Saturday, May 1, 2010

Purple Clover – Page 8, Part 3

On this day Chastena visited with the American poet, Emily Dickinson. Ms. Dickinson would have died in 1886, only a few years before this clipping was selected to appear in Chastena’s private collection. In our family, poetry was always a centerpiece. I think it was far more appreciated at this time than it is today where it’s nearly a lost art and poetry books languish on store shelves. What a shame. I’m so happy to share these with my children.
©Copyright 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sunday-afternoon Circle – Page 8, Part 1 and 2

I am including two clippings today because they come from the same page and may follow each other in dates. They are designed to be a study guide for quiet Sunday afternoons. (Where did those go?) Answers to last week’s questions appear at the bottom so I’m not sure if one of these clippings answers the questions of another. One of the benefits we enjoy is the luxury of the internet. The answers to these questions are at our fingertips. I will be Googling them and then looking up the references.
I won’t be typing the text today as I believe it is clear enough to read here. If I can keep this kind of clarity for future posts, I’d rather not type out the text because I love seeing it and reading it in its original form and I imagine you do, too. If any of you that are following find it too difficult, just let me know and I can type it.
©Copyright 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Who Were The Bryans? Page 7 – Part 4

This clipping interested Chastena enough to cut it out and paste it in her book. I wondered who these people were and why she found them worth remembering? They were the children of the great William Jennings Bryan, the famous Democrat who represented his party as the Presidential nominee, served as Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson, and probably most famous for his role during the Scopes “Monkey” Trial. Finding out that Chastena admired him gave me yet more insight into my great great grandmother.
Wikipedia has this to say:
William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States in 1896, 1900 and 1908, a lawyer, and the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson. He was noted for a deep, commanding voice. Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, a critic of banks and railroads, a leader of the silverite movement in the 1890s, a leading figure in the Democratic Party, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, an opponent of Darwinism, and one of the most prominent leaders of populism in the late 19th and early 20th century. Because of his faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner."
In the intensely fought 1896 and 1900 elections, he was defeated by William McKinley but retained control of the Democratic Party. For presidential candidates, Bryan invented the national stumping tour. In his three presidential bids, he promoted Free Silver in 1896, anti-imperialism in 1900, and trust-busting in 1908, calling on Democrats, in cases where corporations are protected, to abandon states' rights, to fight the trusts and big banks, and embrace populist ideas. President Woodrow Wilson appointed him Secretary of State in 1913, but Wilson's handling of the Lusitania crisis in 1915 caused Bryan to resign in protest.
He was a strong supporter of Prohibition in the 1920s, and energetically attacked Darwinism and evolution, most famously at the Scopes Trial in 1925. Five days after winning the case but getting bad press, he died in his sleep.[1]
Bryan opposed the Theory of Evolution for two reasons. First he believed that what he considered a materialistic account of the descent of man through evolution undermined the Bible. Second, he saw neo-Darwinism or Social Darwinism as a great evil force in the world promoting hatreds and conflicts, especially the World War.[
To read the full account of his life and politics, you can link here:
©Copyright 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Squirrel’s Arithmetic – Page 7 – Part 2 and 3

