July 3, 2015

Genealogy Comes Naturally To Heirloom Gardeners

Flowering Almond 2007

The Story Behind The Plant In This Photo

(continued from Pentimento blog post How To Propagate A Flowering Almond Shrub)

The flowering almond above is a ‘child’ of a plant that was already well-established in our yard way back in the 1950’s.  That was in Tumwater, Washington and the house was an old farmhouse with many old trees, shrubs and flower bulbs planted everywhere.  My brother and I, along with our parents lived in that house from about 1952 to 1982 when my parents moved to live with my grandpa in Olympia.  In that year my sister-in-law Kathy got a start from the Dennis Street flowering almond as did my mom get one to plant at my grandpa’s place.  I chose not to get a start off the plant at that time, even though I was living in Washington too, and as it turned out we moved to Florida for four years and came back in 1992.

It was just a few years ago that I decided I finally had a place to plant a start of the family flowering almond.  It makes me smile to think about the original one from my childhood that always heralded spring with its pretty pink blossoms all along the stems and how it’s not just people who “migrate” but they also take their plants with them!

Did any of your ancestors bring plants with them when they migrated?


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W. G. Yates – CCC Honorable Discharge Alaska

Civilian Conservation Corp Experience, Wm YATES 1940

Recently, when going through some more of our Yates family documents, I found one that I hadn’t remembered seeing before. Or, at least I didn’t remember scanning it and putting it in the Yates documents folder until now.  My dad passed away in June of 1996 and in the four years previous, he had written for us some of his memories of events in his life.

(Click text for larger view)

One of our favorite stories he would tell would be of his trip to Alaska when he was twenty traveling there with  his Bordeaux, Washington friends. (Story above).  When my mom died in 2001 I went through all the valuable family documents and brought them home (with my brother’s blessing) for safe keeping.  And, little by little I’m going through them and writing a story or posting an image to share with family and anyone else who might be interested.

The previously mentioned document I spoke of at the beginning of this article was my dad’s Civilian Conversation Corps honorable discharge.  If you read his Alaska story version of it first, it kind of gives you an idea of just what kind of guy he was at that tender age.  Let’s just say he was practical, OK?

I’m not sure who took this picture of my dad and his friend from Missouri  after they caught these dog salmon near the CCC Camp. Dad had his own Leica camera and had learned to develop his own photos when he was in high school (I assume), but who knows if he actually had the camera with him on this trip or not?

On the back of the picture, in my dad’s handwriting, it says, “myself and a friend of mine and some fish we caught at twin creek camp. the friend is from Missouri. the fish are dog salmon that we caught in the creek just beyond.” Too bad he didn’t identify the guy by name, but maybe some descendant of his, looking for information about Twin Creek CCC Camp at Petersburg, Alaska will find this post and recognize him. :)

Last, but not least, here is the front and back of Dad’s 16 October 1940 honorable discharge document from the Civilian Conservation Corps:


(click on images to see them full-sized)

For more information about the Civilian Conservation Corps, please visit their homepage at Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Remember When?

1) Remember when you were 12 years old? On a summer day out of school? What memory do you have of fun activities?

2) Tell us about that memory (just one – you can do more later if you want to) in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook.

Here’s my memory:

We lived out in the country, so when I would wake up on a summer morning the sunlight would be streaming in my window.  I could hear the sounds outside of birds like robins, crows and sometimes even a pheasant. If I heard a whistle blow in the distance, I’d know it was 8 AM because that was the starting time at the Olympia Brewery up on Capitol Boulevard some three or four miles away.

As I lay there I could hear my mom in the kitchen and I would visualize what she was doing just by listening: making coffee, turning on the radio,  running water in the sink, and then she’d sit down to have a cigarette and read the paper. Mom always liked to lay the paper out on the table. 

In the “good old days” I was always ready to get out of bed, set and ready for the day’s adventure, whatever it might be.  Some days in summer we would ride our bikes down to Palermo Valley to pick strawberries; other days we’d hang around the house and complain about how hot it was.  I think I probably ate more strawberries than I picked.  A big “no-no” if you got caught by the row boss!  No straddling the rows either. You might stomp on a good pickin’ berry.

My friend Mary and I might have the day planned to ride down to Falls Park by the old Olympia Brewery. We’d walk the whole trail, and I remember one time we got all daring and actually went out on the huge flat rocks in the middle of the Deshutes River.  It was like a whole other world sitting on the sun-warmed rock listening to the river roaring by and craning our necks to see if we could see any fish.

On our way home, if we had any money with us, we’d stop at Ted’s Grocery in Tumwater to get a Pepsi or some ice cream.  Our time was set by the brewery whistle:  the morning whistle I mentioned; the noon whistle so we knew to get our behinds home for lunch if we wanted any; and the 5 o’clock whistle that told us to get on our bikes and get home because Dad got off work at five and we needed to get home and cleaned up for dinner.

Thanks to Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings for this fun Saturday night post idea.  Why not click on the link and go see what he wrote about?