Tag Archives: Stories

Monday’s for Me #55 ~ Going to the Swimming Hole


Me age 5

I was always a tom-boy growing up, always the first one to take a dare and run with it. I remember so many times that the outcome of these daring feats ended in disaster. Once I ended up with stitches in my knee, another time I sprained my ankle so badly from roller skating off our wooden picnic table onto the concrete patio that I was on crutches for 2 weeks.

A perfect example of accepting a dare was when I was 5 years old. We lived on Circle A Drive and the street was shaped like a horseshoe. For the first 8 years that we lived there the street was unpaved. It was not uncommon for the county to dig large holes on the side of the streets to fix pipes or other issues. There was a boy named Terry who lived down the street from us, and he was about 6 years older than me. One day he came over and said they were putting in a swimming pool a few houses down, and he asked if we wanted to see it. My sister and I immediately said yes and off we went.


My sister aged 8 and me aged 4

Sure enough, right in the front of their yard was a large 6-foot deep hole half filled with murky water. My sister said that she had never seen a pool without cement in it and Terry told her that after they are sure the hole is deep enough and that it is the right shape, they drain it and put in the cement. He then challenged my sister to jump in. My sister wasn’t a good swimmer and although she was only 9 years old she already weighted close to 200 pounds, so she was afraid to try. Terry only just began the challenge directed to me when I ran and jumped in the hole!

I remember going under the water and when I came to the surface I couldn’t breathe. My skin had a light brown sludge on and I couldn’t “swim” to the edge. Totally frightened Terry jumped in close to the edge and reached his hand out for me to grab. It took a couple of tries, but we finally clasped hands. After pulling me to the edge he shoved me up onto the dirt. He then struggled to climb up but couldn’t get a good footing. My sister had run to Terry’s house and got his Dad to come help. Eventually we were both laying on the ground. Terry’s Dad was laughing so hard he could hardly speak.

He sent my sister to tell my mother that he was carrying me home and to meet us in the yard with some towels. Terry was instructed to go home. When we got to my house my mother and sister were standing in the yard with the towels and my mother looked angry. That was until she saw me. She started screaming from fear and rushed to get the water hose. She turned it on and began spraying me head to toe trying to wash the sludge off of me. I was still struggling to catch my breath and coughing.

After I got cleaned up enough to go inside, my mother told me to go take a hot shower and wash my hair and body really good. By the time I got out, Terry’s parents were in the living room, along with a freshly scrubbed Terry. They were explaining what had happened, and they told her they would take me with them because we needed to go see our doctor. That is when I found out that the “swimming pool” was actually a hole that was dug to fix a sewer line. Apparently the leak got bigger overnight and sewage had filled the hole. The county workers had been by early in the morning and had dumped some chemicals in it to keep the smell down. This was in 1960 before all of our current regulations. You can image my reaction when I realized I had jumped in a hole of poop!

Thankfully, I had no adverse reactions to the chemicals or from being submerged in the mess. I wish that this event had taught me not to take a dare in the future, but it didn’t. I must say, if nothing else, my childhood was colorful!

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Monday’s for Me #54 ~ Bedrock City, Arizona

My husband and I have been married for over 34 years. I remember when we were dating, he told me when he was a little boy he loved watching The Flintstones. He had a crush on Wilma, and he decided right then that he was going to marry her when he grew up.

I was a widow with 3 children ages 8,10, and 15. The kids loved watching The Flintstones so there was a bonding that took place between them. After we got married we decided to take the kids to Northern Arizona to see all of the attractions that is there. One of the last stops was to be the Grand Canyon.

We gave ourselves a week to see all we could see. We had so much fun seeing Montezuma’s Castle, Meteor Crater, The Painted Desert, The Petrified Forest, Sunset Crater and all the charming little towns along the way. We finally made our way to the Grand Canyon and about 20 miles south of it we came upon “Bedrock”. Out front was the enormous sign shaped like Fred and there was a gift shop. The kids loved souvenirs!

To say we were excited is an understatement. I don’t know who was more excited, George or the kids. We pulled into the parking lot and tumbled out of car. We were so surprised to realize that it was an actual amusement park. We spent several hour visiting the Flintstones and the Rubble’s house and running through the town. George was even “arrested” and placed in Bedrock’s jail.

