Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

About Me

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.” – Thich Nhat Han

Welcome to my blog! So glad that you stopped by and, perhaps, to leave a comment.

Blogging . . . who in my generation could have imagined it thirty years ago? I began my career as a business teacher, and I taught typing to high school students. For multiple copies, we used carbon paper, that flimsy, blackened stuff that left smudges on hands and copies. Sandwiching carbon between each clean sheet, the typist could make about eight copies, each page successively blurrier. Erasing errors, you ask? We used a metal shield behind the page being corrected only to be repeated eight times. That’s why, young’uns, creating a web page for anyone in the world to read seems miraculous from the days of handing out copies from carbon paper.

Tory Island, Ireland

My travel journal expanded to stories of our family history, which began with a pilgrimage to Michigan in 2009–tracing our family history to a farm on the Upper Peninsula. Writing family history turned out to be more difficult than I expected, for many reasons, but probably the most complex question: what would my relatives think of having their life history in a medium for anyone to read? Do I tell a sentimentalized, nostalgic view of family life, preserving their dignity while somewhat whitewashing the unpleasantness? Can I write about shortcomings when I have just a small piece of their history? I struggle with these questions.

What I particularly like about blogging is the collage format with script, photographs, drawings, maps, and documents all part of the mix, and finally, adding digital storytelling videos. I completed a course on digital storytelling, where fellow participants, with no previous experience, managed to create in just a few days, compelling video stories. Through many of my pages and postings, I’ve integrated story-telling videos into the content.

I enjoy reading your comments and feedback.

Thanks for visiting!


Travel sharpens 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 expands 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.

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


Why Psalmboxkey? 

Psalmboxkey is a made up word from two sources.  First, the word psalms derives from a Greek word originally meaning “songs sung to a harp” and then to any piece of music. Music adds a dimension to stories that cannot always be conveyed in just a visual form. The second part of the word references a songbox key from a story within the book, Education of Little Tree. (I’ve devoted a post to the book and the controversies surrounding the novel here.)

This excerpt from the book centers around the family attending a small church in the Appalachian mountains. Grandpa’s dearest friend, ‘Coon Jack’, had been given the key to the songbook box. At testifying time ‘Cook Jack’ announced to the entire congregation,

‘I hear tell they’s some in here been talking about me behind my back. I want ye to know that I’m awares. I know what’s the matter with ye: ye’re jealous because the Deacon Board put me in charge of the key to the songbook box.” ‘Coon Jack then reveals a gun tucked into his pants. Now the church was full of some hard men who would soon as not shoot you if the weather changed, but nobody raised an eyebrow. “Coon Jack, said Grandpa,” everyman here admires the way ye have handled the key to the songbook box. Best handling ever been done. If words has been mistook to cause ye discomfort, I here and now state the sorrow of every man present.”  Coon Jack set down, total mollified and contented as was everybody else.

Grandpa explains to his grandson about “‘Coon Jack feeling all important about the songbook box key as he never knowed nothing else but fighting.” Grandpa said that it didn’t matter what Coon Jack said or did, he loved him because he understood him.     Education of Little Tree, p. 39.

Comments on: "About Me" (45)

  1. Hi, thanks for following my blog “In My View”. I appreciate your interest. I’ve enjoyed reading some of your posts and look forward to seeing more. — Rob


  2. Thanks for stopping by and for following my blog! You have a very diverse and interesting blog and I look forward to coming back here often!!


  3. I love your description of combining story, image and music . Thanks for visiting my blog.


  4. thanks for stopping by and the like. You have some interesting posts on your site. Best Wishes!


  5. Rachel said:

    I am in desperate need of the filling station cape charles image you have in high res. Can i purchase a high res copy of that picture?


  6. Merhaba…

    Here’s a little New Years message from Türkiye to say “thank you”. I appreciate your recent ‘follow’, knowing how many interesting and entertaining blogs there are out there.

