Today is my grandma's 79th birthday! Happy Birthday, grandma!!
There are many memories and stories I could share about my grandma, many of which I have share over the years on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #thingsgrandmasays. In fact, I am pretty sure I am the one that started that hashtag on Twitter about seven years ago. Be sure to check out some of my tweets using that hashtag by clicking the link in the hashtag above - you'll have a good laugh at some of them.
The story I am going to tell today is how much she is an amazing cook. Even as a young child I remember going to grandma's house for Thanksgiving or just Sunday dinner and always eating great tasting food. Years ago she worked for a catering company, so I am sure that is where she learned many of her tips and tricks while cooking.
Each time I have had dinner at my grandma's house over the last 20 years I have always looked forward to her homemade rolls. Everyone in the family has loved her fresh rolls. They are always the most fluffy, warm and golden-colored. I could just eat her rolls and get filled. There have been many times over the years she has made these rolls for various dinner parties and people always rave over how good her homemade rolls are.
About six years ago I was at grandma and grandpa's house one Saturday morning/early afternoon. I was going to stay for dinner so grandma started getting dinner ready. All of a sudden she pulled out a bag of frozen dough purchased at the store. In a very disappointed tone I said, "Grandma, aren't you going to make your homemade rolls? They are so good." She replied, "Of course I am." I was so confused. I began telling her that some bag of frozen dough will never be as good as her fresh, hand-made rolls from scratch. She just giggled and gave me a look. I was even more confused.
At that same time my grandpa walked into the kitchen and I told him that grandma was going to make her homemade rolls, but they weren't going to be homemade because she was using frozen, store bought, dough! I was really starting to worry. Grandpa looked at grandma, looked back at me and did the same kind of chuckle/giggle my grandma did. Was this some kind of sick game they were playing with me? Why was she not making her homemade rolls? Since when did she start using store bought frozen dough? Grandpa looked back at me and said, "She is making her homemade rolls..." and then he walked away.
At that point I realized what was going on. I said, "Grandma - how long have you used this frozen dough to make your "homemade" rolls?" She laughed and said she hasn't made rolls from scratch in YEARS. She has always used the same frozen dough. My mind was blown! How could this be? Everyone has always said they were homemade. Even she said they were homemade. I realized I had been lied to my whole life! As I am writing this I am laughing hysterically because of how funny I find it now, but at the time I was traumatized!
After getting over my shock I continued to help and watch her prepare dinner. After the dough thawed she began to "make" the rolls. As she was preparing them, she said, "Oh yeah, don't tell Jared they aren't homemade. He'll never forgive me." Jared is my brother. I agreed, although hesitantly. It was about six months later Jared found out they were not homemade and he was traumatized just as much if not more than me.
Later that year, after I had forgiven my grandma for deceiving me for so many years, I suggested to her that she needs to write down her recipes. Every time she cooks she never uses a cookbook or any kind of reference. It is all in her mind. I told her that if she didn't record the recipes that one day no one would know how to make them. Do you notice a trend with one of my previous posts about recording your memories? In the end, grandma and I decided my make a cookbook for all the family for Christmas that year. It was mid summer, so we had a good four months to collect family members' favorite meals and then compile the recipes.
This cookbook was not your traditional cookbook. Just about every page had some sort of family story behind it or it was someone's favorite recipe. We wanted to make the cookbook personal towards our family. So if you were to read through some of the recipes, and the stories and photos behind them, they wouldn't mean much to you - but to us, we laugh each time we look at the cookbook because we know the people and stories behind them. This was such a fun project. I am grateful I had the opportunity to work on such an amazing project with my grandma. Her and I have our own memories of making the book - memories I just realized I have never written down, so I need to do that!
Although you may not understand all the stories, inside jokes and photos, many non-family members who have seen the cookbook thoroughly enjoy it and find it such a great idea. Take a look at the book below. And be sure to look at page 23 for her "Impress and B.S. Homemade Rolls." I have said since I found out that her "homemade" rolls were not homemade that she has impressed and BS'd people for many years - and today makes 79! Happy birthday grandma. I love ya!
The other day was my grandpa George’s 82nd birthday. After work I went over to my grandparent’s house for dinner and to visit.
