Monday, December 31, 2007

The Two Faced Monster 2007-2008

Looking back. Looking ahead. Ouch, My neck hurts!

I've never been one to make resolutions, New Year's or otherwise. I tend to not even set goals (although I do have a "to do" list) because nothing ever seems to work out the way I'd planned. When I retired I naively thought that, since I had more "free" time, I'd actually be able to finish a few projects. LOL. My real problem is that I start one thing, get sidetracked by another, get sidetracked from that, and possibly, after a while and with some effort, return to what I was originally doing. It seems to be worse now, with more time available. I tend to put things off a bit more now - no need to do it today, I can always do it tomorrow, right?

There were a few accomplishments this year though it seems as though nothing I started has actually been completed… but then, some things never are completed, such as a family history. Sometimes you just have to set a stopping point and say it's as done as it's ever going to get. But the year, oh yeah, the year has a definite stopping point, so on this, the last day of 2007, let's see what there is to see.

Blogging - It was on January 12th, 2007 that my first post was published here at Kinexxions. There have been over 300 posts since then. My intent was to also include posts on the people and places of Whitley County, but then I decided that Kinexxions would focus primarily on my own family history and a little over a month later, on February 17th, Whitley County Kinexxions was born. It has been six weeks since I posted anything over there but to date there are 120 posts, mostly newspaper transcriptions. I've written before about the joys and pitfalls of blogging, so I'm not going to repeat that here. Contributing to the Carnival of Genealogy has been challenging and hosting the 27th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy! on "What America / Independence Day has meant to my family" was fun and gave me new-found respect for the time and effort that Jasia puts into the Carnival.

FamilySearch Indexing - I signed up in January to help index Indiana Marriages and indexed several hundred records. Then in February FamilySearch couldn't keep up with the indexers and for a while there were no records available to work on. Sad to say, I never got back to it.

Scanning - Mom has 10 or so photo albums that I wanted to scan. I've gotten a couple of them done. Of course, all of those scans still need to be named and tagged. About half of the letters I wrote home while in the Navy have been scanned. The Phend-Fisher Reunion Ledger has been scanned and posted. Then there are all of the documents for my ancestors that I wanted to scan, as well as some of my own photo albums. Not much headway made on either of those counts.

Sourcing and Database Cleanup - The data that was entered into my genealogy software several years ago was not properly sourced at that time. Some sources were entered in notes. But there are some people who have no sources entered for any of their data. Ouch! I did get started but haven't made too much progress. It's not a fun task, and goes slowly. While doing this I'm also making notes of what information is missing, especially for ancestors and their siblings. So that slows the process a bit. I may hold off on this for a while and wait to see what the new "Legacy 7" has in store. They say they will have templates based on "Evidence Explained!" by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

Researching - Contact was made with several new-found cousins and data was shared. Descendants of Michael and Christenia Houck Fisher became the focus of my research in September. And although I haven't located any living descendants yet, there are quite a few obituaries for me to look up in Elkhart that I think will provide some leads. There have been 214 individuals added to my Phend-Brubaker database this year, all of them with sources, I think ;-) and an additional 679 individuals updated. There are a total of 6750 individuals in that database. In the Wiseman-Shuder database there have been 125 individuals added and another 39 modified. That database includes 1701 individuals.

Learning - Attended the IGS (Indiana Genealogical Society) conference in April and received recognition of two of my Civil War Soldiers in the Society of Civil War Families of Indiana. Also attended the four-day FGS Conference in Fort Wayne in August. I'm planning to attend the two-day Midwestern Roots 2008 Conference at Indianapolis in August. Also, I've learned a lot from my fellow genea-bloggers with their research tips, ideas and links to other sites.

Society Tasks - Four issues of Whitley County Roots (the quarterly publication of the Genealogical Society of Whitley County) have been published. I've been the editor (and chief contributor) for the past five years and am looking for someone else to take over those duties. I gave presentations at the three workshops the society sponsored this year, as well as one regular meeting presentation. There are three long-term transcription projects that I thought might get finished this year. Not yet done, but close.

Good Intentions - And then, there are those 12 items in My Plan to Prepare for Disaster. Pictures have been taken of the household stuff, but that's it. Not a single box in the garage has been opened, yet.

My goals for 2008 ? Probably not very realistic...
  • Keep plugging away at the above tasks.
  • Take a couple of trips, especially a research trip to New England with several Joslin cousins (lots of prep needed for that though).
  • Continue blogging here at Kinexxions. Quality more than quantity. Contribute to every edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.
  • Try not to get distracted quite so much.
  • Have more fun! Don't take myself quite so seriously.
  • Make my task list shorter for 2009!

Amazing HDR Images

From the Travelzine Vagabondish comes a link to a set of wonderful photographs of Iceland. I spent the year 1973 in Iceland and some of these pictures are of the places that I also visited. The detail that Trey achieves in his images is amazing (click on "all sizes" to see the image in a larger size and greater detail). I thought I had some nice shots, but they don't even come close to capturing the scenes like his pictures do!

The photographs, by Trey Ratcliff, are in a technique/style called HDR photography. HDR is short for High Dynamic Range. It is a software technique of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed. The detail that is made available in this type of imagery is absolutely incredible. Trey has posted a tutorial of the method he uses to create his images.

I first became aware of HDR photography when Jasia posted a picture of a house she found on Flikr back in October. It is a fascinating technique, at least it is to me, but I'm not sure it's something I want to get into right now… too many other things that really should be done first!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Back - Kinexxions in 2007

This is the time of year for looking back as well as looking toward the future. I've spent some time reviewing the posts here at Kinexxions and I'm not sure where the future will lead but I thought I'd provide a list of some of the "highlights" of the blog for the past year. Kinexxions came into being on January 12th, 2007 - not quite a year ago. In that time I've created more than 300 posts, the majority since my retirement in June. Have I done what I set out to do? Somewhat. Am I happy with what I've written? Somewhat. Could I do better? Definitely.

This list is a combination of several things - [1] posts that I'm proud of and [2] posts that received the most attention (hits and comments) - I won't tell you which is which... They are divided into several categories and not in any special order. If you have a favorite post here at Kinexxions, why don't you let me know in the comments? Or drop me an email at rrwiseman "at"

Tips, Resources, Ramblings and Controversy
Series of Posts
Family and Personal History

Friday, December 28, 2007

Yikes! Be careful of what you go looking for!

As if I didn't have anything else to do today. . . prompted by Miriam's Christmas Surprise and Craig's Important Genealogical Tip, I went looking for obituaries at the website of the Elkhart Public Library. They are continually updating their Index to Obituaries in the Elkhart Truth, currently including 1921-1950 and 1965 to the present. They have added 25 years worth since the last time I checked, a year or so ago. There are several extended family lines that I'm working on in Elkhart County. This afternoon I spent several hours inputting names from my database and found the dates for the obituaries for 101 relatives in five of those family lines! I won't know for sure that they are all related until I get copies of the obituary notices, but based on the information that I have, I think most of them will be.

