Saturday, September 29, 2012

Imagining the Appearance of an Ancestor

Based on the information you collect for an ancestor, and without having a photograph, do you ever try to imagine what the ancestor looked like?  I do!  I don't know where the ideas come from but sometimes, there they are.

Such was the case with my great-grandfather, Fredrick K. Gerner.  I learned that he was born in Germany on about September 29, 1848, that he married in 1872, and  in 1926, both in Pennsylvania.  I learned where he was in 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920, and what he was doing each of those years.  I have a copy of his will and know what he left and to whom.  And I have a copy of the birth, marriage, and death pages of the family Bible.

My great-aunt Brendice, his daughter, described him as "a stern German" who came to the U.S. when he was 6 months old.  She said, "My father never talked much and I was unconcerned to ask him [family history questions]."  She called him an honest, hard-working farmer of 144 acres of land.

That's not much to go on, really, to imagine what a person looks like.  I envisioned a tallish, muscular man with a shock of straight, black hair, and a big mustache.  I have no idea the origin of that image.

It was several years after I'd found all of the above information that I finally made contact with my great-aunt's son.  He had photos of Fred.  Two photos, to be exact, and he shared them.

One of them is pretty blurry and it's hard to see the faces.   But there's one thing you
can clearly see:  a very shiny pate!  I don't believe there's a single hair on Grampa Fred's head.  It's a little harder to tell about height from this photo.  All we can really see is that he and his wife. Elvira, are about the same height.

This may be a slightly better photo of Fred.  Hmmm. 
I was wrong about tall, muscular, and the black hair.  Can any of you readers tell if he has a mustache?

Right or wrong, I was thrilled to finally see a photo of my great-grandparents and their children.  I always think it's exciting to be able to put a face with a name.

Fred's birthday is today (if my sources are correct).  I'm honoring his memory and celebrating his life with this post.  Happy Birthday, Grampa Fred!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Husband, Son-in-Law, Father

Our son-in-law, Jesse, is an amazing guy.  He's diligent, persistent, energetic, and determined. I think he can fix almost anything and when there's a problem, he works at it till it's not a problem anymore.  And he's got a great sense of humor.

He's also the dad to my first grandbaby, little Malachi. Don't they look comfortable?

We're celebrating Jesse's birthday today and I'm wishing him and his little family a world of happiness, both today and through the whole year.  Happy Birthday, Jesse!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rules for Our Ancestors - or - How to Confuse Your Descendants

  1. Thou shalt name your male children: James, John, Joseph, Josiah, Abel, Richard, Thomas, William.  
  2. Thou shalt name your female children: Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Maria, Sarah, Ida, Virginia, May. 
  3. Thou shalt leave NO trace of your female children. 
  4. Thou shalt, after naming your children from the above lists, call them by strange nicknames such as: Ike, Eli, Polly, Dolly, Sukey, making them difficult to trace. 
  5. Thou shalt NOT use any middle names on any legal documents or census reports, and only where necessary, you may use only initials on legal documents. 
  6. Thou shalt learn to sign all documents illegibly so that your surname can be spelled, or misspelled, in various ways: Hicks, Hickes, Hix, Hixe, Hucks, Kicks. 
  7. Thou shalt, after no more then 3 generations, make sure that all family records are lost, misplaced, burned in a court house fire, or buried so that NO future trace of them can be found.
  8. Thou shalt propagate misleading legends, rumors, & vague innuendo regarding your place origination. 
    a. You may have come from: England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales....or Iran.
    b. You may have American Indian ancestry of the______tribe......
    c. You may have descended from one of 3 brothers that came over from______.
  9. Thou shalt leave NO cemetery records or headstones with legible names. 
  10. Thou shalt leave NO family Bible with records of birth, marriages, or deaths. 
  11. Thou shalt ALWAYS flip thy name around. If born James Albert, thou must make all the rest of thy records in the names of Albert, AJ, JA, AL, Bert, Bart, or Alfred. 
  12. Thou must also flip thy parents' names when making reference to them, although "Unknown" or a blank line is an acceptable alternative. 
  13. Thou shalt name at least 5 generations of males, and dozens of their cousins, with identical names in order to totally confuse researchers.
Note: Several of my ancestors may possibly have collaborated on these rules and enforced them among many others of my ancestors. Gotta love those ancestors! .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Civil War (website) - Tuesday's Tip

The Civil War (at is a website packed with resources about the Civil War.  You would think, with a url like "son of the south," that most of the content would cover the Confederate South but, surprisingly, there is information on both the Union and the Confederate war efforts.

