Friday, March 23, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Friend Bait

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

The scalloped hem of the dress in this week’s Sepia Saturday prompt reminds me of a dress that I once owned.

Wendy Slade at Melissa Stewart's party
That's MOI - first on the left
I don’t remember this dress. I don’t remember the party. Heck, I don’t even remember the balloon.

The photo is not mine. In fact, this is really a photo of a photo, but the story of how I came to have it is telling of the times in which we live.

In July 2015, my response to the prompt photo of unsmiling students was a post entitled Friends Side By Side in which I featured two newspaper clippings: one of my dad standing between two of his friends and one of me standing beside my friend for a kindergarten graduation photo. The “cute” connection between the newspaper articles is that my dad’s friend Jimmy Stewart is my friend Melissa’s father.

Several readers asked whether Melissa and I are still friends, whether we keep in touch. My response was this:
No, I don't know Melissa anymore. I don't know if she moved away or just lived in a different school district. I guess my parents and her parents drifted apart too, so after a time, I didn't see them.

Now fast forward to April 2016. I received this Private Message request on Facebook:
Dear Wendy, if you are Wendy Slade of Cradock … we knew each other as kids! I went to Mrs. Newton’s kindergarten. My Dad is Jimmy Stewart, we lived in Brentwood. Am I on the right track? …. I hope this is you, so cool! Melissa

How did Melissa find me? Well, Facebook, of course! A mutual friend LIKED this shared photo:
Anne Allen Hughes, Mary Allen McFadden, Peggy Allen Coker, Wendy Slade Mathias
The Allen girls and me 1961
Melissa recognized the girls and neighborhood. Curiosity drove her to my website where she even read OUR story and apologized for the part she played in breaking my nose. (It was an accident – no apology necessary!)

A flurry of PMs followed along with promises to get together over lunch. (She lives about 5-minutes from me!) But a different reunion opportunity presented itself. In his younger years, Melissa’s dad Jimmy had been the golf pro at Bide-a-Wee. As part of the golf course’s 60th anniversary celebration, Jimmy was invited to perform the golf equivalent of throwing out the first pitch: a tee shot or putt.

Jimmy Stewart, Wendy Slade Mathias, Melissa Stewart Miano April 2016
Jimmy, MOI, Melissa

So on a crisp morning in April 2016, Bide-a-Wee witnessed two major events: Jimmy’s celebratory putt and a reunion of friends (ok, so that second one wasn’t really major to most people). Melissa and I were both only children when we were childhood friends. Now she has five brothers and sisters! What a difference %&# years can make.

Oh, and that dress? I wore it to Melissa’s birthday party. She and I can’t agree on how old we were. Too bad she doesn’t have a picture of her cake with candles. Who knows - maybe someone else at the party has a photo. IDEA: we should post this on Facebook!

From the left: Me standing next to Melissa
How is it I'm the only one with a balloon? 

You’re invited to a reunion of blogging friends every week at Sepia Saturday.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sepia Saturday: The Bank's Special

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

One of the most emphasized safety lessons of our youth is that the police are our friends, but I wonder if Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian families thought so after being ushered off to internment camps during World War II. This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt made me wonder if there were any friendly police in my family tree.

Good news - I have one.

Bad news - I have no photo.

John Nagle married my great-grandmother’s sister Margaret Sheehan in 1901. Both were born in Ireland but met in New York where they lived the rest of their lives. According to the 1900 census, John was son of Richard Nagle and Mary Singleton, and he was one of eight children, four of whom were still living at home.

The family apparently could not remember when they arrived in America. Whenever an enumerator asked when they arrived, their answers varied from 1885 to 1888 to 1890. The truth is, it was 1880.
John Nagle had been a resident for almost 15 years before Margaret arrived.

When John and Margaret married, he worked as a laborer. However, by 1910, he was employed as a “Bank Attendant.” The title changed with each census: Special Policeman in 1920. 

Floorman in 1930. 

Special Officer in 1940. 

