Tag Archive | University of Puget Sound

Ancestor Hunting

Did I really marry my cousin?

July 19, 2022

Who am I? Where did I come from?

These two age old questions are ones which humans often start asking at a young age.

In the home where I grew up, I became aware – at about age 10 – of an old photo album. Inside the very heavy, olive green velvet book were fragile pages of black and white photos of people who, my mother told me, were my ancestors.

The first family photo album I ever saw. It was full of photos of my great grandmother’s family. Sadly, she did not label many photos so it was up to me to try and figure out who the people were.

It was an odd thought to think that these people – dressed in old fashioned clothes and hairstyles– were related; people of a different place and time.

Thus was born, for me, a lifelong interest in genealogy and a quest to answer those two questions: Who am I? Where did I come from?

When at college at the University of Puget Sound, I took a month long intense study class (the session was called Winterim) in January of 1979 where the focus was only genealogy. With that excellent professor to guide us, class participants traveled to the National Archives at Sand Point in Seattle and pored over microfiche census records, perused the available book collections at the Seattle Public Library, and learned to craft letters to governmental agencies for information. And, of course, got a master’s class as to how to research and document one’s genealogy.

At that time there was no way to access digital databases because they did not exist. All research took excessive amounts of time and travel, often with limited results, and meticulous hand written records.

Then, in 1996, two Provo, Utah, residents changed the world for genealogists everywhere. The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:

“Paul Brent Allen and Dan Taggart, two Brigham Young University graduates, founded Infobases and began offering Latter-day Saints (LDS) publications on floppy disks. In 1988, Allen had worked at Folio Corporation, founded by his brother Curt and his brother-in-law Brad Pelo.

The genealogy program my mother in law purchased.

Infobases’ first products were floppy disks and compact disks sold from the back seat of the founders’ car. In 1994, Infobases was named among Inc. magazine’s 500 fastest-growing companies. Their first offering on CD was the LDS Collectors Edition, released in April 1995, selling for $299.95, which was offered in an online version in August 1995. Ancestry officially went online with the launch of Ancestry.com in 1996.” (The Paul Allen named is not the same one who co-founded Microsoft)

Over the years, there have been numerous entertaining – at least to me – events which have occurred. Which is why this is likely to be a multi-week series of articles.

My mother-in-law spent decades researching her family lines and she, and my father in law, literally travelled in a Fifth wheel travel trailer for ten years all across the United States sightseeing and researching. She had purchased Allen and Taggart’s $300 product and used it daily.

Photo of my great grandmother Rosanna Bell King DeVore and her three sisters, about 1886, taken in Fairmont, Minnesota. The photo is in the album which I still have.

The topic of genealogy has always been one which she and I have enjoyed discussing, ad naseum. Her impressive collection easily involves 50 large notebooks filled with carefully researched documents found throughout the United States as well as many garnered from other researchers who had made the leap ‘across the pond’, so to speak.

One thing she has always been quite proud about is her connection to one family on the first sailing of the Mayflower and the many ancestors who settled in the northeast.

Back in 1996, when she was heavily into the research, I had discovered some of the early ‘on line data bases’ and would frequently go out to Rootsweb to see if any potential relatives had posted something new.

Although I cannot recall the specifics of the event, one day I happened upon a distant relative’s family tree and started clicking backwards. Doing this often provided names and dates for previously unknown ancestors, thus enabling me to expand my family tree.

I was in my father’s line which had me back in Massachusetts. Not quite Mayflower connections, but darn close. It was a day when I ‘jumped the pond’ to England with my ancestor Elizabeth House… whose mother was one Elizabeth Hammond.

An ambitious King relative collected and compiled the family history back in the 1950’s. His work was essential to getting me started in my research.

Hammond? Where had I seen that name recently? Then it hit me. Hammond was one of the names from my mother-in-law’s family which I had seen earlier that day when discussing genealogy with her! Hmmm… I wondered.

As I had her paper ancestry trees on the desk next to me, I only had to turn a few pages and there was THE  connection. The one which proved that not only were my mother-in-law and I blood related but I had, in fact, married a cousin!

