Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Goals

I'm not one for making New Year Resolutions.  Can't remember when the last time I did.  But goals, I can do, so for 2012 here are a couple of "Goals" I'm going to pursue.

Goal #1
Since I'm the curator of family photos, my family, my husband's family and our family's, I'm putting it in writing that I will organize/sort through all the photos, name the people in the photos, add dates as best I can, categorize them, scan them and burn them to DVDs to be shared with the rest of our families (brother, sisters, cousins, aunts, etc).

I feel this is a very attainable goal for the next 12 months. All the organizing will help with clearing out "stuff" that we've hung onto throughout the years.  I've already brought several car full of bags to our local Goodwill store.  More is coming their way.

Goal #2
Before the holidays hit, my sister and I started a family cookbook.  It didn't get publish for the holidays as I would have liked so this is my second goal.  I wanted to include family stories and photos.  We're including recipes that we grew up with and recipes that we've made and enjoyed.  Now that the holidays are over I'm anxious to roll up my sleeves and dive in.

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone, and many more!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2011 Advent Calendar Holiday Happenings

Often times December birthdays get over shadowed by the Christmas/New Year holidays. So I'm going to shine a spotlight on those family members this time around.

December 1, 1926, my mom Bernice Josephine Ramminger was born.  Whenever December 1st showed up on the calendar I knew the holidays were FAST approaching.  It kind of seems like her birthday was here, then over with real fast.

December 6, 1951, my husband's birthday.  This year was the big 60!  I surprised him and took him to a Crowne Plaza Hotel, reserved a suite and had a wonderful dinner in the hotel's restaurant.  From our balcony, we had a view of the Pacific Ocean and of the surrounding mountains.  Either way you looked, day or night, the view was breathtaking.  Happy Birthday Honey, I love you!

December 31, 1976, my cousin's daughter Kim was born.  They lived across the country from us so we really didn't celebrate her birthday with them.  She now has two children of her own and looks forward to their birthdays.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Mom's birthday

Today would have been my mom's 85th birthday.  It was the one time during the year she didn't have to make the cake.  Each year on her birthday, I think back to the ones we helped her celebrate. 

I don't recall with clarity every birthday, but a few do stand out.  When she was turning 39 she remarked, "Now I'm the same age as Jack Benny."  I remember her telling her father (grandpa Hank) the same thing and they had a good laugh. 

Victoria Station
The year she turned 60, my sister, two daughters and I took her to dinner to celebrate.  We went to the Victoria Station Universal City, a landmark on the "hill" near where Citywalk now stands.  It was a railroad-themed prime rib house.  The theme of the restaurant was loosely based on London's Victoria Station.  Antique English railway artifacts provided the décor inside.  It even had a trolley car from the parking lot up to the restaurant.  She enjoyed the evening very much.

When she turned 70, my sister, brother, his two sons, my husband, our two daughters and myself celebrated by taking her to the Tony Roma's at Universal Studios Citywalk.  Afterwards we strolled throughout Citywalk watching street performers and jumping in and out of the different stores.  She said she had a very nice time and was glad everyone came.

Mom passed away in 1997, just shy of her 71st birthday.  Happy Birthday mom, miss you much!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Here in southern California where I live, our temperature is 64º, it's bright but gloomy out.  Just the way I like it.  If going out, we might take a jacket along in the car "just in case" the weather turns cooler.

I've been sitting here thinking of the traditional Thanksgiving dinners we had when I was growing up.  When we were a family of five living in Chicago, and before my parents divorced.  My father fashioned a big plywood board over our kitchen table to make it over sized and have it fit not just our family but also the friends my parents would invite for dinner.

1983 Thanksgiving at Mom's

Mom got out the nice tablecloth, her "good dishes," the silverware, crystal water goblets, wine glasses, special serving platters, etc.  It was up to my sister and me to set the table.  Depending on how many people for dinner, my mother would either cook a 23 pound (or maybe larger) turkey or she might make a smaller turkey and a ham.  Of course mashed potatoes and gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows, a vegetable, biscuits, a dish with olives, celery, radishes and maybe pickles too.  A plate of jelled cranberry sauce (when I got older, it was sometimes me who sliced the canned sauce into "disks" and fanned them around the plate).  Oh I almost forgot, there would be a jar of spicy cinnamon-apple flavor, red crab apples. We'd put them in one of the fancy glass dishes.  These were a favorite of mine.

My parents and in-laws have all passed away.  I now have my mother's "good dishes" and used them in the past on Thanksgiving.  But not this year.  My married daughter now lives in Austin, TX.  She and her husband are having a house full of friends and co-workers over for dinner.  My brother lives in Reno, my sister is house sitting, elsewhere.  So this year its just our oldest daughter, my husband and myself for dinner.  We're going out to a nice restaurant.

Maybe I'll bring the dishes out for Christmas when there will be more people for dinner.

©2011, copyright Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Monday, November 21, 2011

Facebook presence

I'm very excited to announce that my local genealogy society is on Facebook!  Please check out Ventura County Genealogical Society.  I'm one of the administrators and I'm looking forward to keeping this page updated with current genealogy related news.

©2011, copyright Gayle Ficarra Wolcott

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Home Again

Our last hotel stop was Laughlin, NV.  Thought we'd pull a few slots for
laughs and fun before we headed home.  We stayed at the Aquarius hotel. 
Weather was holding and we looked forward to the "Welcome to California" 

While in Chicago we picked up a little blue bear that I included in some of our travel shots.  It was fun trying to get him posed just-so in the frame.  Sometimes he was in focus, and if I was holding him in my hand as I was taking the shot, focused he's not.

