Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Aunt Elizabeth (Tootie is, of course, named after her, a story all its own) lived in a cinderblock house on the outskirts of town west of T or C. In fact, I don't know if she lived in T or C or not, since the hamlet of Williamsburg was just west of her property. She lived, almost literally on the edge of town, in an area where the streets were gravel and there were no sidewalks.
I loved Aunt Elizabeth's house. It was shaded by trees all around, and cool even in summer. One of the things I remember is Aunt Elizabeth's eclectic choices for clocks. Three in particular. One was a huuuuge (to a ten-year old) grandfather clock of some gleaming red wood. It had a long pendulum that swung back and forth with a measured and solemn "tock." The second was right next to it on the wall. It was a clock that advertised some beer or other, Jax or Lone Star. It featured a revolving drum painted in blue colors. When the clock was plugged in, a light behind the clock shown through and the drum rotated, looking (if you had imagination) like a waterfall.
My favorite though, was a mantle clock that chimed. It had a bong-bong-bong-bong melody for the quarter hour, a longer one for the half, a longer still for the three-quarter, and a full melody for the hour, plus striking the numbers. That way, you could be in another room and know that it was fifteen past whatever hour had recently struck.
I loved to sleep in Aunt Elizabeth's house, because I would wake in the night and listen for burglars, arsonists, or monsters. Then the clock would chime and I'd know that everything was all right, and I'd go back to sleep.
I loved that clock so much that I recently bought one, a clock made in about 1930 that is as close as I could find to the one that Aunt Elizabeth had. I wake up in the night to hear it chime and I am as comforted now as I was then.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
This is Dad's family. It seems very Grapes of Wrath to me. The second image is the writing on the back of the picture. I really have no idea who the writer is, except that she is standing in front of "Dord," which I think was a nickname for Dorothy. The only ones I remember are Grandmother Shook, Esther, and Ralph, who is at the extreme right of the picture.
Monday, June 23, 2008
On the back of the postcard is written,"This is Ruth and that notorious outlaw Frank James - a young man she had been keeping company with. He is in Mo. [Missouri] now."
The scene (adobe house and windmill) suggest New Mexico, but dad was born in Glenelder, Kansas, and I think that's a more likely possibility.
If it is indeed Frank James, the time would have to be about 1870. That would fit with the chronology of the family.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Thursday, May 8, 2008
This is me. I'm pretty sure this is Grandma's house in Hot Springs (now Truth or Consequences) New Mexico. I think we must have left Vancouver, Washington and gone home to stay with them while Dad was in Puerto Rico. I remember the train ride. We had a roomette, and mother said I washed my hands in the little sink all the way from Washington to New Mexico. I imagine she was glad to have something to keep me occupied. My hair was naturally curly. I imagine I was about 2 1/2.
I'll have to see if I can find the naked pose of Ron trying to get over the fence. That was in Oklahoma. Do you have the picture, Ron?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
One summer, probably between my first and second grade? Maybe the year before, Dad was working on a highway in northern New Mexico. He built a little house trailer and away we went to camp the entire summer. We stayed near a village named Ojo Caliente, though in my memory there are lots more trees than you see in these pictures. We were probably camped among scrub pine. I have an idea that the people in the picture with dad and the dump truck were relatives who came to visit. He has
the look of being one of Anna and Gus Yarbro's sons. Maybe the one that lived with Mom and Dad when we were in Altas, Oklahoma when I was still a baby and Ronnie was just beginning to walk.
The fellow standing behind Dad (who is seated) with his hands on his hips looks very like Gus. I think he's the same fellow with the cowboy hat in his hand in front of the dump truck. As a Yarbro, he would have worn a Stetson.
Ronnie is walking right in front of the wheel of the tanker truck. That was our water supply. There was no electricity to our trailer, though there may have been a light plant down at the camp center. They built a platform so there could be dancing on special occasions.
The fellow on the bulldozer is not Dad. I think he must have been running a shovel or a dragline, because his oiler, Joe Gray was there at Ojo with us. He loved dad. He was a Mexican and called Dad Jeemy. His wife, Romelia, made flour tortillas every morning, and I always tried to be there when she was cooking them.
Back to the bulldozer. I looked at that picture, and the name Blackie came to my mind. Do you remember him, Ron?
That was a magical summer. Full of adventure and freedom. One day a truck carrying lettuce and other veggies turned over, and we all OD'd on lettuce. Mom gave us a salt shaker full of sugar, and we'd sprinkle it on the leaves, roll them up, and eat them. I can still taste it!
I can still remember the harrowing ride on a lowboy trailer to another town where the fellows were supposed to play baseball. The whole little camp community piled on the trailer and off we went on a shortcut through the mountains. It was a gravel road with hairpin turns so sharp that the truck would have to back up and jockey around to get around them. By the time we finally arrived, the game was over.
The construction company that Dad worked for was owned by Royal Skousen. I still have a picture that his wife did for my mother, a very pretty picture done in pastels on fine grade sandpaper of a path through a woods.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Mother taught Sunday School most of the time we lived in Alaska--usually the class that Ronnie and I were in. She said it was because no one else would teach Ron. He had this infuriating habit of goofing off but ALWAYS having the right answer to the question that the teacher asked to show him that he was being inattentive.
Mother loved teaching kids, and she loved parties, so we'd get together as a Sunday School class and do fun things. This is a summer cookout at the Knik river. In my last posting (just before Ron's posting about Wally) there was a picture of Mom standing on the highway that leads to this bridge. Just across the bridge, the highway makes a 90 degree turn and runs along the base of the mountain. Pioneer Peak is its name.
