Photos of 17th and 18th Century Structures in MA

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  I recently learned about a resource that might be of interest to genealogists researching older structures in central and eastern Massachusetts.  Photographs of Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Structures Taken in Massachusetts 1887-1945 by Harriette Merrifield Forbes is an electronic resource available via the American Antiquarian Society website.  Author and historian Harriette Merrifield Forbes (1856-1951) was the mother of Esther Forbes, the author of Johnny Tremain.  The images in the collection are indexed by place, name, and subject.  The collection includes approximately 800 images, with the majority of images taken in Worcester and Middlesex counties.  Coverage of Worcester area structures is excellent.  


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: The Great Depression, Dad, and the CCCs
Photo Story: Dad, He's In the Army Now...
Photo Story: Two Years In the Philippines
Photo Story: Auntie Helen's 1937 Trip to Poland

Books of Interest: Worcester History

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) This is a list of books that I either have as part of my collection or use for research.  The list is by no means comprehensive, simply books about Worcester history that I use and/or enjoy on a regular basis. 

Berhman, S.N. The Worcester Account.

Greenwood, Janette Thomas. First Fruits of Freedom: The Migration of Former Slaves and Their Search for Equality in Worcester Massachusetts, 1862-1900.

Hultgren, William O. Eric J. Salomonsson, and Frank J. Morrill. Worcester 1880-1920.

Koelsch, William A. Clark University, 1887-1987: A Narrative History.

Knowlton, Elliot B. and Sandra Gibson-Quigley (eds.). Worcester's Best (Second Edition): A Guide to the City's Architecture

Moynihan, Kenneth J. A History of Worcester: 1674-1848.

Nutt, Charles. History of Worcester and It's People (available on Google Books).

O'Toole, John M. Tornado!84 Minutes, 94 Lives.

Proko, Barbara and John Kraska Jr., Janice Baniukiewicz Stickles. The Polish Community of Worcester.

Prouty, Olive Higgins. Pencil Shavings.

Sandrof, Ivan. Your Worcester Street.

Sawyer, Christopher and Patricia A. Wolf. Denholms: The Story of Worcester's Premier Department Store.

Southwick, Albert B. Once Told Tales of Worcester County.

Southwick, Albert B. More Once Told Tales of Worcester County.

Wagner, David. The Poorhouse: America's Forgotten Institution.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Business Profile: Helen's, 39/41 Millbury St., Worcester, MA
The Physic Next Door (Part 1 of 2) 
The Worcester Tornado, Jun 9, 1953 - Those Places Thursday
Walter Chamberlain Porter, Titanic Victim - Tombstone Tuesday

Reflecting on My American Experience This Thanksgiving

(This is a re post of a piece written for Thanksgiving 2010.  Warm wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, family, and friends.)

(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I've been thinking about how my son's collective ancestry typifies a large part of what I think of as the American experience as defined by many of the major events in history since the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts in 1620. As a genealogist and family historian sometimes I think it's easy to look at individuals rather than our ancestry as a sum of many parts.

While my son's ancestors didn't come to America on the Mayflower, they did arrive in Rhode Island in 1633. They survived cold New England winters, disease, and deprivation. They later fought in the American Revolution and as the old saying goes saw the whites of the Red Coat's eyes at Bunker Hill, and after the colonies won their independence, settled along the Mohawk River Valley in New York where they farmed the land for the next two hundred years. As time progressed they watched Scots Irish immigrants come into the area to help construct the the Erie Canal with mule teams and watched factories spring up in the towns and cities that dotted the length of the Mohawk River.

Other ancestors populated Acadia, or Nova Scotia, during the seventeenth century until they were forcibly removed by the British during the Seven Years War or what Americans call the French and Indian War. Some of the ancestors expelled from Acadia eventually ended up in Louisiana, others managed to find their way back to French speaking Canada to resettle in Quebec. During the mid-nineteenth century some made their way to California to seek their fortune during the Gold Rush. Ancestors fought, were wounded, or died of disease during the Civil War. They participated in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. After the Civil War ancestors joined the great migration of immigrants from Canada to New England to work in the lumber camps of the Green Mountains and the mills of Massachusetts.

At the end of the nineteenth century another set of ancestors left their homeland in Europe. They left their families--mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters--behind and set off in search of a better life in America. They endured difficult conditions on ship and arrived at Ellis Island with the rest of the "yearning masses" also hoping for a better life in their new land. Immigrant ancestors found their way to the Midwest, to Chicago to work in low wage jobs in the steel industry. When they lost their home due to fire they made their way to Massachusetts to join other family members, also immigrants, in the steel mills. They worked long hours in difficult conditions to pursue the American dream.

