Uncle Jerry

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I’ve not been able to spend much time here in the office lately.  That’s not apt to change a lot in the next few weeks.

I was looking through some old family photos when I came across this one  of me and my Uncle Jerry.  Jerry is an older, half-brother of my mother.

Another of my mother’s brothers also served in WWII.  Hence the two stars in the flag in my grandparent’s front window.

My mother had two had two older half-brothers.  Jerry, with whom she shared a father, and Edward, with whom she shared a  mother.  She also had two younger [full] brothers and a younger sister.

I always used to look to family gatherings.  They meant a chance to hang with cousins and grandma used to make real mincemeat pie.  I loved that.  It was actually made with meat.

Have you ever tried that kind of mincemeat?


Family News

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We had lunch with our older son yesterday before we went to the shelter to bring Lily home.  We always enjoy those lunches with him.  For a variety of reasons, we haven’t been all that regular in meeting since for the last month and a half.

The roads were not particularly good, but we wanted to see him this week before he and his wife leave for a vacation Puerto Rico.  You might enjoy summer vacations, but his seasonal business dictates winter vacations.  What better place to go this time of year?

Sylvia and I would love to go there again.  Our one trip there was marred by a hurricane shutting down the island for the last half of our short stay.  We were a day late getting back home.  We have friend there that we’d love to see again, but it’s not likely that we’ll do that except on FaceBook.


Our newest addition to the household is still hiding in the basement.  She did come out last night and used the litter box, ate, probably drank and checked out her bed.  Today, we can’t locate her at all.  I put out a couple of tasty treats to tempt her.  Patience is the order of the day.

Sylvia and I ran lots of errands today.  We did buy a bag of the same kind of dry food that Lily was eating at the shelter.  We are hoping that will help ease the transition to her new home.

Family Friday Linky

This Linky is the same as the one on the Family Friday blog.  You can register participation on either site and your link will appear on both blogs.

Was It Really 40 Years Ago?

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Forty years ago, we called San José, Costa Rica home.  Our purpose was to learn the Spanish language and Latin American culture.  Before the year had ended, we were living in Quito, Ecuador and beginning to learn that language and culture is not homogenous across Latin America.  I’m sure you’re aware that language and culture is not the same in each region of our nation.

Sylvia and I spent 5 mornings a week in classes.  Our afternoons were spent in study.  While we were in class, our younger son was in a pre-kinder.  Our older son was enrolled in a nearby English-language school.

On Saturday, we would board a public bus and ride north to Cartago.  Cartago is the ancient capitol of Costa Rica.  It was also the site of a Saturday market.  Farmers brought their produce where they sold it at the largest farmer’s market that I have seen.

One of our favorite characters was the older fellow who sold oranges.  Our Spanish was limited and he was patient with us and we all laughed.  A lot.  For us he came to epitomize the industry, warmth and humor of a wonderful group of people.

Sylvia stand beside the Orange Man.

We enjoyed our weekly trip to the market in Cartago.  We would return from the trip with two or three bags full of fresh fruit and vegetables.  I sometimes wonder what it is like there today.

Another Country Heard From

On Monday of this week, I received an e-mail from England.  It was a distant cousin of Sylvia who had read the blog post I did on Mary Baxter Yallup in 2009.  Mary was Sylvia’s great great grandmother.  Distant cousin Carol Kimberley is researching the Baxter family, had found the blog post (actually there were four of them) and wanted to know if I had more info on Mary.  I sent her copies of what I had.

Mary, you may recall, was pregnant again when she took her daughters and went to visit her parents during the week of the fair.  Her husband, George, went with her, but quickly returned home “to work.”  He didn’t go home to work.  He left Mary a note and left for America.  Another account says he wrote from Cleveland, Ohio.

Shortly after posting my first story about George Yallup and Mary Baxter Yallup, I heard from [distant] cousin Peter Yallup.  He was able share some more of their story.  Later, a cousin whom we see about once a year, shared a 1913 newspaper account that reported on the family.

George and Mary showed a lot of grit and determination, characteristics which I see today in their great great granddaughter, Sylvia.  I’m so glad to have made contact with Carol and to be reminded of Mary Baxter Yallup, who ranks high in my short list of heroes.

Aunt Marie

Yesterday the funeral for my Aunt Marie Wyman was held in Leslie, Michigan.  Sylvia and I were there along with my sister, Clara, and her husband, Rick.

