Saturday, July 27, 2013


Nancy Pelosi said it right when she spoke of the acts and the attitudes of certain politicians whose disgusting misdeeds are being related over and over to us by the media:  "It is so disrespectful of women” she says, “and what's really stunning about it is they don't even realize, they don't have a clue….”

Aside from the salaciousness of their actions and their amazing explanations of it, where have they been in the last 20 or 30 years when our society has decided that sexual harassment has no place in either the workplace or any place else for that matter?  Do they think what they are doing and saying is not harassment?  Or are they denying that “dirty talk” falls in the area of “sex?”  Perhaps they think somehow they are so irresistible that women will be flattered, rather than offended, by what they are offering. 
Hubris, I think, is what it boils down to.  And one doesn’t get rid of hubris with a short course of therapy, or a couple of lies, or even a promise or two.

Best they leave politics right now and get themselves some intensive therapy.  Taking a refresher course in "Sexual Harrassment in the Workplace" might also be a good thing to do. 


I for one am very tired of looking at them.


Sunday, July 21, 2013



What to read? What to read?!  I can’t call this a dilemma, because it isn’t, but trying to figure out what I’m going to read next is not always easy.  Actually, it is only easy if I have the next book sitting in front of me. 
I don’t purchase books out of consideration for A) my retirement budget, and B) my lack of shelving space in the apartment.  I choose not to have an e-reader since a goodly number of books I want to read are not in e-form, and “A)” above.

So here’s what I do.  Mostly, I read online and in-print book reviews, pick the brains of my reader friends, and on occasion (when I’m desperate) walk the aisles at my local library to see if anything catches my interest.  The latter is not very rewarding, which I attribute to the mind-set of a head librarian who prefers to spend her money buying children’s books. 
Today I’m going to tell you about the very strange way I chose the book I’m reading now and which has turned out to be one of the most fantastic books I’ve ever read.  The way it happened is so bizarre that I am embarrassed to admit to it, but it truly provided a serendipitous result.

I have an iGoogle page, dotted with little “apps” or “Gadgets,” as Google calls them.  I guess it is my answer to playing computer games.  On this page at the upper left I have a Gadget called “Hangman.”  There is a platform with a noose, all in cartoon form.  One can pick the category to use: the category I always choose is “20th century Novels”.  I choose letters, one by one, and hopefully can guess the book title before the little cartoony character (me, of course) gets hung.
On the right side of the page I have put a gadget that has a cartoon hamster in a cage.  Not only is there a wheel he can run in, but also it is possible to click on the page and give him some hamster food – little pebbles, up to 12 at a time.  He runs over, picks up the pebbles one by one, and uses his little paws to hold them while he nibbles.  Periodically he goes over to get some water, but then comes back and finishes up eating, at which time he goes back to the wheel.  I have named the hamster “Henry.”

Now what I do (and here is where you are going to think I am totally off my rocker) is this.  I get my hangman game set up and ready to go and then I give Henry his first food of the day – his 12 pebbles.  Once he starts to eat, I play hangman and try to finish (winning, rather than hanging, of course) before Henry finishes his breakfast.  The goal isn’t whether he wins or whether I win.  It is just a bit of frivolity before I sit down to the serious business of starting my e-day.
But here’s the point of today’s blog: I do not know all the books that I see running by my eyes from that hangman game.  There are some usual ones, like Atlas Shrugged (I read), Catch 22 (saw movie), Sophie’s Choice (neither), Watership Down (read), Lolita (read), and so forth.  There was one that always caught my eye because I had never heard of it and I didn’t understand what it meant: Angle of Repose.  Actually, there are a number of them that I don’t know and which occasionally circle past me more than once, but Angle of Repose catches my attention every time I see it.

A week or so ago I was at that point when if I didn’t get some books on reserve at the library, I was going to end up bookless!  So I checked to see if Angle of Repose was even in my library system’s collection and sure enough, it was.  I ordered it brought to my library so I could check it out.
In the meantime, I checked the dictionary and learned that an angle of repose is a term that means where matter stops rolling downhill.  While the dictionary defined it in geologic terms, I asked Jerry if he had ever heard of it and he said he met it in an architecture class at MIT.

I really didn’t know what to expect, but when the book arrived and the cover stated that the author, Wallace Stegner, won the Pulitzer Prize for it in 1972, I figured I was in for a treat.  And a treat it is.
I can’t remember when I have been so delighted with a book.  It is big and fat – and I am predisposed to like those books from the get-go.  Of course I like books with good plots.  This has it.  I like books with good writing.  This has it.  I like books with interesting characters.  This has them.  I like books that catch me early on.  This did.  But here’s what, to me, is the most special.  Stegner uses four generations of people to move his story, and he moves between them seamlessly.  He has one generation answering questions that may have come up in the earlier generation’s story and that the reader didn’t even think to ask.  As the story of the narrator’s grandparents is being written by the protagonist, the reader begins to see and understand more clearly the modern day characters in the book.  It’s a book of wonderful discoveries – not by the plot but by the reader.  But aside from all that, it is a darn interesting tale! 