My grandma was busy playing cards all day, like she does every Wednesday, so she left my grandpa in charge of dinner. Whenever he is in charge of dinner, we always know what he is going to make: hot dogs, fried potatoes and creamed corn. That is always his “gourmet” meal that we anticipate.
After dinner I went with my grandpa to pick out a new computer – he is still using a computer that runs Windows XP. He asked me the other day if I thought it was time for an upgrade… I told him that was an understatement.
As we were driving in the car he began to tell me about his first car – a 1937 Chevrolet.
He saved up all his money working for his father, Ellis Clark Ivory, all summer in 1950. His Chevrolet was black and he was telling me how he and his buddies installed custom rear tail lights they called “blue dots.” I found a video showing the tail lights like the ones he installed on his car.
Shortly after he bought the car, he and his buddies took a road trip to Los Angeles. I remember him telling me this story before, but this time I got extra details. He said by the time they got to Mona, Utah, they were running out of gas, so they pulled off the highway. They had a 5-gallon gas can with them, but no money to buy gas. So, what did a group of 16-year-old boys do? From the words of my grandfather’s mouth, “We found a nice garden hose in a local yard and cut a decent piece out of the middle of it.” I knew exactly what he was going to say next and I began laughing so hard. He next said, “I shouldn’t be telling you this!” I replied, “Oh yes, you should! These stories need to be recorded for all posterity to hear!” He continued the story and told me they siphoned gasoline out of another person’s car in order to make it all the way to Los Angeles.
It is stories like these that I love to hear and I try to record so people can hear or read them in the future. I am very fortunate to still have two of my four grandparents still alive to be able to ask questions, hear stories and learn more about their lives. It is stories like those that if not told and recorded, they will disappear and never be heard again.
Today I heard the saying above. I heard it on TV and when I looked it up online there are several places that are calling it a Chinese Proverb whereas other websites are calling it an English Proverb... I am not sure where this saying originated, but it made me think about genealogy - even though I'm sure this saying does not originally apply to genealogy or family history.
As soon as I heard this, I thought about the many hours I have spent scrolling through rolls of microfilm at the Family History Library, or the hard-to-read images found online. I have gotten so frustrated sometimes because the microfilm or digital images were simply too faded, damaged or were not filmed properly. Time after time I have asked myself, "What's the use of filming this record when the page is too faded or the operator did not use proper settings on the camera?" Even though many records on microfilm may be faded, at least it is some sort of record, right?
I have memories. You have memories. We all have memories of various things in our lives. Some of my earliest memories go back to when I was about 5 years old - back to when we lived in South Salt Lake before we moved to Taylorsville. Although I have these memories today, if I don't write them down they will eventually be lost forever. Isn't that why many of us do genealogy - to uncover the past and preserve our heritage for future generations?
My short-term memory can be so bad, I sometimes forget why I left my office and walked into the kitchen. I have to return to the office in order to remember I just wanted a drink our of the fridge. Even those people I know who have amazing memories and can remember every single detail about everything and everyone, eventually those best memories will disappear if they are not preserved.
I have made an effort this year to be better at blogging about my family history. I have published more posts on here in the last month or two than I probably did all last year. I have also been asking my grandparents a lot more questions about themselves and other family members, and writing those stories down. As I have mentioned, I am so fortunate to have two of my grandparents living to ask questions and hear stories, but if I don't write them down for others to read it will be as if they never told me in the first place.
My mom was asking me a couple weeks ago about different programs to record her own history. We talked about several, but in the end I told her that I typically keep all of my genealogy and family history stories in Microsoft Word. I tend to be skeptical using other programs, even those made for genealogy, because you never know what is going to happen to that program or company down the road. Sure, Word may one day be a thing of the past, but I think I would have enough time to move the text files from Word into whatever new and improved program there may be.
I guess the point of this post I want to make is that it doesn't matter how you record your memories, stories and genealogy - the important thing is to make sure you actually do it.
Yesterday I went to my grandparents' house for an early Sunday dinner. Somehow as we were talking during dinner I started asking them about all the places they have lived since they go married. They have been married since 1952 - that's 63 years of marriage!
It was fun to hear them reminisce and list of each place they have lived over those 63 years. As I expected, they had their moments of disagreeing with each other over which house they lived in first and for how long. Parts of it were pretty hysterical because grandpa can be so stubborn and grandma rolling her eyes at what he says. Even through the debating they still laughed in the end.