The Civil War website says of itself, "the WEB's most extensive source of original Civil War resources.  This site has over 7,000 pages of original Civil War content, and is full of incredible photographs, original illustrations, and eye-witness accounts of the defining moments of this Historic Struggle."  If you have ancestors who served in the war, this may be a helpful site for you to learn more about their experiences.  You won't find genealogical information but you may be able to find meat to put on the bare bones of dates and places.

In an earlier post I introduced you to the Civil War issues of Harper's Weekly at The Civil War.  Now, let's look beyond the magazines to see what else is available.  Go to the site and look at the left sidebar.  Ignore the ads at the top and look below where you'll see a list of links to topics:  Civil War, Civil War Overview, Civil War Battles, Confederate Generals, Union Generals, Confederate History, Robert E. Lee, Civil War Medicine, Lincoln Assassination, Slavery, etc.  (There are also individual links to each year of the Civil War which will take you to issues of Harper's Weekly for that year)  

If you click on Civil War Battles you'll be taken to a page that looks like the one to the right.  Click on one of the battle images and you'll go to a page which gives details of the battle, the movements of the troops, and the actions of the soldiers and generals, along with images in photos and/or drawings.  There are multiple links on each page.

Click on Confederate Generals or Union Generals and you'll be taken to a page with photos of generals.  Click on one of them and you'll see photographs and be able to read a biography.

The links in the sidebar may change depending on the subject of the page.  For instance, when you click on Slavery you'll see another dozen options including Slavery History, Slave Photographs, Slave Pictures, Slave Maps, etc.  At each of the links you'll learn more about the topic.

I was particularly interested in Civil War Medicine because of my great-grandfather's Civil War Pension File.  It gives a good overview of the conditions of patients, a link to the report of the sanitary commission, and information about amputation, including a photograph of an original amputation kit.

At the main page, scroll down a little lower on the left sidebar and you'll see links to other wars and to Civil War artists Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast, and photographer Mathew Brady.  Read their biographies and see some of their art.

This website is very large with many individual pages.  I think it's a good site for both general and specific Civil War information.  (But don't be put off by the ads. Without the ads I suspect we'd have to pay to use the site.)  Explore and see if you find helpful information.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Tressa Froman Doyle - a Pennsylvania Death Certificate

I received this death certificate for my great-grandmother, Tressa Rose Froman Doyle, several months ago and have been waiting to share it because - because! - it gives her birth date and I wanted to post it on her birthday. It states that she was born on September 24, 1867.

Until this death certificate arrived the birth information I had came from two sources.
  1. The 1900 U.S. Census for Stoneboro, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, which gives her birth information as March, 1867.  I do not know who the informant was.  And,
  2. A published transcription of church records of the Good Hope Lutheran and Reformed Church in West Salem Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  That record give a baptism date of May 24, 1868.
I understand, of course, that September 24 may not actually be Tressa's birth date.  The informant on the death certificate is Tressa's daughter, Emma, who signed her name as Mrs. C. E. Leathers.  Sometimes in the confusion and sorrow of death informants become confused and give their own information instead of the deceased's or forget or confuse information they knew.

This may have happened with Emma.  Her own birth date (from the 1900 U.S. Census) was given as December, 1886, so it's doubtful that she confused Tressa's birth information with her own.  However, Emma named Tressa's father as Jacob instead of John, as other documents indicate. I have more searching and sorting to do.

