A Family History: A Pictorial Record

The photos in this blog post show a little of the family history I’ve accomplished throughout the years using my sewing ability. Y’know—before I realized that I’ve always been Mo Sews Memories. 🙂

I made the quilt pictured below, 20 years ago for our grandson, Jonathon. It was pieced, using left over scraps from outfits that I’d made for his mom when she was little. Remember genie pants and crop tops in the ‘80s? Well, Heather’s were dinosaur print and extremely bright.


The next one is Jon when he was a newborn and Loelah, Jon’s daughter, taken a couple of weeks ago on that quilt. Both babies are wearing the same onesie. My daughter intentionally posed the 2nd photo, doing her part to pass along family history. Makes a sentimental momma proud. 🙂

Jon and Loelah on Jon baby quilt

The next photo collage features Loelah’s Quilt. The fabric in this quilt comes from one of my obsessions—scouring remnant racks in every craft store I enter. And the backing, yarn, and batting came from yard sales. Bargains—love ‘em!

The other photos in the collage are: Daddy with Baby Loelah and Our Baby with Her First Grandbaby. Ummm…I try not to think about how old I am. <wink>

Loelah quilt FB

And the last photo is Loelah on her quilt.

Loelah on quilt

Twenty years from now, I hope to have another photo to add to this collection—one of my great-great grandchild on his/her mother’s quilt. And I hope this story is passed down to that child and to future generations as well.

I just love this stuff!

It’s been great chatting with you again, Over the Back Fence. Let me know how you’re doing and what projects you have going. I’d love to hear from you.


High Dive

4H campMy granddaughter’s 13th birthday is approaching. Her special day is one of 17 that we celebrate yearly. This date—this year—would normally pass with a crisp bill tucked inside a card, signed “We love you! Grandpa and Nana.” But her parents have requested stories for her this year. So… Happy Birthday Mary—here’s a story for you about Nana. 🙂

In July 1968, I celebrated my 13th birthday by attending  4-H summer camp at a lakeside campground in southern Indiana. It was my first time away from my family—I was thrilled and terrified at the same time.

Mom and I shopped a couple of weeks before, getting all the supplies I’d need. We bought travel sized toothpaste, soap, and shampoo—plus a couple of shorts outfits, pajamas, a bathing suit, and a pair of pink & white rubber flip-flops.

4H camp busMost of the camping trip doesn’t register in my memory. I know we rode a school bus to the campground and back—Proof? That’s me above the “VI”. I’m sure there was some sort of craft activity—I vaguely remember weaving colored, plastic cords and a crude keychain. I know there were wood bunks and long tables and food trays—but I’ve also seen the movie, Meatballs, so maybe I’m confused?

I do have a couple of distinct memories though.

Going to the beach one day, we walked single-file from the campsite along a dirt path through the woods. I remember watching my feet instead of the scenery. My new flip-flops sprang up after every step, propelling me into the next one. I was mesmerized and as I concentrated on bouncing along the path, the girl in front of me suddenly screamed and jumped sideways. My next step put my foot inches from a little green & black garter snake. I thought, What a Priss! Why did she scream at that tiny thing?—but I screamed too…. Hey, that’s what 13 year old girls do, right? She and a couple of other girls huddled, crying, while the poor snake turned around and went back to where it came from—the girls finally calmed down and we walked on.

I looked forward to going to the beach, having learned how to swim many years before. Once we got there, I noticed a multi-level, diving platform in the lake and immediately swam out to it. The ladder to the top level was about 20 feet long. My thoughts while climbing it ran along the lines of pulling off the most perfect swan-dive anybody in the history of the world had ever seen!

I got to the top of the platform—panic set in and that voice in my head wouldn’t shut up! You have no idea how to do a swan-dive! You’ve never jumped from this high up before. There are people behind you—you can’t go back down the ladder. Well, jump… NO! Take a deep breath and JUMP… NO! Ok, so now who’s the Priss?

I jumped…. but, instead of pulling my knees up, using the water’s surface to slow and shorten my descent, I straightened my legs and pointed my feet, going deeper and deeper and deeper. I figured out—after it was way too late—that, without proper instruction in breath control and a whole lot of practice, 13 year old lungs don’t hold enough air for that kind of dive. I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO DIE!

The lifeguard apparently thought so too. When I finally surfaced, she stood on the edge of the platform, screaming, “Are you ok?” Then she escorted me back to shore—I spent the rest of the day sheepishly wading along the shoreline in my pink & white flip-flops.