During the twentieth century ancestors fought in World War I, World War II, and Korea. When both parents in one family died within two days of one another during the great flu pandemic of 1918, their children were adopted by family to become part of an extended family. Ancestors were affected by the crash of the stock market in 1929 and struggled with varying levels of success through the Great Depression. They participated in the Civilian Conservation Corps and joined the military.

One ancestor served his time in the military in the late 1930s and early 1940s, only to be discharged in November of 1941, eighteen days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He reenlisted in February of 1942, served in the Pacific theatre, and participated in the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, the Marshall Islands, and Okinawa. He survived. Another family member fought with Patton's army in the European theatre. He witnessed the liberation of Buchenwald. After World War II family displaced by the chaos of the war in Europe, lingered in a DP camp for years until they were finally able to make their way to a new life in the United States.

Our ancestors survived war, deprivation, and hardship. They survived childbirth when health care was rudimentary or nonexistent, and during times when mothers knew death from childbirth was an ever-present possibility. They suffered from small pox, rheumatic fever, whooping cough, flu, measles, mumps, and a host of diseases our children, thankfully, will never know. There were bad times, but there were of good times as well. They lived life the best they could given their circumstances. That's four hundred years of history in my son's ancestry. He IS my American experience. That's a lot of weight to carry on those little shoulders.

When you sit down to dinner with your family this Thanksgiving, think about the people that came before you. It doesn't matter if they were French, Irish, Polish, Italian, or African American. It's doesn't matter if they came on the Mayflower or not. They were the ultimate survivors. We are here because of them, and our lives are better because of them. I know I have a lot to be thankful for.

What's your American experience? Take some time to write about it, and then share it with your family over Thanksgiving dinner. Almost four hundred years of history should give you something to talk about. Now, please pass the gravy...


Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
Not So Wordless Wednesday: The View from Grandmother's House
Heritage Zen Dives In: NaBloPoMo

Holidays Are Like People...

Dinner at My House, Thanksgiving 2002
(This was originally written for the 112th Carnival of Genealogy in December of 2011. Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)  When I started thinking about our Carnival of Genealogy topic for December, Thanksgiving traditions, it occurred to me that my Thanksgiving holiday celebrations have changed over the years.

When I was little my family and I always had dinner at my aunt Helen Bulak's house.  Auntie Helen and my grandmother shared a duplex house in their later years.  Thanksgiving was always on Auntie's side of the house, and Easter was always on my grandmother's side of the house. Thanksgiving dinner included extended family and involved a fancy dinner table set with Auntie's Lenox china.  There was turkey, of course, a special Polish poultry dressing made with turkey or chicken livers (which for the longest time I did not like), mashed potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes, broccoli with Polish crumbs, gravy, cranberry sauce from a can, and apple pie with ice cream for dessert.  Auntie Helen always made the turkey while my mom and my grandmother supplied everything else.

One of my favorite things was and still is broccoli with Polish crumbs or "garnish Polonaise," as I heard Julia Child call it once.  Things always sound better in French, don't they?  Polish crum...oops...I mean "garnish Polonaise" is a garnish made from dried bread crumbs which are browned in butter in a pan on the stove top until they take on a toasted flavor and a crunchy texture.  Sprinkled over broccoli or most other vegetables they are delicious.  It's amazing how something so simple can liven up a dish!

As long as my dad and my grandmother were still with us we continued to celebrate Thanksgiving at home.  By 1990 Dad and Gram were both gone, and I was busy with work and graduate school.  Rather than cook dinner at home Mom and I decided to start having Thanksgiving dinner out, a tradition which we carried on for a number of years.  

After I had a family of my own I cooked dinner at our house.  I made the traditional favorites--turkey, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes, homemade cranberry-orange relish, and my personal favorite, stuffing.  Mom joined us for Thanksgiving for as long as she was physically able.  Mom died three years ago, so now we join my husband's family in upstate New York for the holiday.

Grandmother's House (My Mother-in-Law's Family Homestead, Photo Circa 1900)
I love Thanksgiving with my in-laws.  We usually have dinner at my sister-in-law's house.  She and her family still live on the old family homestead. My mother-in-law's Ladd ancestors built the house around 1800, and the Ladd family has lived there ever since.  Again, we have all the traditional dishes--turkey, stuffing, gravy, and cranberry-orange relish.  My mother-in-law is a pie baker of awesome talent.  She makes apple pie and butternut squash pie for dessert.  This year my son had fun helping Grandma make cranberry-orange relish!