    Blogging since June 2013, my little corner of the world tries to offer an eclectic smattering of posts, from basic amateur photography, to sharing my travel adventures over the decades, as well as day-to-day happenings here on our fruit farm in southern Turkey. I also throw in a few of my observations on life and lighter-hearted stuff for good measure.

    You are more than welcome to have a look around, stay a while and have a trawl through my collection. There are plenty of categories within the drop-down menus to help in said digging process. Of course, if you have any comments, suggestions or concerns, feel free to let me know – I’m not easily offended 🙂

    Hope you have a great day and even better 2015…


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very interesting concept for a blog you got here.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This seems very interesting; tracing family history. I look forward to visiting you often.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We must be about the same age based upon your 1969 college graduation date. I took typing in high school, was good at it, and was recruited to work for the various priests and nuns to type tests and notes. I remember the carbon paper well and also the old mimeograph machines. I can see those razor blades for correction and smell that fluid right now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • In college I had to take a business machines course, and today not one of those machines are in use! The purple ditto ink would get over everything, trying to correct errors with the razor blade. At least you were good a typing; not so much for me, so the error correction hassle was multiplied! ; { Thx for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. William Bryan said:

    You have made my day!
    I am also a Springfield youth that spent time at Nik o Mahs!
    What a flood of warm memories, thought I would keel over when I was reminded of my membership in the Walrus club.
    I seem to vaguely remember if you attended the camp for 3 years you given a special title.
    Camp fire stories about a headless Indian roaming the woods.
    I fished every chance I could.

    Thank you for rekindling my youth.

    Would love to hear more!
    Thank you again!

    Born in 1951
    I graduated Springfield HS in 1969
    Guessing I was at camp in the late 1950’s. (1957, 58, 59 or so)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi William, Glad you found the blog! Might still be lots of fish in Penn’s Creek, as it was flowing well. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint our old swimming hole. All the landmarks were gone. Thanks for jogging my memory about the headless Indian. I seem to remember several other tales from the campfire, which I’ll probably remember at 3am. Did you see the post about Springfield school memories: My sister was in the class of ’68.


  11. Peter Schreiner said:

    Your art is nothing short of awesome, I do find it. By the way, I’m of the era of the ditto machine. Do you know the ditto machine? Ah, the smell of fresh ditto in the morning, I simply loved it. Oh, yes that chemical odor which must certainly well explain somethings.

    Time by Enya is certainly timeless. Thanks for including it. And as to the Education of Little Tree, I must add it to my ever-growing reading list, and me such a terribly slow reader.

    Once more, your photography, and your words are most fantastic. I’ve enjoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I do remember the ditto machine and that the purple stuff on back of the copies would get over everything. When I was teaching a lesson on the machine, my students would come out of class with purple coloring over their faces and hands.

      We respond to novels that touch us at some deeper level; for me that’s what I found in Little Tree. Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments. K

      Liked by 2 people

  12. truly interesting 🙂 regards PedroL

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi- Thank you for following my photography blog, Jane’s Lens. I hope you enjoy my work.
    Terrific blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Michigan, Ireland, Morocco–we have a few things, or should I ay, we have some geography in common. I enjoy your blog posts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Jennifer Bradley said:

    I wondered about the title… very interesting connection to The Education of Little Tree!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Dear psalmboxkey. Kae? My brother just forwarded your blog about Camp Nik-o-mahs. My name is Tom Hall and my family ran that camp for 27 years. My grandparents, Walter and Katheryn founded the camp and my parents, uncles and aunts all had a part in running the camp. Almost all, except my mom who was a nurse, we’re all teachers which allowed them to have the summers off. Anyway, I spent the first 12 summers of my life at the camp, and it was so cool to hear about your experiences there. Please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to help you identify the buildings in your pictures, and there is much more to share. Thanks. Tom Hall

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Tom, Glad that David shared the blog . . . one of the great rewards of blogging is finding connections, especially when we share such fond memories from our past. Would like to hear more about your camp experiences. I was trying to figure the configuration of the camp and what the remains of the buildings were originally. I couldn’t quite place where the dock went out into the creek. Write when you get a chance. Many thanks for stopping by. Kae


  17. Hi Kae, Thank you for reading my blog post. The photo of the typewriter is so nostalgic, I adore it. My parents had one that was even older and in ’74 when I was in high school I learned on an “old” manual typewriter. So, cool!

