Saturday, July 31, 2010


I admit I had to chuckle over this devilish dilemma: A father in Georgia just learned that his 9th grade son would soon be attending a high school that has a demon (a much more ferocious-looking demon than the one above) for a mascot. For the next four years his young son will be a demon.

The father is a pastor and he doesn't like the idea of his son, as well as the city's teenagers who attend that school, being identified as something the dictionary defines as an evil spirit. He doesn't like the message that sends. He asked that his son be transferred to another school. The word came down: No transfer. So he is starting a petition to change the school mascot.

The school district says the change isn't going to happen. It seems that no religious intention was in the mind of the people who originally chose the demon as the school's mascot. The demon image came from the 7th fighter squadron at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia, which earned its nickname in the South Pacific during WWII. They called themselves "The Screamin' Demons." Therefore, the explanation is that the image is not devilish but patriotic.

The pastor (and here's where I laughed) points to a picture of the Demon mascot at a football game and says simply "There's no airplane there."

I can't say as I blame the pastor for his position. Were I a pastor I'd probably feel the same way. Would I have the strength of my convictions? Probably not, as I tend to go through life making lots of allowances for things. So I admire this pastor. Do I blame the school for staking out its position? No, I say change the important stuff and leave the little stuff alone.

But for goodness' sakes, let the man enroll his son in another school.

Friday, July 30, 2010


If you have never had the opportunity to sip a tall glass of Thai Iced Tea, you have really missed out on one of life's serious pleasures. My cousin Shirlee and I spent a lot of time trying to justify another run over to a little Thai restaurant in Fullerton (California) where we routinely washed down our yummy Larb with that eminently delicious tea.

Thai tea is in a whole different world than regular iced tea, which here in California we mostly drink unsugared. In fact, we avoid southern "sweet tea" like it was the plague. But we cetainly do make allowances for the sweet taste of Thai Iced tea.

The trick, of course, is finding a store that sells the special tea leaves that are used. Most any smallish oriental/indonesian market will have it in bulk. When steeped, it make a very deep orange color.

Believe me, the taste of this wonderful drink is worth all the effort you have to go through to find the proper tea leaves.


6 C water
1 C tea
1 C sugar
1 can evaporated milk

Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the tea and remove the pan from heat. Stir to submerge all the tea leaves in the water. Steep for about 5 minutes. Pour the brew through a coffee filter or a fine-mesh strainer into a large pitcher. Add the sugar to the hot tea and stir to dissolve. Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To serve: Fill tall glasses with crushed ice. Add enough of the tea to fill the glasses to within one inch from the top. Then float 3 to 4 tablespoons of evaporated milk over the ice in each glass.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Jerry and I are on the fringe of being called birdwatchers. By that I mean you’d think after looking at birds for more than 20 years we’d definitely be eligible to assume that title, but for us birding has been just one of the little momentarily-enjoyed pleasures, not a passion. Consequently we are still awed and delighted by the simplest of avian things.

A few months ago we learned that a new book called “Backyard Birds of the Inland Empire” had arrived on the scene. Authored by Sheila N. Kee, who has birded around San Bernardino and Riverside counties for a long time, this book has been not only a delight to us but a really big help.

Yesterday I was reading in the book and found oodles of things that I didn’t know. I’ll just mention two of them.

First, I read that some birds put crushed or live ants in their feathers, thought to rid themselves of lice and mites.

Reading this reminded me of the many times my sister and I found a downed baby bird and carefully carried it to our mother, hoping she could make it fly. Mostly the reaction we got was that we needed to put it back out so its parents could find it and then immediately go wash our hands with something strong, like Fels-Naphtha soap, to rid ourselves of all the crawly things that birds had on them. If mother said there was lice and mites on birds we believed her, but never in my 75 years did I ever hear that some birds stuff ants in among their feathers for the same reason. Sheila Kee knows, and I believe her. I learned something new!

Second, I learned something about Barn Owls. I was perusing that section trying to determine if this is the critter that flies by our bedroom window just before dawn and just after dusk each day, screeching as it goes. On this page Sheila says, “Barn Owls are actually able to hear the sound of a mouse’s heart beating under three feet of snow!”

I mulled over this statement for a while, wondering how the mouse even managed to have a heart beat after being covered with three feet of snow. Or where was the owl whose hearing they tested? And who did the testing? And how did the owl let them know he/she heard the heartbeat? Oh gosh, I can think of lots more questions about that statement, and that made me laugh. But I think Sheila has made her point: barn owls hear EVERYTHING.

Evert single page of birder Kee’s book is interesting! And so readable. Actually, I think you’d find it interesting even if you aren’t a birder wannabe.

If you’ve ever had a canary or a parakeet, you know that birds molt. Well, in her book the author notes that certain birds have "prenuptial molts," and then after the nuptials are performed (heh, heh) they have "postnuptial molts."

There are odds and ends in this book that you won’t see in the regular tomes that real birders carry around to help them identify unusual birds. Those books, while exceedingly helpful (and of which we have two) are not designed to be read from cover to cover. Kee’s book is a real treat. I do not have to look through pages and pages to see all the possibilities. Except for a bird making an out-of-character stop in my back yard, I’ll undoubtedly find the odd bird in my yard quickly, because Kee has narrowed down the possibilities. If the bird is in my yard, Sheila Kee will have a picture of it in her book. It’s as simple as that. If Jerry and I don’t have my cousin Shirlee walking beside us to tell us what we are seeing, then we are the people for whom this book was prepared!

Barnes and Noble has the book. It’s beautiful, informative, classy, sturdy and well-thought out. All you have to do is to take a random look inside, on any page with - or even without - a bird photograph on it, and you’ll want to take one home so you can identify that little bird who wears a tuxedo and catches gnats on the wing in your front yard.

Thanks, Sheila N. Kee, for this amazing book.

Monday, July 26, 2010


If you read my May 30th blog about Roll Humphrey Stevens you’ll remember the story. Roll was a young fellow of 17 who graduated from a business school in Wichita and got his first job with a “train news company in St. Louis, Missouri.” Two weeks after he took employment, he was killed in a train crash west of Wichita. His father, a well-to-do man in Wichita business circles, didn’t know why he would have been in that location. In fact, at first there was some question as to whether or not Roll was one of the three who died in that crash. He was.

