Saturday, August 28, 2010

Remembering Jan

One of my daughters commented this evening that she thought Jan looked like Marilyn Monroe. I'd never noticed the resemblance when she was alive, probably because there was no similarity in their personalities. I don't know if Jan would consider looking like Marilyn Monroe a compliment or not.

Jan was my first sister-in-law. Her name was Janet Lou Patten but from the beginning we called her Jan.

When my brother told us he was bringing someone home for us to meet, we were surprised and pleased. We oohed and aahed when he announced that she was from London -- until he told us it was London, Ohio. He also told us she was a home economics teacher. Our response to that was dread that she might notice the not-perfectly-aligned, home-sewn curtains in our bedrooms. We should have had no concern about it. She was very gracious.

I spent many happy hours with Jan and learned much from her. She was a special lady.

She passed away in the spring of 1995. She would have been celebrating her 72nd birthday today if she were still here. I hope she's celebrating there along with lots and lots of other family members who love her. Happy Birthday, Jan!

Gramma's Porches

My parents owned a duplex and my Gramma and Grampa Meinzen owned a triplex. It didn't seem unusual to me that two or three families lived in the same house divided only by a wall between the homes. And it didn't seem the least unusual that there were just two doors and one house between our house and my grandparents' house. We all lived on Furnace Street in Mineral Ridge. I don't know if it was a purposeful choice for my parents to buy a house in the same village on the same street or if it was a carefully debated decision to live so close to in-laws. However they chose, it was a blessing in my life.

In the above right photo are, left to right, my mom's brother-in-law and her sister; my mom and dad, Audrey and Lee Doyle; and my Grampa, Mom's dad, W. C. Robert Meinzen. The two little ones in the front are my brother and sister. Behind them is my Gramma's back porch.

My brother Bob described the proximity between Gramma's house and ours thus: "We lived on the north side of Furnace Street in Mineral Ridge, Ohio, a street that ran east and west on State Route 46. Grandma and Grandpa Meinzen lived on the same side of the street two doors down or east of us. It was not a busy street, in fact it was a MaCadam road, blacktop and gravel. We ... ran back and forth all the time without any concern about traffic or anything else."

While we weren't pests and Mom limited our visit to Gramma's house, we were able to spend quite a lot of time there.

When we went down to Gramma's we nearly always went in through the back door, onto the porch, then into the kitchen. In fact when friends and neighbors came to visit either of our homes they used the back door. The front door was for guests.

You can see in the photo to the left that the back porches were enclosed. Gramma's was the one on the right, which was closest to the driveway. The porch extended from the right side of the house to the left side of the first window to the left of the door. The porch was about 8 feet deep, from back door to kitchen door.

On the porch between the back door and the left window was a built-in closet that stretched from floor to ceiling. The closet was probably only a foot or so deep, but it was packed. I loved it when Gramma had to get something out of the closet while I was there because there was always something interesting to see: a very old curling iron; a huge ball of string 8 or 10 inches across composed of shorter lengths of string from brown-paper-wrapped towels from the laundry; and cans and bottles and boxes and jars of miscellaneous odds and ends. Children were not given the opportunity to rummage in the closet.

The rest of the porch was windows and walls. I think Gramma had a table, some chairs, and maybe her sewing machine there. It was an unheated porch and was never used to sit and visit. It was a work porch. In the summer we would sit there to break beans and hull peas for canning or clean strawberries for jam. In cooler weather we might tear and sew rags into strips for rag rugs. It was a comfortable place to be even though we didn't spend lots of time there.

I don't think any of us have photographs of Gramma's back porch. Who thinks to take photographs of such common, homely places? It lives in our memories only.

Unlike the back porch, Gramma's front porch was a resting porch - but only during the warmer weather. Though the porch was small, there was room for a metal glider and a few chairs.

Gramma worked hard to finish her housework during the daytime. After dinner and dishes were finished on summer evenings she often sat on the front porch, perhaps reading the evening newspaper or visiting with her daughter or neighbors or me (or any other grandchildren who came along).