Marie Wyman 1925 – 2013

Marie married one of my mother’s younger brothers.  They had two daughters (Eleanor and Bev) and a son (Jerry).  For years, we’ve exchanged Christmas cards and a letter.  That’s how we kept up with each other.  In 2008, she left the home where she had lived for 62 years.  She moved to Negaunee in Michigan’s upper peninsula where she lived with her younger daughter.

Last month, I found that the cousin that my aunt lived with is on FaceBook.  We became FB “friends.”  At the funeral, when Cousin Jerry said, “Now we are the old folks,” Clara said, “What about Uncle John.”  Cousin Bobby reported that his father (Uncle John) had passed on December 27.  Cousin Jerry is correct.

Aunt Marie was suffering with Alzheimer’s and problems brought on my that.  As one daughter observed, “She had suffered enough.”  At least she lived to see a great great grandson.

And now . . . we are the old folks.

Family Christmas

Bryant, Barbara, Briana, Sylvia and Chuck

Last Sunday afternoon, we had our family Christmas celebration.  Briana’s friend, Jake, was here for a while, but had to return to campus before we took pictures or ate.  He did take a piece of Sylvia’s cherry pie with him. :food:   The rest of us had ours after salads and baked potatoes.  Yum yum!

To me this is the best part of Christmas–those few hours that we enjoy each others company.  Unfortunately, Scott, our other son wasn’t able to be with us.  Nevertheless, it was fun as we talked about the things that we’ve been doing and that we plan to do.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we’ll go to Sylvia’s dad’s house for that family get together.  It is a big group and we’ll have some crazy fun.  If the past is any indication, we will survive. :wink:

Christmas isn’t the same since we lost Sylvia’s mother.  She always made it such a special time for all.  She would spend half the year in planning and preparation for the Christmas celebration.  We try to keep the traditions alive, but it’s not the same.  Still, Christmas is all about family and I hope that never changes.

Keeping In Touch

How do you keep in touch with family?  It is now the Christmas season, and if you’re like us, you are receiving Christmas cards and letters from friends and family.  To me, that is one of the best parts of this particular season.

Unfortunately, this year’s batch of letters was not all good news.  One of my good friends from college days is now a widower.  Shortly after returning from a cruise to celebrate their 50th anniversary, she suddenly passed away.  One of his photos hangs on the wall of the hotel where they were staying.  Underneath the photo, a plaque dedicates the image in memory of Beth.

At least the aunt that has Alzheimer’s disease is able to live at home with her daughter.  And while my cousin is working that aunt is able to go to a senior citizen center during the day.  Facebook has really been great for keeping me in touch with my cousins.  After I read about my aunt, I searched for the cousin with whom she is staying.  I thought I found her.  She did attend the same high school that I went to.  At least that’s what I thought.  Then I noticed… It was in Arkansas not in Michigan.  Drat!

It is not always easy to keep in touch with family.  But at least I’m trying.

Personal note

My hand is getting worse.  So I’m using Dragon Naturally Speaking to dictate this post.

Grandma Hutchinson

First, the Family Friday meme has a new home.  You’ll find it here on Blogger.

This week, I want to tell you a bit about my my paternal grandmother, Margie Victoria Isham.  She was born December 3, 1895 at Eaton Rapids, Michigan.

The baby photo is dated 1896.  Margie’s parents didn’t stay together.  Her mom raised her with some financial help from her dad.

I suppose that if you gals had a dolly like this one, that you would not play with her.  You would not let children play with her.  You would protect her, for she would be valuable.  She probably was back then as well.

To provide income, Grandma Margie’s mother ran a millinery shop.  Don’t you suppose that explains such a fancy hat for a young lady?

Margie’s father bought a piano for her, and with lessons she became a very good player.  She even played piano at the movie theater.  That was a neat job, and she got to watch the movies!  I asked her, “Wasn’t that hard to do?”  Her answer?  “Aww, there’s nothing to it.  You just watch the screen and play something that goes with what you see.  If it’s a love scene, you play something sweet and soft.  If it’s a chase you play something fast and loud.  You could do it too!”  For my part, I’m not so sure.

In 1907, her mother married Alfred Weidler, a German immigrant.  The family moved to Missaukee County, Michigan near Lake City.  There they farmed and raised bees.  At one time Weidler was, according to family tradition, reported to be the largest bee keeper in all of North America.  While it may be a “family story,” it does play a role in my Grandma meeting my Grandpa.

