Saturday, May 30, 2015

1955 reunion in BittieTown

So if my father had graduated high school where he grew up until he was 12 or 13 (I can’t be sure), he would have graduated at BittieTown, USA, which is on my way between my home in TinyTown, USA and MyHomeTown, USA.
I had been doing research in another small town that has a museum, and the one woman said, you should go to the BittieTown Alumni Reunion! I said oh, should I? Yesss!
She said the people who attend those may remember your family when they lived there in BittieTown. Well, I hadn’t thought of that. So I made a flier with all the photos I could acquire that had the people in question. I included some facts and my contact information. I printed about 30 fliers off. I lost the folder of fliers. I found the folder of fliers. And suddenly the Saturday of Memorial Day was six days off!
I called the contact person and the gentleman who answered was effusive that I should come! He was encouraging. It’s at the gym, he said. It’s easy to find, he said.
So about three days before The Day, they closed the road to BittieTown.
So I got out a map and found an alternate route. He never really told me where the gym WAS, but I decided driving around a town of 200, which I’d done a few times before, was okay. -- Well, it really was at the gym and it really was easy to find. I found a place where more than four cars were parked like they were attending something, and look, that could be a gym. Old folks getting out of cars. Yep, this is the place.
I went in and saw the guy I’d talked to on the phone. I greeted him. He said, you should talk to Mr. So-and-So, my brother! He wrote the BittieTown Scrapbook! I was thinking, noooooooooo, (I had already looked at that and there’s none of my family in there.) So I met Russ, who is a really nice man, and after 40 minutes or so, he both told me cool stories and found that I was not indeed, part of either of the two families he thought I might be related to. I had already figured that, but, you know. Researchers have to check for themselves.
It was a nice reunion of friendly people. The food was good, the presentations were good. I even checked with the woman who spoke for the Class of ’55, but she didn’t remember my dad, either. I did talk to a gentleman on the way out with a name similar to someone whom my aunt said “their house was in the J. Jones neighborhood.” I asked if that was him, and he said that’s my cousin, and it's over across from the Presbyterian Church. But at night is not the time to be rooting around for a house in a small town, so I took myself home.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

I finally dyed, which started the whole world ... laughing

I bought these belly dance pantaloons thinking they were ivory with that little black pattern on them. Moral: Always get more pictures!

I know the vendor, so I didn't B too much.
Then I thought, shucks, I could dye them!
Here's my kettle. Nice kettle e'n't it?

Be warned. Many gallons of water take (takes?) a long time to boil!
After reading a lot of negative reviews about how Rit dye is crap, and good advice from artists and artisans about how you can get better dyes (but always a lot of dye) and get better results, I was waffling pretty badly.

Then this violet and purple Rit dye, generously donated by Carol from Troupe Sicora in Lincoln won out by pure tightwaddery.

Thanks Carol!
I boiled the water, added the pants, and stirred them and boiled and stirred and ... well ... my arm got tired for sure!

But the color was lovely!
After many rinses (oy, many rinses!), the color was still lovely!

Yes, I quit before the water ran clear. I did. I was tired. I was bored. I was over it.
It was October or something, I'm not sure, but it was cold enough that the pants froze on the line. But more importantly, the color was GREAT! (Don't pay attention to those goobers from my camera.)

So: A mistake on my part + donations + long hours of fiddling = a lovely end to an amateur project.

And I haven't worn them dancing yet, either.

Genealogy with pets

Thanks to the presence of the Evil Queen, I always have company in the front porch, where I try to be a genealogist-like person. I don't know how other genealogists do it, but I just go with whatever piques my interest at the time. I'm rarely too focused.

Last week I realized how my grandmother's grandparents moved with the family to the new part of the state when my grandmother was six. I was glad to hear that she and her siblings had familiar faces besides their dad in the new place.

I don't know how people organize their material. I just have a lot (a lot!) of tabs in a 21/2 inch notebook. I have a separate book for random notes and another separate book for the obits I'm trying to track down. Who has emailed back, who hasn't, what library is helping, how much I owe a researcher, etc.

This is Zi's response to genealogy.

She keeps me from staying focused too much by requiring ear and belly scratches from time to time. She thinks the rabbit hole under the outbuilding is more interesting research, as the clots of dirt on her chest testify.

I did meet a cousin over the weekend. I did a cold call and it turned out well. Whew!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Not exactly a new obsession ...

Genealogy, what a time sink!

This is a picture of a woman (far left) who is an ancestress, and I'm glad to say that the one woman who is smiling is the one in my family. This is the Ulry family, and you can see they have their predecessors with them, making a three-generation photo, maybe four, I don't know.

Every decade or so, I get all enthused about genealogy, and each time I add a bunch of information about the fam. Since I have a relative who researches my mom's side, I go in for research regarding my dad's side.

At right is the second page of a ship's manifest. Some of this material is available online for free, other stuff is accessible through paid sites like ancestry dot com. I'm told you can find most of it for free, if you know where to look. On the other hand, some material is only located at the site nearest where it happened.

So my present includes short trips to museums and libraries in nearby counties, and my future involves longer trips to the same institutions, but further away.

Small towns have hinky hours, often Friday through Sunday and the like, so I'm doing some queries through the mail. Lots of online small-town museum and historical society sites have like one person in charge of answering emails, and some never do answer.

And your ancestors will make you curious about unusual topics. I'm curious about what life was like for a person in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during World War I. I'm curious about what the job of a fireman-slash-engineer on the railroad in the 1920s was like. What was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) all about?

... and my interest in tightwaddery has a new angle. I researched the previous owners of my home (to be found at the local courthouse), and found that at various times, there have been 10 and 11 people living here. This gives lie to my internal claim that I "don't have enough space." How much space is necessary? Do I just have too much crap? "Need" is a relative term.

This is a form that becomes familiar to any genealogist who can go to a library who has a subscription to ancestry dot com. It's a page from the 1910 census.

If you know where your relatives lived in a year that's divisible by 10, you can find out a little bit more about them. After awhile, you learn to peruse them carefully for the minutest detail; those details can be important.

And it gets to be interesting about people's penmanship. Sometimes you need to read over the page to get familiar with the enumerator's (census-taker's) handwriting.

But maybe it takes a special kind of nerd to care. I suppose I'm saying I'm a special kind of nerd! Fortunately for me, there are some folks out there who are better nerds than I am, and when I get stuck, I can ask them for help.

One person in particular, whom I knew in the 80s, was a huge help, and I didn't even appreciate it at the time. She gave me information back then that I'm only just now appreciating. Thanks Claire! You rock!