In other words, security guard. One census even reported that John was employed at Savings Bank. Unfortunately, WHICH Savings Bank was not stated.

It turns out that there were many banks in Brooklyn with “Savings Banks” as part of their name.
from The Brooklyn Eagle
The newspapers are filled with stories of bank robberies in the various Savings Banks in Brooklyn. If John Nagle exhibited any heroic actions during a robbery, his name did not make the papers. Probably he was just an ordinary man doing what men do - work hard and provide for the family.

John and Margaret raised 6 children, 3 boys and 3 girls. They rented the same house at 123 Van Sicklen Avenue from before 1920 to after 1930. By 1940 they were the owners.
121 and 123 Van Sicklen Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
image from Google Maps
An interesting-to-me bit of genealogy trivia is that right next door at 121 Van Sicklen Avenue was the family of John P. Mulvihill, likewise a “Special Policeman” for Savings Bank. Did he own both houses and rent the one to the Nagles? Did he help John get on with the Bank?

Or is this just co-inky-dinky?

To see who else is standing guard at Sepia Saturday, follow the links. You may remain silent.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Captain Dick

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a man speaking into a large megaphone. Four years ago, I was ahead of myself AND Sepia Saturday when I mistook a megaphone for a telescope. In response to the prompt photo which featured a telescope, I used this photo:
Ordnance Office Pig Point
Ordnance Office Pig Point
Oops. Anyway, I told the story of how my grandaunt Helen’s husband Herbert Parker had been a clerk at the Pig Point Ordnance Office in Suffolk, Virginia during World War I. Since then I have learned a little more about Uncle Herbert and his family.

Sometime ago, my dad’s sister gave me a suitcase full of pictures, letters, and cards that she saved when she cleaned out our Aunt Helen Killeen Parker’s home. Some of those letters were love letters full of news of the day’s events, always ending tenderly hoping to hear back soon. In one letter, Aunt Helen mentioned “Captain Dick”:
Captain Dick said he wanted me to be around real early in the
morning so I could feed the dogs. I told him I would be there.

There is a photo of Captain Dick too in Aunt Helen’s scrapbook.

Ephraim Champion Parker

But who was he?

Helen’s mother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh even knew Captain Dick. In a letter to Helen, she wrote:
.... Sonny was to do something at the league and Ebby
was going for him. hope Miss May is feeling well also
Cpt. Dick Herbert & yourself. Tate joins me in
fondest love to all from Mother
When I asked my aunt whether she had ever heard Aunt Helen talk about a “Captain Dick,” she recalled hearing that name but could not remember who he was.

Then the genealogy fairy showed up. A distant relative sent an old photo to my aunt thinking she was the proper person to have it.  

Ephraim Champion Parker and Herbert

On the back was written “Ephraim Dick Parker and Herbert.” That is when my aunt remembered - Aunt Helen always called her father-in-law “Captain Dick.” Why? We have no idea. Herbert’s father wasn’t even named Richard. He was Ephraim Champion Parker.

Herbert was the only child born to “Captain Dick” and his wife Margaret Williams. They lived at 1616 Atlanta Avenue. That is where Herbert brought his bride in 1927. He and Helen lived downstairs; Herbert’s parents lived upstairs. That arrangement probably worked well for Helen since Herbert traveled frequently in his job with the railroad.

Herbert Webb Parker
Herbert Parker in his home office

Even though Herbert was living in my lifetime, I have no memory of him. However, I have vivid memories of his office. It was a pine paneled room just off the living room. French doors were always open, but I imagine Herbert might have closed them when he was concentrating on work. 

Econolite train motion lamp
Lamps like this sell on eBay
anywhere from $35-$350.

On a side table stood an Econolite train motion lamp. It always seemed like a toy to me, but knowing Herbert used to work for the railroad makes the lamp make sense to me now.

Having seen the photo identifying Captain Dick and Herbert as a little boy, I believe the identity of this previously unknown boy in this photo is coming through loud and clear. 

Possibly Herbert Parker about 1910

It looks like Herbert to me.