It’s been nice chatting with you Over the Back Fence! Let me know how I can help you preserve your family memories.


Dead Skunk in the Middle…

Leisa and Mona July 2011In late September 2012 my sisters and I gathered at our family farm for a 10 day stay. Dad was scheduled for a heart procedure and we expected to sit in the hospital waiting room for a few hours then bring him home. We could spend the rest of the week visiting and reconnecting. The surgery didn’t go as planned so we ended up staying at the hospital overnight. The next morning Leisa and I drove to the farm. We’d had very little sleep in the last few days and desperately needed showers and actual beds for a few hours.

Dori asked us to feed her dogs while we were there. She had a chocolate lab, a dobie, an Anatolian shepherd, a husky, and a mastiff—her babies were huge! They had doggie-door access to the yard for potty breaks and bark-at-nothing episodes, but their mealtime regimen is strict: “Pretty eats in her crate out of the purple bowl. Mary uses the stainless steel bowl and eats on the back porch. Oh, and give her two green pills in a spoon full of peanut butter. Java gets extra kibble….”

Ok. So we’ll take care of them, then it’ll be quiet and we can get some sleep.

We pulled into the driveway. Strangeno dogs outside and no barking. There was also a slight skunk odor in the air. I hope they don’t have a skunk cornered in the barn.

We stepped out of the car. The skunk odor was stronger. Ugh. It’s got to be in the garage or under the house. But still no dogs. Very strange!

As we opened the back door to the house, the skunk odor hit us like a ton of bricks. Whoa! Walking further into the house, we finally found the dogs. Five happy faces greeted us in the dining room—three furry babies lying peacefully on the floor and two standing guard over a dog bed in the far corner. Almost perfectly intact and nicely displayed on the comfy, brand new dog bed—the skunk!

Leisa freaked and ran toward the back door, screaming, “Whadda we do? Who do we call?”

I stepped in front of her and grabbed her shoulders—y’know… sort of like a Thanks-I-Needed-That slap. I yelled, “Nobody to call! We’ve got to do this ourselves!”

The dogs reeked! First priority—get them out of the house. To do that, we had to get them interested in something besides their newfound play-toy. Ok… food. But at that point, we’d completely forgotten the feeding regimen. We drug five huge crates out of the house and into the garage, filled a bowl with food for each dog, and enticed them—one by one—away from the skunk. With crate latches secured, we tackled the carnage in the dining room.

Eeeww! A dead animal! How do we get it out of the house without touching it? How do we sleep in the stink once it’s gone? We grabbed cleaning supplies, rubber gloves, window fans, and the closest, long-handled garden tools—anything we could use to clean up the mess while keeping our distance from that dead thing. Did I mention Eeeww?

On closer inspection, we realized that the skunk’s claws were imbedded in the dog bed. Oh great! No way to move it separately. So using the garden tools, we scooped up the bundle between us and headed out the front door. Halfway down the porch steps, it over balanced and flipped onto its side almost hitting our feet. Freaky! That’s when in an adrenaline rush, we grabbed the corners of the bed and flung it across the yard where it landed upside down in the bean field. Fine! Let it get plowed underwe’ll buy Dori another one.

Then we went back in the house to scrub the dining room. Luckily the bedroom doors had been closed the whole time so the smell wasn’t too bad there—but what about the rest of the house? That’s where the fans came in. Positioned in open windows and set on exhaust, they did a wonderful job of directing the smell away—and as an added bonus; they muffled the sounds of whimpering dogs who thought they were being terribly mistreated.

Dori complained later that we’d left the garden tools in the front yard for everybody to see. “What will the neighbors think?” Plus the fact that there was a dog bed in the bean field… Guess you can take the girls out of the country but you can’t take the hick out of the girls.

American-Gothic-By-Grant-WoodThe scene reminds me of the famous painting, American Gothic. But instead of a stoic couple standing in front of a farmhouse… substitute two crazed, middle-aged women—complete with stringy hair and dark bags under their eyes—holding not only a pitchfork but also a bright red snow shovel.

All we wanted was some sleep!

It’s been nice chatting with you all. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!


Family Tree

Chart for Glendon Otis Griffith smallRecently I was tasked to find the perfect gift for another Griffith Grandchild Special Event—a college graduation. It was necessary for me to once again get creative and put my sentimental nature to work. This time family history and genealogy were fresh in my mind because I’d just acquired Dad’s research and had started perusing what was there.

