Pat's Prompts...

Each month, Pat offers a unique prompt hoping to help us record our memories and histories. We hope these are interesting to you and possibly give you the nudge you may need to write something down. Enjoy reading these prompts and some of the responses to them. If you have recorded a memory because a prompt here that you would like to share, we would love to include it here!

Pat's Prompts - March 2024

There should be a sign: “Don’t Interrupt! Practicing Procrastination!” I could carry it with me to hang wherever my laptop settles. That’s what I’ve been doing since last November’s Prompt  –  Practicing!

Truth told, though, I don’t need to practice because, now, being that I’m “elderly,” I’ve reached Expert level through years of practicing.

One might say “forgetting,” might not be one? Nope, scratch “forgetting;” too political. “Practicing,” on the other hand, connotes Hope and, therefore, Youth.

One of my most celebrated actions in the art of procrastination occurred in my youth (Yes, once I was young.) Through a roommate, and I recall she was young, I had wangled my way onto the board of a San Francisco Singles group: Activities Director. I advertised a theatrical something to be performed at the SF Opera House, took names, reservations and money. But, somehow, I never got around to making a reservation with the theater! If one wants to be a Procrastinator for Life, I was well on my way!!! Lost the position on the Board. Oh, well.

Did not work with BIGS, however. Joleen remembered me from November and asked for another prompt. So this is it, BIGS WRITERS! Your March Writer’s Prompt!

What is your memory of Practicing Procrastination?

Writers, remember:
We Write When We’re Not Writing!

Pat's Prompts - November 2023

Let's Talk Turkey

From his childhood memories of a family-owned ranch near Merced, California, my husband Don recalls that, in his childhood, turkeys were raised for holiday sales in the Central Valley. He says, “I remember Aunt Mayme saying sternly to my cousins and me not to make sudden, loud noises in hearing of turkeys, for they might fall over and die from fright.” He also remembers watching the turkeys move in their enclosure. “They ran across ground together in a group, as if they were flying in a flock, a “murmuration.” Clipped wings made these birds flightless, nevertheless, he remembers, “The grounded turkeys swarmed like swallows do in the sky, wingtip-to-wingtip; they seemed a blanket of feathers running in great circles across the dusty ground.”

Thanks, Don Scott, for a great memory!

Turducken? Ever try that or did you eat one? Will you share your favorite stuffing recipe? Did you make (or eat) Susan Stamberg’s Cranberry Relish?

Do you have a memory – an unforgettable moment in a Thanksgiving holiday? Is it there? ….Reaching out to be caught up?

Like taking a “selfie,” pick up a pen or your phone and send yourself enough of a note to remind yourself when you want to catch this memory again. If you do, the idea will be there, and did you know that “writers write when they’re not writing?” When you come back to your “selfie,” more of the memory will surface. That’s a promise of how these prompts will work.

Share your Thanksgiving memories and we’ll post them over the next few weeks. Please send your responses to Larry Noedel or Susan Wood. Thank You!

Here are responses to Pat's November Prompt.
Be inspired and send us yours.

From Susan Slater:

Interesting that you that asked about Turducken. I have an experimental son-in-law who loves to try new items for Thanksgiving dinner. One year he decided to try Turducken and was very enthusiastic about it. It was rather time consuming because of the manner with which it needs to be prepared… a chicken stuffed into a duck then stuffed into the turkey. To accomplish this he had to spatchcock(de-bone) all three of the birds which took some time.

We all enjoyed his efforts and the very tasty results. Nothing went to waste and there was plenty of left overs for others to take home. However, I am not a fan of roasted duck but I did try it. I am such a traditionalist at Thanksgiving.

I just received a note from him saying that he is planning to step up the dinner this Thanksgiving, however, he did not elaborate as to what is going to cook. As long as there is a turkey in there some where I am just fine with whatever he wants to put together for the family.

Happy Thanksgiving
Susan Slater

From Sue Hassenmiller:

My father worked at a large printing company in Chicago. It was the only printing company in the US, at the time, that had an eight color, two-sided printing press. My mother was born and raised on a farm in Northern Wisconsin and was an excellent and creative cook. She could make many meals from a turkey after Thanksgiving.

