Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thank Goodness For Mr. Coffee

As I poured my third cup of coffee this morning, I remembered an earlier time when coffee was a bit more difficult and a challenge to make.  I have always used some type of drip coffee maker, a plastic device with a clock and timer built in.  Yet, I think back to the days of the electric percolator and marvel at the process of an earlier time.   The pot consisted of steel and chrome with a plastic resin base with a heater installed.  I remember Dad and his work to create that perfect cup of coffee.  Making coffee each day, it is no wonder the man had the patience of Job.  There were precise steps for making coffee.  The steps had a reason and they had to be followed precisely.

To make that perfect cup, be sure to disconnect the electric cord from the pot.  Getting water in the wiring could short circuit and ruin the pot.  That would mean no coffee for a few days until the broken pot could be replaced.

Next fill the pot with cold water up to the line that was clearly marked with water stains from the many hundreds for previously made pots of coffee.  It had to be cold water.  Luke warm or hot water and you might ruin the heating element.

Pour three heaping scoops of coffee from the Folgers three pound can into the coffee filter.  More than three scoops made the coffee too strong, and less than three heaping scoops and you may as well be drinking dirty water—too weak.

Place the filter in the pot.  This required a certain bit of dexterity and coordination.  The filter was held together by a metal shaft running up through the middle of it.  On the top rested a tin lid to aid the percolation process.  Putting the filter in the pot meant holding this contraption together with your fingers while guiding the metal shaft down to the bottom of the percolator where it would sit snugly in a recessed circle.  All the while, water would do its natural best to float and disassemble the entire filter assembly.

At last, put the lid on the pot and plug the cord first into the pot and then into the electrical outlet. 
While the percolator brewed the perfect cup of coffee, Dad would sit and smoke two, maybe three, cigarettes.  It is no wonder Dad smoked two packs a day.   After the cigarettes, walk outside and get the morning paper.  By then the wonderful smell of nirvana permeated the kitchen.  The coffee was ready.

When that first pot of coffee was drained, a fresh pot was brewed (repeat steps one through six).  Coffee was always present in the house.  Up until ten o’clock at night the coffee pot remained hot, although not always fresh.  At ten o’clock, with the beginning of the news, the pot was unplugged, drained and rinsed.  The filter was rinsed and placed upside down in the dish strainer so that it would dry and ready for service in the morning.

I think back on this and appreciate Dad a little bit more.  I can appreciate the pleasure he must have experienced with the purchase of his first Mr. Coffee.  Even today, I appreciate the wonders of modern technology and my Mr. Coffee.  Every night at ten o’clock I make my coffee.  I still use three heaping scoops of coffee.  Now, I use Starbucks medium blend instead of folgers.  But I set the alarm on the coffee pot and go watch the news.  I wake up the next morning to the smell of a glorious cup of coffee waiting for me.  No patience required, just make the coffee, set the alarm and sleep through the night.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A New Use For The Blog

The Sherburne County Historical Society, where I am Executive Director, has just gone live with a crowd sourcing fundraising appeal.  This is for a great project to exhibit quilts in Sherburne County and highlight the unique artistry of  the people making the quilts.

Please share this appeal with all of your friends and anyone you think might be interested.

Thank you in advance.

Hey, we all need some advertising in our lives.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

More Memories of Grandma

It has been a couple of months, for that I am sorry.  But here is another bit of memory of Grandma Ruth Brubaker.  My sister Micki shared this with me:

Grandma was generous.  Uncle Bud told me that when he was a boy, a teenager, he had two pairs of pants, one with holes that were for everyday and one without holes for church.  One day he was looking for his good pants.  Grandma told him she had given them away to some poor kid who didn’t have any pants without holes.  Uncle Bud, exasperated, said “Ma, now I don’t have any pants without holes.”   Apparently, she didn’t think of her and Uncle Bud as poor.   

 I am back to writing if anyone wants to share stories about the Brubakers.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grandma's New York Trip

Reading Ruth Harmon Brubaker’s travel journal about her trip to New York gives some insight into her personality.  The excitement she put on the page as she travels by train from Idaho to New York reveals new aspects of her personality.  She has been described as patient and loving, the journal shows an adventurous side of her life, an excitement to experience more of life.
“We are in Erie, New York & it’s an immense industrial city—Bethlehem steel plants on one side of the landscape—great cement plants, etc., etc.—we’ve come thru miles of it,” she wrote.  “We’ve followed along the shore all morning.  Boats, lovely one by the 1000s just below us.  Yesterday I saw a real old Missouri steamer—3 decker but no way to take a picture of it.” 

