Wednesday, August 31, 2011


I currently have two family trees on, one for my family
and one for my brother in law Peter's. The other day I got one of
those hint emails for Pete's tree and I checked it out.There were three
hints from the Sons of the American Revolution Membership Applications, 
1889-1970 and one was for Pete's ancestor Lewis Studley. When I
clicked the link to the Ancestry Hints page I noticed there were
several other family trees for Lewis. I clicked on those and right
away one of the trees got my attention. The family name was
the same as one of my old college classmates, and a closer look
showed me that he was the owner of the tree.

So now I had to really investigate this!  I looked at Ed's tree
and it turns out that he and Pete are both descended from
Lewis Studley and Lucy Dunbar through their daughter
Joanna who married Levi Newcomb of Provincetown and
Scituate Ma. Pete's descended from Henry Cook Newcomb 
and Ed from William James Newcomb.

After I plugged the names into Pete's tree and checked the
records it turns out that Peter & Ed are 4th cousins 1x
removed. They've never met and each weren't aware of
the other.A final coincidence is that my sister Cheryl and
Ed both worked in the same school system albeit at different

Talk about a small world!

Monday, August 29, 2011


They started warning us about Hurricane Irene a week before it actually
arrived. And when I say, warn, I mean WARN. It started off gradually with
weathermen casually saying it might be a problem come the weekend
but by Friday it had built into a crescendo. People started hitting the
grocery and hardware stores for essentials. I think the climax came with
the hourlong newscasts from NBC on Friday and Saturday, complete with
the computer graphics showing a flooded Holland Tunnel and lower
Manhattan if an 11ft storm surge hit New York City.

For my part I wasn't too worried. I live over ten miles from the ocean and
there are no lakes or rivers nearby. I went out on Thursday and hunted down
some size D batteries for my flashlight at Target where there weren't too many
customers. Most, in fact, were shopping mostly in the "Back to School" aisles
with their kids. It was a different story at the local supermarket but the bread
and milk hadn't sold out yet. All I really needed was some sugar free strawberry
jam and low calorie peanut butter. I'd bought a small cooler at Target and two
freezer packs in case we lost power. When I returned home from my shopping
expedition I cleaned the two folding chairs and table on the patio before
bringing them inside as a precaution against sharing my apartment with spiders.

On Saturday I went out and got gas for the car and made sure to charge up
my cellphone and camera batteries. I kept the laptop plugged in until I went
to bed.

I was all set for the coming Stormpocalypse.

Saturday had been overcast with some torrential downpours but there had been
 very little wind. It had picked up a bit when I got up on Sunday morning, but
it didn't seem all that bad. I toasted a bagel and zapped a cup of hot water in
the microwave for tea and settled in to see which unlucky reporter would be
the one getting drenched by waves. Then the phone rang. It was my brother in

"Do you have power there?"

"Yes, why?"

"Preset your oven to 350."

"What? Why?"

It seemed that my sister had started cooking some manicotti and  then the power
had gone out in Whitman where they live and she was coming over to my place to
finish cooking it. Now it was time for me to go into red alert. I had just gotten up,
was in the midst of breakfast, and was  still dressed in the old hoodie and
sweatpants that serve as my pajamas. I had an hour before Cheryl would
be here, so I got washed and dressed and set about straightening up my
apartment. And then, at 11am, my power went out, too.My sister ended
up cooking the manicotti on the gas grill on their patio.

From what I've heard on the radio in the past day, that's when most of the
other towns in our area lost their electricity as well.

I spent the rest of the day reading and listening to my transistor radio. Unfortunately
it only has  the FM and most of the stations were continuing their usual
programming.I finally found a Boston talk radio station, WTTK, that was
simulcasting the New England Cable News broadcast. This was fine for
awhile but it turned out that "Live & Local coverage" meant "not quite live"
as they kept rebroadcasting a videotape of about two hours worth of stories
in a loop. I caught on after the third repeat of a story of the flooding in
Bridgeport, CT. As the afternoon wore on I drifted in and out of sleep in
my easy chair. I had a cold cut sandwich for lunch and a peanut butter and
jam sandwich for dinner.

