Monday, March 29, 2010

If I Could Time Travel

Time travel has always fascinated me so much, that I read and watch everything I can about the subject. It would be more interesting for me to travel back in time than to travel forward. There are so many people, famous and not so famous, that you could meet and ghost towns of today that were not in the 1800's.

As a genealogist, I would find time travel a wonderful tool. Searching for the elusive ancestor and hitting the proverbial brick wall is frustrating to say the least. To travel back in time and meet my ancestors would be wonderful. As a time traveler, being an enumerator for the census would be an interesting job and I would be in an ideal position to say, "Ok, make sure you are around for the census. No, I don't care that it takes you months to get somewhere by covered wagon. Census records are important, so you need to settle down somewhere before the next one."

Census records are one of many records needed to prove your lineage if you want to get into the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) or the SAR (Sons of the American Revolution). Wills, deeds, birth, death and marriage records, photos of headstones, naturalization records, passenger lists and obituaries are all documents that prove the relationship between parents and children or tell you what country your ancestors immigrated from. Passing these items down, along with stories from generation to generation is helpful. Some families are great record keepers while other families don't see the importance.

I'd love to travel back in time and meet my elusive ancestors. You better believe that I would have a thing or two to tell them...

"I know you only have a wagon, but make a will anyway and leave the danged thing to one of your children."

"You say you came to America from Germany or Ireland, make sure your children know what the name of the ship was. Designate a member of the family to be the storyteller. Tell them to pass the job on to one of their children and continue on down the line. Some day, one of your descendants will want this information."

"Teach your children that naturalization papers, birth and marriage records, deeds, diary's and papers from the old country are valuable and shouldn't be used to start a fire in the fireplace."

"So you don't want to have your photo taken. So what! Do it anyway!"

"Keep a journal. It will be interesting to your ancestors. Knowing what a day in your life was like would be so interesting to them."

I am quite certain that those elusive ancestors didn't crawl out from under a rock to have my great grandmother and crawl back under or my 3 great grandfather didn't swim to America from Ireland. There just has to be documents out there somewhere proving that they weren't dropped in America by alien beings. I just have to look in the right place. When I find them, you will need earplugs because you'll hear me shouting, "I finally found you!"

© Karen A J Rinehart

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Old Storyteller

In his own eyes, he stands tall with pride,
yet he knows he is old and weak.

He sits with hands folded in his lap,
while on the table beside him his glasses await.

Gathering around him are children,
excited to hear him speak.

He begins his story,
as tears gently fall from his eyes...

"By covered wagon, we traveled.
One room schoolhouses and floors of dirt.
Ladies with long flowing skirts.
Land as far as the eye can see."

He sighs.

In the room all alone,
no one to hear his last replies...

The Old Storyteller quietly dies.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shut Up!

My husband became Director of Civil Defense, now known as Emergency Management, two months before we were married. Under his direction was a group called Skywarn. These were people, spotters, that went out and watched the formation of clouds and reported high winds, hail and tornadoes. The base station was located at one of the fire stations. We usually had two or three people working with one answering the phones and county radio, one talking to the spotters on the CB and the third person would be there for relief, if needed.

Not having any sirens to warn the city, he began working on correcting the situation and at the same time talking to the local CB club because they showed an interest in becoming spotters. Setting up 14 different locations around our town so that if one of the spotters saw something another could confirm it. The group also had ham operators that would go out past the range of the CB club and report back to the base station what they saw. They could also let us know if we had something really bad approaching town. Within a few months, he was able to place sirens throughout our town.

One evening dispatch called our house to let us know that we had an approaching storm. My husband and I left for the fire station to set up for weather watch. Most of the spotters were listening to their scanners and were going out and asking where they were needed. I was usually the one to call and send the spotters to their locations.

We were listening to the radio traffic, when dispatch called my husband on the radio and told him they had a possible tornado on the ground south of town. He left to check on it, leaving me to listen to the phones and answer the radio if he called. I checked with the base operator and he reported that nothing was coming in from the spotters.

During the time that my husband was at the station, the mayor and a gentleman from one of the radio stations was visiting with him. They stayed at the station after my husband left to check on the storm.

After a short time, my husband called in on the radio and reported that there was excessive hail in his area about 3 miles south of town. Spotters near his area began reporting the same. Reports kept coming in periodically from him that the hail was getting worse and he was going to have to pull off the road because visability was getting worse. Pulling off the road he noticed that several vehicles had done the same.

Not hearing from him for awhile, I began to wonder what was happening when he called on the radio. He was telling me that the hail was getting worse and at this point, I was unable to hear him very well. The mayor and the man from the radio station were in the same room with me and they are talking so loud that I was unable to hear what was being reported. I turned the volume up to hear him and they began to talk louder. I turned to them and said, "Shut up! I can't hear him." With shocked looks on their faces, they both took my advise.