Genealogically speaking, Roll was my 1st cousin twice removed. (He and my grandma Jessie were first cousins. My mother was Roll’s 1st cousin once removed and I am twice-removed. That’s how the “removals” work in genealogy). Anyway, one of the questions I had about that train wreck article was what a “Train news company” was. I had lots of help with getting an answer.

First, a friend from my past, Kenny Rice, read about Roll and made contact with an old Navy Buddy who said, among other things, that trains had “news butch's.” Kenny did some Googling but without results. I had Googled too, but had no success either.

A genealogist named “Shirley” answered my query on a Rootsweb St. Louis list, sending me to a big Wikipedia article on the Van Noy Railway News and Hotel Company where I learned that early passenger trains had neither dining nor lounge cars so they employed young men to walk through the cars selling newpapers, books, food, etc. They were referred to as a “News Butch.”

I am sure that is exactly what Roll was doing on that train. While there is yet more to research, I was grateful for the help these two people gave me in giving a “life” to poor Roll.

Yesterday I talked to my cousin Shirlee in North Carolina, who also is related to Roll in the same way I am, and I told her what I had learned. She and I have worked together on our genealogy since 1984. When I mentioned “News Butch” she let out a whoop and said, “Oh my gosh, I completely forgot that Uncle Bob was a News Butch on a train for a while.”

Our Uncle Bob had left Kansas for California about 1928, intending to become a movie star. While he was in Los Angeles, he took many odd jobs to sustain himself. After the Second World War he and Shirlee’s father went to Arizona, bought a lot of trinkets from the Indians and sold them on trains coming back to California. My cousin had forgotten all about this; I had never heard that story before.

And finally, Shirlee remembered that when she was visiting her daughter Debra in Japan, she and Debbie took a train ride and there were vendors on the Japanese train selling “Bento” boxes – little boxes full of food for lunch. My cousin dug into her box of photos and found exactly what she was looking for: the picture above of Deb on a train, eating from a bento box.

Such an amazing trail of discovery, I think. Help from an old friend and an unknown friend, and a sudden remembrance of a family story by a cousin – all helping to flesh out not only the story of Roll’s life but also that of my own heritage.

In genealogy, sometimes we don’t think to ask. Sometimes we don’t know what to ask. Sometimes we just don’t dig far enough. And sometimes we strike it very lucky, indeed. Genealogy takes many twists and turns. Thanks to all my helpers on this hunt. I am grateful.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It isn’t very often that I am at a loss for words, but a small article in yesterday’s paper from an unnamed news service has put me in that condition.

A police report states that at 3 a.m. Thursday a 39-year old Pasadena woman allegedly used her car in an attempt to run over the brother of her ex-boyfriend. Police arrived, but before they could arrest her she pulled off her urostomy bag and threw it at the three arresting officers, splashing them with her urine.

She was arrested and booked for investigation of attempted murder.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


When people vacation, they often do things that they wouldn’t consider doing at home. However, neither Jerry nor I are very athletic, and snorkeling, bungee-jumping, parasailing, shooting rapids, mountain-climbing, dolphin-riding and things like that have never entered our minds, either at home or away.

For vacations, we have always liked the more wimpy things – a cruise, a chalet overlooking Lake Tahoe, a stay in the old Miyako Hotel in SF with a traditional Japanese bathtub and things like that. In Hawaii I don’t believe we even put on swim suits, but we did have pupus and sunset cocktails at a friend’s apartment at Diamond Head. These may sound like boring vacations to you, but we have always mightily enjoyed ourselves.

However, this recent project of mine – that of digitizing all our slides – has caused me to remember the few times that we did something out of the ordinary and have the pictures to prove it. Although not exactly “athletic” endeavors, we experienced some things less wimpy – and certainly for both of us, have done things we are not likely to ever do again.

What have we done? We have ridden horses, camels and asses.

In 1980 we took a tour to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. It was there, going from our hotel in Giza out to the Pyramids that Jerry and a dirty but easy-going camel became friends. Actually, we each rode a camel, and unfortunately our camels weren’t exactly in sync and the photo I got of him was a cross between his camel lurching one direction and mine lurching another. His photo is terribly out of focus, but if you look carefully you can see Jerry and if you look very, very carefully, you can see the whites of Jerry’s eyes. He had never ridden on any kind of a beast before, and it took him a while to get his adrenalin under control!

Later in Jordan, Jerry had his first-ever (and last-ever) horseback ride. Our whole tour group rode horses to get to Petra. He wasn’t sure this is what he wanted to do and he really had no idea where he was going to end up. Heading off like the Lone Ranger into a crack between two sheer walls wasn’t his idea of fun. However, if he had any fears he didn’t show them, except his calling me “Tonto” might have been a cover for his nervousness. For those of you who have been to Petra, you know that your reward for such bravery is a never-to-be forgotten sight. For the record, note that he himself acted as my "pack horse," always carrying my camera equipment!

My own experiences with the animals had been a little different. I’d had lots of horseback riding trips when I was in a Girl Scout troop during the 1945-1950 period of my life. We always had an adult with us when we went to the stables along the old dry Los Angeles River in Long Beach, but we pretty much knew how to handle that horse ourselves. During the summers when I was in college I served as a counselor at a camp in Big Bear and we took the young campers horseback riding at least once during their week-long stay. So horses didn’t bother me.

But my first jaunt on a small ass was when Jerry and I signed up for a land tour in Haiti on our honeymoon, which was to take us up a mountain trail to an old fortress at the top. My little mode of transportation was used to walking on a 3 foot wide trail up the hill. I was not. I had to put my shakey trust in his sure feet and also hope the young fellow walking on the side nearest the cliff and who had the the reins in his hand to catch me if my little beast stumbled and fell. I remember feeling an accelerated heart beat for a while, but we made it up and down safely. It still was a fairly traumatic event, and I have no recollection of Jerry being with me at all; he could have stayed down on the flatland for all I remember. I think the memory loss is a sign of just how nervous I was.

The proof of our "athletic" tales is in the photographs. I must admit we still prefer wimpy vacations. Even travelling in a big RV is out. We like soft mattresses and hot water and permanent toilets and nice restaurants. No horses or camels or asses for entertainment. But it does please me to say that yep, we did it once!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Whenever I hear anyone critize an index and assign the blame for errors to the indexer, I cringe. I myself admit to having been guilty of that, which I actually think is odd considering that I have done plenty of indexing in my life.