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book now.  It’s a book I don’t want to read too fast because there is a lot to think about in between the pages.   I renewed it early so I could be sure of having it until I am finished with it at my own speed, not having to hurry because someone else has it on their reserve list.
As we used to say in elementary school at the conclusion of giving our oral book reports, “And if you want to know what happens, read the book!” 

But I also need to remind you that good books can be found in VERY odd places.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Dear Mr. Snowden:
Just come home.

Yes, you’ll be in trouble, which probably won’t be for the first time in your life and probably won’t be the last. 
When you made your decision to leak details about the National Security Agency secret programs to spy on Americans, foreign governments and individuals around the world, didn’t you think there were going to be ramifications?  Didn’t you think that the US might not be happy about it?  Surely you didn’t think you were just going to walk away from this and return to business as usual?

Mr. Snowden, you are not that stupid. 
You did what you thought you needed to do, and now you need to come home and face the consequences.  You knew, of course, that there would be consequences to your action, and I’d like to assume you are smart enough to face them.

But right now it doesn't seem so.  Skulking around in an airline terminal is not a good answer.  Hiding out in some other country is not a good answer, either.  You need to take your American citizenship a little more seriously.  What you are doing doesn’t speak well for your morals or your ethics or your judgment. 
If you believe in what you did, then come home, stand up for yourself, and take your punishment like a man. Trust me; the world is watching and waiting.

 From a fellow citizen in California.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Well, I've just got to go on record:  I've had Royal Babies too!  Four of them.  First, a baby Prince in 1956, followed by a baby Princess in 1957, a second baby Princess in 1959 and a final baby Princess in 1961.

There never were such Royal Babies as mine.  Adorable.  Sweet.  Lovable.  Perfect.  Isn't that what the qualifications are for Royal Babies?  And they grew up exactly as I had planned: happy, healthy, respectful and perfect.  And with many other royal attributes, far too many to name.

I don't want to take any of the glitter and glamor away from the pending Royal Baby coming shortly to England, but I just HAD to go on record to say that my family made as much of a Royal Too-Doo as Royal Baby Windsor is generating, but the newspapers just didn't hear about it.

So, THREE LOUD CHEERS for my Royal Babies - Sean, Erin, Bryn and Kerry.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


Have you made a will? 

In today’s world it seems a lot more complicated to make a will than it did “back in the old days.”  Not only that, but today’s wills are so full of legalese and sound so sterile that it’s not even possible to get the sense of the real person behind the will anymore.
Wills are legal documents, and as such they have always been recorded in some book or file in the county where writer of the will died.  Aside from usually being fun to read, they can be helpful in many ways to show us what kind of times and situations our families lived in.  Even a few lines in a will may have a story – one that we may or may not be able to track down.
-WILL 1-
I think my favorite will of all I have found comes from my Great-great-grandpa Uberto Wright, who died in 1889 in Barren County, Kentucky.  He was a gentleman farmer, a surveyor, a Justice of the Peace and a minister in the Christian (Campbellite) church.  His will has an aura of kindness about it, and I am touched by the message he left at the end.

I have a photocopy of his old will, but the ink has faded to the point that it is impossible to reproduce it here for you to read.  So I’ll transcribe it below:
     …And that my wife, Susan J. Wright, shall have power and
     authority at my demise to make such sales of land and deed by
     general warranty, the same to the purchaser or purchasers to
     have the full force of a deed from myself and her jointly, and
     any other small matter that I might or may owe that my wife
     pay the same as in her judgment may be deemed proper.

Uberto sets his will up in a way that treats his wife as an equal, empowering her to handle the not-unsubstantial estate.  Sometimes wives are barely mentioned and not often given the job of executrix of the will.  Uberto names her as executrix. 
Finally, he ends with this:

Now in the 69th year of my age and on the 15th day of August, 1887, I set my signature in declaration of this, my true and last will and testament. May God Bless my family.   [Underlining mine.]         
                                                                    U Wright
I like that a lot. 

-WILL 2-

Now Uberto’s dad was named Jacob and he had a will too.  From his will we discover a family problem. 