By 6pm the wind had died down and I was antsy from sitting all day, so I put on
my jacket and took a short walk. Our apartment complex is on the same street
as the town high school and the power lines are all on the far side of the street,
so I was able to see there were no lines down. I went down to the end of the
street where it empties onto the busy Rte 18 and saw that the traffic lights were
out. Polite drivers would treat such a situation as a four way stop sign intersection,
but I live in Massachusetts. There weren't a heck of a lot of polite drivers as I
watched two cars narrowly avoid a collision and realized that I could possibly
be the proverbial innocvent bystander if there were an accident while I stood
there. I beat a hasty retreat back to the safety of my apartment and settled in
for the night. Eventually, I went to bed at 10pm which is very early for me.

I woke up Monday morning around 6am and started listening to a local station,
WATD. The power was still out in much of the South Shore and I called the
NationalGrid power company to see what I could find out. It didn't take too
long to get a live person and report our outage but the estimate she gave me
for getting the electricity back wasn't good news: 3 to 5 days. While I'd
expected it would be down for a day I hadn't expected possibly a week.
As I listened to the news I learned that some transformer lines had gone
down which was why many of the towns had lost power at 11am on Sunday.
Ironically, there were some areas of towns that hadn't been effected, and a
few of the towns had their own power companies so they
had no problems at all. At least I'd be able to buy fresh food in those towns so I
wasn't too upset.

Neither was one of my fellow Seniors who lives in the next building over. There's
an unused barbecue pit in the complex backyard and she set up a small camping
stove, then let everyone know she was boiling water for coffee and tea if we
provided our own cups. I walked over with my own tea bag and got a cup of tea
to take my meds with. A few of us swapped stories about past hurricanes as we
waited for the water to boil. When the handyman came by he told us the northern
part of town still had power.We were just a block south of where the power stopped.
He confirmed the estimate I'd heard earlier and I started making plans for the

My cellphone charge was still good but my laptop battery was now at 50% so I
needed to find someplace to recharge it. I also figured I better check in and let
my friends and family online know I was safe, so I grabbed the laptop and headed
over to the Panera Bread Cafe in Hingham where they still had power.  I got
there about 12:30 and the place was a madhouse with a line going out the door,
but it didn't take too long to get to the counter. I ordered a sandwich and iced tea,
then found a vacant table, sat down, and logged onto Facebook. I had to be
quick because the battery was rapidly running down and there is a half hour
time limit for internet use between 11:30 am and 1:30pm  at Panera's. I managed
to post my Status and answer some inquiries from folks who'd asked if I was
alright and might have been able to answer more except for Facebook choosing
today to insist on demonstrating the new secuirity measures. I got the warning
from the computer that I had 10 minutes worth of power left just as I finished
my sandwich. There wasn't a power plug near my table, so I shuit down the
computer and left.

I went to Abington and the Senior Citizen Center where I found a wall plug
and recharged the laptop as the regular Monday Seniors' Bingo game went
on around me. Storms may come, and storms may go, but Bingo is forever!
I sat there listening as strange arcane terms like "Wedding Cake" and "Postage
Stamp" were called out and players yelled "Bingo!" until the last game was
over. Oddly enough, that was just as the computer reached full charge!

I decided to pick up a new carton of milk and a bag of ice. Iheaded over to
Trucchi's for the milk but they had no ice. Neither did the Abington Ice place
(which oddly enough is just over the line into Rockland)but I found some back
at the other end of town in a small Brazilian grocery. I drove home through
some of those four way intersections where the traffic lights were still out and
managed to stop at each one without being rear-ended by anyone, and then
put the milk and ice into the cooler.

Ten minutes later, the power came back on.

My neighbor who'd warmed the water for tea this morning had made plans
already and cooked hot dogs and hamburgers on her camping stove, so even
though we had our power back on, a bunch of us ate outside on her patio and
swapped stories and then yes, genealogy! It was a nice evening and we all
agreed we should do it again before the weather turned colder.

