Thursday, April 16, 2015

Trula, My Sister

I haven’t mentioned my brother and sisters because I have adopted a special standard of personal privacy.  I don’t write about anyone that is alive.  That way, no one gets in trouble. 

But, it has been nearly 30 years since my sister Trula has died.  It seems about time to write about her.  But, this is not a simple biography, no dates to hang your hat on.  This is a brief remembrance of a sweet woman.

I have never been able to figure out she got her name.  Mom and Dad could never remember how they came up with Trula, but they did.

Trula was five years older than me.  She was in high school before I was really cognizant of the life around me.  In high school I remember her art work.  She liked to work in clay, throwing pots and other pieces.  A piece that she was particularly proud of was large vase.  It had a glaze that was several shades of yellow.  Inside she had dried flowers and a peacock tail feather.  I remember this pot because I once tripped and my head fell into the dried flowers.  Some bizarre little ball of burrs landed in my eye and I was forced to visit the doctor.  For a week I was soaking my eyeball in warm water and Epsom salts.  At the same time the doctor was picking little slivers out of my eye.  I remember that vase very well!

Physically, Trula was short.  Around her, I felt tall!  But, beyond height, I couldn’t measure up to Trula.  She was hard working and persistent.  After high school, she put herself through college, first obtaining an Associate’s Degree in accounting, they later transferring to a four year college, the University of Utah.   There she acquired her BS in mine engineering. 

The one story I wonder about, but Mom swore that it was true: Dad always wanted an engineer in the family.  Neither John nor I had the interest.  Me, I didn’t have the aptitude.  Well Trula knew Dad wanted an engineer, so she majored in engineering. 

Dad was also proud of Trula and her intelligence.  In her senior year at the University of Utah, she won an award from the Mine engineering Department.  Dad was very proud of Trula, that night.

While she was at the University of Utah, she worked at a credit union.  She helped me negotiate a loan for my first car.  I was able to buy a brand new, metallic blue Chevette with her help.

After graduation she worked in coal mines in eastern Utah and Western Colorado.

Trula was generous to everyone.  During one of the several times that I was unemployed, Trula offered me a place to stay if I wanted to come down and work in Carbon County.  I stayed in Salt Lake, but her house was always open.  

Trula died too young.   She had two young boys. Unfortunately, I have not kept up with these two, but they have grown up into fine young men.   I am certain she is very proud of her two sons and her two grandchildren as well.

Trula was a unique lady.  She was kind, generous, and incredibly intelligent.  To this day, I miss her.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone

Land records make for some interesting and confusing details about family history.  In the case of the Brubaker/Tiernan clan, I have found that Ellen Tiernan Brubaker and John Brubaker filed for at least three different land parcels under the Homestead Act of 1862.

In 1893, Ellen Tiernan filed for the final title of land on Section 15, Township 24, Range 51.  Family lore said that all of the Tiernan children filed for land then sold to her father John or her brother Charles Tiernan after title came through on the Homestead Act.  This may have been true.  The plat maps for the area round Snake Creek Township shows that John and Charles Tiernan owned a lot of land in that part of Box Butte County.

Just ten years later, Ellen T. Brubaker was filing for more land located on Sections 32 and 33 of Township 23, Range 44.  I believe this is an area south of Lakeside, Nebraska.  Ellen Brubaker claimed the land was filed under her husband, but he had deserted her.  Her petition stated he had left in July of 1904.  She stayed on the land until October.  She felt she could not care for her five children and work the land.  She left the claim and “went to her own people in Box Butte County.”  But she did not want to lose the land.  She petitioned the land title be assigned to her name.  She could not produce the original receipt of entry because John Brubaker had taken it with him.

Her petition must have been denied.  She remained married to John Brubaker.  A decade later, John H. Brubaker obtained 480 acres in Section 12, of Township 21, Range 50.

This all reminds me of the song: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone."  I think it was fairly typical to move from one parcel of land to another to try to improve your economic condition.  In the defense of John Brubaker, he worked for the railroad and was constantly moving for work.  This may have been the situation, or something less favorable may have occurred.

I don’t know the circumstances.  But John Brubaker and Ellen Tiernan remained married and are buried together in Alliance, Nebraska.  The land records simply add to the confusion of their relationship, yet it is really very interesting.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Birthday Mom

Mom was born 83 years ago on March 25, 1932

I don’t think I can adequately describe Mom.  She was very direct, very proud, and very protective.  The stories about Mom protecting the family are too many to relate.  But to illustrate the point, think of the story she liked to tell, about some neighbor kids teasing me and John.  She came out of the house, into the backyard waving a large, silver butcher knife.  She told the kids she was going to “cut their damn ears off” if they didn’t stop.  They stopped.  Or, when the Hislop family reunion came around, Uncle John liked to tease the kids and my brother John was afraid of being teased. 

And Mom told brother John to just avoid Uncle John because Uncle John was “just an old blowhard” and to not pay attention to him.  And that was fine, until brother John repeated it to Uncle John’s face.  Mom choked on the peanuts she was eating.