One year about two weeks before Thanksgiving, my father came home from work and told my mother the company had a good financial year and was buying a fresh turkey for each employee at Christmas time. While my father never said much about what my mother cooked for our meals, I do remember what he said after he told us about the Christmas Turkey.

He said “Maye, you are a good cook and very frugal with the food budget, but I just can’t eat a turkey dinner and all the turkey left over meals you fix at Thanksgiving and then again at Christmas. Can’t we find something else to eat and be thankful for on Thanksgiving. I just can’t eat so much turkey.”

She replied, “I know turkey is not your favorite food. But what could we have that you could be thankful for?”

I was not surprised at his answer. You see my father’s heritage is Italian. Both of his parents came from Italy. My father response, “I sure could be thankful with a nice big dish of Lasagna with hot Italian sausage and the pickled peppers I love.”

So on that day a new family tradition was born. We celebrated Thanksgiving, not with Turkey, but Lasagna.

From Alice McCain:

One memorable Thanksgiving happened about forty years ago, when we lived at Cottage Lake in Woodinville.  Our home was an 1891 farmhouse complete with a wood stove used to help heat the house.  Several of Alice’s siblings and their family members were coming up from Oregon, bringing along their traditional food contributions: fluffy bread rolls and “Mama’s baked beans.” Alice and Bruce had prepared two small turkeys on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, knowing that the kitchen would be alive with other preparations on Thursday morning.  The McCain kids, Jenni, Matt, Kenny and Tien, happily anticipated a weekend of food and family fun, eating, relaxing, and playing with their cousins.

That year a huge windstorm knocked out power at Cottage Lake just about the same time company began arriving.  Our electric kitchen stove wouldn’t work, and the lights blinked and stayed off.  However, we had wood to burn, and the living room stove had a surface for cooking, so that is how we heated and cooked the rest of our Thanksgiving meal.  The house stayed warm and cozy, although dimly lit. 

We ate our feast by kerosene lamps and candlelight.  Afterwards there would be no TV football games, so we pulled out decks of cards and board games and spent our time enjoying each other’s company.  The power outage lasted overnight.

If you were to ask each person present what their all-time favorite Thanksgiving memory is, it would probably be the year of the Woodinville power outage.  That year food played second fiddle to companionship and simple country pleasures–but the day would have suffered without planned and shared food responsibilities.

In 2001 our older son Matt and his wife Mary bought the Cottage Lake house from us.  They are raising their children, Mac (20) and Andie (17) there.  Matt took up chicken raising and vegetable gardening and is the holiday cook.  They alternate hosting Thanksgiving Day with Bruce and myself, now relocated in Suquamish.  Mary adds her family’s tradition of bringing out the best crystal serving dishes and setting a beautiful table that extends from the kitchen to the sunroom, about 16 feet long.  Matt adds his latest inspiration for turkey stuffing ingredients.  

For her contribution, Jenni brings a tossed salad, sometimes including kale and other savory ingredients. Her sweet potato pie is made from an old Southern recipe, shared with her by a fellow volunteer when she spent six months at the University of California at Santa Cruz Farm Program.

These foods and family traditions are touchstones for our Thanksgivings.  Who knows what changes our grandchildren’s generation will bring to family traditions?

Come to think of it, family IS what these celebrations are all about, with food as an important backdrop.  Just don’t forget to bring your food contribution!

A No Turkey Thanksgiving

Pat's Prompts - October 2023

Autumn Traditions

This photo is of a Texas High School Senior dressed elaborately in her “mum” for Homecoming! A strong Southern tradition!

Other traditions call for Halloween costumes, parties, trick or treating, hay rides, a pumpkin farm visit, and yummy sugary foods to warm our hearts!

What favorite memory do you have from childhood, teen years, college days? Take this moment to jot down the memory that comes first to mind. My memory below is a favorite anecdote about our Alaska life.

The first year Don and I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, our sons were aged 2 and 3.5 years. We were so excited to take them trick or treating – bundled up, to be sure, because that day the temperature had dropped to 40 degrees below zero! As California transplants, we thought surely we could trick or treat to nearby houses. “Cheechakos” (Newcomers) is what we were! So, with boys in costumes over snow suits, Don and his friend Phil carried them out to the sidewalk. In ten minutes they were back. Neighbors wouldn’t open their doors, but called from inside, “No trick or treating this year.” In the far North, casual social life pauses in the face of minus 50 degrees. The following year, I celebrated Halloween with my boys by organizing a noon-time neighborhood parade of snow-suited preschoolers, some costumed, some with masks, and all happy to be outdoors in a comfortable temp that was about minus 25 degrees! Then back to our house for hot chocolate, cookies, and games! Assimilation!

