Monday, April 7, 2014

The Book of Me, Written by You - Week 26 Technology

I am participating in Julie Goucher's activity:

This week's prompt is - Technology

What technology changes did your ancestors see?
What technology changes have you seen?
Did your family own one of those early changes? - such as television
Do you like or dislike technology?
What do you think has been the best technological change in your lifetime and historically?

My grandparents witnessed the advent of cars, planes, telephones, radios, and refrigerators.  Unfortunately they were all deceased before the inventions from the 1960's forward.  My dad's father was an early proponent of the automobile.   As part of his work the family traveled around the United States fairly regularly in the 1910's and 1920's.  I don't remember ever seeing my mother's father with or in a car but I an sure he also was enamored by automobiles.  All of his children went to boarding schools and I am sure it was the means of visiting the children.

Hansen Road Trip circa 1913
(photo owned by Denis Murray)

One of the wedding gifts my parents received was a floor model combination radio and record player.  One of it's features was the ability to make your own recordings!  

This looks like the radio I remember.
(photo credit google images)
Often my parents would have get-togethers with their parents and siblings.  These gatherings were recorded with my father acting as moderator.  The recordings have been moved from the steel discs they were on to cassette and now to cds.  It is amazing to me that I can still listen to the voice of grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles long gone.  My youngest brother was only 2 1/2 years old when dad died and didn't remember his voice.  I was a special treat to share these recordings with him and my other siblings.

I grew up with television, stereo. and hi-fi.  Transistor radios, brownie cameras, and 45 records were popular.  Most of these are gone now replaced by streaming video, mp3 players and cell phone cameras.  TVs remain but now they are flat screens, frequently wall mounted, and much larger than the 13 - 19 inch ones popular in the 1960's and 70's.

Remember these from game shows?
Google images
In the 1960s computers were entering the work place and one of my jobs was as a key punch operator.  I also learned how to wire a board for a card sorter.  I have been working with computers in various ways ever since.  Since my husband also repaired computers in his work, I have always been around them.

I vividly remember the first microwave oven I saw in use.  I was on 20 July 1969, the day we landed men on the moon.  My husband and I went to visit a friend on the way to going to an airshow in Sandwich, Illinois.  We were very excited because Bob Hope would be doing a show there.  Our friend invited us into the kitchen to see his wonderful new toy.  He dished up ice cream and poured chocolate sauce over the ice cream.  He put the dish into the microwave and set the timer for 10 seconds.  When the time was up he took out the dish and the sauce was hot but the ice cream was still frozen!  We were amazed.  I think we also cooked hot dogs that day too.

I love technology!  It allows us to do so much more exploring and learning.  I love making the "cousin" connections I can through the use of blogging and social media.  I love the technology that produced all of the labor saving devices that we enjoy today, it allows us the time to do so many other things.  But really the most important technological invention ever was the invention of the Gutenberg Press which allowed the education of the common man.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Motivation Monday - 2014 Family History Writing Challenge - A Promise to Myself

Last year I committed to the challenge by pledging to write 250 words daily during the month of February. The word count was not the important part to me, it was the ability to do it daily and complete the challenge. I did it!  I completed the challenge and posted my writing as blog posts every day in February.

This year I am doing the challenge in a different way.  I plan to write 300 to 500 words per day but this writing will not appear as blog posts.  I want to develop a story line more detailed that I would use for a blog.  I will do several biographical portraits using a timeline as an outline.  There will be additional research involved in adding details to the genealogical facts I have determined.

My first selection is my Grandfather Adolf Halfdan Hansen, who immigrated from Norway when he was 11 and one half years old.

Monday, January 20, 2014

It's Tech Tuesday and today I would like to explore some of the pros and cons of on-line trees. There are lots of pros as well as cons, so I will only deal with my personal conclusions.

