Sunday, March 29, 2009


Please read this all the way to the disclaimer at the bottom

On a cool March day in 1876, the story goes, Jonathan Phelps West was strolling down
a Boston street when a window in a building he was passing suddenly opened. A man
leaned out and bellowed: "Watson! WATSON!!" He pounded his hand on the window
sill in frustration. "Damn the man! Can't he hear me?" The man pointed down at
Jonathan. "You there."

Jonathan paused and looked up. "Ayuh?"

"What's your name, my good man?"

"Jonathan P. West from Upton , Maine. Who's asking?"

"Alexander G. Bell. How would you like to earn a dollar for delivering a message?"

Jonathan scratched his chin. "Depends where I have t' deliver it."

Mr. Bell tossed down a dollar coin. "Just go down that flight of stairs there to your right to
the cellar door, knock on it, and tell my assistant Mr. Watson it's not working. Could you
do that for me like a good fellow?"

Jonathan looked at the silver dollar in his hand. He rarely if ever came to Boston because
people here were so strange. But it seemed easy enough, and a dollar was a dollar. "Ayuh,
I'll do it." He nodded to the agitated man and took the stairs down to the cellar door and

The man who answered the door was younger than Bell but just as agitated. "Yes? What is
it? I'm busy!"

"Your name Watson?"

"Yes? Who ARE you?"

"Jonathan P. West from Upton, Maine."

"Yes, yes, and what do you want? I'm busy here!"

"Man named Bell asked me t' come down here and tell you it's not working."

Watson's face turned so red Jonathan thought the man was going to have a stroke. "I
KNOW it's not working." He turned back towards a table with some strange contraption
set atop it.

Jonathan got a good look at the thing. Even from standing in the doorway across the
room he could see the problem. He pointed at the wire dangling beneath the table. "It's
not connected."

Watson turned and looked. "Oh. Er....thank you." And then he shut the door.

Jonathan was left outside. He shook his head, pocketed the silver dollar and climbed back
up the stairwell to the street. He looked up at the still open window. Bell was no longer
there, but as Jonathan walked off down the street, he could Bell shout one more time...


City folk sure were strange.


This piece of FICTION was written for the "What If" (69th) edition of the Carnival of

Saturday, March 28, 2009


"The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: What if...
This is your chance to
rewrite history! Have you ever imagined your
ancestor playing a major
roll in history? Perhaps you've envisioned them
singlehandedly winning
the American Revolution, going over Niagara Falls
in a barrel, or inventing
the flutaphone. This is your chance to write a bit
of fiction about your ancestor
to delight and entertain us. It is the April
Fools edition after all!"

The deadline for submissions is April 1st. There's still time to write
an article and submit it here. I'll be posting my own entry(perhaps two) this

There's a lot of talented and clever genea-bloggers out there and I'm
looking forward to some entertaining posts!

Thursday, March 26, 2009


On May 29,1844, at the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the Founding of
Old Reading, Massachusetts (now three towns: Reading, North Reading,
and Wakefield), the Honorable Lilley Eaton stepped forward and read a
poem he'd written about the history of the town and some of it's important
citizens. Among these was my ancestor Jeremiah Swain(also spelled
Swayne or Sweyn)

"At my old map I looked again,
And found the house of Major Swayne ;
'Twas situated near the ground
Where Stowell, Issacher, is found.
This Major Swayne, the records say,
Was a great warrior in his day,
And in our ancient Indian wars,
A victor chief, beloved of Mars ;
And when King Philip with his troop,
With tomahawk and dread war-whoop,
With poisoned arrows and firebrand,
Bore down upon the pilgrim land,
Old Major Swayne, with courage true,
Forth to the post of danger flew,
Was made commander of the free,
And led them on victory.
And once, 'tis said, it so fell out,
While Major Swayne was on a scout,
Exploring swamps and other by-land,
Within the State of old Rhode Island,
He found the Indians, whom he sought,
Gathered in force, within a fort.
Our hero's numbers being few,
He wished to hide them from their view,
So lurking near their palisade,
Concealed them there in ambuscade ;
Then bold as e'er a lion was,
His glitt'ring steel the Major draws,
And, mounting on a rising stone,
He cries in loud, undaunted tone,
"We've found the foe, let's storm the fort,
To drive them thence will be but sport;
Come, Captain Poole and Sergeant Brown,
Wheel up your squadrons into line."
The Indians heard this fearless boast,
And thought there came a mighty host ;
With terror struck, and wild dismay,
They quit the fort and ran away ;
Our little band, with triumph then,
Into the empty fortress ran,
Unfurled the flag of liberty,
And gain'd a bloodless victory."