  • Berlin - 38 - descendants of my 3rd Great Grandparents John D. and Susannah Hoffman Berlin
  • Phend - 4 - descendants of my 2nd Great Grandparents Jacob and Louisa Fisher Phend
  • Stem(m) - 34 - descendants of Lewis and Susan Sevits Stem (Lewis is a brother of my 3rd Great Grandmother Malissa Stem Wise and they were children of Conrad and Indiana Sisley Stem)
  • Walter(s) - 16 - descendants of George and Katherine Fisher and Sophia Fisher (Katherine and Sophia were sisters of Louisa Fisher Phend)
  • Yarian - 9 - descendants of my 2nd Great Grandparents Eli and Lovina Berlin Yarian

The Elkhart Library will make copies "on a first-come, first-served, as-time-permits basis" at cost (15¢ per copy, plus postage) but I wonder how they'd feel about a request for that many obituaries. It's only about an hours drive for me so I'll probably do it myself one of these days. Hmm, allowing for a minimum of 5 minutes to look up each obituary, it would take about 9 hours. Realistically, even though the date of the newspaper and page number is provided in the index, it will probably take longer.

What would you do with that many lookups? Do them yourself or contact the library to see if they would do them?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

March 16th 1849

Among the papers in the files of my grandmother, Hazlettle Brubaker Phend, is a photocopy of a letter written in 1849. The thing that struck me most about the letter is that even though times change, basic human nature really doesn't. The things that concern us now, concerned them also - the birth of children, the health and well-being of family and friends.

The letter was sent by Sophia Elizabeth (Hazlett) and James Dunfee to their son and daughter-in-law, William and Catherine (Jones) Dunfee. Sophia and James are my 4th great grandparents. William and Catherine are my 3rd great grandparents.

Lakeville, March 16th 1849

Dear William, we received your welcome letter bearing date of March 2nd and was much pleased to hear that you are well and in good health and that you have a living Mother and daughter and I feel to thank God for his mercies toward his creatures. How we would like to see you all and this little grand daughter which numbers 21 for us. On reading your letter Lucy cried out, well done for Will, I wish I was there now, and Sarah said, I guess that William don’t forget me yet for he says that his babe looks like what I did when I was a babe.

Now I will tell you that we are all well at this time and so are all your friends here and they seem all to be looking ahead for themselves. I did hear some weeks ago that father had rented some of his fields and that George is going west in the fall, but this is all I can tell about them as none of them have been home since Henry and I were sick last fall.

Mary and little ones are well. She has had her dower set off this Spring. She has the most of the old home stead, 120 acres and Henry is about finishing his plowing this spring and he is quite rugged and hearty again and I can’t tell what he will go at next.

Aunt is well but She hung her lip at not having her name mentioned in your letter.

Your father thinks he will be to see you this Spring if we keep well. He would have been out last fall if we had not taken sick. We were sick from September till beginning of winter.

Jonathan and Marye An are both well but I don’t know how they like your compliment as I have not seen them since. Give My best Respects to Oliver Quick when you see him again.

William this is a Short letter from your mother, I could fill a little book if I were to write perticlers but this I will Say that Henry Dunfee is not the very worst boy in the world, he’s like yourself, he feels kind hearted towards us, the rest your father will say when he comes, So farewell. My dear Children.

James and Sophia E. Dunfee

To William H. Dunfee and Catharine B. Dunfee


Some notes regarding the letter:

  • Lakeville is in Holmes County, Ohio. The 'recently born grand daughter' mentioned in the first paragraph was the first child of William and Catharine Jones Dunfee, Laura Virginia, who was born January 25th, 1849. Laura Virginia was the 21st grandchild of James and Sophia. I come up with sixteen, so far. The ‘Counties of Whitley and Noble, Indiana’ reports that James and Sophia had thirteen children, but I have names for only ten born between 1811 and 1839. That 28 year time span certainly allows for additional children and would also account for the 'missing' 5 grandchildren.
  • Lucy and Sarah, also mentioned in the first paragraph were the two youngest children of James and Sophia Dunfee. (Lucy born in 1834, and Sarah in 1839)
  • George, mentioned in the second paragraph is most likely William’s older brother who was born in 1815 and settled in Dekalb county prior to 1850.
  • Henry, mentioned several times is probably William’s youngest brother, James Henry, who was born about 1828 and settled near the WhitleyCounty line in Aboite Township, Allen County in the late 1850’s.
  • The ‘father’ mentioned in the second paragraph, is in all likelihood Sophia’s father, whom I believe to be Jonathan Haslett who was 78 years old and living in Ashland County, Ohio with his granddaughter Eliza Dunfee (aged 39), according to the 1850 Ohio Census records.
  • Mary and ‘little ones’ is probably a reference to William’s older sister, Mary Bonnet, who had five children and lived near Lakeville and whose first husband had died in 1847. Mary remarried in March 1850 to James Lovett. They lived in Washington Township, Holmes County, Ohio.
  • I have not been able to determine exactly who the ‘Aunt’ is. There is a Catherine Dunfee 'daughter of G. & M. Dunfee died July 27, 1851 aged 57y 9m' buried in Evergreen Bethel Cemetery, Jefferson Township, Whitley County - the same cemetery in which James and Sophia are buried. It seems logical that Catherine is a sister of James, thus she could be the aunt that was 'disappointed at not having her name mentioned.'
  • Jonathan and MaryAnn is a reference to William’s younger brother, Jonathan who settled in Whitley county, Indiana in the early 1850’s. Oliver Quick could be MaryAnn’s brother or father.
  • About 1850, James and Sophia Dunfee came to Whitley County, Indiana. Most of their known children also came to Northern Indiana and settled in DeKalb, Allen, and Whitley counties, at about the same time or a few years earlier. The only child known to have remained in Holmes county, Ohio was Mary Bonnet Lovett.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Best Wishes...

The past few days I've been a bit under the weather... until I get back, please check out the posts my fellow genea-bloggers have contributed to the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories that has been hosted by Thomas MacEntee. I know that it has been a lot of work for you Thomas, but the time you spent putting it all together has been appreciated. Thank you Thomas! I have certainly enjoyed reading all of the articles. Thank you to everyone who participated.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories

To each and everyone, I wish you the best Christmas ever and may the spirit of the season be with you.

If you are in need of a good laugh (and aren't we all at some point during the holidays?) Janice Brown's video cartoons of GeneaBlogging Elves Running Amok will certainly cheer you up!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Music

The topic for the December 21st installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Music. What songs did your family listen to during Christmas? Did you ever go caroling? Did you have a favorite song?"

Back in the 1960's the primary (only?) local radio station we had available for listening to was WOWO in Fort Wayne. At that time it was a "music" station, not a news-talk station as it is now. Of course, at this time of year they played Christmas carols and, even though no one in my immediate family can sing very well, we would sit around the radio and sing along.

