Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Television . . . yesterday & today

It’s incredible how your life can flash before your eyes by simply reading down a list of television shows you use to watch when you were a kid, a teen, a young adult, a parent, as an intellectual, sports jock, mystery lover, Hollywood groupie, doctor, lawyer and Indian chief.  I didn’t expect this trip down memory lane to bring back more than recalling the show, but it did. It brought back the people who watched them, with or without me.  Every family member had their favorites shows, but unlike today where there are multiple TVs in a home and other devices such as computers, DVRs, cell phones, etc., fifty plus years ago, only one television per household was to be had and we all watched the same shows together. Almost! I should add.
I started this journey be Googling I started to scan down each page and finding the shows logo for this post. It was then it hit me; these shows played a very important part in shaping who I am today. From the first shows like Captain Kangaroo and Looney Tunes. One show my mom told me to watch was Romper Room.

Each program would open with the Pledge of Allegiance and then 30 minutes of games, exercises, songs and moral lessons. But I was always disappointment when my name was never called to look through the Magic Mirror. Soon, new shows like Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood reached out to kids teaching all kinds of lessons in artistic ways.
Mickey Mouse Club was my favorite until I became a teenager. Then it was all those family shows like Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Lassie and Real McCoy’s. During my teen years, I couldn’t get home fast enough to watch American Band Stand. I also love all the beauty pageants and dreamt of being a contestant. 

I could go on and on, but after reaching #441 on the list and reading about 40 shows, I gave up. But it was fun! Yet more than the shows it was remembering the people who watched them with me. My father loved Candid Camera. He would laugh so hard he would get tears in his eyes. 
My mom loved variety shows like Ed Sullivan and the comedy show I Love Lucy. What I recall the most is Saturdays nights and watching the Lawrence Welk Show. Little did I know that 25 years later my family and I would see his show live in Florida.  My mom even got to dance with Lawrence.
Television yesterday and today is embedded into our consciousness and can effect people's behavior. The shows and their stories influence us with good, bad and otherwise thoughts and feelings. What I see in shows today is a dumbing down of respect in family sitcoms, variety and reality shows. There is far too much violence and unethical messaging. But we are all different and like different things in different ways, especially when it comes to television. 

One more thing. Remember this? It is the Zenith Space Command 600 television remote control, circa 1960. Made of metal and plastic and manufactured by Zenith Electric Company, Chicago, Illinois. This old remote has tiny bars of metal in it and when you pressed the buttons you hear a sharp snapping sound while the channel changes. It is small compared to today’s complicated remotes. Pictured here is the one my family had for years and when my father found it buried in some box packed long ago, all the memories of early TV watching came back to be with one click. What a sound! I miss it. Anyway, enjoy the new shows and don’t forget about all the great reruns you can still see on television and thru Netflix. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

All the Grandparents . . .

German & Norwegian and Italian & Lithuanian . . . what a melting pot of nationalities and heritage. So many different cultures, customs and legacies to be proud of and cherished. Tiffeni & Charlie are both fortunate to have known their grandparents, Tif longer then Charlie, and because of our Family Museums, their memories are safe and never forgotten.

From their father’s side, many Norwegian customs are still alive today. At Christmas time, their father makes a traditional Norwegian breakfast of Norwegian pancakes. Gramma Goesel loved Little House on the Prairie stories and passed down her books to Tiffeni who still has them.
From the German side, Grandpa Goesel was a builder and during the Depression, he made wooden trucks and sold them at the local hardware store. He made trucks for all of his children and grandchildren.
From their mother’s side, Italian food is the best. Most recipes have garlic, basil and tomatoes. Pasta is the best, so is pizza. Many traditional Italian holidays are embraced and celebrated.
Unfortunately, not many Lithuanian traditions have been passed down. But grandpa kept many letters and photographs of his family that were saved and with assistance from interpreters, many things were learned about this side of the family. And because Grandpa was in WWII, Charlie developed an historian’s heart with his interest in naval history.    

Here are a few pictures of the grandparents my children had the pleasure of knowing and loving.
Marvin & Gladys on their wedding day and during their retirement.
Bill & Dorothy on their  wedding day and during their retirement.

