Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sharing Memories: A Genealogy Journal Week #9 Birthday Parties

Lorine Massey at Olive Tree Genealogy has created a year-long Genealogy Journey in Genealogy Journal Writing. Having my grandmother's travel journals and a diary among my family papers and treasures, I can appreciate the different perspective someone will have years from now with a glimpse into my life in the early years of the "new millinieum" as opposed to my view of  "who would be interested"?

On the highlight reel of my life, birthday's rank high on the list of celebrations. During my childhood, the countdown to October 10th began somewhere around July 4th. By the time we were in the single digits, I could barely sleep at night. During this period of my life we called October 10, 11 and 12, Birthday Week. My birthday was the 10th, my father's on the 11th; not only was my maternal grandmother's birthday October 12th, but she and my grandfather were married on October 12th in 1922. My father's mother, Mildred Little Bergeron, was born on October 26, 1899, and his sister, Marian, was born on October 23rd.

The memory that immediately comes to mind when I recall childhood birthday memories is the one captured in the photograph above. Taken at our apartment on First Avenue in Antigo, Langlade, Wisconsin, are the three birthday cakes my mother use to make. On the far left is the birthday cake for my grandmother, Alma Polar Space. On the right, my father's birthday cake with his birthday gift wrapped in what was probably the beginning of the tradition of asking if the gift was 'plaid or plain'. My cake is in the middle ... how I looked forward to those wonderful doll cakes! I don't know if my mother, who is wonderfully creative, thought of this herself or discovered it in a magazine but the decorating is the result of her sense of color and design. As I got older, the dolls 'aged' as well. I recall a birthday party at my grandmother Bergeron's house with friends from Antigo's Sixth Ward School; the cake being a harbinger of the Barbie doll in a decorated cake dress Scarlett O'Hara only dreamed of.

I cannot imagine the time - and expense - of making and decorating three cakes, can you?

In the fifty plus years that have passed since this photo was taken, my life has been blessed with the addition of brother-in-laws, nieces and nephews as well as my being welcomed into the Scherwinski family. The addition of my beautiful daughter-in-law is a blessing that, like the three son's I gave birth to, cannot be measured in words.

Now, Birthday Week has been expanded from October - with the addition of two brother-in-law's sharing their October 11th birthday with my father and other family members who share our opal birth stone - to February Birthday Week's celebrations that includes my sister, Lisa, oldest son, Chris, nephew, Chad and enough other family members to cause a spike in the profits of the Hallmark card company.

This past October my Dad celebrated his 80th birthday. The celebration marked the first time in several years our entire family gathered together and while we blew out candles on a shared birthday cake, we all looked forward to the birthday tradition we've begun since the time of doll birthday cakes - the tradtional birthday pie.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Make A Calendar!

Live! From central Wisconsin! It's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun (insert applause here).

After last week's SNGF step back and learn about our fellow genealogists and family historians, Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings takes us back to research with tonight's challenge:

1) Open your genealogy software or family tree program of choice and make yourself the highlighted person.

2) Find out how to create a Calendar to show birthdays and/or anniversaries of yourself and all of your ancestors (or all relatives, or all persons - your choice!). The "Help" button is your friend here!!! It can be done in all of the current software programs.

3) Create your calendar. Pretty it up if you want. Save it. Can you show us a page from your calendar  - say January 2010?

4) Which of your ancestors (or relatives or descendants - your choice!), if any, were born 30 January?

Have fun with this. How can you use this in the coming year?

No need for those round-nosed scissors and paste with this project nor do I have to worry about ending up with bits of paper clippings stuck on my fuzzy slippers.

This is a feature of my family tree program of choice, Family Tree Maker, that I make 'regular' use of; the current edition that is on my computer is Family Tree Maker 2009. Pictured above is the screen snapshot of my January 2010 calendar page.

What I am unfamiliar with is the calendar 'pretty up' feature. I have, however, used a background when creating family group sheets - usually the tree silhouette provided from the drop-down box but on occasion I have used one of my personal photographs. But back to the calendar.

