Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Tribute To My Father

A Tribute To My Father


My Father. How I loved him. How I miss him.


He was the most handsome man I had ever seen. Movie star good looks handsome, and he was my father. From little girls to little old ladies he could turn them all into babbling idiots just by acknowledging them. He was a farm boy from Missouri who was totally unaware of the havoc his good looks created with women. Oh, women noticed him, but he did not notice women. From the day he set eyes on my mother there was no other woman in the world.


They met in the Army during World War II. My mother was a nurse, a WAC Lieutenant. My father was a corpsman in a hospital for soldiers facing the psychological traumas of war. They met there. I remember my mother telling how she had seen him the first time, sitting on the floor in one of the corridors leaning against the wall. She said he took her breath away, he was so handsome; she hoped he wasn’t one of her patients. They knew each other just two weeks before they were married and it lasted a lifetime – his lifetime.
Yes, women noticed him and often that made me just the least bit jealous. When I was in high school and played in sports he would come to watch me compete. Female classmates who were not close friends would wait for him and sit next to him feigning interest in my performance just to be near him. It was the same if he brought my mother. She laughed, she didn’t mind, he made her feel that secure, and he even made those rotten girls feel comfortable.

To go with those good looks was a large dose of southern charm. That off-handed sense of humor that is natural and not the least bit contrived. My sister inherited his sense of humor and the way with words that were his. I hear him in her speech and when I do, I miss him. I have already told you of his tipping outhouses escapades, but there was so much more to the humor in his life, at least a book of stories more.


He was known for his little homilies. One of my favorites was “there’ll be no Hell for dogs.” What does it mean? I have absolutely no idea, but when he touched his belt buckle and uttered those words his children always ran for it. I still use it today at just the appropriate moment, when I want to daze and confuse. It’s always good for a smile.


He was my knight, my rock. He protected us all. His wife, his children, his mother, his sisters, his friends; we have all been rescued by him at least once. In my case he rescued me more times than I can count. He rescued us from broken down cars, the driving exam, tornadoes, abusive relationships, dementia, heartbreak, disappointment, fractions, and the reality of death at an early age. He did it with surprising good humor, under what were often the worst of circumstances. He always knew what to say and do. We could depend on him.


My very favorite memory of my father is of the two of us sitting on my uncle’s porch on a summers evening while he brushed and braided my hair. He loved my hair. One summer when I was nine my mother got it into her head to give me a pixie cut, without telling him. When he arrived home from work and saw me, he cried and was completely inconsolable. I attribute my reticence to cutting my hair to that childhood memory.


His proudest moment of me was when, instead of taking Home Economics, I took an automotive class. He taught me to change a tire, the oil, to know all the parts of the car’s engine and to weld. I was the only girl in the class and I got the top marks. Little did I know at the time, he had a bet with the father of one of the boys in the class that his “little girl” would get the best grade and beat his son out for the top mark. He was so proud when I did just that. I think the prize was that infamous 3.2 beer again.


His life had not been an easy one. He was the seventh of eight children. His father died when he was eleven of pernicious anemia, something easily cured today. His mother took in washing to try to make ends meet, but it soon became apparent she couldn’t afford the clothes to send him to school, so he stopped going and got a job supporting his family at the age of twelve. He had no carefree youth. He often talked about how as a child he had wanted a wagon for Christmas, but his mother could not afford to buy him one. For their first Christmas together my mother gave him a shiny red Radio Flyer. He never forgot that gift.


He was plagued by poor health. My first memory of his illness was when he collapsed at thirty-five of a heart attack and my mother and I had to carry him to the car and drive him to the hospital. I have never been so frightened in my life.


When I was a junior in high school he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. The pain was excruciating, but he never complained. He would get out of bed and balancing on crutches, stand at the stove and cook our meals. We were at school and mother took on the burden of supporting the family. He didn't complain and he didn't give up.


I think it was his absolute joy and love of life and his endless curiosity as to what would happen next that kept him going through the pain; that and the plot for his next practical joke.


I could not have had a better Father, in that I won the lottery. Happy Father’s Day Dad - thank you for the laughter, the curiosity, the extra large dose of common sense and the good hair.

There’ll be no Hell for dogs - or for my father.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody

I enjoyed the research and writing of this, but most of all I enjoyed meeting my Mother as I never knew her.

My Mother and her Golden Rule Days.