No doubt some autumn traditions played a part in your life. Share your memories and we’ll post them over the next few weeks. Please send your responses to Larry Noedel or Susie Wood. Thanks!

Pat's Prompts - September 2023

Do you remember September when you were little? A First Grader or maybe Second? Teachers would teach you a new song, or maybe you’re younger than me and you remember jingles you learned from the television. What’s the very first song, jingle, or verse you can recall? Here’s mine, and if you remember this ditty as one first learned, I know we’re about the same age!

Hey, hey, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree!

Look down my rain barrel.
Slide down my cellar door,
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more, more, more.

So sorry, playmate,
I cannot play with you;
My dolly’s got the flu,
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo!

Ain’t got no rain barrel,
Ain’t got no cellar door,
But we’ll be jolly friends forever more!

OK, now it’s your turn BIGS members! Share your stories of first childhood songs, jingles, or verses  and we’ll post them with this prompt over the next few weeks. Extra credit if you indicate where you learned your entry. Please send it to Larry Noedel or Susie Wood. Thanks!

Here are some responses to Pat's September Prompt. Be inspired and send us yours.

From Lori Gibson:

I remember Pat’s song very well. My friends and I sang it while playing a hand clapping game. I don’t remember learning it in a class. 

The song I do remember learning is the Itsy Bitsy Spider, likely in first grade. With hand gestures for the spider climbing up and for the rain coming down. And yes, I can remember every word. And of course we had to sing the ABC song.

From Larry Noedel:

After dusting off quite a few cobwebs I recalled ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb.’ But after thinking a bit I realized the melody was the same as ‘Merrily We Roll Along.’  So, likely one or the other was my first.

I also recall that I found singing in elementary school totally uninspiring. The music teacher was fond of patriotic songs and Stephan Foster music. I couldn’t understand why we didn’t sing livelier songs like those my parents sang and those I heard on the radio and on juke boxes.

From Andy Hoskins:

Pat’s prompt got me thinking about the earliest songs I remember learning – in school, in church, from my mom. Probably the first one I remember memorizing was on a 45 that my sister and I played over and over again on the portable record player we had in our bedroom, before I even started Kindergarten. The song was about a boy who was always pestering his dad to “Tell Me a Story.” It was sung by Jimmy Boyd and Frankie Lane. Dad tries to sneak in the house late one night when he hears his son yell out to him:

Tell me a story! Tell me a story!
Tell me a story, remember what you said.
You promised me, you said you would,
You’ve gotta give in, so I’ll be good.
Tell me a story and then I’ll go to bed.

I marveled at that boy’s cheekiness! If you want to listen to the song, you will find it here:

Pat's Prompts - April 2023

Pick an ancestor’s hometown and focus on what it was like to live in that area in your ancestor’s lifetime.

 

Arrow identifies my twenty-six year old Great-Uncle John J. Murray, when he was elected a Director in the baseball club “United Base Ball Club of Bellaire City,” soon to be aka – “The Clippers” of Bellaire.

Two newspapers of the area: The Wheeling Register (Wheeling West Virginia) and the Belmont Chronicle (Saint Clairsville, Ohio) supplied this information.

Transcribed from the Wheeling Register, August 12, 1875 is this Bellaire column:

“There will be a match game of base ball (sic) played on the Public Square in this city on next Saturday, between St. Clairsville club and the Clippers of Bellaire, and all we have to say is that the St. Clairsville boys will have to sail in right lively, or they will get badly beaten.”

St. Clairsville is eleven miles east of Bellaire, today, a fifteen minute drive, but in 1875? How long on horseback or walking?  Want to know what the weather is like in Northeastern Appalachia in June?

From a column of “Fillers” in the Belmont Chronicle Thursday, June 7, 1877.