As we continue with the book, the family history is growing. Utilizing my membership with the Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR), I have been able to identify this branch of our family. Little did I know how the Lila/Chastena book would lead me, literally, to the doorstep of so much more family history.
It has become obvious that this book didn’t belong to Lila alone. There is another owner and it would have been her mother, my great great grandmother. Her name was Chastena O. Alcock Richardson and her husband was Horance J. Richardson. Horance came from Illinois and was born Oct. 28, 1855. He died April 1931 in Los Angeles. That was the same year my father, Douglas Richard, was born in Los Angeles. At some point, Marjorie and Bradley, my paternal grandparents, and Lila and F. Ray, my paternal great grandparents moved to Los Angeles from Oelwein, Iowa. It must have been in the late 1920’s or very early 30’s. I don’t know what brought them out here but surmise it was Lila’s sons who owned property here. My grandparents and great grandparents obviously moved back to Iowa, but why and how I do not YET know. My mother would meet my father in Oelwein as a teenager, in the late 1940’s, and they wouldn’t come out to California until the early 1950’s.
Chastena, Lila’s mother, and my great great grandmother, came from Masonville, Iowa. She was born December 29, 1863. She died December 24, Christmas Eve, 1925. Chastena obviously passed “our” book down to Lila where she continued to add to it with the last entry being three years after Chastena’s death. She would have then passed it to Marjorie, my grandmother, who gave it to Sandra, her daughter, who passed it to me. When I think of all of the hands it COULD have ended up in (with seven children and scores of grandchildren – great and great great) I am even more honored to have this special piece of history. My Aunt Sandy states that Chastena was reported to have been profoundly deaf and not just in old age. I don’t know why but that makes my book even more special to me. Perhaps it was one of the only ways she could fully express herself.
I hope you’re happy with what I’m doing with your book, my great grandmothers. :) I love you and look forward to meeting you in Heaven. And Lila? Your love of Judy, my sister, will always be a great warmth and comfort to me. Your daughter, my grandmother, Marjorie, never liked her and degraded her mercilessly as a tiny girl. She, along with others, played a part in her suicide. I am glad that Judy is with you now where she is loved and happy. What happened to Marjorie to make her who she became is a subject for another day.
(I am making an exception today and adding two clippings because the second is so sweet about grandmothers – my two greats are the ones I’m thinking of.)
HIGH on the branch of a walnut tree
A bright-eyed squirrel sat;
What was he thinking so earnestly?
And what was he looking at?
He was doing a problem o’er and o’er;
Busily thinking was he
How many nuts for his winter’s store
Could he hide in the hollow tree.
He sat so still in the swaying bough
You might have thought him asleep:
Oh, no; he was trying to reckon now
The nuts the babies could eat.
Then suddenly he frisked about,
(the poem is disintegrated here and only gives me pieces of the words “-an and doubt” but the rest is lost so I’ll make it up!)
Then suddenly he frisked about,
And up the tree he r-an,
He gathered nuts, without a doubt,
Because a father does all he can!
Waking Grandma
Mamma said, “Little one, go and see
If grandmother’s ready to come to tea,”
I knew I mustn’t disturb her, so
I stepped so gently on tiptoe.
And stood a moment to take a peep-
And there was grandmother fast asleep.
I knew it was time for her to wake;
I thought I’d give her a little shake,
Or tap at her door, or softly call;
But I hadn’t the heart for that at all-
She looked so sweet and so quiet there,
Lying back in her high arm chair,
With her dear white hair and a little smile
That means “She’s loving you all the
I didn’t make a speck of noise;
I knew she was dreaming of little boys
And girls who lived with her long ago,
And then went to Heaven-she had told me
I went up close and I didn’t speak
One word, but I gave her on her cheek
The softest bit of a little kiss.
Just in a whisper, and then said this:
Grandma, dear, it’s time for tea.”
She opened her eyes and looked at me
And said, “Why, pet, I have just now
Of a little angel who came and seemed
To kiss me lovingly on my face” -
She pointed right at the very place.
I never told her ‘twas only me-
I took her hand and went to tea.
©Copyright 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Woman Behind The Man – Page 7 – Part 1

In this next piece we see a woman who very much realizes the work she does and wants a voice about it. I can’t help but think this is true or this particular work wouldn’t have been selected to grace the pages of her book. I don’t know who wrote it, no credit is given, but she had a bone to pick. It’s idealistic but speaks to the hardships of women, while diminishing the efforts of men. I think her life must have been a difficult one, without much help or acknowledgment from her husband and Chastena must have shared her sentiment. Of course, it’s also possible that a man wrote this and saw the struggles women went through.
I’ve researched this poem and can find no copies of it or mention of it but the saying is certainly famous. Did that saying come from this long-lost poem? This makes it even more important to save. I realize the book, and blog, have become a preservation project not only for my grandmothers and my children, but for the public. Many of these works might be lost forever if not for people who cut them out and kept them back in the day.

The Woman Behind The Man
I’ve been a readin’ these months past
‘Bout a man behind a hoe:
An’ a man behind a grip-sack
With lots o’ snap an’ go!
Then the man behind the engine,
An’ a man behind the ball,
But one soul hain’t been mentioned
That you bet can beat ‘em all.
Right a gettin’ down to bedrock,
If it hadn’t been for Eve
All the hoeing Adam ever’d done
You could put it right up your sleeve.
An’ I guess that poor old Noah
Wouldn’t thought it very fine
To hoe around his grapes all day,
An’ mosey out to dine.
A’ then a comin’ right on down
To this ‘ere time o’ ourn,
You’d find the men a sorry lot,
Without their right-hand-bowers!
Who is it gets up with the lark
An’ cooks an’ scrubs an’ cleans,
While way out ‘near the spreadin’ oak
Her man rest on his jeans?
His work can wait, but her’s cannot,
And while he hoes the corn,
She does a hundred different things
An’ at 12 she blows the horn.
An’ when at night the hoin’s is done
An’ lays down to rest,
Who is it tired and weary-worn,
Lulls the baby on her breast?
An sews, a talkin’ low to Tom
How he must sleep, an’ grow
To be a big, strong boy right soon,
So he can help paw hoe.
An’ if perchance his country calls,
The man drops his hoe to go,
Who is it then picks up the tool
An’ finishes out the row?
An’ when, all battle-scarred and maimed,
He comes back, one arm gone,
Who is it hopes an’ sings an’ prays,
A hoeing right along?
Ah! talk about your boys an’ men
An’ praise ‘em all yer can,
But remember, the man’s behind the hoe
An’ the woman’s behind the man!
©Copyright 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Page 6 – The Horseless Age

