30 December 2010

Genealogical Goodness - Top 10 Genealogical Experiences in 2010

Shhhh....don't tell anyone, but I didn't have a genealogical plan for 2010. It is just by luck and on the fly planning that I did have some incredible genealogical experiences. 

This year my kids said...What do you MEAN you want to spend a week in Los Angeles going to classes and not even leaving the hotel? Why in the world do you want to go to a cemetery? It's filled with dead people. Why exactly are you standing with tears in your eyes on some street corner in New York City taking pictures just because some great, great somebody lived there more than ONE HUNDRED years ago?! But I say, these were a few of my top ten favorite genealogical moments during 2010. Here are all ten;

February 2010 Bristol CT: Visiting with two of my Smith great aunts and scanning valuable family papers. Same trip:Visiting with my mother's sister and starting to scan Bubba's printed photos. 

May 2010 Warwick, RI: My husband (who does not love cemeteries) volunteering to tramp through a cemetery. It must be true love. From one of the tombstones, we learned that his great great grandfather Feldman's first name was Noah. We gave our son this name eleven years ago.


May 2010 Queens, New York: Finding my great great grandmother's (Sarah (Murtaugh) Grace) 'room with a view', her grave in the Calvary Cemetery overlooking New York City.

July 2010 Los Angeles, CA - Three Experiences in One:  

Meeting MJ's cousin Cathy, a Brisk descendant on his father's side.

Meeting MJ's cousin, Evon, a Sumberg descendant on his mother's side.

Attending the Jewish Genealogy Conference during which I never left the hotel grounds, plus winning free registration for 2011 in Washington, DC.


October 2010: Taking a chance and starting to write and share on The Scrappy Genealogist blog. 

October 2010 New York, NY: Seeing a picture of MJ's Brisk great grandparents for the first time.  

October 2010 Manhattan, NY: Standing with tears in my eyes on this street corner in New York City taking pictures just because my Great Grandmother Grace (as well as her parents and grandparents) lived there more than ONE HUNDRED years ago.

December 2010: Wow, it's hard to stop at ten. Every new discovery is exciting. Just like a little kid, whose most favorite present is the newest one, I include the discovery I made this week of my great grandmother (Kiesel) Ginter's passenger list, which indirectly lead me to identifying two siblings. Her sister, Bertha (unknown maiden name) Mansfield is pictured here with her husband, Louis.

Thank you for reading along as I remembered 2010. It really was a year filled with genealogical goodness. Time to make some goodness goals for 2011!

Scrappy Gen

28 December 2010

Tech Tuesday - Scanning Slides

This was part of one of the best presents I ever received:

Grandma Smith and Me January 1968
One of my biggest goals for 2011 is scanning, archiving and sharing with my cousins the thousands of slides taken by Bubba. My husband even gave me the Slides 2 PC scanner

24 December 2010

Happy Holidays 2010

Thank you for supporting me in this new endeavor. Blogging about family history and genealogical research and photos has been more fun and rewarding than I imagined! The genealogy blogging community is a warm and friendly place and I am happy to now be part of the group. 

Looking forward to a rewarding and exciting 2011. Happy Holidays from my family to you and your family group. May you have time to connect and reminisce and may your New Year be healthy and prosperous.


Scrappy Gen

21 December 2010

reverb10 - December 21 - Future Self

Today's prompt for reverb10 is Future Self by Jenny Blake: Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead?

This is going to strain my brain. Imagine myself five years from now, when my oldest child has graduated from college and is living G-d knows where, my middle child has graduated from high school and is living G-d knows where and my baby is almost a senior in High School. I'm pretty sure I will be having a mid life crisis and may not be in any condition to give my current self beneficial advice. 

I really like life right now. My oldest is in college just twenty short minutes away and visits us frequently. The other two are in high school and middle school. We still have lots of noise and chaos around the house and that's the way I like it. Since things are going to be monumentally different in five years, maybe I better start preparing for it now. 

