-Mahs, In the Mountains of Central Pennsylvania,” Millmont Times, Vol 14, Issue 2, June 1, 2013, p. 1-12.

[2] Ibid.

<a href=”http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/finite-creatures/”>Finite Creatures</a>

Epilogue

Since writing this post, I’ve learned more about the history of the camp, from the comments here and on About Me.  Many thanks to everyone who shared their histories. Tom Hall, whose parents ran the camp, wrote me about some of the other camp traditions. The citing of the ghost of Penn’s Creek was always a favorite. Can never go wrong with ghost story. Besides the Walrus Club, campers could join the Old Timers Club. Another camp event was the funeral service for Jake Hopper (the outhouse that got too full). Tom relates about the “big time campfires where the fire would come out of the sky to light the main fire.”  I recall that we hiked somewhere out of the camp, maybe in was to to Tall Timbers. One of counselors took a wrong turn, and we wandered around a backroad until we were rescued.  Campers visited Rolling Green Amusement Park, which went out of operation in 1971. The camp closed its doors in 1966.

Flower Arranging Using Roadside and Garden Varieties

To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.
~ Kurt Vonnegut

When I was growing up in Springfield, my mother signed my sister and I up for membership in the Junior Garden Club. Mom was a member of the Garden Club of Springfield, still an active organization in the community today.  The junior club was organized to teach school-age children the techniques of floral arrangement. We would attend regular meetings where we would learn how to arrange bigger flowers on the bottom, hide your stems and cover the holder. Sometimes the club would hold a competition and award prizes. I liked flower arranging, but after childhood, did not attempt any new projects.

Just recently I thought why not revisit trying a few arrangements.  All these years I had saved Mom’s flower holders, tapes and a few containers. I guess I was meant to come back and try again. I decided not to buy flowers, but rather use what I could find in my garden, back alleys or in waste areas. I added an accessory or two, just because they are fun.IMG_7876

Cape Gooseberry, with its charming lanterns, comes up every year. I have never planted it, and don’t know how it came into the garden. By late fall the lantern shells turn lacy brown, revealing a round yellow seed.

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I added a charm hanging from a hook to this arrangement.  The little door opens.

I found white snakeroot growing in front yard and Queen Ann’s Lace along railroad tracks. The larger flowers are from hosta, a fragrant variety.

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Goldenrod, plentiful along roadsides, turns fields into a seas of yellow. Great plant for arrangements as they last a long time.

Growing Up in Royal Oak, Michigan: 1920-1936

My father, John Kerr Malinoski, painted his childhood growing up in Royal Oak as idyllic and at a time in the history of the United States, when one working class family, with humble roots, enjoyed some basic comforts as compared with the lives of their parents, who were homesteaders on a farm in Upper Michigan and worked in the lumber mills. My father was the first in his family to graduate from college.

Malinoski Family 1923

Family Moves to Royal Oak

After eight years of marriage to my grandfather, George H. Malinoski, my grandmother, Mae Kerr, gave birth to twins on June 23, 1918 at Women’s Hospital in Detroit. My father’s sister did not survive. Accord to his baby book, Dad weighed only 3 pounds 10 ounces. 1918 was not a particularly good year to be born as the flu pandemic was sweeping across the United States and Europe with mortality running between 3 to 6%.

The family moved from Detroit to 412 Rhode Island Avenue. The population of Royal Oak was about 6,000 and growing, mostly because of the auto industry’s need for labor to work on the assembly lines. George, who had worked on his parent’s farm and then in the lumber mills, found employment at the Chrysler Plant and continued to work there until his retirement in the 1950s. My father told me his Dad was never laid off; during the Depression, George still worked part-time.

IMG_0559Mae was a homemaker, spending time quilting and embroidering; some of her work can be viewed on these posts, Appreciating the Needlework of our Grandmothers: Rethinking Four Issues and Part II.