One additional observation about this Pennsylvania death certificate:  In the past the certificates were located on the bottom two thirds of the page and on the top third was the statement, "WARNING:  It is illegal to duplicate this copy by photstat or photograph."  That statement was not at the top of this certificate.  Is Pennsylvania continuing to loosen its grip on its vital records?

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Department of Health
Bureau of Vital Statistics
File No. 31619 
1.  County of Mercer... Borough of Stoneboro
2.  Full Name  Tressa Rose Doyle

3.  Sex F
4.  Color... White
5.  Single, Married... Married
5a.  If married, widowed, or divorced HUSBAND  Wm. Doyle
6.  Date of Birth (month, day and year) Sept. 24, 1867
7.  Age 68 years 6 months 3 days
8.  Occupation of Deceased  Housewife
9.  Birthplace (city or town) (State or Country) Orangeville, Pa
10.  Name of Father Jacob Saylor
11.  Birthplace of Father (city or town) not sure (State or Country.) Germany
12.  Maiden Name of Mother.  Katherine Saylor
13.  Birthplace of Mother (city or town) not sure  (State or Country) Germany
14.  Informant Mrs. C. E. Leathers  (Address) Stoneboro Penna
[15. Date] Mar 28, 1936  Registrar J. E. [illegible signature]

16.  Date of Death March 27, 1936
17.  I hereby certify, that I attended deceased from June 1, 1935 to March 27 1936, that I last saw her alive on March 24, 1936, and that death occurred, on the date stated above, at 5:45 p.m. The CAUSE OF DEATH was as follows:  Cerebral Hemmorhage [sic].  CONTRIBUTORY [illegible].
18.  ....  Did an operation precede death?  No.  Was there an autopsy?  No.  Signed J C C[illegible signature], M.D.  March 28, 1936  (Address) Stoneboro
19.  Place of Burial.... Oak Hill    Date of Burial  March 30, 1936
20.  Undertaker A. M. Yeager  Address Stoneboro, Pa

This is really a birthday day post so I want to wish my great-grandmother Tressa Doyle a Happy, Happy Birthday!  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lydia Bell Thompson - Sunday's Obituary

Lydia Bell Thompson was my maternal grandmother Emma Bickerstaff Meinzen's grandmother.  Lydia married John Thompson in September, 1872, in Jefferson County, Ohio.

Native Ohio Resident Dies Friday at Home in Brooke County

Wellsburg, Feb. 22 -- Mrs. Lyda Thompson, 79, native of Ohio, a resident of Brooke county the past six years, died at 2 p.m. on Friday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Laura Shorts, Cross Creek district. She was born, May 8, 1851, in Jefferson county, Ohio, where she spent most of her life. She was a member of the Christian church. Her husband, John Thompson, preceded her in death several years. Surviving her are five daughters, Mrs. Levi Allen, McKeesport, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Ida Deal of Cleevland [sic]; Mrs. C. J. Bickerstaff [sic], Mineral Ridge, Ohio; Mrs. Jessie Mendenhall, Wheeling and Mrs. Shorts, at home. Funeral services will be held from the late home on Monday afternoon at 2 o'clock. Interment will be in the New Alexandria, Ohio, cemetery.

This obituary was published in The Steubenville Herald-Star, February 22, 1930, p. 5, col. 2.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Pam's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - Family Recipe Friday

I received this recipe about 20 years ago.  Pam served it on top of chocolate brownies which were filled with chocolate chips!  Pam is a chocolate lover after my own heart.

I don't use frosting very often.  I usually buy it in a tub these days but when I make my own chocolate frosting, this is the only recipe I use.  But let me tell you, you have to be a real chocolate lover to put this frosting on Sharon's Chocolate Cake.  Most people I know (except my daughters) think it's just too much chocolate.

Pam's Chocolate Buttercream Frosting ............................................