Note to self from future self; things are pretty quiet around the house. There isn't nearly as much laundry and a meal can be made from just one pound of chicken instead of two. Your son is so busy with his sports teams and college preparations that he is hardly ever home and you and MJ can go out on a date whenever you feel like it. Believe it or not, you are NOT having a mid life crisis and you are happy with life. Luckily, you planned ahead for what you would like to be doing with your life, all because of a fun writing prompt called reverb10.

Make a plan for the next two years for how you will improve your skills as a genealogist. It doesn't have to be set in stone, but having a list of goals is vital. Pick the educational courses and seminars that will augment your current knowledge and assist you in becoming a professional genealogist. Decide what your specialty(ies) will be. Picking one or two areas and concentrating on those will strengthen your resume. 

Five years from now you will be working full time as a professional genealogist because you have worked hard and stuck to your plan. Yes, your kids will be busy with their own lives, but you will be too. You will be doing what you love, helping others rediscover their family. 

Love Future Scrappy Gen

Tombstone Tuesday: Sarah Brisk - What was her father's name?

If you stand with your back to Jacob Shoer's gravestone:

you will see this gravestone, which marks the burial of his son, Mandel, and Mandel's wife, Sarah Brisk. 

Last week I mentioned that MJ's Bubbie, Sarah Brisk, and her two sisters give different names for their father, who is presumed by the family to be the same for all three. Bubbie's Ketubah (marriage contract) names her father as Yehuda Lev while her sister Ida, according to cousin Cathy, names her father as Aryeh Zev. This tombstone inscription gives Sarah's father's name as Aryeh Lev. Very interesting and perhaps a step closer to confirming that their father's name was Aryeh, but certainly not conclusive proof. Perhaps one of MJ's relatives will know who gave the information for her tombstone.

Here is a closer image of Bubbie's inscription:

If you have any thoughts about Bubbie's father's name, please post a comment. 

Thanks for reading!

Scrappy Gen

20 December 2010

Military Monday - Bubba the Sailor Man - Anchors Aweigh Part 1

What do you think? Do you think these pictures were taken on the same day? 

The two pictures look very similar, except for the caps. I wonder if they were issued two different types. 

I also wonder when the photos were taken. My premise is they were taken when he enlisted in March of 1944, but I don't have any proof yet.

Does anyone know of a resource for pictures of old navy uniforms? 

Thank you for looking!

Scrappy Gen

reverb10 - December 20 - Beyond Avoidance - Certification in 2011?

Have you started thinking about the New Year yet? I found a neat place online today called reverb10. It's an annual virtual event that began in 2009 and includes a series of writing prompts designed to get you reflecting on the year that has passed and thinking about the year to come. In reverb speak; the 'thinking about the year to come' is creating reverberations for the New Year. It sounded intriguing.

Today's prompt by author Jake Nickell is titled Beyond Avoidance; what should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

Wow, I think Jake wrote this writing prompt just for me. I am the queen of avoidance. If there is an avoidance syndrome, I have it. Probably the biggest thing I have not done this year is to start the process of becoming approved as a Certified Genealogist through the Board for Certification of Genealogists. I have gone as far as ordering the application packet, but that is where I stopped. Am I scared to start the process? Well, no. Am I worried? Well, yes. It is hard to ignore all of the stories about how difficult it is to be approved. Am I unsure about my abilities? Absolutely! Have I been too busy? Yes and no. As you know I have three kids, one who is in college. This year brought some challenging health issues for two of my kids, but if I am going to be brutally honest with myself, I could have found the time to work on the application. Will I do it in 2011? Probably not. There is more to it, than lack of time.

In the spring of 2009 I completed the Genealogical Research certificate program at Boston University. I loved every minute of the class and thoroughly enjoyed meeting and getting to know the teachers and classmates. Many of my classmates have already started the clock on their application to become a Certified Genealogist and are meeting monthly to support each other in that endeavor. Here is where I start thinking about that age old childhood question; “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” In order to complete the application, an applicant must have a good depth of both knowledge and experience. While I did gain the necessary knowledge during the certificate program, I don’t have the experience I need to do justice to the level of work required for approval. Is that fear or worry talking? I don’t believe so. I think it is practicality talking.