Passing through Barstow, CA we stopped at one of our favorite hamburger places, In & Out Burgers. Oh yum, and a chocolate shake! 

It was so good to sleep in our own bed, do laundry and hug/kiss our
daughter.  We've been home for 12 days.  Suitcases have long been emptied and put away.  Souvenirs have been handed out and photos sorted.  Being in the car with my husband for 47 days straight, eating out, sleeping in hotels when not staying with friends or family, seeing some sights for the first time together was really special. 

We met some really great people throughout our time on
the road. We'll remember this trip for years to come and I will look back on it as one of the best we spent together.

Thanks honey, for another wonderful, safe and enjoyable trip we've
shared together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Oklahoma

Our original plan was to head home after visiting our daughter in Austin, TX. But another gaming-buddy of Dave's on Facebook talked him into visiting him in Duncan, OK. We said, okay, we'll deviate and go up to Oklahoma. Then a childhood friend saw him on Facebook and noticed we were heading to Oklahoma, he also talked Dave into stopping in Enid, OK.

It rained the entire day all the way up to Duncan. We found a nice hotel, got to stretch and relax for a bit before meeting and having dinner with Dave's gaming-buddy and his family. What is so cool about meeting this man is he and Dave have never met before. They had been playing an online game together and e-mailing maybe three years. This visit made a total of three men he's met on this trip from his online game. They have all been eager to meet us and we've been welcomed into their homes and met their families. It has been such a pleasure.

Dave's friend told us about The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center that was in Duncan. Since we didn't have to be in Enid until after 5 pm the next day, we made sure that we stopped before leaving town. What a wonderful museum. There were original paintings and sculptures, a film depiction of the Chisholm Trail during the 1880s, all very realistic. We felt the rain hitting us during the rain and thunder storm sequence in the film, even felt the floor shake during the cattle stampede, such fun! We highly recommend the stop.

We got to Enid by mid-afternoon, got a hotel and then Dave called his childhood school friend. We met him and his lovely wife for dinner at a local restaurant. Dave and his friend hadn't seen each other in about 43 years. They talked non-stop, lots of catching up. We took pictures, shared family pictures, laughed and reminisced. We truly had a great time and I know Dave will always remember this visit.

The next morning we got up earlier than we have the entire trip and hit the road. We were thinking of spending the night in Albuquerque, NM for the night but we actually ended up in Grants, NM. We had covered 660 miles that day.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Austin, TX

Dave and I have been to Austin, TX once before.  Almost eight months ago in fact.  We helped move our daughter Lara and son-in-law Raymond here last February.  His company shut-down their California facility and moved to Austin.  They also asked Raymond to come too.  He loves his job so they made the move.  Lara found a new job the very next month and also loves where she works. 

Lara and Raymond bought a house in July so we became their very first guests.  What a lovely home they've made.  They made a list of things they needed help with when Dave got here.  The next day Dave and Raymond installed a dogie-door in a wall, they replaced some plugs with GFIs, moved some wall switches and a few other things I can't remember.

One of the days we were here they took us on a tour of their offices.  We were so impressed by how awesome their co-workers were and the atmosphere of where they worked.  Felt like we were touring Facebook Central or Microsoft!  Afterwards we went in search of where to view the Bats of Austin.  It was quite a sight to see!

(I'm quoting an Austin Events page:)
Austin might not have any theme parks or large zoos, but America's largest urban bat colony has become the city's best-known (and ecologically correct) tourist attraction.  It all started in 1980, when the team of engineers designing the Congress Avenue bridge unknowingly created the crevices that would soon become the home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.  More than 1.5 million bats emerge each night at dusk, as they have for more than two decades, from the bridge's underbelly on food runs that blacken the otherwise red sky.

LBJ Presidential Museum
 We had a wonderful tour the LBJ Presidential Museum on the campus of the University of Texas. 

In and around downtown Austin there is an art exhibit called CowParade.  (I'm quoting CowParade Wikipedia:)
Raymond & Lara
CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities. Fiberglass sculptures of cows are decorated by local artists, and distributed over the city centre, in public places such as train stations, important avenues, and parks. They often feature artwork and designs specific to local culture, as well as city life and other relevant themes. After the exhibition in the city, which lasts many months, the cows are auctioned off and the proceeds donated to charity.

Lara and I had a great day together.  We had pedicures, went out to lunch and did some shopping.  One afternoon the four of us went to the Inner Space Caverns in nearby Georgetown.  Such fun we had.  Afterwards we had lunch at Joe's Crab Shack, yum!

Dave and I have had such a wonderful and relaxing time here.  We had fun, togetherness and work, but we wouldn't have traded it for anything.  Bye Austin, hope to be back soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 Road Trip - New Orleans, part 2

What a wonderful visit we’ve had these pass three days. We’ve taken a horse drawn carriage ride throughout the French Quarter, Airboat Adventures tour (we saw alligators and swamps), City Tour on a bus (saw damage done by the broken levees in 2005), and a ride down the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez.