When we'd go to grandpa's for the family dinner, there would be a round or two of singing carols. Songs such as Silent Night, Jingle Bells, Away in a Manger, We Three Kings, Do You Hear What I Hear?, Winter Wonderland, Let it Snow, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear, Little Drummer Boy, Deck the Halls, and of course, The Twelve Days of Christmas as well as many others. Someone had a song book that had the lyrics to many of the carols in it. We didn't care much if we were in tune, we just had fun singing the songs as loud as we could, pretty much annoying the adults, I'm sure!

As far as going caroling, we went several times after we moved to the house on the Armstrong Road. We had neighbors nearby then so we inflicted our out-of-tune singing on them.

In my post Blog Caroling... I selected "Do You Hear What I Hear?" as my favorite, but in actuality, I like most of the "traditional" Christmas carols. However, there are some of the more "modern" Christmas songs that I don't care for very much.

Thank You, Janice!

If there is such a thing as a humor gene (and I believe there is), then Janice Brown surely has it!

She has given the gift of laughter to us many times this year, and her post GeneaBlogging Elves Run Amok!!! is sure to bring (at the very least) a smile to your face, if not an outright guffaw. Be sure to check out all of the cartoons to see what all the geneabloggers are up to...

Yours truly is in the cartoon highlighting the decorating of the official Genealogy Christmas tree. Also included in it are Mike O'Laughlin of Irish Roots Cafe, Steve Danko of Steve's Genealogy Blog, Chery from Nordic Blue, and Larry Lehmer of Passing It On.

Thank you, Janice.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Fond Memories...

The topic for the December 20th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas and Deceased Relatives. Did your family visit the cemetery at Christmas? How did your family honor deceased family members at Christmas?"

My family does not have a tradition of "honoring" deceased family members at Christmas, though I think that they are in our thoughts quite often. And if their name should happen to be mentioned by someone it usually sets off a rash of stories, especially if my mother and her siblings are present. I do take my mother to the cemeteries (they are in two different cemeteries) on or near Memorial Day to visit the graves of her parents and grandparents.

My father passed away on December 18, 1995 and the best thing that came out of that was that my brother came from Minnesota and my sister from Florida. It was the last time that the four of us kids were all together. And now that she has passed away too, well, it just won't happen again. It saddens me to think of her. I've been scanning pictures from my mother's photo albums and that has also brought back some memories of other family members that are no longer here with us, and perhaps a bit of melancholy as well.

My grandfather, who didn't talk much or show affection very often, but liked to have family around him. My Uncle Bob who had a very wry sense of humor. He didn't talk much either, but when he did, everyone listened. He loved to tell jokes that were a bit off-color. They weren't outright "dirty" jokes but the implication was there. Uncle Walt, who would do anything for anyone, if he possibly could. He was a healer too, his hands were blessed with a special touch that helped several family members over the years, myself included. My grandmother, who defied death and lived five years longer than expected (after being given 6 months to live). She tried so hard those last few years to get us all together at least once a year. Aunt Jane, grandma's sister, who's most memorable piece of advice to us all was that "You can marry for money, as well as love". LOL. She always said her first marriage was for love and the second was for money. But she was only married to her first husband for 12 years while she was married to Uncle Charley for over 30.

Isn't it amazing how we tend to think of the good times and the favorable aspects of their personalities? I don't think we should forget that there are always two sides to a coin, but perhaps it is best that we remember the good side most often!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Shopping

The topic for the December 19th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Shopping. How did your family handle Christmas Shopping? Did anyone finish early or did anyone start on Christmas Eve?"

If I had to venture a guess, I'd say that mom was the one who did the Christmas shopping in our family when we were kids. I don't ever remember her taking us kids shopping with her. And I'm sure she had all the shopping done long before Christmas.

There was only one time in my young-adult days that I waited until several days before Christmas to go shopping. I had a terrible time finding the appropriate gifts so resolved that I would always start my shopping no later than the first week of December. One time (just one time!) I went shopping on "black Friday" and went to "the mall" in Fort Wayne. Never again! No matter what bargains are available!

Christmas Stockings

Once again, this is much too late to get into the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (hosted by Thomas MacEntee) for the December 18th installment, anyway, the topic was: "Christmas Stockings. Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it?"

When we lived in the little block house (up until I was about 10 years old), our Christmas Stockings were filled with a tangerine, an apple, nuts (unshelled walnuts), a toothbrush, socks, and undies as well as small toys and some candy. Christmas was the only time we ever had tangerines so they were a real treat. Much easier to peel than oranges, so we could peel them ourselves. We were allowed to use a ball-peen hammer to break open the unshelled walnuts. I'm sure there were a few smashed fingers but we all still have all ten fingers!

Mom has often told the story of when my younger brother, Jack, was three. All he wanted for Christmas was a teddy bear. For whatever reason she didn't get one for him (forgetful, lack of time, lack of money?).

Christmas morning finally came and we all opened the little gifts in our stockings (the stockings were always opened first). When Jack opened his package with the toothbrush, he squealed with delight "Me got me teddy bear!" It was purely by chance that when mom wrapped up the toothbrushes that had little animals on the end of the handles, he got the one that had a bear on it!

As far as where the stockings were hung, I don't remember. We didn't have a fireplace. Now that I think about it, I wonder how Santa came into our little block house?

footnoteMaven's Choir of GeneaAngels

If you haven't already seen it, you really should go check out A Choir Of GeneaAngels that fM has put together! Thank you fM.

The COG has a bug!

The Carnival of Genealogy, 38th Edition has been posted at Creative Gene.

The theme for the December 18, 2007 edition of the COG is: The New Millennium. What were you up to? How did you prepare for the New Year 2000? Something old, something new, something funny, something blue... a variety of articles to peruse.

The theme for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will be: New Year's Resolutions. "As the year winds to a close in the next couple weeks it's a good time to review the progress made in our genealogy research and to make a plan for next year. So what did you accomplish last year and what road blocks did you encounter? What are your research goals for next year and how do you resolve to attain them?" Submit your blog articles to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using the carnival submission form. The deadline for submissions is January 1, 2008. Past posts and future hosts can be found on the blog carnival index page.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Church Services

The topic for the December 17th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Church Services. Did your family attend religious services during the Christmas season? What were the customs and traditions involved?"

Well, this will be short. When we were little Mom or Dad would drop us off at Sunday School and then go back home. That's about the extent of church services we attended. It was a very small church and I don't remember if they ever did anything special for Christmas. Once we moved to the "new" house, our parents let us decide whether we wanted to go to church or not. I chose not to. I don't currently attend church, preferring, for numerous reasons, to keep my relationship to a higher being personal and private.

Christmas at School

This is a bit late to be included in the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (hosted by Thomas MacEntee) for the December 16th installment, but better late than never and I still want to play along, so here goes. . . the topic was "What did you do to celebrate Christmas at school? Were you ever in a Christmas Pageant?"