Well, it’s not exactly the Christmas season but it is in this book. Now, if I’m to accept the sequential order, it’s not even 1900 yet. That’s significant because there is a note on this page in what would appear to be a mature hand. It says, “This looks like Marjie & Harold.” I have no idea who Marjie and Harold are. It wasn’t my grandmother, Marjoree. She wasn’t born yet. Was it someone she was named after? And Lila would have been a pre-teen at this point so I don’t think she would have a hand like this.
I’m sleuthing and finding more mysteries than I’m solving. Before I found the gravestones I thought Lila was born in 1882 and would have been a late teen when this was started. In fact, she was born in 1888. That may change many things. Was this, in fact, NOT her book as I had been told and my aunt believed? Was it her book only by ownership? Was this, in fact her mother’s book, great great grandmother Richardson? Curiously, the book ends in 1928 and Eva passes away in 1931. The coincidences seem striking.
Now Lila and her mother are inextricably linked and by more than biological pairing. Are two women represented here in this book? Just one? I don’t know. There is a letter in the book from my aunt at nine-years-old and written to my grandmother, her mother. That must have been tucked in many years after in the early 1950’s. And what of the mysterious letter my grandmother said came from Lila’s Ferdinand? Wouldn’t my grandmother have known her father’s writing?
I thought this would be a simple transcribing project but these women are alive in these pages and they won’t let me rest!
I have GOT to find Evelyn, my grandmother’s sister. She’s the last living link to these mysteries.
©Copyright 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Page 5 – Part 5 – Rare Writing

Lila’s/Chastena's final clipping for page five appears today. I have researched this piece and can find nothing on it, which, where Washington is concerned, is rare. It probably exists somewhere but it certainly isn’t easy to find. That’s one thing I truly appreciate about this collection: many of these writings are long gone, out-of-print for decades, and for all intents and purposes, are lost to us. We may be reading something that hasn’t been seen for a very long time. I love that.
W is for Warren, a soldier brave and bold.
A is for General Arnold, a traitor, I am told.
S is for General Schuyler always foremost in the fight.
H is for John Hancock, who stood firm for the right.
I is Independence, for which our soldiers fought.
N New York, a city, for which both armies sought.
G is General Greene, a soldier of renown.
T it stands for Trenton, an old historic town.
O is for “Old Putnam,” Washington’s firm friend.
N is for the nation they both fought to defend.
Some of these references are not familiar enough to me. Better go study my history again.
As George Washington commanded General John Sullivan, our great (add more greats) Uncle, I now think I know why he played such a prominent role in my great grandmother(s) life. I was always told we had relatives to be proud of but honestly, I NEVER believed it until I had DAR papers in hand with my name on them. I was also told we had ancestors on the Mayflower and I REALLY poo-poohed that and got a few good chuckles out of it. But now, as all the rest has proven true, I'll be tackling this piece in the future. If I did (by proxy) land on Plymouth Rock, I'm sure my ancestor was the one who fell out of the boat and hit his head on that rock! THAT might explain me.

©Copyright 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Page 5 – Part 4 - WHAT??

This research has led me right to the door of what was at my fingertips all along through the D.A.R.
I didn't realize everything was right here for the taking. Please REread my blog description at the top of the page. It will explain everything. You can't believe all the information that will follow. NOW I know why Lila/Chastena followed politics, George Washington, patriotism, and Christianity so closely: it was willed to them by their forebears. Oh my word. What an eye-opener.
The 23rd Psalm inspired my great great grandmother on this day. She had her Bible but obviously thought this deserved a place in HER book, too. (It is abridged in this version.) As a side note, I found it lovely that the 23rd Psalm posted on the 23rd - and I didn't plan it that way. :-)
The Lord is my shepherd; I
shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in
green pastures: he leadeth me
beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he lead-
eth me in the paths of righteous-
ness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through
the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for though art
with me; they rod and they staff,
they comfort me. ---Psalm xxiii
©Copyright 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Page 5 – Part 3 - Humor