For me personally the biggest pro, by far, is as a cousin finder!  I have made connections with several "cousins" or otherwise connected family researchers.  They have surfaced in Norway ( 4 all with new information I never would have discovered on my own), Germany( 2  from my husbands line and from my paternal grandmother's line), and Ireland ( 2 from my maternal grandmother's line), in addition to California, Texas, and Illinois.  I am sure that between my on-line trees and this blog I will find other connections. Another pro would be that on someone else's on-line tree, I found that my husband's fifth great-grandfather was a Revolutionary War Patriot.  I was able to compare the tree with what I had to ascertain the connection and I already had courthouse copies of corroborating evidence in the form of wills linking the third and fourth great-grandfather's to more recent family members.  The Patriot's will has also been posted on-line making an application to the DAR easier to document.

Probably the biggest con for most genealogists is the fear of having your hard work "grafted" to someone else's tree or even posted and renamed as their tree.  It happens!  It happened to me but I don't post all of my sources on-line although I will share them if contacted.  I know I did the work and I know it is correct although it is still subject to change as I make new discoveries.  It is sad to know that someone has taken my work and posted it as their own but frankly I like that by posting on-line at and My are out there working on finding new "shakey leaves" and "record matches" for me.  If my trees were not out there, they couldn't work for me!

Please, please, if you choose to put your tree on-line be sure to use the privacy protection provided by your program choice and protect any information of living people.

images: google images

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 20 Christmas Parties Curing Laryngitis

Holiday parties, a neighborhood open house, buffets – all these take place in abundance during Christmastime. Do you throw a party each year or did your family throw parties around Christmas? Any special theme like Ugly Christmas Sweater or perhaps a gift wrapping or cookie decorating party?
The year we got married, Dave and I hosted an open house in our tiny apartment.  We lived on the second floor of an old farmhouse in a fairly rural area.  We invited everyone we knew.  Rather than an open bar, we elected to serve punch and hors d'oeuvres.  

After consulting his Mr Boston book, Dave selected a recipe to use and went off to the liquor store for the ingredients. These included red wine, brandy, rum, and champagne.  Oranges and lemon juice added some extra flavor along with simple syrup and soda water.  The punch made 42 servings.

 We combined all the ingredients in a punch bowl and added an ice ring to chill the punch.  The kitchen table (the only table we had) held the punch bowl along with the hors d'oeuvres.  In those years the hors d'oeuvres consisted of little square slices of rye bread called party rye with liver sausage of smoked sausage on top, cheese logs and crackers, chips and dips, and possibly mini-meatballs in cocktail sauce.

Dave's mother had a history of getting laryngitis every winter and it lasted for months.  She was one of the guests at the party and enjoyed the punch along with the rest of us.  
As the day grew longer, we realized that Wanda's voice was getting stronger,  Slowly but surely her laryngitis was leaving!  By the end of the evening the laryngitis had totally disappeared.  In following years when the laryngitis threatened, we would suggest recreating the punch.  The threat alone did the job of curing the laryngitis.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Book of Me, Written By You - Prompt 15 SNOW

"The Book of Me, Written By You" is a GeneaBloggers project created by Julie Goucher of the Anglers Rest blog. The concept: a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.

This week’s prompt is Snow
    •    Do you live in area where you routinely have snow?
    •    How old were you when you first saw snow? 
    •    Do you remember it? 
    ◦    Did you make snowmen? 
    ◦    Throw Snowballs?
    ◦    Sledge Rides?
    •    What is the image that first came to mind when you read snow?
    •    What does snow
    ◦    feel like,
    ◦    smell like
    •    How do you see snow? 

Before moving to Texas, I have only ever lived in one place that did not routinely have snow.  The first fifty years of my life were spent in Northern Illinois.  Snow is always part of the picture there.  My first winter was spent in Adrian, Michigan where I am told I took naps on the front porch in the buggy.  That is when I probably saw snow for the first time, although I don't remember it.

We lived a block from a park which featured a wonderful hill for sledding!  Many winter days were spent pulling the sled up the hill only to race back down again!
At the top of the hill was a warming house with restrooms and concessions that were open on weekends and evenings.  Since we lived so close, we rarely used the concession stand.  If one went straight through the warming house and out the other side, there was a skating rink.  As a "tween", before tweens existed, I used to go skating there until 9pm most evenings.  It was the winter hang out place for most of the junior high kids.

The front yard of our house usually had a snowman or three in various stages of construction or deconstruction as well as a wall we huddled behind for protection during snowball wars.