It's been soooo long since I was in elementary school that I don't remember many specific events at Christmas. I'm sure we did the normal "crafty" things as gifts for our parents. I remember seeing one ornament that us kids made (our class pictures cut into a circle and put into a canning lid with a piece of red yarn attached so it could be hung on the Christmas tree) but I don't know if we did that in school or if it was one of Mom's projects to keep us busy. We probably also had class parties, but nothing rings a bell.

The school I went to through all 12 years was the same one that my Dad attended. We even had some of the same teachers! Anyway, there were only 40 kids in my graduating class and it was one of the larger classes; it was a small-town school. I vaguely remember Santa Claus visiting with members of the American Legion. They handed out an apple, an orange and a small bag of candy to everyone in the school or maybe it was just to the elementary kids.

As far as pageants are concerned, I only attended one and that was during my sister's senior year in high school. The small local schools had consolidated in 1966 (the year I graduated) and the last graduating class from the small schools was in 1968. So 1972 was the first year that a class graduated from Wawasee High School and that happened to be my sister's class. I was away in the Navy and wouldn't be able to make it home for Christmas but was able to get there the middle of December, before the schools let out for the winter break. Terry (my sister) was in the school orchestra and played the double bass. That year the orchestra and choir put on an "Olde English" Renaissance style Christmas pageant and dinner. All the participants were dressed in costume and the servers spoke in the old style. It was an interesting and fun evening and I was glad that I was able to be there. It was one of the few times that I attended any of her school events.

Am I a Census Dodger? Are you?

After spending a great deal of time searching for his maternal grandfather in the 1920 census records, earlier today Tim Agazio apologized to his descendants about his habit of avoiding the census. He makes up for the error of his ways by providing details for where he was in each census in which he should have been enumerated.

I thought that was an interesting exercise so took some time to figure out where I was when the census was taken during my lifetime. I'm not sure how many years I'll show up in the records, but here is where you should find me. . . I may someday be one of those unmarried relatives where no one knows what happened to them. However, if this blog still exists in cyberspace, they'll have the answers they seek! Are you in the census records when you should be?
  • 1950 Age 2. The family was living in the "little block house" that had been converted from a garage in Tippecanoe Township, Kosciusko County, Indiana. My parents, two brothers and myself. Mom and dad would have been married 4 years. I have no idea if they filled out the census papers.
  • 1960 Age 12. With the addition of a little sister, the family had moved into a new home on the Armstrong Road, within 10 miles of our previous residence. Still in Tippecanoe Township. Again, I don't know if my parents filled out the census forms or not.
  • 1970 Age 22. In the U.S. Navy, stationed at Norfolk, Virginia. I don't recall filling out any forms for the census. Did the military record that information?
  • 1980 Age 32. Lived in Terre Haute and was attending Indiana State University. I dutifully filled out the census questionnaire and sent it off to wherever it needed to go.
  • 1990 Age 42. My mother and I were living in "the old farmhouse" in Washington Township, Noble County, which we had purchased 3 years previously. One of my nieces was still living with us. Her sister had gone to Georgia to live with her father. I don't recall filling out census forms and I doubt that Mom would have done it on her own.
  • 2000 Age 52. Mom and I had moved to Thorncreek Township, Whitley County in 1997. I remember being disappointed in receiving the "short" form to fill out. It didn't take long to fill in the information, and send it off.
  • 2010 Age 62. Who knows where I'll be, I sure don't!

Let it snow, let it snow!

As y'all know, Northern Indiana and the Midwest got hit by a snowstorm yesterday. According to the local weather people Whitley county got about 10" and Noble county (where I live) got about 12". I just talked to my brother and he measured the snow in his back yard (in a woods in Kosciusko county where little wind gets to it) and he says they got 15" of snow.

For me, the issue isn't the amount of snow but rather the wind. It whips around the buildings in the complex where I live and causes large drifts. Below is the view from my front window, the first one taken at 10 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m.

The window is about 18" off the ground and the snow is packed onto the front porch. The drift on the outer edge is about 3-3 1/2 feet high. It runs clear across the driveway too. If I get energetic I might go out and shovel a bit this afternoon. Or I might just wait until the maintenance people come and let them shovel it out. My neighbors were out for a while and cleared off their porch and drive.

The delicate lines of the snowdrift outside my front door. It is about 3-3 1/2 feet high.

The view from my front door. Looking south, then looking west.

The sun started breaking through the clouds a little before noon. The day is shiny and bright. And I'm glad I don't have to go out in the cold wind and drifting snow.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas is Here!

Today was a busy day - preparing for our family Christmas dinner tomorrow. And I don't have anything written for the December 15th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee. The topic is "Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!" So instead of recalling a Christmas past, I'll write a bit about tomorrow (our future memories, perhaps?).

Tomorrow's gathering will be a small one, there should only be about 12 of us. The cookies have all been made, and some caramel corn too! The presents have been wrapped, some of the side dishes prepared. The only thing that could stand in the way is the weather, but the forecast for Northern Indiana is only calling for 3-6" of snow tomorrow, and then not till late in the afternoon, so we should be okay. Looks like Kansas and Missouri will get the worst of it before it heads our way.

For the past 20 years or so, my immediate family has had our Christmas dinner on the weekend before Christmas and sometimes, as is the case this year, the weekend before the weekend before Christmas. It just all depends upon everyone's schedule. Christmas day is usually spent with my mother. Sometimes my niece and her husband and son come for dinner. If they come we play card games, but if it is just mom and me we talk and watch television. Just a nice quiet day spent together.

*** Update 8:00 p.m. ***
Thank you one and all for your good wishes. We had a very nice time. Lots of good food, talked a lot, laughed a lot, played some games. And Santa even showed up. Well, not really, but we did have presents! It started snowing about 11 a.m. and snowed off and on all afternoon but only about an inch or so accumulation. It was a bit slippery coming home. The 30 minute drive from Columbia City took about 45. I checked and they are still showing that Northern Indiana will get 6-12" of snow by tomorrow night. But that's okay since I don't have to go out in it anytime soon.

*** Update 11:30 p.m. ***
I just opened the front door and it's snowing pretty heavily. The wind is whipping the snow around. I always get pretty good drifts across the front of the apartment and the driveway. It's about a foot high in a couple spots even though we probably only have about 2" of snow.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Year's Eve 1999

The New Millennium. The Year 2000. Y-two-K. However you want to say it, those three words were enough to put fear into the hearts of many a computer programmer. For most of 1999, the programmers for the company that I worked for, as well as those for pretty much the rest of the world ;-) were busy fixing code and checking it twice. I wasn't involved with the actual programming duties for my company, but I did help out with the testing aspect. As a program got "fixed" it would be installed into a test database and I'd put it through it's paces. Mainly checking to see that they didn't break something else while attempting to fix the main problem.