I often think back to the wonderful Thanksgiving celebrations of my childhood.  I miss my parents and grandmother profoundly during the holidays.  My life has changed, but I enjoy Thanksgiving with my son and my husband and his family.  My in-laws are incredibly kind and welcoming. I feel like I'm part of their family now. 

Holidays are like people.  Time passes, and people change.  I've changed.  My Thanksgivings now aren't any better or any worse.  They are just different.

Submitted for the 112th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Reflecting On My American Experience this Thanksgiving
What the Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
Not So Wordless Wednesday: View From Grandmother's House
A Little Slice of Heaven

Hilda I. Bullock - Funeral Card Friday

(Digital Image. Funeral Card Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Text Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

Hilda I. Bullock
Died February 11, 1964
Age 59

I have a number of funeral cards in my possession.  I know all the the people named on all of the cards except for one, Hilda I. Bullock.  I figured she was a relative given the name, but I didn't know exactly what the connection was and never took the time to investigate. Tonight I decided to do a quick search on Ancestry and learned that Hilda was the wife of John F. Bullock [Bulak]. John was my grandmother's first cousin, the son of Adam and Maryanna (Bialobrzywska) Bulak.  I mention Maryanna in this post here.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: Joy and Sadness
Photo Story: Dad and a Mystery Solved
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me

Budlong Cemetery - Tombstone Tuesday


(Digital Image. Photograph Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photograph and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) We drive by this little cemetery in Schuyler, New York whenever we visit relatives in the area.  It intrigues me, because it looks like a place time forgot.  The cemetery is in the middle of a corn field.  My photo was taken last spring just after planting time.  You can see the little corn seedlings if you look closely.  By the end of summer tall corn stalks surround the cemetery, and in the winter the wind whips the barren, snowy field.  A list of people buried in the cemetery can be found here. The list refers to an earlier list which mentions the cemetery may be in East Schuyler, but the cemetery in my photo is actually in West Schuyler.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: Helping the Red Cross During World War I
Photo Story: Grandma and Grandpa Get Married
Tombstone Tuesday: Jacob Riis, Riverside Cemetery, Barre, MA
Walter Chamberlain Porter, Titanic Victim - Tombstone Tuesday 

The Life of a Doughboy, 1918 - Veterans Day

(This is one of my favorite posts and was originally written for Veteran's Day 2010.  Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette. Keep the Home Fires Burning, by Lena Gilbert Ford, Available Under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)

These photos were sent from my grandfather Adolf Szerejko to his then girlfriend, my grandmother Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko. My grandfather served in France during World War I.

On the back of the photo: "Augusta, GA 7-2-18"


Written on the train: "Going to GET the Kaiser, Scranton, Pa, US Aviation Section Regulars, Going to Germany to Berlin via France"

On the back of the photo: "Taken at Rocky Mountain South Carolina Adolf"

"Camp Greene Charlotte, NC."

On the back of the photo: "Those are my friends, front row from left to right J. Coyle (best) J. Erns. Percons. Szerejko At the back Anctile. Moore. Sanders. Four Irish, one French and the last man I don't know his nationality Adolf" The spelling may be off as the handwriting is very difficult to read.

" I'm next."

"Camp Greene, Charlotte N.C."

"Kolacja na "hike" (Dinner on the "hike")"

Written on the back: "What we got ourselves into"

"Camp Greene, Charlotte, NC."

Keep the Home Fires Burning ('Til the Boys Come Home)

Keep the home fires burning,
While your hearts are yearning.
Though your lads are far away,
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining,
Through the dark cloud shining,
Turn the dark clouds inside out
Till the boys come home.

Thank you veterans for your service. Happy Veterans Day!


Special Thanks To: Marek for his translation of the Polish into English.


Other Posts You Might Like:

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: WWI Red Cross Volunteers
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Wordless Wednesday: Dad, Somewhere Cold
Tuesday's Tip: "Ask a Librarian" Service at Your Public Library

Kids (And Adults) Say The Darndest Things, So Write Them Down!

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  Sometimes my kid makes me laugh.  The other night he said to my husband, "Wow, Mitt Romney is older than you!" Wow, indeed.  Another amusing moment came a while back when we were out to dinner.  My husband ordered extra broccoli with his entree. When our meals finally arrived my son said, "I don't even like being NEAR broccoli!"  Given that kids really do say the darndest things it has finally occurred to me to write some of this stuff down, and not just just the kid comments either.