As I look at these photos, I think the house looks old and tired and just a little rundown. I remember my mom saying that when they bought the house in the 1920s it was in bad shape and needed lots of work and care. I can see that now, but as a child I never noticed the details of the house. It's condition never crossed my mind. It was the love of and interactions with my grandmother that made the house and its porches so wonderful.

Do you have photographs of places you loved as a child and do those places look different than your memory of them? Is your memory of them colored by emotions you felt at an earlier time?

The color photographs in this post were taken as slides years ago and just recently turned into prints. Do you have photographs that were originally slides? If they were in color, did the color of the slides hold up better than early color photographs?

Others will share memories of people and/or places in old photographs at Sepia Saturday. I encourage you to visit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

About a Pennsylvania Death Certificate

Two or three weeks ago I received as a gift (a surprising, wonderful, very exciting gift from a "new" distant relative) a copy of the Pennsylvania death certificate of my great-great-grandmother, Catherine Saylor Froman. I would like to post the death certificate along with a grave stone photo and some other information I've collected about her. But at the top of the page containing the death certificate are the words
"WARNING: It is illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat or photograph."
I have an ethical question: Since the warning doesn't specifically include "or by scanning" do you think that means they don't object to scans and they're not illegal? This particular certificate was printed on July 23, 2010, so this is not an old, outdated form. Since the form is new, wouldn't they include scanning in the wording if they didn't want people to make scanned copies?

I have a problem with Pennsylvania's tight hold on their death records, even the old ones and even to the point that indexes are not available. I also have a problem with their inability to find death certificates for ancestors when a name, date of death, and location of death are included with a request. I've received several "No Record Certificates of Death." These non-certificates of death almost seem like falsifications to me.

Despite my frustrations with their methods and means, I'd rather be legal than illegal.

Do any of you readers have thoughts about my scanning question? Legal or not?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Elizabeth

My Elizabeth was born Elizabeth Armitage on August 24, 1852, in Bradford, Yorkshire, England.

She came to the U.S. when she was 12.

She was a bride at 17.

She was a mother at 18; and at 20, 22, 26, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 38, 39, 41, 44, and 45, + 1 other year.

She became a U.S. citizen at 19.

She was the mother of 15 children, though only 6 lived longer than her.

My Elizabeth, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Armitage Meinzen, died in June, 1926, of cancer of the face.

Though I've never met her in person, she happens to be one of my heroes. I look forward to meeting her.

Gramma Elizabeth, I hope you have a wonderful birthday today, surrounded by friends and family! Happy Birthday!

You can read more about Elizabeth's life at Elizabeth.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Her Birthday Today

My dear sister-in-law, Eva, is celebrating her birthday today. I won't tell you how old she is but I will tell you that she is young at heart.

She has a delightful personality and a pleasant sense of humor. I'm so glad she's my sister-in-law!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Eva!

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Strips of Four

Do you remember photo booths? They were those little booths in amusement parks and some stores where you could go inside, close a curtain, put a quarter in a slot, then pose 4 different times. Sometimes you and a friend sat together for photos and made funny faces, changing positions between camera clicks. Sometimes you sat with your best smile because you wanted to give one of the photos to a boyfriend or girlfriend. When you were finished you had to wait 5 or 10 minutes before the strip of 4 photos slipped out of a slot on the side of the booth. And then you usually laughed or chuckled at the images because your expressions were funny or you were pleased that the photos came out so great.

When looking at my grandmother's photo album I was surprised to see a strip of 4 photos of her sister, Mary Ellen Bickerstaff (known to us as Aunt Mame), at a fairly young age, in 4 different poses. Aunt Mame was born in 1899. Guessing at her age in the photos, I'd say these were taken in about 1920.

I also found these photos of my grandmother, Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen. These are interesting because she changed the background in one of the shots. She had to move fast to make that change because there were perhaps only 30 seconds between shots.