For financial purposes, the company worked on a four-week period, ending on a Thursday, as opposed to using a calendar month. That year the period ended on December 23rd, as did the accounting year. So most of the financial queries and reports were completed a week before the end of the calendar year.

December 31st that year was on a Friday, which was probably a good thing. It gave the programmer's a little extra time "just in case" things didn't work out as planned. As we all know, there were no major snafus, the world didn't end, the computers worked, life went on as usual.

It's been many years since I've gone out on New Year's Eve. That year it was spent in much the same way as those of the previous 10 years. At home with Mom. Ah, such an exciting life! My niece and her son came over that night too. We played card games for a while and watched television as they broadcast the various extravaganzas from around the world. Our neighbors chimed in with firecrackers and fireworks a few minutes before midnight and we went out and watched them light up the cold night sky.

I wasn't overly concerned that things wouldn't work, but I did make sure that I had printouts of my checking and savings account, and my 401(k). I didn't normally keep a lot of money on hand, but that year I made sure I had some extra cash "just in case". We didn't stockpile canned goods or food other than what we normally would have for a winter storm. We may have crossed our fingers a time or two and hoped that nothing drastic would go wrong, but essentially we were optimistic. And, thank goodness, we weren't proven wrong!

The following poem was making the rounds in 1999... Author Unknown.

'Twas the night before 2000 and all through the tower,
applications were failing, more by the hour.
The programs were running on the mainframe with care,
in hopes that the millennium bug was not there.

The programmers were seated in front of their PC's,
while visions of blank paychecks danced in their heads.
With Amy in her office and I at my desk,
we had just settled down for a night with no rest.

When up on my screen there arose such a ding,
I sprang from my chair screaming .. "I didn't touch a thing!"
Away from my computer I ran real quick,
tore open the drawer and picked up a stick.

I glared at the PC, evil and mean,
then realized ... it's just a machine.
What to my wondering eyes should I see,
but a miniature window, and a message for me.

With tired eyes, I gave a glance,
only hours left .. we don't have a chance!
More rapid than eagles the languages fell,
and we whistled, and shouted, and called with a yell;
"Now COBOL! now, NATURAL, Batch and On-Line!
Oh, FORTRAN! Oh SAS! Now CHORE went flat-line!

From the front of my face, to the face of the wall,
now bash away! bash away! bash away all!
As the team gathered together for one last try,
the word from management came... "Fix it or die!"

So they sat in their chairs, in the up-right position,
with a desk full of work, and a nasty disposition!
And then, in a dinging, I heard the speaker mention,
"Attention, everyone in the building, Attention."

As he tried to speak the next word,
the crashing of the mainframe is all we heard.
The programs were a mess, from start to end.
My screen was tarnished with an ugly abend.

The team assembled, into one huge pack,
we looked like hungry wolves, ready to attack.
Our eyes - how they twinkled! Our fingers typed with a clank.
Fix Payroll we said, because our paychecks are blank!

The sweat on my face was falling like rain,
while the coding of COBOL drove me insane!
The stump of a pencil I held tight in my hand,
I chewed nervously, hoping I would not get canned!

I coded some Windows and a Bridge too,
that took a program from version one to two.
I was tired, weak, and in a delusional state,
and I laughed when I saw it, in spite of fate.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon let me know that bug was not dead!
It spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
crashing the remaining programs, then turned with a jerk.

I placed the cursor next to the bug,
pressed the delete key to remove the little thug.
But I heard it exclaim, as I erased the line.....
"Happy Millennium for now, 'cause I'll return in 9999!"

Note: Written for the 38th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The theme is: The New Millennium. Where were you when the year 2000 came around? How did you celebrate the New Year 2000...

Fruitcake - Friend or Foe?

The topic for the December 14th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Fruitcake – Friend or Foe? Did you like fruitcake? Did your family receive fruitcakes? Have you ever re-gifted fruitcake? Have you ever devised creative uses for fruitcake?"

As I've often been told, I'm not normal - I must be one of the few people who actually likes fruitcake. That statement should be qualified somewhat, I like "good" fruitcake. Not dry. Not with candied fruit. No frosting. But perhaps with a hot cinnamon sauce drizzled over it. There have been a few times that I've thrown away fruitcake, but only if it was extremely dry or totally inedible.

Until recently, my aunt Phyllis gave her siblings a fruit cake every year, but it isn't your traditional fruitcake. I really do need to get that recipe from her. It's good.

I've never re-gifted a fruitcake. If it wasn't fit to eat I didn't think it fair to thrust it on to someone else. However, if I had known about the Great Fruitcake Toss and lived reasonably close to Manitou Springs, Colorado I might have taken it there to dispose of it.

Some pictures of the 2002 event and highlights of the January 2007 event.

Blog Caroling...

footnoteMaven has decided to start a new Christmas tradition by challenging us to blog our favorite Christmas Carol. Find out what her favorite Christmas Carol is by visiting her post Blog Caroling.

Choosing just one of the traditional Christmas Carols as a "favorite" was not an easy task but I've selected "Do You Hear What I Hear?" written by Noel Regney and Gloria Shayne in 1962 (according to and entry in Wikipedia).

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
"Do you see what I see?
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
Do you see what I see?
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite,
With a tail as big as a kite."

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy,
"Do you hear what I hear?
Ringing through the sky, shepherd boy,
Do you hear what I hear?
A song, a song high above the trees
With a voice as big as the sea,
With a voice as big as the sea."

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king,
"Do you know what I know?
In your palace warm, mighty king,
Do you know what I know?
A Child, a Child shivers in the cold--
Let us bring him silver and gold,
Let us bring him silver and gold."

Said the king to the people everywhere,
"Listen to what I say!
Pray for peace, people, everywhere,
Listen to what I say!
The Child, the Child sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light,
He will bring us goodness and light."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas and the Arts

The topic for the December 13th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas and the Arts. Did your family attend any special events or performances during the holidays?"

The Arts? My family? The closest my family ever got to "the arts", "special events" or "performances" were the Christmas Concerts at school. We're not what you'd call an artful or culturally enlightened family. After all, we lived in rural Indiana, in a time where those things were not all that important. In elementary school, my brothers and I participated in the school concerts, along with our classmates, but our teachers didn't voice any complaints when we "silently" sang the songs. I'm sure that if any of us kids had shown any inclination towards or talent in the arts or music or whatever, our parents would have supported us in those endeavors as much as possible.

Let's see, my Mom and I went to see Andy Williams in his Christmas concert one year, that would have been in the mid-1980s. My niece, Tami, and I went to see Kenny Rogers' Christmas concert several years ago. Both would have been in Fort Wayne. One year while in high school, one of my teachers sponsored a trip to Chicago to see "The Flower Drum Song". I don't remember if that was during the Christmas season or not, but it was sometime in winter ;-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

In a time of need...

The topic for the December 12th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Charitable / Volunteer Work. Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Were you able to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate?"