We drove the stone aged cars and slid down the Dino Slide which was about 2 stories high! The movie theater was playing The Flintstones show so we watched a few episodes. There was so much to do and see. George and I got our picture taken in cutouts of Fred and Wilma. The best part was the photos of me with a statue of Fred and George got one with Wilma. We ended our time there picking out souvenirs, and then we made our way to the Canyon. We had a great week.

This was not the only time we visited Bedrock. Over the next 25 years we made the trip about 5 times. Each time it was with one less kid and eventually it was just the two of us. Two years ago, Bedrock closed its doors and the property was sold. It is sad that my Grandkids and Great Grandkids will never get to experience this special place. However, at least we have our photo’s and our memories.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

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Monday for Me #53 ~ Woolworth’s ~ Downtown Tucson, Arizona

When I was growing up, going into downtown Tucson was a treat. We would go to the yearly Rodeo parade in February, we would walk the small 4 block square looking at the holiday decorations, we would go to buy our “start of school” clothes, and occasionally my Dad and I would make a detour from running errands to go to Woolworth’s to get something at the lunch counter.

My dad was a very tall, slightly muscular man and I may be biased, but I thought he was the handsomest man in the world. I think a few of the lady’s did too. When we would enter the store, the counter was towards the middle of it. The waitress’ would see us coming and I would hear them say “Hi Doug” with what I now realize was excitement. We would sit down to a fresh cup of black coffee already poured for him and a warm glass of Pepsi (the only way I have ever liked it) for me. My dad would then spend some time talking with the waitresses, and then we would order our usual, a sandwich for him and pancakes for me. We would eat and before we left he would always let me drink the tiny pitcher of cream that they gave him for his coffee.

We managed to make it a bi-monthly outing, at least until I was about 11 years old. It was time for our yearly trip for school clothes. My mother made most of my clothes so I was allowed to pick out 2 dresses. I was standing, looking through a bargain bin of sleeveless dresses when I heard a familiar voice call out “Hi Valerie, where’s your Dad?” I whipped around and there stood one of the lunch counter ladies in her uniform, with a huge smile on her face. I slowly looked around and saw that my mother was standing there gripping her purse so tight that all of the color had drained out of her hands.

She grabbed me by the back of my neck and practically dragged me back to the car, leaving before I was able to get my dresses. As soon as we got in the car my mother started interrogating me. The questions came faster than I could answer and I could see the anger building in her face. I knew it wasn’t going to be a good evening. She wouldn’t believe that all my Dad did was talk with the waitresses, she was convinced of other things which she proceded to tell me about. I got an unwanted education!

I was so scared to see what would happen when Dad got home from work. My mother had locked herself and my sister in her room and I could hear them whispering. I heard the truck pull into the driveway and I ran and hid under the kitchen table. I was prepared for the worse. When my Dad walked through the front door my mother and sister marched quietly out of the bedroom and my mother exclaimed “We are going to Woolworth’s for dinner!” They marched past me and out the door and got into my mothers car. My Dad and I followed and the silence in the car was so thick you could almost cut it with a knife. It was funny, when we got lunch counter and sat down. I didn’t recognize a single waitress there. My Dad didn’t look nervous at all and I saw the look on my mother’s face change slowly the longer we sat there. We had dinner and went home.

About 7 years later when my Dad had lung cancer, and he knew he didn’t have long to live, he apologized to me for what had happened all those years ago. He felt the need to set the record straight that he never, ever cheated on my mother, he just enjoyed the conversation. I knew that was true because even as a young child I saw what went on in the house and I knew my mother was different than other kids moms. I was 13 years old when she was diagnosed with a mental illness which she had apparently had since she was young.

I still have those fond memories of spending time alone with my Dad and until they closed all of the stores, I would occasionally go and sit at the lunch counter and order a Pepsi and pancakes and remember my Dad and our time together.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

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Monday’s for Me #51 ~ Why I Hate Horror Movies

Growing up we had a small 12 by 12 inch black and white television set. It had a set of rabbit ears that sat on top and it all sat in a corner of our living room. We were only allowed to watch TV for about 2 hours per night. My Dad would watch the news at 6 o’clock every night and on occasion we would watch a movie. On Saturdays, we could watch the children’s programs in the morning as long as we did our “chores” afterward.