Below you will find a snippit from the 1880 Rice County, Kansas, Federal Census. The first person you see is listed in the index (which was, at some point, probably done by a volunteer indexer) as "Stephens, Jheotes." The problem here, of course, is that the census taker was not very careful and he/she made some of the tall letters from the wife's name jut up into her husband's name on the previous line. Who would ever think such a thing would cause anyone grief? After all, it wasn't the names that the census makers were looking for; they were gathering all different kinds of data, never suspecting that many, many years down the road genealogists would be looking for specific people.

Anyway, when the indexer came to this name, I'm sure he/she tried to get it right. But I have to tell you, indexers don't like it when they have to figure out what on earth a name is. We know we are likely misreading it, but we try our best. If you were the indexer, what would you say the husband's first name was?

It actually is "Chester." If you look carefully, you can see how the indexer came up with Jheotes. For years I looked in the index for my family. I knew they were there; I just couldn't find them in the index. As it turned out, the census taker misspelled their last name (should have been Stevens) and when I finally did an index search using "Stephens" I found them....but I also found Jheotes.

My point is, handwriting causes a lot of grief for indexers.

When I was a kid in elementary school, we had major time devoted to handwriting skills. I don't remember what school of handwriting was taught in those years (1940-45), but it certainly wasn't the Spencerian handwriting style, which is shown in the top illustration. This is called the "Ladies" style; males got a different style. Looking at such clear illustrations hides the fact that when you actually see something written in this handwriting, it is most hard to read. All the gee-gaws and curly-cues almost hide the individual letters.

I am presently doing some indexing of birth certificates for babies born in Jamaica in the 1900s. On nearly each capital letter there are "flyaways" (my term) that lead the eye on a merry chase and lead the brain in a struggle to figure out whether the letter is a Y or a Z or a G or a J or a -- and so the indexer must make a decision. All I can say is that I do my very best. If your ancestor Achilles Zount isn't in the Z's, look for him in the G's or the Y's. Sometimes it's any man's guess!

In some recent indexing of Oklahoma people, reading the data sometimes doesn't make sense. The indexer is to index what is written and not correct errors they might find. Let me tell you that often it is hard to do. I want good data for all the future researchers so they will have a better chance of finding the object of their hunt, but I input what I see. When I indicate the following persons as men, I just have to shake my head and wonder what the Oklahoma mothers were thinking about: Rubie, Norma, Lacie, Hollie, Joyce, Perl, Lois, Una, Loraine,Vivian, Eunice, Gay, Garnet and Maudie. But who am I to say who is wrong? I named two of my three daughters masculine names - Bryn and Kerry - thinking they were way too pretty to waste if I didn't have any more sons.

Getting back to handwriting, I rarely use the handwriting style I was taught in school. I do think one's handwriting style has a significance; I don't think I need to have mine analyzed, although it might be fun to see what is supposedly signifies.

And getting back to indexing, please don't always jump to conclusions that the indexer was being exceptionally stupid. We usually aren't. However.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I recently read an essay by Ellen Lupton in which she said the desire to pass objects on to one’s offspring is part of our longing for immortality. She also said an “heirloom” is an object steeped in family history and handed down from generation to generation.

I have mulled over her words and share with you a number of random, and some kind of odd, thoughts about them.

1. I do not have any heirlooms to pass on to my children. Neither my mother’s family nor my father’s family were particularly sentimental. My mother did have six hobnail sauce dishes that she said belonged to the grandmother she was named after and which I inherited, but in doing a tiny bit of research on them I discovered they actually post-dated great-grandma’s death and couldn’t have been hers. So heirlooms may not be heirlooms at all.

2. In my curio cabinet I have lots of trinkets that have meaning to me, things I can’t bear to give up now even in another pending round of downsizing. But who of my children would see anything of sentimental value in a porcelain ashtray used on Turkish Airlines? I am not ready to part with it yet, but it will be ok if it ends up in the trash after I die, along with the dozens of hand made glass beads I brought home and other such trivia.

3. I feel bad that Trigger sold at auction for $230,000.00...not at how much he brought in but that obviously he had no sentimental value to his owner’s descendants. Bullet did well at the sale too and will join Trigger in some future museum. I think if there is a wax figure of Roy Rogers lolling around somewhere, he ought to join his old buddies. That would be the way kids of my generation remember them. I am sentimental about RR, because I always wanted to marry him and Dale beat me to it.

4. I have more desire for my children to keep my baby book in the family as an “heirloom” – a book of no dollar value whatsoever – than I do for them to keep my great-great-great grandfather George Stevens’s bone toothbrush handle that was dug out of his old privy in Belvidere, Illinois. That artifact has no actual value either but since George left that privy before 1860, it truly is the oldest “heirloom” that our family has. Nevertheless, I’m not emotionally attached to that one like I am my baby book.

5. It occurred to me that there are now only two people in the world who remember my grandma Jessie. I am the oldest of her living descendants and my cousin Shirlee is the next oldest; the rest of the cousins were wee tots when she died. I remember her mostly because she always let us sit in the rumble seat of her little car when it was parked at the curb. Seeing as she was a good woman with lots of good works to her credit, I’m sure she’d not be totally happy to know that what I remember is the fun of her old car. I have to admit it makes me wonder about my own legacy!

6. Tigger, our favorite cat of all times, got the honor of being cremated. His little ashes sit in a small cedar box in our living room. Jer and I know that he is not an heirloom to be fought over by our kids, so we are planning to take him with us when we go. I get half and Jer gets the other half. How this will be accomplished is not yet certain, and probably will be done by the kid who most understands my crazy self! I have read that humans can be buried in a pet cemetery but animals are not allowed to be buried in a human cemetery. So perhaps somewhere on “my property” – that little 4”x 6” piece of ground that I paid an arm and a leg for and that is set aside for me and me alone – that kid can surreptitiously dig a smallish hole and put my share of Tig in it. (Don’t let the security cameras watch you, though!)

Interesting that all it takes is the reading of one essay to get ruminations going about the specialness (or mundaneness) of one’s life and things. I have always said that my life just doesn’t have the panache for a good autobiography. Nevertheless, I have documented myself somewhat for my kids/grandkids and I’ve called it “My Life in Bits and Pieces.” It and the genealogy stories I’ve written about my family heritage, not any heirlooms, will be theirs. But that’s about as immortal as I’m ever going to get.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


In May of 1991, Jerry and I stepped onto an airplane headed for Istanbul where Jerry was scheduled to spend the next eighteen to twenty-four months consulting with a Turkish-American company. We saw it as a big adverture, a wonderful thing coming our way at a time when our kids were all out on their own and we were free as birds.

