Monday, November 25, 2013

Revisiting Boot Camp

A few days have passed allowing me time to reflect on Hack Genealogy’s Boot Camp for Writing Family History. Saturday’s webinar was divided into two parts.

Boot camp began with Lisa Alzo of the Accidental Genealogist: speaking on crafting a compelling family narrative.  I came away with a few pearls of wisdom beginning with:

“The Five P’s”
Plan     Prepare     Plot     Produce     Publish

Publishing seems years perhaps decades away. So I focused on Planning and Preparation. As a blogger, I find it fairly easy to write short posts. The challenge for me is writing a longer, complete narrative. Lisa suggested brainstorming ideas such as mind mapping and storyboards.

I have been working on my Uncle Dick’s life story for a very long time and it is time for me to PRODUCE! So, here is my plan per Lisa’s suggestions:

  1. Organize all photos and information into one central location.
  2. Purchase index cards and create a storyboard.
  3.  Use photos to help tell the story.
  4. Write daily.

A sample of my first attempt to write using photos

 A Joyous Moment Frozen in Time
Hugs for mother and son reunited following Dick's return from Boot Camp. Dick arrived home just in time for his sister’s wedding. Life was good for this mother and son. I am so glad the moment was captured on film. Can’t you feel the love?

Thomas MacEntee of Hack Genealogy and Geneabloggers (, and presented the afternoon session, “Ten Secrets You Should Know About Microsoft Word.” It never fails, whenever I learn something new I discover how little I know.

Several years ago I took Boston University’s online genealogy course. It was intense and I spent hours and hours creating genealogy documents for class assignments. After listening to Thomas I realized how much easier the class would have been had I understood Microsoft Word.

Today, as I write this post in Microsoft Word, I write with my Show/Hide button on. I can see my spaces and paragraph returns. I also know that there is a widow and orphan in my document. I just wish I could recall how to correct that.

There is another P for you!
Practice     Practice     Practice

Hope you are having a beautiful day,


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hack Genealogy

Thomas MacEntee has started a new genealogy site called Hack Genealogy at Today he is offering two webinars on writing your family history.

Just finished the first session with Lisa Alzo at Her topic of discussion was  “Writing A Compelling Family History Narrative From Start to Finish.” She offered valuable suggestions in every aspect of the writing process. Can’t wait to implement some of her suggestions.

Time to tune in for the second session, “10 Secrets You Should Know to Survive Microsoft Word,” being given by Thomas MacEntee. Here we go!

Talk to you later,


Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Lovely Turkey Memory

It is the time of year when my thoughts turn to turkey. As I placed the order for a Thanksgiving turkey I am reminded of this lovely memory of my mother.

Back in the 1960’s and 70’s “Turkey” was a slang term for a person who did something silly or foolish. So in our household of teenagers and one grade schooler, the label turkey was meant to tease a sibling who did some crazy thing. The word “Turkey” frequently flew around our house.

     We may have said, “You are a real turkey!” or "You Turkey!"

              My mother in her effort to get with the times uttered 
the following sentence.

Don’t be such an eagle!”

Well, mom managed to silence the room and stop us all dead in our tracks with that declaration. What was she talking about?

It’s a turkey, mom! You mean a turkey not an eagle!”

While I can only speak for myself,  this little story remind me of how perfectly imperfect we all are and how grateful I am for moments like this. Perfection is such hard work. Embracing my many imperfections seems to be the only logical choice for me. Exactly who is perfect anyways?

Do you have a memory where you or someone you love did something silly? Would you like to share it? I would love to hear your story!

Here’s the “Eagle” in all of us.

Have a Happy Day!


My Brick Wall

Now here is a brick wall for you! No one got by the imposing walls of Komainham Gaol in Dublin, Ireland. The notorious 19th century prison played an important role in Irish history. Leaders of Irish rebellions were imprisoned and some executed here at the sight of the cross. Komainham Gaol Prison Museum opened my eyes to the Irish struggle for freedom.

The walls of Komainham Gaol that held in the poor Irish people captive, remind me of my genealogy brick walls. Secrets of my New England ancestors seem to be locked in formidable brick walls such the walls of this prison.

