Sunday, November 11, 2018

Armistice Day, November 11, 1918

My friend's grandfather Zalmon Orloff served in the U.S. Army during World War I.  He was in Saumur, France when the armistice was signed.

Zalmon wrote letters to his girlfriend about every other day while he was in the Army.  For some reason, after he returned to the States and was mustered out of the service, Zalmon had his girlfriend type up the letters he had written and send him the typed copies.  This means that a hundred years later, my friend has copies of the letters Zalmon wrote, including the one he wrote on Armistice Day.

-- >< -- >< -- >< -- >< --

Saumur, France

Dear Sarah:

I don't know how to begin my letter.  The beginning though, does not matter anyhow.

The main thing is that the population of France, Saumur included, is gone start mad with joy on account of the armistice signed this morning.

French and American soldiers, men, women, boys and girls are embracing one another and the words "GUERRE EST FINIS" were on everybody's lips.

The wine shops were doing a rushing business and the natural merriment was greatly increased by the artificial one.

Groups of Americans and French gathered around every corner and sang the Marsellaise on the top of their voice.

Every nook and corner was full of children, who, waving the tricolor or the Stars and Stripes, sang their favorite songs and exploded fireworks in your very face.

The French and American buglers were blowing every tune imaginable and I doubt whether Saumur ever witnessed a similar scene.

Have read in the papers the conditions of the armistice and about the revolutionary movement spreading in Germany.

Why, Sarah, it seems as if it were a dream and I have to pinch myself to realize that I am wide awake and the wonderful news is a real, genuine unadulterated fact.

I never expected that the end of the misery will come so soon.



Saturday, November 3, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Zigzag Ancestor Lines

There's probably an existing term for what Randy has come up with for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but I don't know what it is.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) What is your father's zigzag ancestor line (NOTE:  I just made that up}?  In other words, your father's mother's father's mother's etc. line back as far as you can go.

(2) Tell us in your own blog post (and drop a link here in a comment), or on Facebook with your response.

Okey-dokey, here are mine.

My Father:

1.  My father is Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr. (1935– ) of New Jersey, California, and Florida.

2.  His mother was Anna Gauntt (1893–1986) of New Jersey, Florida, and Minnesota.

3.  Her father was Thomas Kirkland Gauntt (1870–1951) of Burlingotn County, New Jersey.

4.  His mother was Amelia Gibson (1831–1908) of Burlington County, New Jersey.

5.  Her father was supposedly John Gibson, about whom I have no additional information.

So I go back five generations on my father's line (and obviously need to do more research in Burlington County to get past that roadblock).

My Mother:

1.  My mother was Myra Roslyn Meckler (1940–1985) of New York, California, and Florida.

2.  Her father was Abraham Meckler (1912–1989) of New York, Nevada, and Florida.

3.  His mother was Mushe Zelda Nowicki (about 1880–1936) of Grodno Gubernia, Russian Empire and New York.

4.  Her father was Gershon Itzhak Nowicki (about 1858–1948) of Grodno Gubernia, Russian Empire and New York.

5.  His mother was Sirke (?–before 1893), for whom I don't even have a family name, much less the name of a parent.

And I go back five generations on my mother's line also.  I don't know if I'll ever find more information about Sirke, since Grodno Gubernia is the black hole of Jewish records.

I didn't do as badly as I thought I would.  I have one fewer generation for my father's family line than Randy did but one more for my mother's.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Hallowe'en Personality

In keeping with the season, tonight's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise from Randy Seaver is focused on Hallowe'en.

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Go take the Hallowe'en Personality Quiz at 

(2) Post your answers on your own blog, as a comment on this blog, or on your Facebook page.

(3) Tell us if this is "right on" or not.  Have fun with it!

Okay, here's what the quiz has to say about me:

• You See Halloween as Fun

• A bit of an introvert, you like the special occasions just as much as everyone else.  You just have your own unique way of celebrating Halloween.

• You often feel invisible when you're in public.  And it's a shame, because you're really quite a character.

• Your inner child is open minded, playful, and adventurous.

• Your fears are irrational and varied.  It's hard to predict what you may be afraid of on any given day.

• You're logical, rational, and not easily affected.  Not a lot scares you ... especially when it comes to the paranormal.

• You are unique, expressive, and a trendsetter. Your ideal Halloween costume is over the top and one of a kind.

Well, I think the quiz missed me on several counts.  I'm pretty extroverted, and I don't often feel invisible anywhere.  My friends and family will be happy to vouch, however, that I am quite a character.  My fears are few and far between, and very consistent (buzzy things).  I am indeed logical, rational, and not easily affected, and not a lot scares me (which contradicts the statement right above it, about my fears being irrational and varied).  I will admit to being unique and expressive, although I don't think I've been setting any trends by wearing Hawaiian shirts.  My ideal Hallowe'en costume used to be dressing up as a hooker; is that over the top?  More recently, I tend to wear East Indian clothing.

I guess the quiz can't be relied upon very much, huh?

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Oregon Archives Crawl Was a Blast!

