Sunday, October 26, 2014

Emma's EarthlyTreasure

For some, antique objects collected and loved are a real value, especially those which hold provenance. Once in a while I wonder what earthy things my ancestors would have considered a treasure

My family has a few items which belonged to my mother's paternal grandmother Emma Martinsen Anderson. Those items include a beautiful, ornate mirror, a claw-footed table, one of her nicer hair pins, two pieces of costume jewelry, a fancy, store-bought, blue dress [which would have been much too small for her to wear in her later years] and a few family photos--some taken in 1937 just a year before her death.

I believe if Emma could answer my question about what her treasure might be, she would preface her answer by explaining her life. No doubt she would remind me that her parents and older siblings joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Norway and traveled a great distance by sea and land to live among the LDS saints in Utah.

She might express to me her sadness and fear as both her parents died within a few weeks of each other when she was only 11 years old. She probably would try to help me understand the weight of responsibility she had for her 5 year old brother when her older siblings went out to find work to support the family.

I hope she would express happiness at her marriage to my great grandfather Andrew Anderson. I assume her heart grew a little bigger when she gave birth two years later to their first child, a daughter. What loneliness she must have felt just six weeks after the birth as she bid goodbye to Andrew as he left to serve a mission for the LDS Church and was gone for over two years.

She probably would have told of how anxious she was when she learned Andrew had contracted typhoid fever on his mission and might die. I picture her with pure joy when the Lord sent Andrew home safely to her. I would expect to see despair when just 11 months later her newborn son died. 

I suppose she would express to me the security she felt when Andrew's business became quite profitable, and they were able to move into a big, beautiful home. She likely would have been delighted to tell me about the births of three more sons and another daughter.

Emma might not have been able to express the grief she felt when her oldest daughter passed away at the young age of 15. She herself likely wondered why she could no longer go to back into her beautiful home because of the death. Her eyes might reflect the look of uncertainty she saw on her husband and children as they left their home to help her escape her grief only to camp in the out-of-doors under a bowery.

Grandma Emma might remind me that after this, she was never well, and life was very difficult for her in the years leading to her death.

So what would Grandma have saved as a treasure--something she valued highly? Probably not the blue dress. Likely she would not have said it was her costume jewelry. Pictures are nice but never take the place of the people they portray.

I think if I were to guess, Grandma would say the beautiful mirror was her treasure. Emma might explain to me how the mirror reflected her life including her daily choices and actions both good and bad. The mirror also displayed her emotions, her happiness and sorrow, as well as the faces of those she loved so much. The mirror reflected her, and I hope she knew her life was a treasure.

Today as I look into my great grandmother's mirror, I can't see Grandma or any of the events of her life. I only see my own reflection and my life is a treasure--I think she might remind me of that too.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Polly's Perfect Place

About a year and a half ago, I was searching through some of my family history files and came across a recorded interview I did with my mother several years back. In a part of the interview, Mom speaks of a small reservoir or pond which was on her family's property in Koosharem, Utah a part of what the locals call Grass Valley.

As she spoke, I could tell the reservoir of her childhood seemed almost magical, and she loved it almost as much as anything in her life.

Mom talked of following her father as he went to his little shack by the pond to fertilize fish eggs. Her father, LeGrand Anderson, wasn't a man who enjoyed fishing, but he seemed to love the science of them, and he kept their reservoir well-stocked for those in the family who wanted to fish like my mother did.

Mom mentioned getting in a boat and looking over the edge watching the fish swimming around in the clear water. With her childish imagination, she pretended the fish lived in little fish villages. Sometimes, she watched the fish for quite a while dreaming many interesting stories. 

In 2013, my sister and I took Mom back to the reservoir she loved. It is now owned by her cousins, and they still keep fish in it.