Now in this case, Jacob wants his daughter Frances, who is married to Fielding T. Wade, to have her share of his estate but he doesn’t want her husband to be able to touch a cent of it!  He says he wants Uberto to act as his sister’s agent “to give, invest or convey her portion as she may think proper.”  He wants it to stay with “her and her bodily heirs separate and apart from her husband, and that he shall have no control of the property.” 
One wonders what Fielding has been up to that would cause this kind of reaction.  However, there is enough to look for in the lives of one’s direct ancestors, so mostly we don’t do any further research involving more distant relatives.  But wills do often signify that all is not well.

-WILL 3-
Now sometimes there is just a hint of a problem, and sometimes that hint includes your direct ancestor.  When that happens, the researcher is always inclined to follow the story.

Abner Hall, a very wealthy Missouri farmer and lawyer, was my 3rd great-grandfather.  He was born in 1798 in North Carolina.  From his first wife, who died, he had two sons, William and John.  He had a much larger family from his second wife:  Caroline, Thomas, Nancy, James, R.M and Honore.  By the time he was old enough to think of a will, his two older sons were out on their own. 
In his will he starts by making bequests to his younger children.  Once he disposes of that, he makes a bequest to his son John, and then we sense something is going on: 

8th.  I give and bequeath to William L. Hall ten dollars and such a sum to be paid him annually as his necessities require or as my said executor may think proper…. 
He named son John as executor.

It obviously doesn’t escape William’s mind that he is being treated differently. 
Since John A. Hall was my great-great grandfather I felt I needed to do some further research. 

To make a long story short, William had previously served time in prison for killing a man – 2nd degree murder it was called.  When he got out (it appears he was pardoned by the Governor), he went back home, taught school for a few years and then….
The facts of the case can be found all throughout the documents on file in the Franklin County, Missouri, Courthouse and in the newspapers of the time.  When Abner lay dying, his son William tried to hire a man to wipe out the entire family so he would be the only heir to get his father’s money.  The person declined to participate, so William set out to do it himself.  He first went to the family home where his half-sister Caroline was sitting “death watch” at her father’s bedside and William shot and killed her, causing Abner’s death also.  Then he set out for my great-great-grandfather John’s house where he was prepared to kill everyone there.  As luck would have it, a posse caught up with him before he could fire a shot.  Martha Hall had seen him coming and warned her husband to lock up the house and not answer the door.
The posse captured him, took him to the county jail, and the next day in a vigilante-style event “unmasked” men marched into the courthouse, took William outside and lynched him on the spot.
The article I read ended with “There is no doubt in the minds of many of the best citizens that the victim of this lynching was insane.”

So wills can tell us the kinds of things that have gone well and that gone awry in families through the years.  I love reading wills but only those that pertain to my own people.  And times haven’t changed all that much, have they?
-WILL 4-

And finally, I have a lovely will dating from the early 1800s written by widow Susanna Lucas, who parcels out her possessions to her two daughters and a single son – and gives the son a horse named Leboo!  The horse no longer is merely one among many.  I laugh, and think that now Leboo is an immortal horse.  I suspect there are very few wills that tell us the names of the family horses.
I have collected over the years many more wills, but these are my favorites.  Jer and I have wills, but frankly, they are not very interesting at all.  Certainly not like these four above.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


Of course a little kid doesn’t know what “pentacostal” means.  I’m not sure my folks did, either, unless my mother was a closet Pentecostal and I just never knew it.  To my knowledge, my father never entered a church, except for being dragged to a Christmas program by my mother when I was directing a choir many years later.

In the spring of 1941, we moved to Stanley Avenue in Long Beach.  There, no more than two blocks away, was a big Foursquare Gospel Church where the foundations of our Christian learning took place.  I don’t remember exactly  what year my sis and I started attending, but I do remember that even after we moved to a different house about 2 miles away in 1945 our dad drove us back to that church each Sunday morning and picked us up afterwards so we could attend Sunday School and quite often, Church services.

During that time we were at an age where memorization was really quick and easy, and my scrapbook is rife with Gold Stars affixed to Certificates for memorizing the Books of the Bible, 23rd Psalm, Beatitudes, Ten Commandments, 121st Psalm, John 1:1-14, Salvation verses, the Where Finds, 100th Psalm, Easter Story, Great Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the names of the 12 disciples.  No one could have had a better foundation than that – and aside from the more familiar prayers and psalms that everyone with a tinch of religious training remembers, to this day I can still reel off the Books of the Bible upon request. (This is not requested much!)

What  I remember most about the church was not any loud praying – what we called whooping and hollering -  that must have gone on, since that was a hallmark of Pentecostalism  (knowing what I know now), but the flaming red capes that were worn by the women. Now it’s possible that they were dark blue or black on one side merely lined in bright red, but whatever, they were so dramatic that they have lodged themselves forever in my mind.  I am certainly not an authority on the Foursquare denomination but I do not think that capes are worn today, although the few Foursquare churches I’ve attended as an adult have been closet congregations (going by a name that hides their Pentecostal roots, leaving one to wonder if the capes are hidden too.)   I also don’t recall a lot about the founder, Aimee Semple McPherson, in spite of having read a wonderful book about her life a long time ago.  But since she was rather flamboyantly dressed in her white garb, she also may also have worn a cape, albeit a white one. 

