Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Photo Books for Everyone

The theme for this month's Genealogy Blog Party from Elizabeth O'Neal is "Create!"  That gives a lot of latitude.  There are so many creative things one can do to celebrate family history.

One creative thing I have been doing for several years is making photo books for family members.  Although I know how to use real desktop layout software, I use the Shutterfly site to put the books together, because it's so convenient and I can always find coupons for free books.  I'm still paying the "shipping and handling" fees, but the cost ends up being worth it.

In looking at my projects on Shutterfly, I discovered that I have created fourteen different photo books.  One of my favorites is the book I made to replicate my grandmother's photo album.


Only one person can have the original photo album (and that's me!), but I scanned the pages as they were in the original and made copies of the book for my brother and sister.  That way they can have their own copies of our grandmother's album.

In 2015 I managed to put together a small Sellers family reunion to celebrate my father's 80th birthday and 35th wedding anniversary (to his third wife), and my aunt's 90th birthday.  And then I made a photo book with the best photographs and gave copies to everyone who was there.


I created a book focused on my Gorodetsky family line and the city of Kamenets Podolsky, where my great-great-grandparents had a photo taken (they're on the cover).  I made a version for myself and then customized versions for my brother and sister.


I made a book for my stepsons' mother (which sounds less awkward than "my ex's ex-wife", I think) with photos of her grandchildren.


I've put together several books with photos of my grandchildren.  This is the one for my youngest granddaughter.


I even created a book with photos of my furred and feathered children.


These books are an easy but thoughtful way to create gifts for family members.  They are also a great way to share family photos.

And Shutterfly functions as a print-on-demand publisher.  Any time I need another copy of a book, I go to the site and order one.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: The Time Machine

What an intriguing idea Randy Seaver has tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is to:

(1)
Determine which event in your ancestral history that you would love to be a witness to via a Time Machine.  Assume that you could observe the event but not participate in it.

(2) Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post.


There are so many events I would love to witness with this time machine!  Marriages, births, so many end-of-line ancestors to wonder about.  But rather than focus on myself, I decided to broaden the scope a little bit.

I want to witness the adoption of Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son whom my paternal aunt gave up for adoption in 1945.  My aunt will turn 95 this December, and she asked me a few years ago to help her find out what happened to her son.  I've tried, and I've posted about it several times, but New Jersey has closed adoption records, and no DNA matches have appeared in Ancestry, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage, or GEDMatch.  So why not try a time machine?

If I can witness the adoption, I'll find out the names of the adoptive parents and maybe even what name they gave Raymond when they adopted him.  Then I can search for that name and find out whether he is still alive (he will be turning 75 this year if he is), married, had children, and more.  And I can tell him that his birth mother wants to talk with him.

No guarantees after that, I realize, but boy, what a boon that would be indeed.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer = Sunburns

It's the beginning of summer!  Most people have been looking forward to this time of year, but I dread it.  I inherited my mother's very fair skin, and I can get a sunburn by being out in the sun for as little as five minutes.

When I finished the 9th grade, I traveled to southern Florida to spend the summer with my grandparents.  They were well retired by that point and didn't have a regular schedule.  They mostly sat around and watched TV.  But their apartment complex had a swimming pool.  I was still enamored of having a tan and decided I would spend some time in the sun every day to work on it.  I managed to sunburn the bottoms of my feet (!).  My face was burnt so badly that the skin peeled off like a crispy mask.  And that was with having sunscreen on!

So much for that idea.

That was the last time I deliberately tried to get a tan.  I started avoiding the sun.

But every now and then I would get distracted and . . . forget.

Several years later, after I had graduated college, I was living in a big three-story Victorian house on the edge of East Los Angeles.  My landlord had a daughter from his previous marriage who came to visit during the summer.

One day, my fiance and I invited her to go to the beach with us and hang out.

We were having so much fun, I lost track of how long I had been out.

Big mistake.

If I remember correctly, we were there for about four hours.

When we left, I had just started turning a little pink.  By the next morning, however, my entire body was bright cherry red and hurt like . . . well, you know what.

I couldn't sleep at night.  I tosed and turned, but there was no position I could lie down that didn't hurt.