Our breakfast
We walked in and out of just about every opened store in the French Quarter. One of the breakfast places we tried was the famous Café Du Monde. We drank coffee and ate Beignets. They’re like a rectangle “donut” with mounds of powered sugar on top. Very sweet but oh so good! They are a MUST if you come to New Orleans. Had lunch or dinner at different places each day.

While on the tours we couldn’t help but notice the gas prices and comparing them with California. The lowest we sign we saw was $3.02 gallon. As we left the city, the prices were steadily raising.

Good-bye New Orleans, we had three very relaxing days.

Typical French Quarter scene

Saturday, October 1, 2011

2011 Road Trip - New Orleans

Yesterday I was doing the genealogy happy dance most of the day.  Dave and I met up with another collateral cousin.  Her name is Mary and she had the magic wrecking ball that punched through my Ficarra family line brick wall here in the Big Easy.

We met her husband Louis, her son Louis II, grand-son Louis III and a daughter-in-law who is married to a different son.  They were so welcoming and friendly.  We made the connection that her grand-father Salvadore was my grand-father Philip's brother.  Mary gave me family names, dates of birth, marriages and some death dates too.   It was so good to finally meet this branch of the family tree.

We had lunch, then Mary gave us a tour of her lovely three story, two wing home.  On the third floor balcony we could look over the raised levee to see Lake Pontchartrain.  Such a gorgeous view.

When we finally had to say good-bye, she made us promise to come back again.  What a wonderful visit.  I'm still smiling and dancing!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Brick Wall Comes Tumbling Down!

Today, my Louisiana family brick wall came tumbling down!!  I met up with a "collateral cousin" that our family knew was down in the New Orleans area.  He is from my father's side of my family.  His grandfather and my grandfather were brothers.  I got his whole family line back to the grandfather.

My husband and I met him and is mother this afternoon, spent several hours going over questions/answers we both wanted to know.  He later put me in touch with his cousin who was also doing the family history.  We are going to visit her tomorrow morning!  Wow, when we started this trip I knew I'd get some information from my Chicago area cousins, but little did I know they knew the cousin(s) down in the New Orleans area.

We planned on seeing some sites in New Orleans and gave ourselves about two days.  I think we're going to need more!  Ya-hoo, I'm doing the genealogy happy dance!!

2011 Road Trip - Ohio

Our next stop was visiting our son-in-law's parents in Reynoldsburg, OH.  We had a very relaxing four days.  We were taken to the North Market for lunch then went over to Easton mall for walking around and some shopping.

It rained the day their daughter and two grandsons came over so it was a perfect day to stay indoors.  The next afternoon we went to a "Welcome Home" party for a nephew who was back from Iraq.  We got to meet their other daughter, her two sons and various other brothers, sisters and parents.  We had a wonderful time.

The Wolcotts and the Blacks
Later that same day the four of us took a drive over to the local Barnes & Noble store so I could download some books into my Nook.  Dave and I then took them to their favorite Japanese restaurant for dinner.

The next day was really hard to say good-bye.  We had to get on the road to our next stop in Tennessee.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

2011 Road Trip - Indiana

The drive to Ft Wayne IN took us about 3.5 hours.  We got a late start so didn't get into town until late in the day.  We checked into the Hilton for two nights.  After we got some dinner, we walked over to the Allen County Public Library to take a look around, the library was opened until 9 p.m. 

We made our way to the 2nd floor to the Genealogy Center and went to the Ask Desk.  I mentioned to the woman at the desk this was my first time at the library and would need some help.  The man at the next desk turned around and looked at me, it was the library's Senior Manager for Special Collections and the Genealogy Center, Curt Witcher.  I said, "Curt? You were at FGS Conference in Springfield a few weeks ago!"  He said, "Yes, let me show you around."  OMG!  Curt Witcher gave me a personal tour of the Genealogy Center of the library!!  Wow, don't know if I even heard anything he said, it was such an honor.

The next day I walked over to the library to start my research.  I did remember everything Curt told me the night before.  I concentrated on the record group City Directories for the time period 1917 to about 1929 in Los Angeles.  I was looking  for my father's mother's family the Catanias'.  I know they came up from Louisiana to Chicago, my grandmother was born there in 1905.  The family then went to Muskegan, MI where three more children were born.  I found the family in the 1930 census in Los Angeles, but I don't know when they moved there.  I did find several Catanias' in the directories and copied everything. 

Microfilm reader
I researched the computer databases, microfilm, microfiche and the book stacks for various records and other record groups and locations.  I didn't exactly do the "genealogy happy dance" but I was pleased with what I found.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Onto Chicago!

I have a very good friend Rosa, who I've been in touch with since we were 14 years old.  She's "from the old neighborhood."  We have so much history together.  We use to walk to school together, our brothers use to play/fight together.  My family let me bring her on camping trips with us, so we go way-back.

When ever I've visited the Chicago area I always call up Rosa and ask to visit/stay with her.  The answer is always, "Yeah, come on over!"  When we were planning this trip, Rosa was one of the first people I called.  After we left Lake Zurich last week, we went straight to Rosa's and were there for 5.5 days.  She took me to her aquatic class.  Rosa, Dave and I went to the movies and we hooked up with two other school friends for dinner.  It was like "being home."  It's been so relaxing and fun at the same time.

Chicago "Bean"

On Thursday, Dave and I did some sight seeing. We went to Millennium Park to see the Cloud Gate "Bean," the Marilyn Monroe exhibit on Michigan Avenue, then walked over to Navy Pier.  The weather was so beautiful, cool, and windy.  Perfect jacket weather.  That same night we met up with two other school friends for dinner.  It was really great to spend the time together.  We did some reminiscing and had some laughs.  Don't know when I'll see them again, but we'll pickup where we left off.