Lilley Eaton & James Flint, Historical Address and Poem: Delivered at the Bi-centennial
Celebration of the Incorporation of the Old Town of Reading May 29, 1844, (Boston, Ma.
S.N. Dickinson, 1844) pp.73-74

Now I'm well aware of poetic license but as I'll show in future posts Lilley Eaton took
quite a bit of it in his description of my ancestor's part in what is also known as the
Great Swamp Battle. Suffice it to say at this point that while Jeremiah Swain would rise
in rank in the Massachusetts militia, he was only a lieutenant at the time of the battle,
and the victory was hardly as bloodless as Mr. Eaton portrays it. But two hundred
years had passed and there was no internet around to consult about the actual event
so Lilley Eaton no doubt relied on tradition in composing his poem.

As I said, there'll be more to come, but for the moment, this is my descent from
Jeremiah Swain and his wife Mary Smith:

Jeremiah Swain m. Mary Smith
Sarah Swain m. John Laughton
John Laughton Jr. m Hepzibah(Hepzibath) Stimson (Stimpson)
John Laughton 3rd m. Jane Adams
John Laughton 4th m. Lydia Ann McGraugh
John Laughton 5th m. Amata Greenleaf
Esther Laughton m. Philip Richardson
Louisa Almata Richardson m. Jonathan Phelps West (my great great grandparents)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The 2009 Abington St. Patrick's Day Parade was held on Sunday, March 22nd
this year because many of the units also marched in Boston or Scituate on the
17th. My brother Phil is part of the Defenders Alumni Drum and Bugle Corps
and he marched this year in the parade as he did many times with the original
Defenders when he was younger. That's him with the bass drum and wearing
the white plumed shako. I didn't attend because I was sick but his sons did
and saw their Dad march for the first time.I wonder if either of them were
bitten with the bug to march as Phil was when he saw our parents march in so
many parades as a kid.

Speaking of the Parade, I received an commentl from Tim Bailey who corrected an
mistake I made on the post where I first discussed the Parade. It was his father
Jack Bailey who started the Abington St. Patrick's Day Parade, not his
grandfather Eddie Bailey. Read the original post here and Tim's comment.
I'm correcting the error.

The Bailey family is owed a debt of gratitude for starting a great annual
Abington institution!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun exercise this week was inspired by his
seach for Y-DNA test matches:

"The challenge is this:

Provide a list of your paternal grandmother's patrilineal line. Answer these questions:

* What was your father's mother's maiden name?

* What was your father's mother's father's name?

* What is your father's mother's father's patrilineal line? That is, his father's father's father's
back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?

* Can you identify male sibling(s) of your father's mother, and any living male descendants
from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that
patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the
next generation back, or even further."

So here I go...

* My father's mother was Cora Berthella Barker (1899-1987) born in Bethel, Oxford,

* My father's mother's father's name was Frank W. Barker (1865-1905) born in
Albany, Oxford, Me.

* His father was Nathaniel S. Barker (1830-1884) born in Newry, Oxford, Me.

* His father was Nathaniel Barker (1794-?) born in Newry, Oxford, Me.(?)

*His father was Jonathan Barker (1754-1824)born in Methuen, Essex, Ma.

*His father was Jonathan Barker (1728-1794) born in Andover, Essex, Ma.

*His father was Jonathan Barker (1706-1737)born in Andover, Essex, Ma.

*His father was Benjamin Barker (1663-1750)born in Andover, Essex, Ma.

*His father was Richard Barker (1621-1693) born in Stoke-on-Nayland, Suffolk, England

Now my grandmother had two died in infancy and I don't know much
about the other. And her father Frank likewise had two brothers that I have no records of
as yet.

That leaves his father Nathaniel S. Barker. He had one brother, Amos Hastings Barker.
And there is where I'm not sure there would be complications for Y-DNA testing, because
his daughter Charlot Lovenia Barker was Frank W. Barker's wife. In other words, Frank
and Charlot had the same grandfather and were first cousins.

I'm not sure how that might effect the Y-DNA test. Meanwhile, I'll try to see if there are
any living male sibling descendants I can find.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


As part of my series about my ancestors involvement in the Indian wars
of New England, I'll be shifting over to the ancestors of my great great
grandmother Louisa Almata Richardson.Families included in this line

Mackres (MacCrest)

So far the most prominent figure is Jeremiah Swain but there were a few others
with distinguished careers or who met tragic ends in the fighting. I'll be looking for
any instances where their paths might have crossed with the Willard, Sawyer,
and Houghton families. I've already discovered a link between the Stimsons
and the Upton family from my Barker line!