And then in the morning my skin was horribly dry, and I couldn't bend my knees or elbows.  Every morning, my fiance had to slather lotion on my arms and legs just so I could move.

At least that time I really learned my lesson.  I am vigilant now about how much sun I get and long I get it.

So to all of you sun worshippers out there, enjoy your time of year.  I'll be in my house, enjoying the air conditioning and working on maintaining my pale, ghostly complexion.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Father's Work History

As I expected, with today being the day before Father's Day, Randy Seaver has chosen fathers as the theme for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music), is:

(1) Sunday, 19 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about your father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

(2) What was your father's occupation?  What jobs did he have throughout his life?  Do you know his work history?

(3) Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook Status post.


I don't have a detailed work history about my father.  Unlike my grandfather, who created a chronological listing of every job he had held, my father didn't do anything similar (but then again, who does?).

What I do know is that most of the jobs my father held during his life had something to do with cars.  During his younger years, most of those jobs were as a mechanic.  While my family lived in the Los Angeles area, he owned at least one garage of his own, and I suspect he worked at more for other people.

While we lived in Australia, he was again a mechanic.  (In fact, that's part of the reason we moved to Australia, because they were looking for skilled tradesmen at the time as potential immigrants.)  I know the name of one place he worked:  Frank Woodham Ford in Maroubra Junction, a suburb of Sydney, New South Wales.  And I know that because a photo of my father working with a Sun 1120 Engine Analyzer (probably spelled Analyser in Australia?) was used by Woodham Ford in a newspaper advertisement, and my father saved a copy.  I used that photo with a blog post (coincidentally, one for Father's Day), and a fellow BART train operator recognized the machine.

When my family returned to the United States in 1973, my father was still a mechanic.  He had his own garage again by 1975, in Niceville, Florida, because that's where my family and my father's business partner sheltered during Hurricane Eloise.

As he started getting older and his arthritis became worse, he really couldn't do the mechanical work anymore.  I know he worked in at least one auto parts store for a while.  I think that was in Fort Walton Beach.

Part of the reason I'm having trouble remembering a lot of specifics was that my father's work history was apparently a little sketchy.  I remember him telling me when he hit retirement age that he was shocked to learn he had never worked more than five years at any job.  While that is not unusual nowadays, especially in the tech field, for someone born in 1935, it was not common.  He started selling stuff on eBay to help supplement his Social Security income; I don't know if that counts as a "job."

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Catching an Ancient Fish

June 18 is celebrated in the United States (well, by some people, anyway) as National Go Fishing Day, which I first wrote about last year as a way of commemorating my father, who had passed away only one month before.  I went fishing with him quite a bit, so I have several more stories I can share.

This year I decided to write about the most unusual fish my father ever caught:  a gar.  Before he caught one, we had never heard of it.  This was probably around 1976 or so.  At that time there was no ubiquitous Internet of things with information easily accessible at the touch of a keypad, so I don't know how he figured out that's what it was.

Somehow he did figure it out, and he made a point of telling us kids that gar were really ancient, as  in back to the time of the dinosaurs.  We had the impression that they hadn't changed very much over all those millennia.

The main thing I remember about it is that it was really, really big.  It was certainly the largest fish I saw my father catch.  I looked up gar on Wikipedia to try to figure out which species it was.  Based on the descriptions and the locations of their habitats, my best guess is a longnose gar.  The next possibility is the spotted gar, but I don't remember it having spots, just being big and long and green.

I know that Daddy had trouble getting the fish out of the water and to the house, because it was so big.  I don't recall the details of how he finally managed to do that.  I only vaguely remember something about it being lined up next to a dock while they figured out what they were going to do.

As it was such an apparently unusual fish for people to catch, we had a big party when we ate it, so everyone could share the experience.  I don't remember how the fish tasted, but I do recall that my mother tried making a wine sauce to go with it, and that the sauce really didn't work out well.  It wasn't one of her absolutely inedible disasters, but it did not rank among her best dishes either.

"Longnose gar (Lepisosteus osseus) at the New England Aquarium, Boston MA"*

Credit: Steven G. Johnson / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)