In the years following the Civil War, “Base Ball” became enormously popular all through America and had significant growth in the state of Ohio, particularly in Cincinnati. It seems unlikely that Uncle John and his Clippers on the Ohio River had “match games”with the famed Cincinnati Red Stockings players of 1875: Amos Booth, Dory Dean, Charlie Gould, or Scott Hastings, all four of whom soon joined professional teams in the newly formed National Baseball League, nor did the Bellaire Clippers travel 125 miles west to play that famous Columbus team named “Clippers.”  Much historic baseball was played in Ohio between 1875 and 1900, but I suspect those new Irish lads, the Murray brothers, were simply keen to Play ball! Make friends! Be American!

Pat's Prompts - March 2023

March is a month for planning the summer’s garden.

If you were planting a flower or a blooming shrub to honor a particular ancestor, who and what would it be and why?

In my family, the fragrance of the Daphne Odora brings our mother to us. In 1948, following the death of a infant son, my mother received a gift of a small Daphne Odora, and for the next thirty-six years, the sweetness of that shrub at the front door welcomed us home. My sisters and I have tried to keep our mother close by planting a memorial daphne in our own gardens. I was disappointed to find the Daphne Odora to be temperamental in this Northwest climate, but have found success with the “Rock” Daphne Cneorum. Now, all summer long, daphne-sweetened air says, “I’m home, Mom.”

A response to the March prompt:

In the early morning spring light, I stepped into our garden and all the roses were putting on their new growth. Each bush was showing the delicate greens, tinged with the pinkish red. A few buds were peeking out. Looking more closely I could see the first blooms of the “gold medal” rose. This special bush had been given to us by our best friends when my mother passed away just two days shy of turning 92. (Mary Elender Kennedy Cariker 1912-2004)

The California sun was especially beautiful that day—clear skies and the warmth seemed to wrap me, as in a cozy blanket. I slowly walked closer to the rose and the memories of my mom came rushing back as I felt the sunshine on my face. I could hear laughter, see her smiling blue eyes and sense her presence.

The rose had been chosen because my mother was from Texas and the “gold medal or the yellow rose of Texas” seemed to match her.  My mother was as lovely as this rose. An exquisite bud just waiting to open to the world. Mom embraced each day with her positive attitude. She always modeled for us that even in tough times, you just put one foot in front of the other and keep going.

In 2016 my husband and I decided on a new adventure and moved from California to Bainbridge Island. As we packed up the house the special family treasures were handled with care.  But what to do about the rose?  It had a special place in my heart.  Of course, the rose was left in the garden with more beautiful blooms to welcome the new owners.

Our new home on the island already had some gardens, but every time we went to the nursery there was a pull to the roses.  Our first rose was a magnificent climber that was planted so the deer couldn’t get to it. (At least not yet!) Several years later we strolled through the Valley Nursery to view more possible roses.  And there in amongst the bare roots was a “gold medal.” I don’t think we hesitated a second before the rose was on the cart heading to check out.  With the help of some deer fencing we now can enjoy the rose-buds to blooms- right outside the kitchen window.

I know Mom is always in my heart and this special rose is reminder of her life, legacy and love for her family. ~ Ann Eklund

bouquet of hearts

Pat's Prompts - February 2023

WHAT’S IN A NAME? 

The name “Valentine” is in more than seventeen world languages. In most spellings, the root is found in the Roman  name of third century Saint Valentine, and appears in many European languages. If, however, you are Russian, you would hail “Valya.” Notably, in Shakespeares’ play, “Two Gentleman of Verona,” Valentine is a central comedic character. The history of this name is extensive. 

This month’s prompt asks questions about your own name or a name from your tree. (your choice)  

Whether the name is commonly used or is unique, it has linguistic history. The list of questions below is not exhaustive; do adapt the process to your research: e.g. “April,” – What is the significance of the month for this family? 

 What is the history of the name? 

  1. Was the name handed down from previous generations? 
  2. Do cousins in the same generation have the same name? 
  3. Did the name come from literature, an event, a song, or a season of the year; possibilities seem endless.

A response to the February prompt:

This woman greeted me at the Ikorum Lodge just outside of Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. With strong Ugandan accent, she introduced herself as Susan. My immediate response was, “That is my name. Do you know what it means?”
She did not. I let her know, ‘Full of Grace, or Graceful Lilly’.  She was thrilled and we claimed each other as sisters. 
Susan and I spent much time exchanging stories. Our hug goodbye was long and felt good. She said, “what a great hug to start our day.”   
Susan doesn’t really know where Washington State is, but she does know she has a sister on the other side of the world, and her name is Full of Grace.
 