To see what others made of this week’s prompt, please follow the links at Sepia Saturday. I SAID PLEASE GO TO SEPIA SATURDAY!

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Chimneys Remain

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring a man surrounded by children inspired me to take another look at this photo:

Henry Timber Frazier with grandchildren and cousins Greene County, VA about 1920
photo courtesy John and Janet Thompson
Back: Thomas Shiflett, Henry Timber Frazier, Mickelberry Roach, Nora Roach, Della Frazier
Center: Maggie Shiflett in the white hat
Front: Lewis Frazier, Delmus Frazier, Alex Frazier, Unknown, Mary Shiflett, Elzie McCauley, Othel Frazier

Not only is the man surrounded by children, they are all wearing hats too, save the little girl atop the fence.

This is Henry Timber Frazier - my first cousin four times removed - with some of his grandchildren and the grandchildren of some of his brothers. Henry Timber was the third of eight children born to Miley Frazier and Virenda Jane Shiflett in 1849.

At the age of 24, Miley married Eliza Lawson, 19, of Rockingham County. Together they raised about 14 or 15 children. Built-in farmhands, you might say. And they needed every hand. Henry Timber and his father Miley amassed over 1000 acres of farm and mountain land along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Albemarle and Greene counties.

Obviously the day this photo was taken was a happy day for the Frazier clan. It was probably about 1920, roughly ten years before the fall of the American economy, roughly ten years before the government put people to work in programs like WPA and CCC, roughly ten years before the Fraziers and their neighbors were forced off their land by the government to make way for the creation of Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive.

Some families to this day are still bitter about the way their grandparents were treated by the government. Others have found a way to honor them. The Blue Ridge Heritage Project is a grass-roots effort to develop a monument in each county where land was acquired to create the park. Through the monuments, living history presentations, exhibits, and demonstrations, volunteers hope to educate visitors about the lives and culture of those who lived in the mountains before the park.

Chimney from the former Haney
farm in Greene County, VA
The monument is in the form of a chimney. Anyone who has driven in the country has no doubt spied a lone chimney in a field, or maybe even opposing chimneys. When houses burn or fall to decay, chimneys remain. Chimneys - where fireplaces once provided warmth and a place to prepare the family meal. Chimneys - the hearth and heart of the home. Chimneys remain as reminders that people once lived.

In each of the 8 counties, families have donated stones from old chimneys of homes that once stood on their property. In Greene County, most of the stones are from an old Haney farm.

Stanardsville, Greene Co, VA Chimney
This is the monument in Stanardsville,
Greene county. The quilt covered the
plaque prior to the dedication ceremony.

In Rockingham County the stone comes from the home of Peter Wyant, my 4g grandfather, whose family lived in the Beldor community just outside Shenandoah National Park. A visit to this chimney will be especially meaningful for my family.

Wyant cabin Beldor, VA
photo courtesy of Jan Hensley
The Peter Wyant cabin in Beldor, VA

Wyant stone on chimney in Rockingham Co, VA
Chimney under construction using Wyant stone
Elkton, Rockingham County, VA
To bring this story full circle, Henry Timber Frazier had a distant connection to the Wyants. His wife’s aunt Elizabeth Lawson was married to David Wyant, son of Peter Wyant.

Names of families displaced from the mountain will be remembered forever because they are engraved on brass plaques attached to the front of each chimney. But the Frazier name is also memorialized in another way: The Frazier Discovery Trail. A short trail along the Skyline Drive takes hikers along the pastures that once belonged to Henry Timber Frazier and his father Miley.

Grab the kids and hike on over to Sepia Saturday. Don’t forget your hat!

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Mitz and Fritz

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt immediately brought to mind a number of photos of girls with their dogs. As a little girl, my mother had a mutt named “Fritz.”
Mary E and Fritz
My mother is on the right with her dog Fritz.
This was taken in front of her family's store
in Shenandoah, Virginia.
My grandaunt Helen Killeen Parker apparently enjoyed the companionship of several dogs over the years.

