Monday, January 31, 2011

Hike Into History

On Saturday, my dad, little sister and I went on a hike. It was awesome! The bottom of the trail looked oddly like a cactus forest. Nothing but dust and cacti as far as the eye could see. Not very promising. But once we hiked into the canyon, everything looked completely different. It looked like this:

Crazy, huh? But wait, there's more. Are you ready for this?


All the rocks were covered in these awesome Hohokam glyphs. Truly amazing. I personally don't have any ancestors from the Hohokam tribe, but it was still completely awe-inspiring to see the history right in front of you. It made everything come to life. Pretty much the greatest hike ever.
Much love.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Don't Mess with Grandma

My grandmother was such a sweet, kindhearted person. My inclination would be to say that she would never hurt a fly. But the fact of the matter is, if that fly got anywhere near my grandma, it didn't stand a chance.

It started when she was young. For their first date, my grandpa took her out for a ride in the desert. How romantic, right? Nope. He then proceeded to pull out a revolver and gaver her brief instructions on how to fire it at the quickly scampering tarantulas. Knowing my grandma, you'd think this would make her squeemish, but no. She picked up the gun and easily outshot him!

Then as a young mother, she had to fend for her kids while her husband was away. There is a most unfortunately infamous gecko in my family who, sadly, was violently beaten to death with a flyswatter. He made the mistake of surprising my grandma while she was doing the dishes. She started screaming and wailing, and when she was done, there wasn't much left of it.

And even in her old age, her sharp instincts to protect her family from vermin were still sharply intact. With 1/2 of one lung and a pacemaker, she used to go outside and hunt scorpions on the porch with my brother. Scorpions are very resilliant and hard to kill. I prefer to use fire. She preferred to use her oxygen tank.

We always used to tease her about it, because she really was such a soft-spoken individual. And yet she could down a fly with a handtowel from three feet away without batting an eye. She made household weaponry and art form! But my brother and I found out, while cleaning the garage one summer, that she also stuck to the basics.

Why on earth she had this hidden away in her garage, we may never know.

She was the most loving old lady I ever knew. But when it came to creepy crawlers, you just don't mess with grandma.

Much love.

Rest in...Peace?

Can't believe I almost forgot this one! This is very recent, but it's a great story for future family history. And, although we say we will "never forget" it, let's face it: we always do. And this is one story that should never be forgotten.

Everyone who knew my grandmother loved her. She was very quiet and somewhat reserved, but she was the most loving person I knew (almost to a fault). She used to pick people up off the side of the road and give out hundreds of dollars to random strangers who came to her for help. An amazing person, but we often worried she would end up getting hurt by one of her mysterious friends or simpmly be taken advantage of.

A couple weeks before she passed away, my grandmother met one such lady on the side of the road. She was homeless and had been out of jail for about a month with no work. She also, randomly enough, had a laptop (which we suspect had been "borrowed", but still don't know) she was selling. My grandma took compassion and agreed to buy the laptop from the woman. My grandma didn't need a laptop, but she said she could find someone who did. The woman, who happened to be from Peru, thanked my grandmother profusely and asked if she could come visit us and play some music for my grandma's birthday, which was in a couple weeks. My grandma loves music and was, of course, delighted.

My grandma's party came, and the Peruvian stranger never showed up. The next morning, my grandmother was gone, and the homeless woman entirely forgotten.

Until the funeral. I had stepped outside for a moment with my mom, who was having a hard time. Suddenly my aunt came running to us screaming, "Lynette! There's a crazy lady cursing and dancing over your mother's dead body! Come quick!"

Apperantly the stranger had not forgotten my grandmother's kindness, and when she saw the obituary in the paper, was sad she had never gotten to play for her. So she showed up, whipped a flute out from the folds of her skirt and the castinets hanging from her neck, and started singing to my grandma. She was dancing and scattering flowers while the entire room just stared, white-faced and in shock. When she was done, she simply turned and left without a word and was gone as quickly as she had come.