Today we get a glimpse of Lila’s funny bone. This obviously tickled her enough to include it:
Old mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
And unto her dog did beck,
She was looking up high,
For a piece of pie,
And the dog barked “rubber neck.”
Yeah, me either, but this was over a hundred years ago so, hahahahahahahahahaha! :-)
©Copyright 2010

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Page 5 – Part 2

The next clipping has no credit or title but it may be a literal battle inspiration of wars fought. It would also appear to be a metaphor for the Christian walk.
There is no escape by the river;
There is no flight left by the fen;
We are compassed about by the shiver
Of the night of their marching men.
Give a cheer!
For our hearts shall not give away.
Here’s to a dark tomorrow
And here’s to a brave today!
The tale of their hosts is countless
And the tale of ours a score;
But the palm is naught to the dautnless (sic)
And the cause is more and more
Give a cheer!
We may die, but not give way.
Here’s to a silent morrow
And here’s to a stout today.
God has said, “Ye shall fail and perish;
But the thrill ye have felt tonight
I shall keep in my heart and cherish
When the worlds have passed in night.”
Give a cheer!
For the soul shall not give way.
Here’s to the great tomorrow
That is born of a great today!
Now the shame on the craven truckler
And the pulling things that mope!
We’ve rapture for our buckler
That outwears the wings of hope.
Give a cheer!
For our joy shall not give way,
Here’s in the teeth of tomorrow
To the glory of today. ----Selected.
Can you imagine writings such as this in any newspaper you currently receive?
©Copyright 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Page 5 – Washington Is Popular

We hear about George Washington again today, still very influential almost 100 years after his death.
George Washington, the Father of his Country, born February 22,
Married at the age of 27 years in
Declined a Kingly crown,
Resigned command of the army and became a private citizen,
President of the convention which framed the Constitution of the United States,
Chosen first President of the United States,
Chosen President for the second term,
Determined to retire to private life, he issued his farewell address,
Retires to private life,
He died in the 68th year of his age, December 14,
©Copyright 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Page 4 – Proverbs and Gravestones

Some of you have asked for a picture of Lila’s book and I’m happy to show you. It’s not much to look at on the outside. Like I say, it’s covered in oil cloth that’s been glued on and certainly helped to make it durable. Speaking of durable……
Guess what I found today in my research? Lila’s gravestone in Edgewood, Iowa. She is buried next to my great grandfather, F. “Ray” Minkler, and buried nearly ten years before them was my uncle, Rocky; David Rockwell Stone, to be exact. He was five years old. I’ve always heard about him but never saw his grave until today. He died from a bowel impaction or stomach disorder/illness, depending on who you’re talking to, but it was a very dark chapter in my Nana and Grampy’s life. Nana worshipped her children, quite literally. (That worship was the beginning of my father’s great undoing.) Rocky's death affected her in ways that would seem to warp her. I can’t imagine having to survive this but knowing the details helps in trying to understand so many other dark tales.
While I was searching I also found my great great grandmother’s grave, Eva (Evangeline) Peet Minkler, who was Ferdinand Ray Minkler's mother. And then I found his father's grave, my great great grandfather Ferdinand L. Minkler. I got to SEE all these gravestone through the Gravestone Project. Now I’m on a hunt all the way back to our D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution) patriot: Uriah Carpenter. As a member of the D.A.R., I have all these papers but have never seen the graves. Being in California, I may never have had the opportunity to view the graves without the Gravestone Project. I am sincerely looking forward to the quest.
Great grandparents and an uncle (Lila’s grandson). My dad would have been 12 when Rocky was born and 17 when he died:
Great great Grandmother:
Great great Grandfather:
Gravestone photos courtesy of: Iowa Gravestone Photo Project
(My grateful thanks to these kind individuals who took all these photos.)
Today we look at some famous sayings. Again, many are lifted from scripture and well known sayings by such illustrious folks as Benjamin Franklin. One could say Ms. Wilson rather plagiarized the work but perhaps simply because these works are already so familiar, her editor felt credit need not be given. This is certainly true of today’s information if it is found through many differing sources and is considered a well known fact. However, I still think credit is the best policy.
A Medley of Proverbs
To be used as a memory exercise. Number the proverbs and have the children recite consecutively by knowing whom they follow.
Well begun is half done.
Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.
The child is father to the man.
Even a child is known by his doings.
Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Look before you leap.
Appearances are deceitful.
All is not gold that glitters.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
It is always darkest just before day.
A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Handsome is, that handsome does.
Fine feathers do not make fine birds.
A bird in the hand is worth two on a bush.
Birds of a feather all flock together.
People are known by the company they keep.
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.
To be a good woman is better than to be a fine lady.
Politeness is a kindness, kindly expressed.
Evil communications corrupt good manners.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Honesty is the best policy.
Set a thief to catch a thief.
There is honor even among thieves.
People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
It is never to late to mend.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
A stitch in time saves nine.
Better late than never, but better never late.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Never put off till to-morow (sic) what you can do to-day (sic).
Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The more haste, the less speed.
Lazy folks always take the most pains.
A willful waste is a woful (sic) want.
Economy is the road to wealth.
You can not teach an old dog new tricks.
Experience is the best of teachers.
All is well that ends well.
©Copyright 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Page 3 - Maxims