Pauline Anderson Harward
reminiscing by her family's reservoir
in Koosharem, Utah 2013

Fish still jump in the reservoir

Before our visit, I made Mom a little book about her reservoir story. Now I have the pages in video form. I think it brings back good memories for her. Everyone deserves GOOD childhood memories!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My Grandma Dear

After doing a lot of research on my great grandmother Hattie Rozella Charlotta Jane Tuttle Anderson, I felt inclined to write a short poem about her. I do not profess to be a poet, but these were some of my feelings about her. 

                              My Grandma Dear
                 I was thumbing through old photos
                     From a box beneath my bed
                   Some were torn and others bent
                         Faces of kin long dead.

                   My passing glance soon focused
                        On a long-forgotten face.
                       I found myself transported
                     To a past and pleasant place.

                I strode a short, but well-worn lane
                        Toward the house of stone.
                   Its wooden porch was beckoning,
                     “Come stay, you’re not alone.”

                     The aroma of the kitchen air
                       Put memories in my mind.
                  Of bacon, bread and coffee cake
                      Which so many of us dined.

                     The creator of this lovely fest
                     Worked steadily at her chore.
                   She greeted me with loving gaze.
                  And said, “Come in, there’s more.”

                She used her apron clean and white
                          To grasp a sizzling pot.
                    Then once again she took it up 
                          To soothe her crying tot.

                         Some say a woman’s work
                          Is never quite complete.
                     Not even with the dishes done
                      There’s always rugs to beat.

                   I honor you, my grandma dear
                      For all your stalwart acts.
               You kept your family fed and cheered
                    And clothes upon their backs.

                  Things are all so different now 
                         But yet, that is not so.
                     We worry, fuss and bother too
                        Until our time to go.                         

                                         ~Cindy Eppich

Hattie Tuttle Anderson with son Dean
cir. 1925

Sunday, September 14, 2014

My Grandpa LeGrand, His Small Speck in America's History

LeGrand M. Anderson

World War II was aptly named as sadly it affected everyone in the world in some way. For my Grandfather LeGrand Anderson, who began his family during the Depression era, the war was certainly another monetary stumbling block. Without a doubt, he was not alone in this trial!

In 1941 the Idaho meat packing plant which he had been employed for several years closed. He felt he had to return with his family to his father's farm in Koosharem, Sevier County, Utah to make some sort of living. 

In the spring of 1942 a request from the government came for strong men who could construct homes very quickly in the Delta, Utah area. Grandpa knew he was a capable carpenter, needed the income and logistically he lived just 100 miles or so from Delta. He answered the call and was hired.

This all came about because of the war. In fact, the more populated areas along the Pacific coast of the United States had protested against Japanese infiltration, So it was decided by Franklin D. Roosevelt's executive order on February 6, 1942 to relocate those of Japanese ancestry to ten residential facilities--one of those to be built in the Pahvant valley of Utah ten miles west of Delta called early on Little Tokyo.

Construction in Delta began in June of 1942. This building project quickly brought into Millard County large groups of carpenters, electricians and plumbers, and by September enough of the camp had been completed to begin moving in some of its Japanese-American residents. 

An artist's rendition of Topaz

I am sure this huge influx of workers heavily impacted the residents of Millard County. The local newspaper didn't seem sure what they could even report on.

Millard County Chronicle, 20 July 1942, p. 4

My Grandpa LeGrand helped build the 500 small 120 x 20 foot one-story barracks in what ended up being called Topaz. Although it took him away from his home, he probably was very grateful for the steady income for 3 months--a rare benefit because of the war.

One remaining barrack

I believe my grandmother and her three daughters [which included my mother] missed their husband and father very much. There was a song very popular during this time called Sleepy Lagoon. Some of the words are, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in tune . . ." My grandma changed the words when she sang it to her daughters expressing her loneliness, "A sleepy lagoon and two hearts in June."

My grandfather's tiny part in our American history was very brief, and while Grandpa and his family did struggle financially because of the war, he probably didn't dare complain about his situation after seeing where other American citizens were going to live their lives in Topaz during the war.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Our Love for Storytellers

I come from a line of wonderful women who have enjoyed sharing stories. I strongly believe that every family needs one or two storytellers. 