This concludes my posts for honoring grandparents.
If you do not preserve, protect and display your family’s histories and heirlooms, who would you be today?
                                         Create your Family Museum NOW!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Italian & Lithuanian Maternal & Paternal Grandparents

Liz’s Italian maternal grandmother, Elisabetha (nee Sciamarelli) Albano, lovingly called Nana, left Calbria, Italy in 1902 with one child and her cousin with her children. They survived the agonizing Atlantic crossing, the rigorous examinations on Ellis Island, and rejoined their husbands in Chicago, where they worked for the railroad. Nana had nothing more then what she could fit in a trunk. She was a strong woman who was able to raise her large family of six children by owning and running a neighborhood Italian grocery store.
There is one endearing photograph of Nana standing proudly behind the store’s counter. Her stout rounded shoulders bear the weight of responsibility. Her thick dark hair pulled back in a tight bun made a formidable persona. Yet her starched white apron and her prideful smile welcomed all, even those who had no money. Not one soul ever left the store empty‑handed. All that remains of hers beside the few pictures is a meat grinder and a receipt for candy and a page from the stores’ account book. Unfortunately there is only one photograph of Elisabetha’s husband, Thomas. There is much research waiting to be done and perhaps then, other papers will be found along with family history within.  But what there is of my Italian grandparents, I will treasure forever and display my proud Italian heritage in the Family Museum.

Liz’s paternal & maternal grandparents were from Lithuania. Grandpa Anthony Yuknavich was born in 1888 in Uzubalici, Lithuania (at the time of his birth the area was part of Russia). Anthony had a high school education. His father did not want Anthony to go into the Russian Army so he bought him a ticket to America. Anthony arrived in New York on the ship Pisau from Hamburg Germany in June 1907. He lived in Portage, PA where he met Anna who lived in Wilkes Barre, PA. They married Sept. 17, 1917. Anna (nee Vaicuilionis) Yuknavich was born in 1887 in Vilkoviskis, Lithuania. She had no schooling but was artistically talented. She made carpets on a loom that was in the attic of their home. Anna got her citizenship papers in 1945.

Anthony & Anna, known by friends and family as Tony and Annie, lived in Bakerton, PA for 62 years. Grandpa was a quiet man who could speak several languages and liked to read. He was a dedicated husband and father, a good farmer raising produce and animals. He was also a coal miner and after years of dangerous work and unhealthy conditions, he was a frail man as he aged. Fortunately, he had three strong sons who took over supporting the family. The eldest son was my father, William.
Every summer when Liz was a child, her family  would go Pennsylvania to visit her  father's parents. Their house and farm was situated in a valley in the Allegheny Mountains. She loved the quiet mountains, especially because life in South Chicago was noisy and crowded. After her grandparents passed away and the house was sold, it is unfortunate that there was absolutely nothing of her grandparents handed down. No heirlooms or antiques. Just photographs. But they shall cherish always.  

Though there are no physical heirlooms, there was one thing handed down from Liz’s father’s parents – the desire to save. Be it that what they owned was cherished, and when financial times were hard, many times what was saved was used again and again. Liz’s father taught her to save and it is from that lesson that the Family Museum exists.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Paternal German Great-Grandparents

Keith’s paternal great grandparents were from Weberstedt, a Province of Saxon Germany. In June of 1868, Keith’s Great-Grandfather Christian Goesel with his new bride Dorthea, immigrated to Illinois. They settled in what was once an Indian village founded in 1804.
In 1868 Goeselville was established.  

By 1880s there was an implement business, grocery store and post office, which Christian served as postmaster. In 1909, Goeselville was sold to the Midlothian Country Cub and his family of nine children moved to Tinley Park. There Christian was one of the directors of the rural electric light company until he passed away in 1914.     