While I won’t be pursuing certification in 2011, I will pursue further education and experience. The Creative Gene blog has issued a call for submissions for its 101st Carnival of Genealogy; My Genealogy Research/Writing Plan for 2011. I am going to take that opportunity to write out my plan for furthering my education and experience.

Thank you to reverb10 and Jake Nickell for providing this writing prompt!

Scrappy Gen

17 December 2010

Riga and Back in One Morning - The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum

I flew to Riga and back this morning. My virtual trip was sparked by a bittersweet gift that arrived in my Google Reader feed yesterday from Ann Rabinowitz of the Jewish Gen blog. Her post, titled The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum. reported that the museum, Rigas Geto Muzejs in Latvian, has online databases. Quickly I flew over to the new website and plugged in Bubbie's maiden name, Brisk, into the database for The Names of the Victims of the Holocaust.

Several Brisk names appeared including; 

Brisk, Benno
Brisk, Bunja
Brisk, Elias
Brisk, Jossel Mer
Brisk, Leib
Brisk, Minna
Brisk, Zila

The names Jossel Mer and Leib are familiar from earlier research findings. Jossel Mer may or may not be the Yiddish name of Bubbie's brother, Joseph. Leibe is the name given by Bubbie's sister, Ida, as the closest relative she left behind in Latvia in 1908.

Plugging the Brisk name into the other available database, somewhat disturbingly titled Names of the Dead Jewish children, results in information for a male child, Leib Brisk. He is identified as having been born in Riga on January 11, 1937 to Moisey Meise Aisik Brisk and Tsila (no maiden name given). Place of death and fate are listed as unknown.

The databases give good clues, but results from searching the two databases are to be taken with a grain of salt. The museum purports to have over seventy thousand names of victims. According to Victoria Shaldova, Executive Director, the list is a work in progress. The database of children includes not only Jewish children, but all Latvian children. The databases are vaguely referred to as being based on archive information. A comment by 'admin' in September 2010 stated that the website was not public yet, which may explain the lack of source information.

The website does have photographs showing the museum in several stages from rubble to opening day. It is well worth a visit to look at them. I said that finding out about this museum and its databases was a bittersweet gift. I am driven to find out what happened to the Brisks and other members of the family so that we can make certain that they will always be remembered. Finding more clues to Bubbie's family's fate is sweet, but bitter is the sadness I feel when seeing their names and thinking about so many lives cut short. This may also turn out to be an expensive gift as well. Virtual trips are free, but I really want to jump on an airplane and fly to Latvia tomorrow.

Thank you for sharing my virtual trip to The Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum and thank you to Jewish Gen for alerting me to this great website! 

Scrappy Gen

16 December 2010

Traveling Back in Time - Next Stop Butzbach - United States Local Dispensary

My sister was thinking horror movie when she saw the dispensary where she was born. We were all feeling overwhelmed by the absolute lifelessness of the United States military housing area in Butzbach, where the dispensary is located. She, however, was able to take pictures of her birth place, unlike me. Just hours earlier I had been forbidden to take photos of my birthplace. 

This is the dispensary in November 2010:
Mary never made it to the 97th General Hospital. She was in too much of a hurry. My parents made it up the hill from their apartment to the dispensary just in time for her to make her grand entrance into the world. She and my mother were then taken by ambulance to the 97th General, but were kept separated because Mary was considered contaminated. 

The dispensary may be abandoned and lonely now, but it was certainly vital to the men, women and children who lived in the military housing. Perhaps one day it will be put to some productive use again. 
Scrappy Gen

15 December 2010

Traveling Back in Time – Frankfurt, Germany – United States 97th General Hospital

Here at long last is our memorable adventure with the polizei (police) at the now defunct United States 97th General Hospital as remembered by my sister, Mary.

Disclaimer: No photos will appear in this story.