Sorry about the title of the post. It just sort of popped into my head and
made me laugh!


Jasia has posted the 68th Carnival of Genealogy over at her Creative Gene
blog and there's over 30 participants who contributed posts from their
blogs. In honor of March being Women's History Month the theme is on
women we have known or in our family that have significance to us. As
usual there are a lot of thoughtful, well written posts!

I'll be hosting the 69th Edition of the COG here on West in New England,
and since it's going to be in April, we're going to have some fun with it:

"And now it's time for a Call for Submissions! The topic for the next
edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: What if... This is your chance to
rewrite history! Have you ever imagined your ancestor playing a major
roll in history? Perhaps you've envisioned them singlehandedly winning
the American Revolution, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or inventing
the flutaphone. This is your chance to write a bit of fiction about your ancestor
to delight and entertain us. It is the April Fools edition after all! This edition
will be hosted by Bill West at West in New England. Thanks Bill!
The deadline for submissions is April 1st so start spinning your tall tales!

Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy using
the carnival submission form. Please use a descriptive phrase in the title of any
articles you plan to submit and/or write a brief description/introduction to
your articles in the "comment" box of the blogcarnival submission form. This
will give readers an idea of what you've written about and hopefully interest
them in clicking on your link."

So give one of your ancestors a chance at fictitious glory and send us your post.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what people come up with for this one!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


The 12th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture is up over at
Lisa's Small-leaved Shamrock. This edition was the Carnival's 2nd Annual
St. Patrick's Day Parade of Posts. 19 writers contributed articles from their
blogs covering all sorts of aspects of their Irish heritage, so read and enjoy!

The next edition will be on Irish names:

"Share with us the surnames in your Irish family tree, but don't just stop there.
Do a little research and tell us the origin of one or more of those surnames,
the stories of how they might have changed over the years, or tales of how
they've been mixed up and misspelled, etc.

Want to focus on your family's given names instead? Share with us the
story of your ancestors' Irish first names (given at birth or nicknamed later),
the "grandparent" nicknames in your Irish family tree, or any other Irish
name stories that you'd like to share.

Deadline for submissions to the Irish Names edition of the carnival is Sunday,
May 24, 2009. This edition will be published at Small-leaved Shamrock on
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 ."

Hmm. I'm going to be doing some McFarland research!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Six years after the capture and release of Enos Stevens, Fort No. 4 was still
subject to Indian attacks. On 30th Aug, 1754, during the height of the French
and Indian War, another raid was made on what was now called Charlestown,
N.H. and members of the Willard family once more found themselves
captives. Miriam Willard was visiting with her sister Susanna Willard Johnson's
family when the home was attacked. Everyone had been asleep so there was
no fighting and no blood shed. Taken in the raid were Susanna and James Johnson,
three of their children, Miriam Willard, and two men, Ebenezer Farnsworth and
Peter Laboree.

Susanna Johnson later wrote an account of her captivity and you can read it here
at Susan S. Martin's "Northeast Captivity Stories". For reason's that will become
clear later, I will focus on Miriam here.

The Indians forced the captured colonists into a grueling march north to Canada,
at one point stealing a horse belonging to Phineas Stevens for the pregnant Susanna
Johnson to ride. After she gave birth to her child and it became obvious the horse
was too weak for the trip it was slaughtered and fed the whole party. For the most part
they were well treated, and the only restraint on young Miriam at night was that the
Indians "...simply required her to lie upon the ground, while an Indian
lay upon either side of her, with cords passed over her body and under
theirs, so that the least stir on her part would arouse them. She testified,
however, to their modest and correct deportment during her continuance
with them, though entirely subjected to their control."
- ((Seth Chandler, History of the Town of Shirley, Massachusetts, self-published 1883
pp 716-717))

Then the party separated, with Miriam being taken on to Montreal where the
Indians sold her to the French. But while her ransom was paid, she had no way to
to return home, and somehow ended up living in the household of the Lieutenant
Governor and earned her keep for several years as a seamstress making dresses for
the ladies and uniforms for the men. When James Johnson failed to return in time
(through no fault of his own) with the money needed to free the rest of the family,
Miriam was reunited with her sister Susanna's family. Mr. Johnson and his son
Sylvanus were freed a year later, leaving the two women and the younger children
behind until they were set free in a few months later.

