Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day Reflections . . . always!

I posted this blog several years ago and feel that is still relevant today, as Memorial Day should be every year. Thank you for your family's service and may God Bless America and all her brave men & women you gave their time and souls to keeping America safe.

Every family has one if not more members of the family who have perished in a war. As Memorial Day is to honor those who lost their life fighting for the freedom we cherish, today’s blog makes this contribution. Here are some facts and information that I am sure you already know but is always good to reminder.   
With the aid of the Internet, you will find a multitude of websites that give detailed information on all the United states Military wars fought, won and lost, offering numbers of when, where and how our brave men and women lost their lives.   
Most of these sites will tell you that Memorial Day started as an event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. It was inspired by the way people in the Southern states honored their dead. After World War I, it was extended to include all men and women, who died in any war or military action.

To brush up on your knowledge of the American Civil War, visit the Library of Congress Civil War collection, which includes more than a thousand photographs.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day. The current name for this day did not come into use until after World War II. Decoration Day and then Memorial Day used to be held on May 30, regardless of the day of the week, on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. However, it took a longer period for all American states to recognize the new date.

Know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran's Day? Click on

The Remembrance poppy has been used since 1920 to commemorate soldiers who have died in war. Inspired by the World War I poem, "In Flanders Fields", they were first used by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers who died in that war (1914–1918). They were then adopted by military veterans' groups in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Small artificial poppies are often worn on clothing for a few weeks until Remembrance Day/Armistice Day (11 November). Poppy wreaths are also often laid at war memorials.

As you create, add to, or make changes to Your Family Museum, make sure you give special attention to those in your family who were in the Military; even those who are currently serving our country. In our family museum, pictures, uniform pieces and souvenirs from Keith’s Naval Reserve Duty are showcased with much pride and respect.  When a visitor comes to our home and is taken to see our museum, I can see the pride in Keith’s eyes has he shares his memories with the guest. In turn, they usually have some memory of theirs to contribute, creating fascinating conversations.

In Our Grandparents Museum there are two albums filled with photos from my side of the family: Uncle Mike & my dad.
Uncle Mike’s military service was in the Army during WW I driving a medic truck in the  fields of France. 
There must have been a time when he visited the city of Paris, because he sent this  post card home.
Among my Uncle's things was this pencil sketch of a battle scene. There is no writing on the back to tell the story behind it. He also had this French sword. Over the years there had been many different stories about it, but the one that rings most true then the others in that since he drove the Medic truck onto the fields to retrieve the dead and wounded soldiers, he apparently found this sword and kept it.
My father, Bill’s military service in the Navy during WW II was as a Aviation Machinist stationed on the Air Craft Carrier Enterprise. When going through his papers, I found a captivating account he wrote about how he survived the Japanese air attack, taking refuge in the lowest deck on the Enterprise. 
From Keith’s side is a photo of his father’s younger brother, Edward B. Goesel, a 20- year old Airman, killed on June 18th 1944, when his B-17 Flying Fortress was shot down over Hamburg, Germany. Missing in action, his remains never were returned home.

As we reflect on this Memorial Day, let us all keep in our hearts the memories we have of our family members, friends and acquaintances that have served and continue to serve our country today.  God Bless them, one and All.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Family Museums . . . some are grand, some are intimate

We boarded the tour bus at 6:30 am on a cool Wednesday morning, greeted by the tour guide, bus driver, and 40+ smiling neighbors; many members of KM’s Garden Club. By time my daughter Tiffeni and I got on the bus, most of the seats were taken, so back of the bus we squeezed. Settling in, we were ready for the 4-hour plus ride to Delaware from Williamsburg, VA via the Washington Beltway . . . yikes! Expected time of arrival; noon? Oh well, we were lodged in for now, but happily so to have this opportunity to get away for a couple of days and see two places we always wanted to visit: Winterthur Museum of American Decorative Arts in Delaware and the next day, Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

Now, there is a big difference in these two places, both with houses that displayed their family’s possessions. And as museums go, some are large, strictly controlled, and very impersonal. Others are cozy, relaxed, and informal. Though the first one was interesting and informative, we both preferred the second one. Here is the description from Winterthur’s webpage:
Almost 60 years ago, collector and horticulturist Henry Francis du Pont (1880–1969) opened his childhood home, Winterthur, to the public. Today, Winterthur is the premier museum of American decorative arts, with a collection of nearly 90,000 objects made or used in America between about 1640 and 1860. The collection is displayed in the magnificent 175-room house, much as it was when the du Pont family lived here, as well as in permanent and changing exhibition galleries.

Wow! Not only did we not have the time to see even a modicum of the 175 rooms (nor were they opened) or the 90,000 objects, at times it sure felt like it. We walked, and walked, and were told several times to stay with the group. The museum was impressive, but impersonal. The attempts are entertaining, such as the cocktails on the card table and stairway, the toiletries in the mock bathroom and the breakfast table. 
Winterthur has miles of lush gardens. To see them, you would have to trek up and down, around and through the many parks. We opted for the tram, which was convenient, but you couldn’t appreciate all of the scenery.

