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Reflections on Sixty

Yes, today I hit the big 6 – 0, I think about 7PM tonight, but I don’t have my birth certificate here to read. Sixty damn years on this rock travelling around the sun. Not bad for one who didn’t expect to see 25. But you can blame Wifey® for that.  I would have been either dead or living on the street long ago if not for her love. 

Here are some of the things that stand out about my early life growing up in South Florida. 

  • Go barefoot as often as possible – screw the sand burrs.
  • Rain can be fun – I remember sitting in my front yard watching it rain on the house across the street – but not on me.
  • Wear sunscreen – well, I didn’t learn that as a kid. I was much older with kids of my own before that sunk in. I dare say I was sunburned more often than not.

Needless to say, life has taught me many lessons since those carefree days of running around in just a pair of shorts, chasing lizards, and playing ball. Most of it good, but there have been lots of tough lessons too. But I won’t get into that. 

Things from way-back-when I still remember;

  • My big brother picking me up early to go fishing on my birthdays. I never caught a single damn fish, but it was still fun, riding down US1 to the Florida Keys and fishing off the pylons and bridges. 
  • The first football game I went to. My mother was president of the high school PTA, so she always had a little table or booth at every game. I don’t remember what the function of the table was for, was she selling something? But I remember that first game, I was maybe 6. Her table was in a location where she couldn’t see the field, so she had to listen to the PA announcer to know how the game was progressing. Our team had made a first down, and mom, being the somewhat rabid football fan that she was, was happy. I had no idea what a “first down” was, so I asked. All she said was “that means they get to keep going”. Not knowing anything about football, or any sport really, it made no sense to me. But it made my mom happy, so I took it as a good thing.
  • My oldest sister took me along with her date, to a local fair. This was one of the little travelling deals that used to set up in shopping center parking lots. You just don’t see those anymore.  She, and my other sister as well, would take me along to these affairs quite often.  I clearly remember sitting in the Faris Wheel, between my sister and her date, stuck at the top for a good ten minutes. It was night time, so all the lights in the area were quite amazing. We could even see a little of the airport from our vantage point. I don’t think her date was as excited as I was. I wonder why??
  • My other sister and her friends using me as a makeup dummy. They used to try different shades of lipstick, and who knows what else on me to find the correct complimentary colors. Maybe that’s why clown makeup was such an obvious thing for me. Who knew lipstick was a gateway drug??
  • The importance of animals. We always had a pet of some kind in the house. Many times several at the same time. I learned just how important that relationship is, and it taught me the compassion and some of the responsibilities that are needed to maintain a family. 
  • Since my birthday falls around, and sometimes on, Thanksgiving, my mom would buy me pretty much whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner. Mostly to get me out of the way while she and my sisters were working on the big dinner. I always asked for pizza. From one place only. Frankie’s on Bird Road. They didn’t deliver, and the line was always long. But I would get my pizza, take it to my room, turn up the music as loud as I could get away with. That was cool!
  • My (still) best friend, Maurice and I spending entire days driving around in what we called “The Search For The Blue Nehi”. For those that don’t know what that is. A blue Nehi is a cream soda. It just happens to be a very lovely shade of blue. And it’s very hard to find. But it was a way to just drive around, make fun of people, and spend time with someone important.

I could go on forever. Remembrances of my military days. Going to Alaska, Korea, and all over the country. Having spent twenty years in the military and never seeing a day of combat is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, it kept me safe, but all my soldier buddies that were pulled from our hospital duties to deploy for Desert Shield/Storm came back at least one rank higher (some two ranks higher). Meanwhile, the reservists that came in to take their place lost my promotion paperwork twice!

What about my wife and kids and grandkids? So many memories I could write pages upon pages. So that will be another post, I’m afraid. 

Before I leave you today, I do have a birthday request. Not just for my birthday, but for anyone’s birthday. 

I have been blessed with more than I need. I have family, friends, a roof over my head that has room for more than just me, food aplenty, lots of beer and whisky, and pretty good health. While I want lots of stuff, I am not in need of anything. I bet you’ve friends and family that can say the same. So, don’t give material things (unless there is a special need for that thing). What I would love is donations to a good charity instead.  And there are many LOCAL charities available.

  • A local women’s shelter
  • A local homeless shelter
  • Your local animal shelter
  • A local food bank

I don’t like big conglomerate charity places (i.e. United Way and the like). Their problem is overhead. One report I read said that for every dollar donated to these types of organizations, only 3 cents or so actually make to the folks that need it. Give directly whenever possible.  National charities are good too.

  • The Red Cross (International!)
  • St. Jude’s
  • Many veteran’s organizations.