Grandpa’s folks wanted to get into the “bee business.”  They had heard about the Weidler’s and their operation in the same county.  I’m not sure how the business aspects went, but two young people met.  They were married November 3, 1913 in Lake City.

Here’s a picture of Grandma and Grandpa Hutchinson that was taken of them in 1940 shortly after I was born.

Grandma Margie was always a favorite of us kids.  She could tell great stories and had a most infectious laugh.  She passed away in 1989 at age 93.  Her life wasn’t easy, but she took it in good stride.

Paternal Grandfather

Family Friday returns to Secondary Roads.  I have told you about my siblings, Sylvia and her siblings and our parents.

Today, I want to tell you the little bit I know about my my paternal grandfather, Frank LeRoy Hutchinson.  Grandpa Frank was born May 19, 1887 in Vassar Township of Tuscola County, Michigan.  Between 1900 and 1910 his parents moved to Pioneer Township in Missaukee County.  It was there he met my paternal grandmother.  They were married on November 3, 1913 in Lake City, Michigan.

The two met because her folks were bee keepers and his folks wanted to get into that business.  Grandma told us of how he would come courting on his big white horse.  “That was such a beautiful animal, I really loved that impressive creature” she would recall.  She also added, “Sometimes he had trouble catching the horse, so he’d walk two hours to visit me.  He always did have his ‘queers’.”

From the photo album

My dad, center rear, shown with some siblings and Grandpa Frank who encourages an uncooperative dog to pose

Great grandpa Elmer, me, Grandpa Frank and Dad – 1940

Grandpa Frank, the hunter, prepares to get some meat for the table in 1942

I didn’t know my paternal grandfather very well.  I started kindergarten as WWII was ending.  Shortly after that, these grandparents moved a couple of hundred miles away.  Nevertheless, we would visit them a few times each year.

Grandpa Frank passed away in July of 1975 at age 88.  Sylvia and I were living in Ecuador, South America at the time.

What about your family?  I invite you to share family stories be they humorous anecdotes, fables, foibles or history.  I’ll be doing that regularly on Fridays again and invite you to leave a link to your Family  Friday post.  Use the linky that follows

Elouise Irving Harris 1920 – 2001

Elouise Irving Harris, Sylvia’s mother, was born January 8, 1920 in Clinton County, Michigan.  She was the first of three daughters.  One week past her eleventh birthday, Elouise’s mother died. 

George, Rachel & children, Leona and Elouise – 1921

In writing of her memories, Elouise told of hoeing weeds in her father’s mint fields.  Here is part of that story: “Dad bought us coveralls to wear when hoeing mint.  Fine but made of jeans material and they covered everything but the face from the neck up and the hands.  So when we went to town we would be brown as a berry from the wrist down and the neck and face up but white elsewhere and worse yet they were hot so we unbuttoned the neck, which made a very decorative “V” and looked very good with a rounded neckline dress.”

A youthful Elouise spoofs for the family in her dad’s duds.

Sixteen-year-old Elouise was Clinton County’s first Mint Queen.  Until her death she supported the Mint Festival, and they honored her in return.

Elouise rides in the rumble seat – 1988

Here is another account from her memories: “Dad had two horses, Kit and Molly.  He really liked those horses – they were matched. He used them for cultivating and farm work.  One year he had a fellow who didn’t know much about horses.  It was a hot day and he didn’t let them rest very often.  Molly went down in the traces and they couldn’t get her up.  So she died there and dad buried her.  That fellow got fired.  Dad was really angry.  Then he got another horse called Dick.  Kit lived for quite a while after that and Dick after her.  Soon after Molly died dad started using tractors so Kit and Dick’s last years were relaxed.”

Elouise with daughter Sylvia at Glen Lake – ca. 1946

She was married to Leon Nelson Harris December 9, 1939 in Detroit, Michigan.  They had five children: Joyce, Karen, Sylvia, Bruce and Gaylynn.

Leon, Elouise, Joyce, Sylvia, Bruce and Karen – Christmas 2000

Elouise was a seamstress and worked many years for Sears in Lansing.  She was also very active in her church — particularly the missions program.
In March 2001 she suffered a stroke while sitting at her computer one evening.  Her husband, Leon, found her and rushed her to the hospital.  Unfortunately, she passed away Sunday, April 1, 2001.