Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday 218, 2014 March 8: Fenceless

We have Sepian Wendy Mathias to thank for our theme image this week. It is from a series of images showing the areas in Sydney affected by the outbreak of Bubonic Plague in 1900. Wendy suggests fences, back yards or bubonic plague as possible theme suggestions, but, as usual, the choice is ours to make.  So, I went with a feeling of desolation, eeriness, and  fenceless.


The Abandoned Michaelson Place, Hildebrand, Oregon
circa 1960
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives
We were in our twenties, when Doc and I moved to the ranch in Hungry Hollow.  In fact, the ranch was parts of three old time homesteads and ranches, but as newcomers, Doc and I just knew it as the ranch in Hungry Hollow. A few months ago, I wrote about the old ranch house in which we lived.  However, the old house in the above photograph, which our neighbors told us was the old Michaelson  place, always drew me to it, like an eerie magnetic field..  When we arrived in Hildebrand the old house was as you see it in this photo. Sage brush growing all around and right up to the front door. The fences around the house had been torn down and rolls of barbed wire hung on posts.  To me, there was always a sense of sadness and desolation about this old house, standing alone on the hillside.  Fenceless and defenseless.

 When we went up to the house, the door was hanging off of the hinges and you had to lift the door up to open it enough to squeeze through to spider webs,to be greeted by the odor and  remains of vermin and varmints.   As I remember it (and it has been a long time ago), there was a what appeared to be a screened porch, or possibly a washroom and a lean-to added on to the side.  Inside on the main floor there were two rooms -- not large rooms. The stairs to the upstairs sleeping area was very, very steep and the steps very narrow.  The walls had old newspapers as insulation, which my daughters found strange, but I was mesmerized.  The house was of the same vintage as our in the Hollow, but much smaller -- almost like a doll house.

Now that I think about it, I believe that my curiousity about the folks that lived in this house on the hillside drew me back to our many afternoons at the house.  How many folks were in this Michaelson family? Where did they come from?  Where did they go?  Now all of these years later and  with all of my genealogy tools, I have found that there were ten in the Michaelson family.  According to the 1920 Federal Census report for Hildebrand Precinct, Klamath County, Oregon, the family included, John,  58;  wife, Anna, 42: Oletta, 17; Minnie, 15; Anna, 12; Esther, 10; Hazel, 8; Edna, 5; Lillian, 3; and Vernon, 1.5.   I was surprised  that ten people lived in that tiny house.  John and Anna were born in Norway and came to the US in 1898. The older children were born in Minnesota, but ten year old Edna was the first born in Oregon, so the family might have lived in this house as early as 1915.  However by the 1930 Federal Census the family has left Hildebrand and moved to Klamath  Falls, Klamath County, Oregon  -- and another son, Franklin, has been born to the family.   

Our young daughters were fascinated by the Michaelson place, and found the old log fences between the Hollow and the Michaelson place a great place to play and make forts -- possibly like the Michaelson girls of long ago.  

Circa 1961, Hill girls playing on old log fence,
Hildebrand, Oregon
Courtesy of JGH and the Roots'n'Leaves Archives

Now wander over and see what is behind the fences and buildings of our fellow Sepians    

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing Workshop:Memoir, Family History & Sharing Memories

Now, my friends, what can be more fun for a storyteller, than to be surrounded by folks brimming with stories to tell.  Genealogy folks not only have their own memories and stories to tell,  but they have stories from generations back, stories from across the ocean, from continents far and wide.

Am I excited about hearing and sharing stories with these folks?  You betcha!

The workshop is also open to the public, so if you are interested, call RVGS @ 541-512-2340 to join the workshop of writers and storytellers.  It's going to be fun!  So join us on March 6th, 10:30 AM at the RVGS Library.
 ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday 215: 2014 February 15 -- Oregon Statehood, February 14, 1859

    The theme image for  this week features a picture postcard view of Jamaica Street, Glasgow (from the National Gallery of Scotland stream on Flickr Commons). Reaching for connections?  My granddaughter is going to the University in Glasgow. Interesting to me, but no relevant pictures and not really on theme. As with our Sepian masters, the thing that came to my mind when I first saw the image was the crowds  -- horses.  And we have a topic that probably only relates in my mind - crowd in a street scene.  Of course, crowd is a relative term..


A Mural in the Senate Chambers at the State Capitol
Courtesy of Oregon State Archives

Frank H. Schwarz painted this street scene of Salem where a crowd gathered on February 14, 1859 to received the news that Oregon had become the 33rd state in the Union.  The excitement was high both in Salem and the Willamette Valley, as well as throughout the rest of the sparsely settled state.  As I said,  a crowd of people is a relative thing.