Children are nothing if not ideal and, if Lila started this book, she was younger than I thought when she did so. That's why I now wonder if it was started instead by her mother, Eva (Evangeline) Peet Minkler, and then passed to her to continue. But it's also not unreasonable that the ten or eleven year old Lila would have kept a scrapbook and continued into her late middle age. (I have gotten new information through internet research in the last few days.) We find ideals or subtleties to pin our hopes upon in these pages. Did Lila try to live by these maxims? (Only a few of the actual 101 originally penned are included in her clipping.) Did she ever hand her book, kept from childhood, to Ferdinand "Ray," her husband, in hopes he would read them and be influenced toward Christianity? Become a kinder man? Did she have those early aspirations we often have as budding wives that with a few well placed words, and the proper encouragement for ourselves and others, we will assure harmony and happiness within our homes? She steeled herself to try, it would seem, because her theme throughout is to be our best selves.
The Papers of George Washington which you can access here, has this to say:
“These maxims originated in the late sixteenth century in France and were popularly circulated during Washington's time. Washington wrote out a copy of the 110 Rules in his school book when he was about sixteen-years old.
This exercise, now regarded as a formative influence in the development of his character, included guidelines for behavior in pleasant company, appropriate actions in formal situations, and general courtesies, such as: "Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremonie are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected" (no. 25); "Think before you Speak" (no. 73); and "Rince not your Mouth in the Presence of Others" (no. 101).”
Many of these maxims are lifted right from the pages of Biblical scripture. Others are simply practical and should fall under the heading, “We hold these truths to be self evident.” I have read all 101 maxims to my son and now I want him to write them down at the rate of one per day. It will be a great history lesson and even greater development lesson. Maybe if I have to drill them into him, a few might adhere to me. Hope springs eternal.
Maxims of George Washington
(These were often credited to George Washington as having created them. Editor’s note.)
1. Speak not when others speak.
2. Jog not the table or desk upon which another reads or writes.
3. Turn not your back to others, especially when speaking.
4. Come not near the books or writings of anyone so as to read them unasked.
5. Read no letters, books or papers in company.
6. Mock not, nor jest anything of importance.
7. Let your conversation be without malice or envy.
8. Whisper not in the company of others.
9. Be not apt to related news if you no not the truth thereof.
10. When another speaks, be attentive yourself and disturb not the audience.
11. Speak no evil of the absent, for it is unjust.
12. Every action in company ought to be some sign of respect to those present.
13. Show not yourself glad at the misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.
14. When a man does all he can, though it succeed not well, blame not him who did it.
15. Whenever you reprove another, be not blamable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precept.
16. Be not hasty to believe flying reports to the disparagement of anyone.
17. Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
18. When your superiors talk to anybody, hear them, neither talk nor laugh.
19. Speak not in an unknown tongue in company, but in your own language.
20. Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.
21. Undertake not what you cannot perform, but be careful to keep your promise.

©Copyright 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Page 2 – A Child/Woman at Christmas