Mother often listened to religious programs on the radio.  Aimee Semple McPherson had her own program, followed by the Sunshine Mission Gospel program.  I never thought to ask my mother what all this listening to religious programs was about, or even what she thought of religion in general. I wish I had.  I never heard anyone in the family say that mother was either religious or a Pentecostal.  My sis and I never joined the Foursquare Church, and although we attended regularly, we did not ever hear any speaking in tongues.

When we first moved to that second house there was a very wide vacant lot behind us that fronted onto Cherry Avenue.  Across Cherry, facing the back of our house, was a tiny Full-Gospel Church.  Whatever we might have missed hearing at the Foursquare Church was more than made up by the congregants at the Full-Gospel Church.  “Holy Rollers,” our folks called them, and although Sunday mornings were fairly quiet, on Sunday evening and again on Wednesday evening, the stops were pulled out on the organ and the good times began.  The music and singing got louder and louder and finally would end up as real whooping and hollering, praising and shouting, with male voices exhorting believers to praise God.  It was a very dramatic event and all of us children would gather in our backyard on Sunday evenings to hear the Holy Rollers.  If our old Foursquare Gospel Church did that, it must have been at the Sunday evening church service, because I certainly have no recollection of it in the morning services and I’m sure I would have remembered.

Beginning sometime in Junior High School I began attending the old Bethany Baptist Church of my childhood with my friend “Ro” and her family.  That lasted until just before my senior year in high school, when I quit church altogether.  At the time I entered Pepperdine College it was a Church of Christ College and we were required to attend Chapel each Monday, but I wasn’t interested so I basically was unchurched until sometime after I got married.

 Between 1963 and 1971 my first husband and I attended in sequence Alamitos Friends Church, Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Upland Nazarene Church, Westmoreland Chapel and finally The Salvation Army.  It was after the breakup of my marriage that in an effort to regain my sanity and my stability I allowed myself to become involved with a Pentecostal experience again. 

The Hippie movement, the Jesus People and the more formal charismatic movement all began about the same time.  Main line churches did not want untidy Jesus People in them.  They wanted their congregations to wear formal clothing, not tie-dyes and sandals.  The drug culture had put a lot of lost souls out on the streets, and in all of Southern California only Chuck Smith, pastor of a small Foursquare Church in Costa Mesa, made much of an attempt to reach out to these needy young people.  He brought them into the church, fed and clothed them, and ministered to them.  What they wore to church did not matter to him.  They responded in droves and were soundly converted.  A whole new Christian musical idiom was born, generated by longhaired, strange-garbed young adults.  The mainline churches were glad someone was doing what Jesus said to do; it relieved them of the burden to take the gospel to every living creature.  Mostly they wanted to minister to clean and tidy people.  Chuck Smith’s church became full to overflowing, and he pitched a big tent in a field in South Santa Ana and preached the Gospel to anyone who would come.  People came in droves, heard the Good News and were saved.  His singing groups spread over California and ministered in music. 

This was the start of what was called the charismatic movement in Southern California, beginning in a small Pentecostal church which encouraged speaking in tongues and which spread into mainline churches of every denomination, including Catholic. People in the mainline denominations sometimes went to a small house meeting with a friend and suddenly "caught the fire" themselves.  When they tried to talk to people in their own church about it, they were all but forced out by the traditionalists.  The dividing issue was the speaking in tongues, which, according to the Pentecostals was a gift of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone.  Most of the mainline churches didn’t know what the Holy Spirit was, never having seen it or felt it in all their years of churchgoing. Those who had been touched by the charismatic movement wanted to share this “fire” with everyone. 
There were excesses, it is true, but as I experienced it (and I will say that it saved my life), this movement put people in touch with the emotional side of wanting to express their love of God and worshipping Him in an outward way, a concept entirely new to most people.  The charismatic experience was a much more joyful expression of loving God than singing fossilized songs out of old hymnals.  What I saw was that in the charismatic movement there were no denominations, no races, no doctrines, no divisions – nothing but brotherly love.  Maybe they were a little weak in their theology and their teaching, but they did love God and tried their best to walk in the footsteps of Jesus.  This experience with Pentecostalism at these small meetings was one more facet of my becoming put together again after my divorce.  For a time, neither the tongues nor the teachings daunted me.  However, eventually a more buttoned-up reasoning prevailed and I moved back out of those groups, but believing myself enriched by knowing the pleasure and power of truly praising God.