Dad became interested in genealogy in the mid ‘60s. He realized that he was the last in his family line—no cousins, no brothers, no sons—no more males to pass on the family name to future generations. So genealogy became a passion for him to find out where and who he came from.

When my sisters and I were kids, we heard the names—Benjamin and Angeline, James and Rebecca, David and Margaret—in everyday conversations. Those grandparents were as real to us as our living relatives. I loved the stories!

This was long before the Internet, so all research was done by actually going to sites and looking through documents. It was a treat for me to tag along with Dad to county court houses where he scrolled through microfiche—although that made me dizzy—and he looked through huge, dusty ledgers—which made me sneeze. He had to prove a marriage or a date of birth or find a death certificate or a land deed for farms his ancestors owned. Plat maps are wonderful—I can still peruse them for hours! He always made copies of the official documents so he’d have them. Then we’d tromp around cemeteries, finding headstones and taking pictures. Many people are spooked in cemeteries—I think they’re fascinating!

Anyway, in Dad’s collection I found volumes of papers, letters, notes, and pictures. In his Family Tree Maker computer program, he recorded 50 years of research. There are 463 names listed—all are related to us in some way.

There is so much info in fact that it’s easy to get lost. But I figured out a way to compile Dad’s direct ancestor tree into poster format—to outline the results of his original goal, finding out where and who he came from onto one page. I’d never seen the info in this form before. I’ve pored over the books he put together years ago, but they are a little hard to follow—for instance, pg. 36 refers back to pg. 4 and pg. 120 refers back to pg. 36, etc. So seeing it all right there in front of me gave me chills. It was incredible!

Aha! I’d found the perfect gift!

I prepared posters for each grandchild and in an accompanying letter asked that they think about the hours of research this information represents, “Picture your papaw sitting at his desk or digging through archives or wandering around cemeteries—completely in his element— discovering and reminiscing and recording.”

My hope is that someday we’ll make more discoveries so that we can fill the empty boxes in this tree. I also hope that all of these grandparents will become as REAL for the grandchildren as they are for those of us who watched Dad’s process!

I love this stuff!!!  

Tell me your family stories. I’d love to help your ancestors become real for you.


Feeling Old—Feeling Blessed

Sometimes a photo is all it takes to bring back a flood of memories—even to hit you over the head with the fact that years have passed and you’re getting old! I saw that photo last night on Face Book.

Goddard High School in Roswell, New Mexico held its graduation ceremony. Proud graduates, proud siblings, proud parents. Two of my grandsons walked with the others in their class and both did a fist-pump as they exited the stage, diploma in hand. This is one proud Nana!

Jon with quilt bI remembered working on baby quilts for my grandkids. I also remembered all of the special moments as they grew—birthday cakes and riding bikes and Grandpa teaching them to count (1-2-6-3-16-59-27…) and stories about “tug snails” (those will have to wait for another post) and driver’s licenses. I realized as those memories flooded in that we’ve spent a lifetime—their lifetime—growing as a family. As the years passed, I lived life right along with them so I didn’t realize they were actually changing from babies to boys to men.

graduatesMy daughters posted lots of photos of the graduation and I relished each one since we weren’t able to be there in person. But the photo that hit me like a ton of bricks was posted by a friend and former co-worker of mine. Her son was among the proud graduates at Goddard High. The last time I saw him—18 years ago—I had made a quilt for his mom’s baby shower as a gift from the office staff where we worked. Wow! To see the change from the infant he was to the man he is becoming…. Well, this morning I feel really old but very blessed to have been a part of the lives of these special people! Congratulations boys!

It’s been nice chatting with you all. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!


Researching a Family Story

I’m switching Genealogy quotefocus in this blog from my previous entries to another passion of mine — Genealogy.

     The names and locations in the following chronicle have been  changed to avoid adding more drama to an already unpleasant family story.

John Sorengill asked me to use my genealogy resources to look into a family story he’d heard since childhood. John’s Aunt Vera, born in 1924 in Portland, Oregon, was the oldest child of his grandfather, Carl. The family had been told that her mother was Maureen, unlike Carl’s other children whose mother was Sophie.

The family knew that the Sorengills originated in Kansas. They also knew that Carl and Sophie were married there in 1925. And since Vera was born in Oregon the year before, they wondered what circumstances caused her to end up with Carl and Sophie instead of staying in Oregon with her mother.