There have been storytellers among us since the beginning of time and as we know everyone has a story. Some storytellers have an undeniable urge to stretch the truth just a little into something somewhat fictional but incredibly interesting. 

For most of us, our own life stories seem average at best and probably somewhat predictable and uninteresting. I have heard the question asked, “Who would ever enjoy hearing a story about me or my family, we are boring?”

Newell Anderson

Recently members of my family have been reminded of their Uncle Newell Anderson who served in the Army Air Corp during World War II. He did his flight training in California and Washington state. At one point, he took a leave and went back to his home in Annabella, Sevier County, Utah. His siblings, nieces and nephews were enthralled by the stories he shared of a world they had never seen. 

For many years since, some have remembered Newell telling them he was engaged to be married to a beautiful, movie star of which he named.

Newell, a teaser by nature, was a very handsome man with multiple musical talents. It was purported [by family members of course] that these talents helped him become quite a lady’s man during the war. Newell's sisters claimed he used these talents to became acquainted with and eventually engaged to the star. 

In October of 1943, Newell and his squadron were ordered to Nuthampstead airbase in England. 

A year ago, I was able to obtain some letters Newell wrote to his brother Dean. One written April 2, 1944, spoke about his former girl friend and others he had written to. [Please excuse the cuss words.]

Nothing in Newell's letter to his brother was ever said about a movie star or an upcoming nuptial. One week later, on April 9,1944 Newell was killed in a firey airplane accident. 

Afterwards, many members of the family claimed to have seen a wedding band returned with Newell's effects. This only helped the movie star story grow. 

Curious as to the family tale, I looked into the possibility of its truth. With a little research, I noted that it was popular during the WW II era for the motion picture industry to produce life-like movies about the war. In fact, local Hollywood newspapers printed that Newell's supposed fiancé/movie star had had a couple of nervous breakdowns while filming war movies during the time. 

Amazingly enough, even after 70 years, this tidbit of new information was the perfect fuel to keep the family story burning--at least with my mother, her sister and anyone they could share it with. From then on, it was assumed that the movie star was bereaved and suffered terribly after learning about the death of her beloved serviceman/fiancé causing her breakdowns.

In more modern times, a family member was able to obtain a list of Newell's effects. To my surprise, a wedding-type band was on the list. 

It is unlikely the story about the movie star can ever be confirmed. But what if the story continues to be passed on and on and on? Perhaps by the time the story is shared with the fifth generation, it will not even closely resemble the original, and the original was pretty sketchy anyway. 
Nonetheless, I cannot imagine a world without stories. Storytellers are found in every culture. They can be a valuable means of entertainment and education as well as a way to preserve our moral values. Stories can enter our minds and thoughts forcing us to visualize how a character might look and act. They touch us and interact with our emotions in ways no other medium can.

Without a doubt every family has their stories. Maybe they are true and perhaps not. Hopefully the stories we are leaving behind for our posterity are worthwhile and a real value. And who knows maybe the next storyteller in the family will leave a wonderful story about us. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Great Out-of-Doors, A Family Tradition

LeGrand, Pauline and Vera Anderson
My mother Pauline Anderson Harward 
with her parents LeGrand and Vera
camping in Idaho, cir. 1939

For many people vacationing in the great out-of-doors during the summer months is a must, and it can often become a family tradition. Perhaps it was the same for my own ancestors.

My great grandmother, Hattie Anderson in front with pan
Cir. 1935

As a child growing up, my family never camped in a tent together and I remember we only owned one sleeping bag back then. But twice my parents rented a camper which Dad put in the back of his truck and off we went exploring the world. Now that was cozy! Much more often, we stayed in the cabins of friends and relatives. It didn't seem to matter how and where we stayed, the memories were still made and kept.