I think I saw my first “scary” show when I was about 9 years old. There were “The Munsters”, “The Addams Family”, “The Outer Limits”, and “Dark Shadows” allof which were pretty tame compared to what you can view today. However, they did there job and really had me freaked out.

I didn’t like the feelings I had when I watched any type of scary program. So I usually stayed away from anything that made me feel this way. Fast-forward to when I was 18 years old. My family had moved to Hollywood, California in 1973. My Dad had worked construction most of his life and had worked with a lot of asbestos. He also smoked about a pack of cigarettes a day. So it was really no surprise when in October of that year he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

He had radical surgery where they removed the right lung. and he had a scar that ran two-thirds the diameter of his chest and back. I drove him to Chemotherapy and radiation treatments 3 days a week. The doctor gave him 3 months to live. After about 6 months, my Dad was convinced that he was getting better. So, I started to go out more with my friends and spend more time away from home. It was now 1974 and the blockbuster movie of the year was “The Exorcist”. Everyone I knew was talking about it but I declined every invitation to go see it. Then my sister who was 4 years older than I and who had always been a bully towards me told me she wanted to see it and I had to go with her. Between my mother and her pushing me to go I finally gave in.

On June 23rd 1974 my sister and I went to see the 11:45 pm showing at a theater on Hollywood Boulevard. I absolutely hated the movie, and I was scared to death! Even my sister was scared, and she had cried during the show. We got home about 2:30 am and I had a hard time falling asleep, but I now I did at some point. I know this because I was abruptly shaken awake at 7:30 by my mother. She was standing over me with a big grin on her face, and she told me to come and see, my Dad was dead. I jumped out of bed and ran to their room, and he was indeed gone. I started to cry hysterically and I ran to my room, threw on my clothes and ran out of the house. I went straight to my boyfriends house 5 house down from ours. I stayed there, sitting on the porch swing with him until the coroners van left.

When I went in the house my mother was so excited, getting ready to go to the funeral home. This is a woman who had lived in the Los Angeles area for over 5 years and had never left the house except when we moved. She had a mental breakdown about 6 years earlier, and she had become a hermit. To say thing was unnerving is an understatement.

Now I know my Dad did not die on June 24th because I went to see that horrible movie the night before, but for many years after this event, that is what I believed. I decided that I would not watch any of these types of movies again and I never saw another horror movie after this.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have written two books “Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time” and “Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip”, both available on Amazon. You can also connect with me on either Facebook or Twitter @VHughesAuthor.

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Monday’s for Me #48 ~ Hollywood

In July of 1973 my family moved from Palms, California to Hollywood. It was for two reasons, first one of our neighbors had called social services because of my mothers bizarre behavior, and second my Dad got a job with a construction company on Sunset Boulevard. We rented a small 3-bedroom bungalow located just south of Sunset.

Each of the 4 cities that we lived in during our 5 years in California offered a different style of living. Hollywood was definitely the strangest. With so many diverse things to see and do there was hardly a dull moment. We lived about one mile south of Hollywood Boulevard and about 1 mile east of the heart of the city. Something was always going on so any day I would walk up to the Boulevard I was able to witness something interesting.

There were always people dressed as celebrities in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater that were very entertaining. There were street musicians and pop up theatrical performances daily. I even enjoyed the variety of tourists from all over the world. It was also a haven for the many religious cults that were popular during this time. Hari Krishnas would block your way to give you a carnation in hopes that you would put money in their bucket. Many others tried to give out their literature. There was a mixture of hippies, wealthy people, prostitutes, and homeless that crowded the sidewalks.

For an eighteen-year old it was exhilarating! One of my favorite memories happened in one of the many diners on the Boulevard. I would sometimes take my 3-year-old son Pleasant, with me to go eat lunch and on this particular day we decided to eat at one that had a counter. My son loved sitting on the stool and spinning around. I can’t recall the name of the diner but it was located on the north side of the street just a little west of Hollywood and Vine. We found our stools and placed our orders. I always brought a coloring book and crayons for Pleasant and a book for me whenever we went out, so I pulled them out to keep him busy. As I was reading I heard a man speak to Pleasant, and he began to laugh. When I looked over at him, I saw that he was handing the man one of his crayons.