The story in question—probably started by Carl himself and perpetuated by others because of his belligerence toward his family— said that soon after Vera was born, Carl pushed her mother down a flight of stairs, killing her. Another, more genteel version—probably started by those who didn’t want to admit that Carl was the way he was—said that Carl pushed Maureen during her advanced pregnancy and she died during childbirth. Either way—Maureen died, leaving Vera motherless, and Carl was at fault.

My task—find out if the story was true.

I accessed Ancestry.com and found a 1924 city directory for Portland, Oregon. Listed among the residents at a boarding house was Carl Sorengill. Beside his name, like many of the other males listed, was a female name—Daisy—in parentheses, indicating a spouse.

Hmmm… so many times in genealogy research, every answer asks more questions. Was Carl married to someone other than Maureen at the time of Vera’s birth? Or, were Maureen and Daisy possibly one and the same?

I searched for a marriage license and found nothing between Carl and Daisy. I did, however, find a listing in the 1925 Portland Directory for Daisy Sorengill (no other name attached) living in the same boarding house. And I found a 1925 marriage license for Daisy Sorengill and Chas McGhinty. It indicated that Daisy was 19 years old, single, and born in Kansas—as was her father, Norman Sorengill.

Hmmm… that didn’t prove whether Daisy was Maureen, but it did give a clue about Daisy’s lineage.

I searched census records for Daisy’s father and found his parents, Nathaniel & Lucy, in 1880. They lived in Harrison County, Kansas with seven children, including Norman (age 3) and Ethan (age 8).

From previous genealogy research, John knew that his great-grandfather, Ethan, was 8 years old in 1880. Ethan was born in Harrison County Kansas, and his parents were Nathaniel and Lucy.

Aha! Ethan and Norman were brothers. So…. Carl and Daisy Sorengill were first cousins.

Hmmm…. but…. What about Maureen? Who was Vera’s mother?

Sometimes genealogy research leads to educated guesses—meaning the researcher can make highly probable assumptions based on coincidences in the records. So, they report something like, “I don’t know for sure, but the records show these facts and I think ___________ is the most logical scenario.”

I dug a little deeper into Daisy’s lineage and found that in 1910 when Daisy was 4 years old, Norman Sorengill moved his family to Colorado. In 1918 his wife died in childbirth. Then in the 1920 US Census, Norman was still in Colorado listed as widowed and living alone in a boarding house.

Hmmm… what happened to his young children—Daisy and her siblings? How did Daisy and Carl find each other if he lived in Kansas and she lived in Colorado?

In those days it was common for widowed fathers to send their children to live with relatives, sometimes in other states. Also many times, children were and are given names of beloved relatives as their middle names.

After reviewing my findings so far, I ran across a coincidence in the records. According to the 1880 US Census mentioned above, Norman and Ethan had a 6 year old sister—Maureen.

Hmmm…. I’m waiting for a copy of Vera’s birth certificate to see how her mother’s name is listed. Until that proof comes, I’ve made an educated guess based on the most logical scenario….

Probably, Daisy was sent to Kansas after her mother died. And probably, Daisy’s middle name was Maureen—which she used among family and friends.

And the question that I was asked to answer…. Was the story about Maureen’s demise true?

Daisy [Maureen] Sorengill married Chas McGhinty on July 6, 1925. And Daisy McGhinty is listed in the 1940 US census. So…. If Carl pushed Maureen down the stairs sometime during their time together, she didn’t die from her injuries.

But, the Sorengill family might never know why Carl took Vera away from her mother.

More questions…. I LOVE THIS STUFF!! 🙂

Happy Birthday Marines!

marine corps ball 1989November 10, 2014 marks the US Marine Corps’ 239th birthday. It has many more years of history than the 40 I’ve spent as a Marine wife, but the events and my observation during the last 40 years are extremely telling in what makes up a Marine.

In the ‘70s, my husband at the time—an active duty Marine—was assigned to a USMC training facility for reserves in Phoenix. He was accosted and spat at by Vietnam war protesters while we shopped at a local mall.

In the ‘80s, I watched horrific news reports of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut. It was strongly suggested afterwards that all Marines (especially those overseas) not wear the traditional “high & tight” haircut because it made them too recognizable, even out of uniform, and possible/probable further targets for terrorists. The Marines I knew followed the guidelines, but privately voiced their objections.

In the ‘90s, I watched as my husband agonized over putting his Marine kids on planes bound for Kuwait. His own bag was packed and stashed by our front door, while he constantly wondered when his own orders would come through—and on the other hand, why the delay. Meanwhile, legal services worked overtime ensuring that every Marine had a current will and power-of-attorney “just in case.” Harvey ultimately was sent to El Paso instead—much to his dismay!