In a small mixer bowl cream:
6 tblsp. butter or margarine

Mix together:
1/2 c. cocoa
2 2/3 c. confectioner's sugar

1/8-1/3 c. milk

Alternately add the cocoa mixture and the milk to the butter/margarine and beat after each addition.  Add more sugar  until it reaches the consistency you want.

Blend in:
1 tsp. vanilla

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
By trial and error we've learned that if we use 1/3 c. milk we need to use 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar, which will make enough frosting for a double layer cake. Basically, the more liquid, the more sugar, the more frosting. Have no fear about ruining the frosting. You're just balancing the quantities of sugar and milk until you get the proper consistency (which equals spreadable). If you're worried about it not being chocolatey enough, even with 4 cups sugar, it's very chocolatey. If this recipe is too confusing, leave a comment and I'll see if I can help.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Civil War Veteran's Widow's Pension File: Useful or Not? - Military Monday

I'm uncertain about the usefulness of this particular widow's pension file because the widow is the third wife of my great-great-grandfather and I'm am a descendant of his first wife. Can there possibly be helpful information in this pension file? Is it worth my time to transcribe all the documents? Let's see.

The veteran is Ellis H. Biggerstaff/Bickerstaff who served in Company D, 157th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, from May 2, 1864 to September 2, 1864. The widow is Lucy Biggerstaff/ Bickerstaff.

There are 25 documents in Lucy's widow's pension file. They span nearly six years, from July 27, 1907 until March 4, 1913. Lucy died on May 14, 1913.

Below are the documents from the pension file that contain genealogy information, the date they were written, and information garnered from the documents.

Declaration for Widow's Pension, form 3-007, September 6, 1907
  • Lucy Biggerstaff was 65 years old [therefore born abt. 1842]
  • Lucy Irwin married Ellis H. Biggerstaff on January 15, 1883
  • Lucy was previously married to Ruben Irwin who died in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1871
  • Ellis's first wife [not named] died in Steubenville, Ohio
  • Ellis's second wife died in Homestead, PA in 1881
  • there were no children under the age of 16

Notarized statement dated 4 Jan 1908
  • Lucy owned 35 acres of land in Austintown, Mahoning County, Ohio; the deed was recorded March 26, 1901. She paid $40.00/acre and was willing to sell the acreage for that amount. There was a $400.00 mortgage on this property.
  • She owned 4 lots of ground in Versailles Township, Allegheny County, Pa. She was willing to sell the lots for $200.00 each.
  • Ellis had no life insurance

Statement of pastor who married Lucy Irwin and E. H. Biggerstaff stating
  • marriage date (January 15, 1883)
  • marriage location (Homestead, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania)

On April 15, 1910, Lucy finally obtained a widow's pension of $12.00/month

General Affidavit of Lewis B. Bickerstaff, 52 years; and John Bickerstaff, 57 years; dated January 19, 1920

  • Ellis's first wife was Emma Nelson who died on or about May 3, 1878, and is buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio
  • Ellis's second wife was Sallie McCune who died at Homestead, Pa., on or about May 1, 1881, and is buried in Union Cemetery, Steubenville, Ohio

Possible family members mentioned
John Biggerstaff, Nellie Biggerstaff - Notarized statement dated 30 Nov 1907
Lewis B. Bickerstaff, John Bickerstaff - General Affidavit dated 19 Jan 1920

If I had no other information about Ellis, I would have learned that
  • he had three wives
  • the names of the wives
  • approximate death dates of the first two wives and their burial locations
  • the date and location of Ellis's and Lucy's marriage

The other information is probably not helpful in regards to further research on Ellis and his first wife, Emma Nelson, and their descendants. I will not transcribe all documents and may not transcribe any. I will search for other sources to corroborate the information in the file.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

One Wedding, Two Church Certificates - Church Record Sunday

Upon their marriage in the Mineral Ridge Methodist Church on September 15, 1938, my parents, Lee and Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle received two certificates of marriage from the church. Unusual, I think.