During a few of the more-contentious moments of them debating which house was which, I pulled up some city directories online and found out that neither of them were right! There was even one where my grandma said, "That's right!! I forgot about that house!"
After spending probably a good 30-40 minutes trying to figure each and every place, I suggested we go for their "Sunday drive" and see the houses, at least the ones that are in Salt Lake County. They didn't know if they were all standing, so we took a drive. I wanted to see first-hand the places they lived and get photographs, if possible. Although we found just about every single one of them still standing, they told me many of them looked quite a bit different because of paint color, fences, yards and other things had changed so much. Well, it doesn't surprise me that many of them have changed over the last 63 years. Ironically, one of the first houses they lived in actually looks just like it did in 1953. This house is located at 233 South 400 East in Salt Lake City, Utah. I told them it was interesting they lived right there because a couple of years ago I lived not too far around the corner from that house and I'm sure I have walked past it a dozen times without ever knowing or realizing my grandparents lived there so many years ago. That is actually how I felt about a couple of the places they showed me. I have driven past the neighborhoods many times throughout my life without knowing my family had a "connection" to that street or neighborhood.
We had a lot of fun that afternoon, going from place-to-place. Not only did I get to see the places they lived, but also the stories of each house. I learned about the cockroaches in one apartment, my aunt falling down the stairs in another and my grandma rushing next door to ask for help, the unfinished plumbing in another that made it so my grandma had to use the garden hose in order to have "indoor plumbing," and my favorite, which I have heard many times, the "house" (which was really a warehouse) where my grandmother had an interesting encounter with someone falling through the roof while she was taking a bath. Of course I was on my computer the whole time typing these stories out while my grandpa drove. Now I need to take those stories and photos and put a little book together for them of all the places they have lived. I'm sure I'll also post more in the future about our little adventure we had yesterday!
Sometimes I am amazed when I find out that I don't have simple, easy to access records on my ancestors that I would have thought I would have obtained long ago. The other day I was going through my family tree and I looked at the profile of my second great-grandfather (John Albert Anderson) and noticed I did not have his marriage record to Sophia Karoline Whelmina Bjorklund. As such, I went to the Family History Library the other day and obtained it from microfilm.
John and Sophia were married in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, on 24 June 1914. I had an index entry attached to both of their profiles on my online tree, but the other day is when I realized I didn't actually have a copy of the record. Each Wednesday I try to make an effort to head over to the Family History Library and do some of my own genealogy. Lately I have been trying to fill in simple gaps like this one.
The marriage records on the particular rolls of microfilm I was going through for Salt Lake County, Utah, were marriage license books. Interestingly, the marriage applications were loose sheets of paper that were slid into the page of the corresponding license. Therefore when the records were microfilmed, the applications and licenses were filmed side-by-side together, so I was able to get "two birds with one stone" so-to-speak.
“Utah, Select Marriages, 1887-1966,” Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com), John A. Anderson and Sophia Karolina Whelmina Bjorklund, married 24 June 1914, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah, information from FHL Microfilm 429086, reference 19558, accessed February 2014.
Image 1: Salt Lake County (Utah) County Clerk, Marriage Licenses, 19201-19600, Volume 49, Application for License to Marry, license 19558, John A. Anderson and Sophia Karolina Whelmina Bjorklund, application dated 23 June 1914; FHL Microfilm 429086 Item 1.
Image 2: Salt Lake County (Utah) County Clerk, Marriage Licenses, 19201-19600, Volume 49, Marriage License, license 19558, John A. Anderson and Sophia K. W. Bjorklund, license dated 23 June 1914; FHL Microfilm 429086 Item 1.
Image 3: Salt Lake County (Utah) County Clerk, Copies of Original Marriage Licenses, No. 19000-19999, Volume 20 (1914), p. 280, license 19558, John A. Anderson and Sophia K. W. Bjorklund, license dated 23 June 1914, FHL Microfilm 429306 Item 3.
Image 4: Idaho, State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Death, Certificate 21467, John Albert Anderson, died 2 July 1918, in Central, Bannock County, Idaho; digital image, “Idaho, Death Certificates, 1911-1937,” FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org), accessed October 2013.
A.C. Ivory is a professional genealogist, blogger, computer geek, and traveler.