You can imagine my surprise to see that the man was none other than Bob Crane, the star of “Hogans Heroes”. He was sitting there coloring in my son’s coloring book and listening to him ramble on about the firetruck he was coloring. Mr. Crane then turned to me and struck up a conversation. I tried to act like I didn’t know who he was but I think he knew that I did. When he left he signed the page he had colored and left. When we were ready to leave I found out that he had also paid for our lunch.

Pleasant didn’t know who he was so the next time the rerun of the show came on TV I had him watch it and he got so excited when he saw “Uncle Bob”. I had to explain to him why he was in the “army” and why he was on TV. He proudly kept that colored page with the autograph until the day he died.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Resolution ~ A New Year ~ 52 Ancestors #52

I have really enjoyed this challenge this year. I tried to participate in it about 4 years ago, but I only completed about half the year. At the first of the year we got the news that my husband would never recover from the health problems that was caused by an arrogant nurse practitioner in July of 2019. I had been writing a Genealogy blog since January of 2012, but it was hit or miss at best, and as I found myself in the position of being a full time caregiver, I knew I needed something to help fill the hours. This was a perfect fit!

After a couple of weeks, I made the decision to try to write a blog a day. I was nervous as I didn’t think I could come up with enough to write about, but once I made the commitment and began to write, I found it wasn’t that difficult. Once I came up with a few themes of my own, it became easier.

Because of this challenge from Amy Johnson Crow, I have been able to balance out my love of Genealogy, writing and caring for my husband, which has helped me not to become overwhelmed, especially since the pandemic was thrown into the mix.

The bonus of this challenge was discovering so many interesting details about my ancestors. It pushed me to dig deeper, as well as casting out a wider net. I had gotten into the habit of just researching a few certain lines of my Dad’s side, ignoring the rest. Because of the specific prompts, I was forced to apply the same principles of research to my own ancestry that I apply to my clients. It has really opened up a new, more intense love for family history.

My resolution is to continue with my self-imposed challenge of writing at least one blog a day. I also want to begin organizing the blogs I have already written into a book that I can share with my extended family.

I want to thank Amy for the 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks Challenge. It has made a very difficult year a little easier. I look forward to participating in the challenge!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #47 ~ A Christmas Lesson

I remember the Christmas that I was almost 9 years old because it had a very profound effect on my life. It all began the last Sunday of November. During the church service the pastor announce that we were going to be collecting new and used toys and clothing to give to less fortunate children for Christmas. He gave the instructions concerning the time frame to get the items to the church. He also said that more information about this campaign would be given in a couple of weeks.

On the way home my mother gave my sister Mary and I a list of things to do when we got home. This week she added that we were to begin going through our clothes and toys so we could take them to the church the next week. Mary, who was 4 years older than I, immediately began to cry. She didn’t want to give away any of her belongings. As a matter of fact she frequently claimed anything that I received if it was something she liked. Because this is how it had always been, I really didn’t have feelings toward this either way.

My Dad brought two medium-sized boxes into our room and told us to put clothes in one and toys in the other. I decided to get it over with so I began to go through my things. Mary out weighed me by about 100 pounds so she could have cared less about the clothes I found. However, she kept saying “If you don’t want that, I will take it” to any toy or book I put in. By Saturday morning I had accomplished filling the clothes box half full, but there were only a few of the toys that Mary didn’t want in the bottom of the other one. She had not put in one item!

Over the next 2 weeks, each Sunday when we returned from church the same thing happened and my mother would yell at me for being selfish. I finally went to my Dad and told him what happened, and he confronted Mary, who immediately broke into tears and told him I was lying. My mother came running in and all heck broke out. I finally yelled for them to go check in the spare bedrooms closet! Mary ran to the door trying to keep them from leaving the room, but my Dad threatened her with a spanking. So, she reluctantly moved. My parents came back in the room with my 2 boxes of toys. My mother just left the room and said nothing, my Dad grounded my sister, and he gave me a hug! Nothing more was said about the “incident”.