We had done some traveling abroad and knew that those long hours in the air were not fun. Jerry in particular and men in general usually have no trouble at all sleeping through the entire 10, 12, 14 or 16 hours of the flight. I knew that I NEVER could sleep on an airplane, so I readied a goodie-bag with all kinds of possibilities - books, crossword puzzles, magazines, knitting projects, cross-stitch pieces, lined tablets for writing and the like. Better too much than too little, I thought.

A couple of days before we took off, daughter Bryn and our two little grandsons, Christopher and Andrew, came by to wish us bon voyage and gave us a going away gift. "The boys wanted you to have a Game Boy," Bryn said. Remember, this was back in the dark ages, and I had to have the boys show me how to work the dang thing. At that time, Tetris was the game of choice; I'm not even sure the Mario guys were around yet. Anyway, I got the short course and was told that this would entertain us while we were on the plane ride. Christopher added that I'd better play with the sound off, as it would drive the airplane passengers crazy.

They were right. I took ownership of that Game Boy while Jerry slept away and nothing in my goodie-bag even was touched. I had lots of passengers come by and ask me what I was doing; there were many who were as naive about electronic toys as I was. Oh my goodness, did I have fun.

The first six weeks in Istanbul were spent in a nice suite at the Hilton Hotel overlooking the Bosphorus while our apartment was being readied. Every morning I woke up to the sounds of Tetris being played by Jerry out on the patio. He was considerate in letting me sleep in, and he was assured of a good hour's worth of playing each morning. To this day when I hear the Tetris sound I am immediately taken back to that wonderful time in Turkey. During our twenty-some months there, not a day went by without one or both of us having a go at it!

By the time we got home the Mario brothers were around. Jerry stayed with Tetris and I moved on to SuperMarioland, coached not only by my grandchildren but also by son Garry, who also was a whiz at it. From time to time I added new games, but none ever was as fun as the ones we started with.

The Game Boy still sits on our end-table. Every grandchild who has ever come into our house since our return in 1993 has made a beeline for the aging game. It stopped working at one time and we found a fellow in Santa Ana who repaired it for us.

Now Olivia and Justine are the ones who always use it. Imagine, those little girls who are already far more proficient on electronic gadgets that either their grandma or their grandpa and who personally already have one of everything, -- imagine, that when they come here they always argue over who gets to play the Game Boy first. We've pretty much solved that problem by letting one play on the computer and the other on Game Boy, and then switching.

On occasion, if I have time to kill while monitoring something cooking on the stove I'll grab that toy and give it a few whirls. It has served us well. In almost twenty years it has only broken down that one time. It, like the Energizer Bunny, is still going on and on.... In all my downsizing efforts I have never considered sending it down to the thrift shop with the other old stuff. Nope, that's one antique that I'll have a hard time parting with, even if (when) it stops working again.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Even though Mildred Bourn Hall is not my direct relative, I’d like to share a few words about her life. Abner Hall of Franklin County, Missouri was my great-great-great (genealogists call that 3rd great) grandfather. He had two wives. His first, Nancy, was the mother of William LeGrand Hall and John A. Hall, from whom I descend. Nancy died in 1843 and Abner married young Mildred Bourn, with whom he had five more Hall children: Emily Caroline, Thomas Benton, Nancy, R.M. Johnson and James E.

Mildred and Abner’s world started falling apart in 1858, when son William L. stabbed a man to death and was sent to the penitentiary. William was an attorney and through some legal maneuvering he only served a few years in prison. Next, son Thomas Benton disappears from all records and may have died sometime before 1860. In 1863 after William's release from prison, William killed his sister Emily Caroline with a shotgun and planned to kill the rest of his siblings to insure that he would inherit all his father's estate. A posse captured him first and promptly administered frontier justice by hanging. Emily Caroline had been sitting by the bedside of her dying father and the shock of this horrible killing caused Abner died immediately. Once all the legal details were settled, the widow Mildred took her remaining children and resettled to Warrensburg, Missouri, where several of her widowed sisters had moved.

As if that weren't bad enough, Mildred and Abner’s youngest son, James, had a son Byron who in 1906 went berserk in Warrensburg and shot two policemen to death. He was killed in the gunfire exchange. Luckily Mildred did not live to see this, having died in 1904.

In the course of my research I came to know Marjory Hall, a genealogist whose husband was a descendant of this James Hall. Margery provided me not only with a great deal of information about James’s family but also some very interesting information on Mildred’s Bourn family, who also had lived in Franklin County.

Mildred was the second child of Morton and Elizabeth Greenleigh Bourn who came to Franklin County, Missouri sometime after 1835 from Frederick County, Virginia. Mildred was born on December 14, 1821. Abner was her first and only husband.

During the early part of the Civil War a Captain Lyon organized the Missouri Home Guard for the protection and preservation of peace in their respective neighborhoods. They were loosely connected to the Union Army, with some men serving in both the Army and the Home Guard. From several sources the following is a description of the Franklin county Regiment of the Home Guard Infantry.

A regiment was immediately organized in June 1861, consisting of 6 companies, a total of 500 men, headquartered in Washington, Missouri, created under authority of Capt. Lyon and placed under the command of J. W. Owens. This company was for some time secretly drilling with shotguns and rifles, getting ready to aid in the defense of their country. Col. Owens and A. W. Maupin applied in St. Louis, to Capt. Lyon, for muskets and ammunition, and their application was complied with on the condition that they would be personally responsible. Two hundred and fourteen muskets were sent out by Capt. Lyon to Washington, Missouri on the night of June 11, 1861, and with them were armed two companies, commanded, respectively, by Capt. Wilhelmi and Capt. Maupin. The former company, upon receiving their muskets, immediately took possession of Washington, and the latter marched to Union. Upon approaching the town, Capt. Maupin took the precaution to place guards on every road leading out of Union, and then marched into the town, the glistening bayonets of his 100 men making a brilliant spectacle. There were then about ten rebels in Union, and upon seeing the approach of the “lightning rods,” these rebels attempted to make their escape, but found every road closed against them, and were captured on different roads, and brought back into town. They wee admonished to desist from all attempts to interfere with the Government in defending its existence. At that time there were seven secession flags flying in the county, but before night every one of them was taken down by the secessionists themselves. Primary duties of the regiment consisted in guarding railroad bridges in Franklin county until September 1861, when the regiment was disbanded.