So that was how I spent my time during Hurricane Irene. Well it wasn't
quite the Stormpocalypse here that was predicted, people in other parts
of the the East Coast were not so fortunate. None of the minor inconveniences
we experienced here compare to the loss of lives and property some people
have suffered, and I'm grateful my friends and family weren't among that

And the weather forecasters are already talking about Katiya, the next tropical
storm that could hit next week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I've made two mistakes in my recent postings of pictures that I need to
correct and they actually involve the same people.

In the last post I mistakenly identified this group of people as being
Louisa  A Richardson West, Jonathan Phelps West and an unknown
woman in the front, and the two people in the back as one of Jonathan
and Louisa's sons and his wife. Today I printed out the list of photos
cousin Lewis included on the cds and discovered my mistake.
The lady on the left is actually my 3x greatgrandmother Arvilla S Ames West.
On the far right is her granddaughter, my 2x greatgrandaunt Clarinda(Clara) Britten
West, and the man sitting in between them is Clarinda's husband Charles Godwin.
The other two adults in the back and the child on Charles' lap are unidentified.
Charles and Clarinda had three daughters so it's possible that is one of them with
her husband and the child is theirs, So this might very well be a picture of four
generations of Arvilla's family.

I was right about one thing in the next picture. It's the same outfit being worn
but it's Arvilla wearing it, not Louisa. And it's a Godwin Family Reunion, not
one for the West family. The earlier picture with Arvilla might even have been
taken on the same occasion!

Arvilla Ames West was born in 1810 and died in 1907. She would have known
her grandfather John Ames the Revolutionary War veteran and she knew her
great grandson, Floyd Earl West Sr. So by knowing our grandfather all the
West grandchildren knew someone who knew someone who fought in the

Now that I printed out that list from Lewis, hopefully I won't make too many
more mistakes with these wonderful pictures.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Among the pictures cousin Lewis sent me on the cds were several
more of my 2xgreat grandmother Louisa Almata (Richardson) West.
I think I now have more pictures of her than of any other of my

This is the earliest picture I now have of her, and I'm guessing it was taken
sometime between 1865(the year she married my 2xgreat grandfather
Jonathan Phelps West) and 1880: 

The date on this picture says "September 15teenth 1892" and shows
Louisa with her second son Paul Leroy West. Paul was born on 20Jul 1876
so he'd have been two months past his 16th birthday.Louisa, having
been born 23Jun 1837, was 55 years old:

This is my favorite picture of Louisa, feeding chickens. I think it
might have been taken at around the same time the as the group
picture in the last post because it looks like the same outfit.

Finally here she is in another family group picture seated on the left front. Jonathan
is seated next to her with a grandchild on his lap. I'm not sure if that's John or Paul
standing in the back. Depending on which of my 2xgreat granduncles it is, the
woman standing next to him could be either Emily or Josephine Enman, since
the West brothers had married the Enman sisters!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Last Friday I got a great early birthday present in my mail: two cds from
my West cousin Lewis Wuori containing photographs and other images.
As I told him in an email, it was like discovering a treasure trove. There
are pictures of ancestors whose faces I've never seen before! I've been
sharing them with my various cousins from the Wests and Richardson
families(alas, no Barker or Ellingwood pictures) and posting them on
Facebook on my profile page and on the Upton Historical Society.
And of course I'll be posting some here as well.

Here are the ancestors whose faces I'd never seen before:

 Above is my  3xgreat grandmother Esther Laughton Richardson and
her stepson Almer.

And this is my3x great grandfather Philip Richardson.

This is a West family group picture but I don't know who they all are...yet.

More to come...

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Discovering the Upton (Maine) Historical Society page on Facebook has
put me in touch with several new found cousins and it has been a lot of
fun sharing pictures back and forth. One particular set of images were of
special interest to me.