I was a bit frustrated not being able to immediately scale the background to the calendar even using one of the provided backgrounds. I then used one of my personal photographs but was disappointed and frustrated when I spent too much time 'futzing' to get the background scaled to my liking. If I were to print out the calendar I would opt for the default, generic background and use one of my photographs and place it above the calendar page for the pretty factor.

I have two relatives listed on my calendar page as having been event dates that occurred on Jaunary 30th: George T[homas] Armagost, born 157 years ago and the marriage of Etienne LaFond and Marie Boucher who would have celebrated their 365th anniversary on 30 Jan (you have to love those French Canadians who knew how to record every event and store them in stone churches.)

The Armagost family married into my Space and Shankle family lines (my mothers paternal family); all from the Clarion County, PA, area. Etienne LaFond, born about 1615 in France, and Marie Boucher, born 21 Jan 1629 also in France, were married 30 Jan 1645 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. Their daughter, Francoise, born 8 Jul 1658 in Trois Rivieries, Quebec, was my 7th great-grandmother. This is my father's paternal family line.

So how can I use this throughout the coming year? A number of years ago I gifted my parents with a relative/descendant and ancestor calendar using the calendar feature from FTM as a reference. I purchased a caledar that featured one week per page with large rectangle boxes for each day. This allowed me to fill in the dates with my choice of whom to include, the event date and how many years ago that event occurred. The first calendar included individuals and dates from both of my parents family lines. They enjoyed it so much that I would present them with an updated calendar every few years. A few years ago my father called me and asked if I would make a calendar for him with his family's information as he was disturbed to realize he could not remember the dates of his grandparents and other family members. Since that time I've made a calendar for each of my parents.

Thank you, Randy, for the gentle reminder that 2010 should be the year I update those calendars for my parents as I am blessed to be able to gift an updated one to them.

Copyright (c)2010  Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Friday, January 29, 2010

Maengun Neebageesis - Wolf Moon

Only one thing could pull me away from the warmth of a fire and the promise of an evening spent with a dog curled up next to me, cozy and warm, and send me outside - bundled up against the bitter cold: the chance to photograph Maengun Neebageesis, Wolf Moon.

The Farmers Almanac describes the Wolf Moon as "January - Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January's full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon."

Tonights moon will be the 14% wider and 30% brighter according to Along with the added bonus of Mars cozied up next to the Wolf Moon, I decide that Jinny could keep my spot on the couch warm until I return.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Elsie Laura Space

Elsie Laura Space, daughter of Allen Zephaniah Space and Nancy Ann Stone. Photograph taken in 1910 while attending the school for the deaf, Clarion county, PA

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: William D. Facer

Today's edition of Tombstone Tuesday features my paternal great-great-grandfather, William D. Facer. Born in Port Huron, St Clair, MI, between 1827-1833, depending on what census record or document you access, William was the fourth known child of Lewis Facer Sr. and Susan B. Baker's nine children.

Naming patterns in the Facer family have helped identify and link family members, which is helpful given the fact the surname of Facer has many variants, which I have referenced in past posts. Adding to the frustration is having to wade through the family legends surrounding my grandmother's maternal family line and prove these claims. Like most oral stories, these have been embellished along the way and in the face of documentation that discredits the stories, makes this genealogist a real kill-joy in the family circle.

Family legend claims William Facer's name was originally pronounced Frazarie. While given a french sounding twist to the name, I've located William's father, Lewis, with other variants but not Frazarie (no matter how impressive it may sound.) Consistent documentation shows Lewis's birth occurred in Ohio but probably during the time when Ohio was a part of Virginia. Another family legend states William was studying to become a priest but was never ordained. "When he discovered how badly the children were treated in the orphanages, he left the priesthood just short of his ordination."