In Germany cars are smaller for several reasons; smaller people, smaller roads, expensive gas, but mostly to be able to maneuver quickly in and out of traffic at high speeds, regardless of pedestrian or oncoming traffic. Mom and Dad rented one of these cars into which the seven of us promptly stuffed ourselves. As we travelled up, up and around the curves and narrow pathways of the parking garage, I couldn’t help feeling I was on the Test Track ride at Epcot. Around the corner and increase speed to 20 MPH, around another corner and increase speed to 30 MPH and around another corner and increase speed to 40 MPH. When I saw a glimpse of daylight ahead, I worried for a second there was an oncoming truck. Suddenly we shot out into daylight and we were on the streets with the rest of the maniacs zipping around. I am pretty sure Dad enjoyed all that shifting into gear and taking the corners at what felt like warp speed. 
Why is it one always feels the need for a Xanax after the panic has set in and it is too late?

We were on our way, first to Frankfurt to see the 97th General Hospital where Jennifer was born. If we survived that, we would go to Butzbach to see where I was born. There were lots of wrong turns, lots of yelling and after I saw the beating Dad was taking from all of us, I was glad I was not driving. I could not imagine myself figuring out this new car in a foreign country; a car overloaded with people who primarily speak English in a country with all German signs. My only goal was to avoid all autobahns. Despite all these odds against him, Dad did a great job. I know this because I am alive to write about it.

We did get lost and went in circles, but thanks to Jennifer (Now who would have imagined she would be the one to find our way anywhere?), we finally found the hospital. There were no cars on the street as we circled the area. It looked so abandoned and sad.

Dad found a spot to park, which was not too hard since our car was the only one. After all, who would need to park near a building not in use? Here we all piled out onto the street (picture a circus car). Jen and I were the first to get to where the main entrance of the hospital used to be. There we saw signs for the United States Consulate. Of course, being the photographers that we both are, she pulled out her camera. Suddenly the door of the consulate flew open and a guard in a uniform yelled out to her Verboten! Verboten! with that right index finger tsking her in an abrupt and directive way. I yelled to her to put her camera down, he doesn’t want you taking pictures! Thankfully she had stopped and all I could think of was ‘whew that was close’.

At this point the rest of the gang is out of the car and Dad is approaching the man in the uniform. Come to find out he is an American living in Germany. Dad explained that Jennifer was born in this hospital and that is why we are there. He told us that we could not take pictures because “they” do not want us too, and if “they” see us take pictures “they” will come and either erase the pictures off of the card or take the camera away from us. We, of course, are all relieved that Jen had not taken any pictures. Shaking all of our heads in unison to ensure this man that we all understood, we asked if we could take a walk around the perimeter and he said that would be OK.

We were on our way down the street, skipping along in our minds, not realizing yet that “they” really did not want us there. Within moments here comes the Polizei slowing down, giving us the once over and then taking off quickly down the street. They drove down a bit and then did a quick u-turn. We all knew they were coming back for us.

Now why I was nervous, I do not know, because we were doing nothing wrong. However, when they pulled up to the curb, there we were again all shaking our heads in unison and saying whatever we think will make them go away. The Polizei advised us that “they” had called them and “they” wanted to make sure we were told not to take any pictures. Otherwise “they” will come and confiscate your pictures or camera. I can tell you this, these Polizei were trying to look friendly. You know the smile that says they aren’t sure if we are up to something so they are playing nice to feel us out. We advised them we already knew because the guard at the consulate had told us. Dad asked these smiling Polizei if it is ok for us to walk down the street. Their response? Well, Germany is a free country and we can’t stop you (emphasis on the word stop) from walking down the street. There was a general feeling of fear in the air and I can tell you it was coming from us not from the Polizei. We decided as soon as they left we needed to get back to the car and make like a tree and leave.

We quickly returned to the clown car and climbed over each other as fast as we could to get in so we could get out of there. Dad was trying to figure out the parking brake and the rest of us were yelling just go, go, go. So we left the place of Jen’s birth, where we certainly did not procure any memorable pictures, but definitely experienced a memory none of us will ever forget. Jen left knowing her place of birth was still owned and run by the United States. It was not run down or even abandoned, but is now fully occupied as the consulate. As we drove away, we made a wrong turn and were forced to drive by on the other side of the consulate. Now, we thought, we must really look like we are up to something, all while trying to avoid those cameras so “they” don’t recognize us. Who were we kidding, "they" probably trailed us until we were out of sight.