    Enjoyed reading Briarhill Road, Springfield. Look forward to reading more. Thank you Kae.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hello. I am the Executive Board President of the Friends of Pennypacker Mills. We are a non-profit group formed to raise funds to support the wonderful programs and preservation at the site. I am preparing a PowerPoint presentation to be used to talk to local civic groups and such to promote the site and our efforts. I am wondering if it would be OK with you to “borrow” your wonderful video of our Civil War event to insert into my PowerPoint?? I would be happy, of course, to credit you.

    Thanks. Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Michael Sweeney said:

    I found your blog about the Holy Cross dance in Springfield back in the 60’s. I lived right across the street from Holy Cross and attended grade school there. I started attending the dance on Saturday night when I was about 15. Man they were some of the best times of my life.I remember doing the South Street with Joann McGrail and the whole place would shake. And of course the last song of the night, The Dance is Over by South Philly’s Billy and the Essentials. Live in New Mexico now but nothing could compare to those days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Michael, thanks for commenting and adding to the Holy Cross Dance story. We probably crossed paths. I agree, we had some of the best times there and where I learned to dance! K


  20. Michael Sweeney said:

    You are so right. I started going there in 1964. You know Chevoux over at 69th street where Jerry Blavit had his dance also rocked. I also remember how the guys use to dress at that time. You were either conservative or jive. Conservative wore button down collar shirts, pants with cuffs , wing tip shoes and herringbone sports coats. Jive wore Dark suits,pants 3″ above there Flagg with points. I was a conservative and I have never changed. Great to remember old times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We roller skated at the Chevoux almost every week. I remember the outfits at the dance. For girls, it was how short you could wear your skirt. We liked the black leather jackets and Beatle caps, which I have kept all these years. Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Jane Asher, was our model of what to wear, including long straight hair, pointy shoes and textured stockings. : )


  21. Kara Huck said:

    I’m wanting permission to use one of the photos from your blog as the background of a graphic advertising our district Twitter chat in March. Our theme has to do with successfully navigating dark waters (time of year, some tragedy we’ve experienced in the district, an unsettling political climate, etc), and I’m thinking the phrase “hand over fist” might work well with this topic. I love the picture you have of a couple of people working with ropes on a vessel (forgive my lack of nautical knowledge; we’re in the middle of Kansas!). Please email me!


  22. Jordan Hollinger said:

    I am wondering whether you grant permission to use photographs found on your blog. I am interested in potentially using some on your page about Tangier Island – I work for an organization that is working to improve coastal resilience on the Virginia coast, and we may have interest in using some of your photographs showing high tide/flooding on Tangier Island. I am happy to share more about our projects via email if you would like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jordan, I’d be happy to contribute my photos to the cause. I have a number of photos of the flooding not on the site I could send you, if they would be of interest. In assigning attribution, use: Thanks! Email me at kaekalwaic at gmail.


  23. I found your Briarhill Road Springfield page after searching for information regarding backyard garbage pick up in Springfield, PA…earlier today after I asked my husband what the equivalent of ever-present Amazon delivery trucks would be from his childhood, he said that he had bread and milk delivery to the home, and then he said in Springfield there was back-yard trash pick up from a receptacle built into the ground in the back yard, and that someone would actually remove the garbage. I had not ever heard of this sort of thing before and asked him more about it. Later my search online revealed your wonderfully detailed blog. Turns out he is the same age as your sister Jean but he moved away from 105 Edgewood Drive in the Stoney Creek Park area in Springfield to Newtown Square after the start of 7th grade. Thank you from him for the Springfield memories!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m always happy when a Springfield resident finds my blog, the pleasure of an old time shared memory, even if it is a garbage truck in the neighborhood, how quaint! Thanks for stopping by.


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