Dad’s Stories

An ice box stood on the back porch, and they would get a regular delivery of ice. They had deliveries from many other tradesmen, including butchers and milkmen. My father told me that the milkman’s horse would know where to stop for each house. In the summer, he and his cousins would sleep on the front porch. The family never locked their doors. When friends would stop in (in those days no one had announce they were coming over ahead of time), they would put on a pot of coffee. In winter, they had to shovel coal into the furnace in the basement.

412 Road Island Royal Oak

412 Rhode Island

Camera

Eastman Kodak Camera 1910

My grandparents passed along six photo albums from this time so taking pictures was very important to them. Most of the photographs were taken with this Eastman Kodak, Pocket C, Premo, dated 1910.

The camera has an adjustable shutter and aperture. Glass frames were inserted into the back of the camera. 

Furniture: High Chair and Wicker Rocker

Two pieces from my father’s childhood, high chair and rocker.

Union Elementary School

My father attended the local elementary school, where his cousin, Phoebe Kerr, was his teacher for one year.

Union School

Union School

Classroom

Dad is sitting in the row on the right, second seat.

Classroom Union School

Classroom Union School c1925

6th Grade Report Card

John Report Card

School Song Book

School Songs

Sunday School Certificate

School Songs 1

Study Materials 

The News Outline

My father saved one example of this publication, which was a weekly current event lesson. Published in 1930 when Dad was in sixth grade, he must have paid the 5 cents to buy the “attractive cover.” Some of the titles in the publication include, Mexico’s New President, Pam-American Highway, Byrd Antarctic Expedition Returns and London Navel Conference.

Analyzing the article about Haiti provides some insight about the lessons children received about history, with a considerable amount of white-washing, no pun intended, of the facts. The opening statement is most telling:

Have you ever heard of a country in which almost all of the people are black, the officers of the government are black, and the army is made up of Negros?

The text raises the question: how did the Negros, who were not natives of America, come to control Haiti? The answer: “Negros were brought over from Africa to work on the great plantations of sugar cane.” From this description, students are given the impression that those wonderful plantations offered employment opportunities. No place in the article do the authors mention how the Africans were enslaved and then rebelled against their cruel oppressors. The article continues: “Their numbers multiplied greatly, but the Indians almost disappeared.” It is as if the Blacks were responsible for the Indian demise, when in actuality, diseases, especially smallpox, decimated their numbers. Columbus’s intent was to take wealth where ever he found it by any means. The Spanish forced the Indians to pay tribute: supplying rulers with “a hawks bell of gold” or 25 pounds of spun cotton every three months, and they would cut off their hands if they did not comply. The Spanish worked the Indians unmercifully as they labored in the fields and mines.

News Outline 1930

News Outline 1930

Book of Knowledge

The Book of Knowledge was a children’s set of Encyclopedias, first published by Grolier Publishing in 1890 and ended in 1963. My father’s set was published in 1926. These books were well illustrated with both black and white photographs and colored plates. The books have strong sections on poetry, literature and paintings.

The page above shows child workers in the tea plantations. After all these years, child labor is still with us today.

The Volume Library

Another book from my Dad’s collection, The Volume Library, was written for educators and published by the Educators Association. The text, which has many black and white illustrations, has some colored plates. The Volume Library covers a variety of subjects, including literature, history, geography, biography math, science, government and fine arts. A page from the text shows a “sample summer diet for children 7 to 12 years.”  If that’s what children ate back then, seems like they benefited from nutritious food, especially with the emphasis on vegetables. Desserts consisted of ginger cookies, baked apple or custard.

Diet 1911

In paging through the book, I found this poem by Jonathan Swift:

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bit ’em;
And so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him that comes behind.

Greeting Cards

The family gave each greeting cards and must have felt very sentimental about them because they saved over 50. They exchanged cards for Valentine’s Day, Easter, graduation, Christmas, Mother’s Day and anniversaries.

Mother’s Day

Card 1Anniversary

Card 2Christmas

Card 3

Toys

Sleigh, sans Santa

The story goes that my father sent Santa on a parachute ride. Santa did not arrive safely, but the sleigh was passed down, remaining a centerpiece of our family holiday decorations. Because my father became an electronic engineer (story is at this link), it is not surprising that he conducted a few science experiments as a child.