Monroe Exhibit

On Saturday, we met up with an online buddy of Dave's, he's been talking online to this buddy for about four years.  We met his wife, son and daughter, really nice family.  Dave was really happy to finally meet him.  We spent the day with his friend and his wife.  They took us to the Morton Arboretum, had a little snack, walked on some of the trails, look lots of photos, then went to dinner.  Another perfect day. 

On Sunday, we met up with some of my cousins and an uncle I hadn't seen in over 40 years.  We had so much fun!  They finally got to meet Dave, I got to meet some of the cousin's children.  We were all making up for lost time.  I also got to close up some genealogy gaps in my research, always a good thing!  We swapped cell phone numbers, email addresses and took group pictures.  They even hooked me up with a collateral cousin down in New Orleans, LA where my "brick wall" family lives!  What a great visit.

Today, we had to say good-bye to Rosa and Chicago.  We made our way to Ft Wayne, IN and the Allen County Public Library to do some  research tomorrow.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, maybe I'll be doing the genealogy "happy dance" tomorrow night.

Visiting Collaterial Cousins

Dave (my hubby) and I had a wonderful two day visit with my collateral cousin Leroy in Lake Zurich, IL.  The weather couldn't be better, I mean I couldn't have ordered the beautiful weather we had.  My grandmother and Leroy's grandmother were sisters, so our great-grandparents is our connection.

Leroy and his lovely wife, Ellen invited other family members over for a BBQ.  It was the first time they met Dave.  It was so great, very relaxing, cool weather, couldn't have been better.  The next day Leroy and Ellen drove Dave and I up to Lake Geneva, WI to have lunch with one of their daughters and grand-kids.  It was so good to see her again.  We hadn't seen them since her 6 year old twins were infants.

Our visit was short, only two days but it was memorable in so many ways.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

FGS Conference - Friday & Saturday

We are back on the road again and are currently visiting genealogy related "cousins" in Lake Zurich, IL.  I'll try and cover as much as I can remember of last Friday & Saturday sessions.

I also volunteered as Room Monitor for several sessions throughout the four days.
Sessions I attended were:
Demystifying Eastern European Research
Using Records in the National Archives: A Researcher's View
Dealing with Digital Artifacts
Digital Scrapbooking
Developing Effective Research Strategies
Michigan Roots: Genealogy Research in the Wolverine State
Twitter - It's Not Just "What I Had For Breakfast" Anymore

On Saturday night my husband and I were invited to join Dick Eastman and other genealogists' to a wonderful buffet dinner on the 29th floor of the Hilton.  No PowerPoint slides, no Room Monitors, no speeches, just fun, food and drinks.  What a wonderful way to close out this year's FGS Conference.  Maybe I'll see them all next year!

Friday, September 9, 2011

FGS Conference - Thursday

The Mayor of Springfield welcomed FGS Conference attendees to Springfield.  The Keynote speech was given by the Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero.  The conference statistics were shared.  2,000 attendees from 48 states (including Alaska and Hawaii) and five countries.

The Conference is held at the Prairie Capital Convention Center, right next door to our hotel (boy, how convenient is that!)

The Exhibit Hall opened at 10 AM sharp.  We had an hour to shop and drop our door prize tickets into vendors door prize boxes before heading off to sessions at 11 AM.  What a scramble!  Had to go back to several vendors later in the day.

I snagged a ticket for the Illinois State Genealogical Society Luncheon.  Great food and speaker at lunch time.  The afternoon had me pulling Room Monitor duty for one of the sessions.  Not a bad gig.

The Exhibit Hall was open until 8 PM.  FamilySearch handed out large cookies and bottled water.  As she walked from booth to booth calling out door prize winners, Patricia Oxley, Exhibits Chair, had a line of potential winners following her all around the exhibit hall.  Really funny to watch.  Great fun!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

FGS Conference - Wednesday

I'm Ventura County Genealogical Society's FGS delegate.  3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6th is when onsite registration opened. This is where pre-registered folks picked up their tote bag filled with things and receive an envelope with tickets, nametag, etc.  In that tote bag was the full syllabus on a flash drive.

Wednesday, I attended the Focus on Societies sessions at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield, IL.  Each session was one hour with half-hour between sessions.

The Plenary Session speaker was David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, FUGA.  His speech was How Will Our Society Survive?  Do We Alter, Mutate, Modify, Shift or Switch?  Wish I could take his PowerPoint slides back to my society, it was powerful!

I attended the following sessions:
Delegate 101
21st Century  Marketing Techniques for Genealogist/Genealogical Societies

FGS Luncheon, speaker: Ransom H. Love. 
Speech: Community Connection: Why Record Custodians Need to Be Working on a Global Basis

I volunteered to be the Room Monitor to this session:
Publicity for Society Events: Simply Supercharged
Brainstorming Session: Social Media
Brainstorming Session: Marketing Your Society

All sessions I chose were informative and awesome.  I met other bloggers and society delegates from across the country.  Wow, what a day.  Can't wait until the Exhibit Hall opens today!