Helen Killeen and dog
Helen Killeen and dog

Helen’s friends also had dogs.

Lucile and dog at Ocean View
Lucile and dog
probably Ocean View
Helen did not label many of her photos with names, but this one she did. Lucile. But Lucile who?

In the same photo album was this one of Mitz and Lucile. Mitz? What kind of name is that for a guy?

Lucile Fritzinger and Mitz Ollice
Mitz and Lucile about 1921

As with most things in my genealogy world, one little curiosity eventually fades from my thoughts only to be replaced by another. Trying to identify Mitz and Lucile was not a priority. Heck, they were probably not even family. Learning more about my dad’s Irish granny and her sisters is always one of several competing priorities. I hoped Aunt Helen’s wedding gifts book would provide clues to the identity of those darn children and lady with a poodle.
Cover of Aunt Helen's wedding gifts book
Instead I found this: Mr. and Mrs. Mitz Ollice. Above that listing is Mr. and Mrs. John Ollice.
Page from wedding gifts book of Helen Killeen and Walter Parker
One page from the wedding book

It is no surprise that “Mitz” Ollice is not to be found on John Ollice, however, is right there in the right neighborhood, in the right period of time. He was not old enough to be Mitz’s father. Nor were any of the other Ollice boys. While at first the census record appeared to be a deadend, it turns out John and Mitz were brothers, 2 of 6 sons born to Thomas and Alice Trainer Ollice. Mitz was not listed as Mitz; further search revealed that he was William Innis Ollice.

William Innis “Mitz” Ollice was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1899, but by 1900, the Ollice family was settled in Portsmouth, Virginia where Mr. Ollice worked as a machinist in the shipyard. The Ollice family lived on Atlanta Avenue in Portsmouth, just a few streets away from Charleston Avenue where Aunt Helen and her sisters and brother grew up.

A marriage record for William Innis Ollice solved the mystery of Lucile. His bride was Lucile Fritzinger of Norfolk, Virginia.

She was born Lucile V. Fritzinger, daughter of Eli and Mamie Smith Fritzinger. That “V” stood for Veronica OR Virginia, depending on which Ancestry tree you want to believe. Her father was a baker.

The son of a machinist and daughter of a baker growing up in two different cities separated by a river somehow met. Perhaps they met at the popular Ocean View beach where so many of Aunt Helen’s summer photos were taken. In fact, the one of Mitz and Lucile was taken probably a year or two before they married in 1923.

Mitz became a fireman and Lucile a homemaker and mother to four children: William Ronald, Joseph Vincent, Shirley Lucile, and Mary Katherine.

In 1927 when Helen Killeen and Walter Parker married, they received more silver and crystal than anyone today would want. But the Ollices and Fritzingers had a different idea:  bedspreads and dresser scarves.
Page from wedding gifts book of Helen Killeen and Walter Parker

Hop on your bike or walk your dog over to Sepia Saturday.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Caution - Water Ahead!

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt assures me that when winter comes, spring will not be far behind, and then summer will not be far behind that. Right? I am tired of the cold. Bring on some warmer days!

Children dressed in only a swimsuit and flip-flops with a towel tucked under an arm passed by my house routinely throughout the summer when I was a kid. I would be filled with envy because I knew where they were going.

The Dinky Pool

Today there is a skate park where the pool once was.
image from Google Maps
It was just a small community pool in a park on the corner of Bainbridge Avenue and George Washington Highway in the Cradock neighborhood of Portsmouth, Virginia. There was no diving board because there was no deep end. It was basically a wading pool. But there was a lifeguard.

My mother never let me go to the Dinky Pool. Never. Why? She feared I would contract polio. Polio was the big scare of the day reaching its peak in the 1950s. My mother was not the only one who thought that polio could spread in a public pool; it was a common view. A little girl in my neighborhood had polio, so I knew it would not be an easy life in iron braces, unable to run, roller skate, and jump rope. I was obedient about staying away from the Dinky Pool even after the Salk and Sabin vaccines were introduced in the early 1960s. Vaccine via sugar cube – what could be better than that? I wish more medicine came on a sugar cube.

