Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sentimental Sunday - Summer Memory 1963, Age Eight

It's the first day of summer. Summer mornings bring back memories of home.

I wake to my open window as the sun and a cool morning breeze hit my white cotton curtains. They sway in the air, nudging me from my dreams. I stretch, enjoying the morning coolness that will be gone all too soon from this summer scene, and then lay still to listen for the noise of others in the house. Hearing nothing, I sit up, put my feet on the smooth wooden floor, and gaze out the window in front of me. I'm looking for my mother. After a few moments perusing the straight rows of corn, potatoes, beats, beans, and other assorted vegetables, I spot white fabric billowing in the breeze. I know it must be Mom's housecoat I've spied between the single row of fruit trees and the blackberry bushes that stretch the length of our small grove. 
Shari (8), Kristi (6), Laurie (3)

I open the door and step out into the hall where I can see my little sisters, still sleeping in their twin beds, through the slightly open door across from mine. It won't be long before they wake and the house becomes active and full of life. 

As I walk past my parents' room, I notice their bed is neatly made and ready for the day. The windows have been opened and the single air-conditioner, that has run through the night in my parents' window, is getting a rest; waiting for the sun to make its way to the room's west windows. Dad's watch, pocket protector with his pens and mechanical pencils, and change for his pocket are no longer in their spot on the corner of the dresser; a sure sign that he has already left for work for the day. 

I make my way through the living room with its large picture window, on through the dining room, and into the kitchen. Every room looks, smells, and feels like summer.
My Mom is nowhere to be found in those rooms but I see signs of her presence. The double doors in the dining room lead to the backyard. They are open and doing their best to bring in cool air before the afternoon heat takes over. A coffee cup with a brown liquid ring sits on the kitchen table next to a small plate displaying evidence of toast with jelly; a crumpled paper napkin completing the picture. 

Vera Dibbens Johnson
I continue past the churning washing machine in the utility room and out the wooden screen door that leads to the north side of the house. I feel the cool morning breeze as it penetrates my summer pajamas. The small porch sits comfortably between two large flowerbeds full of columbines and snap dragons. English ivy has wound it's tendrils over the red brick of the north wall for so many years that the brick is no longer visible.

I run barefoot, down the steps and into the wet grass, on my way to the garden; our collie, Laddie, matching my steps on the other side of the chain link fence.

As I scan the garden again, I spot Mom bending over a row of snap beans. Her fingers working quickly to pull the ripe pods from their branches. She has nearly finished filling the large plastic bowl. She looks up and smiles as I come to stand beside her on the soft, cool garden soil. I help her finish filling the big bowl and we head for the kitchen where I will help her snap the ends off of the fresh beans. 

As my sisters bounce into the kitchen, I know the rest of the day will be full of summer activity. But, the early morning time with Mom cements the rich memories in my mind forever. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Don't Forget the Actual Names on the Picture!

This post is too late to help the poor mystery people in the picture below but, you can keep something just as terrible from happening to your family, simply by following my advice!
When labeling your pictures, it is always best to include actual names in the description. Just using clever words won't be enough. Images need actual names in order to be useful to anyone but yourself! Do you see these happy people smiling from this picture? Little did they know, at the time, that they would become part of a mystery and their names would be lost to the world. Let's see what caused this catastrophe!
I have to give the writer of the description kudos. He really tried but for all that effort, he completely missed the point of writing a description and they will forever remain nameless to me.
I came across this picture when sorting photos from Uncle Reuben's envelopes into stacks of family and friends. When I came to this picture, I turned it over and saw a long description on the back. It seemed like I would get a quick answer as to who their identities; that is until I began reading...

  Bottom Row - left to right
Youngest & Eldest daughter and
Mae who never aged a year since

   Top Row Right to Left
son and yours truly

The rest - daughter and sons in laws and their childrens - dog included

How many names did YOU read? I counted one, unless you count "Yours Truly."
I'm hoping these are friends of Reuben and Marge, or possibly Marge's family and not someone I should have on my family tree chart. Until I have asked the people who might know them, this picture will live in my "?" box. The writer must have put much effort talking about so many people while giving away no identities, except for his wife, Mae!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Workday Wednesday - Sharing the Work

I recently came across this picture when looking through my uncle's genealogy files. It was taken on my grandparent's Kansas farm during harvest one year, long ago. Grandpa Art Johnson is seated in the middle, Grandma, Ida, is on the far right, Art's cousin Harry and his wife are standing on the left and Grandma's sister, Helen, sitting in front.  Everyone except for poor Harry found some personal shade beneath those wide-brimmed hats. I've been told that Grandpa always wore one when he was working out in the fields.

I'm sure they were working hard the day they took this picture but, I have a feeling they also had some laughs.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - A Special Letter

Good morning dear Shari
Hope you are well and
enjoying school a lot.
Is your teacher nice 
and kind? Do you
sing songs in the morning
and write on the black
board to we use to.
Is there lots of visitors 
come to your school.
One time a man lost
his pig. and he came 
our school. just stuck
his head in the door and said, "did any of you see a runt pig." it was funny.
Lots of Love,
            Great Ma D.

Pictured to the right is Jessie Christene Field Dibbens (1874-1964). I always called her Grape Grandma. I never could figure out why she had such a different name!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - An Entry from Uncle Reuben's Travel Journal

I transcribed the entry, above, from Great Uncle Reuben's travel journal for my class during The Uncle Reuben Project this year. It took my 2nd graders a little while to realize he was referring to bears. I wondered about the reference of Bruiser so I googled it along with words such as "Chicago," which is where they were living at the time. I believe he called the bear Bruiser because the Chicago Cubs had a mascot that was a bear named Bruiser. Uncle Reuben had a sense of humor!

This is a follow-up post to my series on Uncle Reuben.
The new blog site for: The Uncle Reuben Project

I have also written about the project on Top Teaching/Shari Edwards