Until I started this article, I hadn't really thought of my Mother as a school girl, as the 14 year old bobby-sockser you see in the photograph to the right. She was just Mom. I took her intelligence for granted. As most children do, I took everything about her for granted.

She placed a very high premium on education and had a tremendous amount of reverence for the written word. The written word was sacred she always said. When I took down her high school yearbook and started to look through it for this article, I realized there were no autographs on the autograph page. Typical Mom, she would never have written in a book. They're sacred after all.

I've had her Bayside High School yearbook for many years, but I've never really looked at it, looked at the high school girl that was my mother. I guess I've thought I knew everything about her.

I'm looking more closely now, trying to be an objective researcher and historian, trying to suppress that familiarity born of being her child that kept me from really knowing my Mother the person. Looking at her the way others saw her or knew her.

Each entry in the Triangle Yearbook, Class of 1942, was accompanied by a saying - Gentle of speech, beneficent of mind - Desiring success, you shall have it. Some of the entries sounded a bit forced, as if those writing them really had to work to come up with something to say about the person pictured.


Bayside High School
32nd Avenue and 208th Street

Bayside, New York

My Mother's saying was - A pretty girl is like a melody, from the 1919 Irving Berlin song that had become popular again at that time. It didn't sound forced to me. It sounded as if the person writing it actually meant it. She was a pretty girl and she certainly came from the house of melodies (Carnegie Hall). At least, that is what I choose to believe.

Yearbook Entry

I wasn't surprised she was in the History and English Honor Classes, she was always a great homework resource, but I was surprised at all the sports; volleyball, tennis, and small games (whatever that might be). The only sport she discussed that I can remember was fencing and it's not listed here. Perhaps she had given it up by her senior year. She also had three years of Latin and spoke German. She had taken German, she said, so that she could talk to Papa. Papa was Louis Salter's father John, her great grandfather. So as a child I learned to sing German Christmas songs and say a phrase "telling others my name and asking if they spoke German."

She must have approved of the saying beside her name, because she was a member of the Triangle yearbook staff. She would never have allowed it to be printed if she didn't approve. Mother's that little thing in the middle of the picture below. Were you ever so young or so small? Somehow I thought you were born - well, my Mother.


Triangle Yearbook Staff

The yearbook also contained a Class Prophecy in which my Mother was prominently mentioned.
Rustling silk, shimmering velvet . . . Evening in Paris . . . immaculate white shirt fronts . . . shiny black top-hats . . . sables slung carelessly over shoulders . . . soft golden lights, a buzzing stream of chatter--all the glamour, suspense, and excitement of a gala Broadway opening night.

Not an ordinary opening night, mind you; not even Orson Welles, that fond memory, who has since gone to his eternal rest (onMars), was ever able to assemble such a sparkling galaxy. And no wonder. For that new bright light on the dramatic horizon is none other than that famous producer, Tommy Emma, preenting an original venture, which, according to advance press reports whould be the first on your "must see" list. And quite naturally too, for the whole show is studded with alumni of the Bayside High School.

While the audience is getting settled, let's take a look at the playbill "Variations on a Theme":

PROGRAM

1. AMERICAN PRELUDE

Aaron Ladman at the piano

2. "SNOW AND ICE"

featuring Janice Hamilton,
internationally known
performer
Chorus led by Veronica Kern

3. "PAN AMERICANA"

Spanish Serenade
Pat Zarth, vocalist

Tropic Tempos
Dances interpreted by
Gloria Cutting and
Harriet Waite

4. "MEMORIES"
Glee Club under direction
of Jimmy Lynch

5. "POETESS IN LOVE"
The Cast
The Poetess . . . . .Bette Taylor
The Hero. . . . . . .Ken LaBarre
The Villain . . . . .Harry Gardner

Play written by Joanne Michelson
Produced and directed by T. Emma
Settings designed and executed by
Jane Reynolds
Advertising by Regina Reckholder
and Margaret Cahill
Fire Notice: The exit indicated
by a red light and sign, nearest
to the seat you occupy, is the
shortest route to the street. In
the event of fire or other emergency
please do not run--WALK TO
THAT EXIT.
Joe Badger, Fire Commissioner.