My Harward Family at Fish Lake, Utah in 1969

Me with my siblings and mother in 1970
Dad was always behind the camera!

Houseboating at Lake Powell, Utah  in 1975 with my Harward family

My parents and all of their children and grandchildren 
at my brother Paul's cabin in Fish Lake in 1999

After I married, my husband and I became tenters! Whenever we traveled during the summer months, we found places we could tent camp, because it was very economical, and we really enjoyed it. We went traveling with our tents almost every summer during the years we reared our children and saw much of our beautiful country and western Canada. On one trip one of my daughters exclaimed loudly after seeing all of the beauty she could stand, "When you've seen one tree, you've seen 'em all." But today she loves to camp--even in the trees.

My daughter Cassy and her husband
putting up their tent in 2002

Since tent camping has been such a strong tradition with our family, my husband and I, together with our children and grandchildren gather each summer to spend time camping--babies and all! The grandchildren love to make fires, swim in the creeks, catch water skippers, collect rocks, make crafts, sing Grandpa's silly boy scout songs and make and eat s'mores. It gets pretty crazy. 

Eppich family camping July 2014

This summer as I was sitting around our smokey campfire trying to breathe and clean the dirt out from under my fingernails at the same time, several grandchildren were leaping around me with hot, toasted marshmallows barely hanging from roasting sticks. When I looked at the left over s'mores smeared across their dirt-stained faces, I thought to myself, "Maybe I am getting too old for all of this and perhaps my children and grandchildren will never remember our camping times together anyway."

 How could any grandmother not want to kiss a SWEET face like this one?

But after I got home, put all of the gear away, had a long shower and slept in my own bed, I decided I should probably hang in there a little longer. Who knows, maybe my grandchildren will share memorable experiences from our family camping trips with their children and grandchildren and continue on our tradition. Then it all will be worth it!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Preserving the Faces of our Past

                   Andrew and Emma Anderson Family, 1937 
                          Back left:  LeGrand, LaRell, Vione, R.D.  
                                    Front left:  Emma, Andrew
I have been collecting and writing the histories of my ancestors since I was 14 years old. This has been very rewarding to me.

In those early years, I had to ask family members for copies of their histories and those they had acquired. These relatives often gave me the names and addresses of others I could contact for more information on my long deceased ancestors. I spent a lot of time writing letters to these people asking [or begging] for whatever information they could share with me. 

I remember my excitement when I received their letters back. Usually the envelopes contained something meticulously typewritten about the persons I had requested. All of this information was very appreciated and as a teenager, I probably did not give them the thanks I should have for their efforts. But even though I was grateful, the stories were sometimes just stories until I could attach a photograph to them.

My Grandma Harward was always a good resource for family history. On one visit with her, after some discussion about family history, she brought out a Polaroid camera and took pictures of the faces of her ancestors she had collected and gave me the results. 

In the 1970s a Polaroid camera seemed so magical!  After a push of a button, a small thin packet shot out from the front of the camera. Then after what seemed like forever but really only about a minute or so, one could peel off a thin sheet of paper from the packet and the real magic appeared--a photograph. 

This began my collection and love of family photographs.Today I have many thousands of photographs of family members which have captured them formally and in various activities. When I use my own digital camera to take photo shots of family members and then download them to my computer, it really doesn't take me much longer to get a tangible image than it did with Grandma's Polaroid.

This past winter, I received some amazing pictures of my Grandpa LeGrand with his parents and siblings. The photographs were very dark, and I tried to lighten them using Photoshop. But I was unable to lighten them and keep all of the other elements intact. I needed someone who could restore them professionally. 

Michael from helped me out with the restoration of my treasured photo as you can see at the top of the blog. I am very pleased with the results. 

Old family photos are so precious. I believe we should preserve them the best we can. I am so grateful others in my family have preserved and shared their photographs with me. I am also thankful for those who earn their living helping us restore them to their original beauty.