Sunday, April 19, 2015

Twenty Years

 Note: This post was originally written for the Family Tree Firsts blog.  You can find it here

The native oak trees are the last ones to leaf out here in Oklahoma. Millennia of experience with the vagaries of Oklahoma springtimes have taught the oaks to wait patiently to break their winter dormancy. Let the new hybrids and exotic imports take their chances with March: The old oaks know their tender young leaves will not be safe until April.
Except that one April when no one was safe.
Twenty years ago today my friend Susan Jane Ferrell died in the Oklahoma City bombing . She was my first and best friend. Our parents were good friends in their newlywed days, so when I was born, followed a year later by Susie, it was natural that their friendship was passed down to their daughters.
My dad with Susie on the left and me on the right, Christmas shopping in downtown Oklahoma City around 1959. Susie's father, Don, took the photo.

When my younger twin sisters were born (one of them named after Susie’s mother), Susie noted that I had an excess of baby sisters — couldn’t she have one of them? At the time I would have gladly given her both! A couple of years later, Susie got her very own little sister, Cindy. So the five of us grew up together, more like cousins than just friends. When I was 3 or 4, my mother took me to get a new stuffed animal to replace my beloved kitty cat that had literally been loved to pieces. I chose a small teddy bear that I promptly christened Susie Teddy. (Susie Teddy slept with me every night of my childhood, followed me to college and is now retired to an antique trunk in my living room.) We went to each others birthday parties and slept over at each other’s houses. I liked Paul; Susie liked Ringo. (I knew no one else who liked Ringo — Susie was always something of a free thinker.) She taught me how to make wishes on stars. Her father was the only adult I knew who could wiggle his ears. My first and only fishing attempt was in the farm pond behind her house. One year our families went on vacation together to Colorado.
In Colorado, left to right: My sister Sally; me (note the charming eyewear); Susie; Susie's mother, Sally; my mother and father. Standing in front: Susie's sister Cindy and my sister Jenny.   Susie's father was the photographer.
This gave our mothers, both of whom had a keen sense of history, the opportunity to cart home several large antiques tied to the luggage racks of our 1960s station wagons — including the aforementioned trunk. Susie and I attended different high schools; I was a band geek, and blonde, beautiful Susie was a cheerleader and dancer. I married young and began raising a family. Susie went to law school and became an attorney for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. As adults we kept in touch through our parents but became busy with our own lives. It was only when Susie died, and the memories came flooding back of all the things we shared growing up, that I realized how entwined our roots really were and still are. Bonds that take place in childhood are unique and enduring, and are like no other relationships you’ll have in life.
Susie was sweet and spirited and sparkling. She deserves to be remembered for how she lived, not for how she died. The creation of the Oklahoma City National Memorial insures that the 168 people who died in the Murrah Building on April 19, 1995 will be remembered and their lives celebrated.
So what does all this have to do with genealogy? Well, for me genealogy is more than just collecting names, dates and documents. It’s about telling the stories of people who can no longer tell them themselves. It’s about making people more than a name on a chart or an epitaph on a tombstone. When my mother died in 1987, just after the birth of my oldest daughter, Susie’s mother gave me the best gift I’ve ever received. It was a pink corduroy coat for my newborn daughter with a note attached. It read: “Remembering the time your mother and I made pink coats together for our little girls.” I learned then that a memory, although bittersweet, is the most precious gift you can give to someone who is grieving. When we remember their lives and tell their stories, Death no longer gets the final word.
So Susie, we remember. You are loved and missed but never, ever forgotten.
Susie with her niece and nephew on Easter Sunday 1995, just a few days before her death.
Update: Susie’s niece Rachel, who was only 1 year old at the time of Susie’s death, is apparently a big Beatles fan, with Ringo being her favorite. She had no idea that Ringo was also her Aunt Susie’s fave. According to her mom, Cindy, Rachel about fell over when she read this post. What a sweet connection to the aunt she never had the opportunity to know.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Heirloom: New Photo App

I discovered a cool new photo app...Heirloom.  The name alone should appeal to genealogists!
What makes Heirloom different than the other billion photo apps out there already?  The ability to digitize your physical photos using just your smart phone camera. Did you get that? Scanning with out a scanner. It will even crop the edges, correct any wonky perspective and do a little color correction. Automatically. Then it uploads the full resolution images to your own little piece of the Cloud where you can share them in a private social network. Seems to me this would be great for quickly getting through a lot of photos.  There is no limit on the number of photos you can save to Heirloom's servers and the app its self is free.  But all this being said, I would still want to actually scan my real heirloom photos for long term storage. I don't know the resolution or format Heirloom uses but I doubt its a 600dpi tiff file like I used for my husband's antique photo album.  But for regular, daily life photos it looks like a great solution. Its available in both the iTunes app store and Google Play store.

Here's their promo video.  And for what its worth....he had me at "Star Wars".

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Top Seven Reasons Why I Am Not A Boomer

Conventional wisdom long ago determined that the Baby Boomer generation spans the years from 1946 to 1964.  I was born in 1956. By that standard, I am smack dab in the middle of the Boomers. But really, what does someone born in 1946 have in common with someone born 18 years later in 1964?  I'll tell you....very little.

Here are the top reasons why I, and the rest of the back half of the Boomers (born 1955-1964), are not really Baby Boomers at all:

1. Our parents-   My parents were too young to be active participants in WWII. The true boomers were the result of several years of marriage and child-bearing being postponed due to that war.   My parents were children during WWII.  For them, there was no postponement. They married and had families in the time span that was appropriate for their generation.

2. JFK - His assassination, and those of his brother Robert and Martin Luther King, Jr., were formative and defining moments for Boomers. I was 6 years old when Kennedy died. I barely remember it and my younger siblings don't remember it at all.

3. Rock- Most of us weren't even listening to rock when the Beatles broke up.  Joplin, Hendrix and Woodstock may have been the Boomer's musical influences but ours were Elton John, Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. I personally had a thing for John Denver but maybe that was just me.

4. Vietnam- Boomers fought in or protested the Vietnam War.  No one I knew in high school participated. By the time we were old enough both the draft and the war were over.

5. Politics-  For all the Boomer's faults, they really did believe they could change the world. When the true boomers went to college and started flexing their new political muscles, college campuses exploded. My generation was in middle and elementary school watching from afar and wondering what all the fuss was about.  Which leads to the next reason; Watergate

6. Watergate- We came of age in a post-Watergate world.  In fact, Nixon resigned the presidency the same month I left for college. We were and are much less confident in our power to change much of anything and our subsequent experiences since then have only reinforced that view.

7. It's the Economy, Stupid- The other "boom" following WWII was the economic one.  The Boomer parents were the main beneficiary of that particular boom but their children inherited it.  Yes, their large numbers made the competition for jobs and opportunities intense. But by the time my generation came along the economy was tougher (18% interest and up for a home loan!) plus the older Boomers had gotten there first, were already established in careers and the pickings were slim. Not complaining, just saying.

Now, I'm sure my "Generation Y" and "Millennial" kids are shaking their heads as they read this. I'm sure they see little distinction between Boomers and my "as-yet-unnamed" generation. We probably all just look old to them. And while the Boomers and those of us who came immediately after them may have breathed the same cultural "air" we were molded by very different times. To lump us together is at best inaccurate. So stop!

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