At this time of year, the river is quite narrow, but in late August a lake that forms behind a glacier eats its way through the ice and the whole lake empties into the Knik and pours out to sea. The lake is called Lake George, and the phenomenon is called the Lake George Breakup. It's quite spectacular, because the river gets huge and blocks of ice float down it.
Did I spell Knik right?
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
This is obviously in summer, and I have an idea it was the first or second year we lived in Alaska.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Dad was always a hunter. When we lived in Wyoming he hunted for deer and cottontail rabbits to supplement our diet. He shot a bear, too, but the meat turned out to be too strong to eat.
When we moved to Alaska he would go out each fall and bring home a moose. He was a very patient man and would locate a trail that had evidence of moose usage, and then he would sit and wait for one to come along.
He always came home with one, which he would skin, and then he and mother would cut it up down in the basement. Ron and I would wrap the meat, and in the freezer it would go. Mother always called the roasts rum roasts, no matter what part of the moose they came off of.
Moose is wonderful meat. It's very similar to beef, which was very, very expensive when we lived in Alaska.
Dad went hunting for carabou one year, but we didn't care for that meat as well, and mom asked him not to go again.
These pictures were taken somewhere in the early 1950's. I don't know who the fellow is who is helping Dad skin the moose.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Aunt Elizabeth and her husband Ray (I'm his namesake) owned. They tore it down when I was about six and built Ashbaugh's a bar closer to town. Note the delicate tinting on the photo. It could be that it was a black and white photo that was tinted in the photographer's lab. Looks like an early digitization, but of course, they didn't have such things then.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Monday, March 3, 2008
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Saturday, March 1, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
Who are they? I have no idea. The photo is from our family archives, so I assume I'm related to someone in the picture. The uniform suggests a military school rather than, say, the army, but I don't know. Her dress suggests late 19th or early 20th century. I'd love to know, but perhaps that would destroy the stories that I can make up in my head.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Tootie, whose real name is Elizabeth and who now goes by Liz, was named after the Elizabeth in the picture, and Emory was named after Elizabeth and Mom's oldest brother. This is a practice that we still use in the family, with several kids and grandkids carrying the names of Mom's brothers and sisters.
In dating the picture, I'd have to do some very fancy guessing, but why not? I'm going to guess in the late 1920's. The hair styles and Mom's age seem to indicate that, along with Emory's age. If you look closely, you can see a hint of garter on Mom's left leg. Looking at the clothing, it's clear that they were dressed up for come occasion. The picture would have been taken at the Smith family home, possibly in Cutter, where Grandad had a ranch, and where Mom was born. Those hills in the background would have separated Cutter from Hot Springs.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
The photo is of my grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary. Behind them is a set of pictures taken on their wedding day. Grandad is handsome in his cookieduster mustache, and Grandma has a very prim Gibson girl look. She was about four years older than he was, and he lied about his age to make up for it. There are many stories about Grandad, who was a bit of a loose cannon. One of my favorites is the time he bought some mules and paid for them with a rubber check. The sellers got unhappy about that, kidnapped Grandma, my mom, and my uncle Nate and held them till Grandad came up with the cash. I guess they thought the courts were too slow. Grandma was small but a real pepperpot, and I think she made her kidnappers sorry they every messed with her. Apparently, she gave them a tonguelashing the entire time they had her. And it wasn't politically correct, either.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
called MacLaughlin Heights (I may have gotten the spelling
wrong). Tootie and I have tried to find the house, but I
suspect that it is long gone. It was a small house, very cosy,
though it seemed large enough for me. One memory I have
of this house is that mom would put us to sleep at night (T and I slept in the same bed) by reading poetry to us. I can still hear her reading The Highwayman and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. She put a lot of drama into the poetry. I kept wanting the highwayman to get away, but he always got killed in the end. Judging from the photos, I was somewhere around four, and T was 2 1/2. On the back of the photo mom had written "Lou, Jimmie, Ronnie, and Elizabeth Ann." So, why does T get two names?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
When we lived in Alaska, we didn't have a lot of spare change, although mom and dad worked hard to make sure that Tootie and I weren't aware we were poor. One winter, we hunted snowshoe rabbits. We tanned the skins and made mittens; we ate the meat. I thought it was a neat adventure in living off the land. Mom and dad probably thought it was a chore but one way to get by. Mom was handy with a sewing machine, and she made clothing for us, including winter clothing. I got a warm coat and mom made a fur-lined hood for me. She also made a parka for herself, the one in the picture. I think the body of the coat was an old fox fur, and she added the hood and the trim. She insisted that the proper pronunciation was "parky," though I never did hear anyone else call it that. Mom had a good sense of style and liked to look nice. She could look better on a shoestring than most people could with a handfull of cash.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I've tried to wear hats and caps the way he did, but, frankly, it drives me crazy.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Here's a story I remember about Dom and Dad's firstborn, James Walk Shook, who died before I was ever born. Mom and Dad were living way somewhere in the outback and she went into labor with Jimmy. They drove 35 miles over bad roads into Seligman, Arizona, with Mom in the back seat of a Ford Model A. When they reached the hospital, the doctor tried birthed the baby with forceps and the baby died after sixteen hours. They buried Jimmy in the Seligman cemetary, but Mom and Dad were so poor they couldn't afford a marker. So, Dad noted that Jimmy's grave was near a stump-shaped marker. What he didn't know was that the keeper of the cemetary tied his mule to that marker, and the mule dragged it all over the cemetary. So, Jimmy's grave was lost. I was reminded of this the other day when I saw a stump-shaped marker in the Hyrum, Utah cemetary (pic).