My mom wasn't an overly funny person, but every once in a while she would come out with something that would just would crack me up.  One day when my son was about two or three he and I stopped by for a visit.  I don't remember exactly what my son did (He probably burped or pooped on command or something.), but whatever it was my mom was sure that he had just displayed absolute brilliance in doing it.  Mom said to me, "He's a genius!  I just know it!  Well, after all, his father is brilliant!  Oh...and you're smart, too, you know."  Gee, thanks Mom.  Glad I took the time to get that master's degree.

Another time, before I was married, my soon-to-be husband sent me some flowers or made some kind of romantic gesture or something.  Again, I don't remember exactly what, but whatever it was it impressed my mom enough to comment, "I don't know where you'd find another one like that one. He's not like those other clowns you dated."  Mom was never one to mince words, but in this particular case I'll admit she was right.  Oh, and if any of those aforementioned "clowns" ever happen to read this post, well, enough said.

Have you written down family comments for posterity?  If so, which comments did you choose and why?  I'm glad I finally thought of it.  Hey, I'm smart, too, you know...


Other Posts You Might Like:

Confessions of a Lunch Box Trader...
Leader of the Pack: My Life With Dogs
What The Dickens, Or How to Blow Up a Duck
What the Dickens 2, Or More Tales from Hell's Kitchen

Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) Thursday night I attended a presentation by Preservation Massachusetts where the list of Massachusetts most endangered historic resources for 2012 was announced.  It is an interesting list which includes many properties from central Massachusetts.  

What is surprising was the variety in the types of resources that made the list.  From the farm where Elsie the Cow (the Borden Dairy cow) lived in Brookfield, to an Art Deco theater in Worcester, to an abandoned fire station in the Quinsig Village neighborhood where my father grew up, it is an eclectic list:

Outbuildings at Elm Hill Farm, Brookfield
Durgin Garage, Brookline
Fitchburg City Hall
Herbert M. Farr Residence, Holyoke
North Brookfield Townhouse
Mechanics Hall, Princeton
Methodist Episcopal Church, Ware
Orchard House at 917 Belmont Street, Watertown
The Charles Bowker House, Worcester
The Palladium, Worcester
Quinsigamond Firehouse, Worcester

Preservation Massachusetts announces it's list of endangered properties annually to create awareness of threatened properties and resources.  There is a great summary and history of each property here.  I have also linked to images of each resource in case you are interested in seeing what a specific property looks like.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: Uncle Sam Calls
Walking Tour of Worcester - Wordless Wednesday
Where I Grew Up - Wordless Wednesday
Not So Wordless Wednesday: Cotter's Leather Goods
 

On the Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, November 9, 1989

Berlin Wall, Photo Taken from West Berlin,  June 6, 1982 
(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  I'll be the first to admit these photos are not in the best condition.  I took them on a trip when I traveled around Europe in May and June of 1982.  Of course my trip photos were special to me so I put them in one of those nasty magnetic photo albums to preserve them for posterity.  It seemed like a good idea at the time...

Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate, Taken from West Berlin, June 6, 1982
All in all I spent about a month in Europe, and probably a week of that time was spent in Germany.  We mainly visited West Germany but did drive through East Germany traveling through a variety of checkpoints to get to West Berlin where our tour group was staying.  We visited the Reichstag and the Munich Zoo among other places of interest, but my most vivid memory is not surprisingly of the Berlin Wall.  Three or four friends and I also took a day trip and crossed the border into East Berlin.  My trip was a long time ago, but I still remember going through Checkpoint Charlie.  The German guards were kids, about our age, with machine guns. 

Berlin Wall, Taken from West Berlin, June 6, 1982
I've wanted to post these photos for a while, and the anniversary of the fall of the wall seemed like a good date to finally do it.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: Three Brothers Stay in Poland (Part 2 of 3)
Photo Story: Three Brothers Stay in Poland (Part 3 of 3)
Amanuensis Monday: Clairvoyants and Distractions
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: The Play, Elizabeth

Auntie And The Bear - Wordless Wednesday


(Digital Images. Photographs Privately Held By Cynthia Shenette; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I will admit these photos of my aunt Helen Bulak crack me up.  Auntie wasn't exactly a laugh riot when I knew her so these photos seem a bit out of character.  I don't know for certain but I've always wondered if they were taken somewhere along the Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts.  The Mohawk Trail, a least when I traveled it with my family years ago, use to be known for it's kitschy roadside attractions.





Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: One Brother Disappeared...
The Opal Ring
Photo Story: Three Brothers Stay in Poland (Part 1 of 3)
Chopin Rising

The HerStory Scrapbook

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  Given that it is Election Day it seems like a good time to mention The HerStory Scrapbook.  The scrapbook chronicles the final four years of the Women's Suffrage Movement and includes more that 900 articles, opinion pieces, and letters which appeared in the New York Times between 1917 and 1920.  What I particularly like about this resource is that the writings are arranged in chronological order and reflect both sides of the issue--those for women's suffrage and those against.  The scrapbook is recommended by the American Historical Association (AHA) and the National Women's History Project.  You can read the AHA's review of the scrapbook here.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: Two Brothers Are Sent to America
What's In A Name? (An Ongoing Series): Radziewicz
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Alsatian Girls
The Stories My Grandmother Told Me

Massachusetts Real Estate Atlases Online

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I follow the blog of the Massachusetts State Library, and a while back they posted that the State Library has finished scanning a group of 45 real estate atlases covering communities in the state of Massachusetts.  You can find the original blog post here along with the link to the atlas database.

The database is great!  I've used the actual physical version of one of the atlases that is now online for my research any number of times at the library. While its nice to flip the pages by hand, it is also nice to now have access from home when the library is closed.  You can save the atlases you are interested in as a .pdf file and keep a copy on your computer's hard drive!


Other Posts You Might Like:

Photo Story: My Grandfather's Parents
Does Your Public Library Have a Vertical File? - Tuesday's Tip
Amanuensis Monday: Fail to Find Mother of Abandoned Child
Send Up A Flare, Again! More Mystery People Identified!

A Sanborn Map Surprise!

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I am currently taking a class to learn about historic architecture in Worcester, MA.  The other night in class we were looking at a variety of atlases and maps, including Sanborn Maps.  Sanborn Maps, for those who don't know, are fire insurance maps that give structure details for cities and town throughout the United States.  You will find a nice explanation of Sanborn Maps here.  

We were looking at a Sanborn Map for Worcester from the early 1970s.  I was surprised at the level of detail the map provided.  I turned the pages and found the map for the area of town where we lived when I was a kid.  I wasn't surprised to find our house or detached garage on the map, but I was surprised to find my play house! There were also a couple of other smaller structures noted on our property as well--a fireplace and a shed.  My play house was originally a chicken coop, and it was pretty small.  You can see a photo of it in the background here.

I also looked at some of the other houses in the neighborhood, and I noticed the small factory building behind what was once my Aunt Rose's house. The building is still there, and I am sure the current residents of the house and their neighbors have wondered what that building was used for. Aunt Rose and her husband manufactured hand cream.  The Sanborn Map had the outline of the structure and hand cream factory written on the map!

If you are looking for information about an old home or ancestral property or just want to know what the heck that old building in the back yard was used for take a look at a Sanborn Map! You might be surprised at what you find!


Other Posts You Might Like:

Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
The Rope Pull - Wordless Wednesday
My Family Tree: A Literal Interpretation
Fascinating Ladies

MACRIS Database

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) Did your ancestors ever live in Massachusetts, and have you ever wanted to research their ancestral home, school, workplace, or other place of significance?  I learned about a database that might be of use to you.  The Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS)  of the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) is a great database that offers a wealth of information on historic properties and areas in Massachusetts.  It doesn't include information on all historic properties, nor does it contain all the information on file with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, but still has an amazing amount of information and is well worth checking out.  

You can narrow your search by town, neighborhood, street, etc.  It includes residential properties, historical districts, as well as places of business.   An example is the record for the Nelson Place Grade School I attended in Worcester.  The MHC inventory sheet is available which offers a great deal of information about the structure.  There is a photo and this particular record even included copies of the building permits.  

Check it out!


Other Post You Might Like:

Photo Story: New In America
The Psychic Next Door (Part 1 of 2)
October is Polish-American Heritage Month! - Wordless Wednesday
Catechists, Our Lady of Czestochowa - Wordless Wednesday


NaBloPoMo 2012

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) It's that time of year again!  November is National Blog Posting Month.  I participated last year, and it was quite a challenge!  I didn't really know if I could post daily for the month of November, but somehow I managed to pull it off.  I'm going to give it a go again.  I've been debating about this for a while, trying to decide if I had the time.  The fact is I never have the time for anything really, and so I can't use that as an excuse.  

I've been working on a number of research projects, organizing my genealogy materials, taking a class on historical architecture, networking, and applying for jobs, so I've had to cut back on my blogging for a bit over the last few months.  Thankfully, I am happy to report that my hard work has paid off!  I am feeling a bit more organized, worked on some interesting projects, learned a lot, made some good connections AND (here's the kicker) have a new job!  After being a stay-at-home mom for the last ten years I'm getting back into library work and will be working as a part-time as reference and instruction librarian at a local college!  WooHoo!  Who says I don't have time?!?  I figure NaBloPoMo is a good way to beef up my blog archive for 2012 and get me back into the habit of posting regularly again.

Last year I spent the month blogging about my family history.  I told a hundred years of my family history in a month of daily posts.  I've been trying to decide what to write about this year.  Initially I planned to have a theme (Anyone who knows me knows there's nothing I love more than a good theme...), but I've decided to take a risk and go theme-less.  Over the last few months I've read a number of good books, attended some great workshops, discovered interesting databases, etc. and keep thinking I should write about them, but never seem to get around to it.  NaBloPoMo seems to offer the right opportunity to follow up on these things and share with others.  I plan to make my posts short, just long enough to encourage myself to get them done and get the information out there.

Well, here we go, and as a beloved chorus conductor I had use to say at the beginning of a particularly challenging piece of choral music, "I'll see you at the end!"  


Other Posts You Might Like: 

Heritage Zen Dives In: NaBloPoMo!
Photo Story: Grandma and Grandpa Meet - Wordless Wednesday
A Matter of Habit: Solving a Mystery
Wordless Wednesday: Fall Weekends in New England

Happy Halloween! - Wordless Wednesday

My in-laws' kitty, L.T., trying on his Halloween costume!
(Digital Image. Photograph and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)  I've decided to wish you all a Happy Halloween before we lose power from the "Frankenstorm."  Given that we've lost power from lesser storms than this one I suspect it's just a matter of time before we go down. 

Stay safe everyone!


Other Posts You Might Like:

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Polka Time!
The Psychic Next Door (Part 1 of 2)
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, And...
Not So Wordless Wednesday: It's Costume Month at Heritage Zen!

Confessions of a Lunch Box Trader...

(This post was originally written in September 2010; Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette)

"But mom, juice boxes are so kindergarten."

So said my son a while back. Who knew? I wondered why he kept bringing juice boxes home in his lunch box every day rather than drinking them. Apparently, when you're in second grade, squishy pack drinks are way more cool. Sometimes I have trouble trying to keep up with what's in and what's out snack-wise, AND keep it healthy. "Flavor Blasted" Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, in. Regular Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, out. Sweets, in. Yogurt, out. Fruit, definitely out. How can I compete? "Mom, did you know Johnny has a Cosmic Brownie for morning snack. A Cosmic Brownie," he adds for emphasis. At 10:20 in the morning? I don't think so. "But mom, they're cosmic." Yeah, right. They might be cosmic but they're not gonna happen, and certainly not at 10:20 in the morning.

Believe me, I feel his pain. You see, I was a lunch box trader. There, I said it. You probably knew a kid like me--the pathetic kid with the apple. Yup, that was me. I was the kid sitting at that table in the gymacafatorium with my bruised apple rolling around at the bottom of my metal Peanuts lunch box. Squished tuna sandwich wrapped in wax paper. No mayo. Frozen milk bought at school. No soda for this kid. Mom was a woman ahead of her time. She wanted me to be healthy. I just wanted a Twinkie. Oh, how I envied those kids with the Twinkies. Why couldn't I have a Twinkie like everyone else?

Years later, when I was in my twenties, I finally confessed to my mom about the trading thing. She was shocked. Shocked! "Some kid was perfectly happy to get that apple," she said. Frankly, I could never figure out why anybody wanted my apple. Actually, I still can't. Even today, given the choice of a Twinkie or an apple, I'd go with the Twinkie in a heartbeat if I didn't know any better. Today we have cholesterol. Ah, those innocent days of youth.

I hate to admit it, but yes, I've become my mother. Once I became a mom I knew it was just a matter of time. I hear stuff coming out of my mouth that my mother use to say. And despite that, NO, my son will NOT be taking a Cosmic Brownie for morning snack. I don't care if everyone does it. NO Cosmic Brownie. End of story.

What was in your lunch box? Were you the apple, or were you the Twinkie? I really want to know...

Submitted for the 122nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.


Other Posts You Might Like:

Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3) - Amanuensis Monday
The Psychic Next Door (Part 1 of 2)
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Polka Time!
Amanuensis Monday: Clairvoyants and Distractions

Leader Of The Pack: My Life With Dogs

Me and Tippy
(Digital Images. Original Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)What is it about dogs that appeals to us?  They shed, they barf, they eat disgusting things..and don't even get me started about the inappropriate sniffing.

I love my dog.  And yes, she's MY dog.

"Do you know what YOUR dog did?" my husband always asks.  YOUR dog.

"How come she's always MY dog when she's done something wrong?"

"She's always YOUR dog," is the usual response.

Just because there's an empty tuna can and a shoe in my bed does not automatically mean we need to blame the dog.  Hey, it could have been a cat.  My husband is always a little too eager to blame MY dog.  He's a cat person.  You know how they are.

I love my dog, but I will be the first to admit she's not going to win any intelligence contests.  Let's just say if it was up to her to save the day, little Timmy wouldn't be getting out of that well any time soon.  And while she did manage to receive her Basic Obedience Diploma my husband is convinced it was a classic case of grade inflation. What she might lack in brains she does make up for in beauty.  You know how they say some people resemble their dogs?  I should be so lucky.  If I did I'd be tall, thin, and blond.

As far as she is concerned I am clearly the leader of the pack.  My husband's theory is that it's because I picked her up from the dog rescue transport and brought her home.  I SAVED her.  I'm convinced it's because she hears me issuing the same series of commands to my husband and son. No!  Off!  Sit!  Down!  Out!  Eat!  Car!  Clearly, I am in charge.

So when did my love affair with dogs begin?

I was four when I got my first dog, Tippy.   She was a mutt, half beagle and half standard poodle.  Of course this was back in the day when we still called them mutts. Now we have "designer dogs" (which are essentially the same thing but with a higher price tag).  I remember my mom put a big cardboard box on the floor in the back seat of our station wagon for the puppy, and then she and my dad and I drove to some mysterious, pre-determined location to pick out our dog.

I don't remember the puppy place specifically, it's more of a vague recollection.  I do remember the puppies though!  Oh, my goodness, they were cute!  There was a litter of tortoise-shell-colored, beagley-looking puppies!  Puppies were everywhere, jumping and wagging their stubby little tails!  I remember sitting on the floor with puppies in my lap and puppies all around me begging for attention.  I played with them until my parents decided which puppy was to come home with us.  I wanted them all!

Tippy was a wonderful dog.  Brilliant really.  Thankfully, she inherited the poodle brain (Sorry beagle people, but you know what I'm talking about...) For eleven years Tippy was my best friend.  We did everything together.  I didn't need a leash--she stayed right by my side.  We had a give and take relationship.  I played ball with her, and she let me dress her up in sunglasses and a hat.  I was the leader of her pack.  Even with living in the city my mom always said she never worried about my being outside alone if Tippy was with me.  She knew that dog would never let anything happen to me.  When someone smashed a window and tried to break into our house once they never made it past the outside back door.  Or when I had a bad day or was picked on by some mean bully at school I knew I could talk to her about it even if I couldn't tell my mom or my dad.

Sometimes I think the world would be a better place if people were more like dogs.  Dogs don't care what you look like.  They don't care what color you are or what religion you are.  They don't care if you can't walk or can't see.  If you feed them and love them and throw them a ball once in a while you've got a friend for life.  I still miss Tippy.  Even after all of these years she still has a special place in my heart.

My Girl, Fall 2007
Well, here's my girl!  She's an honest to goodness butt-sniffing, poop-eating, chipmunk-chasing dog.  But given the frantic reception I get every time I walk through the front door I know there is no one at that particular moment in time who loves me more than MY dog.  She might not exactly be Lassie, but hey, I'm not exactly Heidi Klum either.

Now, it's time for a walk.  Come here, girl!


Other Posts You Might Like:

A Comedy of Errors: My Family in the Census (Part 1 of 3)
Meditation: The Strength of Ordinary Women
2011 Favorites in Review: And The iGene Goes To...
Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)

Sightseeing Around Civil War Richmond, Virginia

Lincoln Statue at the
Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center 

(Digital Images; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

Last year and earlier this year my husband spent some time working in Richmond, Virginia. My son and I took several trips to Richmond while my husband was there.  We all loved Richmond!  There was lots to see and do! While my son loved the Science Museum of Virginia I was interested in the area because of my Civil War ancestors.