We haven’t had mail, facebook, or consistant wi-fi for some time. I am glad I have it today to share a prompt from Pat.
Our time is more than amazing. We have learned so much.  We have been to a Kwanjula, and I helped dress my cousin in her Gomez. We have rafted the Nile River through class 5 rapids, going out of the boat 3 out of 5 rapids. We have seen every animal imagined for the Savannah, but for a leopard. We have been refreshed with hand sqeezed banana juice. 
We’ve cruised the Nile to Murchison Falls, and walked on top of the same. 
Today we have moved to Queen Elizabeth National Park and will look for CATS. Especially a leopard. Here I am regurgitating just a touch of where our adventure has taken us. ~ Susie Wood

Pat's Prompts - January 2023

January is the season for writing thank you notes! Who in your history would you like to thank?

A friend of mine says that the first person she thought of was her sixth grade teacher. I thought of my father; I miss our long talks linking seemingly disparate elements found in abstract concepts. He gave me a love of language.

 

I thank BIGS and Helpline House as my first two volunteer opportunities after I retired.  I joined BIGS in 2008; they were recruiting for board candidates and reached out to all new members.  Since it didn’t require any genealogy expertise, I volunteered.  It has been a rich experience of collaborating on projects and plans ever since.  At Helpline House I worked at the front desk — fielding all kinds of calls and inquiries.  What both of these organizations offered was a way to contribute to community, solve problems, in partnership with others. ~ Betty Wiese

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Pat's Prompts - December 2022

Most of us know how precious photos of our ancestors are to us. Pat’s Prompt for December urges us to recall our own memories and preserve them.  

“Choose a favorite photo of one or two persons, of an object, or a location.”  

Write several sentences describing the photo. Not only tell who, what, why or where the photo was taken, also add relevant details that show. 

Below, you will find Pat’s fascinating example and some further prompts to get you going. As always, we hope this prompt will help you in recording your own family history. 

The year is 1976 and the place is Fairbanks, Alaska. The picture is of me with my two sons aboard a passenger car of the Alaska Railroad. We’re on a Pre-School Train trip from Fairbanks to the nearby village of Nenana. The drive on the Parks Highway is 55 minutes, but this round trip by train will take four hours, plus! Long before we boarded, four year old Casey had dibbed the window seat. David, nearly 3, who had never been seen in public without a hat, is riding shotgun when a photographer from the local paper, The Fairbanks News Miner, came down the aisle. The photo he snapped was published in the next day’s paper. Life in a very small town has very big reward.

Here is Andy Hoskins’ response to the November prompt: “What sound do you treasure from your childhood? Do you wish you could replicate the sound?”

“I came into this world on a foggy November morning at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. The foghorns were calling out from the Golden Gate Bridge as my mother and grandmother hurried to the hospital, so I guess the sounds of the foghorns have been with me even before I arrived. At the time of my birth, my parents were living with my maternal grandmother in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, just west of the bridge, above the Golden Gate (the strait that connects the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, and where the bridge got its name). While there were numerous other foghorns around the Bay, it’s the horns on that famous bridge that I hear in my memory.

 As a child, I loved the sound. It was a comforting, reassuring sound somehow. I remember sitting with my grandmother on the window seat in her upstairs bedroom looking out at the fog and listening to the horns. “The sounds help the ships’ captains guide their ships safely under the bridge, in spite of the fog” my grandmother explained.

Later, I learned that there were air horns on the bridge’s southern-most pier as well as on the center pier. Incoming ships would navigate between the two piers while outbound ships would go to the north of the central pier. Given that the Golden Gate averaged more than 770 hours of fog in a year, the fog horns played a critical role in helping ships avoid colliding with the bridge and each other.

Over the years, when I no longer lived with my grandmother, but visited often, I came to think of the foghorns as part of the romantic nature of my favorite city – the bay, the hills, the bridges, the fog. Now I live on Bainbridge Island, and when I hear the ships’ horns call out on a foggy morning on Puget Sound, for just an instant I am taken back to my city by the bay!”

 This link will let you hear the older foghorns of the Golden Gate Bridge, now replaced with modern technology:

https://boingboing.net/2020/08/28/the-surprisingly-soothe-sounds.html