To my knowledge, my family did not participate in "charity" work at a soup kitchen or shelter. However, if a family in the neighborhood was in need of anything, we and the other neighbors all contributed what we could. The Salvation Army gets my change whenever I see their red bucket and bell ringer. Goodwill gets my clothes that I no longer wear, and I contribute in other ways too. Nothing special or out of the ordinary.

But one year, we needed help. In the fall of 1988, my sister and her new husband decided to move to Florida where his sister and mother lived. She had two girls at the time, 15 and 14 years old, both going to school, but that didn't seem to matter. Anyway, they were in Florida about six weeks when we got a phone call. The girls couldn't get into school and my sister and her husband couldn't find work.

To make a long story short, it was November when the girls came to live with my mother and me in an old farm house we'd bought the previous year. We had some trouble getting them back in school but finally made arrangements. The problem was, they came to us with just a small suitcase and the clothes on their back. Neither mom nor I were making much money at the time and basically were getting by paycheck to paycheck. We had no idea how we'd manage. But word got out to our neighbors and co-workers and we received coats and clothes and other things the girls needed. We were relieved and very grateful.

Christmas seemed to come quickly that year. Money was still tight, with little left over for anything except necessities. I'm not sure how it happened, but a few days before Christmas a couple of ladies in a van pulled into the driveway and started carrying boxes up to the back porch. We had no idea who they were but they had boxes filled with wrapped gifts for the girls along with several boxes of groceries. They wouldn't tell us who they were or what organization they were with. To us, it was incredible. But the really amazing thing to me was, when the girls opened the gifts on Christmas morning, they unwrapped things that they had wanted. Perhaps the girls had made a list, but I don't remember them doing so. I suspect that somehow Mom had something to do with it but she acted as surprised as I was. But then, she always was a good actress. Regardless, it was one of the best Christmases we had together.

That was the first time that I'd been "in need" and on the receiving end of charity and, thankfully, it was the last time as well. But I will always remember the two unknown ladies who showed up on our doorstep that year and will be forever thankful to them and the unknown others who contributed and helped when we needed it most.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday Travel

The topic for the December 11th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Holiday Travel. Did you travel anywhere for Christmas? How did you travel and who traveled with you? Do you remember any special trips?"

My family never traveled far at Christmas when I was a kid. Perhaps to Fort Wayne or maybe Auburn, both only about 25 miles. Almost all my close relatives (grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.) lived within a 25-30 mile drive. No holiday vacations away from home for my family.

My first Christmas away from home was spent at Boot Camp after I joined the Navy in 1969. It wouldn't be the last time that I wasn't home for Christmas though. Out of the nearly 10 years I was in the Navy, I think I made it home four times.

In 1970, I was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia and was determined to get home. One of my roommates lived in Pennsylvania and she too wanted to get home for the holidays. Another girl lived in Ohio. And another roommate lived in California. She couldn't afford to go home but didn't want to stay in the barracks so I said she could go home with me. I had just purchased a car that fall, so we all pooled our resources, managed to get leave and took off. It was my first long-distance driving trip.

It had started snowing just south of Washington, D. C. and was still snowing, quite heavily, when we got onto I-70 at Frederick, Maryland. It was dark too, as the day had turned to night. By the time we got into Pennsylvania and onto the turnpike, the snow had turned into a blizzard. Virtually no visibility. There was a vehicle in front of us and we were following it in an attempt to stay on the road. We traveled like that for quite a while, following the vehicle in front, the blind leading the blind. Well, we followed that car, unknowingly, off the turnpike! When we tried to get back onto the turnpike the State Police were blocking the entry. No one was allowed on the turnpike heading west unless they had chains. Did we have chains? No. Well, sorry, but you can't go any further.

We probably should have just turned around at that point. But being determined young fools, we found a garage that sold us the necessary chains, and they even put them on the tires for us. Besides, we weren't far from Somerset, which is near where the one roommate lived in Pennsylvania. We still couldn't see very well, but we finally made it to Somerset. Her folks graciously put us up for the night. We decided that sleeping on the floor was a better alternative to getting stuck in the snow and freezing and who knew what else.

The next morning it was still snowing, but it was daylight, and we could see the road. The snow plows had been through but we were advised to leave the chains on until the roads were completely cleared. However, it wasn't long before we heard clank, clank, clank. The chains on one tire had come loose and were banging the underside of the wheel well as the tire turned. We managed to get that chain all the way off, but couldn't figure out how to remove the others. Luckily, a good Samaritan came along and removed the other chains for us. Then we merrily went on our way. The highway was relatively clear, the sun was trying to peek through the snow, and we were moving at a pretty good pace. The rest of the trip proved to be quite uneventful. Thank goodness! We all made it home before Christmas day and safely back to Norfolk. And on time.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A Christmas Gift to Remember

The topic for the December 10th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Gifts. What were your favorite gifts, both to receive and to give?"

Probably the most unusual and most memorable Christmas gift I ever received, though not necessarily my all-time favorite, was a present from my 14-year old sister in 1968. As you can see by the picture, it was a very large box, the biggest one "under" the Christmas tree. In fact, so big it couldn't fit under the tree!

I opened the box, and inside was another box. And inside that one was another box! And another, and another! Six in all. The box that actually held the gift was only about 4x4 inches. By the time I opened the final box, it really didn't matter what was in it. We had so much fun with getting to it. But, what was it you ask? A watch. Actually, a broken watch. It was a watch that didn't work! Not only was this a surprise to me, but to my sister as well. Being only 14 years old, she didn't have much money, and had gotten the watch from a friend. It didn't matter. As they say, it's the thought that counts, and a great deal of thought (and effort) had gone into that gift. Favorite gift, no. Memorable, yes!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Holiday Parties

The topic for the December 9th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Holiday Parties. Did your family throw a holiday party each year? Do you remember attending any holiday parties?"

We didn't give or go to any Christmas "parties" although my mother's family got together every year for Christmas when all of us kids were little. We usually went to my Grandpa Vic's house in Larwill, which is the house the family moved into in the late 1930s. Grandpa lived in that house for more than 50 years until he moved to an apartment in Columbia City. My cousin Marilynn purchased the house at that time and she still lives there.

Grandpa would fix the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and gravy while the side dishes and some desserts would be brought by mom and her brother and sisters. There was never a lack of food when this family got together, but it was even more bountiful at Christmas time.

Grandpa's house was a two-story duplex with high ceilings and large rooms (when they first moved in they rented the other side to another family but later my uncle Bill and his family lived on that side of the house). There was a wide "pocket" door that could be closed to separate the front room from the dining room. After the main meal had been eaten (adults at the dining room table that expanded to easily seat 14 - my cousin still has that table - and kids in the front room at card tables or wherever a seat could be found) that pocket door was closed and us kids played games and sang songs while the adults talked, and talked, and talked. (Wouldn't it be neat to have a recording of what was being said? I'm sure I couldn't have cared less back then, but now? Oh, yeah.)