Lila loved music, it would seem, and was excited enough about Christmas to cut this song (out of a newspaper?) and paste it in.
I have a photo of her at about 16 with a guitar. I never knew she played until I received this book and saw the photo (coming up in sequence), and I’ve played guitar since I was 12. It was a passion for me. My mother said if I saved half, to buy the guitar, she would pay the other half. I think it was $29.99. I cut a bleach bottle up, made a pig out of it, and dropped in my earnings from babysitting and ironing. I think Lila would have gotten a kick out of it.
She didn’t know it when she pasted this page into her book, but she would go on to give birth to my grandmother, Nana, who would be classically trained at the piano and attend the Chicago Conservatory of Music. Nana could also play a mean ragtime piano and I got to hear her a few times when I was a kid. She also played for old silent movies long ago and played the organ for her church for years.
A little note at the bottom of this song says, “Boys may whistle the chorus while the girls sing.”
I don’t know why but this just hit me funny. I guess having a boy I can’t imagine them all keeping straight faces and pulling this off during all those tra-la-la-la-la’s. :)
Jack Frost
I am Little Jack Frost and I’ve come for a call,
With a sack full of snow on my shoulder,
Please get out of my way til I shake it about,
Just to make the air fresher and colder.
Tra la la la la la, Tra la la la la la,
Tra la la la, Tra la la la la la,
Tra la la la la la, Tra la la la,
Tra la la la la (see what I mean? LOL!)
It’s a pretty long time since I call’d on you last,
You must think me a very late comer,
I’ve been on a trip to the very North Pole,
To escape from the warm winds of summer.
And I’ve learned the new fashions in snow balls this year,
And a way to keep icicles growing,
And the prettiest pictures to draw on your pane,
We’ll have fun when it once begins snowing.
Oh, the jolly old games that the winter time brings!
We’ll go sliding and skating together,
You must bring your warm mittens and I’ll bring a bag,
Full of snow and a lot of cold weather.

©Copyright 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Page 1 (Part 3) Face the Facts

If this is your first time here, please visit The Lila Minkler Project introductory page HERE
Lila was a patriot and upheld the ideals of her country. She greatly admired George Washington (as we shall see in future posts) and he is a common visitor to her pages. But we also see writings by others who would challenge her young heart and make her face issues honestly. To own that anything COULD be improved was very possibly a radical thought which, if not uttered, was thought, felt, and preserved by Lila.
Face the Facts
Love is not blind; not even the love
which we call patriotism. Determi-
nation and ability to see our country
as she is, her perils as well as her glories, is a
characteristic of the highest form of patriot-
ism. So Columbia asks of her sons and
daughter to-day, clear eyes and honest
hearts. Only thus can she be kept true to
her divine mission among the nations. Let
us know our nation as she is, that we may
help her to become what she should be.
©Copyright 2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Page 1 (Part 2) – A Lost Opportunity

If this is your first time here, please visit The Lila Minkler Project introductory page HERE
In this next piece, you see Lila's (or her mother's) heart for the challenge of sharing God's Good News. She embraces that God will save whom He will save but she realizes the responsibility, the privilege, and the blessing of having a part in His work.

The Lost Opportunity
by Genevieve Hale Whitlock

I SLEPT, and dreamed, and then this voice I heard
So sweet and low:
“Lift up thine eyes, look forth upon the fields.
White as the snow-
“White to the harvest; who will reap the grain?
Who garner in?
Who leave the shades of luxury and ease
To save from sin?
“Behold the fields, how white they are, how full,
The stalks, how high and fair!
The grain will fall unpicked-my people know-
Why pause they lingering here?
“And thou, wilt thou not go?” the voice went on,
In tones so strong yet mild,
“Thy work is there, it calls, it calls to thee,
Wilt thou not go, my child?'”
I gazed upon the fields, so hot they seemed-
The workers worn with toil;
Why should I leave my peaceful, quite vales
For stain and moil?
Then answered, “Lord, I am so happy here,
My dear ones nigh;
Others who’d better serve will heed they call,
But why need I?”
My heavenly Guest but bowed his thorn-crowned
He said no more;
Then silently he left me-I awoke-
The dream was o’er.
And now-how strange it is-how sad and
To feel like this;
Why should I be dissatisfied, unblessed,
Having my wish?
Having my dearest wish, my heart’s desire,
Ease, dear ones nigh;
Yet thinking always on those white, white fields,
I can but sigh,
For something heav’ly weighs my spirit down,
And tears my heart;
The grain will all be gathered-that I hope,
But, oh, to bear my part!
Ah, gracious Visitor, should’st thou return
With gentle, urgent plea for service meet,
I’d count it sweetest, aye, divinest joy,
And cast self at thy feet.

