Thursday, May 24, 2018

Missing my dad

Oh, dad...I miss you.

Today is birthday number 106 for my dad. He's been gone since 2002.

Dad was a poor little hillbilly boy when he married my mom. Like others his age, he had begun smoking when he was about twelve years old.

After marrying mom, he would move his little family to West Virginia, where he worked in the coal mines. Later on in his life, the combination of smoking and black lung gave him breathing problems. But, it was the claustrophobia from being in those underground mines that induced panic when a door was closed, or when air wasn't circulating.

Dad was the only one in the coal camps drafted into World War II, and was sent to manufacture liquid oxygen in Chicago before being sent to Pearl Harbor. He would then be called back to the continent when my mom became deathly ill.

Mom rose up against him and joined the LDS Church in West Virginia, along with my three sisters. It was 1948, a time when women didn't always give ultimatums to their spouse.

It was a decision that would change the course of our family.

Dad moved the family from West Virginia to Ohio for three reasons:
1. To find a better job.
2. To ensure better education for my three sisters.
3. To run away from the Mormon Church.

Little did he know that four months after he moved the family here, this area opened up for missionary work, and two of those elders just happen to tract my mom out.

Dad joined two years later, and was bishop when he baptized me on my eighth birthday.

Dad worked hard. We never, ever had to worry about a roof over our head or food on our table, for dad worked his full time job at Westinghouse, then came home to work through the evening at his own refrigeration/air conditioning business. This was in addition to being bishop.

Dad taught me how to sew. He made all of my maternity tops and dresses, but just couldn't bring himself to put in "darts". It embarrassed him.

He taught me how to make some of the best homemade bread on the planet.

He taught me to not have fear in tearing something apart to see what needs to be fixed; and to be careful to remember how to put it back together. It applied to motors; it applied to life.

Mom and dad taught me how to work, and how to be self-reliant; how to prepare for when times might be hard; how to keep my head above water when times are bad. They taught me that spiritual preparation is far more important than any physical preparation I might do.

They were excellent genealogists, and passed their knowledge and expertise on to me. They had listened to stories and gleaned information from people who were had been born in the mid-1800's; but also taught me to take their information and run down the proof.

I had my dad longer than I had my mom. He lived with us for awhile before having to move him to a nursing home. That was one of the most difficult days of my life.

Dad, Mom, Peter...they've been together for awhile now. I think of them daily. Sometimes I say out loud how I wish they would point me in the right direction when running down an ancestor. After all, they're over there with them. Help me out!

I can hardly wait to see those wonderful parents of mine, and give me the thanks they deserve.

They raised me well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Random Conversations With The Sisterhood

Random conversations with the Sisterhood:

(Backstory: When my parents and three sisters were living in West Virginia, they traveled to Kentucky to visit my dad's grandfather, who always laid on a cot in the back of the house.)

Betty: That's the house where that daggone goat ate my dress!

Me: Why was there a goat eating your dress?

Betty: I was bored being in the house, and went out back to look at chickens and other animals. I was peering through the fence when I looked down and saw my dress gone. Part of it was hanging out of the goat's mouth.

Me: Why did you just move when he started eating your dress?

Betty: I was six years old.

Me: I didn't ask how old you were. I asked why you stood there and let a goat eat your dress.

Betty: I was six years old. At least he left my slip. That's all I had to wear home.

Me: Alright. Was Mom mad at you?

Betty: She was! That was my only dress.

Me: I still don't understand why you just didn't step away.

Betty: Because the goat was eating my dress. I was six years old.

Me: Sigh...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Betty: Jean, do you remember when that big spider was coming down the aisle at the church?

Jean: I sure do! That thing was huge!

Fern: I remember it, too! We all got up and stood on the pews. Mom got real mad at us.

Betty: She was furious that we were acting like that in church! She kept trying to smack us down.

Jean: But, Grandma Clemens was so happy, because she thought we all had gotten the Holy Ghost!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Me: Why did Mom always say that she or her Mom would get "as mad as a bitin' sow"?

Three sisters: What!? Don't you know how mad a bitin' sow can get? They will come chasing you with that snout going back and forth ready to bite a piece out of the back of you! They're hateful! They're angry! You don't mess with a bitin' sow!!!

Me: I do remember Mom being as mad as a bitin' sow. Now, I know where she got it from.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
More recollections:

The three sisters attending a Greek wedding with my parents in West Virginia. It went on for three days. My sisters were getting squirrelly and hungry, and Mom yanked them out of there to go find something to feed them, then went back to the wedding.

Two of the three sisters out on the tobacco farm with my mom's brothers when they came upon a huge snake. My uncles fought and fought that snake while it nearly was standing on its tail. They finally found bigger branches to beat it with, while one ran for a hoe.