I think I let out a ‘whoop’ of some sort and then turned around to where my Mother-in-law happened to be sitting as she and my father-in-law were visiting, and announced that I’d found the holy grail of connections to prove, once and for all, that we were related.

Which meant, of course, that I had married my cousin (all legal since it was 10 generations back).

The chart I created in 1996 to document how the hubby and I were cousins

My poor daughter – only six that year – got the most confused look on her face when she learned that her Mom and Dad were related to each other which meant, and I quote, “Wait? How can I be related to myself?”

This caused all sorts of amusement for the family and I love to tell people that I’m married to my cousin if only to see the reaction I get.

As for my daughter’s question, the answer is that all of us are likely related to ourselves at some point. It kinda blows the mind, doesn’t it?

I must end, however, with the caveat all genealogists give. It is possible, that somewhere along the way there is an attribution for a person which will turn out to be wrong. Alas, none of us can go talk to the people involved to verify the information. All we can do is look for connections and, nowadays, to see if we have shared DNA to others claiming the same ancestors. But that IS a story for another week.

A link to https://www.ancestry.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestry.com

Popcorn!

February 22, 2022

There are topics which come to my attention from time to time that cause me to say: that just can’t be right.

The hubby and I have had this same set of bowls for decades now… and still use them

According to a number of sources on the internet, it was on February 22, 1621, when a Native American by the name of Squanto, at the first Thanksgiving, showed the settlers how to make ‘popcorn’.

Hmmm… wasn’t the first Thanksgiving held in the fall and not February? And did the natives of that region really eat popcorn?

A little refresher. The Pilgrims landed in what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts in November of 1620. For the next year they struggled mightily, enduring hardships and starvation. There was no feast in February 1621. That did not occur until sometime between mid-September and early November 162.

Now on to the second question about the popcorn. According to History.com:

I feel confident that the two groups were not sitting around the campfire enjoying a batch of jiffy pop in February 1621.

Colorful dried corn

“It’s been said that popcorn was part of the first Thanksgiving feast, in Plymouth Colony in 1621. According to myth, Squanto himself taught the Pilgrims to raise and harvest corn, and pop the kernels for a delicious snack. Unfortunately, this story contains more hot air than a large bag of Jiffy Pop. While the early settlers at Plymouth did indeed grow corn, it was of the Northern Flint variety, with delicate kernels that are unsuitable for popping. No contemporary accounts reference eating or making popcorn in that area, and the first mention of popcorn at Thanksgiving doesn’t appear until a fictional work published in 1889, over 200 years later.”

But, the history of popped corn is interesting. A uniquely western hemisphere food, there is evidence that corn has existed and had been used as food for thousands of years.

While the Infallible Wikipedia was silent on the Pilgrims angle, it does share the following:

“Corn was domesticated about 10,000 years ago in what is now Mexico. Archaeologists discovered that people have known about popcorn for thousands of years. Fossil evidence from Peru suggests that corn was popped as early as 4700 BC.

Through the 19th century, popping of the kernels was achieved by hand on stove tops. Kernels were sold on the East Coast of the United States under names such as Pearls or Nonpareil. The term popped corn first appeared in John Russell Bartlett’s 1848 Dictionary of Americanisms. Popcorn is an ingredient in Cracker Jack and, in the early years of the product, it was popped by hand.

Charles Cretors with one of his popcorn machines

Popcorn’s accessibility increased rapidly in the 1890s with Charles Cretors’ invention of the popcorn maker. Cretors, a Chicago candy store owner, had created a number of steam-powered machines for roasting nuts and applied the technology to the corn kernels.

By the turn of the century, Cretors had created and deployed street carts equipped with steam-powered popcorn makers.”

It was, however, during the Great Depression when popcorn consumption really took off. With sugar in short supply and sweets largely unavailable, American’s discovered they could have an inexpensive salty, buttery snack instead. Soon popcorn was sold in movie theatres and people could pop it at home.

Popcorn popularity surged once again in the 1980’s  with the ability to cook the product in microwave ovens. It’s estimated that Americans today consume more than 17 billion quarts of popcorn annually!