To fully appreciate this mural, one really has to view it in the Senate Chambers in the Capitol in Salem as shown below:


Now wander on over to see what the crowd of Sepians have to offer on this February 15th.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, February 14, 2014

Sharing Memories: Valentine's Daze

         Thank you to Lorine McGinnis Schulze over at Olive Tree Genealogy,  for her ongoing series about Sharing Memories.  She says, "We all want to find information on our ancestors and are overjoyed to find an ancestor’s diary or journal. But what about our own memoirs? It's important as genealogists that we not forget about writing our own story. We may think writing about ourselves is boring or egotistical but stop and think how excited your descendants would be to find a journal or dairy that their great great grandmother (you) wrote."

          Lorine has been posting a topic every Sunday since December 8, 2009, which gives me lots of food for thought and writing. In addition, there are no rules, you can jump in when you want, choose any topic that takes your fancy, write when and what you want to write -- no rules.    My kind of series,  since I dinna seem to do to well under hard and fast rules as you will notice in this little snippet of a memory of valentines past.  This little story is mostly true, at least in the feelings and the memories of a little girl who dinna quite "fit in."  I have taken the liberty of changing names as I felt appropriate.


Snip, snip, then a dab of that sticky white paste. Early in February, the teacher – first Miss Carden, 3rd grade teacher, and subsequently all the grade school teachers at the old Henley Elementary School. Packets of paper doilies were handed out. I always took several because I had learned in 2nd grade that I used or ruined a lot of project supplies, what with tears, errant scissor cuts, and worst of all, sticky white paste glopping, smearing or running all over everything and across my desk.

“Now class, get out your scissors.” I grimaced. My scissors sort of chewed paper. Maybe if I couldn't find them, the teacher would let me use hers – or better yet, I wouldn't have to make a valentine. No such luck. The scissors rested ungainly in the bottom of my desk, the blades slightly askew – that was after I used them to pry open Gilbert's lunch pail. I don't know why his mother put a lock on a lunch pail. I thought I was going to have to share my lunch with him. It would have been easier with my pocket knife, but momma wouldn't let me bring it to school. So scissors was all I had. You'd think a boy like Gilbert would have his own pocket knife – but then his momma put a crazy make-do lock on on his lunch bucket.

Gil nodded as he nibbled on a PBJ, “You're pretty handy for a girl.” Now that bit of praise was worth a valentine, for sure!

The teacher handed each student three pieces of construction paper, a red, pink and white sheet, for making paper hearts. “Teacher, I can't find my scissors, maybe I could go to the library, or to the office and call my momma.”

“Oh, let me help you find them. Right here, that's where they are – at the bottom of your desk, all covered with – with your homework. This is homework that should have been turned in last week,” she squawked. “And what did you do to these scissors, the blades don't even close!”

“Maybe I can make the valentine later when I get new scissors. I am sure momma will get a nice sharp pair for me.”

The teacher shook her head, and gave me The Look like you're not getting out of this. “Well, do the best you can, ” she said.

By the end of the fun project, I had a wad of ruined paper doilies and my desk was littered with long skinny hearts, short squat hears, some that were flat at one end or the other – and sometimes at both ends. But, I finally had a valentine made that I thought would pass the teacher's eye. In my scrawly cursive (penmanship class was almost as painful as the fun project), I carefully, inscribed,
Happy Valentine's Day to Momma and Daddy

I hoped we were done with Valentine's, but not to be. The teacher brought out a box, looked like a shoebox to me, even though it was all covered with crepe paper, doilies, ribbons, and beautiful heart cut-outs.

“Now I want you all to make a valentine for each of your classmates. Then put all of the valentines into this box. It's like a mail box for Valentine's Day. We don't want anyone to feel left out when we have our valentine's party.”

The room seemed atwitter with laughter and anticipation of the party. I groaned. Maybe momma would buy a pack of valentines to bring for the class party. It was hard enough to write the names and all that stuff on the cards – just took too long, when I could be out climbing trees or riding my horse or at this time of year, making a snow fort.

These images of childhood escape seemed quite reasonable, but I knew my momma would say, “Store bought valentines are too expensive.” Then I would have to spend hours and hours inside making valentines cards.

So during those cold snowy days of early February, I smeared glue over hand-cut doilies and bedecked them with misshapen hearts. I didn't have a pink crayon, so I had red, orange and white hearts --- at least I didn't have to color the white hear\ts. Momma made me scrub the kitchen table real good because it was covered in glue smudges – and sometimes bits of colored paper embedded in the glue.