According to Bourn family data as passed on to me by Margery, Mildred’s father, Morton, was a prominent Southern sympathizer during the Civil War, as were many of the residents of Franklin County. On August 31, 1861, he was killed by the Missouri Home Guards in Franklin County, Missouri. When the Home Guards entered his house, Morton shot one of them. Another hit Morton in the head with the butt of his rifle. The blow knocked Morton silly and he staggered out the door. Another of the Home Guards shot and killed Morton as he attempted to climb a fence. The Home Guards warned the family that anyone else who left the house would be shot. Morton’s body remained draped over the fence for two days. Finally, one of his daughters ignored the warnings and buried her father.

So this was the event Mildred experienced between the time of stepson William’s first murder and before his second rampage that killed daughter Emily and contributed to the death of Abner. It is hard to imagine poor Mildred going through all this trauma within a five year period.

The act against her father was of a different sort, and one of those ugly things that are in the records of the Civil War period. But I think poor Mildred’s real problem was that she unfortunately married into a family that had one very bad gene. William and Byron both were deemed “insane” by the legal community.

The sources for this information were 1) A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, V.III” by Frederick H. Dyer, c 1908, p. 1341, 2) “History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford and Gasconade Cos., MO” by Goodspeed c 1888, p. 245-246; 3) “The Union Cause in St. Louis in 1861: A Historical Sketch,” by Rombauer, c 1909, p 256, and 4) “Annual Report of the Adjutant General of Missouri for the Year Ending December 31, 1863,” c 1864; p. 131-132. Also see The Index to the Civil War in Franklin County Missouri.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


The other day I learned, via a crossword puzzle, that a sergeant wasn’t the only NCO; a CPL is also one.

Not being from a military family or particularly well-read when it comes to military things, I actually felt like I was really stupid to have to ask Jerry why SGT didn’t work in the three squares I needed to fill. At dinner last night he gave me the “Intro to Rank” short course.

Considering the fact that I have had two husbands who both served in Korea, the only explanation that seemed reasonable was that my dad was too old to serve in the Second World War, and I wasn’t married to either of my husbands when they were in Korea.

However, this discussion led me to think of the wonderful pictures I’ve uncovered in my quest to digitize our slides, some dating back to…yes, the Korean War. So I’d like to share a few with you

The battalion camp near Osan, Korea.

Jerry’s years at MIT were made possible in part by the ROTC, a requirement for freshmen and sophomores. Those who continued in ROTC for their junior and senior years were paid as Officer Recruits, which helped finance their education. When Jerry graduated in June of 1951 with a degree in Building and Construction Engineering, he also was commissioned in the Army Active Reserve as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was called to active duty in September of 1951 and assigned to the 841st Engineer Aviation Battalion at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The battalion was an active reserve unit, headquartered in Miami, Florida and had been sent to Fort Huachuca for training and completion of organizational assignments. Jerry was sent to Fort Belvoir, Virginia for advanced Officer Training and rejoined the 841st in March of 1952.

The battalion was then sent to Korea, with an assignment to participate in the construction of K-51, a major Air Force Command base about 100 miles south of Seoul. As Adjutant, Jerry was in charge of Battalion administration, as well as oversight of a few other areas - personnel, the company guard – and he served as the Communications officer. He left Korea in May of 1953 as a 1st Lieutenant, having served his required 2 years of active duty. In June he was assigned to an Engineer Reserve Company at Fort MacArthur in San Pedro. After completing his remaining three years of Active Reserve in 1956, he received an Honorable Discharge.

While Jerry was busy getting his education and helping the US build air bases in Korea, I was a young high-schooler, really unconcerned with the Korean war. All of my uncles had served in the Second World War and none of my friends were old enough to be drafted in the early 1950s. The Korean War did not seem to have any relationship to my life at that time.

During that same time period, Joe Kirkpatrick, a young man just out of high school and old enough to join the Marines, enlisted in February of 1951. He went to Camp LeJeune for basic training and then two months of specialized training in demolitions. He spent thirteen months in Korea. He was honorably discharged in February of 1954 with the rank of Staff Sargeant. As noted before, this was the time that I was enjoying teen-aged things and not worrying about the war. In June of 1953 I graduated from High School and in the fall of ’53 I headed out to George Pepperdine College in Los Angeles

I started my Sophomore year in the fall of 1954 and met a new fellow in our college choir who had just entered college after being released from military service. That man was Joe Kirkpatrick and he later became my husband and father of my children. Except for the fact that he had a monthly obligation to attend Marine Reserve meeting, his military service seemed a thing of the past and it had little bearing on our life together.

These photos all are significant to me now, though not because of the Korean War but because they draw the eye and the mind back to a war that our nation really considered a Police Action. As I look at these pictures I can’t help but be proud of these two fellows who served honorably, gave a few years of their young lives to our country, and then at different times walked into my life.

Isn’t it amazing what kind of reminiscing a cross-word puzzle will cause?

Friday, July 16, 2010


June Gloom is gone and 100+ degree heat is here, making one think about the luxury of swimming pools.

A year after we were married in 1975, Jer and I set about looking for a house to buy. Four of our combined six kids were already out on their own and two were still living at home. I immediately thought a house with a pool would be just what we needed, a place to center family activities and learn to become a blended family. We found the perfect place, and the kids found each other.

We had little tykes in the pool tended by teenage aunties.

We had a granddaughter who was so fearful of the "big" water that we accommodated her with her own personal pool.

We had some who were totally fearless, though the water wings helped a bit. Before long the floaties became an impediment to the adventuresome spirit and they were discarded and bumped down to the next grandbaby.

The teenagers enjoyed the pool as much as anyone, whether it was a place to discover one's "hubba-hubba" image or, in the case of a photo not used here, a high school girls choir skinnydipping quietly in the pool after an evening concert.

A son home from the Navy shows off his flexibility poolside and surprises all of us no end!

And finally a place for grandparents to enjoy their progeny.

I will always remember that Jerry had suggested that we forego the pool, because in a previous house he had one and no one used it. (That was because it wasn't heated, I think.) However, I held out for the pool because I knew that for our new family, it would be absolutely perfect. It was.

