Saturday, December 30, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your 2023 Christmas Genea-gifts

At first I was thinking that I had not received any genea-gifts for Christmas and therefore was not going to comment on today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post from Randy Seaver, but then I reconsidered.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.

1.  Was Genea-Santa good to you?  What genealogy gifts did you receive for Christmas this year?

2.  Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status  post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

So I had only one item in my 2023 Dear Genea-Santa letter:  I am still trying to find Raymond Lawrence Sellers, the son my aunt gave up for adoption in 1945 in New Jersey (a very unfriendly state to deal with for adoption records after 1940).  And I might have made progress.  Maybe.

After I posted my Genea-Santa letter, I was contacted by someone who thinks s/he (nope, no reveal here) was in contact with Raymond.  The person I was told about VERY STRONGLY resembles (I saw a photo; could almost be a twin) a known person in my family.  The known person in the family would be a sibling to the person being hypothesized as Raymond.  And the person being hypothesized as Raymond knew he was adopted.

But the hypothetical Raymond is older than Raymond should be.  So does that mean that my aunt had her facts mixed up?  After so many years of hiding information and outright lying on her part, absolutely possible.  Or could this almost-twin be related to the known person in the family in another way that would explain the VERY STRONG resemblance?  Also possible.

So Genea-Santa didn't give me a straightforward gift for this but instead a tantalizing teaser that still needs to be resolved.  But it's certainly the most progress I have made on this in the past six years.

And I did get another gift from Genea-Santa.  In Linda Stufflebean's updated "December Meme" from two weeks ago, one of the questions was where you wanted to be dropped off if you could hitch a ride on Santa's sleigh.  I chose Lebanon, where my two oldest grandchildren live.  It turned out I didn't have to go down to Lebanon; the sleigh apparently dropped them off for a visit in Vancouver!  And that was a wonderful present indeed.

Saturday, December 16, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Linda Stufflebean's Updated "December Meme"

One of Randy Seaver's regular posters contributed the challenge for today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.  Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him about your 2023 answers to Linda's 20 questions:

A.  Linda Stufflebean sent in an update to her "December Meme" from last year.  Copy them to your own post and write about them.

B.  Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status  post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

Here are the 20 Questions and my answers.

1.  What is one genea-accomplishment in 2023 of which you are proud?

I'm proud that I managed to start posting on my blog again, even if it was one third of the way through the year when I started.

2.  Which (realistic) genea-gift would you most appreciate this year?

Help in identifying the vehicles in my father's photographs from the photo bonanza.

3.  What item on your not-so-realistic wish list for Santa would you most appreciate this year?

Finding Raymond Lawrence Sellers.

4.  Have you written any genea-books (with mostly text) to give as holiday gifts?


5.  Have you created any photo family history books to give as holiday gifts?

Yes, several.  Not in a while, though.

6.  What is your favorite holiday main course food?

Latkes, for Chanukah!

7.   What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Pumpkin pie, I guess.

8.  Which food do you eat too much of during the holidays?


9.  Share a favorite holiday memory.

Spending Christmas Day with my grandchildren.

10.  Have you continued any ethnic food or cultural activities that have been passed down through the family?

Displaying my mother's menorah during Chanukah.

11.  Do you prefer warm sunshine or snow on Christmas Day?

I've grown to like snow on Christmas Day, as long as I don't have to drive anywhere.

12.  Did you break through any brick walls in 2023?


13.  Do you have a 2023 genea-goal which could have been accomplished but over which you’ve procrastinated or from which you’ve been distracted?

Far too many.  I don't want to think about it.

14.  Have you ever gone holiday caroling?

Yes, but not for several years.  I think the last time I sang Christmas carols was 2019.  I love caroling.

15.  Do you have any favorite holiday decorations?

My M&M's holiday lights.

16.  Who is the singer you most enjoy listening to during the holiday season?

Robert Goulet, but only because of his recording of "Do You Hear What I Hear?", my all-time favorite Christmas song.

17.  Have there been any Christmas Day calamities that you remember?

I can't think of any.

18.  If Santa invited you to hitch a ride in his sleigh, where would you like him to drop you off?

Lebanon, Oregon, where my two oldest grandchildren live.

19.  If you had to choose right this minute, which ancestor would you most like to meet?  Choose an ancestor about whom you’ve researched in 2023.

I didn't really research any ancestors during 2023 (see #13 above).  So I guess I will choose my great-great-grandmother Beila (unknown maiden name), who married my great-great-grandfather Simcha Dovid Meckler (maybe Mekler), because I know almost nothing about her beyond her given name.

20.  Share one of your 2024 genealogy goals.

I want to identify all the photos in my photo bonanza.

And because of question #16 about the singer I enjoy listening to the most, I thought of adding my favorite Christmas movie, which is The Ref.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Christmas Weather

Tonight's topic from Randy Seaver for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun should be interesting!

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.  Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him about your Christmas weather experiences:

1.  What Christmas-time weather have you experienced?  Does it snow at Christmas time where you live?  What are the likely temperatures at Christmas time??

2. Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

My Christmas weather experiences cover a range of very different locations.

From when I was born to just before I turned 9, my family lived in east Los Angeles County.  So Christmas weather was similar to Randy's experience in San Diego:  warm and sunny, mild and cloudy, to cool and rainy.  The closest we came to snow was when my father and Uncle Tony drove up to Mt. Baldy in a pickup truck, filled the back with snow, and came back with it.  We played in it for a while, but I suspect it melted relatively quickly.