Friday I volunteered in my library’s genealogy room and met a gentleman searching for information about his illusive grandfather. A grandfather who left the family appears in records with a variety of names. As an outsider his research path seemed clear to me, but for him his brick wall was as high as the walls of Komainham Gaol.

Needless to say, I was intrigued by his research and motivated me to revisit my brick wall. I spend Saturday, rehashing my 4th great grandfather, Silas W. Cobb and his wife, Sarah Hawks of Moretown and Montpelier, Vermont. Was there something I missed?

Theories abound, but yet not one real piece of evidence has materialized to break through or even crack this brick wall of mine. Who were their parents? This question burns in me because this line is my link to the American Revolution!

So for now my brick wall remains intact. 

Please, just get me out of here!

Prison Cell in Komainham Gaol.
Happy Hunting!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sibling Saturday

Remember those photo booths of long ago where you cram into the small booth and let it shoot away. Here are two of my sibs in that booth many moons ago!

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1, 1916

Life’s treasures, the most special ones, have a way of surviving generations. My maternal grandmother, Henrietta Danker, wrote her Aunt Emma and Uncle Oscar Solum. The Solums lived in Chicago and the Dankers lived on a farm outside of Chicago. Emma was the younger sister of Julia Duntemann, mother of Henrietta.

Emma and Julia saved the letters, which were passed to Henrietta. Upon Henrietta’s death the letters passed to her only surviving child, my mother. Upon my mother’s passing the letters came to me. All Grandma’s letters closed with variations of this closing:

Thousands of kisses and hugs from momma and I


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday Revisited on Thursday

George, Kathryn and Bob

I love this photograph of my uncles and their cousin. I love it and I am jealous for this is how I would like to live life. Uncle George, Uncle Bob and Cousin Kathryn are completely at ease with each other. Heads gently touch and arms are comfortably draped around each other drawing them close together. Their smiles are genuine and warm my heart.

George was the oldest born in 1916. Bob was born in 1920 and Kathryn was the youngest born in 1923.  Life wasn’t always easy for the family. Challenges of the Depression didn’t dim their spirit. So much trouble yet George, Bob and Kathryn had so much to look forward to. Are they aware of the looming conflict of World War II? I don’t know. These three appear to be living in the moment.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Childbirth and The Chicago Bears

I was just reminded by John Tew of The Filiopietism Prism blog (see that genealogy is more than digging through distant past. History is happening right now and each of us is in the act of creating history of our descendants.  His reminder is the reason I decided to post the following story of my distant, but not too distant childbearing years. I hope you enjoy my history . . .

Childbirth and The Chicago Bears:

My husband and I are the proud parents of three adult children all born during various Chicago Bear’s football seasons.

The first intersection of my childbearing years and the Chicago Bears came one summer day in 1981. Six months pregnant and wearing heavy support hose, I attended an afternoon Bear game. It was a sunny, hot day and midway through the game, I became overheated. My father-in-law escorted me out of the stadium with the hope of finding some shade. It was in the shade of Soldier Field’s walls where we waited as my husband made his slow and premature exit from the game.

On Sunday, November 8, 1981, the Chicago Bears played the Kansas City Chiefs in an away game and won 16 to 13. It was the last year Neil Armstrong coached the Bears. Mike Ditka took the helm the following year and we all know what happened next.

While I labored away in the delivery room, my husband’s eyes were glued to the television screen and The Chicago Bears/Kansas City game. Did I mention that the doctor and all the nurses were busy watching the game too? Feeling neglected I asked, “Hey what about me?”

As I wrote my first draft of this little story, I gave credit to my husband for refocusing his attention to the birth of our first child. I shared this little story with him and he reminded that the game ended before our daughter was born. Our sweet baby girl was born the evening of November 8, 1981 weighing in at 8 lbs. 5 oz.

Twenty-two months later we were awaiting the birth of our second child. Now a Chicago Bear season ticket holder, my husband worried about me while he was attending the Chicago Bears games. He was so worried he felt the need to purchase a pager so that he could hurry home from the Chicago Bears game in the event I went into labor.