Lila’s book of special mementos as it appears today:
©Copyright 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Page 1 – The Intelligent Cat

(This contains much family history and, as previously stated, is designed to be a record for my children. You may find it interesting or utterly boring but feel free to read it or skip to Lila’s clipping of the day.)
How lovely that Lila, or my great-great grandmother, would begin the collection with an allegory about cats. Was she a cat lover or did this just convey the message she wanted to impart? Is cat loving in my genes? Is intolerance for petulant children ingrained in my fibers? I would argue yes for both conclusions.
Lila would have been about 12 at the turn of the century. The book predates that time so I now ask myself if my great-great-grandmother actually started it or if we simply see a young girl's thoughts. We definitely see a girl still present in these pages and then a woman as the years progress. Ferdinand "Ray," her husband, would prove a hard man and Lila’s life was not one of connubial felicity, by all accounts. She gave birth to seven children that I know of, though I didn’t know most of these great aunts and uncles except through the family stories and accountings.
Lila had a strong faith that seemed to sustain her through difficult times, though the end of her life became nearly untenable with F. "Ray," as my Aunt Sandy recalls, and Lila preceded him in death in 1955. He passed away in 1959. Both are buried in Edgewood, Iowa. My great grandfather was a distant man as evidenced in his writings. He spent his career as a postal carrier and would-be writer. He did not share Lila’s faith or compassion or, it would seem by his writings, even a desire to know and be known. Lila obviously busied herself with her children and she taught a Sunday school class of boys. When she died many years later, the boys from her class would be her pall bearers.
Her children do not seem as touched by her faith and were, apparently, not immune to the difficult atmosphere of their home. Only one of them, that I know of, claimed to embrace a Christian faith, though many of her actions in life didn’t bear evidence that would substantiate the claim and the final decision on that, as it is with any of us, is left with God Himself. That one child was my grandmother, my father’s mother.
Lila’s children included Ralph Minkler who would go on to become President of Borden’s Chicago Central District and realize great financial success, distancing himself from the family. His home was reportedly featured in Better Homes and Gardens. He was also later named in a Federal Trade Commission Violation where the company he worked for did not prevail. This was sent to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and the ruling was not overturned.
At one time he offered to remove my grandmother’s children from her home and raise them. My grandmother and grandfather lived very poorly and he wanted to see my errant teenage father in military school. However, that idea wouldn’t have succeeded because my father didn’t have the grades. When he did join the military, a short time after he and my mother married, he was sent home only a few months later with a general discharge and deemed “emotionally unfit” for military life. This must have been quite serious because it was during World War II when bodies were definitely needed. This was the first official indication, for his part, of much that would go tragically wrong in our own home.
Then there was Robert “Bob” Minkler. He reportedly acquired a gold mine in California and bought a great deal of property in Fresno, California. He eventually sold it and moved away but not before my grandmother and grandfather had pulled up stakes in Oelwein, Iowa and moved to Fresno. Both my grandparents had been born in Iowa, my grandmother in Edgewood and my grandfather in Strawberry Point. They had returned to Oelwein from Springreen, Wisconsin where my grandfather had been working, and now California seemed like the next best idea.
There was another brother, Richard “Dick” Minkler. He succeeded financially as well and lived in Kansas the last I knew. The daughters included Dorothy who would marry two millionaires (not at the same time….) and live in various places, eventually settling in Santa Barbara. She pursued writing and one day, at her typewriter, went blind and passed on shortly thereafter from an inoperable, non-malignant brain tumor.
Marion was another daughter and she was only and ever described as being extremely heavy (over 400 lbs.) and plagued with the diseases obesity brings, eventually succumbing to diabetes. My own mother reports that she had a “colorful” past and was the humorous one of the family. She had one son, Mickey, who was like her in nearly every way. I met all these people only once at a family reunion. Aunt Evelyn was the baby and I saw her several times while I was growing up. The only other child was my grandmother, Nana to us, but actually Marjorie Rae Stone after she married my grandfather, Bradley. Except for Dorothy and Marion, Lila’s children were all long-lived (Aunt Evelyn still enjoys life in her own apartment) – and my grandmother lived to be 91. I’d like to find Evelyn and ask her many things.
That’s a little history for now of Lila and the children she bore. How her book and memories came to live with me is a story for another day and steeped in tragedy, secrecy, and family tumult.
So we begin with a clipping ostensibly about a cat. Three clippings appear on the first page but I’ll keep each posting confined to one at a time. This is the text and from this point forward, I will always copy it exactly as printed including any typos, capitalization, etc. I want to keep it as true to its original form as possible.
The Intelligent Cat
By Emma Churchman Hewitt

A CAT of great intelligence,
If I’ve been told aright,
Has lately found a curious way,
Of venting petty spite.

His fur is long, and soft, and thick,
And white as driven snow,
And underneath his chin he wears
A jaunty sky-blue bow.