Monday, September 5, 2011

FGS Conference Road Trip - Day 7

Since the Gateway ARCH in St Louis wasn't a whole day event, we packed up the car and drove about 1 1/2 hours to Springfield, IL our final destination this leg of our trip. When I booked our hotel several months ago I had no idea we'd be four days early.  My conference wasn't starting until Wednesday, Sept 7th and I had us checking in on Tuesday, Sept 6th.  But today was Friday, Sept. 2nd, I was concerned that with the Labor Day holiday the hotels would fill up and we'd be stuck trying to find something close.  When we got into town about 2:00 p.m. that day we were able to check-in right away.  Whew, you just never know.  So we have our room for the next nine days until we check-out Sunday, Sept. 11th.

We don't usually stay in a downtown hotel so my husband was really surprised that since we were here through the weekend the whole downtown "rolled up their sidewalk" so early.  Not much to do and the restaurants were far and in between.  What was open on Saturday was the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum which we wanted to see.  Since most of the historical sites in the downtown area were in walking distance to each other, we got some much needed exercised.

In the other Presidential Museums we visited, we had to turn off the flash on our cameras but could still take our own photos.  Not at the Lincoln Museum.  Any kind of photography was prohibited except in a few areas.  So we don't have the usual blitz of photos.  I did buy some very nice post cards but those will have to only be in the scrapbook I'll someday put together.
Museum Gallery

The Museum was interactive and awesome!  So very different from the other four we've been to in the last month (Reagan, Nixon, Eisenhower & Truman).  I love history and love reading about it.  Here, I was able to see the real documents that changed our HISTORY.  This trip was so worth the 2100 miles we've done in six days.

FGS Conference Road Trip - Day 6

We woke up early, got dressed, had a nice breakfast in the hotel.  Walked over to the Gateway ARCH.  It was sunny, warming up to be about 100 degrees.  I was watching my husband enjoying being here.  In 1989, we took a family road trip to Chicago with our two girls.  We drove right by the ARCH and said one day we'll have to stop.  Today was that day.

The sheer size of this monument is so awesome.  We've watch documentaries of how and why the ARCH was built but being at its base and looking straight up and then following the seamless structure to the other side of the park was just amazing to us.

We bought our tickets for the four minute ride up in a five passenger pod.  The only window was on the tiny door and all you could see was where they welded the sections together.  Luckily there was only another couple in our pod.  We got to know a little about them on the way up.  We exchanged cameras so we could have a photo of us on our own camera, we did the same for them. 

Curved floor & ceiling
After climbing out of the pod and up the stairs to the ARCH floor, I was a little dizzy.  Had to hold onto one of the walls.  It was almost like being in a carnival fun house, until you get used to the floor and ceiling being curved.   Hubby started snapping pictures like crazy. 

It isn't often you get the view we got that day.  On one side we looked out the windows and watched the Mississippi River.  On the other side we saw the city of St Louis and an extra bonus of the shadow of the ARCH overlay.  What a site!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

FGS Conference Road Trip - Day 5

Harry S. Truman Museum

What a great day we had today.  We only drove about 1 1/2 hours to visit the Harry S. Truman Museum in Independence, MO.  No rain insight but the temputure hovered around 100 degrees.  Almost sorry we didn't see the Truman Musuem before we saw the Eisenhower one.  Both were great, full of history and probably because of the time of year we visited, not crowed at all.  The staff was friendly and very helpful.

What really struck us were all the authenic documents and artifacts that were on display.  We were able to view and see the real thing right there in Missouri.  When a President leaves office, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) establishes a Presidential project until a new Presidential library is built and transferred to the Government.  These are not traditional libraries, but rather repositories for preserving and making accessible the papers, records, and other historical materials of U.S. Presidents.

We spent about 3 hours touring the museum.  After we had some lunch we drove straight through to St. Louis.  Called a hotel in advance to secure a room for the night, so glad we did.  We'll visit the St. Louis Arch in the morning.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FGS Conference Road Trip - Day 4

This morning hubby and I hit the road and made tracks for Abilene KS.  The mid-west part of the country did not disappoint us.  The road work we ran into didn't deter us either.  We enjoyed reading the roadside billboards as we drove eastward. 

In 2009, I was driving the same route only going west toward home with my eldest daughter.  After reading a roadside billboard advertising Prarie Dog Town and 5 Legged Calf, we had to stop.  Today I pointed out the same signs going the other way to my husband.  We reiminsced about stopping at a Prarie Dog Town when our girls were little.

Another thing that happened today, we watched a crop-dusting plane work over the fields next to us.  He was flying so low that at one point he crossed over the highway and I thought he was going to land right in front of us.  I almost ducked.  Wow, that was awesome!

We got to Abilene around 12:30 p.m., had lunch, then went over to the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum.  We spent 4 hours.  The visit was well worth the time.  We had been to the Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon Presdential Libraries in California and today made our 3rd Presdiental Library on our list.  Tomorrow we're heading to Independence, MO to visit the Truman Library.  Each one is different and special.  I was a baby when Eisenhower was president and a little girl when his 2nd term ended, but I do have a somewhat fuzzy memory of some of the things that happened during his administration.  I found it very fascinating.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

FGS Conference Road Trip - Day 3

We are really making tracks for Springfield, IL.  We left Grand Junction, CO this morning and we're settling down tonight in Colby, KS.  Drove across a whole state and into the Central Time Zone.  Lost another hour.