I cannot document this claim - what is recorded is William was married three times, outliving all three of his wives, including my great-great-grandmother Elisabeth Hornby (1854-1894). William fathered 10 children with two of his three wives, but only three of these children survived infancy. The rest were victims of several influenza and diphtheria epidemics. What is of interest is a reference in a letter, author unknown, but in the possession of William and Elisabeth's daughter, Frances Facer Little, which were accidentally destroyed. The letter was written to either a family friend or another member of the family and referencing what sounds like some type of abuse. My speculation is that whatever occurred within the Facer family morphed into the family legend of William's discovery of children being treated badly in an orphanage.

William, a carpenter and painter by trade, immigrated from Port Huron with his daughter Frances, her husband Cyrus Austin Little, Frances's brother Burton Wellington and several of Cyrus's siblings including Elizabeth Little and her husband George Goldrick.

One of the Facer family legends that I have been able to document is that William was deaf. Whether this was a lifelong condition or one that occurred later on in his life is unknown; due to the fact there is no reference to his being deaf (cannot hear) on the 1880 census leads me to believe he lost his hearing after 1880.

William's death certificate, filed in the Oneida County Court House (Wisconsin), states W[illiam] D. Facer died on 10 July 1907 as a result of "an accident (railway) drowning." There was nothing in the obituary index for that day or any other time in 1907; a page by page search of the newspaper resulted in yet one more variation of the Facer surname:

Aniwa Man Killed At Rhinelander
Rhinelander, Wis., July 10 - Andrew Fisher, age 50, a carpenter and painter, was struck by Soo passenger train, No. 85, west bound this morning and knocked off a bridge into the Wisconsin river. The body was taken out a short distance below the bridge. His neck had been broken. His home was in Aniwa, Shawano County.

Buried with Willam Facer in the Aniwa Cemetery, Aniwa, Shawano County, WI, is A. C. Little and W. B. Little, the infant son of Cyrus and Frances Facer Little.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What I Do When I'm Not Doing Genealogy

Aren't you thankful that Saturday Night Genealogy Fun is hosted by Randy Seavers instead of NBC? Who needs all that drama!! We can always rely on a good time - and no Sunday morning hangover! This week's mission (which I hope everyone has decided to accept is:

"Tell us about your "other" hobbies or interests outside of genealogy and family history research, writing, speaking, etc."

I'm a born-again stay at home Mom ... only in this chapter of my life, I am enjoying my role as Mom to adult children. Our oldest son (soon to be 36) and our beautiful daughter-in-law live in Michigan's Upper Penisula; son's #2 (age 33) and #3 (age 31) live nearby which allows for a lot of time to tell them how much their Mom loves them.

Photography is an activity I enjoy and share with my husband of almost 38 years, Al. Combined with outdoor activities, I am rarely without my camera.

I love to travel .... I have been fortunate to have made several trips to England and Scotland with my favorite traveling companion - my mother. Memories of each trip never fail to bring a smile to my face. It is a rare moment when I am in front of the camera so photo's such as the one below - taken at (one of) our favorite restaurants in London, Pont de la Tour, are special.

Dogs - like genealogy and family history research - has taken on a life of its own. From the moment I laid my hands on my first field bred English cocker spaniel, I knew they would always be a part of my life. It was also my introduction to the world of dog behavior and training. We purchased Casey from Badger Kennels in 1991 which was the start, as they say, of a beautiful friendship. Jim became my mentor, introducing me to upland bird hunting, something my husband had always enjoyed but now we added a merry little cocker to the hunting team. I will always be grateful for Jim sharing his wealth of knowledge on dog behavior and helping me understand the order of the pack. Our lives have been forever changed by each one of the cockers who have come into our live, each one unique and a joy to train and work with. The Anahar line was established in Scotland by Denis and Dorothy Douglas; having several of his dogs earn the title of Field Trial Champions. Now in their 80s, Denis and Dorothy have graciously opened up their home in Laurencekirk in Kincardineshire to Mom and I on several of our trips. Sixteen years after our first introduction to the Anahar cockers, we continue to work with Badger Kennels to keep the Anahar line of cockers going. Our son Jeff took the Anahar line in a new direction when, at his mother's insistance, he entered his dog Riley in a Dock Dog event. Proving little dogs can fly, Riley held the #2 position in the nation for dogs 17" and under, two years ago placing 7th at the national event.

