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:

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)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Pauleen's Crazy Month of May Pandemic Meme, Part II

Randy Seaver told us last week that we would be splitting Pauleen's May pandemic meme into two parts, and indeed that is what we're doing tonight for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

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

(1) Check out Pauleen Cass' blog post, Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme: Pandemic Experiences.  We did the first 10 prompts last week.

(2) Let's do the last 11 of the prompts this week.

(3) Tell us about your pandemic experience in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post and also on Pauleen's post.

(4) Thank you, Pauleen!!

And here we go!

11.  What have you found to be the strangest change to your life?

The strangest change has been that for three months when I was driving around, there were almost no other cars on the highways or streets.  It was almost like having the roads to myself.  (That has changed during the past couple of weeks, however.)

12.  Have you found the changes and experience stressful/anxious/worrying?

I don't think that's the right way to describe it.  Disconcerting is better.  No stress or worry, just having to get used to something different.

13.  How have the closures affected your local community?

Most businesses closed during the first three months.  I suspect many of them will not be able to reopen.  I was a little surprised at some of the businesses classified as "essential."

14.  Have in-person meetings been replaced with virtual meetings zia Zoom, Skype, etc.?

Absolutely.  I have participated in several Zoom and GoToMeeting events for genealogy, and Zoom and Slack for a few social meetings.  I've also been testing closed captioning capabilities on other platforms, such as Google Meet (excellent), Skype (decent but not as good as Google), and Webex (no automatic transcription; you need a live person).

15.  Do you enjoy the virtual meeting format?

Not really.  I would rather have in-person meetings and presentations.  Failing the possibility of that for the time being, however, I can deal with virtual meetings.

16.  Are you working from home instead of in your usual place of work?

Like Randy, home is my usual place of work, so no change there.

17.  Have your habits changed over the past months?

Not very much.  I'm keeping to the same sleep and eating schedule for the most part and watching most of the same TV programs (except for the ones that weren't able to wrap their seasons before lockdowns occurred, so no new episodes or ending their seasons early).  I didn't used to eat out a lot before, but that has been almost eliminated.  Where the biggest change has occurred is in the social events I used to go to but obviously haven't for the past three months.

18.  Have you had to cancel travel plans for pleasure or family?

I didn't have to cancel any personal trips, just four business trips.

19.  Do you think you'll be able to travel in 2020?

Probably not, but not necessarily due to the pandemic.  It looks as though I will finally be able to schedule my shoulder surgery for late summer, so that will preclude travel for several months while I recover.

20.  Have you/others been wearing masks when out and about in your area?

I think maybe about 75% of the customers I see at stores, etc. wear masks.  All store personnel wear them, and everyone in health settings does.

21.  Will you change your lifestyle after this experience?

Not much.  I didn't go out to eat very much to begin with, so that won't change.  I still prefer to shop offline, so I will likely return to that once it's possible to do so.  I think where I am most likely to change my habits is where I have no choice and the change is made for me, such as a lot of meetings staying in a virtual format.

The post with the first ten questions for this meme can be found here.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Loving Day

Hugh Stone and Robin Dane were married on November 5, 1978.

June 12 is Loving Day, when we celebrate the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down antimiscegenation laws in the sixteen (Southern) states that still had those laws on their books.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Free Webinars on Weekends in June!

To complement MyHeritage offering free access to databases every day in June, Legacy Family Tree (which is owned by MyHeritage) announced that each of the upcoming weekends in June it will offer a themed track of Webinars, many of them brand-new presentations.  From the Legacy Family Tree Webinars site:

June 12–14, Technology
  • Metadata for Digital Images, Thomas MacEntee (NEW!)
  • Tracking Your Digital Breadcrumbs:  Bookmarks, Toolbars, Notes, and Other Applications, Cyndi Ingle (members-only webinar to be unlocked)
  • Google Drive:  An Office in the Cloud, DearMYRTLE and Russ Worthington (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Top Tech Tips for the Technologist and the Genealogist, Geoff Rasmussen (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Tech Savvy Scrapbooking & Journaling for Family History, Annie Bowser Tennant (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Microsoft Word Series #3:  Formatting Tips and Tricks, Thomas MacEntee (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
June 19–21, Great Britain Research
  • Finding Your 18th Century Ancestors in England, Paul Milner (NEW!)
  • Finding Your 19th Century Ancestors in England, Paul Milner (NEW!)
  • Why Did the Welsh leave Wales?, Penny Walters (NEW!)
  • Black British Family History:  Research and Identity, Penny Walters (NEW!)
  • Foundations of Scottish Genealogy 1 of 12:  The Top 3 Resources, Bruce Durie (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
  • Foundations of Scottish Genealogy 2 of 12:  Who Are the Scots?, Bruce Durie (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
June 26–28, Black American Research (almost all new!!)
  • African American Genealogy Challenges: What You Need to Know!, Shelley Murphy (NEW!)
  • Grandma Said:  Verifying Oral History, Aaron Dorsey (NEW)
  • The Second Middle Passage:  Following the DNA Trails, Melvin Collier (NEW!)
  • Finding Calvin:  Following My Enslaved Ancestor through Multiple Owners, a Case Study, Renate Sanders (NEW!)
  • DNA Corroborates Oral Tradition about the Parents of a Freedman, LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson (NEW!)
  • African American Genealogy Resources at the Library of Congress, Ahmed Johnson (older Webinar which will be unlocked)
Register for the live introductory Webinar at www.FamilyTreeWebinars.com/June, which will give instructions for viewing the presentations.