The big surprise was the next Sunday after church we went into a classroom and all those who participated got to wrap the presents. We then loaded paper grocery store bags filled with the gifts into the back of the trucks and trunks of the cars and drove off. I can’t tell you how far we drove but it seemed to take forever to arrive at our destination. We pulled onto a long dirt road that had newly plowed fields on both sides. (We lived in Tucson and the farmers could plow in December). We pulled into a makeshift town of tents and wooden shacks. It was a migrant workers camp, just to the South of Tucson. I saw open fires with poorly dressed women cooking in big pots over the flames. I saw so many raggedly clothed kids, many with no shoes, playing and running around. A gentleman came over and spoke to the pastor, then he turned and with a loud bullhorn he spoke to the people in Spanish. The kids came running and the adults cautiously approached us. Then the pastor turned to us and told us to help hand out the wrapped gifts and for the adults to help give the food boxes to the grownups.

My Dad had dropped the tailgate of our truck, so I climbed in and started grabbing the gifts. They had been wrapped in red for girls and green for boys so it was easy to know who to give it to. I saw the kids excitedly open the gift and I saw a few of them crying with joy. Then I spotted one girl about my age open a doll I had given. She hugged it and kissed it as she had tears running down her cheeks. I, too, had tears leaking out of my eyes determined to run down my cheeks and land on my dress. My tears were from mixed feelings. I felt joy at seeing others so happy, but at the same time I felt sad that these kids were so happy to receive what I probably would have eventually just thrown away. I couldn’t wait to start a new box to give away the next year. This day taught me so many lessons during the short period of time we were at the camp, ones that I have carried with me and that I attempt to still adhere too for over 55 years.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #46 ~ Here Comes Santa Claus

It is at this time of year that I always reflect back to those Christmas’ of my childhood. If you have read any of my blogs you would know that I didn’t have the best upbringing. My mother and my sister Mary, both had mental problems so some of my memories have been tainted by these two.

My Dad always tried to make Christmas special. He would always ask Mary and I what we wanted Santa to bring us, and we always gave him plenty of ideas. Mary was 4 years older than I so the things we were interested in were so different. This was a good thing! She had a habit of “claiming” anything I received if she liked it so I always tried to ask for something that I knew she wouldn’t like.

There are 19 days between Christmas and my birthday, so this event happened when I was almost 6 years old. On Christmas Eve I was excitedly watching out of our bedroom window, hoping to get a glimpse of Rudolph leading the sleigh. Mary was annoyed because she said that I was letting in too much light by holding the curtain open and I was keeping her awake. She blurted out, “You now, there is no such thing as Santa. Dad and mom buy all of the toys and put them under the tree before we get up in the morning. They just lie about it”. I was devastated!

The next morning I didn’t come into the living room with the same enthusiasm as I had in previous years. My Dad kept asking me what was wrong, but I refused to talk. My mother and sister eagerly opened their presents and my sister gushed over the items “Santa” left her. I just quietly opened my presents and didn’t even glance at what was sitting under the tree. I finally told my Dad what Mary had said about Santa and he was really mad. He started yelling at her, telling her that she had been allowed to believe until just a couple of months ago, and she had no right to spoil the fun for me. My mother of course, came too Mary’s defense.

By the next year, I had gotten over it so I played along and told my Dad I only wanted one thing for Christmas, a Barbie doll with wigs! I was hoping and praying for one. About two weeks before the big day my parents went to visit a neighbor that lived a few houses down the street from us. While they were gone, Mary pulled the step stool out of the closet. In the living room we had one wall that had a large floor to ceiling closet in it. There were two large doors on the bottom and two separate smaller doors just above them. Mary used the stool to reach the top closet, and she began pulling out all of the things “Santa” was going to bring us. Sure enough, there was my Barbie with wigs! Instead of being excited, I felt kind of cheated. Christmas was never the same after this.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Monday’s for Me #45 ~ A Different Way To Get Groceries

Growing up I never realized how lazy my mother was. My sister and I did all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking. I remember using a stool to be able to reach the clothesline. When we were younger, we had one of those wringer washers and I remember having a problem with that one. I was probably about 9 before we got an electric one.