Also in the ‘90s, bases closed and personnel numbers diminished due to political maneuvering and government cuts. All the while, Marines were called on—time and time again—to fight for and protect our freedoms and safety throughout the world.

Harvey retired from active duty in late summer of 1991. His status changed to inactive reserve, meaning that he could be called back into active service should the need arise for a period of 10 years.

Just two weeks after he received his Certificate of Full Retirement, I saw the first news reports at work and called home to tell him to turn on the TV. The date was 9/11/2001. The first words out of his mouth were, “goddamned bastards!” Were it possible, he would’ve re-enlisted right then and there.

I am extremely proud of my husband, MSgt Harvey Stanbrough, USMC (Retired) and his fellow Marines for choosing duty and honor over personal safety. Happy birthday, Marines. Thank you! Semper fi.


Camping With the Griffiths: Part 1—Brazil, Indiana

griffith 1962I’m sure you’ve heard the adage, “All it takes is one song to bring back a thousand memories.” That’s exactly what happened to me just a few days ago. My husband and I were watching a Johnny Cash bio on A&E. During the video for Ring of Fire, I was transported back to 1963—Brazil, Indiana—to the first Griffith family camping trip.

The Griffith and Brunes families decided that an abandoned strip-mine, turned recreation area was the perfect spot for our first outing. So we loaded the vehicles for the weekend. There were five kids—ranging in age from 2 to 8, clothes and bathing suits, bug spray and Coppertone suntan oil—no sunscreen back then, air mattresses, sleeping bags, folding aluminum lawn chairs, food and kitchen gear, a Coleman stove and lanterns—everything necessary for a successful camping trip. Or so we thought….

We headed southwest to Brazil—Dad and Ed thoroughly enjoyed the confused looks as others momentarily thought we were going to South America. The Griffiths were going to sleep on air mattresses in the bed of dad’s mid-‘50s pickup. It was outfitted with a camper shell and a canvas structure, for ventilation, covering the camper door and tailgate opening. The Brunes family had borrowed an ancient Army-surplus tarpaulin tent.

We got to the lake in the late morning on Saturday, set up camp, and headed to the beach. I loved swimming with my dad. He’d wade out into the water and stand chest-deep. Then he’d tell us to swim out to him and hang onto his shoulders. Once we were there, he’d tell us to get ready, and one-by-one with our arms out in front like we were diving and our feet on his knees, he’d push us back toward shore so that we’d be close enough to touch bottom again. We giggled and screamed and sometimes took in too much water—then we’d cough and spit and laugh some more—and do it all over again and again. During this first camping trip Dori was only 2, so she pretty much stayed close to shore while Mom and Joan tanned on air mattresses nearby. But I know in later years, Dad taught her to swim in the same way.

As the first day drew to a close—after supper and camp-fire watching—we kids were told to go get ready for bed. That was the night I learned never to change clothes, back-lit by lantern light, in a tent. I was mortified and wanted to crawl under a rock!

I’m not sure why or how or when, but sometime during that weekend camping trip, in the midst of a downpour, both families ended up trying to sleep in the Army-surplus tent. I say trying because sleeping was next to impossible. Several facts you might not know about tarpaulin tents: they are stinky and hot, even with the vents open—mosquitos have no problem finding their way in— rainwater tends to collect on the roof, forming a heavy, sagging bubble that creeps closer and closer to the floor as it fills—and waxed-canvas remains waterproof unless it’s touched.

So our dilemma—how to keep nine people, cramped in a tiny space, from touching the walls—how to pacify five kids who are being eaten by mosquitos in a hot, stinky place—how to escape the drip-drip-drip from handprints left after you’ve pushed the water bubble up off the roof—and also at one point during the night, Mom was trying to get up from a folding lawn chair—it collapsed on Ed’s head! All he said was, “Oh. Ow.” The whole experience was hilarious once we got home….

And how did hearing that particular song bring back all of these memories? Well… The jukebox inside the snack bar at the lake was hooked up to a loudspeaker on the beach. I swear every button between A1 and K10 selected the same 45rpm record. Ring of Fire played over and over and over and over—the whole weekend. Frankly, I overheard conspiracy rumors about the loudspeaker, the jukebox, and the idiot who kept feeding it quarters ending up at the bottom of the lake!

Stay tuned for more Camping With the Griffiths stories. We had such a good time on the first one, we just couldn’t wait to try it again and again!