Soon I was focused on our next venture. I was just hours away from seeing the place where I was born. I would find out that the place I have had pictured in my mind for so many years would be the exact opposite of the images I held. Who would have known at that moment that Jennifer was the lucky one. Even though her place of birth was heavily guarded it was still alive and still American. Next stop, Butzbach!

Mary, Sister of Scrappy Gen

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Wordless Wednesdays - Photo Booth Clown - Charles Burrell

14 December 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Jacob Shoer

This is the Sons of Jacob Cemetery located in the Danvers Jewish Cemetery complex at 16 Buxton Road in Danvers, Massachusetts.

This is the building attached to the cemetery:

It doesn't look as if a funeral has been held there recently.

This is the row where the tombstone in question is located:

I should have counted when I was there, but it looks to be about six graves up on the right against the fence:

This is the grave of my husband's Great Grandfather, Jacob. This grave lists his Hebrew name as Yehuda son of Yitzchak. Of course, when Jacob came to America, he gave his Yiddish name, Yudel. 

Gravestones give vital clues in Jewish Genealogy, almost always listing a father's first name, although not always correctly. My husband's Grandmother (Bubbie) and her sisters list different names for their father. Did they have different fathers, or did Bubbie forget her father's name? That would be a good mystery to tell you about next Tombstone Tuesday!

Scrappy Gen

09 December 2010

Traveling Back in Time–Texas Road, Butzbach, Germany

Deserted. Desolate. Melancholic. All words that describe the atmosphere of the United States military housing on Texas Road in Butzbach, Germany. Forty-two years ago, the last time I was there it was a vibrant place filled with military service people and their families. Now it is empty and sad. I shared this picture with you as part of identifying the buildings you can see in the background.

Here are those same buildings on 25 November, 2010:
Texas Road (7 of 1)

Our apartment is the balcony on the third floor at 17 Texas Road in Butzbach:
Texas Road (10 of 1)

The balcony below is behind me in the old picture above.
Texas Road (1 of 1)

These pictures should give you an idea of how empty it is here now. This is our apartment building:
Texas Road (2 of 1)

and our street:
Texas Road (3 of 1)

and looking directly up from our street:
Texas Road (4 of 1)

and looking left:
Texas Road (5 of 1)

and looking right:
Texas Road (6 of 1)

Seeing our old home would have been overwhelmingly sad if I hadn’t shared the experience with my parents and my sister. I am so grateful I was able to visit Texas Road in Butzbach with them. Texas Road (8 of 1)

It turns out that we were not alone in our feelings. This huge empty United States housing area interconnects with civilian Butzbach residential areas. All of the citizens we spoke with reflected the loss they felt due to the departure of the Americans. The economy of Butzbach has suffered; stores and restaurants have closed. It will probably be years before Butzbach is able to economically rebuild what it has lost. The young adults say that it is very boring there now and the older people miss the loss of their friends and neighbors. There must be many United States service families who are missing Butzbach too. 

Thank you for coming along on my trip to the past.

You can read the other parts of this story here.

Scrappy Gen

07 December 2010

Tech Tuesday – Lenovo ideapad plus Bluetooth 2.1 USB Microadapter = Genealogist Heaven

My husband, MJ, is a technology geek. Let me say here, I love my technology geek. It’s too bad everyone can’t have one. There is hardly anything sexier than a man who will listen to his genealogy geek wife complain about not being able to get online while sitting here:

and then do something about it. 

MJ got me the Lenovo Ideapad, model S10-3t. I love it too, maybe not as much as my geek, but quite a lot. My primary laptop is a Dell Latitude E6500. It has super capacity and can handle Lightroom and Photoshop, but because of that ability, it is super heavy, far too heavy to carry through airports. I wanted something I could throw in my handbag.

My new Ideapad is easy to take anywhere and weighs less than three pounds. I looked at the IPAD for a while because it is just way cool, but it couldn’t run the programs I knew I wanted to have with me in my travels; namely Windows Live Writer, Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, Evernote and Roots Magic. The Ideapad runs all of these, has a full size keyboard and touch screen capability. The screen can flip around and lie flat so that I can read books on it with the Amazon Kindle application. If I want to share my pictures, all I have to do is connect my portable hard drive and I can show them on the screen. 