Lucky me. Lucky Jerry. Lucky kids and grandkids. And what wonderful memories we have captured on film.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


In this morning’s “In Brief” column in the local newspaper I find the following about a carjacking in a city close to us: “The trio arrested on suspicion of armed carjacking and leading officers on a high-speed chase Monday night were two girls, ages 12 and 16, and a 15 year old boy.”

It seems that the two girls approached a woman in a parking lot and told her she would be shot if she didn’t hand over her keys. The boy was standing nearby, pointing a rifle at the woman. The woman gave up the keys, the kids took off, and the woman called the police.

After a high speed case both on and off the freeway, the driver of the stolen car collided with another vehicle, injuring two people, and the youngsters were apprehended.

Several things occur to me about this. First is my incredulousness at the ages of these criminals. I am just astounded. Second, in spite of the fact that I understand why some high speed chases are necessary, I find them in matters like this hard to justify. I understand that we can’t let criminals go about their merry business unimpeded, but so often these high speed chases end in the maiming and death of innocent people. I have to believe that alternative ways to get back a stolen car should be taken. Surely the stupidity and poor judgment of three young teenagers would lend itself to some other strategy for capture, one that was less risky for all.

As much as I hate to say it, I think the direction our society is heading is a result of the direction the visual media is taking us. Violent movies, violent TV, violent games. No wonder the 12 years old think they can be as brazen as Dillinger.

And all this calls to mind the old famous saying of Pogo: We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is us.

True, true.

Monday, July 12, 2010


When I was 13 and my sister 11, my mother found herself in a late-in-life pregnancy. I have written about that event, specifically how she told us that she was pregnant, in an earlier blog (August 2008). In those days sex wasn't "in your face" like it is nowadays. In fact, even the word "pregnant" had lots of euphemisms that we were told to use, with "Expecting" being the most acceptable and "in a family way" running a close second. Believe it or not, my sister and I did not know how babies were made until mother put a book into our hands soon after she knew she was pregnant again.

The other day I was thinking about an upcoming talk I'm going to give on writing life stories and family histories, and how writing little short "vignettes" is often easier than writing a long narrative-type story. The more you practice on these little tiny slices of life, the easier it is to get them down. And that made me think about how I turned the story mentioned above into a second and companion vignette, written from my mother's perspective. Here's the result. I call it "It's time to tell them!"

Scott, we've got to tell the girls that I'm pregnant. Aside from the fact that I'm starting to "show," how much longer can we keep it a secret from them? Someone in the family is going to accidentally blurt it out and then we will be in a pickle. I know you'd just as soon stay out of this, but I want you with me. You got me into this fix and you can help me get out of it.

I gave them the book to read last week and I'm sure they both read it. Neither one has asked me a thing about it and I think they would have if they'd had any questions.

What are we going to say if they ask us if we've had sex? I've never talked to them about sex because it embarrasses me. I learned about it from my older sister. How did you learn about it? Oh, never mind answering that. You boys seem to have always known about it!

Anyway, we've got to tell them tonight. I'll say we want to have a family meeting in the living room after dinner and we can break the news there. No, I'm not asking you to do the talking. I just want you there for moral support. Hopefully they won't ask for any details. If they do, we'll just have to be careful with what words we use. I don't like the word "sex."

Oh, I just don't know why after all this time I had to get pregnant. Believe you me, Scott, we're never going to have sex again!

There were no more surprise babies.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


Jerry is not familiar with either the term "Balaam's Ass" or the story from the Bible (Numbers Chapter 22-24). I'd guess there are lots of people who aren't familiar with it. The story itself can have as many interpretations as there are readers and religions, and it can probably be interpreted even without a religious bent, though I personally would be hard-pressed to do it.

In a very simplistic explanation, an ass, upon which a man (Balaam) is riding, suddenly stops and won't go any further. The man hits the ass to get it going again - in fact, he has to do this three times - but the ass doesn't move an inch foreward. What the ass sees that the man doesn't is that there is an angel in his path and the angel is brandishing a sword. Finally God gives the ass a voice, and the ass tells Balaam why he can't go any further.

There is lots more to this story on both sides - what brought this all about and how it ends up. In literature there are often allusions to a talking donkey or another bit of imagery that appear in this story, and if one didn't know a little about it, one might miss the implication.

It's perfectly ok not to know it, but anyone who's had a modicum of bible studies in their adult life will certainly know about Balaam's ass and probably will have heard plenty of sermons on it.

But better than the words and the allusions, I think, are the wonderful pictures that artists have rendered of this event. I picked two out that show the wide variation in style. I am particularly fond of the picture at the top of the blog, and if I was at the beginning of my adult life, I might try to do a 28-to-the-inch counted cross-stitch of it.

There is no particular point to this blog today, except that Jerry was working a crossword puzzle and was stumped by "Balaam's _____". He asked, I produced and have been thinking about it since. So now you know where some of my ideas come from.

And did you know that this is one of only two times in the entire bible that an animal talks? The other is that old wily serpent in the garden of Eden.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The recipe below was passed on to me by a distant relative in Opelousas, Louisiana. It's easy and oh, so good!


½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 pound pecan halves (about 4 cups)

Preheat over to 325 degrees.
Pour butter onto heavy large rimmed baking sheet and tilt sheet to spread butter evenly. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in large bowl just until foamy. Gradually add sugar and cinnamon, beating until just blended. Don't overbeat, as the mixture must be fairly runny. Add pecan halves and stir to coat.

Spread pecans on the baking sheet in single layer if possible. Bake until pecans are crisp and butter is absorbed, about 30 minutes, turning them over with a spatula every 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Slide spatula under pecans to loosen them. Cool pecans on baking sheet until crisp, about 2 hours. Then eat!

These pecans can be prepared up to 1 week ahead but should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)

Quick and easy, huh? Yum!

Friday, July 9, 2010


I am easily pleased. All I need to make me deliriously happy each morning is to have a hot cup of hazelnut-flavored coffee delivered to my hand and a good new word sent to me in one of my multitudinous internet dictionary subscriptions.

I am one happy lady today. I’ve had the coffee, and here is the word:


Have you ever heard of it? Neither had I, because it has to do with ostriches.

Here’s the way Merriam-Webster used it this morning in their Word of the Day offering:

“The law is not so struthious as to compel a judge…to divorce himself or herself from common sense or to ignore what is perfectly obvious. (Hon. Bruce M. Selya, U.S. v. Sklar, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1st Circuit, 1990).