Although I tried my best to find a place where I could respect the teaching of the church and still share my talents, I ultimately moved out of religious circles entirely.  My beliefs finally shifted to where I now call myself an “agnostic”…merely holding in abeyance my judgment on religious things.   It is true, though, that I have a real soft spot in my heart for things Pentecostal.  My theory is “You can take the girl out of Pentecostalism but you can’t take Pentecostalism out of the girl.”  In spite of not now a practicing anything, I can’t help but smile over the role that these vibrant house meetings played in my life. 

NOTE:  The photo above is Sister Recknagle's class from the First Foursquare Church in Long Beach, 10th and Junipero.  Yours truly is second from the right.  Picture take about 1945.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Having discovered a whole bunch of distant relatives who served in the Revolutionary War, and having learned that our National Archives has copies of their military records and their pension applications and records, including widow's pension applications and records, and having them now at our fingertips to read (when I first started into genealogy, I had to look at them on a microfilm reader either in LA or in Laguna Niguel at the National Archive Branch) I must admit that I was pretty darn proud of my heritage.  And I was shocked at so much of my past can be found. 

What made it surprising was that before I started doing genealogical research, I had no idea such things existed.  It was an old friend who got me started in 1984.  I dropped by her house one day when I was in town; I don't think I had been in contact with her for maybe 10 years. 

"What have you been doing since I saw you last?" I said to her.  "Mostly genealogy," she said with a grin.  And I'll never forget what I said next:  "What's that?"  And that is where all this started.

But today I want to show you another side of what a researcher can learn.  It is nice to have famous relatives, though none of mine are famous.  But they did have their place in history, as attested by the three little stories I've been writing about my Revolutionary War ancestors.  What I think is equally important, and has more of a reason for one to laugh than reading all the military documents, is that it is possible to learn a very human side of these people, long, long years after their death.

Today I have a short bit about another of my Revolutionary War great-great-great-great grandpas, Joseph Higdon.  He was born in Maryland and he volunteered in the county of Montgomery on June 10, 1781.  After the war he moved to North Carolina, then to Tennessee and finally to Barren County, Kentucky, where he applied for his military pension.  He was required to submit a great deal of backup information to verify that he was, in fact, the same Joseph Higdon who appears on the military roll to satisfy the requirements to obtain "the benefits of the act of congress passed 7th of June, 1832."   At 74 years of age, he was an old man.

Below is a snippit of his explanation as to why he couldn't produce his discharge papers:  (Remember to click on the picture to see it enlarged.)

And in case you can't see it clearly enough, the part I am talking about that makes him a very human 4th great-grandpa, it says:  "said discharge has been lost or destroyed and cannot be produced, being of the opinion my discharge was of no further use I gave it to one of my little sons to play with and what he done with it I do not know."

Isn't it great that even this kind of record still exists?

Friday, July 5, 2013


ME:  Hey, is it you again?
IMAGINARY INTERVIEWER:  Yep.  Here I am again.  (Laughing)

ME:  So you are.  I know you said when I talked to you last April that you’d be back, but when it didn’t happen earlier I thought maybe you were just a figment of my imagination.
INTERVIEWER:  Maybe I am; maybe not.  But that’s beside the point.  I chose to drop by today mainly to see if you were still walking each morning.  And since you are, I’d like to ask you a few questions about it.

ME:  You’re welcome to ask away.  But I have to tell you this: My daughter laughingly said this walking thing I’m doing is caused by OCD.  I was once accused of bull-dogging genealogical research, not letting go of problems until I got them solved.  That’s not OCD; it’s just that I have a great interest in what I’m doing!  The walking is more like a new hobby.
INTERVIEWER:  About your walking, the first question is this:  Why do you carry a cane?  You obviously don’t have a physical need for it.

ME:   I love my cane.  I got it in the interior of Turkey, somewhere close to Catal Hoyuk.  I saw a bunch of these hand-carved canes sitting in a barrel outside a small shop.  They weren’t ornate enough to be for tourists; these were the ones that the old village men were using, and I was drawn to them.  The cane has always sat in my living room in a box behind the door that is full of cat toys.  The cane is not really on display; I just like to see it.
When I decided to walk early each morning, I knew I should have something close at hand to protect myself if needed.  In our very large apartment complex we have some registered sex offenders and some dogs that occasionally get off their leash and run loose.  I decided to carry my cane.  I figured it would be of help if I met bad men and mad dogs, or mad men and bad dogs! 