One would think I would be happy with my new Ideapad, but I still couldn't get online at the barn, where I sit sometimes for hours, while my daughter spends with the horses. I could be so much more productive if I could just get online during that time. Sexy Technology Geek to the rescue!

Last night for the seventh night of Hanukkah, MJ gave me a Bluetooth 2.1 USB Microadapter. Greek to you? Greek to me. It's a tiny little thing (think fingernail) that plugs into a USB port. Once installed, it connects with your mobile phone and, voila, you have mobile 3g internet.  

[MJ Shoer] Well, maybe not that simply, but you get the idea.  Here’s how it actually works…You have a Droid Incredible smart phone which is an Android phone. There’s a great free application called PdaNet that lets you tether to your phone to get internet access. Now I could have done that by simply connecting your phone to the Ideapad with the USB charging cable, but sexy technology geek decided it would be way cooler to do this wirelessly, thus the Bluetooth adapter. The adapter connects to your phone on which is a nifty little shortcut you click and in seconds your Ideapad is wirelessly surfing the Internet via my Droid’s 3G Internet. Very cool and very productive.

I tried this out today, Tech Tuesday, while waiting for my daughter at the dentist's office. MJ left me instructions in a document right on my desktop. They were very easy to follow. If I could do it, you could too. Even without your own Sexy Technology Geek.  

Happy Searching!

Scrappy Gen


06 December 2010

Military Monday - Grandfather - Army Man

Bubba was a sailor man, but my Dad's father was a career army man. He entered my thoughts frequently in Germany. He was stationed there several times. The first time was just after World War II when my Dad was very young, not even yet school age. This is Stanley: 

He passed away when I was just four years old. I wish I had had a chance to get to know him, but he made sure of one important thing....he wanted to be the first man to give me roses. 

Yes, two dozen red and yellow roses brought to two year old me by my grandfather, the first man to give me roses. How sweet was he? 

Scrappy Gen

03 December 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge #48 - Personal Genealogy Library

Google Books has been my virtual library for about six months. It began when I decided I needed to pare down my home library to make room for my new genealogical additions in the form of family binders and reference works. As an avid reader who falls in love with stories, the prospect of giving away any of my books was, believe it or not, painful to me. My sister suggested that I make a list of all of the books and a few thoughts about each one so that I would remember the books and have something to go back to for reference, but with the number of books I have, the thought was daunting.

Along came my new Android phone and the Android market for applications! There is an Android phone application called Book Mobile, which includes a bar code scanner. Using the phone's camera the application has the ability to scan a book's bar code and then upload the information to Google Books. Once in Google Books, you can further identify and categorize your books. Some of my categories include Genealogy - Connecticut, Genealogy - DAR, Genealogy - Jewish, etc. The possibilities are limitless and best of all, it is free.

That said, I was still interested in checking out Amy Coffin and Genea-Blogger's suggestions to look at LibraryThing, Good Reads and Shelfari. Tonight I had only a few brief minutes, but I noticed right away that I would have to pay with LibraryThing as their limit for the free account is 200 books. Also, I did not see a way to import my Google Books list. Upon further investigation I discovered that it is possible to export a list of my books on Google as an XML file, which is a format that LibraryThing can accept for import. If this same possibility exists with either of the other two options, Good Reads or Shelfari, I may be calling a new library home. It makes me nervous that I have so much information invested in Google. 

Thanks for reading!

Scrappy Gen

Footnote Friday – Citations:Searching for Bubba’s PT Boat Part 2

Several items in this post from Monday need citations so that my ancestors can someday decide whether or not I based my statements on reliable sources. Additionally, I am adding footnotes to some of the links. Currently those links are active, but in the event that this post is printed or the links become broken, a future researcher will have enough information to look at my sources directly.