I am so glad I went to the Oregon Archives Crawl on Saturday!  I had a lot of fun at the three locations talking to archivists, librarians, and others who work in archives and repositories.  Since I'm still pretty new here, it was a great opportunity to learn about what resources are available.

One big difference between the Archives Crawl here and the ones I visited in Sacramento, Califorina is that it is pretty easy to walk between the host insitutions here.  In Sacramento, the hosts were spread out, and you had to drive between them or take the shuttle that was available.  Either way, a lot of your time was taken up traveling between locations, which didn't leave as much time to talk to archivists or look at the cool things on display.

The highlight of my day was at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, the second stop on my rounds.  They had a City of Portland quiz game going on, where you spun a wheel and could win the prize you landed on if you correctly answered a historical question about the city.  I guessed right that Portland's city hall had been bombed at some point in its history, and I won a copy of Portland Memories:  The Early Years, a Pictorial History.  It's a beautiful hardcover coffee-table book with historic photos of Portland covering the late 1800's to 1939.  I also picked up a deck of cards with Oregon historical information from the Oregon State Archives table, and a button with the State Archivist's seal.  How many archivists have their own buttons?!

From an archives/research perspective, I discovered some really interesting repositories in the area.  Probably the most unusual is the Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health.  In this country, mental health information is generally not easily available, so it was surprising to find that the hospital has created this museum to educate people.  Documents and exhibits cover a timeline of the subject in Oregon dating from the 1880's, the training of those who worked at the hospital, spirituality/religion, the history of treatments, therapeutic activities, and children at the hospital (both patients and those of employees and residents), along with oral histories.

One museum that resonated with me personally is the World of Speed Motorsports Museum, which I had not heard of.  (It's only been around for about three years.)  I've written about how I grew up around racetracks and garages because my father was a car mechanic and also raced, so anything about racing catches my attention.  Now I need to plan a trip to Wilsonville so I can see what they have in the museum.

I had a good conversation with Terry Baxter of the Oregon Country Fair Archives, another unusual repository.  The archives holds organizational records, promotional records, fair ephemera, audiovisual records, and donated collections.  Who would have thought that so much would be available about a county fair?  In addition, Terry told me that the archives crawl happens every other year, so now I know why I didn't hear about it last year.

In talking with Terry about the crawl passport, I mentioned that the archives crawl in Sacramento, California has a passport also, where you can get stamps from all the exhibitors and then get a small prize, usually a set of commemorative coasters.  He liked that idea, so maybe at the 2020 archives crawl here we'll be able to earn a small souvenir.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did You Get to School?

I am revisiting my childhood for this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver:

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1)  How did you get to your school(s) through high school?

(2) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or on Facebook or Google+.  Please leave a comment on this post with a link to your post.

It's obvious from Randy's comment about having gone to three schools (only three!) that his family didn't move around as much as mine did (there's a reason my mother earned the nickname "the wandering Jew").  Let me see how many I can recall . . . .

I don't really remember how I traveled to elementary school, or actually how many schools I attended during the years my family lived in California.  We left in March 1971 while I was in 3rd grade.  I know I was at Rorimer Elementary in 1st grade; that is in La Puente.  When we moved to Pomona I'm sure I went to a different school, so that's at least two.  I think I went by bus when I lived in Pomona.  Maybe my mother drove me (and my sister?) to Rorimer, or maybe my sister's mother did?  I guess I should ask my sister about that to see what she remembers.  But there may have been a school between Rorimer and Pomona.

In Australia I attended two elementary schools:  Daceyville Public School for the 4th grade (which I was in for only the second half of the school year) and Woollahra Demonstration School for the 5th grade.  I remember my mother driving me to Woollahra, because she complained about it, but there may have been a bus to Daceyville.

When my family returned to the United States, we moved to Niceville, Florida.  I had three months of the 6th grade, at James E. Plew Elementary School.  (And for those who are counting, that makes at least five elementary schools I attended.)  I rode the bus to school there.

I remember telling my mother that whether she moved or not, I wanted to go to the same school for all my years of junior high school and high school and not have to be the "new kid" in school.  I actually managed to accomplish that.  I rode the bus to school at C. W. Ruckel Junior High School and Niceville Senior High School, even after we moved 10 miles from Niceville out to Villa Tasso.  We moved while I was still in junior high school.  The school bus picked us up in Villa Tasso on County Line Road, because Niceville is in Okaloosa County and Villa Tasso is in Walton County, just over the county line.

When there was really bad rain, however, my mother sometimes drove us to school from Villa Tasso, because we didn't have paved roads, and they often flooded in the rain, so we couldn't safely walk to the bus stop.  And if the temperature was below zero (which does happen in the Florida panhandle) she might drive us also.  Sometimes she just drove us to the bus stop, though.

Until now, I have never thought about whether we were actually in the residence area for Niceville schools once we moved to Villa Tasso.  We must have been, because the bus came out there.  And really, we were so far away from everything else in Walton County that it wouldn't have been practical for Walton to bus us anywhere.  I guess the counties worked out something.