Grandma shows an interest in other travelers.  She visits with everyone, she trades magazines with nuns going to Chicago.  She engages a college student on her way home from North Eastern University to Niagara Falls. In addition to her new student friend she strikes up new conversations with interesting observations with others seated around her.
“A man looks like a second Wallace Berry sits in from of me and is going to his brother’s golden wedding,” she wrote.  “He’s a grand person and had 11 sons and nephews in the war—all came back safe but one nephew.  Every few minutes he says ‘I wish Mama was along but she ain’t so well—but she made me come anyhow.’  Well its noon and the little girl got off & her folks just met her, they came to our window to tell us (me and the man) goodbye.  Swell, common friendly people.” 

The pages of Grandma’s travel journal reveal a very intelligent woman, very observant and excited with every new adventure that comes her way.  I don’t think anything really surprises her.  Grandma marvels at the immensity of life.  Early in her journey she notes the speed of the train.  “We are sure traveling fast—will cross the whole state of Nebr. in the nite.”   She is amazed, and marvels at the wonders she encounters in her travels.  But I don’t think she is surprised.

Reading her journal shows an interesting side of her personality.  Grandma is well educated, well read, and very intelligent.  She is patient and loving.  She is truly a fascinating woman with an array of gifts and talents.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Grandma Was A Catholic

As I investigate Ruth Harman, questions that continue to arise include: what she thought and how she felt. An important question: how did she develop such a strong Catholic faith?  Raised a Methodist; her father a minister, yet the entire family remembers her as deeply faithful to the Catholic Church.  It must have been difficult to move away from the faith of her family and accept Catholicism.  An important question if we want to fully appreciate Grandma and her life: How did she reach such faith in the Catholic Church? 

It should also be noted that her faith didn’t go unrewarded and her faith inspired others.  Mary Jane Hislop (Mom) attributes one specific miracle to Grandma’s faith:  When just a few months old Micki, my older sister, suffered from a blockage.  Her stomach became blocked or her intestine was twisted, or something.  The doctors wanted to operate.  Micki hadn’t been baptized yet.  Doctors gave her low odds of survival. Grandma insisted that a Catholic priest come into the hospital and baptize Micki before the surgery.  Sometime between the priest coming in and the scheduled surgery the blockage healed itself.  Mom knew divine intervention healed her baby through Grandma’s intervention. 

Grandma’s strong Catholic faith included the education of her children.  When the family could afford the tuition, each of Grandma’s children went to private Catholic schools.  The apocryphal story concerns Uncle Pat, who was expelled from the Catholic School by the nuns because he kept spitting on the floor.  This same son later studied for the priesthood. 

At her funeral, Dad proudly noted, three priests participated in Grandma's funeral mass.

Obviously, Grandma Ruth Harman Brubaker was very Catholic.  She came from a Methodist family and married into a Catholic family.  How did she arrive at her faith?  Why did she hold such a strong faith?  These are interesting questions with no easy answers.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Life IN Boise

Ruth Brubaker (Grandma) was the amazing glue that kept the family together.  Throughout the family history, she is the one constant force, apparent in either the background or leading the charge to live life as a Brubaker.  A well-educated woman, she graduated from the Nebraska State Normal School and began teaching at age 16.  She married Grandpa and raised her large family during the terrible economic times of the 1920s and 1930s. 

An example of  Grandma Brubaker and her inner strength comes from a collection of memories and oral histories, they all tell the story about Grandma and her extended family when they moved to Boise, Idaho in 1937.  In an oral history from Charles Brubaker, Jr, he explained: “We didn’t see dad (Grandpa Brubaker) much because he was on the railroad.  He worked sixteen hours a day, when he worked.  When we moved to Idaho, he was supposed to trade seniority with a guy in Idaho but the guy backed out.   Dad was stuck in Cheyenne while we were in Idaho.”
Grandma’s extended family seems huge, and that caused some problems.  In the Boise home the landlord allowed only three children in the house.  “When the landlady came to collect the rent, us kids would have to hide,” dad said. “My uncle was living with us; his wife and three kids; my mom and us eight kids and my brother-in-law.  It was wall to wall people.”

Feeding this huge group was another challenge to Grandma and the rest of the family.  “My uncle and brother-in-law Bill went out to pick fruit,” Dad remembered.  “When they got done the farmer couldn’t pay them (in cash) so he paid them in plums.  We had a whole garage full of plums.  We all ate those plums.  I hate them to this day.”
Life in the Boise house lasted only about one year.  In 1938 the family moved to Midway, and later that same year moved into the city of Nampa.  Grandma’s resilience and strength continued to shine through.  But those are more stories to tell at a later time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Means Swimming

In a long, hot summer thoughts inevitably turn to beaches, swim suits, and swimming.  It is an ubiquitous idea (how’s that for a 21 million dollar word).  Today, most people think public swimming pool.  Yet, in the not too distant past, people might look forward to the local swimming pool, the neighborhood fire hydrant, or the local lake.  The Brubaker’s of Idaho looked forward to “water day.”