With the conclusion of the first part of the show, we find ourselves at intermission time, and, having nothing to do, we follow the carpeted footsteps into the buzzing lobby. Familiar faces begin to emerge from the sea of sables, velvets, top-hats, and shirt fronts. Behold the famous society matron, Lillian Uppity (nee Greene), admiring the celebrated diamond necklace of Joyce Van Sniff (nee Lenz), who in turn is being guarded by our master detective, Bob Bingham. . .
How can I reconcile the young woman her friends thought was destined for sable, diamonds, and society with the woman who stood in our backyard in Missouri wringing the chicken's neck that was about to be dinner. I can't, I really didn't know her.

She went on to graduate that year and from there went directly into a four year degree nursing program. Until I read her yearbook I never knew that nursing had always been her goal. What was it that made your decision such an obvious one for you? There are no nurses in the family.


Graduation Photograph
1942
It was just a month shy of her graduation from nursing school when something happened that changed my Mother's life forever. War! The father and brother she adored had both enlisted. There was a parade down Fifth Avenue, a drive for war bonds with handsome young men in uniforms marching down the famous avenue. She told me there were soldiers who had been wounded that marched as well.

She was hanging out a window on Fifth Avenue waving as they marched by, when she was struck by the fact that she had to do something to contribute to the war effort. The next day, she dropped out of nursing school and enlisted in the Army. She did not go on to graduate, something she regretted all her life.

This wasn't the end of her education, she continued to take classes, even after I'd left home. She was one of the most intelligent women I've ever known, but there's so much more I should have known and I don't.

Have you read The Golden Rule Issue of Shades Of The Departed? No? Give it a try.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Maven's Internet Genealogy Magazine Award

I received my pdf copy of Internet Genealogy magazine today. The featured article in the June-July issue is the selection of the Top 25 Genealogy Blogs. Seeing is believing (see below). To say this was completely unexpected would be an understatement. When Bill West of West In New England sent out the news via Facebook I had to ask if he had read the article properly. He said he had. I was surprised, as there are so many more deserving bloggers out there.

I will gratefully accept the award to Shades Of The Departed. The new Shades Of The Departed Magazine appeared the same day as the award and I owe a debt to so many for sticking with me and making the magazine a success. The next two magazines are in the works along with other Shades improvements. So, thank you very much Internet Genealogy magazine, I accept this as an advance on work to come.

But Maven? Well, she has become a cranky cat lady on Facebook. FootnoteMaven the blog has been forsaken for an all out assault on regaining my health. Will she ever be back. Of course; but does she deserve this lovely award. Absolutely not.

So I'm giving fM's award to all those Genealogy Blogs that deserve the recognition for years of consistent hard work and to all the rising stars who've decided to dive in. In essence, to the entire Genealogy Blogging Community. Well deserved.

I wish more of these awards were the result of reader polls. This type of award was done once. In that award the bloggers in the running were selected by the readers and judged by a group of well-respected genealogy bloggers. I am very proud of that award, as it is the readers and my fellow bloggers to whom the credit is due.

The other recipients are:
  1. The Ancestry Insider, by the "Ancestry Insider"
  2. Ancestories, by Miriam Robbins
  3. Anglo-Celtic Connections, by John D. Reid
  4. Black Nashville Genealogy & History, by Taneya Koonce
  5. DearMYRTLE, by Pat Richley-Erickson
  6. Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, by Dick Eastman
  7. The FamilySearch Blog, by various bloggers
  8. footnoteMaven, by the "footnote Maven"
  9. Genea-Musings, by Randy Seaver
  10. GeneaBloggers, by Thomas MacEntee
  11. Genealogy Canada, by Elizabeth Lapointe
  12. Genealogy's Star, by James Tanner
  13. GeneaNet Genealogy Blog, by Jean-Yves Baxter
  14. The Genetic Genealogist, by Blaine Bettinger
  15. Granite in My Blood, by Midge Frazel
  16. The JewishGen Blog: A Blog about Jewish Genealogy, by various bloggers
  17. Little Bytes of Life, by Elizabeth Swanay O'Neal
  18. London Roots Research, by Rosemary Morgan
  19. MyHeritage Blog, by various bloggers
  20. The National Archives Blog, by various bloggers 
  21. Olive Tree Genealogy, by Lorine McGinnis Schulze
  22. RootsMagic Blog, by various bloggers
  23. Shades of the Departed, by footnoteMaven
  24. West in New England, by Bill West
  25. What's Past is Prologue: Adventures in Genealogy, by Donna Pointkouski
Thank you to Tom Bandy of Internet Genealogy magazine, the author who made the selections! It has been pointed out to me that the award was for my body of work, not for the body that hasn't worked. So an extra thank you. I warned you I'm cranky.




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