When Dad married my Mom he converted to Roman Catholicism from
Protestantism. I don't know which Protestant denomination Dad was
brought up in; it just never came up in any conversation that I can recall
growing up. But these images do tell me where my great grandfather West
and great great grandfather Ellingwood worshiped. They show a list of
contributors in a collection to have a preacher come to the Upton Union
Church  in the summer of 1899. Judging by the handwriting it appears
to have been by one person who was in charge of collecting the money.

The heading of the list states:
"We, the undersigned, agree to pay the sums placed opposite our names
for the support of preaching in Upton during the summer of 1899."

Most of the names on this page are my cousins by blood or marriage. The
one that jumped right out at me, though, was Mrs H. F. West. That would
Arvilla Mary Ballard, wife of my 2x great granduncle Hiram Ferdinand West.
As I posted last year, Hiram owned a grist and lumber mill so Arvilla was
able to donate $2.00.

I didn't recognize most of the names on the second page but the Abbotts
are cousins.

This last page was the most interesting to me: great granduncle Paul Leroy
West donated .50 cents, and great grandfather Philip Jonathan West .25 cents.
Below them 2x great grandfather Asa Ellingwood and two of my great
granduncles Hollis and Walter all gave $1.00.

Coincidentally, a group of volunteers have been repairing and refurnishing the
Upton Union Church and are now holding a pledge drive for a pastor for the
Summer of 2012.

So while I'm not sure if my Dad worshiped there, I do know our ancestors did!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Last week after I posted the anniversary reunion picture of Jonathan P West
and his wife Louisa Almata Richardson I discovered that the Upton, Maine
Historical Society has a Facebook page. The picture had been taken on
Back Street in Upton so I thought perhaps a member of the Facebook
page might recognize some of the other people in the picture. Unfortunately
no one has as yet but there was another benefit, namely meeting some
more cousins. One of them was Deborah Judkins who shared three photos
of her own at the site.

This one is Louisa Richardson and Sidney Abbott. They were doubly related, 
since Sidney is Louisa's great grandson on his mother's side, but also her
great grandnephew on his father's side as her sister Esther Richardson was 
Sidney's great grandmother on that side.

                 Louisa and nieces Bertha Morse Judkins & Florence Morse Abbott

            In this group picture the adults are (front row) Albert Judkins, Bertha Morse
            Judkins and Florence Morse Abbott. In the back row are two men who
            probably are cousins from the Greenleaf family and then Louisa Richardson
           West. One of the boys in front is Sidney Abbott. The Judkins are Deborah
           Judkins' great grandparents and she is my fourth cousin!

Thanks Deborah for sharing these with me!

And for those reading this, don't forget to check and see if there is an online
presence for those towns and cities where your ancestors lived. You might
make more cousin connections like I did!


I was doing my genealogy online tree building routine last night at
last night. Right now that involves adding data from the Florence O'Connor
Ellingwood genealogy book and checking the Ancestry records and trees
for additional descendants. I try to source as much as possible so I cross
reference each name at FamilySearch Record Search and add the records 
I find there to my Ancestry tree.

Sometime last night this appeared on my screen when I clicked my Record
Search link.:

August 23: Last Day for Record Search Pilot!

Record Search Pilot will be replaced by
Thank you! Record Search Pilot has been a great success. Your feedback 
led to the first phase of an improved search experience on
Look for more of your ideas to be implemented in the coming months.
Why is Record Search Pilot ending? The Pilot website was never intended
to be permanent—it was a place to gather and test ideas. It was never designed
to handle more records, more features, or more visitors. In order to fully
implement improvements, we need to end the Pilot and shift resources to
our main website.

Now I know most people would wonder why I'd be unhappy about this.
After all, there's more records on But I've found on
the times I've used the new site that it's not very user friendly. It takes
too long to narrow the search parameters down and it seems to me in
that respect to mirror the same process on Ancestry. I liked that all I had
to do in  most cases at Record Search was enter the name, place and
exact, partial or close (or all three) and I was good to go.  I also think
the green background on Record Search was easier on the eyes(well, mine
at least.) than the white background of

Then this morning I started seeing references on Facebook from my genealogy
friends to something called Fold3. It turned out that also
changed over night.It's now focusing on Military Records and changes at
the website now reflect that move  The menu that was formerly divided
into periods of American history now has war headings such as "Revolutionary
War" "War of 1812", "Mexican & Indian"and so on. The other records such
as newspapers and censuses are at the end of the menu bar under "Other
Collections". Now I am a subscriber and will be forever
grateful to it for all the Revolutionary War Pension files I found there of my
ancestors, but I must confess that trhis change has me confused. There is
quite a bit more there than just military records and the changes don't let
genealogy newbies know that very well.