INTERVIEWER:  Have you ever needed to use it?
ME:  Early on I was bitten lightly on the ankle by a tiny Chihuahua, not breaking the skin but I was so startled that it never crossed my mind to do anything with the cane.  At any rate, I couldn’t have clonked a Chihuahua anyway.  I’m just not that mean.  It probably would have had to be a Rottweiler-sized dog to get a clonk from me.  I’m kind of a “wuss.”

Actually, what I do use it for is to “play it” as if it were some kind of musical instrument.  You know I listen to music on my iPod as I walk.  I have had a few music lessons in my life, and I remember the fingering for the piano, so that’s mostly what I play, right hand only!   I’m sure people sitting on their porches and seeing me silently pass by think I have some kind of tetany in my finger muscles.  Sometimes my fingers just fly along with what I’m hearing in my ears. Occasionally my left hand makes an “air chord.”  And I wouldn’t tell this to everyone but sometimes I have an urge to pick it up and finger it like a flute….but I restrain myself.  Thinking I have a spasm in my hand is one thing; thinking I’m crazy is quite another!
INTERVIEWER:  I have to admit if I saw you doing that, I’d probably ask my friends if they saw that weird lady walking around the complex playing a cane with her mouth!  (Both of us laugh).

But tell me, why at this stage of your life did you take up walking?  I think you’re really dedicated to it.  I see you have some fancy walking shoes…
ME:  Yea, that what started my daughter saying I had OCD.  Florescent Pink, she scoffs at me.  I tell her to cut it out, they are merely black with pink shoelaces!    And sometimes I think maybe I started walking because it would justify my purchase of the fancy pair of Sketchers!  But the truth is that, without going into any details, it was a decision on my part to celebrate the news that I didn’t have Pulmonary Hypertension.  After worrying about it for nearly 4 years, I demanded that my doctors give me tests to either definitively rule in or rule out that diagnosis.  They finally did, and said I definitely did not have it.  So in a nutshell, every breath I take carries with it a footstep without having to stop and catch my breath.

Some people with PH can’t walk 2 feet without stopping to catch their breath.  I now walk 2 miles without needing to stop anywhere, and that is worth celebrating.  Whenever I think I of skipping a walking day I remind myself that the ability to walk is real cause for celebration, and off I go.  I think in the almost seven months I’ve been walking, I have only missed 3 days, and those were because Jerry was so sick with his low sodium problem that I didn’t want to leave him alone.
INTERVIEWER:  Do you like walking? 

ME:  Well, I never did before, but obviously I do now.  What I also enjoy is the time I have to think, to listen, to contemplate, and to observe – all alone. 
INTERVIEWER:  Turning into a loner?

ME:  I’ve always been a bit of a loner.   The other night I was looking through some old report cards – my mother saved them from every school I ever attended – and I read the teacher’s report from first grade that said, “Barbara should try to join in playing games with the other children.”  When I read that I thought that teacher was pretty unfocused: I spent my first grade year in three different elementary schools.  The second school was in Whittier and I was only there for two months before my parents moved us back to Long Beach.  That was the teacher that seemed to see my normal “new kid” bashfulness as a deficiency, or at least that is how I interpreted it after all these years.  But in thinking about it the next morning on my walk, I decided that it wasn’t all that “off.”  I was a new kid, true, but I also brought with me a measure of shyness, and I think a whole lot of insecurity and fear that even the earlier first grade teachers had noticed.
INTERVIEWER:  What happened then?

ME:  I was scared of lots of things.  Especially fire.  When I would be outdoors playing, if I heard a siren begin to wail I would run over to a wall and put my back to it, for protection, I guess.  Earlier in my life our family was taking a Sunday drive and we saw an oil derrick on fire - a huge fire.  You may not know that at that time Long Beach had a great oil field around it and the big derricks that pumped the oil out of the ground were everywhere.  I suspect seeing that fire was the source of my fear.  At least it makes sense, when coupled with this bit of being afraid of sirens. 
Anyway, in first grade we had regular fire drills, where the alarms rang in the hallways and the children lined up and marched out on the playground or in some cases into the adjoining neighborhood.  Apparently I was terrified when those bells went off, and however it was that I reacted at school was enough for the teaching staff to set in place a special event to help me get over this fear.

One afternoon sometime before school was out for the day, I was called into the principal’s office and told it was time for a fire drill.  They were going to let me push the button that would make the alarms ring.  They pulled a chair up to the box where the fire alarm button was, and then pointed at the windows, saying that was where I could watch all the children line up in their class's assigned place.  They said there really was no fire at this time so I didn’t have to be afraid, but now I would know that all the children would be safe if there had been a fire because they had practiced what to do when those alarms went off. 