The trip has been seamless so far.  Only had a small mishap today.  While driving behind a semi-truck a small rock flew up and we now have a small crack in the windshield.  Hasn't spread into a bigger crack yet.  Hope to get to Springfield before we have to have the windshield replaced.

Monday we drove through a portion of Utah and into Colorado.   I forgot how fabulous the rock formations were.  I put away the book I was reading and just enjoyed the scenery, it was so breathtaking.  It reminded me how fortunate we were to live in the West. We pulled over into a view overlook to get some pictures.

While driving through the canyons I like to imagine how it was over 100 years ago for the pioneers coming west by wagon train or just on a horse.  They didn't have paved roads or roadside rest stops.  No sign of any shade.  They had to make do, with what they had.  Don't think I would have made a very good pioneer.  I probably would have traveled by train.

Monday, August 29, 2011

‎52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Weddings

Our wedding was held on Saturday, April 5, 1975.  My husband and I were only 23 years old.  The weather was anything but perfect.  Rain, rain and more rain!  It must have rained the whole week!

My sister was my matron of honor, my new sister-in-law and a girlfriend from work were the other bridesmaids.  My husband's best friend was his best man, another school friend and my brother were his ushers.

Our wedding flowers that were delivered to the church by the florist weren't labeled with any names so I had to come forward and figure out which bridesmaid, usher, mother, father, or sister got what flowers.  In the middle of all that a man came in the chapel looking for my aunt and uncle.  My grandmother lived with my aunt and uncle.  At that moment I knew that my grandmother who couldn't make it to our wedding, was dying.  This is what I learned right before going down the aisle.

The people in the church had no idea what had happened.  Somehow, my father got me down the aisle.  I had to fight with my brain not to breakdown yet, had to wait until later.  The wedding itself went on without a hitch, but outside the church there was a lot of crying.  Grandma died that day.

We only have one picture outside of that day and that was of me holding up my wedding dress with both hands so it wouldn't get in a puddle and my husband holding a yellow umbrella over the both of us just before we jumped into the waiting car.

On our way to our honeymoon.

We may not have had the perfect wedding we had hoped and planned for, but we've been married for 36 years and we're planning on 36 more.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the Road to FGS

My husband and I hit the road today, one day earlier than we planned.  We're on our way to the Federation of Genealogical Socities Conference in Springfield, IL to be held Sept. 7-10.  He got the "itch" to get down the road on a Sunday afternoon instead of Monday morning when lots of commuters are heading for work.

We live in Southern California so each morning that big, bright sun will be hitting us square in the face until it gets higher in the sky.  That's what sunglasses are for.  We're planning on stopping at various places as we head East.  A couple of the spots are the Presidential Libraries of Eisenhower and Truman.  We've been to the Reagan and Nixon libraries in California.  They are truly inspirational and worth the visit.

Once we get to Springfield and check-in to our hotel, I'll have to go over to the convention center for a volunteer orientation.  I signed up to be a room monitor for several session.  I'm really looking forward to the whole experience.

Tomorrow's road miles will bring me closer to my goal.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Volunteering at FGS

Today I returned an e-mail in response to volunteering at the FGS Conference in Springfield, IL, Sept 7-10, 2011.  I signed up for nine volunteer sessions throughout the four days.  Volunteering is a great way to meet new people, network, and give something back to the genealogical community. 

FGS will reimburse volunteers a portion of their registration fee after the conference (if registered at the early rate, which I am) based on the following schedule:

8 hours = 25%     12 hours = 40%    16 hours = 65%

Volunteers do not have to be registered for the conference; but those not registered
may not attend sessions, monitor sessions, or receive any reimbursement.

I'm so looking forward to my four days in Springfield, IL.  After the conference, my husband and I are driving up to my hometown of Chicago to see cousins and school friends.  What a great trip we have planned, can't wait until September!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Retirement Day

Well, it's official.  As of Wednesday, June 29, 2011, I am retired.  It hasn't sunk-in yet.  I normally worked Monday-Thursday, 10-hour days, so yesterday felt like a vacation day and today feels like my normal Friday off.  Maybe by next week it'll hit me. 

I've worked for the County of Ventura for 10.5 years and enjoyed every minute.  I had a great boss and coworker; lots of interaction with managers, supervisors and crew members.  I worked for the Road department, as a parting gift I got my very own street
name sign with our County logo, very cool!

I'll miss the mornings.  There was always hussle-bussle activity.  Everyone getting their work assignments, coming by my desk to ask for help or just rushing by saying, "Good morning Gayle" with a smile.

But on the very bright side, I'll be able to contribute more time to my local society.  I'm currently Publicity Chairman.  I've recently been listening to "My Society" on Blog Talk Radio.  So informative.  I want to bring all that I've learned to my society too.

I'll have the freedom to make appointments during the week (imagine that!)
I can attend "field trips" with my society.

My husband and I usually save Friday's as our movie day, now we can go
to the Tuesday matinee for $5.00.  Wow!

Well, whatever I choose, I won't have the time constraint of a 10-hour
work day, wheeeeeeee!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

2011 SCGS Jamboree - Day 3

Today was the last day of Jamboree until next year.  I hit the Exhibit Hall HARD.  I shopped, renewed a yearly subscription and shopped some more.  Oh so many goodies to look, feel and try-out.  My credit card got a full workout and my Jamboree bag became a shopping bag.  Couldn't wait to get home and start using everything.