A Gypsy funeral that was held at a funeral home...they nearly had to rebuild the funeral home, for they had a campfire lit in the parlor and a hog roasting in the back field.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My own recollection, which none of them have:

We were in the interior of my grandparents' house yesterday. It seemed so much bigger than when I was a girl.

I showed my cousin the banister where I used to peek through the rails. When there was a wake (body would be in the parlor -- it was called "sittin' with the corpse), all of the neighbors and friends would start bringing in the food. The house would be loaded with delicacies from around the county.

The men would sit around the dining room table. They would all be catching up on each others' work and lives, when it would turn to religion and politics.

The voices would get louder, and Mom would send me upstairs. I would come down and peek through those rails, and hear those men a hollerin'.

Fists would be waving, shouting would commence, and they would be arguing. My grandmother would shush them out of the dining room, out into the living room, onto the porch, out into the front yard, right on out into the road.

Upstairs, I would be like a ping-pong ball rushing from window to window to see the show and listen to the fighting. It would go on all night. And, it scared my little soul to death.

And THIS, is why I don't discuss politics on FB...or, much of anywhere else. Harrumph...right-fighters!
House built by Corb Stevens - Lawton, Carter, Kentucky

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Ohio Genealogical Society - Archive Tour

I live in the best place in the world.
My house is only about seven miles from the
Ohio Genealogical Society headquarters;
one of the largest genealogy societies 
in the United States.

It's beginnings go back to the year 1959, 
and my parents were among the first to attend the meetings at
Dr. David Massa's home.
Since my parents never, ever left me with anyone,
I'm sure I was at a few of those meetings, too.

Our own Richland County chapter meets in the building monthly.

This past week, our very own, much-appreciated Director,
Tom Neel, was our speaker.
He took us on a "behind the scenes" tour of 
the Archival Room.

I can't begin to tell you how many times I have been in this room.
But again, Tom showed us things I never knew were in there.

It was another opportunity to learn!

The above photo is of a German newspaper that existed in 1892.
There were two newspapers in Mansfield.
Think how many obituaries, marriage announcements, etc.
are in there; just waiting for someone who is able to read them
in German!

These photos showing brown paper packages tied up with string
are the Bibles that people donate.
 Some of these Bibles are huge!

I was particularly interested in the very old book on the
History of the Mission of the United Brethren.

I grew up hearing this story in my Ohio History classes in school
The United Brethren Church, also known as Moravians, 
 had sent missionaries to convert the Native Americans.

Unfortunately, it led to a very sad time in Ohio's history;
the converted Native Americans were massacred in a town
southeast of where I live -- Gnadenhutten.

You may read the story here:  

Tom also showed us this book containing 
Oaths of County Officers.

I never thought to even look for a book like this.

If you were looking to join a lineage society,
think how valuable it would be to connect your family member
using a tool like this.
These dates were from very early 
Richland County - 1814 and beyond.

This book had me drooling.

It is an original copy of
The Wyandott Mission at Upper Sandusky Ohio.

Reverend Finley wrote those book 
about his experience in the mission.

And, in the back of the book,
he has written about and interviewed several Natives.
If you look carefully below, 
he writes about how "Brother Between the Logs" has gone to rest.

The following photos show why I would have no business
ever working in a library or archives.
Because, I would want to keep everything.
Absolutely everything.

A monument company in Cleveland 
donated its entire collection to OGS.

This is what it looked like when it arrived.

I love the gravestone sketches below.

This monument company made many of the statues
that were torn down in recent months
because of their association with the Confederacy.

So, when was the last time you visited your own 
local genealogy society?

When was the last time you attended a meeting,
and heard an excellent speaker?

Have you recently made a road trip across town,
or across the state, to visit the library and archives 
that may house the information you need
to further your research?

Even if you don't have ancestors that resided in the area you live in,
there are always opportunities to further your own learning.

OGS has a tremendous collection that goes beyond Ohio's borders.
Every state that touches Ohio 
has books and materials that may help you.
There are materials on the shelves 
from all parts of the United States.