I was barely 6 years old.  Today I am 78.  I can close my eyes and see my little self getting up on that chair, with the principal’s strong arms around me so I wouldn’t fall.  I see her put a key into the lock and open the box where the fire alarm button was.  She told me she would hold my hand to help me push that button, and she did.  And I did.  The noise was deafening but expected, and I was not afraid.  She swiveled me around and I saw my school mates file out in orderly lines and stand at the proper place.  When the right amount of time had elapsed, she told me to again push the button and hold it down for a minute this time.  The bell would ring again, signifying a return to classes.  I pushed, and it did.  I then was taken back to my classroom with a note pinned to my sweater for my mother to read.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get off on a tangent, but all this is merely to say that yes, I think I probably have a bit of a loner left inside me. 

INTERVIEWER:  I’m kind’a that way too.  I don’t mind spending time thinking, or reading, or even writing. 
ME:  Sounds like we are a lot alike.

INTERVIEWER:  Yep.  And I’ll bet you’re not crazy about big parties, either.
ME:  Hate ‘em!  Hate ‘em!  I never know what to say.  I’m not good at idle chit-chat. 

INTERVIEWER:  You and me, we’re probably too serious for our own good.
ME:  I think at this stage we make our peace with who we are and how we got there; we might have wished something different, but all thinking about that does is let regrets out of the gunny sack, and once they start, watch out.  On my walks I try to focus on all the good stuff.  I know it sounds hokey, but each day on my walk I try to find something beautiful.  When you walk the same path day after day it’s sometimes not all that easy to find something that you haven’t seen before.  The other day I looked at a splotch of bird poop and tried to figure out if I could find something beautiful in that.  The answer was “no” but then I saw a crow sitting on some barbed wire that separates the apartment’s back fence from a flood control channel.  Now I don’t like crows at all, and I didn’t think that this one fell into the “beautiful” category anyway, but it was quite amazing that that big bird could hold on and balance himself on a thin piece of wire in between two mean-looking barbs. 

I had to laugh, because in a sense it was a creative attempt to find beauty, or a substitute for it.
INTERVIEWER: Perhaps that is OCD?  (No offense, Bobby)

ME:  No offense taken.  I’m back home now.  Will I see you again? ….. Hey, where are you?



Thursday, July 4, 2013


Our senior complex - Country Village, it is called - is full of little old people, but most of them don't want to let a holiday go by without some celebratory events.  And since so many of the old people here are retired military - going back to the Second World War (our oldest vets) and ending at Desert Storm,  on July 4, they spearhead our day of celebrating - starting off with a "flyover" with a couple of planes from March Air Field, to a helicopter landing on our golf course.  Once the copter gets down, the home town parade starts.... and at its conclusion the day becomes a festival down by the entrance, with food, games, booths and lots of give-aways.  Golf carts are decorated by the owners and prizes given in various categories.  Toward late afternoon, things wind down.  It may not be the biggest of parades in the area, but it's our way of remembering 7-4-1776!  Following is an assortment of pix taken from our front yard. 

Remember to click on the pictures to see them enlarged.

After the copter lands, the ground parade starts:

Candy is tossed to the children on the sidelines, but sometimes there is a sweet-toothed resident who gets lucky!

 Some themes are old.
Some themes (Spiderman, above) are new

 The Girl Scouts were followed by the Boy Scouts.

And oh, gosh, the cars of our childhood, restored and loved!

 Can't be a parade without a horse or two.  Note the stars on the rumps!

And the parade, as old and traditional as it was, was enjoyed by all.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


How much do you remember about the Revolutionary War? 
Do you tend to think, as I did, “stuff in general but not very much specifically?”  But when you learn that someone in your family fought in it, you want to know more.  So when I discovered a paper that said my great-great-great-great grandpa Leonard Keeling Bradley became a prisoner of the British in that war, I wanted to know more. 

The document above is a bit hard to read here.  If you double-click on it, it will enlarge.  It says this:

I do hereby acknowledge myself to be a Prisoner of War, upon my Parole, to his Excellency Sir Henry Clinton and that I am thereby engaged until I shall be exchanged, or otherwise released therefrom, to remain at my plantation in the Parish of St. Jude in the county of Surry in the province of North Carolina and that I shall not in the mean Time do, or cause any Thing to be done, prejudicial to the Success of His Majesty’s Arms, or have Intercourse or hold Correspondence with his Enemies; and that upon a Summons from his Excellency, or other Person having Authority thereto, that I will surrender myself to him or them at such Time and Place as I shall hereafter be required.  Witness my hand this 20th Day of May 1780.
                                                             Signed:  Leo’d Bradley Lt.