Some of my earliest memories center around popcorn. My dad would pop a pan full on most Saturday nights of my childhood; a once a week treat while the family played cards.

My first popcorn popper was likely a Stir Crazy or similar. You poured a bit of oil on the base and heated it up, then added the popcorn kernels. It was fun to watch the popcorn fill the lid – which you turned over and it became the bowl.

When I went away to college at the University of Puget Sound, I brought with me two ‘appliances.’ One was a small electric kettle and the other was an all in one popcorn popper. Of course I was not the only girl to have one in the sorority, but one could be sure that the smell of the popping corn would be a siren call to others; soon the party would be in my room.

I associate popcorn with the hubby. Not only does he LOVE popcorn, it was the thing we were both eating on the night of our first ever phone call.

The hubby’s older brother, while we were on a waterski trip to Lake Tapps in 1981, decided the hubby was a good ‘target’ for getting popcorned.

In 1979 there were no cell phones. We did not have individual phones in our rooms either. Instead, there was a multi-line phone system in the Alpha Phi sorority where I lived,  and down the hall from my room was ‘the phone room.’ This was a closet size space with a small desk and chair, and the phone for the entire sorority was located there. Additional handsets were located on the second floor and another in the basement. Members took turns being on phone duty in the evenings, answering the calls and then, via intercom, paging those who had a call.

The evening of our first call, I had just finished making a batch of popcorn when the intercom near my room announced, “Call for Barbie D on line 2.” So, with a bowl of popcorn in hand, I made my way to one of the phones. As the conversation got going my new romantic interest and I discovered that we were both enjoying the same snack.

Our mutual love of popcorn has never wavered and we are in agreement that popcorn is best when it has butter drizzled over it and a few turns of the salt grinder on top of that. Sometimes the simplest things are the best.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn

https://www.history.com/news/a-history-of-popcorn

Probably our 4th or 5th popcorn popper. The bowl and popcorn canister we’ve had since the 1980’s. The average American consumes 58 quarts of popcorn a year!

Animal House

July 28, 2020

“Oh Boy! Is This Great!”

Of all the years to be a college co-ed, 1978 was the best.

Culturally, it was the height of the ‘me’ generation’s influence. Commonplace restrictions from previous decades had all but been abandoned, leaving the youth to do the one thing they wanted: have fun.

animal-house-movie-poster-1020258451On July 28, 1978, a movie hit the theaters which encapsulated precisely this attitude, capturing the imagination of a generation. That movie: Animal House.

The idea for the movie came about via National Lampoon, a wildly popular magazine with college students. In fact, the official title of the movie is “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” The plot – to sum it up in a couple sentences is this: “Loser college guys join fraternity where anything goes. Fraternity gets kicked off campus and members, in an effort to save the fraternity, wreak havoc on campus and during the homecoming parade.”

With a budget of only 3 million allocated to its production, the executives at Universal Studios almost didn’t allow it to be made. But the writers were committed to the project, effectively wearing down the studio who basically told them ‘okay, but don’t expect much.’

According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

“National Lampoon’s Animal House is a 1978 American sex comedy film directed by John Landis and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. It stars John Belushi, Peter Riegert, Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Thomas Hulce, Stephen Furst, and Donald Sutherland. The film is about a trouble-making fraternity whose members challenge the authority of the dean of the fictional Faber College.

The film was produced by Matty Simmons of National Lampoon and Ivan Reitman for Universal Pictures. It was inspired by stories written by Miller and published in National Lampoon. The stories were based on (Harold) Ramis’s experience in the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity at Washington University in St. Louis, Miller’s Alpha Delta Phi experiences at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and producer Reitman’s at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.”

In many ways, the low budget contributed to the film’s success. No one had heard of any of the actors, John Belushi and Donald Sutherland excepted. Rather than turn the film into a showcase for the popular cast of Saturday Night Live as was suggested, it turned out that the ensemble of newcomers brought an element of collegiality to it that made the film unique.