Unfortunately, they were forced to take the long way home. First they were shipped
to Plymouth, England, and then back across the Atlantic to land in New York in
December of 1757. When they returned home to Charlestown just after New Year's
Day, 1758, they learned that their father Moses Willard had been killed in an Indian
raid two years before in 1756. Miriam went on to marry the Rev. Phineas Whitney
in 1762 but died in 1769. They had no children.

Now if any of this story sounds familiar to you, it's perhaps because you already have
read it elsewhere. Writer Elizabeth George Speare based her novel Calico Captive
on Susanna Willard Johnson's account of her family's ordeal and tells the story
through Miriam's viewpoint.

And I, as a bookseller, have stocked and sold this book as part of school summer
reading lists never realizing until recently that it was the story of my distant
cousin, Miriam Willard!

Written for the 68th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy


((This is another in a series of posts about the descendants of my
ancestor, Simon Willard, and their experiences in the Indian wars
of colonial New England.))

I've written earlier about the capture of young Phineas Stevens and his
brother by Indians in 1721. During his captivity he experienced and learned
much about Indian culture and this knowledge would shape the course of his

After his eventual ransom and return home to his family, Phineas reached
adulthood and became an officer in the colonial militia. He also was sent
to Canada twice to negotiate the release of captives from Massachusetts and
on one of those he liberated was John Stark, who later became a general in the
American army and defeated in the British at the Battle of Bennington, Vt.

Phineas' most interesting exploit involves his defense of the frontier garrison
called Fort No. 4 which at that time was part of Massachusetts but it is now
Charlestown, New Hampshire. He took command of the Fort in March,1747
with a force of thirty men, and soon found himself under attack several
days later by a combined force of French and Indians led by General Debeline.
Phineas wrote about the siege to Governor Amherst of Massachusetts:

"Our dogs being very much disturbed, which gave us reason to think that the enemy
were about, occasioned us not to open the gate at the usual time; but one of our men,
being desirous to know the certainty, ventured out privately to set on the dogs, about
nine o'clock in the morning; and went about twenty rods from the fort firing off his
gun and saying, Choboy to the dogs. Whereupon, the enemy, being within a few rods,
immediately arose from behind a log and fired: but through the goodness of God, the
man got into the fort with only a slight wound. The enemy being then discovered,
immediately arose from their ambushments and attacked us on all sides. The wind
being very high, and everything exceedingly dry, they set fire to all the old fences,
and also to a log-house about forty rods distant from the fort to the windward; so that
within a few minutes we were entirely surrounded with fire — all which was performed
with the most hideous shouting and firing, from all quarters, which they continued, in
a very terrible manner, until the next day at ten o'clock at night, without intermission;
during which time we had no opportunity to eat or sleep. But notwithstanding all their
shoutings and threatenings, our men seemed not to be in the least daunted, but fought
with great resolution: which, doubtless, gave the enemy reason to think we had
determined to stand it out to the last degree. The enemy had provided themselves with
a sort of fortification, which they had determined to push before them and bring fuel
to the side of the fort, in order to burn it down. But instead of performing what they
threatened, and seemed to be immediately going to undertake, they called to us and
desired a cessation of arms until sunrise the next morning, which was granted : at
which time they would come to a parley. Accordingly the French General Debeline
came with about sixty of his men, with a flag of truce, and stuck it down within about
twenty rods of the fort in plain sight of the same, and said if we would send three men
to him he would send as many to us, to which we complied. The General sent in a
French Lieutenant with a French soldier and an Indian.

Upon our men returning, he desired that the Captain of the fort would meet him half-way,
and give an answer to the above proposal, which I did, and upon meeting the Monsieur,
he did not wait for me to give an answer, but went on in the following manner, viz. —
that what had been promised he was ready to perform, but upon refusal he would immediately set the fort on fire, and run over the top, for he had seven hundred men
with him, and if
we made any further resistance, or should happen to kill one Indian,
we might expect all to
be put to the sword. " The fort," said he, " I am resolved to
have or die. Now do what
you please, for I am as easy to have you fight as to give up."
I told the General, that in
case of extremity his proposal would do; but inasmuch as
I was sent here by my master,
the Captain General, to defend this fort, it would not be consistent with my order to give it up unless I was better satisfied that he was able
to perform what he had threatened;
and furthermore I told him that it was poor encouragement to resign into the hands of the enemy, that upon one of their number
being killed, they would put all to the sword, when
it was probable that we had killed
some of them already. "Well," said he, "go into the fort,
and see whether your men
dare to fight any more or not, and give me an answer quick, for
my men want to be
fighting." Whereupon I came into the fort and called all the men
together, and informed
them what the French General said, and then put it to vote which
they chose, either to
fight on or resign; and they voted to a man to stand it out as long as
they had life.
Upon this, I returned the answer that we were determined to fight it out.
Upon which
they gave a shout, and then fired, and so continued fighting and shouting
until daylight
the next morning."