After mom moved to Florida,  there was not as much winter fun except for the time my youngest brother brought his Florida born fiancee up North for Christmas.  Dave and I lived in Kaneville at the time and it was our turn to host the family Christmas party.  Dinner was served in out basement since the number of guests required the use of three banquet tables.  After dinner and assorted amusements, the guests began to leave.  As they ventured to their cars we found it was snowing big, fat, wet, heavy snowflakes.  Now it was time for snowball fights, and making snow angels! Imagine the spectacle of five couples in their 30s and 40s along with their assorted children scampering in the snow.  The neighbors loved it and of course we told my brother's fiancee it was arranged just for her!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 9 Crafts for Christmas

9 December – Christmas Crafts

There’s a movement towards making items for Christmas gifts or even for Christmas decorating. Have you ever made something by hand related to Christmas? What was the item, how was it made and what did you do with the finished product? What about other family members – was or is there anyone who excels at hand-crafted items and giving them as gifts during Christmas?
I think we have always had some kind of craft involved in our Christmases.  Two of the earliest ones I remember were made by two of my aunts.  Aunt Paul made a taper candle into a tree by layering a series of stars in graduated sizes on the candle.  The stars were made by using a pinking shears (creates a zig-zag edge) on a very stiff gauze type of material.  The tips of the stars were then decorated with various colored foil stars.  It was lovingly packed away every year and happily re-assembled the following year.


Aunt Ruth's treasured craft barely survived the season.  It was a wreath made of wrapped candies attached to a wire wreath form made from a hanger.  At the top of the wreath was a bow which also held a scissors suspended on a ribbon.  Friends were invited to use the scissors to detach a piece of candy.

Over the years several of our Christmas grab-bags have included the requirement that it be a handcrafted gift.  Some of the gifts over the years have included a standing fish wine bottle holder, etched beer steins with the family monogram,

 a fish shaped clock, (living in Florida there were several fisherman) a Seminole pattern quilted pillow in red and white( to match the recipient's decor) There was also a wire tree shape with wooden leaves to be labeled with family names and attached to the tree.

Sometimes the gift wrap itself could hold crafty treasures.  We still have the crocheted bells my mother-in-law used to wrap packages over 40 years ago.  There were also various hand crafted ornaments attached to packages.

Table decor could be crafty as there could be sleigh nut cups made from egg cartons with pipe cleaner runners or felt mittens with names written in glitter.  Some of the centerpieces over the years have included gum drop trees and gingerbread houses.  One year I made a tree by slicing spearment leaves vertically and attaching them to a styrofoam cone with toothpicks.  The base was a one and one half styrofoam disk covered with peppermint stick candies.  The tree also had ornaments made from gumdrops.  Actually I made two of them and gave one to a neighbor with a five year old.  My grands started making gingerbread houses about ten years ago in Germany.  The very first ones used graham crackers anchored to a one pound butter box with frosting.  Eventually they advanced to the full size Wilton kits and have now downsized to the cottages.  One year my father-in-law made individual star candles for everyone with their names on them as dinner place-cards.  Those were treasured for years.
google images
google images

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 8 Christmas Shopping

Today’s blog prompt is:Christmas Shopping: For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors? Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.
google images

I tend to concentrate my shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  When I was younger, the stores were only open until 9pm on Monday and Thursday evenings and rarely, if ever, open on Sunday.  Shopping was usually done on a Saturday or right after work.

My shopping habits have changed over time.  My husband and I used to take the kids to the mall and out for lunch on the day after Thanksgiving. (Before Black Friday!)  The mall we went to had a special place for children to shop independently.  We would get almost all of out shopping done on that day.  My family drew names for Christmas so that somewhat limited the number of gifts to buy.

Several years ago my daughter and I did brave the cold and the crowds to do the midnight  Black Friday sales.  We only did it once!  In addition to encouraging over-spending, it just didn't seem worth the effort.  Now I tend to try to avoid shopping on weekends and shop during the week.  Each year I seem to do more shopping on the internet as it saves time and travel costs.  I especially like the free shipping.

google images