                                                                              Photographer: Al Scherwinski

When the entire family gets together, a bit of dog hair in your potato salad is to be expected. In 2009 we lost two of our beloved dogs - matriarch, Emma (second from the left) at the age of 14 and her 12-year old girl, Lucy (far right). Seen in the photo below with my nieces, Alissa and Becky, is our son's Flat-Coated Retriever who is convinced she is one of the cockers.

When I'm not filling up my digital card and computer with photographs or running Camp Cocker - I am involved with the D.A.R. The Daughters of the American Revolution is a volunteer woman's service organization dedicated to historical preservation, education and patriotism. I made my application on John Space, who served from the state of New Jersey. John was a descendent of my mother's father's line. After informing my Mom we were making our application to DAR, she has enthusiastically added "Daughter" to her life description.

While it seemed as if helping others with their membership application and genealogy was a perfect fit for me in DAR - I have really enjoyed exercising my creative side. I am the editor of our chapter newsletter (which of course allows me a venue for my photographs as well as a chance to share my love of nature and silent sports). During the past state administration I served as editor of the state newsletter, created a monthly e-letter for the state regent, created all the handbooks for state events, magazine ad's ... if it looks like public relations and media, I have a hand in it. I also played a role in our state regent's successful campaign for the national office of Vice President General in 2009.

During this time, I produced two full size, full color calendars that were sold to benefit the State Regent's project. I was especially proud of the last calendar which was dedicated to our veterans. Between the State Regent and I, we were able to assemble our special family relics that spanned four generations of military service to our country for the cover shot.

Dubbed "the Daughter with the camera," I'm known for catching those moments that are not the standard "stand and smile" photographs - such as the petal perfect butter rosettes on our table during the State Officer Dinner.

Finding beauty in the ordinary and sharing my love of nature - passed on to me by my grandfather, shared with my husband and children - is what helps define who I am and keeps me centered when I'm not tracking down those elusive ancestors.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Ida Ella Nora Hoefferle Scherwinski

January 17, 2010, marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ida Ella Nora HoefferleScherwinski. The second of Johannes "John" Hoefferle, Jr. (1881-1966) and Rosa Teresa Shaper (1889-1944) twelve children, she married Arnold August William Scherwinski on 23 April 1932 and the couple raised their six children in Park Falls, Price county, WI.

The above photo, taken on the occasion of her confirmation, shows Ida (seated on the left).

Happy Birthday, Ida. Your smile, laughter and presence in the family is missed but continues to embrace and surround those who love you.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordless Wedneday: Winter in Wisconsin Part II

Winter at my grandparents farm I posted last week. As promised, the photo Gram took of the snowman and I ... and the cat.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: John P. Little

Today's edition of Tombstone Tuesday In My Life, highlights my great-grand uncle, John P. Little. The fifth of Andrew Little (1800-1888) and Mary Ann Gallagher (1812-1984) 11 children, John P. was born about 1847 in probably New York State.

Family lore is that John ran away from the family home in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada, and enlisted in the Union Army. Documentation proves John's enlistment in the Union Army on February 28, 1863, in Rochester, NY, where he was assigned to Co. E, 19th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry; whether he ran away or not will always be up for debate.

John's military career was short-lived; seven months after his enlistment, John was captured by the Confederate Army on September 29, 1863, during the Battle of Chickamauga on the final day of the battle. He was confined in Richmond, VA, from September 29th to December 12th when he was transferred to Andersonville Prison. On June 30, 1864 John was admitted to the prison hospital where he died on July 2nd of Dysentery.