From Los Angeles my family moved to Sydney, New South Wales, Australia and lived there and in the suburbs for two years.  This is another location with warm and sunny or mild and cloudy weather in the winter, but in the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas comes during the summer!  So we had beautiful summer weather for Christmas for two years.

Back to the Northern Hemisphere, I next lived for six years in and near Niceville, Florida, in about the middle of the Florida Panhandle, with my family.  Although most people think "hot and muggy" when they think of Florida, the Panhandle does actually experience winter.  We regularly had below-freezing temperatures at some point during the winter, but mostly it was cool and rainy for Christmas.  On January 19, 1977, which I realize is after Christmas, we had one day with enough snow that it actually stuck when it hit the ground and did not melt immediately (that's also the day there were snow flurries in Miami).  We got the rest of the day off from school, but by the time everyone got home, the snow was gone.

After Florida I moved back to Los Angeles.  The weather had not changed in the intervening years, although it wasn't quite as smoggy as it had been.  On the other hand, I was in South Central Los Angeles, not east Los Angeles County, so that might have explained the improvement in the air.

I lived in Los Angeles for ten years and then headed north to Berkeley.  I was there for almost four years and then bought a house in Oakland, where I stayed for 24 1/2 years.  Christmas in the Bay Area was often rainy and almost always slightly cool.  I never saw snow where I lived, but I believe that sometimes in the Berkeley and Oakland hills they occasionally had dustings of snow.

And now I'm even further north, in the Portland Metro area of Oregon.  I'm in Gresham, east of Portland and at the west end of the Columbia River Gorge, so it's usually a little colder here than in Portland proper.  It is normal for the area to have at least a day or two of snow during the winter, sometimes around Christmas.  My first year here we had a hard freeze with no snow on Christmas, and I was stuck in my house for three days with the cats and the birds.  But a couple of years ago we had a beautiful blanket of snow in the front and back yards for Christmas, and it was beautiful.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Sonny versus Sunny

Today, December 4, is my father's birthday.  He was born in 1935 in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

He used to tell family members that his nickname when he was growing up was "Sunny."  We automatically interpreted that as "Sonny" because he was a junior, and Sonny is a common nickname for juniors.  He insisted it was Sunny, for his "sunny" disposition.  All of his children laughed uproariously at that.  Not that he was a major grump or anything, but a sunny disposition was not something we associated with him.

I thought I had resolved the issue recently with the help of the great scanned photo bonanza that I received from my sister.  On one of the photos I recognized my grandfather's handwriting on the phrase "Sonny and Me."

My grandfather holding my father, maybe January 1936 (Grampa's handwriting)

I gleefully cackled to myself, thinking, "Aha, here's the proof!  Daddy was trying to fool us!"

But then I found another photo, this one with my grandmother's handwriting, "Sunny on Davenport", when my father was a little older.

My father, maybe about 4 years old? (Nana's handwriting)

So now I don't know after all.  Maybe he started off with Grampa calling him Sonny because he was a junior, and Nana adapted that to Sunny because he really did have a sunny disposition?  There's no way to resolve it, because all of the people who would know have passed away.

Sometimes you don't get to answer all of your genealogical questions.

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your 2023 "Dear Genea-Santa" Letter

It is that time of year again, when Randy Seaver has us write to Genea-Santa for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

Come on, everybody, join in and accept the mission and execute it with precision.  Here's your chance to sit on Genea-Santa's lap (virtually) and tell him your Christmas genealogy-oriented wish list:

1.  Write your 2023 Genea-Santa letter.  Have you been a good genealogy girl or boy?  What genealogy-oriented items are on your Christmas wish list?  They could be family history items, technology items, or things that you want to pursue in your ancestral quest.

2.  Tell us about them in your own blog post, in a comment on this post, or in a Facebook Status post.  Please leave a link on this post if you write your own post.

I was looking through my old Genea-Santa posts and noticed that I haven't written a letter since 2019!  I've been a pretty good genealogy girl:  still doing lots of volunteer work, doing as much research as I can, sharing information with family members.

That said, my request list again is very, very short, because it's the most important thing I'm researching, but it has changed a little.

I'm still trying to find out what happened to the son my Aunt Dottie gave up for adoption in 1945, shortly after his birth on September 23.  She gave him the name Raymond Lawrence Sellers.  I don't know what name he was given after adoption.

I have done everything I know to do:

* Dottie's DNA is on Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, and GEDMatch.  I couldn't get her on Ancestry or 23andMe because those are spit tests, and Dottie couldn't manufacture enough for the tests.

* Raymond's siblings are represented on Ancestry and 23andMe.

* I did what I could with state research, but Raymond was born and adopted in New Jersey, which sealed adoption records from 1941 on.  I tried searching through birth indices, but they did not point me anywhere helpful.

* Dottie registered with New Jersey as being willing to accept contact if Raymond chose to look for her.

The difference this year is that Dottie passed away in 2021.  I don't know what would happen if Raymond did try to contact her through the New Jersey state office at this point.  I need to find out if an alternate contact person (such as my cousin, who is Dottie's daughter and Raymond's sister) can be named or if the parent is the only person the state will accept (and I'm pretty sure that's what they do, because they're just not a friendly state to work with).  Raymond's siblings would very much like to find him and connect with him, especially now that Dottie is gone.

That really leaves only the DNA databases as a way to find Raymond.  But if he died young or if he and any children he might have had have never tested, we won't be able to find him.

I keep hoping.  C'mon, Genea-Santa.