You can nearly always tell the photo booth photos because they have a dark border on at least 2 sides, sometimes 3, and sometimes all sides, depending on how the strip was developed and the photos separated. When the strip came out, the photos had to be cut or torn apart.

Looking through the rest of the photos in both my mom's and my grandmother's albums, I found more photo booth photos. It was interesting to see that my mom had one of the photos and my grandmother another from several strips.

Here are a few more. The companions to these were probably given away to friends or other family members and are long gone. Individual photo booth photos were usually about 1 1/2" x 2".

Another interesting aspect of photo booth photos is that there was no photographer, no man or woman behind the lens of the camera. A person who may have been self-conscious in front of a photographer didn't need to think about someone watching while he or she was posing for the camera. In most of the photos it seems that the person looked directly into the lens of the camera. Hooray for us to get that direct eye contact with the individual these many years later!

The Photobooth Blog shows two different photobooths here and here. I wanted to include the photos on this post but couldn't link to just the photos and I didn't want to copy the photos and break copyright. (If you click on the highlighted text it will open a new window in your browser, you can look at the photo booths, then close the window.)

Do you remember photo booths? Do you remember when and where and with whom you had photos taken? Do you have any photo booth photos among your family photos?

Others will probably not be highlighting photo booth photos this week but you can link to lots of other old photos at Sepia Saturday. Happy viewing!

Time Travel

This morning we left our home in central Ohio and travelled about 190 miles, through southern Ohio's fields of verdant soybeans and golden-tassel corn in parallel rows, arriving about 3 hours and 20 minutes later in central Kentucky. We spent several hours visiting, eating, and enjoying the company of our daughters, then traveled back the same route, arriving home about 11 hours after we began.

We zoomed past Kentucky's "SPEED LIMIT 70" signs at 80 miles an hour. We were going no faster than most of the cars, and sometimes slower. We were usually in the middle, and sometimes near the tail end, of lines of cars traveling the same road. Some cars raced past us at speeds well beyond 80 miles/hour.

I ask you, is that not time travel?

It occurs to me that any speed faster than we can move our bodies without mechanical, electrical, or automotive assistance is time travel. When, in less than 4 hours, I travel across a space that would take me many days, perhaps weeks, to walk, am I not traveling through time at a faster pace? And doesn't that therefore become time travel?

On the drive home I was thinking that my ancestors who lived before the invention of automobiles probably thought a ride in a cart or carriage, or perhaps on the back of a running horse, was fast. When I was a child, my grandparents owned a car very much like the one above (with my mom sitting on the running board). I remember riding with my grandparents and hearing Gramma say to Grampa, "Bob, you slow down. You're going too fast!" And he was speeding along at only 35 miles per hour! (Did my grandfather like speed as much as I do?)

For about 20 miles on the way home today, traffic slowed to 20 miles an hour or less and was bumper to bumper. Perhaps that was as fast as a fast horse traveled years ago and yet I thought it was very, very slow.

These days we travel by airplane across a 2000-mile-wide continent in 8 hours and travel halfway around the world in less than 24 hours. Surely that's time travel!

What do you think?

My Cousin Jeree Lee's Birthday

This is my cousin, Jeree Lee Foulk, who was born on this day in 1946.

She is one of my seven Meinzen cousins, the daughter of Geraldine (Jeree) Meinzen.

Growing up we saw Aunt Jeree and her family once in a while but not nearly as often as the other cousins. I think I was fairly young the last time I saw her and can't think of any specific memories of her.

She passed away in October, 2004, barely 58 years old.

Happy Birthday, Jeree Lee.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Billy and the Lamb

At far left is Tressa, the aunt who, as an adult, related the following story to me.

At near left is Billy, the boy in the story, probably at about the age when the lamb was at the farm.

My father once told the story of a lamb who lived on the farm in Stoneboro, Pennsylvania, where he grew up.  When the lamb grew larger, it began to butt the children in the neighborhood while they waited for the bus.  (I question my memory: were there school buses to take rural Stoneboro children to school in mid-1920s?)  However it was, he talked about this half-grown sheep butting the children.