I’d had this document a long time and I thought I had read it carefully, but I never paid any attention to the dates to see what was going on when he was taken prisoner.  Come to find out, it was dated May 20, 1780, right after the famous Siege of Charleston.  The loss of the city and its 5,000 troops was a serious blow to the American cause.
Later I found a copy of a court document in Missouri, written for the federal government when Leonard Keeling Bradley was 77 years old as a prerequisite for getting a military pension.  I read it with renewed interest. 

A portion of it says: “March 1780 - at this period an attack upon Charleston was daily expected.  In order to prepare for its defense, Gov. Rutledge applied to Col. Litle to raise a regiment out of Eaton’s Brigade, N. C. Militia.  The battalion was raised and this applicant [Bradley] again entered the service as Lieutenant…under Col. Archy Litle and Major Benjamin Harbishan, continental officers.  There we remained and stood the siege of Charleston, under Gen. Lincoln, until the 12th day of May, when we were surrendered prisoners of War, and the regiment under Col. Litle were parolled on the 20th day of May 1780… until the General Exchange of Prisoners in the summer of 1781…”
It goes on to note that my 4 times great-grandpa Leonard Keeling Bradley served during the long years of the Revolutionary War seven different times for a total time of 44 months, not counting the year he was a prisoner.  And as an aside, I learaned from other court documents that it wasn’t until after the war, in 1785, that Bradley married and began his family.

Our 4th of July festivities happen because July 4, 1775 is when the Declaration of Independence was signed.  There were plenty of skirmishes and fighting going before that date on that caused our forefathers to decide to declare our independence from Great Britain, and much more fighting for many years afterwards to secure it.  My heritage includes people in it that helped make it happen. 
I suspect that many of you have those same kinds of people, Patriots all; you just don’t know about them. 

Monday, July 1, 2013


Many people are totally flummoxed when they hear someone saying, “He’s my first cousin twice removed” or worse yet, “She’s my second cousin three times removed.”  You can see it in their eyes – “Removed to where?”
Today’s blog is going to clarify that for you, just in case you consider yourself among those flummoxed.  The simplest answer is the word “removed” really has to do with generations.  Let’s say you have a cousin Polly and Polly has a child.  That child is NOT your second cousin, although many people erroneously think so.  That child is your first cousin once removed.  It just means one generation separated from you.

I’ll give you an illustration and you can work it out with your own relatives.  Doing so helps clarify things.
My grandma Jessie (first generation) had 7 kids. 
My mom, Virginia, was one of them, and my cousin Shirlee’s mom, Marie, was another.
Shirlee and I are cousins. Both of us have children.
These children are second cousins to each other, but to Shirlee and me, they are First Cousins ONCE REMOVED. 
When the children of cousins have kids, those kids are related to each other as third cousins, but to us, they are still first cousins but are twice removed (again, two generations from us).  And so it goes.

Being as July is a month of celebrating national historical events, I’m going to share with you some little tidbits of history that my ancestors lived through or were involved in.  The first starts off with Agnes Hall’s family history paper.  Agnes Hall was my Second Cousin once removed.  (Can you figure that out now?)
Agnes lived from 1881 to 1957 and was born in Kansas.  Her family history in Kansas goes back to Lawrence before it became a city and Kansas before it became a state.  Her family came west from Virginia by flatboat on the Ohio River.  Her grandparents, Henry and Nancy Matney Corel, were married in Virginia, built a house near the Kaw River in Douglas County, Kansas and died there in a measles epidemic in 1855.  Agnes’ mom was Jemima Corel and she was a teenager then, the oldest of 5 children who were left orphans.  These 5 little kids were raised by the myriad of Corel aunts and uncles who had all come together to the west.  Agnes heard all the family stories and wanted to save them for her own children. 

In 1929 she wrote the following:  Now Jemima Morris, your ancestor, was born in England and came to America very early.  This same Jemima saw George Washington and said the Indians could not shoot him.”

In my genealogical research, I have not yet tracked down Jemima Morris, so I don’t know how much of that is true.  But I wondered what was meant by her saying the Indians couldn’t shoot George Washington.
In my research I discovered this understanding came out of the French and Indian War (1750-1763) when Washington served under General Braddock.  At one point Braddock wanted to march into the wilderness, and Washington, who was an experienced frontiersman told him this was not a good idea.  Braddock rallied the troops and went anyway.  Washington survived but Braddock and hundreds more did not.  There are many books about this incident, and in one I found the sentence “Later testimony indicated that the Indians thought Washington was bullet-proof, since they had attempted to shoot him many times….”

I would like to find and read that testimony.  I would like to find Jemima Morris.  I have been doing genealogy since 1984 and I have found pretty much all the easy stuff.  I doubt if I have time left in my life to get answers for these….but whatever, it is nice to know that in my family’s past, there were people who at least claimed they saw George Washington.  I have never seen a president, so Jemima was one up on me!