Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a Mother Saves

Recently while I was going through a cardboard box in my basement full of "mementos" from my past, I found quite a few surprises, a lot of junk, and some memories that I had forgotten.  Part of the box had school newspapers, old yearbooks, the senior play booklet with my part identified on the front, a scrapbook falling apart and filled with tickets, napkins, and photos of places I went.  There was even my green freshman beanie from Purdue . . . hard to believe we really wore them . . .  as well as a news article about the elimination of "hours" at the women's dorms. No doubt about it, these were items that I had chosen to save, but mixed in were items that obviously came from my mother . . . report cards, newspaper clippings of my accomplishments and awards, every letter I wrote home from college, and photos that I don't remember ever seeing.  I sorted through the jumbled mess that had resided undisturbed in my basement for the past 15 years. Can it really have been that long since my mother died? I tossed half of what I saved but none of what she had collected over the years.  Her instincts were better than mine when it came to what was important.

Then near the bottom of the box covered with dust and the crumbled remains of a corsage was the photo below.  Most people would never save a photo in this condition . . . but my mother did.

It looks like it became wet at some point in time but by the time it was discovered, the majority of the picture must have stuck to whatever was on top.  Still she peeled it off and saved it.  

This is a photo of my first communion at Holy Savior Catholic School in Wichita, Kansas. It would have been about 1954-1955. I am not exactly sure because I don't remember how old I was when I had my first communion.  I know this was in Wichita, and I went to school in Indiana for third grade after my parent's divorce.
  As I looked closer at this half picture with moldy dots on the remaining section, I could see clearly that the girl with the dark hair in the front row was. . .  ME!   I was still in the photo.  What are the odds??  I am positive that my mother made my communion dress because she always made all of my clothes.
 I would love to find a complete copy of this photo, but, if not, I will cherish it as it is.

What did your mother save?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday . . . or as wordless as I can be.

"Chicago detectives William Murphy, left, and Owen D. Kennelly practiced springing from a moving squad car with riot and machine guns in July 1939. They were preparing for the Police and Fire Thrill Show at Soldiers' Field. Tribune archive photo published July 10, 1939.. Vintage Chicago Police"

Several of my ancestors were Chicago Policemen, in fact, both of my grandfather's brothers were detectives, but Owen was definitely the more flamboyant of the two.  I found this photo while  doing a random Google search, but what a great photo AND my uncle got the better pose!  I will bet this is not the only police photo of him.  If you know of a resource for police photos, please share it since I know there must be more. 

Note:  Owen is the uncle I wrote about here and here,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Mother's Pan - Christmas 2011 . . . the saga continues.

Okay, so the title of this blog post looks like it has been floating around in cyberspace for the last month when, in reality, this was another item on my "to do" list that has been languishing until today.

This is the latest reincarnation of THE PAN than belonged to my mother, and that I wrote about first in my post "Holiday Fun for Genealogists".  This holiday tradition has been going on since my mother's death many years ago, however we had started to run out of ideas and loose enthusiasm a bit as the years went by.  But then I became a family historian fascinated by cemeteries and headstones.  I was inspired and my blogging about it was taken as a challenge by my brother. Last Christmas, when THE PAN came back to me, it was a desktop organizer decorated with "family photos".  Read about his creation here.  For the past year, I have thought and thought about what I could do.  Then, last summer, I had an inspiration and very smugly sat on my idea until December.  Suddenly the time was flying by and, in true Scarlett O'Hara fashion, I vowed to work on it "tomorrow".  But as my daughter use to ask when she was little, "When is tomorrow, today?".

It seems that, in this case "tomorrow" is one month after Christmas.

So here is the 2012 version of THE PAN.

 As I have mentioned before, I come from a line of strong women - all of whom could work magic with a needle and thread. The photo of the quilt section that is the background for the title of this blog is scanned from a quilt done by my gr. grandmother, Mae Allen Moldt.   It would seem that my passion for sewing and quilting is inherited. So, it is only fitting that I should gather them together at a quilting bee.  Here are a few photos.  My brother will not get the actual pan for another two weeks but I couldn't wait to post after finishing it today.
The infamous pan handle can be seen at the back.

From left to right, Mae Allen Moldt holding baby Harold Moldt, Mary McDonnell Kennelly, Elanor Gilshannon Allen, and Elizabeth Burnett Allen McDonnell (Nettie) holding baby Florence McDonnell.  Now for the relationships.  Mae and Nettie are the daughters of Elanor.  Mary is the sister-in-law of Nettie and the mother-in-law of Mae's daughter, Berenice, who is my grandmother.