As my cousin Barbra Ellen tells the story, “We all spent a lot of time at her (Grandma Brubaker’s) house playing and especially water day.  Homeowners got to use irrigation water one day a week and it was flood irrigation.  She would take the water blocks out of the main ditch and the entire yard front & back were flooded.   The ditch was actually in the front of the houses & underground.  We played in the water all day.” 
This picture does not depict the Brubaker’s of Idaho, and yes, I have used this picture before.  These are my sisters, Micki and Trula, at around 1959.  In all likelihood they are in Idaho, but this is definitely not "water day."  Yet, swimming in the summertime was a universal idea.   

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Memories of Grandma Brubaker

Until this week, I don’t think I had seen a picture of Grandma as a young woman.  The only images I conjure up, put her at Mom and Dad’s wedding in the mid-1950s.  By that time, Grandma was in her sixties.  Well thanks to my dear cousins, Barbra Scott and Debi Ragsdale, I now have some new information and new images of a remarkable lady. 

Barbra described Grandma as “vibrant, sociable, fun, kind and patient.”  Physically, “she had very long black hair and wore it braided, with the braids wrapped up and around, circling her head.  She suffered with headaches and those went away after her hair cut.  Aunt Becky and Uncle Bill paid for her to take the train and visit them in Fort Knox, Kentucky.  It was on the trip that Aunt Becky took her to a salon and had her hair cut and permed.”

Mom used to remember Grandma with all of her pets.  Grandma loved cats and dogs, always seemed to have them around the house.  Mom also thought she remembered a bird or two, but couldn’t be sure.

Debi sent me a couple of photographs of Grandma.  Here she is with a couple of her pets in Wyoming.  so this dates the photo at the early 1930s.  I would never have imagined her with long black hair.  But this photo, along with these memories, brings Grandma closer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Memories of Grandma Brubaker

A few months ago I wrote about a few memories of Grandma Brubaker.  Well, I realized I really don’t know a great deal about Grandma’s personality.  So, I’m trying to collect and remember more about Ruth Harmon Brubaker—Grandma.

Grandma Brubaker died in 1970, when I was about ten years old.  So memories of her are not all that great.  My memories of her start and stop in a hospital.  Whenever we would visit, she was sick.
1969 we traveled to Idaho to the funeral of Uncle Bill Brown.  Grandma was in the hospital, possibly in a care facility.  When we went to visit her, we were not allowed to speak of the death of Bill Brown.  It may have been the visit in 1969, or it may have been another time: I remember visiting her, the family gathered around her hospital bed.  Dad is as close as he can get, so that he will hear and understand her mumbled conversation.  I am on the other side of the bed looking at this frail woman.  For some reason, I think my cousin Butch was in the room, standing behind Dad.  He started to make faces at me and I started to laugh.  It was not a nice ride back to Uncle Pat’s house when the visit ended.  I took the heat for that indiscretion.  How could I explain that Butch was making me laugh?  I couldn’t, so I was in trouble. 

A little more than a year later, we were traveling from Salt Lake to Caldwell, Idaho to her funeral.  And the memories are at an end.

I distantly remember her house.  I think we once visited there.  I remember the bathroom because there were no windows and no light switch.  To turn on the lights in the bathroom you had to walk to the center of the room, reach up, find the pull chain and turn on the lights.  That bathroom remains forever burned into my brain, like a traumatic life threatening disaster.
Imagine the difficulties of an undersized, most people say short, young man that has to pee.  He knows he can’t reach the pull chain in order to do his business in peace!  At a certain age, no boy should have to ask an older sister for help in using the bathroom.  Let your bladder burst or ask for help, these were the only two choices.  Pride went out the window when first one sister refused to help.  The other helped only when I started to cry in pain.

That bathroom and the trauma it created are both indelibly burned into my brain.

Unfortunately, I don’t much remember Grandma Brubaker.  I have stories from Dad, but otherwise I don’t know her.  If anyone would like to share some stories about Grandma Brubaker, I would really like to visit.  

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Change For The Sake of Change: A Rant of Frustration

There is a comedy routine, a group of engineers are helping a young business woman improve her assembly line and enhance sales of her product.  She manufactures up-scale hair barrettes.  The engineers insist that they need to add blue tooth wireless technology to the barrettes because everything is better with blue tooth. 