Sleigh Toy

Lionel Model Train

One Christmas, Dad’s parents purchased a model train set for him. Known as Standard Gauge or Wide Gauge, the train ran on a three-rail track about two inches wide. The train was one of the models produced by the Lionel Corporation, a major manufacturer of toy trains. Throughout the 1920s Lionel manufactured several sets of authentic locomotives and train cars with careful attention to detail, including some models with brass and nickel trim.

Lionel Trains 1936

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Buddy Truck

Buddy Truck c1925

Buddy Truck c1925

Buddy “L” toys were produced by the Moline Pressed Steel Company, started in 1910 by Fred A. Lundahl, who designed and produced the all-steel miniature truck Buddy L. The company also manufactured toy cars, fire engines, and construction equipment. When we were children, we used to straddle the truck, riding down our asphalt driveway, so the next generation also enjoyed the toy.

Royal Oak High School

Royal Oak HS c1936

Royal Oak HS c1936

Graduation Announcement

Royal Oak Grad Announcement

 Graduates

Graduation 1936

Senior Year Book 1936

Year Book 1936

Typewriter

Typewriter C 1930

Royal Portable Typewriter C 1930

Music

Always

Throughout his life, Dad sang the melodies popular during his childhood. “Always”, written by Irving Berlin in 1925, was one of his favorites. My mother played the piano, and she and Dad would reminisce and sing “their song.”

Dad loved to sing The Whiffenpoof Song. There’s something very compelling about poor little lambs that have lost their way. Published in 1909, the song became a hit for Rudy Valle in 1927. The Whiffenpoofs are a cappella group from Yale.

Rudyard Kipling wrote the words, published in his poem, “Gentlemen Rankers” in 1892.

Whiffenpoof Song

We’re poor little lambs who’ve lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We’re little black sheep who’ve gone astray,
Baa—aa—aa!
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!

Shine on Harvest Moon

“Shine on, Harvest Moon” was one of a series of moon-related Tin Pan Alley songs from the 1900s. The song became a standard in popular music throughout the 20th century.

“I”ve Been Working on the Railroad,”  “Inka Dinka Doo,”  “Git along Little Dogies,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and “Cool  Water” were other favorites.

John’s First Automobile
Auto C 1936

Dad proudly displays his first car, which he used to commute to Lawrence Institute of Technology, in Southfield, Michigan, about a ten-minute drive from his home. Before Dad had the car, he would hitchhike every day to college and never once had a bad experience. He graduated with honors in 1941 with a degree in electrical engineering. He moved to Philadelphia to work for the Philco Corporation; during the war, was part of a team developing radar systems. His mother passed away in 1936, and several years later his Dad remarried and retired to Florida.

So ends this story of one family from Royal Oak, their history preserved in the few items they saved and passed down, their photo albums and the stories they told, leaving a legacy to their grandchildren. As my father described his life back in the 1920s, their lives were generally happy, that they some freedom from economic toil, had time for camping and gathering with friends in a town that offered a sweet place to grow up.

Downtown late 30s, early 40s looking north on Washington from 5th or 6th. Identification: Muriel Versagi, Curator, Royal Oak Historical Society

Downtown late 30s, early 40s looking north on Washington from 5th or 6th. Identification: Muriel Versagi, Curator, Royal Oak Historical Society

Link

Royal Oak Historical Society

 

Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine

Travel has sharpened my awareness of the passage of time, whether observing the erosive forces on the Grand Canyon or the sea carving inlets on the coast of Ireland.

Recording family history has also expanded my perceptions of time: how families have lived out their days in cycles of births, marriages, and passings. Sometimes I cannot tell whether I am in their time or my own as these dimensions seem to meld together.

Whether we wake or we sleep,
Whether we carol or weep,
The Sun with his Planets in chime,
Marketh the going of Time.
~Edward Fitzgerald

Music by Enya

Weekly Writing Challenge: Time Machine

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