Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 3, 2012 Ornaments

I usually write about my family memories but this year I thought I would share my special Hawaiian  ornaments. I love the islands and I wanted to celebrate the Aloha spirit during Christmas. Each year, so my collection of ornaments grows.  We now have enough so we can have a true luau around our little bamboo tree.  I love to take my little Ohana with me to work and share the Aloha.  It always bring smiles to everyone and brightens the day.  Mele Kalikimaka!

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 2, 2012 Holiday Food

My dad liked to cook "goodies" at the holidays.  His specialties were fudge, divenity, peanut butter fudge and sugar cookies.  He also took up pie making after our mom passed. Part of the reason his treats were so memorable was that he carefully followed my grandmother Pricilla Dunn's treasured recipies.  He worked as a mechanic 6 days a week for most of his life but he would still manage to stand at the stove patiently waiting for the candy to set.  After all the cooking was finished, he would lovingly wrap blocks of the candy with wax paper and seal them in a tin box. The cookies were carefully laid inside a big round tin that was lined with a tea towel and covered with the cloth before he sealed the tin.

Eating the treats were an adventure! In the evening, he would get out the tins, crack the lid open and pass it under your nose with a grin on your face asking if you wanted to test a piece.  The cookies were his favorite because he would re-live storing the cookies like his mother did and only taking a few out at a time to keep them soft. It always worked.

We still have the wonderful recipe's but no one seems to be able to make them like he did.  He was truly one of a kind.

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - December 1, 2012

I love putting up the Christmas tree each year, but some years are more memorable than others. My favorite memories are of trimming the trees with my children and grandchildren.  It seems like we are opening boxes of treasure as we pull out the ornaments. Everyone has their favorites that they remember from year to year.
Luckily even the ornaments my parents had survived through years. We usually end up with ornaments and lights tangled together before we are finished because I always try to string the lights first and everyone else wants to put them on last!  

Finally, the best moment is always lifting one child up to put the Angel and Star on the tree to finish!  The most precious times were when we all would finish and my oldest granddaughter would get in the big rocker and read our favorite Christmas stories. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom

Today I'm celebrating my mom's birthday with a smile in my heart. I love my mom and miss her so much every day but today I was remembering all the things she loved about life. She worked very hard all her life but she also had fun! She had a great sense of humor and was always teasing and joking around with us, especially with my dad.

She loved to travel, her favorite place was Hawaii. She used to dance marathons and would always be a finalist. She was a top roller skater and taught our whole Brownie troop how to dance on skates.
She was a bowler and loved to go to the tournaments.  Mom loved fishing and she would pull on the waders and start off down stream with a thermos of coffee and some snacks.  Daddy and her had a deal that whoever got back to the car first would honk the horn and the other would come back to meet up. A big part of her life was teaching ceramics. One summer in about 1976 we took a trip to California and she found a mold of a miniature pot bellied stove ( and quite  a few other things) and she had the trunk of the car loaded up before my dad had a chance to protest. And finally, she is the only person I know that could convince my dad to wear an ALOHA shirt!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

God Bless My Dad

I have always been a "Daddy's girl. I don't mean a daddy's girl in the sense of being a little princess in frilly dresses and well kept curls, but a girl that was always tagging around with my daddy. He wasn't like the TV dads and he never called me kitten or princess, as a matter of fact he called me mutt! Maybe that was because I always wanted to be under his feet, but he said it was because I had a "pug" nose.

My dad, taught me so many things by example throughout my life;  how to be honest and fair, the importance of family, and taking care of one another, and how to respect my elders. The most important thing he gave me was the confidence to believe there was nothing I couldn't do, be or fix, if I set my mind to it.  From the time I was small, he let me help with the garden, the carpentry work and working on cars, even if it was only learning how to find the right tools and hand them to him.  We dug fish worms, caught night crawlers and patched fishing waders. When I was too little to fish, I rode on his shoulders on top of his WWII army pack while he fly fished the Colorado streams. When I was old enough he taught me to fish and clean trout. He always talked to me like I was an equal and not a kid and we had a great time "visiting". 

Our Dad, was not a perfect person but I can see so much of the love he gave us in the individuals my brother's and I became.His showed his love for our mom everyday and even more so as they grew old together. I am proud to be his daughter and I love seeing him in my nephews and in my children and grandchildren.

We love and miss you dad and grandpa.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Beginning of My Journey - Finding My Mother's Ancestors in Indiana

The Families of Andrew Jackson Loy and Clara Jones, Bartholomew County Indiana

Thirty some years ago, my first genealogy research trip was to the Mesa Arizona Family History library to find out about my mother's family of eight.  I was a new convert to the LDS church and had been drawn to the family history program.  I was not a stranger to historical research but had never done  genealogy so I had no idea what my journey would be like and I can tell you it has been amazing.

My mother, Louise Loy, the second to youngest child of Andrew Jackson Loy and Clara Jones of Indiana, had always joked that her and her siblings were "hatched" since she had no information about her parent's lives before they moved to the plains of Colorado. Of course I thought researching  would be a perfect opportunity for me to search them out and tell their stories!
Flora Rosa Louise Loy
I gathered what little information she had, and set off to the library for my big adventure. I knew that her parents came from Columbus, Batholomew County, Indiana to homestead in Colorado. I started with the 1900 census forms and searched for her father's family, the Loy's, line by line. Not a Loy to be found, but it seemed very odd that they had so many Asian families named Soy in that region. ( I know the researchers reading this are really laughing right now.)  Since my grandmother's surname was Jones, I thought I might have better luck searching the 1880 census index and I was very excited to find her along with her parents and brothers and sisters right away.  At the end of that day, I at least felt like I had accomplished something significant to report to my mom when I called her that night.