Mom and Dad got married in November of 1953 and had a good life until Dad died in 2007.  In the early years, Dad liked to go out drinking with his buddies.  After a short time, Mom made Dad transfer out of Idaho.  She gave him a choice, either keep drinking with his buddies or stay married to her.  After they moved to Salt Lake, I don’t think they ever seriously contemplated moving back.  Just another example of Mom protecting her family.

There is no doubt Mom and Dad loved each other.  The five years between Dad’s death and Mom, she talked a lot about how much she missed him. 

Mom was a talented woman.  She could play the violin and the organ.  Newspaper reports when she was 16 years old commented on the quality of the recitals she presented.  She was also a pretty good cook, but she didn’t ever enjoy cooking.  I remember the favorite dessert she would make for the Hislop Family reunion was a cherry cheese cake.  Very few people ever got a slice of the cheese cake because it was gone so quickly.  Pizza from hand-tossed pizza dough, and lasagna with fresh sausage, ham and pepperoni tossed in, were just a couple of her dishes.  Unfortunately, as she got older she stopped cooking.  To her, after so many years of cooking for seven, a good meal came from one of several restaurants in the area.  I think Olive Garden was high on her list in the years before she died.

Mom was talented and encouraged her children.  She was very protective of us all.

Anyway, just some memories of Mom.  Happy Birthday Mom.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nicknames Are Interesting

For years the family has marveled at the multitude of nicknames we have had for each other.  Inevitably the nicknames would be credited to Mom and Dad.  I won’t go into any of the names we had for each other, because I don’t want to embarrass anyone.  After all, you probably know as many embarrassing facts about me as I about you.  The threat of mutual embarrassment is an excellent deterrent. 

I want to share one set of nicknames for Mom and Dad.  I found this particular nickname in the letters they sent to each other when Dad was working out of town on the railroad.  Dad was stuck in Ogden, Utah or Idaho Falls, Idaho.  Mom was living in Nampa. 

I don’t know where it comes from.  I had never run across this before.  Mom and Dad called each other “chicken.”  A letter from Dad in July of 1953 starts off with the greeting, “Dear Janie, Hi Chicken.”  In a letter dated a few weeks later, in the body of the letter Mom writes, “I miss you so much chicken.”

I am not exactly sure what this says about Mom and Dad.  But, I thought it was interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Food and Dad: An Interesting Combination

Another story Dad liked to tell related to how poor they were growing up.  During the Depression, whenever there was a dinner to be served and not enough fired chicken to go around, Grandma would call the kids into the kitchen and instruct them that would not take any chicken for dinner.  If they were asked why they weren’t eating the chicken they were supposed to respond that they really didn’t like the taste of chicken.  According to Dad, Grandma always chose to eat the neck because that was one of the least desirable pieces of chicken.  But in reality, Dad maintained that it always had a lot of good tasting meat on it.

Dad had some interesting food memories.  He hated homemade bread.  He grew up eating butter sandwiches with two thick slices of homemade bread and a slather of butter.  He grew to really hate homemade bread.

Something I never quite understood.  He hated pork.  He would gladly eat bacon and ham.  But I don’t think we ever, or rarely, had a pork roast at home.

Oh well, just some random thoughts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Grandma Brubaker: Dynamite in a Small Package

I didn’t ever really know Dad’s mother.  By the time I was born, we were living in Utah and we got to Idaho once each year to visit.  I only remember Grandma as being a sick lady that suffered seriously from Parkinson’s Disease.  Most often, we saw her when she was in the hospital.  She died when I was ten years old.  From the stories I have heard, she may have been small, or short in stature but she was very feisty.  I think of her when I remember the cliché: “dynamite comes in small packages.”  

Dad told us that Grandma was a small woman, very short, probably didn’t measure over five feet tall.  She would chase her children with a broom because she could never get close enough to them to really smack them for whatever crime they might have committed.  And, these boys were very close to juvenile delinquents.  Uncle Pat, according to Dad, was once thrown out of the Catholic School because he kept spitting on the floor.
Grandma could never punish her sons because they would run away.  But they had to eat.  So each night, when they sat down for dinner, she would smack them in the head.  “What was that for?” they would ask. 
“I don’t know,” she said.  “But I’m sure you did something to deserve it.”

Mom also remember Grandma.  When Mom was taking lessons to become a Catholic, she was preparing to enter a confessional for the first time.  “Don’t worry Janie,” Grandma said.  “Tell the priest whatever you want.  The rest is none of his business.”

Grandma was dynamite in a small container!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Some Photos From CBI WWII

I am slowly sorting through several photograph collections.  I wanted to share a couple of images taken by my Father-in-Law.  Mark Nider served in the China-Burma-India theater of  World War Two.  He took hundreds of photographs and gave each one a title.  Here are just two.  The first is entitled "Burma" and the second "paddies."  They are interesting photographs.  It will take some time and thought to really understand his collections.  But here is just an example of what he witnessed and experienced.  It also well documents the work that lay ahead for the men that served in this particular area during the war.