One big hurdle was finding a college willing to allow the movie to be filmed on their campus. One after another turned it down since, after reading the script, determined the publicity would be detrimental to their institution. It was an act of bravery that one administrator finally agreed to it. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“The president of the University of Oregon in Eugene, William Beaty Boyd, had been a senior administrator at the University of California in Berkeley in 1966 when his campus was considered for a location of the film The Graduate. After he consulted with other senior administrative colleagues who advised him to turn it down due to the lack of artistic merit, the college campus scenes set at Berkeley were shot at USC in Los Angeles. The film went on to become a classic, and Boyd was determined not to make the same mistake twice when the producers inquired about filming at Oregon. After consulting with student government leaders and officers of the Pan Hellenic Council, the Director of University Relations advised the president that the script, although raunchy and often tasteless, was a very funny spoof of college life. Boyd even allowed the filmmakers to use his office as Dean Wormer’s.”

ah-party

John ‘Bluto’ Blutarksi leads the way during a Delta House Toga party

Now, I will say, if you’ve never seen the movie you should. As my now adult children know, there are some cultural references one absolutely needs to have. Animal House is such a film. The film is littered with quotable and iconic concepts many of which repeat to this day.

Ever hear of a toga party? You have Animal House to thank.

Double secret probation? Animal House. 

“Was It Over When The Germans Bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell No!” Animal House.

“Fat, Drunk, And Stupid Is No Way To Go Through Life, Son.” Animal House.

Food Fight? Animal House.

That summer, it went on to become the third highest grossing film of 1978 and – in the course of its run – took in a whopping 141.6 million. Not bad for a film which cost under $3 million to make and which the studio execs thought would flop.

When all was said and done, once again from the Infallible Wikipedia:

“In 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Animal House is first on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies. In 2000, the American Film Institute ranked the film No. 36 on 100 Years… 100 Laughs, a list of the 100 best American comedies. In 2006, Miller wrote a more comprehensive memoir of his experiences in Dartmouth’s AD house in a book entitled, The Real Animal House: The Awesomely Depraved Saga of the Fraternity That Inspired the Movie, in which Miller recounts hijinks that were considered too risqué for the movie. In 2008, Empire magazine selected Animal House as one of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time. The film was also selected by The New York Times as one of The 1000 Best Movies Ever Made.”

Back to 1978 and the phenomenon which had college students donning sheets and partying to the chants of “Toga! Toga! Toga!”

When I returned to the University of Puget Sound that September, everyone was talking about Animal House. Soon the Toga parties began and there were a handful of fraternity guy’s intent on channeling their inner Bluto.

Alpha Phi Halloween event 1978

A few sorority sisters ready for a Halloween party 1978.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, my sorority was located next door to the house which fashioned itself after the Delta’s of Animal House fame. There were shenanigans and crazy antics all that fall. Parties flowed out of their house and into the common areas, empty aluminum cans smashed against heads exactly like the John Belushi character did in the film, Christmas lights tossed into our basement level patio where they would ‘pop.’ And who knows what, exactly, was going on the night that a group of them appeared on the lawn outside our windows with that blow up doll.

Around 10 pm one night I heard a commotion outside of my room and the unmistakable thump, thump, thump of a large group of people making their way in unison down the hallway. What the heck?

A moment later: the sound of running feet. The door bursts open and one of my two roomies, Sheila, rushes in, slams the door behind her and presses her back to the closed door.

I can still picture her, a wild look in her eye, dressed in her full length flannel nightgown, hands pressed hard against the door, panting.

“There’s naked Phi Delts in our hall,” she gasped.

Now, to be clear, my other roommate Cathy and I DID NOT reopen that door to confirm her report. In fact, we wanted nothing to do with the conga line of nude men mooning the members of our sorority.

A minute or two later, the group reached the end of the hall and exited the building. Their bare hineys were last seen disappearing back into what I would consider UPS’ nominee for ‘Delta’ house.

In retrospect, my two years there were a rather surreal experience, greatly amplified by the culture of the time embodied in no small part by the movie Animal House.

In the iconic words of Kent ‘Flounder’ Dorfman “Oh boy! Is this Great!”

Indeed it was.