The routine is a ridiculous example of technology geeks advocating change for the sake of change.  Yet, this pattern of changing technology simply because we can change technology is reaching these ridiculous extremes. 

I will admit that I have been called a Luddite.  And, I may be.  But do we really need so much change, so quickly?  I used to own a flip phone.  I now have a smart phone, only because people around me were embarrassed whenever I would answer the telephone with my antiquated contraption.  The only advantage to my smart phone is the numbers are larger than my flip phone.  It is now easier for me to see the numbers when I dial.

I am trying to muster as much sarcasm as possible as I write: I can’t wait for the next installment of windows or Microsoft office.  I am so excited with the new procedures for writing documents that require me to change the type font to Times Roman because some mental giant has decided that Calibri is more appropriate as a default font and 11 point type is better than the larger and more legible 12 point.  And, I so enjoy changing the spacing from “normal” to “no spacing” every time I create a document.  Thank you to all of the Microsoft and windows engineers and programmers for allowing me to determine the page layout every time I create a new document and forcing me to utilize too much of my time to reset pages that should be default standards.

While I am at it, thank you to every telephone manufacturer in the world for determining my telephone needs to be something more than just a telephone.  I don’t remember how I managed to live without a camera in my telephone, along with text messaging and wireless technology.  Special thanks goes out to the singular “genius” that determined my telephone needed to be so much more than just a telephone.

Today is one of those days when the standard of change for the sake of change is overwhelming.  This morning I had to work with a new index for genealogy research.  Some “genius” decided to combine several indices to make research more of a muddled mess.  It appears to be change for the sake of change.  Honestly, I don’t need any more new and improved “whatevers” in my life.  Is it too much to expect the technology in life to simply function in the manner that it is expected? 

A second cliché keeps running through my brain: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  To all of those techno-geeks, engineers and computer programmers out there, stop fixing it, it ain’t broke.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Memories of the Summer Canning season

I recently realized harvesting fruits and vegetables and preserving food generate strong memories about growing up in Salt Lake City.  Each summer certain activities took place that, to this day, give me a sense of home and security. 

Visiting the farmers of Salt Lake and the “pick your own” farm lots to buy cherries and peaches, tomatoes and cucumbers remind me of the innocence of a distant era.  All of these fruits and vegetables purchased would be taken home and prepared for the canning jars.  There is a certain satisfaction to the plop and squeak sound of the cherry pit machine as you removed the seed from each cherry.  Put a cherry under the trigger, pull the spring loaded trigger.  The seed would fall down into a jar of seeds, and then throw the seeded cherry into the bowl for canning.  Each cherry pitted required payment of a cherry to eat.  As many fruit passed my lips as did through the cherry pitter.  The peaches witnessed a similar preparation process: blanch the peaches, peel the peaches, cut them in half and remove the pit.  Peaches are larger, so fewer are eaten.  Yet, the sticky juice running down your arms as you sliced the peaches made the process memorable.

            Preparing tomatoes for canning required a bit more care.  The boiling water, and processing the tomatoes usually disqualified me from working the tomato canning process.  The cucumber were perhaps the most memorable and time consuming.  Cucumbers soaked in brine for two weeks, preparing them for the pickle jars.  Packing the jars and the smell of hot vinegar and dill told everyone that in a few weeks the dill pickles would be ready for eating.  And later, the sweet and sour pickles and the relish would also find their way onto the dinner table.

            Today the tomato plants are in the ground in my own backyard.  We have added lettuce and onions to the garden.  In a few months the harvest will begin.  In my kitchen, I will cook up salsa and the satisfaction of preparing my own food will generate memories of a great childhood, helping Mom and Dad can food.  And, the memories will continue.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Henry Hislop's Teeth

I thought I had posted this, but no.  So, here we go … 

A story Mom liked to tell about her Dad, Henry Hislop, concerned his health.

Just after Mom was born, in the mid-1930s, Grandpa Hislop got sick.  He seemed very lethargic, absolutely no energy at all.  Being in a small town in the middle of the Depression, there wasn’t a whole lot of money for doctor bills.  So, Henry talked around with friends and neighbors to self-diagnose.  Well somehow, with the help of his neighbors, he concluded that there must be something wrong in his mouth.  Someone convinced him he needed to remove all of his teeth.  Well Grandpa went to the dentist and had all of his teeth pulled out.  I hope he got dentures, but Mom never mentions this detail in the story.