One is in a small booklet measuring about 4 1/2" x 7" with the word "Wedlock" embossed in gold on the cover. The certificate is folded inside and when unfolded is more than double the size of the opened booklet. Holes are punch through the fold and a white tasseled cord is tied in a bow. Also in the booklet, folded on the back cover is a brief document with the title, "How to Perpetuate the Honeymoon."

This is the certificate and a transcription.

This is to certify
that on the fifteenth day of September
in the year of our Lord
Nineteen hundred thirty eight
Lee Doyle
of Niles, Ohio
Audrey Meinzen
of Mineral Ridge, Ohio
were by me united in Marriage
at the Mineral Ridge Methodist Church
according to the ordinance of God and the laws
of the State of Ohio"
Rev. Robert S. Clemmons [signature]
Witnesses {Earl Tuxford [signature]
.................{Leona Tuxford [signature]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The second certificate is in a booklet with "Our Wedding" in raised letters on the front. It is slightly larger than the one above, measuring 5 5/8" x 7". It, too, is tied with a cord but has no tassle. The pages of this booklet are printed in black, red, and green, with gold embossing on the pages.

This is the certificate and a transcription.

of Marriage
Be it known that on the 15th day of September
in the Year of our Lord 1938
Lee Doyle
Audrey Meinzen
were by me
United in Marriage
in accordance with the Laws of
State of Ohio
at Mineral Ridge Methodist Church
Rev. Robert S. Clemmons [signature]
Witnesses .. Leona Tuxford [signature]
.................Earl Tuxford [signature]


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Groom Did Not Wear a Green Suit

My parents, Lee and Audrey (Meinzen) Doyle, went shopping together before the wedding. My mom went her way to get some things and my father went his. After Mom finished her shopping she met my father to look at the suit he'd chosen. She was more than a little surprised to see that it was green! She told him that if he wore a green suit to the wedding she would not marry him. (Perhaps my mom didn't realize so early in their relationship that my father was color blind?) My mother wore velvet and my father wore a suit which was not green. Sadly, there were no wedding photos.

This photo was taken some time before my parents married. My parents are on the left and Earl and Leona (Paine) Tuxford, the witnesses at the wedding, are on the right.

My parents were married on Thursday, September 15, 1938. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sharon's Chocolate Cake - Family Recipe Friday

In the photo at right my daughter, Natasha, is holding Sharon's Chocolate Cake. It has become the only birthday cake any of us ever request for our birthdays, though we bake it at other times, too.

I know you can't see the actual cake, but trust me: it's the richest, moistest, chocolatiest, easiest (note the succession of superlatives) chocolate cake any of us has ever eaten. I was going to make one today so I could photograph it but my oven "died" last night. The next time I bake one I'll take a photograph and add it to this post or publish a new post so you can see it. (Don't mind how the cake looks. Cake decorating is not my strength.)

Sharon Loomis, a high school classmate, gave me the recipe, which means I've been using it for more than 40 years. I wrote it on a recipe card then but over the years and through use, the original card wore out. I typed the recipe on this card a few years ago. The condition of this card, shown below, is evidence of its oft-used and much-loved status. You can see my daughter's and my penciled notes on the bottom.

Sharon's Chocolate Cake

Sift/mix together 2 or 3 times:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tblsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt

Make 3 wells and add:
3/4 cup oil
2 tblsp. vinegar
2 tsp. vanilla

Pour 2 c. cold water over all. Mix well but don't beat.

Pour into greased and floured tins. Bake at 350 degrees.
For cupcakes, bake 15 minutes.
For 9" round pans, bake 30 minutes.
For 8" pans, bake about 40 minutes.
For 9" x 13" pan, bake about 45 minutes.

Test for doneness with a toothpick inserted in the center. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cakes are done.

It doesn't need frosting but we always put it on birthday cakes. If you want a good chocolate buttercream frosting recipe, leave me a note in the comments and I'll give it to you. Otherwise, use your own recipe or buy a tub of ready-made at the store.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Grandmother I Never Knew

It's almost tomorrow but I didn't want today to pass without commemorating the birth of my grandmother, Beulah Mae Gerner Doyle, on this day in 1888.