At the time, I had just signed up for correspondence classes in genealogy and one of my first classes was on Palaeography, the study of old handwriting. As I went through the lessons, imagine my surprise to find out that the letter "L" back in the day looked like an "S".  When I realized that all the "Soy" families were "Loy" families I could hardly contain myself! 

Being a stickler for research notes, I already knew which rolls I had looked at on my previous trip so on my next trip to the library, the results were much better.  It's hard to describe what I felt when I saw my mother's parents listed in their first home together on the census and expecting their first child. I tried to absorb every detail, and through bouts of tears I studied the street and house numbers, their neighbors and all the information on the form. Later, in the rolls, I was also able to find what would turn out to be my grandfather's family, names she had never heard.  Later that evening, when I called her in Colorado with the news, she was amazed that the information was out there to be found. After her famous "I'll be darned" she joked, I guess we weren't hatched after all! 

I have been truly blessed by genealogy. Those first few months of research on mom's family led to decades of research and a career of helping others search for their families and write their stories. I still never cease to be amazed that around the most unexpected corner, information I have searched for over the years suddenly becomes available, and I'm always thankful for all the extra help and inspiration my past and present family gives that guides me along my path.

Mary Ellen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Memories of Elaine Stewart Santos

April is the time of the year when we usually think of rebirth, renewal and Easter. This April on Easter weekend my husband Steve's sweet mother passed away after a long full life. She was surrounded by many of her family when she passed, and we were driving to California with her in our thoughts and prayers. Right before we got the call, my husband said he could see his mother clearly in the clouds in front of us as we drove. We pulled over and said a prayer and continued on to join the rest of the family.

We were so blessed to have all of the family pull together and support one another. We all agreed on one thing, her life should be celebrated and not mourned. She gave selflessly to her family and others and had such a kind loving spirit that she made us all feel special. I met her 2 years after my own mother passed and she immediately made me feel welcome. I felt so lucky that the Lord gave me the gift of being able to be part of her family.  I would like to share this tribute to her that is full of special memories we have of her.

Elaine Santos
January 15, 1924 to April 7, 2012
Elaine was born Bertha Elaine Stewart on Jan 15, 1924 in Sanger, California to Elmer Stewart and Pearl Starr, from an early age she preferred to be called “Elaine”.  She grew up in the Sanger area in a large loving family where she was taught the importance of putting family first. She worked hard around her home and enjoyed spending time with her four brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles.
As a young lady, Elaine aspired to be a model, and throughout her life she loved to dress up. Unfortunately, she did not grow tall enough, but that didn’t stop her from blooming into a beautiful  woman and throughout her life, her most memorable features were her sparkling eyes and her beautiful (sometimes mischievous) smile.
Elaine had a strong work ethic, and after graduating from Sanger High School in 1942, she started exploring career choices. For a time she worked as an attendant at a hospital and as a housekeeper. She also enjoyed working as a waitress and meeting interesting people. While working, she had several brushes with fame, meeting several movie stars and even putting the famed “Tex Ritter” in his place when he was being rude!  She loved to follow the Hollywood news and enjoyed going to movies, a love she shared with her children who still have fond memories of going to the movies with mom.
 One of her most memorable jobs was working at the Roar Aircraft on B-24 aircraft for the war effort.  She became one of the famed “Rosie the Riveters” supporting the troops from home.  She hoped to be able to continue as a welder after the war, but willingly gave up that position to a returning veteran.  She loved this country and was proud to be a patriot throughout her life. 
It was not too many years after the war that she married her life partner, Frank Santos and for their 50 plus years together, with the help of their children and grandchildren, they built a successful Dairy business that thrived from 1951-1998 and was well respected in the community.
Elaine was a hard worker and accomplished homemaker, working right alongside her husband, milking, feeding and taking care of the dairy. Even with all the responsibility of home and family, she was active in 4H, FFA as well as being a member of the Sports and AG boosters and the Holstein Frisian association.  She often accompanied her children to the fairs to support them while they showed their livestock.
Mom is best remembered by the love she put into her home cooking. She had a gift for preparing dishes that no one has been able to quite duplicate. She cooked from scratch using recipes she kept track of in her head. Her food always brought compliments, and comments from family and friends that they had never experienced food like it.  So many of the memories we all have of Elaine are of special occasions and favorite dinners we enjoyed. You never walked in to her home without hearing “Did you eat yet?” and “let me fix you something”.
She will be dearly missed by all of those who knew and loved her.  
Elaine’s husband preceded her in death. She is survived by three children and two grandsons. Her children are daughter Kathy Sewell and her husband Barry, son Steve and his wife Mary Ellen, and son Anthony.  Two surviving grandsons and their families are; Steven and Pam Stephens and their son Joshua, Greg Sewell and his children Amanda, Katelyn and Karson, and 10 great grandchildren through marriage.  

If you have memories of Elaine that you would like to share, please post a comment and I will make sure the family gets them.