Finally the Day came. I was really glad that we only had 17 in our class. Those poor kids in Mrs. Jones class. That's a big class, with at least 20 kids. The valentines were passed out. The kids were giggling over their stack of valentines as they munched heart-shaped cookies and sipped punch --- although there was considerable punch sloshed over desks and the floor. I too had a stack of cards – and even one from Gilbert that I thought he'd specially made for me and signed it, “your best friend, Gill.”. It looked a lot like the ones we made in class. His cut-out hearts really looked like Valentine hearts should look. And I proudly packed up my 17 Valentines, including the one from the teacher, to take home to show my momma and daddy. I might even give one to my little sister, she's too young to know it was a hand-me-down Valentine, besides I didn't like Oscar very much anyway.

Years later while spring cleaning with my adult daughters, we came upon a box with art work, writing and school projects.

“Mom, you should throw these old things out.” The girls had opened a big brown envelope on which I had written, still scrawly but now with a certain flair, VALENTINES . The envelope had every valentine that each of my three children had made over the years, plus all the valentines Doc had so carefully chosen for me.

I snatched the envelope. “These are MY treasures,” I said. Then I mused, I wonder if momma had an envelope of glue-smeared doilies, misshapen hearts with childish handwriting.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Synopsis: 2014 January 5th

It has been awhile since my last Sunday Synopsis -- nearly six months, and then I hadn't been very consistent for the previous six to eight months.  However, 2014 has arrived and the pain, frustration, and chaos that began  and followed 2013 right up to the end seems to have past.  Even amongst the chaos that happened, great gifts of love were also on the venue.  Our great children, and my sister,  stepped in and up  -- taking care of their dad and me when we needed them.  And their gifts of love kept coming throughout the year, phone calls, letters, and thoughtful gifts, joining me on a trip that I had always wanted to take, giving up weekends and holidays to work around our place, put new wood flooring in, painting, and just being a great family.  Not a gift to small or to large was out of their scope and I am the benefactor of such love.

News for 2014!  The book of letters that I had begun to believe was just a myth or a dream looks to be a reality.  The last of my edits has left my desk and awaits the fine tuning of my great friend and editor -- with the assistance of my sister.  I am thinking a reasonable date to send to the printer is sometime in February.

Back at my writing post in the early mornings -- if two days, can be counted as being "back."  A Spepia Saturday, Sunday Synopsis, and research for the last of the Jabezes pieces.  A good start for 2014.

I am also excited and pleased to be presenting a workshop on memoir and family history writing, which is coming up in March.  Looking forward to writing a January 12th Sunday Synopsis.

 ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sepia Saturday 209: 2014 January 4: A Stretch Packard - McPherson Style, A Mother, Five Daughters, & Three Granddaughters Long

This first prompt of 2014 is a vehicle,  a cross between a stretch limo and a country bus. Whilst it is said that there are plenty of potential prompts to be found in this image which comes from the collection of the Royal Australian Historical Society on Flickr Commons : cars, buses, dams, men in white coats, I flounced between beat-up old trucks, old school buses, and old cars.  In the end, I chose the following photo - not a very good photo, but then my family has not been known for artistic  -- or even clear -- photos.

A  Stretch Packard,  McPherson Style - A Mother, Five Daughters, & Three Granddaughters Long

1940 Packard
Back Row: Margie Bryant holding niece Marilyn, the matriarch Elizabeth Alfreda, Bertha Clouse, Betty McPherson, Verna McPherson, and Olive McPherson
Front Row, Nancy McPherson (sister of Marilyn) and Joan McPherson (me and cousin of Nancy and Marilyn)
Although the photograph was noted with a 1938 date, my mother dated photos, and such,  with a "guess & by golly" sort of nonchalance.  Based on the age of my baby cousin Marilyn (born 1938 Nov 18), I would place the date of the photo in the summer of 1940 -- and the car a brand new Packard.  My Aunt Bertha, in the center, most likely drove the Packard from their home in  Calipatria, California, to see her parents, sisters and brothers in Klamath County, Oregon.  Her sister, Margie, holding her baby niece Marilyn, would have accompanied Bertha on the trip north,  and most likely their husbands as well. 

I have listed the woman standing second from the right, as Verna McPherson.  However, I am not 100% sure that this is correct. It could also be sister Helen, as the two of them looked very much alike during their teenage years.  I toyed with the thought that it could also be Nancy and Marilyn's mother, Pearl McPherson;  however, Pearl was really quite slim in those years and had a very definite heart-shaped face.  

The real reason that I chose this photo was that Packard was reaaalllly long  -- not quite a stretch limo, but close for that day and age.  Now wheel on over to see what the other Sepians have to offer.