Found among the treasures that make up the Little Family Papers, were letters written by John Little to his family prior to his capture and imprisionment. Letters written to his parents told of life on the march through Tennessee, mentioning the beauty of the area, the comradarie of being with his fellow soldiers and how well he was doing. During this same period of time, letters to his brother told of the desolation: trees riddled with grapeshot and the soldiers having to forage for anything they could find to eat and the distrust the men had for their superiors. All that is left of these letters are less than desireable photocopies. The letters were in the possession of my aunt who thought she was keeping them safe between the pages of a Montgomery Ward catalog. It wasn't until my mother and I invested in archival safe storage and brought them to my aunt's home that we discovered she had disposed of the catalogs, not realizing they held John's letters along with several other Little and Facer family papers.

Included in these papers was a handwritten note from the commanding officer of John's company that read: Upon reference to our records, I find the following sad record regarding John Little Co. E 19th, U.S. Regulars. The record is ' J. Little Private Co E. 19th Regulars died in Prison Hospital at Andersonville, Ga. on the 2nd day of July 1864 of Dysentery, and was buried in grave No. 2774.' The above is all we know of him. (sign) H. Holbrook

My grandmother, Mildred Eileen Little, recalled her father Cyrus Austin Little's memory of Mary Ann Gallagher Little's final months in which she was consumed with memories of her son's imprisionment, repeating how she wished she could have given John a crust to bread.

Copyright (c) 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski

Monday, January 11, 2010

Military Monday: Al Scherwinski

Alvin John Scherwinski
Military Service: Inducted 3 Dec 1970, Minneapolis, MN; Honorably Discharged 1 Dec 1972, Fort Carson Colorado. Basic Training, Fort Campbell Kentucky; AIT, Fort Benning Georgia; Advanced AIT, Fort Gordon Georgia. Overseas: Vietnam, 27 Sep 1971 - 21 May 1972. National Defense Service Medal; 1 Overseas Bar; Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 Device; Sharpshooter Badge with M16 Rifle Bar; Vietnam Service Medal with 1 Bronze Service Star. 31 E20 Radio Repair.
Copyright 2010 Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski
A proud wife in debt to her husband for service to his country

Sunday, January 10, 2010

52 Weeks to Better Genealogy -Challenge #1 [Your] Local Library

The Challenge: Go to your local library branch. Make a note of the genealogy books in the collection that may help you gain research knowledge. Don't forget to check the shelves in both the non-fiction section and the reference section. If you do not already have a library card, take the time to get one. If you have a genealogy blog, write about what you find in your library's genealogy section.

I admit to being a tech-junkie: laptops, Smartphones, wi-fi, netbooks, iPod and my latest wish-list must have, Barnes & Nobel's very own eBook Reader, Nook. However .... nothing can compare to the feel of a book. There is something comforting walking around the stacks, pulling a book off the shelf and having the words come to life as soon as your eyes make contact with the page. And the wonder of it all - is you can take them home. I truly believe that a library card, which gives you access to almost any book in the world, is one of our society's greatest idea come to life. When I read Geneabloggers Challenge #1, I could hardly wait for Friday afternoon when I had scheduled my time at the Portage County Library.

A creature of habit, my first stop is always to the new book section. As I make my way across the room, a book on a display catches my eye, The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900 by Norah Waugh. Published in London, England, the book has photographs, line drawings, patterns, detailed descriptions including accessories. I make a note of the title and call number; this book will be a great reference in helping me date my orphan photographs.

After a relaxing 15-minutes spent perusing the new book section I head over to the Genealogy Room but not without selecting two books. Hidden among "Remember the Carrot" and "A Child's Book of Poems" I discovered a 20-page publication titled "Prison Life: Personal Reminiscences of Two Days at Chickamauga and Fifteen Months in Rebel Prisons" authored by Edward McGlachlin. The book was compiled by a local woman, Dianne Peplinski from the writings of McGlachlin in 1885 which appeared in the Stevens Point Journal. My great-grand uncle, John P. Little, was captured during the battle of Chickamauga and died in Andersonville Prison at the age of 17. This book will add insight into what John Little's tragic final last months of an all too short life was like. The second new publication is "How to Do Everything Genealogy Second Edition" by George G. Morgan. I never get tired of reading genealogy how-to books looking for another tip, trick or something that makes me say, "I have to try that!"