I was interested in this story and so asked Aunt Tressa, Dad's half sister who grew up with him on the farm, if she remembered the lamb.  This is the story she told me.
The White family lived in our neighborhood.  They raised sheep.  The lambs were born early in the spring.  A mother died – leaving her little lamb an orphan.  Mr. White asked if we wanted to raise it.  Of course, we did.  Baby lambs are so soft and frisky – especially if they are “boy lambs.”

We named our lamb Sambo and fed him warm milk from a bottle and nipple.  He was very playful.  Bill was quite young at this time.  He loved Sambo and would hold his little fat hand up so Sambo would back up then make a run for Bill’s hand to “bunt it.”

This was great fun until Sambo was about half grown.  His playing took on a different nature.  When he saw Bill in the yard he would attack him from the back.  He would put his head down, while running toward Bill, and would knock him down.  We all enjoyed watching Sambo attack Bill until Sambo became big enough to hurt him.  That is when we gave him back to White’s so Sambo could join his own family of sheep.
I've never had a lamb but I can imagine how much fun it would be and how frisky, soft, and cuddly it could be.  I didn't have the photograph of Bill when I first heard this story but could easily imagine Bill's "little fat hand" in front of the lamb and how much fun it was for both Bill and the rest of the family to see the lamb interact with Bill and the other children.  I can also imagine how terrifying it could have been to see a child have the wind knocked out of him by a partly-grown lamb running, head down, to butt him.

I was grateful to hear the story from another person and hear additional memories.

Do you have "animal stories" from your family?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Signs and Tags and My Father's Jewelry Business

Besides working as a foreman in a steel mill, my father, Lee Doyle, was a part-time, self-employed jeweler. His shingle - a lighted sign - hung on the west side of our front porch on Furnace Street, facing Main Street.

I must not have paid too much attention to what the sign looked like, except that it was a golden yellow and had his name on it. 

People came to our house from the Ridge as well as some out-lying areas. They dropped off wristwatches, alarm and other kinds of clocks, and jewelry for repair. Some people called ahead but most just knocked on the door. I think most of Dad's business came by word of mouth.

When someone brought an item for repair, we wrote the individual's name and phone number on a tag. The older tags were numbered with a tear-off ticket to give to the customer as a receipt. The newer ones that he used in later years had only a space for a name and phone number. I think people were more trusting in those days and didn't mind not receiving a receipt indicating that they'd left an item at our house.

We would lay the item on Dad's desk so he would see it when he came home and was ready to work. After he repaired the item, he put it in an envelope and he or my mom would call the customer to let him/her know that the item had been repaired and how much it cost. Sometimes they made arrangements for day and time for the person to come retrieve the watch or whatever it was. More often than not, the people just stopped by.

I doubt my father ever made very much money with his watch repair business but it must have been worthwhile for one reason or another for him to continue.

In those days all the clocks were wind-up and had tiny gears and wheels and springs. Dad was giving up his repair business at about the time battery-operated clocks began to be popular.

If you want to learn about the roll top desk where my father worked on the jewelry, you can read My Father's Desk.

If you'd like to read about and see photos of some of the tools he used and see boxes from some of his suppliers, you can read From Inside My Father's Desk.

If you'd like to look at some other old photographs and read about them, you can go to Sepia Saturday.

Do you have any self-employed ancestors? Do you remember any small businesses that were set up inside individuals' homes?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten Days and a Year

Have you ever loved the look of a post on your blog so much that you didn't want to post something else for a while? It happened to me just a week and a half ago when I published Sisters, a post with three photographs of my mom and her sister, Geraldine. I like those photos, liked seeing them together, and didn't want to see them move down the blog quite so soon as within one day of being posted. The consequence of enjoying that post a little longer was that I let this blog's anniversary, August 1, slip by without notice.