I must say, the PINK SHEETS SCGS put together for us were great, I never left the convention center without one.  The Pink Sheets were the key to information about Jamboree.  It had the daily schedules for presentations and other activities.  They were the "must have" document throughout the weekend.  Thank you SCGS for making the process of finding the classes easy.

My first session of the day started at 7:30 a.m. (what was I thinking!!)  Since I'm a lax quilter, I attended the "Quilts - The Fabric of Family History" class.  The quilts were wonderful and the speaker, Don Beld was delightful.  He had a regular trunk show.  It took me back to when I use to belong to my local quilting guild, and breakfast was included.

The other sessions I chose:
RootsMagic: FamilySearch Made Easy
Sidestep Genealogy
Many Records Lead to Grandma - No Source Stands Alone

I met new friends, learned so much, had FUN and shopped until I dropped.  What a great way to spend a three day weekend.  I LOVE Jamboree!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

2011 SCGS Jamboree - Day 2

Another fun filled day here in Burbank.  The sun never did come out today, but I don't care.  I've been in session after session.  I've been meeting so many new friends.  I even had lunch with a complete stranger from Orange County.  It's so much more fun when you can share the experience.

Here's the list of classes I attended today:
Saturday breakfast: Genealogical Jeopardy!
Blogger Summit Part I
Tech Zone:
Blogger Summit Part II
RootsMagic: Sharing and Publishing Your Family Tree
Organize for Efficiency
Saturday night banquet speaker Curt B. Witcher: The High Tech and High Touch of 21st Century

I look forward to tomorrow's classes and my final spin around the Exhibit Hall and hope to have a shopping bag with me as I walk to my car at the end of the day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

2011 SCGS Jamboree - Day 1

Once again I'm attending the annual Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree held in beautiful Burbank, California.  The weather is wonderful, not too hot or cold.  We're experiencing our "June Gloom."  I drove in very early this morning so I could get a parking spot in the hotel/conference lot, and I think I got the last one. 

This morning I attended with a friend from my local society several FREE sessions.  This first was presented by George Morgan of "The Genealogy Guys" podcast.  His lecture was "The Shape of the 21st Century Genealogical Society." WeI'll be taking his information back to our society.

The 2nd session was by Cath Madden Trindle titled "But, it's My Family" about copyright laws.  I never understood anything about copyright laws so her talk was very informative.

The 3rd session was by Jana Sloan Broglin "Program, Program, Git Yer Program!  Home runs for your society."  I took away so much helpful information from her that I'm revamping how I send our society's press releases out.

Tonight was the Banquet held in the convention center.  Tony Burroughs talk tonight was "You'z Ain't from 'Round Here, Is Ya?" was hilarious.  He's an excellent speaker.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow and checking out the vendors in the Exhibit Hall and stroll down the (High-Tech) hallway to the Tech Zone and use the new Jamboree App I downloaded to my phone.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Jamboree This Weekend!

I got my bag packed, changed my purse to one that has a shoulder strap.  Want my hands free while at SCGS Jamboree.  I've been attending most of SCGS Jamborees' since they were held in Pasadena.  It's one of my favorite conferences each year.  The last few years I've been staying at the hotel next door.  It's been so convenient.

This year I'm meeting one of my local society's Board member.  She's staying at the hotel too, we're planning on taking in some of the same sessions on Friday, the Friday night banquet and similar sessions on Saturday. 

I'm bringing along my netbook and will try and blog during the session breaks.  I hope to meet some of my favorite bloggers I follow.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

This weekend I made the annual, traditional trek to visit cemeteries.  Growing up, our family always went to the cemetery to lay flowers on my grandfather's grave.  It was always a game between my sister, brother and I to see who could find grandpa first.

I drove east to Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills to lay flowers at my mother's resting place.  A truly beautiful park.  She's been gone almost 14 years.  Her tablet says:

Mom is in the 2nd row from the top

DEC. 1, 1926 - OCT. 7, 1997

Unfortunately, little did we realize at the time of picking out the wording for her tablet, that the tablet would be in the second row from the top of the wall.  We can only read it using binoculars.  I've yet to get a decent close-up photo.  To place the flowers next to her tablet I had to get a telescoping pole, balance the little vase (hoping the whole time the water in the vase wouldn't spill down onto my upturned face), and hook the vase to the little "button" sticking out of the wall.  Mission accomplished!

My second cemetery stop was further east to Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, CA.  Here is where my grandma Jennie (we always called her Jean), and our aunt Dorothy are buried next to each other.  This park is also beautiful. 

Jennie is my mother's mother.  The reason grandma has the same last name as my mom is because my mother's parents (Henry and Jennie) divorced and my father's parents (Philip and Angie) divorced. 
Grandma Jean met and married my father's father (Philip).  That is how my parent's met each other.

One year I came to visit the park and I couldn't locate them.  The lawn had been recently mowed and most of the headstones were covered with grass.  I located them the next year.

Aunt Dorothy is my mother's sister.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Going to Jamboree!

I've registered to attend the 2011 SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, CA next month.  I've been going to this conference for the last 8 or 9 years.  I remember attending when the Jamboree was held in a "basement" (I think it was a basement, I remember going down, down stairs) in a hotel(?)  But they've "come a long-way baby." 

It's an event I really plan for.  I'm staying Friday and Saturday nights at the Marriott so I can attend all the dinner banquets, breakfasts and some of the lunch sessions.  This is a first for me, I usually only attend a dinner banquet or two, so I'm really looking forward to everything.