The links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_House

180726143707-animal-house-780x439Who’s who in the Facebook Photo (left to right):

Bruce McGill – “D-Day”; Tim Matheson – “Otter”; Peter Riegart “Boon”; John Belushi – “Bluto”; Tom Hulce – “Pinto”; Stephen Furst – “Flounder”; James Widdoes – “Hoover”

 

Saturday Night Fever

The Bee Gees

February 12, 2019

It was this trio’s  sound which came to define a  craze which swept the United States in 1978. By early January the Bee Gees dominated the Billboard charts. They would go on  to have three number one singles that year, solidifying Disco as the ‘sound’.

On February 12th the Bee Gee’s Stayin’ Alive, the song featured in the opening segment of the hit movie Saturday Night Fever, was in the middle of a four week stint at the top.  Two months earlier, on December 17, 1977, the movie captured the attention of the country. Soon guys were donning their own white disco suits and gals strapped on wedgy high heels and wore swingy dresses, flooding dance floors everywhere as they gyrated to the catchy beat.

More than the movie, however, it was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack that defined the era. From the Infallible Wikipedia:

“It remains the best selling soundtrack of all time with over 45 million units sold. In the United States, the album was certified 16× Platinum for shipments of at least 16 million units. The album stayed atop the album charts for 24 straight weeks from January to July 1978 and stayed on Billboard‘s album charts for 120 weeks until March 1980. In the UK, the album spent 18 consecutive weeks at No. 1. The album epitomized the disco phenomenon on both sides of the Atlantic and was an international sensation. The album has been added to the National Recording Registry in the Library of Congress for being culturally significant.”

Saturday-Night-Fever-Soundtrack-Ristampa-Vinile-lp2.jpgThe Bee Gees, already a successful group, had no small part in the creation of the soundtrack. In all, eight of their original songs are featured. But for the fact that Columbia records refused the producers the rights to use Boz Skaggs song Lowdown, the Bee Gees might never have gotten involved.

Movie producer, Robert Stigwood, contacted Robin Gibb who related the conversation as this:

“We were recording our new album in the north of France. And we’d written about and recorded about four or five songs for the new album when Stigwood rang from LA and said, ‘We’re putting together this little film, low budget, called Tribal Rites of a Saturday Night. Would you have any songs on hand?’, and we said, ‘Look, we can’t, we haven’t any time to sit down and write for a film’. We didn’t know what it was about.”

What happened next is that most of the songs were written in one weekend and the rest, they say, is history.

bee gees 1978.jpgAlthough the Bee Gees may have lost an album that year, their place in the annals of musical legends was solidified.

As a 20 year old college co-ed, I was not immune from the disco craze. A student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, myself and a sorority sister enrolled in a Disco dancing class at Tacoma Community College.

For a number of weeks we attended the class where we learned all the fancy footwork, arm movements and twirls of the dance.  I bought a white dress with a handkerchief hem, donned my white wedge sandals, and was soon going out dancing.

Despite my natural klutziness, I managed to dance with the best of them and, in the process, met a recent alumni from one of the fraternities who turned out to be the best dancer I ever knew. Alan knew every step, every move, and was a great teacher and partner. Dancing with him was magical.

At the time I did not appreciate what a unique time or experience it was. By 1979 Disco had faded due – I think – to the reluctance of the majority of the male population to learn the dances.  It was soon replaced with moon walking and other forms of dance and then, in the late 1980’s, with the phenomenon of country line dancing. And so it goes throughout history.  But for me, whenever I hear Stayin’ Alive or any Bee Gee song of that era, I find myself busting the moves. Just don’t tell my daughter, okay?

A couple of links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturday_Night_Fever_(soundtrack)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bee_Gees

Disco Duck

October 16, 2018

In the world of one hit wonders this ‘song’ has quite the interesting history. It was written and recorded in the summer of 1976 by a Memphis disc jockey. And it was the impetus for him being fired from his job. Regardless, the satirical novelty piece went on to become the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 16 of that year. It’s name: Disco Duck.disco duck

Rick Dees was working at a Memphis radio station when he conceived the concept for the song. At the time, Disco music was just starting to emerge into the mainstream. Prior to then it had been primarily a sound associated with the Disco clubs popular in the northeast United States. By the time the movie ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was released, it was nearly impossible to not at least have heard the term ‘Disco.’