My advice:  Join your local society.
Join your state society.
Go to learn.
Leave ready to research and help others.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Today We Rejoice, and Not Mourn

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him.
You see, it was 39 years ago today that I embarked on the most important and the most difficult adventure of my life.
I became a mother.
I relive this day every single year, for many women recall things by pregnancies. They'll say:
"Oh, that was right before I had..."
"We went there right after ...was born"
On this day 39 years ago, Kerry had rushed home from work and was trying to convince me to go to the hospital. I was "nesting", and running around getting things ready. I thought I had some time left.
He finally got me in the car to drive the two blocks to the hospital, where later that evening I delivered Peter William Lauritzen, weighing in at 10 lb 6 oz. He was dubbed the "King of the Nursery".
I felt like I had given birth to a toddler. When I went to see him in the nursery, he held his head up to look at me.
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I had grown up as an only child. Kerry, the middle child of eleven, taught me so many things about babies. There were times Peter would be crying, and my tears were mixing along with his.
Most of our mistakes are made on the first child, for they're the ones we're trying out all of the advice from books and other mothers on.
Peter was a good baby and a good child, which made it alright to have three more. We thought they would all be like him. They weren't. We didn't have cookie-cutter children. They all came with their own distinct personalities.
Peter is gone now. His life was cut too short by disease and drugs. And, we grieve every day at our loss. We often wonder what he would look like as a man approaching forty...
Would he still have been on drugs?
Would he still have maintained his wonderful musical talent?
Would his nature still have been kind and gentle?
Would he step up and be looking after us?
You raise your oldest child to be your oldest child; the one you sort of look to as we begin looking at choices we'll have to make down the road.
But, rather than dwell on his death today, I will celebrate the fact that I had the honor of bringing this sweet boy into the world. I wouldn't be who I am today if I had not had the experiences of raising a family, and he started it all out. I learned service, and I learned sacrifice in the best scenario possible -- in my own home.
I also learned that adults produce children. But, even more importantly, children produce adults.
Happy heavenly birthday, dear Peter...we can hardly wait to hold you once again...

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

She Left Us Too Soon - Gay Nickle Lauritzen Appleberry

Though she is no longer with us, today we honor and celebrate the birthday of Kerry's sister, Gay.

Kerry and his sisters, Joy and Gay, were the "middle kids", and they always played together. He will often fondly recall something the three of them did as young children, and often with a tear in his eye.

She quickly made me feel at home as a new member of the family, taking me on wild rides through the Sanpete Valley of Utah in her green convertible. And, she made the best cinnamon rolls I've ever tasted in my life.

She was an artist extraodinairre, with two of the most gifted hands I've ever witnessed. She worked as a set director for several Hollywood movies, and for LDS films.

And, she also was diagnosed with ALS.

She passed away nearly 18 years ago, her body ravaged from the disease. It was so difficult for her large family to say their goodbyes...wanting her to be well, yet wanting her released from her misery.

Gay was one year younger than me. I didn't have her in my life long enough, but she was there long enough to make a difference.

Gay, your family misses you so much. We honor you today, and can't wait to see you again!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

One of My Most Humbling Moments Ever

I am sitting here on a quiet and rainy Sunday evening, contemplating the events of this past week attending the #2018OGS Conference.

I am humbled with the award of Fellow that was given to me at Saturday's luncheon. Humbled, yet overwhelmed at the thought of this recognition.

Let me tell you how this played out.

I had just finished teaching a class, and told Kerry to go on to the luncheon. I would get there as soon as I could, and was stopped several times on the way there.

The lunch was delicious! One of the most beautiful memories I had was of sitting at a table filled with people I didn't really know that well and hearing their lively conversations about their joys and challenges of their own genealogy.

It was awards time...and, my mind was on my next class that was to begin shortly. Chapters, chapter members, newsletters, etc. were all receiving their due recognition.

Then, it came time for the Fellow award. Again, I was looking at my watch, for I would need to leave to set up equipment in the next little bit.

Deborah Lichtner Deal began to read a beautiful description about someone that sounded so wonderful. I began to think about who it could be, for I really wanted to meet that person before the conference was over.

Then, things began to click. Some "Peggy-isms" were mentioned, then the number of presentations that I had given last year was brought up, and I'm sure a few more things were mentioned. But, at this point the tears were falling.

The entire room stood on its feet to clap and cheer for me as I made my way to the front. Never, ever in my life had I ever received anything like this. Never.

The rest is a blur. I made my way back, where Kerry embraced me with pride. I let him wear my corsage to church today, for I wouldn't be where I am without his firm, yet gentle support through the years.

Years and years ago, my parents were among the small group of genealogists who met in Dr. David Massa's home in downtown Mansfield to form what would eventually become the Ohio Genealogical Society. I'm sure they didn't know that 62 years later, their daughter would receive one of the awards stemming from those beginnings.

Now, that said, let me also point out that I am still the same Peggy that I was the moment before I received this. I am the same as you...I research like you do, I laugh with you, I cry with you, I pray for those who have asked to be remembered, and I worship with many of you. I am not above a single one of you.

May I never, ever forget that.

I humbly thank you all who have sent your love and greetings from around the world.

I thank my mom and dad.

I thank Mr. Kerry, who has known about this since January!

And, I thank the Lord for all of you who have enriched my life so greatly.