And then there's the name, "Fold3".

This is what they say about it at the blog, now known as
"Fold3HQ" (why do I feel like I should be wearing a helmet and camos
reading that name?):

 Footnote Becomes Fold3
One change that won’t impact how things work, but is significant and will 
probably get a lot of attention, is the site’s new name.  Footnote has been 
a great name, but it doesn’t relate to military records and can carry a 
connotation of insignificance which doesn’t seem appropriate for a site 
focused on records related to the great sacrifices associated with military 
We wanted a name that would show respect for the records we are 
working on and for the people who have served in the armed forces.  
The name Fold3 comes from a traditional flag-folding ceremony in which
the third fold is made in honor and remembrance of veterans for their 
sacrifice in defending their country and promoting peace in the world.

Now my Dad participated in military funerals as a member and Commander of
the Abington VFW and I've never heard of "fold 3". Neither have others with
military backgrounds who commented about the change over on Facebook,.
As someone said(sorry, can't find the name again) it sounds like an origami
instruction. They could have picked a much better name, I think. Nor am I
happy as a historian and genealogist with the idea in their explanation
that footnotes are items of "insignificance"

All this comes on the heels of the controversy of this past weekend
which has already been well covered by others. Randy Seaver over at his
Genea-musings blog has a list of blogposts on that subject. If I were a guy
who believed in conspiracies O'd wonder about that but it's possible that the
folks at FamilySearch and were hoping to take advantage of uproar to announce their own changes with minimum flak.

To be fair, the FamilySearch move to close down Record Search has been
 known to bescheduled for some time now. Since was
bought byAncestry change had been expected there as well. Both companies
have every right to make whatever changes they want, even lamentably poor
name changes. It doesn't mean that I, geneafuddyduddy that I am, have to
immediately like them.

 I suppose in time I'll get used to the changes eventually.

And when I do, they'll change again....sigh.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Prior to attending the Ellingwood Reunion in Norway, Me. today, Cheryl
and I took a swing through Upton Maine on business pertaining to the
West side of the family. As we drove along Route 26 Cheryl pointed out a small
cemetery we passed in or near Newry, Maine, but we didn't have time to stop
at the moment  and I didn't think there were any relatives buried there anyway,

Our business required us to keep going west on 26 through the Grafton Notch
State Park which has several natural attractions such as Screwauger, Moose Caves
and Mother Walker Falls but again, we didn't have time for sightseeing. We ended
up going straight through the park to Upton, then over the state line into Errol, N.H
before we started back Route 26 towards Norway.

O.K. Cue the Twilight Zone music now.  

 Cheryl was having trouble getting the GPS to program  the route to the reunion
and looked for a spot to pull over to fiddle with it. It just so happened that we
stopped on the side of the road next to that cemetery we saw earlier and Cheryl
suggested I get some pictures of it while she worked on the GPS. So I got out and
the first thing I saw was the grave of Drusilla Walker, the "Mother Walker" the
falls are named after. There were other gravesstones, mostly from the Wight,
Russell and Bennett families.

But then I saw these two headstones:

Yep. They're from my family.

Caleb Barker was my 3x great granduncle, a son of 4x great grandparents Jonathan
Barker and Nancy Swan, and brother to my 3xgreat grandfather Nathaniel
Barker! His wife's full name was Alice Rowe. Of course at the time I took the
photos I just knew he was most likely related to me. After we got home I looked him
up on my database, Then I went looking for the name of the cemetery and found out
on a website for Newry written by my cousin Mitch Barker that it was named the
Wight Cemetery.