I never knew my grandmother. She died at the age of 23, a few weeks after giving birth to my father and his twin sister. Had she lived to old age I'm certain that our lives would have intertwined, even if only through letters and occasional visits.

I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to have grown up knowing two grandmothers. I wish I knew what Beulah's personality was like. Was she cheerful? Did she have a sense of humor? Was she very serious? All I really know of her personality I learned from her younger sister, Brendice. Aunt Brendice said that Beulah was a "little on the quiet side but friendly." She said Beulah liked people but not confusion or fussing. She also said, "As I remember Beulah she was very reserved and I guess I don't remember her so much because she was my friend and didn't boss me around. I shed bitter tears when she left home." (Brendice said the sisters who were older than both her and Beulah were very bossy.) Brendice was 16 when Beulah left home and married in December, 1911.

Happy Birthday, Gramma Beulah.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Where Are Those Genealogy Elves?

Where are those elves? You know the ones I mean, right? The ones who helped the shoemaker and his wife -- or ones like them who can help the family historians. Wherever they are, I need them!

Early this summer I needed to turn my attention away from family history and toward living family. I thought that when I came back I would be able to pick up where I left off without missing a beat. I was wrong.

I find I've returned to a disarray of notes, small piles of slips of paper, folders of in-progress searches, scattered photos both scanned and unscanned. (At least the papers in each folder all have the same surnames.) When I looked on my genealogy program for a specific source for one of my ancestors, I was alarmed not to find it. I was certain I'd added the source and all documentation about it, including having transcribed it. It was not there.

Wait! This sounds like some naughty elves came into my workspace and scrambled everything up, doesn't it? I wish that were true but I'm sure I did this to myself. I'm sure my best intentions were not quite good enough. (Most people who know me think that I'm very organized so let's just keep this mess of mine a secret, okay?)

No more beating myself up over my lack of organization with my family history. I've begun working to clean up the mess myself but if you happen to see any elves around your place, please politely encourage them to come to my place when they finish helping you -- unless they're the naughty elves (in which case you can encourage them to go back to forest).

Aside from finding your ancestors and breaking down your brick walls, what do you wish elves would do for you?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Once Upon a Time . . .

. . . not so long ago, on this very day at 2 a.m. in the morning, my daughter Natasha was born.   We were thrilled to welcome her to our family -- especially after a 23-hour labor.  On the way home from the hospital, 8 or 9 hours after she was born, Natasha slept through her first outing.  We stopped at Bob Evans where she and I enjoyed blueberry pancakes for breakfast.  (I can't remember what her dad ate.)

Here it is just a few years later and she has a baby of her own!  How does time go by so fast?  In a few years, her baby will be grown, too.

Though she's there and we're here, my heart is there with her today, wishing her the happiest of birthdays.

Here's a little cake for you, Natasha.  I wish it were real but it wouldn't travel well in the mail and I know your sister baked you a real one yesterday.  I guess this is for the memory of happy birthdays at home.

Happy Birthday, dear Natasha!

To you, dear readers:  This photo with the cake was taken a few years ago but it could have been taken today.  Our birthday cakes are always, always the same recipe: Sharon's Chocolate Cake.  We all love it and ask for it every year for our birthdays.  Come back on Friday and I'll share the recipe.


Copyright © 2012 Nancy Messier. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Happy 98th Anniversary

My grandparents, W. C. Robert and Emma (Bickerstaff) Meinzen, are celebrating their anniversary today. At least I expect they're celebrating it.

They were married on this date, September 8, in 1914.

I think this photo maybe have been taken in the late 1940s or early 1950s. They would have been in their late 50s or early 60s.

Grampa's hair never turned grey. Gramma's hair turned silvery white.

Happy Anniversary, Gramma and Grampa.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mocavo? - Madness Monday

You know that Mocavo is an online search engine devoted specifically to family history and genealogy websites, right? It says of itself, "Mocavo is the leading free Internet search engine for genealogy. The data in our indexes only includes information of interest to family historians. You will not find Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, or YouTube videos in your Mocavo results."