PT's patrolling off coast of New Guinea1

This is a beautiful photo of a motor torpedo boat (MTB) from the National Archives World War II photos.
My sister and I found two similar photos in the stash at my parent’s home on our visit home for an early Thanksgiving with Bubba’s descendants on Sunday. We dove into the stacks looking for photos from Bubba’s time on the PT boat. This photo2 shows PT 163 and must have been ordered from PT Boats,Inc..

PT 368002
If Bubba was in indeed a member of PT RON 23, then this is not a photo of his boat. PT RON 23 encompassed PTs 241-244 and 277-2883.

This is the other photo4 we found. It is hard to make out, but shows PT 328. See my photo edit here.
PT 368

He may or may not have taken this photo, but I am betting on the fact that he did. Bubba brought his camera everywhere and taught my sister and me to do the same. The photo I have is an old blow up. Someday I hope to go through the literally thousands of slides we have to see if he kept the original. My Aunt will be looking through the photo stash at her house for photos taken on his boat with his crewmates. My secret wish is that the boat number will be visible in one of the pictures she finds.

Happy Hunting!

Scrappy Gen

1.  “Pictures of World War II,” digital image. The National Archives  (http://www.archives.gov/research/ww2/photos: accessed 24 November 2010), “PT's patrolling off coast of New Guinea. 1943. 80-G-11258. (ww2 59.jpg),” citing Still Picture Branch (NNSP); National Archives, College Park, Maryland.

 2. PT Boat 163 photograph, ca. 1942-1945; digital image ca. 2010, privately held by Jennifer Shoer, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 2010. This print, purchased by Jennifer’s grandfather, Edward [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE], was inherited by Jennifer’s mother, Sharon [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE] and acquired by Jennifer for scanning. The original may be held by PT Boats, Inc., Germantown, Tennessee.

3. Robert J. Bulkley Jr., At Close Quarters: PT Boats in the United States Navy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2003), 470-471.

4. PT Boat 328 photograph, ca 1943-1945; digital image ca. 2010, privately held by Jennifer Shoer, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 2010. This print from the collection of Jennifer’s grandfather, Edward [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE,] was inherited by Jennifer’s mother, Sharon [NAME FOR PRIVATE USE,] and acquired by Jennifer for scanning.

02 December 2010

Latkes in Germany and Happy Hanukkah!

Everywhere we went in Germany, they were kind enough to offer latkes. These pretty babies we ate in Butzbach:

Well, they weren't exactly called latkes, they were called kartoffelpuffer, or potato pancakes. But if it looks like a latke, smells like a latke and tastes like a latke, then it's a latke! I lost track of how many times we ate these. Let's just say, I am very glad that we had to walk a lot, or my scale would have been very unhappy with me. We usually had the kartoffelpuffer with applesauce, but they offered them with numerous topping choices, including lox and sour cream. Oh, oily delight, how I miss you. 

If you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope you enjoy a wonderful eight nights! With our oldest home for a quick visit from college, we lit the first candle last night.

Scrappy Gen

Genealogical Connection: What did your ancestors eat for their holiday? How does it differ from your celebration today?

01 December 2010

Traveling Back in Time – Mutti - Butzbach, Germany

The stairwell was dark, but standing in a dim light at the top was an old woman. She was a stranger to me, someone I would have passed on the street without recognizing and yet there was a familiarity. I was fairly certain it was her. The last name above the door buzzer on the small white apartment house was hers. I tentatively asked “Lina?” and she, also tentatively, answered “Jeneefer?”. I don’t remember climbing the rest of the stairs, but suddenly we were hugging tightly and she was saying “Oh Jeneefer, oh Jeneefer…you called me…” and I finished “Mutti”.

When I sent a last minute postcard to Lina through the German website Postalo, I signed it with all of our names; my father's, mother's, sister's and mine. Somehow Lina knew it was me on the stairwell and not my sister. Perhaps because as she repeated several times over the course of our visit, we had a connection. She also cared for and loved my sister, but she was a baby when she lived in Germany and was just nine months old when we moved back to the United States.

