Thursday, April 24, 2008

The You Go Genealogy Girls

My Mom and my aunt Cheri are referred to as the You Go Genealogy Girls. Actually they are not "girls", but don't tell them I said that. They are both grandmothers. Mom has two grandchildren and Aunt Cheri has seven grandchildren (all one family).

They are heading out next week to see how many graves they can locate in nine days and how much they can learn at the genealogy conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. It's the annual Nebraska State Genealogical Society conference where they will laugh and learn and see old friends and make new ones. From there they will travel south to Topeka, Kansas to see Aunt Cheri's son, his wife and their seven children, ranging in age from 16 to 3.

Their agenda requires them to make stops at various cemeteries here in Nebraska to decorate graves and locate them. They will be Mom's relatives and Aunt Cheri's relatives and probably anybody else that interests them. I am sure they might even find a few in Kansas that catch their eye.

My Mom likes to pack and repack and repack. Last summer she left on vacation for the east coast she packed and then repacked five more times before she got it just right. She is also a shoe-person so I'm sure she'll take at least seven or more pairs of shoes and wear them all while she's gone. There will also be the necessary things to survive such a long trip, such as the laptop computer, iPod and digital camera. They will take maps and books and magazines...anything to keep their mind on the right track.

I am sure they will shop along the way, looking for more books and possibly an antique or two. Since each will have their own suitcases and carrying bag, the laptop, all the adds and ends, that doesn't leave much room in their car for extras. But nobody will tell them that. Packing light is not something familiar to them.

Aunt Cheri drives a mini van which Mom has "lovingly" called the gypsy van. They can load that mini van full of a lot of "stuff". However, this trip they are taking Mom's little red, Dodge neon. Small trunk, but it gets good gas mileage. Before they get home I wouldn't be suprised if they have items strapped on the roof....such as antiques and books.

Y'all look for them heading across Nebraska and then back across Kansas. They will be those You Go Genealogy Girls (grannies) in the little red car that is dragging the ground and barely has overpass clearance because of what's on the top. I am sure they will have oodles of fun to last them until the next trip they conjure up which I have learned will be in May.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tornados and Tombstones

It was about thirty years ago that my parents, my grandparents, my brother and I went to the Ozarks in Missouri. It was our first long vacation with my paternal grandparents. The guys rode in the front seat with Dad driving. That left three the girls in the back. We left Nebraska early one morning and managed to get most of the way across Kansas by evening.

Kansas was what prompted Grandma and Grandpa to get into an argument. Grandpa was always watching the weather and worrying about the early summer storms. He called them cyclones and Grandma, in the back seat, would nudge him on the shoulder and correct him by saying they were tornadoes. The comparisons and conversation would carry on for many miles with each trying to get the last work. Of course, once we started laughing, the conversation picked up in intensity. Fortunately we never saw a tornado or a cyclone.

Memories were made in the Ozarks, particularly at Branson, Missouri. We went to shows and water slides, amusement parks and lakes. It was the same every year, but with Grandma and Grandpa it was special. Once we were there they stopped talking about cyclones and tornadoes as the entertainment was better.

I can remember the trip back. We didn't go near Kansas for the fear we would travel the width of the state with cyclones and tornadoes discussed heatedly. Instead we drove north to Harrison County, Missouri. Mom, being the genealogist in the family, decided we should go to the Foster Cemetery and locate the graves on ancestors.

Grandpa became emotional when we found his great, great grandmother's tombstone. She was Anna Wells Gardner, born 1816 in Kentucky and died in 1882. Mom told us the story of how she became a widow at age 22 when pregnant with Grandpa's great grandfather. Anna took her young children to Iowa and then eventually to Harrison County.

I am glad we encountered tombstones of relatives instead of tornadoes or even cyclones. Those trips which would continue to Missouri and also to Colorado were great memory makers in my growing up years.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Mom Tells Me

When I was about nine months old Mom started working on a genealogy book. It was about Dad's family and she tells me that it isn't very good. She wasn't that experienced then. She also tells me how she had to type letters to relatives asking and begging at times for information and old photographs. When she decided to put all that information into a family book, the old typewriter just wouldn't work. She rented an electric typewriter. I can't imagine producing a book on a typewriter, even an electric one.

Mom had a card table in the living room with the typewriter and paper on it, plus all her notes. Each morning she would cut strips of paper for my three year old brother to color and paste together in loops. She also photocopied the old family photographs for him to study. That would occupy him for a couple hours while she typed.

When I wasn't sleeping or playing in my crib, I was hungry. Mom would balance me on top of her feet, prop the bottle in my mouth and swing me back and forth on her feet while she typed. That's about like patting your head and rubbing your stomach. It seemed to work.

We grew up knowing her as Mom and somebody who went to cemeteries and talked to relatives. There were always books and family charts around the house. Relatives would come to visit or we would visit them. It was our life and I guess we didn't know anything different. Our friends couldn't name off relatives, but we knew their names and everything about them. When I was six years old we moved. I went to school and told my teacher and friends that we were migrating. Wonder where I got that word! Growing up genealogy was indeed interesting and fun.