Among my top five "Most Wanted 2010" are the unknown parents of great-great-great grandfather Lewis Facer Sr. Born circa 1792 in Zanesville, Ohio, Lewis's pension record (the only record able to locate at this time) from the War of 1812 states his father was born in Virginia. I remove"Ohio Wills and Estates to 1850: An Index" from the shelf and sit down at the table. After reading the forward and explanation of abbreviations, I turn to find the surname Baker. Lewis's wife was Susan B. Baker. Census records state she was born in Michigan circa 1800; their first son, Lewis Facer Jr was born about 1820 in Michigan but I have no documentation to back this up. The full page of Baker's is a bit daunting until I realize that there are only four Baker's who had wills or estate records filed in Muskingum County.

While I did not find any listings Facer, there are several listings of variations: Farr, Farra, Farrar, Farrce, Farrer, Frase, Fracy, Fraze and Frazee. Since this is an index, the interpretation of the listings is a matter of opinion. I make a note of the names, dates and counties which will provide enjoyment for several week-ends to come.

While none of my ancestors spent more than few days in my county of residence (Stevens Point was a 'jumping off place' to the northwoods), it does not mean striking out at my local library researching my family history.

Happy 101 Award

Lori at Genealogy and Me and Ruth Himan have both graciously gifted a Happy 101 Award. I was very surprised to 'open my gift' in a comment Lori left in response to my Treasure Thursday post, highlighting the journals of my grandmother Alma Polar Space. Ruth sent me a message via our connection on Facebook. Thank you. In the words of G.K. Chesterton I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.

Unlike trophies that collect dust eventually finding their way to a corner in your basement or attic, the Happy 101 Award comes with some accountability: to list 10 things that make me happy and 10 other bloggers who I will gift this award too. I hope that, if these blogs are unfamiliar to you, that you'll spend a few minutes. I guarantee they will soon become the favorite blogs in your life.

1. The knowledge that no matter what I encounter in my life, my faith will give me solid ground

2. The love and support of family.

3. The unconditional love of my dogs.

4. Spending time 'up north' no matter what the season.

5. Any time spent with my DAR 'sisters'

6. Planning a trip to Scotland.

7. Training or hunting with my English cockers.

8. Going anywhere with my husband in our '65 Mustang 2+2 Fastback.

9. Anytime spent on my bikes: mountain biking on a trail or on my road bike.

10. Listening to the sound of my children interacting in the next room.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What's Your Superpower?

Look!! Up in the sky! It's a bird - it's a plane! No - it's Randy Seaver with another Genea-Musings challenge. This week our challenge (should we decide to accept it ...) is:

1) Answer the question: Do you have a genealogical "superpower." (i.e. a unique research ability or technique that helps you track down records or assemble conclusions that other's can't.) If so, what is it.

2) Tell us about it in a blog post, a comment to this post, a comment to Dean's post, or a comment to this post on Facebook or Twitter.

3) If you have a picture of yourself in superpower mode, please show it to us!

1. While I wish my 'superpower' was the ability to speak to those who have passed over to the other side, I have yet to perfect that talent (I continue to leave messages on the answering machine but no one returns my calls.) If I have a superpower it is listening for that 'inner voice' and my willingness to widen my circle of research. Many times the key to solving a family research problem is held by a sibling, a cousin or even a friend or neighbor. My willingness to step outside of the box (so to speak) and let go of what I know, or what I think I know, to explore a new theory has oftentimes rewarded me with a few steps forward.

Attempting to confirm the parents of my maternal great-great grandmother Margaretta Shankle Space was going nowhere until I researched all of Margaretta's siblings. A descendant of niece Nora Kegan had documentation that proved Margaretta's parents were Jacob Shankle and Rachel Click.