With the room finally silent, I called my husband to get a report and find out if we needed to blow the sirens. When he tried to answer, I heard nothing but the sound of hail hitting his vehicle. He was driving a Plymouth Trail Duster with long window panels on both sides and a window halfway down the back. I advised him that I was unable to hear him. Without a response, we blew the sirens.

After the weather watch had ended and my husband was back in town, we became aware of the reason we were unable to hear him. The National Weather Service had reported two tornadoes in his area. One had passed to the south of his vehicle and the other one just yards away to the north. What I thought was hail hitting his vehicle was actually the winds from the tornadoes blowing his windows out. God must have been watching over him that evening.

The mayor told my husband that he'd never been told to shut up before and couldn't believe how calm I stayed with all that was going on. She just turned and said, "Shut up! I can't hear him." and went back to calmly calling you on the radio.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Thursday, March 4, 2010

WWAUW - March Blog Prompt #3

March Blog Prompt #3 - Write a letter to someone you love encouraging them to keep a journal and explain why you think it's so important to the ones they love.

To My Family and Friends,

I'm writing this letter in hopes of encouraging you to start keeping a journal. As you know, I have been working on genealogy for quite a few years. What does this have to do with keeping a journal? I'll try to explain.

Most of the information I find is not personal information. It doesn't tell a story like a journal would. Yes. It helps me in my journey of putting the family in this town, county, state or country. However, there is nothing personal. The information I find doesn't tell me what the weather was like on a given day. It doesn't go into detail of a family wedding or any traditions that come from the family. Most of my information is family tradition and is passed down from one family member to another. Sometimes important details get lost from one family member to another.

Keeping a journal will show those that love you what you have done during the course of keeping your journal. Whether it be months or years. It could mention the birth's of children, marriages, hardships and places they have lived or lands they have traveled to. It may cover jobs and the friends that they had during their lives.

Although the gentleman wasn't my direct ancestor but a cousin, I got to read his Civil War journal. Another was letters he had written. It showed me the importance of keeping a journal.

I know that after writing this letter to you, I am going to take the time to start a daily journal of my own. I want my family or friends that might read it to know the things I enjoyed, my pet peeves and that one of the things I enjoy most is the sound of the wind when it gently blows through a ripened wheat field or that I think it looks like a field of gold.

Love and Hugs,
©Karen A J Rinehart


My sister and I must have had the weirdest sense of humor growing up. We were always coming up with this game or that game to play. We didn't really care for the traditional games of hide and seek, red rover or red light, green light. We decided that we were going to be pirates. It was a game that we played and enjoyed. She took on the role of the pirate while I was to be the town person with all the riches. She always got the best parts.

We would go to our rooms and choose the things we were going to use for treasure. After gathering everything together we would carry it all downstairs to the backyard. My sister would then pull her sword, an old small tree limb, from her belt and demand the treasure from me. Jabbing the sword at me she would shout, "Give me your treasure and I will let you live." Being the ever fearing town person I would gather some treasure and carry it to her ship, our backyard swing set. While I was loading her treasure she would let out this fierce cackle and say, "Be gone with you." I would go back to minding what was left of the town riches. Where she came up with those words, I will never know. She was 6 and I was 7.

One day, we both decided that we were tired of playing pirates. We liked the idea of the treasure so we were off in search of what would be our treasure. Dolls, books, stuffed animals and old purses was only for pirates so the real thing was what we needed.

Searching through our jewelry boxes we gathered our cracker jack rings and anything that sparkled. As we were heading out the back door, my sister said, "Grab some spoons." "What for?", I said. With an evil grin on her face she exclaimed, "For digging, dummy. You can't be a treasure hunter without a shovel." I opened the drawer that mom had designated as ours and took out some things to dig with.

Our yard sat a little lower than the sidewalk and there was a dirt embankment that you could walk up to get to the sidewalk. That is where I found my sister. When I arrived she was standing there with her hands on her hips and looked at me and said, "I already buried everything. You get to dig first cause I know where it all is."

Digging didn't go so well. My sister didn't have much patience at all and decided that since I wasn't finding anything, she would help me. After finding everything, she looked up at me and said, "This just is not going to work. We need real treasure." Then she left.

When she returned she had a handkerchief in her hand and told me to look at what she had. In it was three rings, two watches and some earrings. I looked at her and put my hand over my mouth and said, "You got that from mom's jewelry box." She walked over to the embankment and proceeded to bury her newfound items.

We got everything buried but we had lost track of time. Mom was at the backdoor telling us to come in for lunch and we could go out and play after we had eaten.