Most of my family didn't quite know what to think about this at first. Some were offended, some touched, but most just found it very humerous. For a while I didn't know what to think either, but I know it made my grandma happy that she got to hear the sweet stranger's music. And I know my grandpa was laughing and dancing along. We never saw or heard from her again, but it made for a very exciting funeral.

Much love.

P.S. Now my mom wants me to hire a Peruvian floutist to play at her funeral. :P

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Apple of Love

Every year since I was very little, my family has been attending what is known as "The Apple of Love". It is a huge (and I do mean huge) reunion of all the descendents of Dave and Ruth Lamoreaux. There are a lot of us. Every year we all get together, tell stories, sing songs, and the aunts take around giant plates of apples. Everybody takes one slice of an apple. That's it. I always thought my family had a strange obsession with apples. It wasn't until I was much older, however, that I learned the meaning of the Apple of Love.

When my great-grandma Ruth was young, she fell in love with a man named Dave. Her father wasn't crazy about Dave. But she ran away and married him anyways. From that day on, her father stopped speaking to her, and Ruth had no communication with her family. That Christmas, she was missing her family dearly, but knew she was not welcome at home. So she went out and bought a box of apples and sent them to her father for Christmas. When the apples got to the family home, her father's eyes filled with tears he was sorry he had disowned his precious daughter. He opened the box, took an apple, and he proclaimed it to be the best apple he had ever tasted. It was because it was the Apple of Love. They both forgave each other and lived happily ever after(ish).

So every year, we all get together to celebrate our family heritage and remember the Apple of Love. And this is the family song we always sing at the end:

No matter where you go
You'll be a Lamoreaux
Remember this great truth
A piece of Dave and Ruth
Is inside of you
And the legacy we live
Is to love and to forgive
Stand up for the right
Flee to the light
That's the road of Lamoreaux

Much love.

A Glimpse Thru the Veil

As I've mentioned before, my grandfather died very young. My mom was only 2, and of course me and my siblings never knew him. When my older siblings were growing up, nobody ever spoke of "Daddy Gordon", because the memories were too painful for my grandma. One day, my older sister was visiting Grandma for summer and found an old trunk. She asked my grandma what it was. My grandma sadly replied it was all the letters Gordon had sent to her when they were engaged. "Who's Gordon?" my sister asked. At that moment my grandmother realized that as much as she was missing him and was pained by his memory, it would be more sad for her grandchildren to not know who their grandfather was. So that year for Christmas, she put together a book of all the letters my grandpa had written to her when they were engaged so all his posterity would know him. It was entitled "A Glimpse Thru the Veil".

This was such an amazing project, and guess what? I had no clue it existed! I was very young when this happened, so I did not know about it. I mentioned to my older sister that I was starting a genealogy blog, and she said I should do a post about "A Glimpse Thru the Veil". And then she pulled out the book! I have been blessed with so many resources, and I'm wondering how many of them I didn't even know existed! Well, I'm gonna go get to know Daddy Gordon better.

Much love.

Sergt Robt D Sanborn (June 14th 1865)

It's always hard to going through someone's things after they leave. And since my grandma was a professional genealogist, she had a LOT of things to go through. Amidst all her piles of work and records, we did however, find some buried treasures. Not the least of which was a letter from one of my great-uncles to his sister (my great-grandma) while he was serving in the Civil War. My mom was the one who found it, and immediately called for me. Nobody in my family could read it, but as a trained indexer ;) I was able to read it aloud to the family. And here is the text of said letter as far as I could read it:

Camp rear Bailey crossroads
Virginia June 14th 1865

Dear Sister Mary,

I yesterday received a letter from you and will write you now as I have an opportunity. We are once more in the vicinity of Washington after a hard march from Richmond of one hundred and sixty miles - we rode on the cars from Danville to Richmond, and encamped at Manchester just across the River from there three days. I had a pass to look the place over, and was in the city nearly all one day. I saw the capitol - Jeffs mansion Libby prision - and all the places made notorious by this war, the city has been -before the war- a beautiful place but you know when their army was forced to leave they burned nearly one half of the most business part. We came past some of our old Batllefields on the way here we encamped one night on the Heights of Fredericksburg - and as it so happened, our Regt emcamped right on the same crest of the hill that we first gained when we made our charge at the time of the Chanserville Battle. I could but think and wonder that I was permited to be again there after being in so much danger and you can't tell how very happy I and all the old Vets -who are spared to see it are that the victory at least is soon.