Mocavo sent me an email and asked, "Tired of finding someone else's Dear Aunt Sally?"

Well, actually, I'd almost be thrilled to find someone else's dear Aunt Sally. The fact is, when I search Mocavo (the free, basic edition), I find my own ancestors -- the ones I already found and published posts about on this very blog.

See? These are the results for my search on my uncommon surname "Meinzen."

The very strangest thing I find is that most of the posts are listed in the results at least twice and some up to five times! Not only that, many of the posts aren't even about my Meinzens. Yes, several of the posts above are about my Meinzens, but most are about Gerners, Doyles, Bartleys, and/or other family members. (And I didn't show you all the results.)

Mocavo gives so many results for my unusual surname because it finds "Meinzen" on the sidebar of my blog (under my surname list) for every single post and when it searches the posts associated with my labels. It's crazy! (As my daughter might say.)

I wonder if there's a way to tell Mocavo to search only the posts themselves and to ignore surnames listed on the sidebar and elsewhere on a blog. Anyone know? (Subscribing to their plus version is not an option.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our House Was Never Silent

A boy in grade school once asked me how many clocks and watches we had at our house. I was never good with numbers. I said, "Oh, about a hundred." He made fun of me. "No you don't! You couldn't have a hundred clocks and watches in your house!" The conversation ended. After school I went home and counted. I was nearly half right.

The clocks in our home included wrist watches, pocket watches, alarm clocks, wall clocks, and mantle clocks in all sizes and varieties, and probably a few other kinds I've forgotten. Most of them were there because they didn't keep time properly or at all. You see, my father had a small, second-job business as a watch and clock repairman and as a jeweler, a trade he learned through a correspondence course.

Each watch or clock that came in for repair received a tag on which was written the owner's name and phone number. My father had little hooks inside his roll-top desk where he hung the smaller ones before and while repairing them. You can see a few on the left side of his desk in the photo at right. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Most of the clocks returned to their owners when they were keeping accurate time. A few owners never came for their timepieces and more than a dozen of the clocks and watches in our home belonged to my father and our family. We all had our own alarm clocks -- the wind-up kind. We all had our own wrist watches -- also the wind-up kind. And there were several clocks throughout our house.

One of the constant time-keepers in our home was the clock you see on the back wall in the photo to the left. It was an electric Bulova advertising clock. The only numbers were 3, 6, 9, and 12; dots took the place of the other numbers. It had a second hand and a light. Whenever we needed to come downstairs at night there was the friendly clock, like a nightlight, casting a small glow. I don't know when or where Dad got it but it seems like it was in the same place from the time I was little until we removed everything from the house before selling it.

The other constant time-keeper was my father's wrist watch which he carefully wound every day. I don't know how he knew the correct time but he was always careful that our clocks were set accurately. Whenever I returned home for a visit from college he'd ask me how my watch was keeping. He'd have a look at it, reset it if necessary, then hold on to it for a day to see if it was running on time, fast, or slow. If not on time, he might keep it till I came home the next time if I could spare it.

I think I took time for granted when I was younger, even as recently as 10 years ago. It came, it went, I did things and there would be more time later or tomorrow. These days I have the sense that time is moving faster than I am, that I may run out of time before I run out of things I want to do. When I was a child living with someone who watched time carefully, I don't remember an extreme emphasis on time other than that some things were always done at the same time, namely, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

With all the clocks there was never complete silence at our house. It was not a small cacophony, if you're wondering, but rather a quiet, friendly, soothing sound. The clocks didn't interfere with conversation, music, or the television. Sometimes the tick of the clocks was the only sound we heard, a sound which was very comforting. All's right with my world - or will be soon - if I can hear a clock ticking.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. If you have time, I invite you to visit Sepia Saturday to find links to others' photographs and words about clocks, time, and a variety of other topics.
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