My sister was just behind me on the stairs and Lina enveloped her with her warm embrace and crooned “Baby, baby, you were just a baby.”. She hugged us both until my mother climbed the stairs. Lina clung so fiercely to her that I was a little afraid one or both of them would collapse. My father was next and she broke away from my mother long enough to tease him about his hair loss. Forty two years is a long time and yet, there was still a strong emotional bond in our shared past.

She invited us in to her cozy sitting room, where her husband was sitting. We admired the pictures of her daughter and her grandchildren and she spoke fondly of them. My brother in law and nephew came in to be introduced and she welcomed them too. My sister was pleased (Who wouldn't be?) when Lina joked that she and her son look like brother and sister.

Lina has had a hard life, but she has retained her tender heart, sense of humor and optimistic outlook. She has always had to care for her husband and cannot leave him alone. For years she worked as a nanny and as a housekeeper to support them. As she said she always took care of other people and didn’t always take care of herself. She has had some severe health issues and faces another important doctor’s appointment next week. But she said she doesn’t feel any angst and what will be, will be.

We could have stayed in her cozy sitting room, listening to her talk forever. She told us we were her last American family and so her English wasn’t so good anymore, that she hasn’t really spoken English since she cared for us. She said my name, Jeneefer, with such deep emotion that I could sense how much she had loved me. After thinking about her for my whole life, it was a nice thing to feel. My sister loved how she said it so much, she called me that for the rest of our trip.

Lina said that although she cared for so many American families, we were one of only a couple that she remembered well because she felt the connection with us. She said her memory isn’t good, but she remembered details like a visit from my father’s parents and how beautiful my grandmother’s face was. She also remembered little things I used to say and do. She said when it was time for her to leave, I would beg to go home with her. I think she liked that.

Time to leave, a bittersweet moment. How would we tear ourselves away from her? For that matter, how would we leave her warm, cozy sitting room and head back out into the cold, dark night? Time had fallen away and all that mattered was our deep happiness at being together again. Sitting close together, Lina was clinging to my mother and my mother was grasping her hands, both continuing to speak half in German, half in English. Of all of us, I believe Lina missed my mother the most. We took pictures of our group, The lighting wasn’t good and the pictures came out grainy, symbolic of the inadequacy of a camera in capturing the importance of this moment.

We hugged and kissed and sobbed and hugged and kissed and sobbed some more. I really didn’t want to go. Lina and her husband don’t get around easily, but when we descended the stairs to leave, they followed us down. We said Auf Wiedersehen and turned and waved again and again as we headed down the cold, dark street to pile back into our rental car. It was freezing outside, but Lina remained on the sidewalk and waved until we disappeared from view.

Lina says that not everyone for whom she has cared has remembered her. I have always remembered her, but feel some guilt that we didn’t continue to send her correspondence over the years and may have caused her some sadness because of this. I think she thought we forgot about her. Yes, we moved a lot, yes we were busy with our lives, but Lina deserves to be remembered. Before we left I thanked her for taking such good care of me. I will never forget her again.

Scrappy Gen

30 November 2010

Thanksgiving from Several Thousand Feet Up 26 Nov 2010

We had an early Thanksgiving this year with my side of the family. All of Bubba’s descendants were scheduled to be present. Of course, I was hoping to get a picture of the whole crew. This is the photo we took.
I am thankful for it; however a few family members are missing.

One of my daughters was busy doing this:

This picture is from an earlier show in October. MJ was so busy watching her do her thing that he didn't get any good pictures from this one. My daughter was very happy, but MJ would have been much happier eating turkey and stuffing. I did bring them home big plates of food, which they gobbled up.

My sister’s son and my cousins' husband were also missing as they had to work.

As he always does, my father led a beautiful grace and conjured the memories of our beloved family members who are no longer with us. I am so grateful to my father for his ability to invite them to our celebrations with such dignity and also that his prayers make everyone there feel included, no matter what their religion. 

MJ and my kids enjoyed Thanksgiving today with his side of the family. (I hope they took pictures!) I however am several thousand feet above the ocean on my way to Germany to visit the past and grateful to my husband for supporting me in my quest.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you enjoyed the day and have lots for which to be thankful.

Scrappy Gen
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