Wednesday, July 25, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 30 – Colorful

My aunt had a colorful name. Violet was my mother's youngest sister. My mother, Wilma Falk, was 12 when Violet was born on 11 Mar 1924. There were 2 other sisters between them and a baby brother was born in 1927.

I decided to check happenings in Violet's life in the 22 years before she was married in 1946 by using the website. Since she lived in Harrisburg Oregon the nearby newspaper in Eugene did include her name in over 30 issues. Also I found a mention in the Corvallis paper when she attended the England family reunion in Corvallis in 1930 with her parents and siblings. Since she was only 6, I wonder if she would have remembered that.

Reading about her activities in the newspaper, I learned a number of new things about her. When she was 5 years old in 1929 she attended a Sunday school party. In 1937 she was attending Busey school and
appeared in two of the plays presented at the school pie social. She was the only eighth grade graduate from Busey school that year and went on to attend Harrisburg High School. She did well in school, listed on the honor roll at least 3 times and graduated in 1941 with a class of 17 as the salutatorian. She appeared to be active in school: she was vice president of her junior class; appeared in the junior class play, played in a trumpet trio for the school band concert and went with the group to the coast for the Senior “Skip Day.”

She also was involved with the church as in 1939 she went with a group of Christian Endeavorers from Harrisburg to Portland. She played in a trumpet duet for the 1939 Christmas Sunday School program. I never knew she played the trumpet.

The newspaper named Violet as one of those who attended the bridal shower for her sister Lois in 1939 and again for the wedding shower for her sister Erma in 1941.

At some point Violet moved to Eugene where she was employed in office work. The 1944 Eugene city directory lists her as Violet Falk as a secretary at Oregon Mutual Life Insurance Company. Oregon Mutual was located at 132 E. Broadway in the Miner Building, room 343. I have memories of visiting the Miner Building, although it was not for Life Insurance. Violet was living at 710 Lawrence and her phone number was 2977. According to Google Maps today, it is ½ mile from where she was living to where she was working and it would take about 11 minutes to walk that distance.

While living in Eugene Violet still had friends. She was the maid of honor at a wedding and was in charge of the guest book at another, plus she was listed as a guest at a couple of bridal showers. She joined the Business Girls club, aka the Employed Girls club at the YWCA. In 1946 she was the chairman of their social committee and helped with at least 3 of their dances. She also served as a Junior Hostess for the USO, and received a 200 hour pin at their closing meeting in February of 1946. I read a little more about the USO Junior Hostesses and discovered they had some fairly strict rules: no slacks allowed, no smoking inside the USO areas, no drinking alcohol on the job, no dancing with other women and no refusing to dance with a service man unless he was “ungentlemanly.”

Finding out more about my aunt from reading in the newspapers made me wish that I had talked with her more often and asked questions about her life.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 29a – More About Music

Yesterday (July 20th) I shared what I had written for a writing class about taking piano lessons when I was in grade school.

Today I'd like to share how piano recitals can have a genealogical application. I kept all my programs from so long ago and put them into a scrapbook. So now I can look back and see howmany relatives were playing at the same recitals.

1948 = 4 – Vonda, Eldon, Joyce and Betty
1949 = 4 – Vonda, Eldon, Joyce and Oran
1950 = 4 – Vonda, Eldon, Joyce and Oran
1951 = 4 – Vonda, Eldon, Joyce and Diane
1952 = 3 – Vonda, Eldon, and Oran
1953 = 5 – Vonda, Eldon, Oran, Diane and          Marcelle

This is what often happened when you lived in a small town where a number of family 
members also lived. Oran was my brother. Vonda and Eldon were 2nd cousins, one on my 
mother's side of the family and the other on my father's side. Joyce and Betty were sisters 
and were 2nd cousins once removed and Diane and Marcelle were also sisters and 2nd 
cousins once removed. So I shared playing in piano recitals with 7 different relatives.

Friday, July 20, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 29 – Music

Music has always been important in my life, singing and playing the piano. When I took a writing class in the Fall of 2016, for one of my assignments I wrote about taking piano
lessons. Here is that essay:

Piano Lessons
by Joanne Skelton

It was sixty-nine years ago when I began my piano lessons. I was in the third grade and was starting in a new school, Halsey Grade School. They had a special arrangement for students who wanted to take piano lessons. If our grades were good enough, we could take time during the school day to walk to the piano teacher's house and have our lesson once a week. As a third grader who lived on a farm four miles from town, walking the approximately four or five blocks to the piano teacher's house was intimidating. I would have to cross Highway 99 and then cross over the railroad tracks to get to her house. But my parents had purchased a new piano, a Lester brand spinet, and agreed to pay for piano lessons for me, so I began my piano lessons that year.

My third grade teacher was Mrs. Eldon Cross and my piano teacher was her sister-in-law, Mrs Jess Cross. So I called both of them Mrs. Cross. Sometimes it was hard for my parents to determine which teacher I was talking about. My Dad sometimes would try to be funny by called them Mrs. X.

I can't remember exactly what happened during my piano lessons. I know I had a little book that the teacher used to write my assignments for the week. Then I was supposed to practice them each day so I could play them for her the next week. I'm not sure I always did that, but with my mother's oversight. I probably did it most of the time. I always enjoyed when I got a new book to play from and occasionally I would get a piece of sheet music. Thinking back, my parents might not have enjoyed the new music as much since they would have an extra cost added to the bill.

One of the benefits or not of taking piano lessons was the recital near the end of the school year. Even though I was shy, I rather enjoyed showing off what I had learned. Even more, as I got older I was assigned to play in duets and trios and sometimes even double trios with two pianos. I liked playing together and hearing all that extra sound.

My last year for piano lessons was in the eighth grade and I remember my recital piece that year was By the Light of the Silvery Moon. That was scheduled next to last on the program, but was the last solo number which meant I was at the top of her students that year. The final number was a double trio, including some former students who were now in high school. I really enjoyed playing in that, Stars and Stripes.

So piano lessons were long ago, but they have lasted a long time, as now I am playing in public about two and a half hours each week and still enjoy it.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – 28 – Travel

When I thought about this theme, I realized that I know little about how most of my ancestors traveled. But then I remembered that I have used at least three different sources to learn about their travels: by train, sailing ship and covered wagon.

1. I interviewed my father, Lester Albertson, before he passed away in 2004. He told me that when he and his parents and two sisters came to Oregon from Kansas in 1911, they rode the train. His father, Oran Jesse Albertson, had worked for the railroad back in Kansas, so they had a pass. Apparently they traveled from Goodland, Kansas to Portland, Oregon and then continued south to Halsey, Oregon where Oran's brother Arthur lived.

2. When my immigrant Falk gt-grandparents came from Prussia to the United States in 1858 the passenger list gives the name of the sailing ship they came on. It was a bark named Wieland. I have a picture of a bark named Wieland, but it was built in 1862 and was larger as Lloyd's Register found on the Mystic Seaport website, show the earlier Wieland tonnage to be 512 and the later one was 632. But I believe as they were both barks, they probably had a very similar appearance.

2. In 1938, before I was born, the Bond family reunion printed a booklet with the journal entries of my 2nd gt-granduncle George Bond on the trip from Iowa to Oregon in 1853. Since this was over the Oregon Trail, it is logical to believe they traveled by covered wagon. It makes it more believable when the entry for April 9 stated that they “loded the wagons.” But they apparently did use tents while camping along the way because on May 14 George recorded that a storm prevented them from pitching their tents. I have always felt so fortunate to be able to read the daily travels for that group which included my 2nd gt-grandparents and 2 sets of 3rd gt-grandparents as well as over 30 other relatives.