The pocket door had windows in it so we could see them and they could see us, but waiting was absolute torture for us. There we were, in the front room, where the Christmas tree was with all the presents beneath it and we had to wait to open them until "they" were ready. The time finally arrived but then we had to wait for everyone to get their gifts - then we opened them. It was total chaos. But oh, so much fun! The gifts weren't all that grand or expensive, but there was something under the tree for everyone. And if we really, really didn't like what we got, we could exchange it with someone, if they were willing.

The picture below, of my cousins and siblings, was taken in December 1954 at Grandpa's house after the presents had been opened. It was my sister's first Christmas, she's trying to get away from my brothers. There would be eight more cousins born between then and 1974.

As we got older, we would have to help with the dishes and cleaning up before the presents could be opened. And then, as the years passed, it became more difficult for all of us to get together at Christmas and there were really too many of us to fit in anyone's home. We all went our separate ways, some got married and had families of their own, others just went away!

In 1980 my Grandmother decided that it was time for the family to get together again for Christmas! My mother and I were living in rural Noble County and the township had a community building that we rented. By this time there were about 75 family members in four generations. The picture below was taken in 1983, grandma's third dinner, the last time we all got together. There were only a few cousins who not able to attend and several people who were there are not in the photo, one of the missing is me - I was taking the picture. Everyone in the picture has been identified and I've made an outline drawing that numbers and names each person. The quality of this copy isn't that great since the file size had to be reduced to display here, but in the large print that I've got, everyone is in focus.

My grandmother is in the wheelchair (she had cancer and passed away the following May), her sister Jane is sitting beside her, and my nephew Jason is sitting on grandma's lap. Jason was five years old then; he is now 29 years old and has a four year old daughter of his own. Grandpa is a little to the left and behind grandma. Even though they were divorced (for the second time) in 1947, they both attended all of our family gatherings.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Cookies

The topic for the December 8th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Cookies. Did your family make Christmas Cookies? How did you help? Did you have a favorite cookie?"

My Mother and I have been making cookies together for at least the last 20 or so years. Snickerdoodles, Oatmeal Raisin, Gingerbread Men (and Women), frosted Sugar Cookies of various shapes sprinkled with colored sugar, and others too.

Mom made cookies for Christmas and at other times of the year when I was growing up but not for gift giving and not to the extent that we have been doing these past 20 years. After Thanksgiving we buy all of the ingredients we'll need and then the first full weekend of December we start mixing and baking. I've never counted up how many dozens we make, but depending upon the type of cookie, each batch makes between 3 and 4 dozen cookies. We usually made four batches of Snickerdoodles, Oatmeal, and Sugar Cookies but only two batches of Gingerbread cookies and a batch or two of several other varieties. The past two years we've reduced the number of batches by about half, but it is still a lot of work. And it is still fun. I wonder what would happen if we didn't make them?

After the cookies are baked and cooled, they get stored in sealed containers in the garage (where it is cool) until we are ready to package them, usually the following weekend. Our big family Christmas dinner is normally a week or so before Christmas so they don't need to be frozen for long-term storage. Mom mixed up a batch of Snickerdoodles today. Since her oven isn't working right, I'll be baking them tomorrow as well as mixing and baking a couple batches of oatmeal raisin cookies and a batch of Gingerbread cookies. Probably won't make the Sugar Cookies this year though - I really never did like having to roll out the dough, mess with cookie cutters, and then decorating them. Ours sure never looked like the ones shown above! My favorite cookies are the Oatmeal Raisin and the Gingerbread.

A couple of recipes I found online are quite similar to the recipes that we use. The recipe for Oatmeal Raisin cookies comes straight from the Quaker Oats box! When searching for these recipes, I found it amusing that the Sunmaid website called them Raisin-Oatmeal cookies. The pictures used above came from the sites below.

a date which will live in infamy

photo - remember December 7th poster

photo - USS Bennington
The USS Bennington (CVA-20) passes the wreck of USS Arizona (BB-39) in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Memorial Day, 31 May 1958. Bennington's crew is in formation on the flight deck, spelling out a tribute to the Arizona's crewmen who were lost in the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Note the outline of Arizona's hull and the flow of oil from her fuel tanks. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Grandpa's Candy

The topic for the December 7th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Christmas Grab Bag. Author’s choice! Please post from a topic that helps you remember Christmases past!!"

In a previous post, I mentioned that my Grandfather, Rolland Victor Phend, had been an apprentice at a bakery before he enlisted in the Army during WWI. He learned to make the usual pies, cakes and cookies but our favorite, by far, was his candy! He made it year round but Christmas was a time when he was especially busy with the candy making. Most of it he gave away or donated to church bake sales but we got our share too. We so looked forward to this time of year and couldn't hardly wait to get a taste of the caramels, turtles and cashew glace. He also made chocolate fudge, fondant, candy canes and taffy but my preference was always for the caramels, turtles and cashew glace.

Grandpa would "hide" the candy in his closet, which also happened to be the downstairs bathroom. That may sound kind of weird but the bathroom was really just the toilet - no sink or shower (you'd go to the kitchen to wash your hands after using the toilet). It was a very large room and the toilet was on the opposite side from where the candy was kept. The main reason he kept the candy there was because the room was cool. No heating ducts went into that room. It got enough warm air when the door was left open so that it didn't freeze, but it was a bit chilly; no one lingered long in that bathroom! Except when we were looking for the candy, although it wasn't really hidden. He always left some out in plain sight so we could easily grab a few pieces.

One year, I don't remember exactly when - I had graduated from high school and was working in Fort Wayne - I was allowed to "help" him make some caramels and turtles. I did measure out some of the ingredients, but mostly I just watched. Though he did let me dip the caramel-pecan mixture in the chocolate to make the turtles. His basic technique was to measure out all of the ingredients first, putting the dry ingredients on separate pieces of wax paper. Then when the sugar or salt or whatever was needed all he had to do was pick up the wax paper and slip the ingredients into the pan. I thought that was neat. It was convenient and also cut down considerably on the number of dishes that would have to be washed later!

On December 14, 1963 grandpa's talents were highlighted in an article in the Warsaw Times-Union (published in Warsaw, Kosciusko County, Indiana). The pictures below are scans of photocopies from that article so they aren't very good as far as quality goes, but they are all I have. For whatever reason we never took any pictures of grandpa in the kitchen. That's the cashew glace he's holding in the right picture.

Several years ago I made Grandpa's caramels and cashew glace for Christmas presents for my immediate family (mother, brothers, sister, nieces and nephews). They turned out okay, and everyone enjoyed them, but they were not quite the same as I remember Grandpa's. I don't know what happened to his recipes, perhaps one of his daughters or his son has them. These two recipes were published in the 1963 article mentioned above. No substituting allowed!