Now, when he has things his own way,
And nothing runs amiss,
He’ll sit and purr, and blink, and dose,
And then he looks like this:-

(image is on the picture of the page)

But you must know as well as I,
Things sometimes go astray,
And that it’s quite impossible
To always have one’s way.

So, when he doesn’t get his “right,”
He goes off with a hiss,
And in the coal he’ll roll and roll,
And then come back like this:-

(see image)

When boys and girls can’t get their “right,”
They act just like this cat.
Of course, they don’t roll in the coal;
They’ve too much sense for that;
But still, whate’er the special tack
They take, they every one look black.
©Copyright 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Who Was Lila Minkler?

I don't really know.

She died shortly before I was born - a few months actually - and all I have of her are pictures and stories. Her face in the photo belies a genuine mirth around the corners of her eyes and mouth. She had exquisitely lovely skin and I can only surmise she is in her 50's in this photo. (She would pass away in her sixties.) I note the curly hair and see the wave in my own and the curl in my daughter's. What else do we share, I wonder? A few years ago, her grand daughter, my aunt Sandy, gave me a book she had retained for many years. It was filled with clippings, photos, and notes Lila had kept through several decades, starting in the late 1800's. It gave me a chance to know my great grandmother in a way I never imagined.

People were frugal back then and the book was a multi-printed cast off of census records, printed in 1873. I have reason to believe it may have been started by her mother and passed down. I don't know my great-great-grandmother's name but I am on the hunt. Pages have been removed which someone presumably wanted to keep, and then it was covered in a light red oil cloth. The collection was started by pasting newspaper and magazine clippings over the pages. There are poems, inspirational writings, newsworthy stories of the day including the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby and the assassination of President McKinley; surprising photos; jotted notes. There is even a heart breaking letter from my great grandfather, Ferdinand, that speaks to how difficult her life must have been with him and the legacy he built into our family through his distance and self focus. He was a very hard man, by all accounts, but he was nothing if not also a gifted writer. (A full transcript of that letter will be published here.)

Lila pushed on and she has become my friend. I think of us as contemporaries and women who understand one another. When I open her book, I talk to her and call her by her name. I tuck my own special things in with hers and trust them to her for safe keeping. No worries. I'm not deluded (any more than usual) and don't think Lila actually lives in her book. But she left this so we would know her. I'm taking the time to do just that.

So, I suppose this is a blog about not only my great grandmother but my friend, Lila. By all accounts she was a lady. She came downstairs each morning fully outfitted in the dress of her day, brooch included. As I sit here typing in my sloppy t-shirt and work-out pants, I can't help but think Lila would be appalled. However, there's another part of me that thinks the younger Lila would have gladly thrown off the fetters and welcomed the freedom I enjoy. (This proves I don't really know her at all. Maybe the older Lila would be the one to arch free, shake herself loose, and have her say, as well as her breath. Her daughter, my grandmother, never wore any under garments in her everyday life and only covered her vitals to go to church. I was very grateful she went to church, if only for the respite it afforded us!)

It's very obvious Lila loved words. She thought inspirational writing shaped lives. She not only kept the book of writings I will chronicle but she papered the outhouse with them. Any child needing to visit the facilities could sit and ponder life on the outhouse walls. She knew how to preach to a captive audience. She and Ferdinand raised a writer (my grandmother, though her writing leaned toward vitriol when not eloquently poetic)...who raised a writer (my aunt)....who became aunt to two writers: my sister and me.

Each blog post here will contain the words of one of the clippings and possibly some family history - good and evil. Pages and photos fade so this is, if nothing else, a preservation project. But it's really about giving a voice to a woman, a man, and writers past. I certainly agree with much that Lila has kept and yet would love to ask her about other writings she valued that I might question. She obviously had strong political opinions and I wonder if, with her very dominating and opinionated husband, this was how she shared or voiced them. She was also a woman with Christian faith which is an often seen narrative thread.

I will lay the pages out to you in the same order they come in the book. I plan to scan or photograph each page and then rewrite what has been collected so that it is easily readable and I'll credit the author when names appear (sometimes they don't.). Many pages have multiple clippings and I will only feature one clipping per post so it isn't too overwhelming and is more meaningful. I have no idea how many there are (a lot) or how long it will take. Since I don't really have to write creatively myself, it won't be labor intensive. When I have nothing to say on my main blog (which has rarely stopped me from writing), then I'll post here and let Lila speak.

I hope you can join me for occasional readings. Don't feel obligated to comment on yet ONE MORE BLOG. I will not be offended in the least. But if you WANT to comment, then I'd love to hear your thoughts about Lila's Project.


© Copyright 2010