The quilt is poorly done (by anyone's standards). Nonetheless it is a true quilt with the fabric cut into pieces, stitched back together, and layered with a back and batting.  The layers are stitched together and the edges are all bound. The photograph people are simply taped to the pan, but I have still spent quite a bit of time pulling it all together.  Each photo was fiddled with in my photo program, printed, reversed, printed again, cut out, and glued back to back.  It didn't go together as easily as I envisioned so don't look closely. The oversize scissors that are laying on the top of the quilt were used in the construction and were scanned and then cut out.  Their actual length is 12 inches so they are oversize in real life as well.  According to my mother, these were sewing scissors that belonged to DaDa Mae (Mae Moldt) so it seemed fitting that they should be included in this vignette. 

When I saw him a few weeks ago, my brother mentioned that I had not posted anything on my blog for quite a while.  He checked.  Since he has not seen this yet, we'll see how long it takes for him to notice it.

The saga continues . . . and I have two years before I have to come up with another idea. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello Again . . .

Hello again. I have missed my time when I write about my discoveries, connections, photos, frustrations and travels as I reassemble my family.  But . . . we can't neglect the living, breathing families we live with today and the memories we will leave for future generations.

For several years, I have talked about making a family cookbook. I have taken photos of recipes as well as some in process but the task always seemed overwhelming.  I was right.  It was overwhelming.   My local genealogy group meeting at the end of October discussed the sharing of family recipes, and so I was susceptible when my youngest son told me that what he really wanted for Christmas was a cookbook of our family recipes.  I promised with a weak "maybe" and decided to, at least, begin to see how feasible it was to finish by the holiday deadline.   I started by making lists of recipes and solicited suggestions from my children and husband.  My children (all adults) had plenty of suggestions, and my husband had none.  Soon I had a list of 50+ recipes and the number was climbing.  I decided to type each recipe into an individual Word document hoping that I would then only have to cut and paste the text as I created each page.  This was a very good decision.  I have made books in the past - two to be exact and both times, I have used Shutterfly.  I am sure there are many good companies with a good product, but I was impressed with the quality of my first book and won't try anyone else.

Because I had made books in the past, I thought I knew all about it.  Wrong.  After days of spending all my free time typing in the recipes, I decided that I needed to start making some pages to keep my enthusiasm up.  I spent six hours one Sunday working, and then tried to save it.  It refused to save so I called their help line, and a very polite man sitting somewhere on the other side of the world told me that all my work was lost since I did not save as I went, and that uploading new photos in the middle of working might have caused the problem.  I am sure that my son who lives 2500 miles from me heard my shriek - seven hours work lost.  The very polite man offered  to give me a free book since there was no where on the site that said not to upload, as a matter of fact there was a link to do that very thing.  I said thank you through my sobs.

A week later, after typing more recipes, I decided to try again. After the fiasco, I saved constantly, but still uploaded in the middle of working.  I determined that if I save first, what did it matter.

I discovered that Shutterfly had made huge improvements and now I had complete flexibility with the page layout.  Most of their books are geared for photos and I planned to have lots of those, but my recipes just didn't fit into the pre-made text pages.  Then I discovered the "customize page" link in the bottom left corner.  I clicked on that, and I could create any layout I wanted.  I started each page by adding a text box - link located in the upper right hand corner, cutting and pasting each recipe, then stretching the box to fit in all of the text.  I usually used two text boxes - one for the ingredients and another for the directions.  This allowed more options in placement.  After this I added photos in the remaining space, enlarging, reducing or tilting them as I pleased. I also discovered the embellishments tab and would search and search to find something to give a dull page a little life.   Between computer sessions, I was digging through bags and boxes of disorganized old photos and slides pulling out some favorites to scan and upload for possible inclusion.  While it was fun, it also consumed huge amounts of time.  This project was now consuming my life, or at least all of my free time, but as I finished each page, I felt such satisfaction.

I loved it.

Well, now I will share it with you, and encourage each of you to consider making one for your own family. Include photos of family, food, and pictures of your home.  There were many favorite photos that didn't make it into the book, and my granddaughter now says, "you need to include (fill in this blank with multiple recipe suggestions) when you make volume two".  Volume two??????

Well, maybe . . .

Photo books are the perfect gift for any occasion.