At the risk of sounding 'way out there' - listening to that inner voice has never let me down. I can't take credit for that superpower as, like most family researchers, I've experienced first hand assistance with my research that cannot be explained. That might make a great topic for a future Saturday Night Genealogy Fun?

2) Complete.

3) I seem to have misplaced my cape - probably in the same box with my crystal ball and Ouija board.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Treasure Thursday: Grandma Space's Journals

Long before "Journaling for Dummies" and bi-monthly magazines dedicated to journals were published, William Wordsworth penned the words Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. I often wonder if my grandmother, Alma Loretta Polar Space, came across these words and took them to heart. Among my family treasures are several brown notebooks chronically travels of my grandparents; also included is a diary, written in 1962.

I have no doubt my grandmother never intended nor did she envision that I would end up with her journals. Hearing her distinctive laugh she would find it difficult to believe that I - or anyone - would find her journaling interesting. What could possibly be interesting about washing dishes, trips to the store and visits with friends and family?

Written in her bold penmanship the travel diaries mark trips to Montana and Las Vegas, Oregon and Milwaukee. Where they stayed (stayed at Mobridge, South Dakota in a rather shabby cabin. Cooled off after the rain) how many miles they drove each day and the sights and sounds. One of my favorite entries chronicles a day in the life when there was an apparent discussion on which route to take which resulted in having to back track. Even after 40 years, the entry resonates with "I told you so."

What could possibly be interesting about my life? January 4 - Went to town for groceries. Snowed while in town. Later it cleared off. Bergeron's came. John & Phyl left early. Mrs. B. told me they are closing the store. Had chicken.

Hidden among the every day are the milestones, such as April 21, 1962, when my grandfather's brother, Forest "Bob" Space, spending the Easter holiday with my grandparents, suffered a massive heart attack. I recall the moment my mother received the phone call with the sad news that her favorite uncle had suddenly passed away. Forty years later, I hear the anguish from someone who lived the event: The day we won't care to remember ... no need to write more we will never forget it.

My grandmother loved to read, she introduced her granddaughters to Beatrix Potter and Carl Sandburg. First and foremost, she was a teacher, one of the many pioneer women whose classrooms were in the now vanishing rural schools of Langlade county. She told me stories of driving through snow drifts over low and no maintenance roads, hoping she would not get stuck as it was the responsibility of the teacher to arrive before the students to build a fire, shovel the steps in winter and make sure the school house was ready. At one point during her teaching career, Gram was asked to teach a summer school session for students with special needs in Summit Lake. From the pages of her journal, I discovered that my grandmother struggled with lesson plans and worried she might not be able to finish out the term.

Powers School located in Langlade County, WI, Circa 1912

With the help and encouragement of her sister, Leona, who was also one of the hearty rural teachers, my grandmother was able to come up with new ideas for her lesson plans and regained her confidence. That summer spent teaching in Summit Lake remained one of her teaching highlights.

Alma Loretta Polar Space, front row in white dress, and her sister
Leona Polar, standing second from left

October 12, 1962 marked their 40th wedding anniversary. Her journal entry on that day read: Beautiful moonlight. Forty years ago was a nice day. Everything quiet at school. Left early. What a surprise! Most of the old gang and Space relatives came to celebrate our anniversary. How very nice! Don & Helen came about nine thirty.

My treasure? The chance to, once again, spend time with my grandmother, as I remember her before Alzheimer's took her from those she loved and who loved her.
"... the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music the words make." Truman Capote

October 12, 1982 - 60th wedding anniversary
Harley Allen Space and Alma Loretta Polar

With the exception of quotes by Wordsworth and Capote, all text and photographs
Copyright Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Winter in Wisconsin

A February snowfall in 1958 while staying with my grandparents, Harley and Alma Space, was another opportunity to play outdoors, as Gram use to say. I recall Gram and I getting our mittens soaked making the snowman, decked out in my grandfather's cap. Somewhere in the box of photographs I hope to locate the photo taken of Mister Snowman and Gram's black and white cat - who patiently endured her photo opportunity.
Copyright Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski 2010


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