So what does it have to do with ostriches?

Well, the ostrich is scientifically named Struthio camelus. (One would make a guess that the camelus comes from camel, but since I’m dealing with the struthio, not the camelus, you can hunt that one down yourself). Struthious therefore means “Of or relating to the ostriches and related birds.”

Merriam Webster says “Struthious” can be figuratively used as meaning “ostrich-like,” and of course from that one has to think of the ostrich burying its head in the sand. That image, then, makes sense of the old judge not needing to act struthiously.

So if we can get ourselves familiar enough with that word to have it trip off our tongue without our seeming to be a bit smart-alecky with our words, we should be able to use it quite often. I already think that it describes the way Jerry looks at me when I tell him I hear another strange noise coming from inside our car engine.

So give the word a try. Just be sure that you understand that an ostrich does not really bury its head in the sand. It just likes to lie down on the ground and flatten its neck and head against the ground to avoid being seen, something I have considered doing on occasion also if I could figure out how not to make a spectacle of myself!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Back in 2004 I came in contact via letter from a woman in San Francisco who needed some genealogical assistance with her early San Bernardino family, John Milton and Helen Millson Morris, who arrived there in 1874. I was volunteering my time in the local library’s history room and with the amazing archives available in their California Room, I suggested to her that if at all possible she might want to come down and see for herself what all was at hand. She did, and I met her there. From that first contact, she and I knew we would be good friends.

Her name is Nancy, and the internet has made possible a long-distance friendship that has grown almost as easily as if we lived in the same town. As the more advanced genealogy researcher I have shepherded her through her own beginning research and she is now returning the favor to others. And she, being a Registered Parliamentarian, has reawakened my long-dormant interest in parliamentary procedures and helped me work up revised bylaws for the Corona Genealogical Society locally that I am associated with.

We have lots in common; she worked for the State Department and traveled through eastern Europe and the middle east. Much of what I discovered in Turkey during our time there is duplicated in the places she has been, and we both share a love of food from that region. She shares with me the birds she finds as she walks daily around Stowe Lake in San Francisco; I keep her posted with the seasonal appearance of Archie Grosbeak and his wife at my bird-feeder. She received the first photo I took of the sharpshin hawk that lit on my porch quite unexpectedly last summer.

Both of us are avid readers and we swap our views of books read and we compare what we’ve just put on our “to read” lists. We share the trials and tribulations of apartment dwellers, absent newspapers on the doorstep, noisy neighbors, and “what we are going to do today” scenarios.

But best of all, we occasionally are able to see each other. Three times since 2004 she has come to the Southern California area to act as a parliamentarian for groups she works for. And in her free time we arrange to get together. Just this past weekend she was in Los Angeles for the Music Teachers Association of California’s yearly meeting. The meetings, over a period of three days, were held at a hotel near the LAX, so to be handy I drove in and bunked with my daughter. As soon as Nancy’s duties were over each day, I picked her up and we took off to see what we could see.

Nancy was born in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA. From there on, her life was spent elsewhere. She and I looked at the old places she lived; I showed here how the town has changed. We photographed her standing in front of the house her folks lived in when she was born. But mostly our best time was when we had a meal and could spend some time afterwards talking. And did we talk! Jerry wonders how women can spend five hours at a stretch talking, but we just can. The outdoor eating area at the Beverly Center Souplantation provided a wonderful lunch and setting for our Sunday afternoon visit. The previous day it was Mimi’s yummy restaurant in Torrance that provided the setting.

Good friends are not always easy to come by. There has to be a meeting of the minds as well as the spirit to really cement friendships, and often life goes by too fast for such things to happen. Finding Nancy in my life, both in person and online, has been a real serendipity for me. This friendship now is in its sixth year and going strong. I sign off my e-mails with “BF” – which stands for Best Friend, which she truly is. We decided that the next get-together should be up her way. She has much to show me up there – but even if we didn’t “see” anything, whenever the time comes we know we’ll have much more to talk about, and so much fun doing it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


In spite of the inclination to say, “She brought it upon herself,” I have to say that I feel really bad about Lindsay Lohan’s very public struggle to get to a good place in her life. It’s all well and good to know that someone is suffering the consequences of what they knew their actions would bring – and lord knows that all of us who have made it to senior adulthood know from experience that consequences are mostly not fun – but what is scary is that these just desserts may just not be the last she is going to eat.

Young people don’t like to hear what older people advise them. If there is a consequence to pay, the young person too often thinks that it may happen to some people but it is not going to happen to them. I always think it is like an illustration of a small child who keeps running into the street. As an adult we know that sooner or later this child is going to be hit by a car, so we tell them not to run there. The child may not be hit this time or even next time but it WILL happen and the results will be just awful. We are not saying this to cramp a kid’s style or to show them that we are smarter than they are. We just know that certain things will happen sooner or later.

Lindsay keeps running into the street. Whether a short stay in the pokey will get her attention and change her mindset is an unknown. She is a darling girl and I think all moms everywhere would like to wrap their arms around her and tell her that she’s worth saving and she must get a new and different lifestyle to make it happen.

I read a really touching book recently, a book called “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman. As a young woman she did some drug trafficking and ten years later she was arrested and convicted for her part in the scheme. The author subsequently spent about thirteen months in a women’s prison. I wish Lindsay Lohan would read Piper’s story, take what lessons she sees in it and begin molding her own life in a new direction.

We all hope this beautiful young woman whom we have watched grow up before our eyes can take her medicine, take some advice from those who want her to have a happy life and a long career, and start over again.

Monday, July 5, 2010


One of the benefits of blogging is that you can get totally bizarre things off your chest....things you might not have reason or occasion to ever tell otherwise. It occurred to me that several times in the past -- and once on this blog early on -- I listed 25 things I liked. Now I am not a crabby, mean, moody, glum or downbeat person. I do, however, have a few things I don't like very much. Today I am going to tell you what they are and add just a comment or two about them.

1. RIPE BANANAS. The smell of ripe bananas makes me gag. I can make a banana cream pie, choose my bananas carefully and enjoy every piece. However, I don't dare order a piece of banana pie at a restaurant. I believe the fate of ripe bananas is split between banana bread and commercially baked banana cream pies. Not only do the bananas smell bad but they taste that way too.