This photograph is of Keith's German great‑grandparents and family members sitting in a horse-drawn carriage, ready to take them to a Sunday service. A fine family portrait of the Goesel Family taken in 1894.
This picture of eleven salesman promoting farm machinery with four suited managers shaking hands, one of which was Keith’s great-grandfather.
 Goeselville is gone. It is now Camp Sullivan operated by the Forest Preserve and used for Boy Scout camping. There is a very long trail in the forest that winds through old trees and scrubby bushes that leads to the remains of the village where many homes and businesses existed. There are foundations remnants and a granite block that once secured a flagpole. All that remains today is the barn, which still withstands the test of time. The Tinley Park Historical Society has photographs and artifacts from Goeselville. It’s a private museum and you need an appointment
to see the exhibits. What is quite interesting is the Indian Totem Pole outside next to the museum that traces the history of the Indians that lived in the area before the many European immigrants settled homesteads and towns. Here is a bit of history from Wikipedia about Goeselville:
Christian Goesel and several relatives settled near 147th and Oak Park Avenue (then Bachelor's Grove Road) beginning in about 1861. In 1884, the Goeselville post office was established (replacing the East Orland Post Office) to continue to serve the small settlement in that general vicinity (which had previously been part of the larger area of the earlier Batchelor Grove settlement). This post office operated as a satellite of the New Bremen/Tinley Park post office
until it was
discontinued in 1903. At its peak there were about 30 residents in the Goeselville area, with a few general stores to supply the farmers. Parts of the former Goeselville settlement are now within the far northwestern boundaries of the City of Oak Forest. Although that post office has been closed for over 100 years, the Goeselville name occasionally continues to be found on current maps.

 It is grand to take a trip back to Illinois to visit the family homestead and gratifying to know that we are preserving the town and its history in our Family Museum.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Maternal Norwegian Grandparents

My husband, Keith’s maternal grandparents were from the northern province of Norway called Finmarken, located about 200 miles of the Arctic Circle. The Jorgenson family with three other families from Norway immigrated to America in 1864.  

Keith vividly remembers his mother, Gladys (nee Jorgenson) parents. When he was a child, he often visited their farm in Artichoke, Minnesota. His mother, Gladys came from a large family with 6 brothers and 3 sisters. They all worked on the farm and enjoyed community and church outings.

Keith was fortunate to have had his Uncle Hans create a very thorough genealogy of his maternal ancestors, long before there was the Internet and He would have embraced both of these as he researched his family history. Our bookshelf museum is dedicated to this side of his family displaying some wonderful old photographs and unique heirlooms and antiques. The photos tell the Jorgenson story. Enjoy!

This 1898 photograph shows his mother Gladys (sitting on her father’s lap) with the entire family (except one yet to be born) dressed in their Sunday best, at the dining room table in their farm house in Minnesota. Keith's Bestafar (bestfather/grandfather) reigns proudly at the head of the table. Keith’s Bestamar (bestmother/grandmother) sits next to her husband.

The wooden cradle belonged to his mother’s Aunt Getta in Norway and was made by her father in 1835. When Gladys was a child, she inherited the cradle. The wooden suitcase was made by Gladys’ father. When you open it, a card-table folds out. When its use is done, it folds back up into the suitcase. Very ingenious. The washboard was Gladys’s mothers’ dating back to 1864. Before the old farmhouse was torn down (we tried to save it) Keith removed the Victorian-style
brackets his grandfather made off of the front porch. He also took one of the few brass doorknobs that were still in the house. He also took the balustrade off the front hall steps and we incorporated it into our home. We wanted the claw-foot porcelain bathtub, but it wouldn’t fit on top of the car, so we had to leave it behind. 
Keith’s Aunt Alice was a Baptist Missionary who for twenty years lived with and taught English and converted many of the people in the Congo. Over the years she collected fine pieces of African art. After her death Keith inherited some of her things. Keith’s Aunt Nina, who passed away at age 104, gave him several family heirlooms, such as rag carpets, an exquisite hand-made wooden sugar bowl made by his grandfather, and two balls of yarn gleaned from the family sheep. The oldest of his mother’s sisters, Aunt Esther, who passed away at age 101, gave her heirlooms to other family members. When his mother, Gladys passed away, at age 102, Keith inherited many precious family heirlooms that are placed around our house as well as in the family museum. We both live with and display all of these heartfelt heirlooms and considered ourselves fortunate to have them in our lives.
Tomorrow's post will be about Keith's paternal grandparents.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Happy Grandparents Day

Besides Keith’s & Liz’s, and Tiffeni’s & Charlie’s museums, there are two museums dedicated to our family ancestors. Norway and Germany on Keith's side; Italy and Lithuania on Liz’s. Both museums contain over 300 years of family history.
As today, Sunday, September 13, 2015 is recognized as Grandparent’s Day, I will dedicated this week’s posts to them. Until then, take today to remember and talk about your ancestors, look at the photographs kept in albums and if there are some still languishing in a box, take them out and put them into a new album. If not in a book, then on a disc or whatever venue you feel comfortable working with. The important thing is to keep their history alive because it is your history as well.
Happy Grandparents Day.