I'm surprised that the Black American research weekend wasn't scheduled the weekend before, which would have made it fall on Juneteenth.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Pauleen's Crazy Month of May Pandemic Meme, Part I

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver is all about genealogy and the Coronavirus pandemic.  I guess it's surprising we haven't done anything about the pandemic previously.

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

(1) Check out Pauleen Cass' blog post, Crazy Month of May 2020 Meme:  Pandemic Experiences.

(2) Let's do the first 10 of the prompts and save the last 11 for next week.

(3) Tell us about your own pandemic experience in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in a post on Facebook.  Be sure to leave a link to your work as a comment to this post and also on Pauleen's post.

(4) Thank you, Pauleen!!

Okay, here's mine.

1.  What are you most grateful for during this COVID-19 crisis?

As far as I know, none of the members of my family, extended family, or family by choice have become ill during the pandemic.

2.  What have you missed most during the full or partial lockdown?

I miss my regular routine.  I miss seeing my boyfriend on a regular basis.  I miss seeing my grandchildren every week for movie night.  I miss having lunch with my stepson every week.  I miss seeing all of my friends at our weekly dinner get-togethers.  I miss going to my volunteer shift at the Gresham Family History Center (which is still closed).  I miss my genealogy society meetings (yes, even the board meetings).

3. Has your hobby sustained you during this time?

Unfortunately, not really.  Without a regular routine, I have gone adrift to a great degree and have found it hard to focus.  My blog, and Saturday Night Genealogy Fun in particular, is one of the few things for which I have been able to maintain some consistency.

4.  What changes have you seen in your life over May 2020?

Unlike Randy, I've lost weight.  I haven't had much of an appetite and often don't eat regular meals, just snack a little bit.  I'm not cooking as much as I used to.  I haven't paid as much attention to my birds.  One positive thing is that because I have been home so much, I've done a lot of cleaning, sorting, and rearranging of stuff in several rooms.

5.  Have you been exercising more or less?

Well, since I hardly exercise at all, it would be difficult to exercise less.  It's probably about the same.

6.  Has the refrigerator been your friend or foe?

It's been a friend in that I haven't been overindulging in food, but it's been a foe because the food I'm not eating sometimes goes bad while it's waiting for me.

7.  Have you been participating in virtual gatherings with friends or family?

A little.  I've had some online gatherings with genealogy friends as alternatives to meeting in person.  I've also had a couple of Zoom meetings with other friends.  I tried one phone chat with my grandchildren, but they were more interested in playing video games than talking with Bubbie.

I have been doing lots of phone calls and extended text conversations with friends.  That's been a reasonably effective way to stay in touch and caught up.

8.  Have you taken up any new hobbies during the lockdown?

Oh, hell no.  I already have enough hobbies.

9.  Are you cooking or gardening more?

Nope, doing less of both.  Since my appetite's off I'm not cooking much for myself.  I have actually managed to do some gardening, but really only the bare minimum the plants need me to.

10.  Have you shopped more or less?   Online or offline?

I've shopped much less.  I do most of my shopping offline, so I haven't really been able to do that.  I've done grocery shopping when needed, and I've been to the hardware store a couple of times, and I think that's it.

The post with the remaining eleven questions can be found here.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Free Records Every Day for a Month

MyHeritage is giving everyone a gift well ahead of the holiday season.  Every day for the month of June, a different subscription record collection on the MyHeritage site will be freely available to all researchers.

The databases that will be available are being grouped by country.  They have started off with an emphasis on Scandinavia.  June 1 was a Swedish database, June 2 and 3 Danish, and June 4 and 5 will be from Norway.

After that come eight days of U.S. record sets, then two from Canada.  Crossing the pond to Europe, we'll see records from France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Hungary, and Spain.  Then it's off to the bottom of the world — Australia!

After that it's zigzagging back and forth:  Israel, Brazil, and back to Europe for Greece and Germany.

That certainly covers a wide territory, and there should be something in there to please most researchers.

Each of the databases will be totally free to use on its given day, but you will need to create an account to sign in on MyHeritage.

The complete list of databases by date is posted on the MyHeritage blog.

Warning:  As I discussed in my Webinar about the MyHeritage newspaper collections, you cannot bring up a list of the newspapers in the Massachusetts, Florida, and Canada collections.  I wish you could, but you can't.  After you have made a search, you can look through the list of papers that show up in the results, but that's it.