The next day we went to Longwood Gardens, where one can slowly meander about the lush gardens, which was more our style. Here is the description from Longwood’s webpage:

Our Gardens are a living expression of all that our founder, Pierre S. du Pont, found inspiring, meaningful, and beautiful. From the intricate fountain systems to the meticulous gardens to the architectural grandeur, awe-inspiring discoveries await at every turn. We started our tour of the gardens with a guide. Here are a few pictures of us in the gardens:
Eventually, we wandered off by ourselves, and that was when we discovered the Peirce-du Pont House dating from 1730 and is the oldest building at Longwood Gardens. It became the family homestead of the Peirce family in 1909. He modernized the house with a two-story addition and in 1914, the largest addition was built and converted into administrative offices. The home became his weekend residence until his death in 1954. It is now open to the public every day. Though the house is no longer residential, many of the rooms show the decor and architectural features during Mr. du Pont's occupancy, as are photos and many of Mr. du Pont's possessions, books and his personal effects. Now, this is what I call a real Family Museum.
The entry of the house is a conservatory filled with lush plants, small fountains and old-fashion wicker furniture. To the left is the library where you watch a short film about the family and the house. You can tell by the interior d├ęcor that this room was well-used and comfortable. Many exhibits surround the room and you can take your time perusing them. Exiting, you step over to what small room with a grand stairway to the second floor. Though the stairs were captivating, it was the display of luggage and hat boxes that look like they were ready to depart on a trip, either on a Pullman or the famous Mauretania. 
From there we walked back thru the conservatory to the main entrance and into a room that served as Mr. du Pont’s office. Everyday objects from his business dealings are displayed on a large desk. The room gives you a feeling like Peirce just left but will be back. As we sauntered through the connecting rooms, collections of family and business memorabilia are displayed behind Plexiglas, allowing you to read and view the many objects. There were chairs and benches you can sit on and nobody bothered you to move on. 
As we left the house, we had a clearer image of the man; Pierre S. du Pont, and his family. That is what having a Family Museum is all about; sharing, displaying, protecting and preserving family heritage and the all-important physical genealogy that is yours. I hope you start yours soon, because there is no time like the present.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Remember Mom – from fun to advice – always a fine teacher.

My mother gave me some truly good advice, much of it I didn’t consider the importance of until I became a wife and mother. First and foremost, feed them first; then talk. This was especially true with my dad. When mom had to either ask him a question or tell him some news that he may not want to hear, she fed him first. While he stirred his last cup of coffee, out came the questions or news. I can remember standing in the kitchen and watching the drama unfold, thinking, oh boy, dad. Here it comes! Another piece of advice, not now! When I had something I wanted to tell my dad or brother and she determined it was not the best time, she would put her finger up to her lips, along with a nod silently saying, “No, Not now.”  She said timing was everything and if you want to get the answer you desire, wait for the right time. But I would ask, “When is the right time?” With a wink of her eye, she said, “You’ll know.” It took me a long time to figure out all of this advice, but I did and passed it along to my children.

Mother and son. Very special bonds are formed from day one. One of my husband, Keith’s fondest memories of his mom was when she taught him how to sew. She help him make a coat and pants for his doll, which is in our Family Museum. Keith was the last child, 4 siblings before him; 1 sister, 3 brothers. Most of them were older and being the youngest, he got a lot of attention from his mom. She played with him often and told him he had a master touch with woodworking and encouraged him to build and create. Keith was very close to her and with her passing 10 years ago at the age of 102, he misses her. One of her last bits of advice of the many she gave him, was not to get so old; it’s not fun.  

"My mom is my best friend,” Tiffeni wrote. “During my four decades she has shared a lot of wisdom, ideas, advice, and many other things. But want I want to thank her most is for the ultimate present - the gift of play. My mom nurtured my curiosities and fed my imagination. My mom play with me and made the most places and events magical. One memory that stands out is when we went to the Art Institute in Chicago. As we looked at the paintings, mom would bend down and whisper in my ear, "What is the lady thinking?" or "Where does that path go?" She spoke to me as an adult; not a little kid, and waited for my answer. As I grew up, mom & I would visit museums often and we would continue our game that contributed to my love for learning. Thank you for being playful, instilling me the love of museums, fostering my imagination, and your constant encouragement. You're the best! Tiffy."

A boy with his mom is so very different than a girl with her mom. Perhaps it is because mom can take a breather from the task of teaching and play instead. Boys like to play and that is what Charlie and I did. He recalls how we listened to lullabies’, laying out train tracks from his bedroom and down the hall. He loved the little encouraging notes I would put in his lunchbox, and most of all, introducing him to the Titanic, the start of a passion for maritime history. Boys are very attentive, observant, and kind. These pictures were both taken at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Virginia, 24 years apart. Whatever I was trying to explain to him in the first picture, he listened. This is one of my most cherished moments with Charlie because I cannot recall what I said to him, but apparently it must have been wonderment. So when we visited there again, Charlie wanted to re-enact that moment. We did and neither one of us can remember what was said. But it’s special, indeed, to have him still astonished.  

So this Mother’s Day, have your children and grandchildren write down what they learned best from you. It is surprising to read what they remember, perhaps something you even forgot. And don’t forget to put your Mother’s Day memories in your Family Museum, so they will be there for you and the rest of the family to enjoy.