Well, the trip to the dentist didn’t cure what ailed him.  He was still lethargic, always tired and no desire to really do anything.  Keep in mind, this condition was very odd for Henry Hislop.  In all of the stories I have read and heard, this was a man that enjoyed hard work.  This was a man that when he was nearing 60 years old helped build the local church.  He got down in the trench to dig.  He worked in the cold to lay brick and mortar into place.  He enjoyed manual labor.  For him to feel lethargic was a sign of something serious.

Unfortunately the diagnosis of pulling his teeth didn’t work.  He seemed forever tired.  Finally, the family persuaded him to travel the fifteen miles down the canyon from the small town of Huntsville, to a doctor in the larger town of Ogden, Utah.  A simple visit to the doctor and he diagnosed with anemia.  He was given pills to add to his diet and his energy quickly returned.  He was back to enjoying his work in a very short time.

After this episode with his teeth, Henry Hislop lived another 20 more years.  Forever working hard and seemingly enjoying it all.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Dad Liked His Beer

The stories about Dad and his beer usually start by mentioning that after his service in the Navy he spent a lot of time in the Idaho bars.  A favorite hangout was a place called The Schooner.  Although he didn’t have much of a belly at the time, a joke he used often: he would walk up to the bar, stick out his stomach as far as he could and tell the bartender “fill it up!”

My favorite Dad and beer story happened many years later.  When Dad was sick, he had trouble sleeping.  When I came for a visit, I bought a six pack of LaBatts beer to drink.  Dad had stopped drinking beer, at least twenty years earlier.  He claimed he no longer liked the taste of it.  Well Dad was at the table in his wheelchair, and I was standing next to him, slowly nursing a beer.  It seems like the entire family was standing around joking when my sister across the table noticed Dad drinking my beer.  Before she could say anything, he chugged the entire bottle!  It is good thing he didn’t like the taste of it!

That night, for the first time in a number of months, Mom said he slept like a baby.  After that night we kept a supply of beer in the refrigerator to help Dad sleep.  I don’t think he ever drank one of them.  But, for a brief time, he was back in The Schooner, “filling it up.”

Monday, May 4, 2015

Free Association Thoughts about Dad, Dogs, and Cartoons

Something recently came to mind, I was folding some towels when I came across a towel with Snoopy, the character from Peanuts comics.  I remembered how much Dad enjoyed cartoons.  He loved to just contemplate about Snoopy and all of the challenges faced by this one beagle.  Every year we were watching The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and It’s a Charlie Brown Christmas.  Every year Dad would laugh at the very idea of Snoopy climbing into his sopwith camel and flying off to face the Red Baron and finally landing in Linus’ pumpkin patch. 

We once got a small dog, she was supposed to be hunting dog but that never really completely developed.  Dad, I think, wanted to desperately name the dog Snoopy.  He kept suggesting, “Let’s name her Snoopy.”  Us kids kept insisting, no there has to be a better name than that.  Being young teenagers we were oblivious to his wants.  We wound up naming the dog Penny.  

Another cartoon Dad loved was the roadrunner series.  He would really laugh, I mean out load, belly laugh type of laughter, at the road runner and the coyote.  Mom used to tell the story, when her and Dad went to a movie, a road runner cartoon was showing before the feature.  Dad was laughing and waving his arms.  Mom had to move over one seat so the Dad would stop bumping her every time he laughed.

Just some more random thoughts about Dad: he loved his dogs and his cartoons

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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dad's Navy Portrait

My sister Mary sent me this copy of Dad's Navy portrait.  I don't have a date, but I suspect it was done around 1947.  Dad served in the Navy right after high school graduation.  He liked to tell the story about graduating from high school one evening and going down to the Navy enlistment the next morning.  By the time he enlisted the war was over but the draft was still in place.  Dad really didn't want to serve in the Army.  So he enlisted.  The other story about his Navy service, he wanted to serve in submarines but he liked to say that he must have completely failed the psychiatric test because they made him an airplane mechanic!

A detail about his service that not many people know is that he was injured in the Navy.  One day there was an explosion in the hanger Dad was working in.  A piece of flying metal went into his leg.  I was told that he had an ugly scar for the rest of his life.  I was also told the metal stayed in his leg for the rest of his life.  Dad died a few years ago, so I can't (easily) confirm either of these stories.  But, there you go.

Here is Charles Edward Brubaker, Jr. in the Navy!

Monday, March 2, 2015

I Will Try This Again

Okay, it has been almost eight months since my last post.  And, I know I promised to post more often.  Well, I will try this again.  More information to come in the future.  But to start off, I found an interesting quote that sums up family history very well:

“He who has no fools, knaves, or beggars in his family was begot by a flash of lightning." -- Old English proverb.

I will try to post more often in the year 2015.