For me it's a little hard to recognize my blog's anniversary: it's almost like recognizing myself, which borders on vanity. But of course it's impossible to separate myself from the blog because it's become so much a part of me. I choose the subject matter, the photos, the post contents. More than anything, though, I hope my ancestors have become the biggest part of this blog. I hope that family members who come to look at the photos and read the posts take away with them some little (or big) memory of how they came to be here, that it's because of parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. I hope that stories of ancestors overcoming obstacles will encourage and bolster them; that some of the stories will make them laugh; and that perhaps they'll share with their own children stories from their childhood so that the stuff of family history will continue forward.

Starting and keeping up a blog during this first year has been a true education. It takes time and effort to put together posts that I believe are meaningful and that tell something about the lives, including names, dates, and locations, of our ancestors. Sometimes my time goes to blogging instead of researching. Most often I rely on research completed in the past four years for the content of posts, though I've shared some newly-found information, too. It's been a fun year. I hope there are some people who have enjoyed reading the posts. I believe there are because some of you make return visits.

Happy reading, happy blogging, and happy anniversary to "My Ancestors and Me."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

That's Grampa, But That's Not Gramma

The man in the photo at the left is my grandfather, William Carl Robert Meinzen. The woman beside my grandfather is not my grandmother. Who is she? Perhaps she's a relative, or perhaps she's a friend, or maybe she's a date. The way she's leaning toward him gives me the impression that she's at least slightly possessive of him. She impresses me as a very self-assured young lady who knows what she wants and goes after it. Grampa, on the other hand, is only just slightly leaning toward her, and there's no physical contact, unless she has her elbow resting against his side. I wish I knew who this lady is/was, but I probably never will.

I'm guessing this photo was taken in about 1912. Grampa was born in 1892 and looks about 20 in this photo. He married my grandmother, Emma Bickerstaff, in 1914.

This is a section of a larger photo of Grampa with the unknown young lady and another couple. I found it in my grandmother's photo album. I wonder if she would have put the photo of a "rival" in her album, even if it was a great photo of her husband.

As with all of the photos in Gramma's album, this one had been attached to a page in a different album, removed, and then placed in this newer album. When it was removed from the previous album, a hole was torn into it, but not all the way through it, where the other couple are standing. My grandfather and the unknown lady were left intact.

How much do you think you can tell about someone's personality from a photograph? Have you ever seen a photo of someone and guessed at their personality, then later learned that you were accurate (or very far from close)? What do you imagine about the relationship between Grampa and the lady and the lady's personality?

You might enjoy some other sepia photographs. You can find links to them at Sepia Saturday. Enjoy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Carly's Birthday

This beautiful girl is my grand-niece, Carly. She's celebrating 11 years today.

She's a basketball player, a traveller, and a lover of dogs.

Carly, I hope you celebrate big today!

Happy, Happy Birthday!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Some of Henry & Elizabeth (Armitage) Meinzen's Descendants

A week or so ago I wrote about how Henry Meinzen's surname died when his sons had no living sons. Even though he had no one to carry on his name, he and his wife Elizabeth (Armitage) have lots and lots of descendants. I don't know who all of them are because the families have grown apart, but I know my grandfather's living siblings and some of those who have come through my grandfather's line.

I decided to post photographs of the descendants I know. I was going to post the photos individually but decided that 50+ photos would cause the page to load ever so slowly (if at all). Instead, I asked Picasa to make a collage. And so here it is. The clarity of the images is not as good as if I'd posted the images individually, but those who have been to this blog before will have seen many of these photos already. I thought it was fun to put them all together in one place. I hope you enjoy looking. (You can make the collage larger by clicking on it.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Introducing Our Newest Family Member

Seth, my newest grand-nephew, arrived on Sunday, July 25. Isn't he adorable?!

Looking at this photo, I can almost hear his sweet little newborn baby sounds.

Welcome, Seth! We're so glad you're safely here. Congratulations, Adam, Val, and Ian!
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