It’s been nice chatting with you all. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!


How Do You Organize Thirty Years of Memories?

cake 1Monday marks our 30th wedding anniversary. Harvey and I had known each other and had been friends for many years prior to our wedding. We realized that, to quote a 70s sitcom theme song, “…this group must somehow form a family. That’s the way we all became the [Stanbrough] Bunch.” 🙂 Anyway….

In October of 1983, Harvey got down on one knee and proposed. A few months later, while we were making plans to drive to Vegas, he received orders from the Commandant of the Marine Corps to report to Okinawa for a 13-month, unaccompanied tour of duty—well, that just sucked! We decided we’d wait until he returned. Two months and $900 in long-distance phone calls later, those plans changed. He was granted a three-week leave during which he flew from Okinawa to Arizona and then back again to finish out the remainder of his duty.

We were married on a gorgeous day under the palo verde and mesquite trees in Estrella Park just outside of Phoenix at 2:30pm on June 23, 1984. It was 116o. Every desert rat knows that temps over 110 are equivalent to Richter Scale readings—each degree is ten times hotter than the one before. Some quick snapshots were taken during and after the ceremony, but sweat doesn’t photograph too well. So we went back to the park three days later—in the morning when it was a mere 95o—set up the camera on a tripod, and posed for our official photos.

After Harvey’s tour of Okinawa was complete, we set up housekeeping in Yuma. Our house was 900 square feet with three bedrooms and one bath. Pretty cozy—except Yuma is hotter than Phoenix and one bathroom gets lots of use with a family of seven. The kids didn’t seem to mind, though. I have pictures somewhere of them playing outside, in shorts and barefoot, the week before Christmas, and many great shots of our family hikes in the surrounding desert.

In fact, we have scads of memories from all the places we’ve lived during the last thirty years that I want to preserve. But our memorabilia is stashed in steamer trunks and boxes and closets and drawers. For years, I’ve been meaning to organize it all into scrapbooks. But… well, you know… I never got a round-to-it.

the danceI’ve brought this on myself though. Fifteen years ago, Harvey had major heart surgery. As I put his wedding band on my thumb for safe-keeping while he was in the hospital, I told him that I expected at least fifteen more years of memories. Well, that’s not enough! On Monday, I’ll tell him that I expect at least thirty more. 🙂

It’s been nice chatting with you all. I’d better get back to my scrapbooking. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes—I promise it won’t take me 30 years to complete your project!

Family Heartbreak

mom sibs 2aThis week, my extended family suffered a heartbreaking loss. One of my aunts passed on to the other side. Of the five siblings, only one remains. My cousins, my sisters, and I take comfort in the fact that the other four are together again with no tears or pain. And even though we’re scattered across the country, we remain close and support each other.

Ours was a tight-knit family group that usually congregated around my mom—she was the oldest. It’s said that cousins are your first and closest friends. So true!

Some of my best memories are of us spending summer days in our backyard playhouse—a converted two-seater. Hey, it’d been moved onto our yard, so there was no pit under it and it’d been thoroughly cleaned before we played there. Dad took out the seat, boarded up the floor, and built a lean-to across the front. We had the only two-room playhouse in the area. It was even furnished—an old sideboard with the doors removed served as bunk beds in the back room and our living room suite consisted of a wooden bench and aluminum lawn chairs. We even laid a brick patio in front between the playhouse and a wooden A-frame swing that Dad built. Fancy!

The burn-barrel was located behind our playhouse in the back corner of our yard. Since the shortest distance between two points is a straight line—adult feet, kid feet, dog and cat feet, and bicycle/tricycle tires wore a diagonal path in the grass between the house and the playhouse. Actually, our yard consisted mostly of clover instead of grass—bee stings on bare feet hurt something awful!

Another family owns that house now—more than 50 years later. But the path is still visible—a reminder of those summer days long ago.

????????The news of my aunt’s death came via telephone on the morning that my son and his family were headed back to Indiana after spending a few days of their vacation with us. We hadn’t seen him in over a year and hadn’t met his sons.

As I connect the two events in my mind, I realize that one generation leads to and makes way for the next. Just remember that every event, no matter how insignificant it seems, creates memories for your kids and grandkids—make sure those memories are the best!

It’s been nice chatting with you all. My sisters and I are working on an heirloom project for the cousins who just lost their mom—more about that later. I look forward to hearing from you soon—Over the Back Fence. Tell me your ideas about turning your memories into keepsakes. I’d love to help!