But the French apparently were not in such a good position as they claimed, for the next
day they asked for a second parley and sent two Indians with a new offer from General

"That in case we would sell them provisions, they would leave and not fight anymore; and
desired my answer, which was, that selling them provisions for money was contrary to the
laws of nations, but if they would send in a captive for every five bushels of corn, I would
supply them. Upon the Indians returning the General this answer, four or five guns were
fired against the fort, and they withdrew, as we supposed, for we heard no more of them.

In all this time we had scarce opportunity to eat or sleep. The cessation of arms gave us
no matter of rest, for we suspected they did it to obtain an advantage against us. I believe
men were never known to hold out with better resolution, for they did not seem to sit or
lie still for one moment. There were but thirty men in the fort, and although we had
some thousands of guns fired at us, there were but two men slightly wounded, viz.
John Brown and Joseph Ely. (Saunderson's "History of Charlestown, N.H")"
- quoted in The History of Sudbury, Massachusetts. 1638-1889 by Alfred Sereno Hudson.

Despite the failure of this attack more were to come. A year later in June, 1748, Phineas'
son Enos was captured by Indians in the field outside the fort and continued the family
tradition of being carried off to Canada. He was released shortly after and sent home
by way of Albany, N.Y., a rather roundabout way of returning.

But six years later another attack on Fort No.4 would result in several of Simon Willard's
descendants taking an even longer journey home from captivity.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


In Boston when St. Patrick's Day rolls around you'll sometimes here the stories
about the legendary Irish politicians of the city's history, and among them none
loom larger than James Michael Curley and John Fitzgerald. Both of them were
political bosses of the old school, always ready to help a friend or exact revenge
on an enemy. I've written a bit before about Mayor Curley, so in this post I'll
talk a bit about "Honey Fitz."

John Fitzgerald rose first to prominence in Boston's North End in 1892 when he
ran successfully for the state senate. He was keenly aware of his constituents' lives,
their weddings and funerals, and he mingled with them at dances and dinners. His
supporters were known as "Dearos" because he frequently referred to the "Dear Old
North End" in his speeches. Two years later he won election as congressman and served
three terms before running for Mayor of Boston and defeating an opponent from
the old Yankee establishment in 1905. His administration was famous for cronyism,
and Fitzgerald lost his bid for re-election but regained the office two years later when he
defeated another "Yankee", James J. Storrow. (I'm not certain but I think Storrow Drive
is named after him.)

One night during a rally of that campaign, a band was hired to play during Mayor
Fitzgerald's entrance. They finished two songs, "The Star Spangled Banner" and
"The Wearing of the Green" while Fitzgerald tried to make his way to the platform
through the crowded hall, then began playing "Sweet Adeline". When Fitzgerald
finally climbed up on the stage, he led everyone in singing the song and it became his
trademark. He'd perform the song at every event or rally he was invited to speak at.

"Honey Fitz" was also well known as a man with an opinion on nearly everything. In fact,
someone even wrote a poem about it:

"Honey Fitz can talk you blind
On any subject you can find.
Fish and fishing, motor boats
Railroads, street-cars, getting votes
Proper ways to open clams
How to cure existing shams
State Street, Goo-Goos, aeroplanes,
Malefactors, thieving gains,
Local transportation rates,
How to run nearby States;
On all these things, and many more,
Honey Fitz is crammed with lore."

There were other Irish political bosses in Boston. One was P.J. Kennedy from East
Boston, with whom Fitzgerald had ties through the marriage of his daughter Rose to
Kennedy's son Joseph. Another was James Michael Curley from South Boston who
eventually challenged "Honey Fitz" in 1913. Curley ran a tough campaign and
spread a rumor that Fitzgerald had an affair with a cigarette girl named "Toodles".
He even scheduled a public "lecture" entitled "Great Lovers from Cleopatra to
Toodles". Rather than put his wife through the wringer of such a campaign, Mayor
Fitzgerald withdrew from the race. He never again held an elective office.