Grandpa Vic's Vanilla Caramels
In a large heavy pan, combine one cup granulated sugar, one cup light corn syrup, and one cup heavy cream. Stir occasionally, cook to 232 degrees. Add (while stirring constantly) 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons evaporated milk. Cook to 240 degrees, then take from heat. Add one teaspoon of vanilla and stir only enough to mix. Pour into a greased or buttered baking dish (a standard sized cookie sheet with side walls works quite well). Let this cool then cut into bite size pieces. Wrap the individual pieces in wax paper. Keep in a cool, dry area.

Turtles can be made by pouring the caramel mixture over pecan halves place in the bottom of the baking dish or cookie sheet. After cooling, cut the pecan/caramel mixture into squares, shape into turtles, then dip in melted chocolate. yum-o.

Grandpa Vic's Cashew Glace
In a large heavy pan, combine 2 cups granulated sugar, ½ cup light corn syrup, ½ cup water. Cook together to 270 degrees. Add 2 tablespoons butter, ½ teaspoon of salt. Stirring to keep from sticking until temperature reaches 300 degrees. Take from heat and add 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of unsalted cashews. Pour into a greased cookie sheet, pressing flat with the spoon or your hands. Let mixture harden, then break apart into pieces. Store in an airtight container, though it won't last long. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Santa Claus

The topic for the December 6th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Santa Claus. Did you ever send a letter to Santa? Did you ever visit Santa and “make a list?” Do you still believe in Santa Claus?"

Writing letters to Santa Claus is not something that I remember doing as a kid. I don't think we ever paid a visit to him either. Although, when I was about 14 years old, on the family's only summer vacation one of the places we visited was Santa Claus, Indiana. Of course, since it was summertime, Santa was not in residence at the time. And it wasn't the big commercial venture then that it is now.

I'm sure my brothers and I made lists for mom and dad, or maybe we just told them what we would like to have. Though we usually received clothes. The toys and games we were given were always things that we all would play with. It's not that we didn't believe in Santa, it, well, I guess it just wasn't that big a deal back then. Of course, it may also have been that we lived in the country and didn't have television. (The TV set came along when we moved into our new house in 1960, when I was 12 years old.)

As with most little kids, I discovered that Santa was not a real person from one of the older kids at school. Though when Santa came to school with veterans from the American Legion to deliver bags of candy and oranges and apples, those older kids were there, standing in line to receive their bag of goodies!

Do I still believe in Santa Claus? Well, let's just say that I believe in the spirit of Santa Claus and that all things are possible! Especially since Santa Claus has a blog!

Phend-Fisher Family Reunion Ledger Index

A brief history of the Phend-Fisher Family Reunions can be found in the post The first Saturday in August

This index has been created to make it easier to locate entries for specific years.

Phend-Fisher Family Reunion Ledger (1942-1943)

The 33d Annual reunion of the Phend family was held at Nappanee Community Park Aug 30, 1942 with 32 in attendance. Also two Visitors Mr. & Mrs. W. O. Yarian of Toledo Ohio.

A Very good dinner was served which was enjoyed very much by all present.

Meeting called to order by president Henry Phend.

Motion made & 2d that Henry Phend remain as President
Fred Ernest V. President
Sec & Treasurer Virginia Phend, Larwill Ind

Balance of $1.40 from last year
Paid .25 Postage
leaving Bal $1.15

Motion Made & 2d that reunion be held at the same time & Same Place. Last Sun in Aug. Motion carried.

[page 2]
Collection today 2.85
Bal last year 1.15
Total 4.00
Paid for Pavillion 2.50
Bal 1.50

To Josephene Poyser, daughter Sharon Rose


Marriages - 1942
Betty Phend to LaMarr Stouder
Dean Ernest to Doris Mansfield
Elizabeth Phend to Charles Young
Mabel Phend to Harry Swiehart
Kohl Miller to [Dorothy Anderson]

[page 3 - marriages, continued]
Anna Mae [Thornton] & Martin Miller
Richard Thornton & Janice Roper

Minutes read, approved & signed.
F A Wehrly sec & Treas.


Phend-Fisher Family Reunion Ledger (1943)

1943. No Reunion.

Balance last year $1.50
Cards .08
Bal. 1.42


The Phend-Fisher families gathered for a reunion in Northern Indiana almost annually from 1909 until 1943. The events of the day were recorded in an old ledger book. Spelling has been retained as it was in the original though some punctuation and paragraph breaks have been added. To view all articles in this series click on the "Phend-Fisher Reunion Ledger" label at the bottom of this post. This is the last post in this series.

It would be 9 more years before the Phend Family Reunions resumed. On August 28, 1952 a family gathering was held in honor of Henry and Susie (Yarian) Phend on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary and the gatherings have continued annually since. You can read more about these reunions in my post titled The first Saturday in August.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Outdoor Decorations

The topic for the December 5th installment of the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories hosted by Thomas MacEntee is: "Outdoor Decorations. Did people in your neighborhood decorate with lights? Did some people really go “all out” when decorating?"

Growing up in the 1950s and 60s we lived out in the country, moving to a rural subdivision in 1960. There really weren't many outdoor decorations at that time. It was the time before the era of great consumerism emerged, when Christmas sales didn't start in August, and stores didn't put up Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving. We always put up our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, added a few other indoor decorations, perhaps a few lights around the big picture window in the living room, and that was it. No outdoor lights or decorations.

In 1987, Mom and I bought an old farm house in rural Noble County, Indiana. Our nearest neighbors were a mile away in every direction. There we put up a large tree in the living room that could be seen by the passing cars. It was a two-story house so the eaves were way too high for putting lights up, but if we'd been able to do so, Mom would have been all for it. We did string lights and garland around the deck railing and the back porch and around all of the windows, upstairs and down. None of our neighbors put up outside lights. I'm not sure why we bothered since very few people saw them, but they seemed to make my Mom happy. I'll admit, I enjoyed them too ;-) except for the fact that I was the one that had to put them up and take them down, usually on the coldest and windiest day of the year!

Ten years later we moved to a subdivision north of Columbia City. There were a few neighbors who went a little overboard but for the most part the decorations were a bit sedate. With a one-story house, the lights went up on the eaves shortly after Thanksgiving, sometimes before, if the weather was nice. But they weren't turned on until the day after Thanksgiving. These were the blinking kind, that could be set to change in a continuous pattern. We also had some small trees and shrubs around the house and those were covered in non-blinking multi-colored lights.

We still drive around the countryside to see the decorations that others put up. Some are definitely extravagant, to the extreme. There is a subdivision in Columbia City that we love to drive through. I think they have a competition to see who can display the most lights. They come up with some imaginative displays. Some pretty, some just plain gaudy. Either way, I sure wouldn't want to have to pay their electric bills! But it is fun to see what they come up with each year. I don't particularly like the big "blow-up" Santa and Snowman figures and Snowglobes that seem to be all the rage now. It is amusing though to see them deflated, lying flat on the ground.

No, this isn't my house from a Christmas Past. It's from the 2006 collection at Ugly Christmas Lights

And then, for some more fun, there are the people Showing Off at Planet Christmas!