There are many of our boys being in their last sleep at Fredericksburg. O how I wish I could see them here to day. I suppose Veterans are to be kept for a while yet - and perhaps our time out you ask if I am satisfied to stay-I will tell you what I do not like in the Govt last winter before the campaign commenced we got a great many recruits enlisted by large bounties and fear of the draft for one year. These men they are to be first discharged while (I speak not of myself, but my old comrads) old soldiers who enlisted because they were bound to see this Rebellion crushed must stay here. I for one am gld I came not going home with the soft-bread bummers. If you could have seen us the 2nd of Apr when we charged the works- then you would have an Idear how much these bounty men have been worth. I noticed they had a wonderful faculty of finding the rear- probably oweing to the thought of the snug little sum of money they left at home, and thinking , wisely that was the safest place for them. I have yet to see a dead one year man - and I further more advise you to look out now they are coming home for they do love money and may go through you. Make ready and stand with drawn. Cornstalk it is all you will need I guess.

Our Review at Washington was a splendid affair but it was dreadfull hot and some of the tender ones were sun struck. Pennsylvania Av from the capitol to the White House was a perfect jam of people and they filled the road with flowers they are particularly fond of the 6th Corps as you know we arrived there just in time to save them last fall.

I got a letter from Caroline and Bessie L - the other day they were all well at home. I suppose they will have big times when the 11th NH gets home. O what will a poor boy do who has no (shakesphore) Lassie to greet him home.

I would like to see you and look over your new House - shall try for a furlough if I think I will not even be discharged. I want to get out of it and never have been so lonesome since I have been and Uncle Sams service - the work is done and I have had enough soldering.

Tell Nell I will write her soon give her my love also Brad and Jerome remember me to New Ga's folks write of him and (something) this with much love from your brother

Sergt Robt D Sanborn
Co K 6th V Regt - Washington DC

Much love.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Grandpa's Ukulele

Well, June is a special month for my granparents. It was the month they were married, and (almost 50 years later), it was the month they were reunited in heaven. My grandpa died very young. My grandma loved him very, very much and it was the hardest thing she ever went through. When she spoke to me of that time, she would always smile through tears and tell me about her first ukulele.

After her husband died, she was left with two young children (one my mother) to care for, and she knew she had to find a way to be there for them. So, she went out to the music store, and bought herself a $20 ukulele. It seems like a silly thing to do at a time like that, but whenever I asked her she would simply reply, "It's impossible to frown while playing the ukulele."

So on the nights when she missed "Daddy Gordon" the most, she would sit her two little girls on her bed and play for them on the uklele. She'd play into the night, and then they'd watch the sun rise on the porch.

About two months before she died, she went into her office and took that ukulele off the wall. She brought it to me. She told me that she wanted me to have it. She always loved listening to my music, and she said me and that ukulele was a match made in heaven.

Well, that old ukulele has seen a lot of smiles through lots of tears, but it was there for my grandma when grandpa left, and it was there for me when she left too. And you know what? She was right. "It's impossible to frown while playing the ukulele."

Much love.

The Hearts of the Children Have Turned to Their Fathers

Yep, it's true. It has happened. I just turned 19 and I am actively involved in Family History. Too often our generation procrastinates this great work or puts it on others' shoulders, but there is much we can be doing now. It is our responsibility just as much, if not more, than the older generations.

My grandmother, Isabelle Lamoreaux Holladay Cluff, was an amazing genealogist. She always has been since she was my age. Well, she passed away last June. I had been actively Indexing (you can check that out here) since I was 13, but I had never really been into any hardcore family history work. Well, that has changed. I have felt a renewed vigor to search out my ancestors and find my kindred dead. I have felt so blessed and close to my grandmother as I have done this work. Genealogy was her love and her greatest legacy; I intend to carry that on.

Much love.