My Dad had to do all the grocery shopping. He and I would go on Friday evening to the Lucky Store, carefully picking up everything that was on the list. I used to look around and wonder why there weren’t more men shopping. My Dad stood out like a sore thumb, pushing the cart and filling it with our next weeks bounty. I didn’t really mind it because I was away from my mother and sister, and I got to spend time alone with my Dad. We would get home, cart in all the paper bags of food, then he and I would put it away.

When we moved to Missouri, when I was 12-years-old. The tradition continued for about the first 2 months. The stores were different, the food was different, and the shopping experience was very different. We are talking about 1967, and Missouri was way more traditional than Arizona ever was. Women were actually rude to us when we would go to the grocery store. I could see my Dad’s face turn red from embarrassment when some woman would make a disparaging comment. Of course, it made me mad, even though I didn’t understand why they said the things they did. We moved from the small town (about 800 people) we originally moved to and my parents bought a house in Independence. I only remember going shopping there once.

Later that week, walking down the hill to the house, I saw a large delivery truck in the driveway of the house. I got there in time to see two men with a large dolly taking, what I thought was a very large refrigerator inside. I knew better than to ask my mother any questions, so I waited until my Dad got home from work. He explained that it was a large capacity freezer and that we were buying a half a cow and a pig to put in it. You can probably guess….I was so confused. What in the world was he talking about?

It was about this time when my mothers mental illness became very evident. We always knew things weren’t right, but now we couldn’t deny it anymore. She went crazy, tearing up the house, screaming to the top of her lungs. She stated that there was no way she would eat meat that was delivered, then she ran to the kitchen and tried to push the freezer over. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to move it. She then did what she always did and locked herself in the bedroom. I just ran to my room and hid.

The next day, which was Saturday, my mother never came out of her room. My Dad asked me to come out in the yard, and we started planting a vegetable garden. He told me it was easy to grow things here because it rained a lot, we were no longer in the desert. I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to watch it all grow and to eventually eat it! That afternoon another large truck arrived and two men carted in package after package of wrapped meat. That’s when I finally asked, “Where is the half cow and pig?” I thought my Dad and the two delivery men were going to die from laughter. After they left my Dad explained that you can buy the meat from the farm, and they package it for you. So, all those butcher paper squares contained the cow and pig.

By the end of the summer we had raised all of the vegetables we needed and my Aunt came over and showed me how to can them for future use. We had 4 peach trees in the yard, and she and I picked as much fruit as we could, and we canned those also. It was amazing to me. The best part of this whole experience was, for the next two years, Dad and I didn’t have to make a weekly grocery run. We just had to go pick up a few items that we couldn’t raise or pull out of the freezer. I can still remember how good the food tasted and how much fun I had gardening and canning.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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Gratitude ~ Truly Thankful ~ 52 Ancestors #48

During this time of year that we pause to give thanks, I think it is very fitting that this weeks’ blog should be on Gratitude. We all have a lot to be grateful for, just sometimes we forget to stop and count our blessings and to express gratitude for what we do have.

I am grateful for Genealogy. I wasn’t raised around family since my parents moved us from Missouri to Arizona when I was 11 months old. I lived in Missouri from age 12-14 but because of my mothers mental illness we didn’t get to know many of the relatives. After my mother died in 1999, I had a great desire to know where I came from. And so my journey really began.

Over the last 21 years I have discovered so many amazing things about my ancestors. The most excited thing I have found is actual family! With the onset of social media I have been able to connect with hundreds of relatives. Most are more distant ones but I do have over 150 closer relatives, and only a handful were known to me before this. I have been able to meet a few in person, or talked with them by phone. I have had several who have mailed or emailed me photos and stories about our shared family.


Dad 1939

Mom 1941

Brother 1955


Sister 1986

As of two years ago I am the only living member of my family lines going to me. My Dad died in 1974, my mother who disowned me in 1986, died in 1999, my sister who did the same because of my mothers pressure, died in 2012 and my brother who my mother disowned in 1980, died in 2018. I have always felt disconnected from family because of my mother, however now I have a sense of family because of the blessing of finding so many wonderful cousins. I am full of Gratitude!

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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