2. INDETERMINANT MEAT. I do not like what I see in the dark meat of fowl. There are veins and other ugly things. And the smell is fairly pungent. My cousin Nancy once described an unpleasant bit of meat she saw in North Carolina as "indeterminant meat." Her description was right on; later I saw the same meat she had described and it truly was indeterminant. Just because I know a chicken thigh is a chicken thigh and therefore not indeterminant, as far as I am concerned it falls in the same category and I do not like it at all. The breast is fine.

3. COUNTRY WESTERN MUSIC. Making a differentiation between bluegrass music and hillbilly music, I can pretty much categorically say I do not like the latter. The poor grammar used in the lyrics and celebrated by the listeners just turns me off. On a telephone call, if I am put on hold and have country western music in my ear to "entertain me" while I wait, I'll hang up.

4. BEING AROUND MOODY PEOPLE. Life is too short to walk on eggs while around them.

5. GORE AND VIOLENCE. I don't want to see it, hear about it, or read about it. No way, no how. My kids are kind enough to tell me what movies I need to stay away from. There is enough sadness in the world without deliberately inflicting it upon myself.

6. GOING TO A LAUNDROMAT. I do it because I have to, but I don't have to like it. I think communal washing machines are disgusting.

7. CHIHUAHUAS. If you have a chihuahua, don't take this personally. I may like the individual dog (like my daughter's Sugar) but as a breed they are temperamental, they are barkers, and they will bite you at the drop of a hat when you are least expecting it. There are other breeds I don't like but since I don't see them very often they don't much impact me. But thumbs down on chihuahuas.

8. RIGHT WING TALK SHOW HOSTS. No further explanation necessary. Even looking at a picture of them offends me.

9. BLACK WALNUT ICE CREAM. When my son Sean (now 54 years old) was in diapers he had some food allergy issues that caused very stinky diarrhea. The first time I ever had black walnut ice cream, I immediately remembered how my son's old poopy diapers smelled. After all these years I still won't willingly eat a bowl of black walnut ice cream. Figure that one out!

10. MOST ANY KIND OF SHOPPING. I don't like to food shop and I don't like to window shop and I don't like to shop period. There are two places I do like to shop, and that is in a stationary store and a book store. Beyond that, shopping is my idea of a horrible ordeal!

11. THE COLOR FUSCHIA. I see it as a really ugly color. Why would a person pick fuschia when they could pick emerald green?

12. EMPTY SWIMMING POOLS. This is a phobia. I know where it came from, and when we had to have our pool drained and repaired at our house in Orange I made myself go walk around in the empty pool, hoping to desensitize myself. It helped a bit, but I still would just as soon not look at one if I don't have to.

13. SHELLING SHRIMP. When Jer and I were actively engaged in our work years, we entertained a lot at home, and I often bought nice fresh shrimp that needed to have the shell removed before I cooked it for dinner or appetizers. (The store always took the head off before they put the shrimp out for sale, thank goodness). Every time I had to shell them, I found myself scrunching up my face while I was dealing with the legs. It was just a very unpleasant part of the job, and I didn't like it at all, although I did it because I wanted to use them. I do not do it any more. Dealing with calves liver also falls within this category.

14. JUNE BUGS. These horrible little hard-shelled night-time bugs are too stupid to avoid flying into my hair. They get tangled up and can't find their way out, so they make a terrible buzzing noise, which causes me to have to use my fingers to pick them out. Men don't usually have this problem, only women. How I hate them.


So there you have it. And now you know!

Friday, July 2, 2010


I'll be gone for a couple of days - in to Los Angeles to spend a few days with a friend who is parliamentarian at a conference. In between her duties, we'll play a bit.

I'm offering this funny video to keep you amused until I return.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


If you are squeamish you probably ought not to look at the photo above, which is a formerly live person now very dead but plasticized and shown in the traveling Body Worlds show I saw a few years ago. Wikipedia explains Body Worlds (German title: Körperwelten) as a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomical structures. The exhibition's developer and promoter is German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s at the University of Heidelberg.

I had no problem at all looking at this exhibit. Was it revolting? Somewhat. Was it macabre? Somewhat. Was it interesting? Exceptionally interesting, I thought. There are things I don't know about my own body, and textbooks talk about things in highfalutin' language, so to be able to get up close and personal with various body parts - in distinct categories - was enlightening to say the least.

Although it wasn't funny, I did have one experience that still makes me laugh. I was looking at the backside of a person in the muscle category. I was studying the lower back muscles because that is where my own muscles seem to be always at war with something or other. Suddenly I focused a little closer on a strange-looking little group of muscles -- and I couldn't figure out what on earth it was. I moved a little closer, and then realized that it was the anal sphincter set. At that point I moved back and had to walk away while I nearly exploded with laughter.

However, the point of this blog is not to convince you that this is either a gruesome or an interersting display. One can approve or disapprove of it on several counts, but for me the interesting overrode all negative thoughts.

However, there is a new show in Los Angeles that deals with mummies, and I definitely will not be going to see that one. Of course, all I know is what I see in the LA Times and on TV, the latter of which I have to close my eyes or avert my face when the mummies come into view. I am totally grossed out, and even if they paid me to come visit (the cost is almost $20 per person to ogle) I would not go.

Why? It isn't that the mummies look too much like people, because they do. But they just look horrible. Not scary, just horrible. Why didn't the plasticized people look horrible? I don't know. Something in me says plasticization is ok and fiddling with mummies isn't.

Now shown below is an Egyptian mummy. This is not the way the Los Angeles mummies look. The only way I can explain it is that if you laid a plum and a prune side by side, you could see that the prune had once been a plum. This is the closest I can come to describing the LA mummies. They are still people, dried up people, and - for God's sake, some of them are clothed. Not in dessicated garments but in today's cloth replications. I do not want to see this.

One of the featured displays is of a Hungarian family found in a church vault. And from existing church records the mummy scientists can identify the dead by name, age and occupation. I don't want to see them.

The scientists say they are learning a lot about mummies, like finding heart defects and broken bones. They all seem to be elated to be able to find a whole family as well as the documentation that leads to identification.

I say this is not necessary. By diligent research we genealogists can do the same thing. And in genealogy finding a heart defect by unwrapping a dead, mummified body is not necessary. Please, let the mummies be. Take up genealogy as a hobby.

(Though I have, in the past, had some aunts who basically said the same thing to me about the ancestors I was researching!