But back to Disco Duck. Dees was motivated to write it based on another novelty song from the 1960’s. According to the Infallible Wikipedia:

dees duck

‘Written by Dees, ‘Disco Duck’ was inspired by a 1960s novelty dance song called ‘The Duck,’ recorded by Jackie Lee (Earl Lee Nelson) in 1965. According to Dees, it took one day to write the song, but three months to convince anyone to perform it.

Combining orchestral disco styles with a Donald Duck–esque voice as the main plot point, the story within ‘Disco Duck’ centers around a man at a dance party who is overcome by the urge to get up and ‘get down’ in a duck-like manner. When the music stops, he sits down, but when he decides to get up and dance again, he finds that everyone in the room is now doing his dance.”

Radio being radio, Dees soon found himself unemployed due to management forbidding him to play the song on their station. Also from the Infallible Wikipedia:

” For all its success, ‘Disco Duck’ was shunned by radio stations where Dees was living in Memphis, including WMPS-AM, the station Dees worked for at the time. Station management forbade Dees from playing the song on his own show and rival stations in the city refused to play it for fear of promoting the competition. When Dees talked about (but did not play) the song on his show one morning, his boss fired him citing conflict of interest. After a brief mandatory hiatus, Dees was hired by station WHBQ-AM, WMPS’s primary competition in Memphis.”

Dees went on tour to promote the song, eventually gathered a group to play it live, and the song was featured in the 1977 hit movie ‘Saturday Night Fever.’

My own memory of this song dates to January of 1978 during the peak of the Disco craze. Disco was THE music of the year. Saturday Night Fever had been released in December 1977 and we were all learning how to dance Disco.

But it was during an annual event for the Greek system at the University of Puget Sound when Disco Duck was forever burned into my brain.

Each January the fraternities and sororities would have a weeklong event which culminated in the initiation of new members to their ranks. The sororities called this “Inspiration Week.” For the guys it was “Hell Week.”

I belonged to one of two sororities which, when the Greek system at UPS saw a decrease in numbers a few years earlier, moved into former fraternity houses smack dab in the middle of ALL the remaining frat’s. This turned out to be a mixed blessing. Unlike the other sororities on campus, we had an actual freestanding house rather than having to live in the dorms. The down side was that we had four frat’s which flanked our house and the boys were, one might say, creative.

Phi Delta ThetaThe frat which impacted us the most were the Phi Delta Theta’s – aka Phi Delt’s (their house pictured above) – whose members included most of the UPS football team as well as a fair number of the wild boys. And during Hell Week they did interesting things.

I cannot say from firsthand experience what exactly went on within their walls that week but we did hear gossip as to the activities. It was reported at the time that the soon to be initiated members all lived downstairs in their basement chapter room, sleeping on mattresses on the floor and being subjected to one particular song played over and over and over, night and day. Kind of a sleep deprivation torture.

That song in January 1978 was… Disco Duck.

This part I know to be true as we could hear it thumping through the walls of our sorority at all hours. We were subjected to Disco Duck for the entire week until, I’m certain, not only were THEY sick of the song, but so were all the women in my sorority.

Now all of you may be wondering, ‘Didn’t anyone have to go to classes?” And the answer is ‘no.’ UPS at the time had a month long program known as ‘Winterim’ where every student on campus did an immersion study of one single subject. When January was over there was a week off before the next semester started. It was during this week when the Greek’s had their activities prior to initiations… so the shenanigans were in high supply.

To the best of my knowledge everyone survived Hell week. As far as Disco Duck is concerned I will forever associate it with that place and time… and I will turn it off as soon as the first chords are played. But for all of you I will sacrifice my finer sensibilities. Because YOU need to hear Disco Duck to understand the song and, sort of, the genre which swept the country for a year and half back in the late 1970’s.

A couple of Wikipedia links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco_Duck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disco

The original “Duck” song from 1966:

https://youtu.be/Zu4lb6rXhnw