Friday, May 17, 2019

Then and Now

Among the stuff given to me recently by my grandma was a box that contained all my grandpa's old report cards, including a sheaf of ones evidently given out on a regular basis by his Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Clark. At first, I paid little attention to these compared to later ones with letter grades on them but then the categories on them caught my eye.

My youngest is currently in kindergarten and is learning basic math, reading, social studies, etc., and back then, my grandfather's teacher was keeping tabs on his hygiene, manners, thriftiness, etc. What a difference between then and now. Also, from the looks of it, my grandfather couldn't keep things out of his mouth or work to his maximum ability. Not traits that I ever saw later in life.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


I have many fond memories of my great grandmother Grace Viola Smith. She lived until age 91 and died when I was 16 years old. Those memories are so fond, that I gave one of my daughters the middle name of Grace after her.

Yesterday while visiting my grandmother (Grace's daughter-in-law), I inherited a box of bibles from that side of the family. Later in the evening as I was flipping through them looking for stuff written in them or clippings tucked into the pages as seems quite common, I found the above inscription on the inside cover of one of them. I was surprised to learn that my great grandmother's name may have been Gracious all along.

I have never heard anyone refer to her as anything but Grace, but to be fair, the only Smith family member I knew was Grace. All her genealogy records that I have located all use the name Grace, including her delayed certificate of birth which she filled out in 1956 when she was already 58 years of age. For those who don't know, birth certificates haven't always been requirements especially back in 1897 when Grace was born. So only when she was probably applying for a social security number did her birth become important.

So with this in mind, I made sure to ask Grace's daughter-in-law, my grandmother, if she knew more about the Gracious inscription while she is still around. Grandma chuckled and told me she had asked Grace the same thing when she was still alive. Gracious was just a nickname given to her by Grace's mother and not her given name. So my daughter still shares her middle name with my great grandmother after all. But for a day, I wasn't so sure.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Family Tree Goals

A couple posts back, I wrote about finding the picture of 2 of my great great grandparents whom I have never seen a picture of before. I also mentioned that I only have two left of my great great grandparents for whom I don't have pictures. Above shows my family tree with all the information removed but showing why I would like to accomplish this goal. I would also like to find pictures for all my great great great grandparents (not shown) if they exist but I only have 17 out of 32 thus far so I still have a ways to go.

I find it kind of neat to sit at a screen and look at all these pictures in a "tree" format. It really gives me a sense of who I am and how I came to be. The two pictures above (besides my own) that are still missing belong to my biological dad's side of the family of which I really have very little contact with. Because of this, I have experienced looking through family photo albums and such so to get pictures, I'm left with trying to find them using various internet tools. Of my 3rd great grandparents, 11 of the 15 pictures I am missing also come from this same side of my family tree.

When I began my journey of discovering my family genealogy over a decade ago, I only knew the names of all four of my grandparents and the great grandparents on my mom's side of the family. Beyond that I didn't know any names much less have a picture of any of them. Now I have several hundred pictures of my ancestors and I don't have any gaps in my family tree until I get 7 generations out from me or my fourth great grandparents. Of my 64 great great great great grandparents, I know the names of all but two and the two I don't know are the parents of my three times great grandmother who died at a very early age with five of her children in a diphtheria epidemic and thus has a very small paper trail.

My genealogy goals before I leave this earth is to discover the names of the two 4 times great grandparents whom I don't know and see a picture of all my ancestors back to my 3rd great grandparents. I'm not sure if that is doable because probably not all of my 3rd great grandparents actually had their picture taken because it was very expensive to do in those times and then there are the odds of the picture surviving all these years. But getting the two pictures remaining in my 2nd great grandparents should be doable. It gives me something to strive for.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Happy Mother's Day

The other day while flipping through a bible given to my grandparents by my great grandparents, which I now own, this piece of paper fell out and after reading it, I thought it highly appropriate for today.

Friday, May 10, 2019


The above is what happens when your daughter leaves a passenger door of a car open and your spouse is in a hurry to get to work two days later. Not shown was a bale of woven wire that I use for tree protection that was also folded in half, along with two (not bent) fence posts and the electrical sensor at the bottom that keeps the overhead garage door from squashing kids. What a way to start my morning.

Fortunately, the car door only received two chips on the edge of the door that aren't visible when the door is open. The track is made of galvanized steel and so I immediately thought that without heat, I probably won't be able to straighten it out. So I called the company that I had install it when I redid our driveway some four years ago. The lady who answered it told me that they could come out and fix it that afternoon. I asked if I could just bring the part in and get a replacement part and she said sure. Then she told me that they probably wouldn't be out to the first of next week. What?

A couple seconds of confusion followed before I remembered that the contractor who is doing our kitchen addition bought out a local lumberyard and also the garage door company a few years back. The receptionist was referring to the contractor finally starting our kitchen addition project. After weeks of being told next week, I'm not holding my breath.

I drove down to the contractor/lumberyard/garage door place and after some doing, we found a track that might work in a pile of scrap pieces. The company that I originally bought my garage door from had a fully stocked warehouse and would have easily produced the right part. The contractor obviously only deals with new systems because he had very few parts stocked and the one I had was shorter, had different hole patterns and was of a thinner gauge of metal. Since it was slightly corroded and in the scrap pile, I thought I might get if for free or even at a big discount but I had to fork over $21 for six feet of track.

Back home, the fact that it wasn't the part I needed and was going to require lots of drilling to make it work and had cost me $21, I decided to give the original track another go. I hammered, clamped in a vise, used my body weight (thank god for the extra winter poundage) and lots of other methods to eventually get it back into a form fairly straight. Since the garage door guides really only float in the track and don't really put any weight on it on the vertical portions, I thought it would work. I put everything back together, hooked up the sensor which was still working and my garage door was functioning once again.

I returned the $21 scrap part back to the scrap pile and got my money back. I certainly hope this isn't a sign of things to come next week, assuming this time they really mean it.