I also found out that not only had Caleb Barker owned and then donated the land for
the cemetery, he was its first sexton!

So: what are the odds that of all the places we stop and I get out to take a photo
it's at that small cemetery that just happens to have more relatives butied there?

I'm gobsmacked yet again!

((You can see more pictures of the Wight Cemetery over on my other blog, The Old
Colony Graveyard Rabbit))

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Today (August 13th) was the 85th Ellingwood family Reunion. Originally
begun by the children and descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and
Florilla Dunham Ellingwood, it is also open to any descendats of Ralph
Elinwood  who came to America and settled in Beverly, Ma. in the 1600's.
In fact anyone Ellinwood, Ellingwood, Ellenwood or Ellwood are descended
from Ralph. The reunion is always held Saturday in August and for some time
at the home of Jerry Ellingwood in Norway, Maine.

So this morning  my sister Cheryl picked me up VERY early and we drove up
to Maine and following a side trip we arrived at Jerry's house where we spent
a few hours with him and other cousins Bonnie Atkinson and Lori Barnes Grippo
again, and to meet fellow genealogists and Ellingwood descendant Pam Carter
for the first time.

Here's a few pictures:

After eating and group phots outside under the canopy., the annual business meeting
was held in the garage: Afterwards people broke in conversation. There are several
tables set up there as well, such as this one with the desserts:

Jerry's house overlooks Norway Lake (also known as LakePennesseewassee ) and
there's plenty of space for the younger cousins to play games om the lawn
A boat was available for those who wanted to get out on the water.

One of the other tables had copies of Florence O'Connor's book The Ancestors 
and Descendants of Asa Freeman Ellingwood and Florilla (Dunham) Ellingwood .
available from Jerry. There are family updates every year at the reunions to add
 to the book and also a  newsletter that Lori puts together. Also on display are
several photograph albums and a binder with the minutes of every reunion
business meeting! 


This was the second Ellingwood Reunion we've attended (my first was in 2009) and
it was a good time and a nice trip all around.

I look forward to more Ellingwood Reunions! 

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Back when I first started doing genealogy online I made contact with Lewis, who is
descended from my great granduncle Paul Leroy West.  Then the motherboard
on my computer crashed and I lost everything  on it, including email addresses
(and learned the hard way to back up EVERYTHING!). Recently Lewis found me
again (I'm guessing through my blog) and we exchanged discoveries since the
last time we'd been in touch.

Lewis is sharing some family pictures with me and one of them is this one:

The caption reads "Back Street  Upton  West Reunion". Down at the
bottom are the names "Louisa +Jonathan West". Those are my great great
grandparents and they are the elderly couple in the front row.  There are
no other names given for the people assembled for the picture, nor a date
for when the picture was taken. But I can make a few guesses for both.

First the date. it was taken sometime after the late 1890's and before 1918.
I know the latter because Jonathan died in 1917 but I base the first part on
the only other picture I have of Jonathan and Louisa:

The two boys are my grandfather Floyd West and his brother Clarence. My
grandfather was born in 1893 and in this picture(he's the older boy) he looks
to be around 5 or 6 years old, so that would date this picture between 1898
and 1900.

Jonathan and Louisa had aged considerably by the time of the reunion photo
They were married in 1865 so it's possible the reunion might have been in
1915 to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

But who else is in the picture with them?
Jonathan and Louisa had three sons: my great grandfather Philip J. and his
brothers Paul and John. I believe they are the three young men seated
in the row behind Louisa and Jonathan. Out of the three of them, the
man with the bangs is my guess to be P.J. based on a later photo:

At first I'd thought the teenager sitting at the far left with his hat on his knee
was my grandfather Floyd but looking at the light hair now I think it's
my granduncle Clarence.

As for the others, I've no idea as yet. I do know that Jonathan and Louisa
had a number of nieces and granddaughters so it's possible some of them
might be among the younger women. It's another family puzzle to work at!