On Sunday, September 11, 1983, The Chicago Bears played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Soldier Field. My due date was September 29th. My loving husband kissed me goodbye and headed off to cheer his beloved Bears to victory pager in hand.  As it went, the Chicago Bears won the game 17 to 10. Their season eventually ended with 8 wins and 8 losses.

Sometime that afternoon of the game, I began to feel “something.” Was I in labor? Should I page my husband? I decided to phone my parents first. They weren’t home. I then called my in-laws. They weren’t home either. As a last attempt, I paged my husband and received no response. My 18-month-old daughter and I sat tight and waited for Daddy’s return later that afternoon. Boy, did someone get an earful that night!

Real labor pains began the next day. I had this little test that I did as my due date approached. I would put my hands under my tummy and wiggle my thumbs. Early that morning, my thumbs wiggled freely. My late afternoon, my thumbs couldn’t move. Our baby was preparing to be born.

I notified the doctor and was told to keep him posted on my progress. My husband returned home from work, I fed my little family dinner and immediately went into full-blown labor. My in-laws were called and quickly rushed over. There was no time to inform my doctor!

Meanwhile, in preparation for the long night at the hospital my husband headed upstairs to shave, I think he watched too many episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show because that is exactly what Dick Van Dyke did when Mary Tyler Moore went into labor and needed to go to the hospital.

Dave received a second earful, this time from his Mother.


Down he came with a half shaved face and remnants of shaving cream.

It was just about 7:45 p.m. when we backed down our driveway and headed due east towards the hospital. I was terribly worried my baby would be born in the car and urged him to “SPEED!”  I knew the baby was coming quickly and demanded, “DRIVE THOUGH THE RED LIGHTS!”

We pulled up to the Emergency Room, with car doors left wide open; Dave placed me in a wheel chair never unlocking the brakes and rushed me inside. A young doctor greeted us and began questioning me with his list of 100 questions until an experienced nurse approached. She simply asked, “Is this your first child?” “No,” I replied. She then commanded, “Get her upstairs!”

It was just like the movies. The nurse grabbed my wheelchair, unlocked the brakes and ran me through the hospital corridors straight to the Delivery Room. The obstetrician was notified and rushed to my aid. Lucky me, he was across the street in a meeting.

No time was wasted. Our son was born at 8:30 p.m. that evening and I still wearing my ugly red and blue plaid blouse. He arrived just a mere 45 minutes after leaving home. While I held my newborn, my husband found a payphone and announced the birth of our son to both sets of grandparents. My in-laws couldn’t believe the news for we had been gone less than an hour! Dave then went downstairs to close and lock our car doors.

While all my children’s births were memorable, this birth was THE most exciting. Needless to say, my husband, learned an important lesson, got rid of the pager and began taking his family’s needs more seriously.

The 1985 Chicago Bears had us all singing “The Super Bowl Shuffle” and as you might guess, I was expecting child number three. Two days before our third child’s birth, the Chicago Bears played the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. The ‘85 Bears won again this time 19-6.

Our third child was born December 16, 1985, though not as quickly as his big brother. There was no birth/Chicago Bear game conflict this time around.

Instead in the wee hours of January 26, 1986, my husband headed off to the New Orleans for the Super Bowl XX game. What the heck! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. The 1985 Bears ended their season with 15 wins, 1 loss and a Super Bowl victory. We will never forget the Refrigerator Perry, Walter Payton’s Sweetness or The Punky QB.

My parents joined the kids and I as we watched the Chicago Bears defeat the New England Patriots 46 to 10! My husband had the time of his Bear Fan life.

Our family of five was complete. There were lots of football games, but no more Super Bowl wins. Eventually, the season tickets were sold, repurchased, sold and then repurchased again. My husband enjoyed a few more years in comfortable Club Seats until they were sold for the final time.

Depending upon how the Chicago Bears are playing, He is now happy to watch or not watch Bear games from the comfort of our home. It was a fun time even though I was really, really mad at my husband that Sunday in September of 1983.

My loving husband has approved this story and by the way, those babies have grown into Chicago Bears Fans.

Two of my Bear Fan babies!

Go Bears!