Looked at the calendar this morning and realized this will be my last Genealogy At Heart post for 2021! I will be taking a hiatus due to the holidays for the next 2 weeks. Hoping you have a delightful time – enjoy, reminisce, and stay safe.
It’s Official – I have been named an “Oldtimer.” I knew this would happen someday but I never expected I would get the title twice in 24 hours! The first award was made by young visitors from Tallahassee who asked me how long I lived in my area. I had switched shifts with another volunteer at the historical society because it was her birthday (Happy Birthday, Barbara!). When I replied nearly 50 years though I spent my early years in the midwest the man replied, “You’re an old-time Floridian.” I guess I am though I don’t feel old at all!
Early the next morning I decided to go on a cemetery hunt which was just awesome since I haven’t done that since the pandemic began. Hubby and I visited an unincorporated area of the county where we once resided. We decided to stop at the local historical society first to see if anyone could direct me to living descendants of the Garrison family as I am writing a journal article on a tragedy the family endured. My kids used to volunteer at this historical society when they were in middle and high school and I haven’t stopped by in many years. My oh my has it changed! I was remarking how impressed I was with the refurbished pine floors, window shades featuring historical photos, and new exhibits when a docent said, “These are the original floors.” “Yes,” I replied, “but when the building was restored over 25 years ago they left the floors with all the stain buildup and I see they’ve been stripped; they look amazing.” “You sure are an old-timer,” she said, “I don’t think you need me to give you a tour.”
I certainly wanted a tour and kept my mouth shut, as much as possible, as she took us room to room. I didn’t correct her when she said the kitchen was original – nope, I clearly recall the roof leak about 1997, and the then director was frustrated that the roofing company had provided no warranty and the County Commissioners refused to give any more funds. That’s about when the idea to have a Tea Party to raise money began. I still have the hat I created for my daughter to wear as a server. I guess it’s about time we donated it to the museum! I have photos, of course, to show it being worn in the building. Except, they probably wouldn’t take it.
I had promised the original director that I would, upon my death, donate our family’s sheet music collection as she wanted the museum to be known for its musical history as it had the original piano and violin from the family who had built the house. My youngest used a computer to archive the holdings in the late 1990s. Now, I’m told, they have moved to a more minimalist approach so there is no library for researchers to use. I couldn’t get confirmation of what happened to the books, photos, and sheet music they once had.
Or what happened to all the furniture. It once had been set up like a house, though most of the pieces were not original to the location. Each room now houses only 1 piece of furniture – the boy’s room has a carved dresser, the living room has the family’s piano, etc. It’s an interesting way to display the items and allows the visitor to set up the rest of the furniture as they can only imagine.
I’m all for change but I’m also for preserving the past. I love the new look but I sure wish that some of the old items could have been preserved somehow. Somewhere is a happy medium I hope archives and museums can achieve. If you are planning to donate your family items, make sure you have an understanding with the organization of what they’ll do with your items if they change their focus!
After the visit, these two Old-Timers high-tailed it over to a pioneer cemetery and found the graves we sought in about 10 minutes. Trying to clean up the stone for a pic set off a fire ant colony. No bites, thankfully! I clearly had forgotten the perils of cemetery visits.
Now that I’m a reigning old-timer I’ve decided I’m going to blog more about my memories of living in Pinellas County, Florida. The area has changed so dramatically since I was a high school teen I couldn’t have imagined then what it has become. Strangely, it doesn’t even seem like so many years have passed. Recollections – here I come!
Yes, this is the season to be jolly and I am reading a fascinating book that’s anything but jolly this week that I got for free on Amazon Prime. Each month I get a free Kindle book of the month and I selected Murder at Teal’s Pond by David Bushman and Mark T. Givens for my December freebie. I made my selection because I was a Twin Peaks fan of the original series though I didn’t like how creepy it got in the 2000’s so I didn’t finish watching the series. That reason alone wasn’t why I chose this book to read. I was shocked to learn that the show was based off a real life event that just happened to have occurred in upstate New York where my husband’s paternal family once resided. Wow! Who knew?! And I’ve even done boots on the ground research in that location!
Even if you weren’t a Twin Peaks Fan or had kin in the Troy, New York region I recommend this book for the research methods that was employed in an attempt to solve the 113+ murder of Hazel Drew who looked remarkably like Laura Palmer. Talk about typecasting! The authors use many of the strategies that we genealogists do – searching old newspapers, investigating the FAN Club and interviewing the living who might have had knowledge of the event past down to them.
Like Mark Frost who was a co-creator of Twin Peaks, he first learned about the murder from his grandmother who was retelling a different story that had happened at Teal’s Pond. When he questioned her about the details she told him about the murder but didn’t provide much background. As an adult, he decided to dig deeper and that’s how Twin Peaks was brought to life.
There’s a message in here – with the holiday’s approaching you may be interacting with family that you weren’t able to see last year. Make sure you are recording their stories. Who knows, you may end up with a hit TV series because of your efforts.