  ~ ~ 

 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications

Friday, November 29, 2013

Sepia Saturday 205, 2013 November 30: 1930s Beach Attire: McPherson Aunties At The Beach

This Sepia Saturday's prompt brings us to the end of November or, so they say, has become known in much of the world, Movember. So it is time to celebrate bearded ladies, moustachioed men, trophies or silly swimming suits. 

No bearded ladies in my family and very few moustachioed men, however I do have a couple of pictures of 1930 beach attire, which might prove interesting for those that remember the 1930s or are fond of that era.

1930s Beach Attire:
McPherson Aunties At the Beach

In 1921 or so, my Aunt Bertha Clouse, the oldest of the McPherson aunties, arrived in Calipatria, California, with her husband Cecil and baby daughter Cleona.  The Clouse family had land in the area and quickly became involved in several other businesses.  Bertha and Cecil were part of  Calipatria's  young socialite set;   Cecil was involved in local politics and Bertha owned a fashionable dress shop.  The younger aunties were always impressed with Bertha's sense of style and the fact that her dress shop always had the latest designs -- for Calipatria, at least.

The two  pictures  below were taken between 1933 and 1935, judging by the age of Cleona who was born on 9 April 1920.  The beach might have been near San Diego, but I think it is more likely a beach on the Salton Sea which was a popular venue and relatively close to Calipatria.  In the first photo, I recognize my aunt Bertha (seated third from the left), cousin Cleona Clouse (the young girl perched on the abutment. Cleona was just a year younger than my mother), Bertha's cousin Jerry McPherson Rose(standing to the right of Cleona) and uncle Cecil Clouse(standing at the far right).  It is difficult to say with absolute certainty, but I believe the woman sitting to the left of Bertha is her sister Margie Bryant, my aunt Margie.  (Additional note:  A cousin of mine, contacted me to let me know that the woman seated at the far left, next to Margie, was her grandmother Helen Jansky, nee McPherson.)

1930s Beach Gathering in Southern California
Courtesy of JGHill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives
The photo has a great array of bathing fashions of the day.  The elegant, wide legged flowing pants were worn by all the stylish women when they went to the beach.  The pants, in bright colors and prints, evolved from pajamas that were worn by beach goers a few year before.   Jerry Rose and Bertha Clouse  both wore the popular flowing legged pants.  Jerry's pants were worn over her swim-suit, while Bertha's outfit was more of an ensemble which was very much in vogue at the time.  The big floppy hats as well as the wide hair bands and scarves were also popular.At the right, is a photo that was a typical outfit worn at the beach or pool side.

The swim suit worn by young Cleona was a style-setter of the day as her one-piece suit had shorter, more fitted legs, the top had cut outs which foretold the coming of the a two-piece bathing suit. Also the belted suit with it's striped top was very much a new style of the day.  Uncle Cecil Clouse's suit was also very fashionable with it's new shorter, more fitted trunks.  The two-piece swim suits for men were beginning to give way to just the shorter, fitted swim trunks, worn with or without a top.

1930s A Family Day at the Beach
Jerry Rose, Ray Rose, Bertha Clouse, Jack Bryant, Margie Bryant, Cleona Clouse
Courtesy of JGHill and Roots'n'Leaves Archives
The suit worn by my aunt Margie, in the above photo,  was more typical of  swim attire worn by women of the day, as the bathing suit had a skirt-look for modesty's sake.  A few years earlier some of the dress codes (or swim-suit wearing codes) required that suits for men and women not be shorter than 4 inches above the knee, and that the tops must end at least two inches below the genital region. The swim suit worn by Ray Rose shows the long top that was the norm a few years earlier, however by the 1930s many of the men's trunks were shorter and more fitted.

The picture at the left shows a variety of beach wear that was popular in the 1930s.  Magazines and doctors were telling of the benefits of exercise and sunshine, so folks on both sides of the Atlantic took to the beaches  --- and of course they had to be appropriately attired.

Below  is a 1929 photo of Gary Cooper in the newest of swimwear fashions.  The  swimsuit worn by Cooper looks very much like the one worn by the man sitting to the left of Cecil Clouse in the first photo of these beach festivities.
This just about brings to a close my ramblings about the 1930s beach attire of my McPherson aunties, friends and relatives --- except for one last thing.  Everytime I looked at the first photo, my eye went to the man kneeling at the lower left of the photo.  I don't know if he was a friend or stranger.  However to me, he almost has a time traveler look -- a man from the 21st century, wearing a wet suit and kneeling before a computer -- oblivious to the laughing folks enjoying their day at the beach.  What do you think?

Paddle on over to check out what's going on at Sepia Saturday

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 © Joan G. Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications