Thursday, January 27, 2011

Holocaust Memorial Day: A Bittersweet Task

I was not aware that today is Holocaust Memorial Day. As someone who has met Holocaust survivors and visited several concentration camps, including Auschwitz, I thought it would be appropriate to link a post from earlier this month. If you missed it, take the time to read this post.

Note:  Helen (the young girl in the picture) lost her Polish father and older brother to the Holocaust.  Her father was a newspaper publisher killed with 440 Polish "intellectuals."  They were not Jewish. Her older brother was arrested with her father and sent to Auschwitz.  He was released a year later in such a weakened state that he died at age 22.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mom and Dad's Wedding Anniversary

Margaret Ann, Evelyn, Virginia, Johnny, and Jim
Sixty-three years ago today on January 24th, 1948, my parents were married. It was probably a day very much like today. We have a light snow here in Cincinnati. Pictured above is my Mom and Dad celebrating their 25th Anniversary with members of their original wedding party. My mother is wearing her wedding dress -- 25 years and seven children later. What I wouldn't give to have legs that look like that!

Pictured at the left is the original wedding party. My grandmother made all of the bridesmaid dresses for this and the two other weddings that were to take place within a five-month period.

In an earlier post, I discussed how my non-Catholic father and Catholic mother got married at St. James Church in Wyoming.  They had a "Mass".  Little did I know that I was going to have to have a "discussion" with my 5th grade religion teacher, Sr. Mary Alice, about how this was not possible -- it was against canon law.  It's amazing that that memory still sticks with me because it was probably the first time when I would not back down from an authority figure in my life -- especially a nun.  One of my cousins recently gave me a copy of the booklet that was used at their wedding. It gave me some pleasure to see this.

Mom and Dad have seven children, fifteen grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. As of this writing, we are anticipating three more great-grandchildren, including for the first time, a set of twins. I hope they are watching us. Happy Anniversary!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History - Week 4 - Home

I love the challenge of discovering information about my ancestors.  I know my own history -- so it just doesn't seem important to record any of it.  But who better to tell my story than me?  I might as well give a "leg up" to those who may follow in my path.

I linked my blog to a group of blogs focused on family history called Geneabloggers (logo and link found on the right-hand menu).  During 2011, writing prompts will be suggested for us to share our own personal histories.  This week's prompt caught my eye. The challenge this week:  Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today? 

This prompt immediately triggered some early memories for me -- so Zippy and I piled into the car in 8 degree weather and traveled to 6 Elm Street, Wyoming -- the location of the apartment my parents shared after their marriage.  It was my first home. 

I have no recollection of living here.  What I do remember, however, is my mother's stories of how difficult it was for her to do the wash.  They lived on the second floor.  Apparently she would carry the laundry in a basket down the back steps.  This task was difficult enough when she had just me, but remember -- my brother, Tom, came along less than a year later.  I recall her describing her dilemma.  If she took Tom and the laundry down and left me up there, I would scream.  If she took me down first and then returned to get Tom and the laundry -- again, I would cry -- and I was mobile.  Here is a picture of the back steps.

Kath and Tom on Grandma's Front Steps
As I think back, I don't remember Mom discussing a solution, but obviously it could not be solved without another pair of hands. Eventually, it was solved by a move into a new home in Golf Manor.

2516 Ardmore Ave., Golf Manor, in 2011

This would be the home of my youth. This house was typical of those built after World War II to accommodate the returning veterans and their "Baby Boomer" children. I lived here from the age of two to the age of 10. We moved into this three-bedroom home with two children and left after the 6th child, Dan was born. I have so many fond memories -- worthy of a whole separate post.

So let me finish this post with one recollection that impacted this ten-year old when we were preparing to move on to Pleasant Ridge. When I was in school, they gave us a forsythia bush (or should I say twig) to take home and plant for Arbor Day. "My" bush is pictured on the left of the house, covered in snow. I could not for the life of me understand why I was not being allowed to dig up and take "my" bush with me to Pleasant Ridge. It made me smile to see that more than fifty years later, "my" bush is still there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music of Our Parents - True Love

Background:  Shadowhouse Creations

My parents, Johnny Jones and Ginnie Ryan, married 63 years ago on January 24th, 1948.  As mentioned in an earlier post, they were part of the post-war group of brides and grooms who were later responsible for the "Baby Boom."  My mother and her two sisters, Evelyn and Florence, all got married between January and May of 1948.  Evelyn was actually the first to get engaged, but she felt that, as the oldest, my mother should get married first.  Therefore, my Mom and Dad had to "get it together" and schedule a date before Evelyn's planned April wedding.

It snowed that January 24th, and my mother used to say that there was a movie out at the time called The Bride Wore Boots.  Sure enough, a search of Wikipedia came up with a review of a 1946 romantic comedy staring Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Cummings -- not the most memorable film.

But this is one in a series of posts that discusses the music of our parents -- songs that are etched into the collective memories of the "Big Kids."  One of my favorites is a song called True LoveI found out that this song, written by Cole Porter, was featured in a 1956 film called High SocietyIt starred Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra.  The lyrics were simple.

True Love
Sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly
Suntanned, windblown
Honeymooners at last alone
Feeling far above par
Oh, how lucky we are
While I give to you and you give to me
True love, true love
So on and on it will always be
True love, true love
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothing to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever true
For you and I have a guardian angel
On high, with nothin' to do
But to give to you and to give to me
Love forever true
Love forever true

"True Love" earned Grace Kelly (Later "Princess Grace of Monaco") her first and only gold record. It earned Bing his 21st.  (Credit:  Oldie Lyrics)

I put together a photoshow that features the marriage of Charles McCafferty and Evelyn Ryan.  It is accompanied by this beautiful song.  To hear it, click on this link:  McCafferty Memories

To see a clip of the movie with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, view this youtube clip.  I love the sailboat.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Vargas and the Reeds

Standing:  Imre, Ildiko, Bill, Kath, Zippy    Sitting:  Roland, Ian and Liz

At least once a year, our grandson's NagyMama and NagyPapa (Grandma and Grandpa in Hungarian) come to visit their son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. We always try to come visit them while they are in town. Yesterday was such a day.

Our beautiful grandson, Ian, has six grandparents: Imre and Ildi Varga, Bill and Kathy Reed and Robert and Janet Hellmann. This is one of the consequences of divorce. But what a lucky kid! When my daughter was born, she only had one living grandparent. Ian is the "only" grandchild of six doting grandparents.

Roland's parents live in Caracas, Venezuela. However, they were both born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. During the time of the Communist takeover of their country, they were able to leave, living in the United States and eventually Venezuela. There is a whole separate story on why they were unable to remain in the U.S.

Unfortunately, after years of living under Hugo Chavez, they've watched their adopted country have many similarities to the country of their birth. We don't get a lot of Venezuelan coverage in the United States, but it is a country that is moving rapidly toward Cuban-style Communism. The Vargas, having lived through this process once before, were early to recognize the "slippery slope" to Communism. It is painful for them.

At least once a year, however, they get to visit their grandson -- the light of everyone's eyes. Ian is unusually verbal for a 2 1/2 year old. The accents of his grandparents seem to be of no concern to him. Yesterday, I'm told, he said to his NagyMama, "Por favor, mas manzana." (Please, can I have more apple)? His Hungarian grandparents, and his father, are trilingual.

Ildi, Ian and Imre Varga

We enjoyed a wonderful dinner, some great wine, brushed up on our language skills and rejoiced in the grandson who has our children as his parents. I look forward to our next visit.

As I type this, it is a typical Cincinnati January Sunday, and I am enjoying a fire in the fireplace.  Can things get much better?


Music of Our Parents - Que Sera, Sera

My mother liked to sing. As mentioned in an earlier post, I always assumed that the songs my parents sang were "old" songs -- not contemporary ones. My mother often sang Doris Day's song, Que Sera, Sera. There was a story that went along with this song. Doris Day, although not in my mother's class, went to the same high school as my mother and her sisters. The high school was Our Lady of the Angels, or O.L.A. located in St. Bernard. It was an all girls' school that in the present day has been combined with the boys' school, Roger Bacon.

Virginia, Evelyn and Florence at O.L.A.

My mother and her sisters all played in the O.L.A. band. Mom played the clarinet, Evelyn played trumpet, and Florence played the sax for a while.  Aunt Evelyn said they convinced Florence to switch to bells, because they needed another petite girl on the bells to match the other bell player.

I learned a lot about the song. According to Songfacts:

"This became Doris Day's biggest hit and her signature song, but she didn't want to record it because she thought of it as a children's song. Livingston explained in Zollo's interview: "She didn't want to record it but the studio pressured her. She did it in one take and said, 'That's the last you're going to hear of this song.'"

In fact, the song went on to win the 1956 Oscar for Best Song.  It also became the theme song for her sitcom The Doris Day Show, which ran from 1968-73.

Here are the lyrics to the song:

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

When I was young, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

I like the sentiment of this song because it reminds me (a Control Freak) that you can't control everything about your life.  To some extent, what will be, will be. You can download it for $0.99 at Amazon at this link:  Que Sera, Sera 

Later I hope to add a photoshow link so you can hear the whole song and take a flight back to the 50's.

Note:  Doris Day was born Doris Kappelhoff.  She was the granddaughter of four German immigrants.  She grew up in Evanston (Cincinnati, Ohio).  There is some discrepancy about the year of her birth.  Based on the Census, she would have been born in 1923.  My mother, born in 1922, was in the O.L.A. class of 1940.  Aunt Evelyn was in the class of 1942.  According to an interview with Doris Day's son, her mother dropped out of O.L.A. at the age of 16 to pursue her career. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's Karen's Birthday!

Karen is my only sister.  We have five brothers.  So you'd think we'd be "bosom buds" from the beginning.  Nope!!!  When Karen was born, she was the 4th child born to my parents in less than four years!  I was the oldest -- getting to be the "only" child for 11 months and one week.  Mom called Tom and me "Irish twins" which was apparently a term applied to two siblings born with less than a year between them.  Then came Tim.  And then -- Karen.

I'm sure I was thrilled with the "idea" of having a sister, but the "reality" was something different.  One of my earliest memories with Karen (one she's heard about numerous times) was when Mom asked me to take Karen out to play with the neighborhood kids.  Are you kidding me?  I was about five, a tomboy, and there was no way I wanted to take this kid with me and have her cramp my style.  I literally, and guiltily, recall dragging that sweet little girl down the street angry that this little toddler couldn't keep up.  What's worse is, if I recall correctly, Karen was so happy just to be outside.

Then there was jealousy.  Karen was obviously Dad's "favorite."  Ask anybody.  He called her "Buppy Beeple."  Karen always had these beautiful finger curls and sure knew how to use them to her advantage.  Never mind that I had Mom in my corner -- I wanted it all.

For the first years of our lives, not only did we share a bedroom, but we shared a bed.  We got pretty good at setting up little barriers defining "my side" of the bed.  As we grew older and had cleaning responsibilities, we each had SEPARATE tasks.  That was critical.  I was a bit of a neat freak (I know, it's hard to believe now), and thought Karen was a slob.  We used to get into these arguments and slap each other. 

So where are we now . . .

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful sister.  Unfortunately, since our young adulthood, we have been separated by many miles.  I found myself smiling as I typed the above description, realizing how things have changed over the years.

Karen is one of the "Big Kids" -- the four of us that were born in the first four years.  The memories we have of our childhood differ so much from those of the "Little Kids".  As adults we've been able to laugh about how "Dad liked you better" but "Mom liked you better."  We are grateful to have at least one other female among the "Jones Boys."  Neither of us loves to clean our house.

Kath, Tim, Tom, Ted and Karen
I think of Karen with love and affection.  It was such a pleasure to look through the old picture albums and be reminded of our youth.  Only siblings can share the memories with you -- and I am grateful for every one of mine.

There is a lot I could have written about Karen, but I think I'll wait until next year to write about our "older" selves.  Just know, Karen, that I'm so glad that you are my sister.

I love the picture below of you, Terry, and Peggy. I'm guessing you were about seven, since you are missing your front teeth.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Ancestor Approved Award

As mentioned in the previous post, I received the "Ancestor Approved" Award at the recommendation of a fellow blogger.  Those who receive it are asked to identify other blogs that they've enjoyed reading and pass the award on.  Here is my list of nominees:

Pete at A Brummie Family Tree
Susan at Echo Hill Ancestors Weblog
Suzie at No More Wriggling Out of Writing Woman
Carol at Our Scottish Heritage
Adam at Please Don't Eat Sushi
Jane at Sassy Jane Genealogy
Susan at Layers of the Onion
Gini at Ginisology
Sherry at Family Tree Writer
Marilyn at The Family Face

It's been such a pleasure to check out your blog.  I'm learning from each of you every day.


I'm "Ancestor Approved"

A couple of months ago, I linked my blog to "Geneabloggers," a group of bloggers dedicated to sharing their family histories.  As a result, I've had many more readers besides my immediate family.  In addition, I've been able to get new ideas from other bloggers I've been reading who approach the same task in many different ways.

Yesterday I found out that Jenn, of Roots and Stones, had selected my blog to receive the "Ancestor Approved" Award. The
"Ancestor Approved" Award was created in March 2010 by Leslie Ann Ballou of Ancestors Live Here as a way to show how much she appreciates and enjoys "blogs full of tips and tricks as well as funny and heartwarming stories..."

Recipients are to list ten things which surprised, humbled or enlightened them about their ancestors, before passing it on to ten other bloggers.  After 10 years, now is probably a good time to reflect on what I've learned, so here is my list.
  1. I was surprised to discover that the Jones Family ancestry in America extends back to pre-Revolutionary War times.  We could be members of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  You can read about Vincent Wainwright in this post.  Click on Wainwrights and the Revolutionary War
  2. I didn't realize the degree of poverty experienced by both my German and Irish ancestors.  The Vonderheides were "Heuerleute" or non-landowning peasants who shared living space with farm animals. See Past vs. Present - Part I  The Ryans left Ireland at the height of the Irish Potato Famine.  America wasn't much better.  Hugh Ryan initially made his living as a "brickmaker" in Evansville, Indiana -- an occupation described on one web site as "slave." See Hugh Matthew Ryan and Mary Ellen McInerney
  3. I always said that I came from a long line of strong women.  However, I had no idea how difficult life was for three young widows in my line.  Among these women are Rosa Gross, Lucy Cronin, and Rose Ryan.  
  4. I am amazed by what I did not know about my own grandfathers.  "Fred" Jones ran a "tight ship" when it came to his "car barn" -- a maintenance facility for streetcars (and later buses).  He received numerous awards and recognitions.  See Modesty.  I was also unaware that my maternal grandfather, Roy Ryan, was such a proficient "duplicator."  According to Aunt Evelyn, her father could retrieve toys and other items that had been placed out in the trash and restore them to "like new" condition.  He particularly did this during the Depression.  It should also be noted that he had to drop out of school to help support his family when he was just 13 years old and his father died of pneumonia. See Roy Ryan - Part I
  5. I did not realize that I have six ancestors who served in the Civil War.  I've written at length about Britton Wainright, but I've since discovered five other ancestors who served.  I am currently preparing materials to add to the blog on each of them.
  6. I'm amazed at the integral role that the Ohio River and boating has played in the history of my family.  Four generations of Joneses have lived within a couple of blocks of the Ohio River.  Boats have been a part of every Jones generation.  One of my goals is to write a separate blog on this topic.
  7. Genealogy is NOT a solitary hobby.  Researching my family history has enabled me to reconnect with several of my cousins and find new cousins who have played an integral role in my research.  Cousins I've "discovered" include:  Martha Darby Rutter, Barbara Pharo, Betty Hodges Arnett and numerous Vonderheides.
  8. I had no idea that my grandmother, Norine Dailey Cronin Jones, was raised in an orphanage in northern Kentucky.
  9. Researching my family has encouraged me to travel to my "homelands."  Bill and I have traveled to Germany, Ireland, and Hungary to visit the homelands of our ancestors and the homeland of our son-in-law's family.
  10. I've discovered how much I like to write.  Last year I submitted two articles to Writing Contests sponsored by the Ohio Genealogical Society.  Both were published.  I recently submitted a new article for consideration this year.
    Our ancestors could not have imagined the largely healthy, happy and productive Joneses that would descend from them. Although I've posted this picture before, I think it is appropriate to post it again. 

    Jones Family, Christmas 2010

    On the next post, I will nominate 10 more family history bloggers for the "Ancestor Approved" Award. Thanks again, Jenn, for thinking of me.


    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    A Bittersweet Task

    Take a good look at this picture.  Then imagine that the two twin girls and their mother were exterminated by the Nazis during World War II.  Their older brother managed to survive by joining the Russian Army.  Does he have a story to tell.

    For over a year, I've expressed an interest in preserving the history of this family before it is lost.  About a week ago, I received a 60-page document and almost 90 pictures of the survivors and non-survivors of this family.   I don't want to identify the family without permission -- other than to say that they were a Jewish family from Poland.  It wasn't only the Jews who suffered. 

    Murdered Polish Intellectual
    Pictured at the left is a non-Jew who was murdered along with 440 other Polish intellectuals.  He was the father of the woman my friend eventually married. His crime was running the local newspaper. Her brother was arrested at the same time as her father.  Her brother was eventually liberated from Auschwitz.  However, he was so sick that he did not live out the year, dying at the age of 22.
    Taking on this project has been difficult.  For two days I scanned in picture after picture of people who were killed for no reason.  Yet the man who shared the pictures with me is one of the most optimistic people I have ever met.  Despite a life that is beyond my ability to comprehend, I have never been with him when he didn't appear to be upbeat.  He is a survivor -- one who eventually lived the American dream.  His family is scattered throughout the world with surviving relatives starting over in Sweden, Uruguay, Israel, France, and surprisingly, Poland.

    As we begin this new year, I hope that all of us will take the time to reflect on what is really important to us and consider what our contribution can be as citizens of the world.  We have to be on guard against prejudice, bigotry, and scapegoating.   We have to take the vow:  Never Again!

    Note:  Louis Weisser has given me permission to post this story.  He has also recorded his story for the Holocaust Museum.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    New Years Day 2011

    New Years Day is always special for me.  Twenty-four years ago my husband had the foresight to choose January 1st as our wedding day.  He thought it was a good idea to pick a date we would not forget. Both of us had been married before and each of us had a child from a previous marriage.

    For us, at least, getting married the second time was nothing like the first.  Instead of a big wedding, we got married in front of the fireplace at my mother's house.  Only family and a couple of really close friends attended.  Even the judge was a personal friend of my husband.

    Bill and I had been together for 5 1/2 years and were in no hurry to get married again. I had been divorced since my daughter was a year old.  Bill and I started dating before my daughter was three years old (his daughter was an adult).   By now both of us owned our own homes and life was pretty good.

    Liz, Ian and the Train
    A few weeks before the wedding, Bill and I went shopping to find a train to give my daughter for Christmas.  Over a bowl of chili, we discussed the pros and cons of getting married.  We were getting tired of two lawns to cut, two utility bills and duplicates of every device.  Driving back and forth was becoming more and more of a hassle, so in a weak moment, it seemed as if the pros outweighed the cons.

    We had a dog, Scruffy, who had been a stray.  He was one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs.  More than once Bill suggested that we get married, supposedly so he could have Scruffy.  Even the dog got depressed when he went home.

    Today is our 24th wedding anniversary!  We didn't do anything special because Bill is suffering from a pretty bad cold.  I decided to pull out the wedding pictures.  Once again I was shocked at the changes over 24 years.

    Julie, Frances, Bill, Kath, Virginia, and Liz
    Twenty-four years ago both of our mothers were alive.  My daughter was a little girl. How life has changed.  Even Scruffy, who served as the "Best Man", was still alive. 

    So I asked my husband whether or not he has any regrets. He says he does not.  I can honestly say that both of us are happy with the commitment we made on January 1, 1987. 

    Given our ages and some health problems we've both experienced along the way, neither of us takes anything for granted.  Yet we are grateful -- for each other and the lives we've shared.

    I wish all of you a Happy New Year 2011!   We'll see where it takes us.

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