Time caused us to forget every place that we had placed moms jewelry. While we were frantically searching for our buried treasure, mom came out and asked us what we were doing. We told her what we had done. That was the first time I ever saw my mom angry, hurt and at a total loss for words. We were out there until well after dark. We found everything but her class ring and birthstone ring, which we never located.

Mom never brought it up to my sister and I again after she scolded us and told us that our parents room was off limits. We both told her we were sorry.

Some years later after I understood the impact of what my sister and I had done, I apologized to her again. She looked at me and said, "Honey, I know you are sorry and I forgive you. I hope when you have children, they don't do that to you." Mom may have forgiven me but I have never forgiven myself. I know how much my class ring and birthstone ring, that she bought me, mean to me.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Tea, Please

Our family had a tradition that birthdays were special family days. Mom would always bake a cake of our choosing and she would fix our favorite meal. It didn't matter what we wanted for dinner, she would make it.

When we were younger, we always had a present from our parents and cards from aunts and uncles and grandparents. Mom always made the day a special one.

As my sister and I got older, we realized that mom's have birthday's, too. We decided that we would get our mother a present, card and make her favorite meal and bake her a cake. We didn't understand why all our hard work made mom cry. As we sat down to dinner, she explained how this was the best birthday she ever had.

Mom passed away a year after I was married and my sister came to live with my husband and I. Deciding that I was not going to let tradition die and knowing what my sister's favorite meal and cake was, I set out to make the day special.

Her favorite cake was chocolate so I baked a chocolate cake and put chocolate icing on it. I purchased her a gift and card. The three of us sat down to dinner. My sister was so happy that I continued the tradition and thanked me for making her day special.

Over the years, with us all having jobs and my not being able to make a special dinner and bake cakes, we changed the tradition a little. We still bought cards and presents for each ones birthday but we decided to eat out.

My birthday falls in January, my sister's is in February and my husbands is in March. My sister would take my husband and I out to the restaurant of our choice on our day and she'd pay. We would take my sister out to the restaurant of her choice on her birthday and Valentines Day.

January, one year, we all went out to eat at the restaurant that I chose. My husband loves iced tea. They always leave a pitcher at the table so they don't have to make a lot of trips to the table. We had finished our meal and were about to leave. My sister and I were talking which was taking longer than my husband had anticipated. He poured him a little tea in his glass so as not to waste any he didn't drink. After doing this 2 or 3 times, my sister picked the pitcher of tea up and filled my husbands glass to the top. "There! Now you don't have to keep pouring a little bit at a time. It's full.", she said frowning at him. He looked at her and they both started laughing. I guess him pouring a little tea into his glass was to her like someone scratching their fingernails on a chalkboard is to me.

©Karen A J Rinehart

Moms See Everything

My sister passed away in July 2009. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Packing her things into our pickup and bringing them home, I placed them in a corner of my office. As I placed each box, one on the other, I wondered how come this was all I had left.

Time has passed now. I can't say that it is easier. I know the tears sometimes come without warning and the pain is still felt as if it were the day that she passed away. Remembering the little things that we did as children has helped some. I have dear friends that say, "It will get easier but the tears may come without warning." There's just an emptiness I feel that I just can't put into words.

My sister was the adventurous one of the two of us. She also was the one with all the ideas and I was the one that helped implement them.

We were always making mud pies, building forts out of sheets, playing circus, finding buried treasure, making towns with little cars and playing with our dolls.

This particular time we decided that it was the day to play circus. No matter where my mother was in the house, she knew what we were doing. I always thought mom was the smartest woman I'd ever met and she could see through walls.

My sister and I decided that the couch was going to be a trampoline so that we could reach the ceiling, where our swing was to get to the high wire and landing on the back of the sofa, the high wire. Together we would jump on the sofa, touch the ceiling and land on the back of the sofa and walk the high wire.

Mom was in the kitchen when she heard the giggling and heard us hitting the ceiling. "What are you girls doing in there?", she said and to her question we both replied in unison, "Nothing!" Then came the ever powerful, "You girls stop jumping on that sofa right now!" My sister and I looked at each other wondering how in the world she could see us. We looked at the wall and then went and examined it. We just couldn't see how she could see us.

We continued with the circus act when my sister landed on the back of the sofa and I missed hitting my head on the lamp that was sitting on the end table. I didn't break the lamp instead I broke my head. My sister yelled, "Karen is bleeding, mama." My mother ran into the living room and spanked me for the jumping and then hugged me and took me to the kitchen to wash my head to see how badly I was cut. She told me, "You could have killed yourself." I told her I wouldn't do it again and she told me, "If you do, I'll kill you." My sister went upstairs and got her favorite doll. She told me, "You can hold her until you get well but I want her back."

I always wondered about that statement. If I don't kill myself doing something, she's going to kill me for doing it. It's funny the things that come from a mother's mouth when she's frightened.

©Karen A J Rinehart