Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Memory - The Summer Vacation, Getting to Idaho

It's Monday and I'm in a reminiscent mood. So here are a few "lines" about the family:

I was lucky to have both sets of grandparents live in the same small town in Idaho. Fruitland, Idaho, in Payette County. As a kid, our summer vacation consisted of driving 2 days from Southern California up to see Grandparents and other relatives who lived in the area. The cars I remember us making the trek in included: a 1968 blue Volkswagen beetle; a white Chevy station wagon with blue & white checkered curtains that mom made to cover the back windows; a blue Volkswagen bus when the family got larger; and in the end, a 1986 Plymouth Voyager minivan. With the minivan came the first air conditioned vehicle. By then, I was nearly out of High School, so I wasn't always going on those family summer trips.

We would usually set out at the crack of dawn (sometimes before) from our home in Rowland Heights. We would drive a couple hours and have breakfast at this casino restaurant in Adelanto, a tiny junction town in the desert. From there we would charge onwards. I remember stopping for lunch at Bishop, California and going to a restaurant called Hobo Joe's. It's funny how I remember the restaurants...but it was one of the few times we would get to eat out during the year! From Bishop, we headed towards Nevada.

The road seemed to go on forever. Us kids would either nap or have books or games to keep us busy. When there was a town ahead, we all would look up with eager anticipation to see something other than desert. Often the "town" consisted of a dumpy gas station and a few ramshackle buildings! Luckily, the law didn't require seat belts for kids, so we were able to lay down and stretch out.

If we were lucky, we would stop in a town called Hawthorne, Nevada, and stay at a motel for the night. If we were REALLY lucky, that motel would have a swimming pool! Sometimes, dad would push it and try to get to the next town. Sometimes, we would end up driving straight through to Idaho! When we did stop in Hawthorne, we often stayed in a Best Western that was right across the street from the "El Capitan" casino. The motel would give mom and dad a couple rolls of nickels and in the evening they would go play the nickel slots for awhile. Being the oldest, I was "in charge" back in the room. I'm certain I never abused my power. Mom and Dad would come back after having run through the nickel rolls and I remember a time or two them having "Club" cocktails in the room while we kids watched TV.

The next morning, we would have breakfast in the casino restaurant. Then it was on to Idaho! It was always exciting on the second day, because we knew we would get to Grandmas house that day. The car ride could get very long for a kid. I did a lot of napping on those trips. Once it was so hot (we were in the VW bus) that I remember taking a cup of water that I was drinking and throwing it in my own face. We would stop for lunch at Winnemucca, Nevada, usually at the A&W Root Beer fast food joint. Nothing could slow us down too much. That is, if we didn't run into car trouble. I remember a trip or two being grounded for awhile waiting for dad to magically get the car going again. When we hit Jordan Valley, Oregon, we knew we were close. It was hard not to want to drive faster, but the tiny town was known as a speed trap. Or at least, one very persistent sheriff with a radar gun. It had a reputation with us, at least, and kept dad under the speed limit.

Fruitland, Idaho is right next to the border with Ontario, Oregon. I thought it was strange but kind of neat that all the shopping was done in Oregon. When I was older, I learned that there was no sales tax in Oregon. Besides, there wasn't much in the way of commercial stores in Fruitland. To get to Ontario, you would have to drive past "Gay Way" junction, home of the pink "Gay Way" bowling alley. It was painted on the broad side of the building "GAY WAY BOWL." I learned later on that my Grandfather actually named the place after his daughter was born, back in the days when gay meant "happy."

We would stop at Grandma & Grandpa Graham's first and unload. We stayed there overnights because they had a bigger house with beds for everyone. After we had unloaded, we would head over to Grandma & Grandpa Osgood's to say hello. It felt so good to know we were out of the car, which had become dirty and just smelled like the road! Stepping out of the car for the first time and breathing in the smell of the Idaho country air was wonderful. Warm and clean, with a hint of mint in the air. It was great to know that we were at the beginning of a fun time in Idaho.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting my surnames out there

I've been seriously hooked on family history since January 2009. I had a mild interest in it before, since I've always enjoyed history. I love historical fiction, where I can read and learn about history through fictional characters being in the context of a larger historical event. I don't know why it took me so long to realize that researching my own family history personalizes this long-enjoyed genre for me. Rather than fictional characters, it is my ancestors and family members who lived through historical events!

Two straws broke the camel's back during Christmas 2008. One was a book my mom got for all us kids: "Born Fighting. How the Scots-Irish Shaped America" by Jim Webb. As I was reading, I recalled a document my Grandma had given me about 25 years ago about the history of the family. I pulled it out and compared it with the book....and it was parallel! From Scotland, to Northern Ireland, to Southwest Virginia and then moving out to the Missouri Graham's had very similar experiences to the rest of the Scots-Irish described in the book. For the first time, I can say I really felt an ethnic identity. Having been in America for so long, its nice to know we are something other than "White" or "Caucasian." We are Scots-Irish, and boy do we have the traits to prove it! (Maybe that will be a post later, subject to the permission from the clan.)

The other straw was courtesy of an aunt on my mom's side of the family. She had done some research and found some letters written by my great-great grandfather, Jesse Clark Osgood, during the Civil War. She found out he had enlisted in the 26th Massachusetts infantry. Four of his letters home are held in the Louisiana State Library. She managed to get copies from the library and transcribed them for the family. What a treasure! I've always been particularly interested in the Civil War, so to have an ancestor put there was a thrill.

Then I realized....Jesse was not the only one! Anyone alive during those years was touched by the conflict. I wonder how? It was over. I became a family historian.

In my never-ending quest to learn about the methods of genealogy research, I subscribed to a few podcasts for ideas and inspiration. In one of them, Family History: Geneaology Made Easy, the pocaster (Lisa Louise Cooke) has been encouraging her audience to get into the blogosphere. So here I am! I don't know if I have that much that is of interest to others, but I would love to get the surnames out there that I am researching so I can break down some brick walls and connect with some other researchers looking
into the same family lines that I am. Perhaps we each hold the piece of the puzzle for one another! I'm very happy to share research and collaborate on this fascinating subject! get my surnames out there and as an introduction to everyone out there, I'm on the constant hunt for the following:

  • Jamois (my husband's family in France)
  • Graham (Idaho, Missouri, Wythe County, Virginia, County Down, Ireland)
  • Osgood (Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire)
  • Partridge (Kansas, Illinois, New York)
  • Palmer (Kansas, England)
  • Hamilton (Illinois, Massachusetts)
  • Clark (Massachusetts)
  • Shipp (Missouri, Tennesee)
  • Dutton (Idaho, N. Dakota, Wisconsin, New York)
  • Floyd (W. Virginia)
  • Shelton (Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky)
  • Deen (Missouri, Iowa, Virginia)
  • Freeman (not sure where yet)
  • Roop (Missouri, Maryland, Germany)
  • Royer
  • Fox (Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky)
  • Sampson (Kansas, Indiana, Virginia)
  • Kline/Klein (Kansas, Ohio, Germany/Prussia)
  • Fordyce (Kansas, Ohio, New Jersey)
  • Collins (Kansas, Virginia)
  • Speir (Kansas and beyond)