But he did live long enough to see his grandson John Fitzgerald Kennedy win the
Congressional seat he himself once held. And when JFK was elected President of the
United States, he named the presidential yacht the Honey Fitz in honor of his beloved

Written for the 12th edition of The Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture.

Monday, March 09, 2009


I've been doing some more research on ancestors and relatives involved in
the 17th century Indian wars of New England and I'll be posting some articles
about them in the coming days. I keep finding information I never knew about.

I also am planning a series about the economic recessions and panics and how
they may have effected my family. They've happened a lot more frequently in
American history than most people realize.

I sometimes wonder just how much my 19th century West family ancestors
knew about their ancestors. Of course, most would have known about their
grandfathers who fought in the Revolution. But did Arvilla Ames know about
Rebecca Blake and Mary Eastey at Salem? Was Clara Ellingwood aware of how
many connections she had to the Mayflower passengers? And did Louisa
Richardson hear stories of Jeremiah Swain and the Indians?

I probably will never know. None of them left any written proof of such
knowledge. But I hope that by writing articles about events my ancestors lived
through I am helping pass along their stories to their descendants.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


It's Saturday night...well, Sunday morning now...and as is his usual
want, Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings has a Saturday Night
Fun prompt. This week he's posed us these ten questions about
our genealogy life:

1. When did you start genealogy research? Sometime in the 1970's
Aunt Dot sent us copies of the research she had already done. But
except for some futile attempts to locate the birth record of John
Cutter West I didn't get seriously into research until 2006.

2. Why did you start doing research? I was chatting online with my
friend Diana Probus who mentioned she was researching her own
family tree. She was the one who told me about the free Personal
Ancestry File program and about how much information was now
available online. I began looking for any John Cutter West information
and anything else available about other family members. I was hooked!

3. What was your first big success in research? Finding the Revolutionary
War Pension Request files on for first John Ames and
then nine other ancestors.

4. What is your biggest genealogy regret? Not interviewing my parents
and other relatives before they passed away.

5. What are you best known for in the genealogy world? This blog, if I'm
known at all in the genealogy world!

6. What is your professional status in genealogy? None. I'm an amateur!

7. What is your biggest genealogy achievement? Umm. This blog. and
I suppose the completion of the quest for "49 Genealogical Uses for a
Flutaphone" (grin)

8. What is the most FUN you've had doing genealogy? Discovering and
sharing information with the cousins I've met through this blog.

9. What is your favorite genealogy how-to book? Evidence! by Elizabeth
Shown Mills

10. What notable genealogist would you like to meet someday?
Anyone of my fellow genea-bloggers!

Sunday, March 01, 2009


I rarely ever saw my Dad lose his cool. Where my Mom was a redheaded
Irish American with the typical swing of emotions you'd expect, Dad was calm
and quiet and never seemed to panic. He was good with his hands and knew all
sorts of things to take care of mechanical problems. For example, we had mostly
used cars and if they were having trouble in wet weather, he'd wipe down the
wires with a little kerosene on a rag to keep them dry. (Don't ask me the exact
way he did it. I'm afraid I didn't inherit his mechanical aptitude!)

Once when we were renting a house that sat at the bottom of a driveway, the
cellar was in danger of flooding from water because the drain in the driveway
had clogged. Dad opened up the large overhead door in the front where the water
was backing up, then opened the small door at the back of the cellar, and the water
flowed right through and out leaving most of the boxes we had down there

Another time when my folks had the trailer up in Meredith, N.H., my Dad and
a friend were winterizing their trailers while my Mom and the other man's wife
went to a craft fair. When they returned, Dad was sitting in the campground
office, smoking a cigarette and red-faced. Mom thought he'd had some beers, but it
turned out that there'd been an accident. The stove in the friend's trailer had backfired
because the friend had turned a valve the wrong way, and Dad was calmly sitting
in the office for the ambulance to take him to the emergency room to have him checked
out. Luckily, Dad was ok.

When we first moved to Abington, some of the neighborhood kids thought they could
play a trick on the folks who'd just moved there from the city. They left the infamous
"burning bag of" on our front step, rang the doorbell and waited for
someone to come out and try to put out the fire by stamping on it. Dad opened the door,
looked down, then retrieved the small shovel from the fireplace in the living room. He
went back to the door, scooped up the burning bag and then tossed it over in the
direction of where he heard some kids laughing. That was the last time anyone tried
that trick on us!

There was one time when Dad did lose that cool head: the day my brother was born, Dad
loaded Mom's bag in the car, and then nearly drove off to the hospital without her!

Written for the 67th Edition of the Carnvial of Genealogy