A friend from my local genealogy society will meet me there on Friday.  She's taking in the Thursday workshop (I have to work that day so I can't).  We're both attending the Saturday breakfast.  She's going to try and get a ticket for Friday night's banquet.  Hope she can.  It's really so much fun when you can share the same experience.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Daughter's B-day

Today, is my oldest daughter's birthday.  She's all grown up with a life of her own.  Very separate from mine and her dad's.  Her life is on a different track; different from mine or what I would have wished for her.  She only lives 4 miles from us so we see her almost every week; on facebook and texting phone to phone.  I didn't have this much contact with my mother, times have defiantly changed.  She is such a gift to us.  I appreciate each and every moment I share with her.  Happy Birthday sweetie-pie!

Well, I'm back.  Been gone for over a month.  After I posted last month my husband and I took a physical drive down my memory lane.  When my family came out here from Chicago (oh so many, many years ago) we lived in Riverside, CA.  Since we weren't too far from my old neighborhood, we took a quick drive to see the middle school my brother and I attended and the high school my sister went to.  We then drove over to see the house our family rented.  Neighborhood looked somewhat the same.  It was actually the last house we lived in as a whole family.  My parents divorced a couple of years later.

When we were leaving the street I wanted a photo of the street name sign.  My husband pulled over, I got out of the car and stepped up onto the curb.  Not looking where I was placing my feet I stepped off the curb and felt myself falling.  I could see it all in slow-motion.  I stretched out my arms to "catch" myself and only felt my smooth car and kept falling.  My left arm was wrench back as I continued my forward fall.  Felt my right arm hit the curb (long, bloody, scrape) on the way down.  Somehow, both my arms came forward and prevented me from hitting my face on the street.  Both shoulders hurt soooo bad.  My right knee was scraped too, what a mess!  I didn't hear any bones "pop" or "crack" so figured I was just bruised.

We got me cleaned up and a cold pack on my left shoulder.  I couldn't move my arm above my waist.  Two days later I went back to work.  The shoulder still wasn't working properly.  I went to my Doctor, he suggested an X-ray, then a MRI came a week later.  Make a long story short, my left shoulder is fractured.  I'll be in a sling and off work for three weeks.

What a way to get caught up on some needed genealogy backlog.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

New NARA facility in Riverside County

Yesterday, several members of the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) and I had a private tour of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at Riverside.  The Regional Archives (formerly in Laguna Niguel, CA) moved to the new facility at 23123 Cajalco Road, Perris, Riverside County, CA in 2010.  This location will better preserve records for coming generations, at more affordable cost to the government and taxpayers.  All holdings are open for on-site research at their new research room and are available to the public.

The tour was conducted by Kerry Bartels, an Archives Specialist at the facility.  We were taken into two secured areas.  One was a processing room where some digitalizing  and preserving of records were performed.  The second area was one of the warehouse bays that was temperature controlled at all times.  There were rows and rows of ceiling high metal shelves of archival boxes that held thousands of files of original federal and regional records.  Mr. Bartels explained the process the records go through once they arrive at the facility. 

After the tour, we met him in the training room for a mini talk designed to show genealogists how they can use the National Archives website to determine what records are in the National Archives would be of use in their particular family research.  He'll be teaching a two hour class on this very subject at the SCGS Jamboree in Burbank, Saturday, June 11th.  I highly recommend, don't miss it!  NARA website is not user friendly.  Once you learn how to navigate, you'll be able to order file copies of your own.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Field trip to NARA at Riverside, CA

This morning I'm going with other members of Southern California Genealogical Society on a field trip to the new National Archives and Records Administration at Riverside.  NARA Pacific Region use to be in Laguna Niguel, CA.  I always meant to get down there one day closed and everything moved to Riverside last year. 

We'll be meeting in the lobby at 11:00 AM for a tour of the facilities.  I've been checking out their website and looking forward to doing research after the tour.  I'm very excited, don't know what I'll find but I'm "game."

My husband and I drove out here yesterday, got a nice room at the local Inn.  Glad we came yesterday, wouldn't want to drive 2+ hours this morning, then the field trip and then do research.  I like to break up the steps.

When my family moved out to California from Chicago we lived in Riverside for about a year.  I went to 9th grade here.  Tomorrow I want to track down the house we rented and drive-by the middle school I attended.  I was too young drive at the time so thank goodness for our GPS.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I brought my laptop and scanner when I went to visit my sister a few weekends ago.  Figured I could "kill two birds with one stone."  Visit with her, and take apart my first magnetic photo album.  I carefully pulled the plastic pages away from each page and scanned the photos and newspaper articles I saved.

My mother had saved one of my birth announcements.  What a trip, a Census Book of all things!  Destiny I think.  When you open the little book, you see the baby picture.  Mom filled out all in information inside.  I really cherish it.

Taking the photo album apart wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  I remember selecting the photos and building the pages.  The photos were just in a box, mom never put them in a family album.  So I took the box to my single, studio apartment and picked and chose which ones I wanted.  I filled the album with photos from birth to when I graduated high school.

I wish we had taken more photos that day.  It was almost dusk and the few we have aren't very good., but I love this one.  I don't have many with just my mom and me.

I plan on taking on other albums soon.  Need to rescue those other memories that are "stuck" in the past.  Maybe on my next visit...have laptop and scanner, will travel.