Thanks Lewis for sending me this picture!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011


I haven't found much online about Worthy C Dunham and his family.  Like
the rest of the Dunhams in Abington he made his money in the shoe trade,
more specifically in manufacturing heels. When Benjamin Hobart published his
History of Abington in 1866 he included a list of manufacturers in the town taken
from the 1860 Us Census which showed Worthy Dunham had made $700 dollars
in sales. That doesn't seem like a lot of money by today's standards but that was
pretty respectable for those times , and Worthy probably did much better during
the Civil War when the area around Abington was the shoe manufacturing capital
of America.

Worthy's son Jotham Ellsworth Dunham apparently preferred to go by the name
J.Ellsworth Dunham and followed his father into the heel business.  He did so
well that in 1880  he built a fine house on Adams St in Abington where so many
of the wealthy families lived that the stretch of the street was known as Palace
Row. The house still stands and is on the National Register of historic homes.

I mentioned in the previous post in this series that there were Dunham children
listed in Hobart's book that weren't buried  with Worthy, including  J. Ellsworth.
Ellsorth is in fact buried nearby with his wife Lydia and their infant twin children :

The gravestone reads:

J. Ellsworth Dunham
His Wife
Lydia Frances Gardner
Twin Babes 1876

There is another Dunham buried nearby and I'll discuss that in the next
post in this series.

Monday, August 01, 2011


When we were growing up as kids in our family the big meals were on Sunday:
roast chicken, pot roast, stew, corn beef and cabbage. and there were always
leftovers for at least one more meal.  The rest of the week the meals were
food that could be cooked fast and easy because sometimes both Dad and Mom
were working. Those dinners also reflected the fact that our parents had grown
up during the Great Depression. So dinner one night might be hotdogs and B&M
brand Boston Baked Beans or Campbell's (and occasionally with B&M Brown

Pan fried pork chops were another meal, usually cooked by Dad in an old frying
pan that we had for years. Other nights we'd have sausages and rice or macaroni
& cheese with tuna or peas. And of course there was spaghetti. Only in America
would the family of an Irish American woman and a Yankee from Maine look
forward to spaghetti for dinner!

Pizza was something we might have once or twice a month.

As my sister and I grew older into our teens. we  helped a little with the cooking
since we were home from school before our folks from work. Mom or Dad might
take a chicken out to thaw in the morning before leaving for work and either Cheryl
or myself would start it in the oven around 4pm.  And we both learned how to make
the spaghetti sauce: brown the ground beef, then add two small cans of Contadina
Tomato paste, one can of water, a tablespoon or two of sugar, cover and simmer
while the water boiled for the spaghetti .  We were a Prince Spaghetti family, by the
way. Another night we would have the Kraft Macaroni & Cheese already made
and waiting for dinner when our folks came home. Our younger brother Phil
learned how to do this too.

Spaghetti was my favorite and we usually made enough for two nights. But there
were some meals that I wasn't too crazy about. Mom really liked fried liver and
onions. I didn't like the taste of liver and smothered it with ketchup. Dad had
developed a taste for Spam while in  the service, so sometimes we had fried
Spam and beans. I smothered that in ketchup as well. (I am a big fan of ketchup.
One of the best finds of my new healthier lifestyle was finding low fructose ketchup.)

When slowcookers and crockpots came along Dad thought they were great. He
liked making the beef stew and letting  it simmer all day in the slow cooker.
Mom liked them too because she never really liked Dad using the pressure cooker,
especially after the day the little pressure thing on the cover of the pressure cooker
blew off and hit the ceiling.

There weren't any traditional family recipes in our family, although Dad learned
how to cook Italian dishes from my Aunt Emily and Mom had a recipe for mundel
bread  given to her by a Jewish friend when we were living on Capen St in Dorchester.

Looking back, I'm struck by how many of the specific brand names of the foods
we ate I remember: Dinty Moore Beef Stew,  Bennett's Mayonaise, Prince Spaghetti,
Oscar Mayer Bologna, B&M Beans.

I think we were like millions of other working class blue collar families who had
both parents working eating what I'd call "blue collar cuisine"  made up of food that
was easy to cook made with products we knew and trusted,