My great-grandfather, Francois Chenette (1813-1886), was a Civil War soldier.  He and his son, also named Francois (1845-1864) both enlisted in the Union Army in Woodstock, Vermont on 10 Dec 1963 and mustered in on 16 Dec 1863.  Francois Sr. was 50 years old at the time and his son Francois was 18.  I found it interesting that Francois Sr. gave his age as 44 at the time of enlistment!  Both father and son served in the 11th Vermont Infantry, Company K.  Francois Sr. was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Sadly young Francois died of disease in Strasburg, Virginia on 03 Nov 1864 and was buried at Bragg's Farm.  Francois Jr.'s body was later moved to the Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia where my family and I visited his grave several years ago on our drive home from Charleston, South Carolina.  Francois Sr. transferred to Company A on 24 Jun 1865, and he mustered out on 29 Jun 1865.

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar

Not surprisingly one of the items on my agenda was to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield. While my husband was at work my son and I stopped at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the visitor center for the Richmond National Battlefield Park at the Tredegar Iron Works which was only a short distance from our hotel in downtown Richmond.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The iron works was quiet on the day we visited.  If you look at the sky in my photos you can see the storm clouds in the background that preceded Hurricane Irene which hit Virginia while we were in Richmond.  My then eight-year-old son was initially less than excited about the iron works, but one of the park rangers did an amazing job at keeping him entertained with a scavenger hunt activity while I looked around the visitor center.  We also discovered the gift shop sold a set of Civil War silly bandz (Remember those?) which included a silly band of Abraham Lincoln's profile, so thankfully the day wasn't a total write off at least as far as my son was concerned.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The Tredegar Iron Works was the largest iron works in the south during the Civil War and survived the burning of Richmond relatively unscathed.  You can see a great vintage photo here.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

I'd wanted to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield for quite some time. Unfortunately when we did finally visit the battlefield was closed due to damage from the hurricane which knocked trees down all around the area. While we were not able to drive through on the driving tour because of downed trees, we did take some time to walk around on the grounds near the small visitor's center.  I was a bit disappointed (My son was not...) that we were not able to do the driving tour.  It was interesting none-the-less to see the area where my great-grandfather fought and was wounded on 01 Jun 1864.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

The fields were lovely and serene the day we visited with a bright blue sky, the literal calm after the storm, and while the visit to Cold Harbor probably wasn't high on my son's "things to do list" he does know that his ancestors fought in the war.  It really is amazing to think that he is only four generations removed from a Civil War ancestor!  The battlefield visit might not have been the most exciting way for him to spend a day in Richmond, but I sure bet he'll have something to talk about when his class finally does get around to learning about the Civil War in school!

Cold Harbor Battlefield



Other Posts You Might Like:

Books of Interest: The Life of Billy Yank
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)
The Shenette Family - Wordless Wednesday

Grandma, Two Kittens, and One Little Boy - Wordless Wednesday


(Digital Image; Photograph and Text Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I love this photograph of my grandmother, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko.  It's the only candid photo I have of her as a child.  I don't know exactly how old she is in the photo, but my guess is about 11 or 12 which means the photograph was probably taken about 1907 or 1908.  I have no idea who the little boy is.  A cousin or neighbor perhaps?


Other Posts You Might Like:

Making Hay - Wordless Wednesday
Happy Labor Day!
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, And...
Tuesday's Tip: A Tale of Two Indexers

My Garden 2012 - Wordless Wednesday

Green Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, and
Cherry Tomatoes
(Digital Images; Text and Photographs, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) I was hoping to blog more over the summer, but as you can see I've been a bit busy. Right now I'm up to my eyeballs in peppers and cherry tomatoes!  Thank goodness the zucchini and cucumbers are done.  I love fresh veggies, but why do they all have to come at once?  We are eating cherry tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

This past weekend I spent two days canning with my mother-in-law (whose in her eighth decade I might add), and she helped me can pepper relish and make pickled jalapenos and jalapeno jam.  She also made enough stuffed peppers to fill an entire turkey roaster pan!  I honestly don't know what I would have done without her.  I still have lots of peppers coming, so if you have any good recipes that use peppers (or cherry tomatoes) I'd love to hear from you!

Zinnias

My Veggie and Annual Garden

Glads, Zinnias, and Dahlias

My Veggie and Annual Garden, Again

More Zinnias!

Cherry Tomatoes, Nasturtiums, and the
Last Zucchini (Thank Goodness!)  



Other Posts You Might Like:

It's Cheaper Than Therapy, Or My Garden 2011 - Wordless Wednesday
A Window in Time, April 11, 1940
Wordless Wednesday: Glorious Gladioli!
Flower Girls - Wordless Wednesday