The Dinky Pool was not the only place deemed off-limits by my cautious mother. 

Lake Ahoy
Lake Ahoy was likewise on Momma’s list of disgusting places. If it wasn’t the polio thing, then maybe it was the “pee and poop” thing. Everybody I knew LOVED Lake Ahoy. Nobody died from it despite rumors of “things” found floating in the lake. 

Lake Ahoy
Image used by permission
Cradock Alumni & Friends Facebook Group
I was SOMEBODY’s guest ONE time. How I managed to snag permission that one time can only be chalked up to my mother possibly being too embarrassed to say “no” and having to justify her answer to somebody’s parents. She must have crossed her fingers and said an extra prayer for my safety.

Kiddie Pool
On most steamy hot days, our little pool in the backyard offered some relief. We didn’t even mind the grass that built up from all our hopping in and out.
Mary Jollette and Rusty in the backyard pool
My sister Mary Jollette and our friend Rusty

Debbie, Mary Jollette, Donna 1965
Mary Jollette and friends Debbie and Donna

The Beach
Family at Virginia Beach 1973
Momma's head, my sister and Dad
Virginia Beach
But then came Tuesday. On Tuesdays, my dad’s day off from work at Sears & Roebuck, we all headed to Virginia Beach. Daddy always went in first to test the waves. We rented a raft from the lifeguard. It was a heavy-weight canvas, sturdy, better than what you could buy in the store. My sister and I would plop ourselves across the raft and hang onto the edges as Daddy dragged us out to sea. When a big wave came, he’d duck under it while hoisting us up just at the crest so we could ride the wave to shore. Sometimes we would be thrown off, tumbling and rolling in the sand. It was scary, but we always went back for more. “Do it again, Daddy. Do it again!”

Wade on over to Sepia Saturday and see who is making a splash this week.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sepia Saturday: Not Your Cup of Tea?

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a familiar scene: a married couple enjoying their afternoon tea in the garden. Tea. In a teacup. So refined. So genteel. But I have to wonder - do people use teacups anymore? In my house, mugs are the receptacle of choice. That seems to be the trend among my family and friends as well.

Teacup collection
Teacups, dark pink lemonade glass, china trivet
However, I do have a small teacup collection, not of my making, though. Most of the teacups had belonged to my grandmother, but others came from my grandaunts Violetta Davis Ryan and Velma Davis Woodring. The teacups are displayed in a beautiful pine corner cabinet that had belonged to my great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis. I must admit, they are quite lovely.
Teacup collection in corner cabinet
Mary Frances's corner cabinet
filled with heirloom china
Teacup collection Rucker demitasse cups and saucers
Demitasse set belonging to my great grandmother
Mary Sudie Eppard Rucker

The cups are marked "Bavaria."

I always thought such delicate teacups were just for show, jewelry for the house, not something one would ever actually drink from.

Teacup collection

Then several years ago I attended a meeting in the home of an elderly lady who served tea in a variety of lovely floral teacups that looked much like my grandmother’s.
Teacup collection

The thin china kept the tea piping hot - not tongue-scalding hot, mind you, just good and hot. The gentle clink as I rested the cup in the saucer was a pleasant sound that doesn’t come with everyday mugs, that’s for sure. Ah yes, this is the allure of fine china.

Coffee and tea at a meeting today are more likely to be served in a Styrofoam cup. At today’s bridal shower or baby shower, hostesses proudly set out matching paper plates, cups, and napkins coordinated with appropriately colored plastic forks. Pretty enough. But this ol’ dinosaur drags out the Jeanette Shell Pink milk glass snack sets that my family has entertained with for generations.  
Jeanette Shell Pink snack set
Shell pink milk glass by Jeanette
Depression glass
I mourn the passing of the fondness for fine china and crystal. Don’t get me started on silver!

Grab a cup of tea and join us at Sepia Saturday.

© 2018, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.