That’s enough, you get my drift. Make a donation in your loved one’s name (and don’t wait for a birthday or other holiday). And if you’re an Amazon shopper like I am, use their automatic donation option. You can have a portion of your purchases go directly to the charity of your choice. It costs you nothing. Currently, I have St. Jude’s as my choice. But I do change it now and then.

Having said that, if anyone wants to send me a boatload of cash so I can get those “wants, but not needs”, I’m not gonna say no. A nice big pellet smoker, an RV (along with a new vehicle) are on that list. And they ain’t cheap. 

But now I have to take on another of my birthday traditions. Namely, cook my own birthday dinner. But hey, I don’t mind. I cook because I love to eat. 

Thanks for spending a little of my birthday with me. I appreciate your time. Hope your day goes well, as I expect mine to go. But I really must go, the smoker ain’t gonna light itself!

I leave you with this video, which has absolutely nothing to do with birthdays. But it’s another memory from one of my trips around the sun. This one is for you Lloyd.

Peace,
B

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Another Brick Falls

If you’ve been following along with my genealogy posts ( here’s one, and another), you know that I’m not having the best of luck running down my Campbell name.  So this week I took a break from looking for that elusive “immigrant ancestor” and tried my hand at a different brick wall.

My dad had a first wife. All I ever heard about her was the name “Trudie”. No last name, not even if Trudie was a nickname or not, but I have always gone on the notion that her name was Gertrude. But since I am the baby of my family, my older siblings had a little more knowledge than I. I did some searching via Ancestry, Fold3, Archives, and Newspapers.  All of those sites have different aspects that making internet search a bit easier.

I do remember finding a newspaper clipping of my father when he worked for Fairchild Airmotive during WWII era. The article was just a profile of him and his job, but it closed with a tantalizing clue. As best I can recall it said: “he and his wife live in Graham.” I asked my mom if she had ever lived in a town called Graham and she said no. I’m not positive, but I believe Graham is near Burlington, NC. I did find two clippings from The Daily Times which was Burlington’s newspaper of the era, that mention a Don and Gertrude Campbell.  Both of these clippings are from the 1943/1944 years, which is exactly the correct time frame for dad to be there.

I also found a Donald and Gertrude Campbell in the 1940 census living in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Now dad is a native of Pennsylvania, and my oldest sister was born in Altoona, so this was a promising find. On the 1940 census, one of the questions asked was where the person lived in 1935. Both Don and Gertrude answered “same place”. So I looked up city directories for Altoona in 1935. For those that have never heard of a “city

outside of campbell restaurant 3

directory” basically it’s the forerunner of a telephone book.  I could not find Don listed in the 1935 directory, but I do find him, with his mother, in the 1930 census in Antis
Township, Pennsylvania, which is in the same county as Altoona. I do find Don in the 1936 census in Tipton (maybe a suburb of Altoona?). I’m positive this is the correct Don as it has him listed as working in his mother’s restaurant.

Then I found a WWII draft card for Don. I know dad was “4-F” (medically unfit for service), so I was interested in this record.  Ancestry only gave his name and a few other tidbits of information. Just enough that I could say it was his record, but nothing more. The Fold3 site has lots and lots of military records. There I could see the entire card. And it was golden. It gives the same address as the 1940 census! So that was the correct couple. Sadly, they used the standard naming conventions of the times. For the emergency contact person, all it has is Mrs Don S. Campbell. Arrgghhh!!! Why didn’t they use their own names? I see so many old records like this. It is so frustrating.

Check out all the addresses crossed out. I’m not sure how to interpret that.

Family history says that Trudie died early in the marriage, for unknown to us reasons, and that dad married our mom very quickly after her passing.  By pure luck, I came across an obituary from the Altoona Mirror, dated 10 July 1945 for a Gertrude Campbell, with a spouse Donald Campbell. But it’s for Gertrude’s death in Washington D.C. Wait, what?? In DC? But then I remembered that mom and dad did meet in DC. And the death date is only seven months prior to mom and dad getting married. Which fits the family stories perfectly.

Gertrude M Campbell 07-10-1945-page-001

From the 10 July 1945 Altoona Mirror

One stumbling block I still have is I cannot find any marriage records for Don and Gertrude, nor a death certificate for Gertrude. Since her death was in 1945, she should be listed in the Social Security Death Index as the event occurred about ten years after Social Security was started. But she may not have had a social security number. I have no idea as to how long it took for social numbers to become “standard”.

So, yes, genealogy still sucks. But I have, finally, partially knocked down one brick wall.  I wonder which will be next!

So, what are your genealogy brick walls??

Peace,
B

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Genealogy Sucks

So yesterday I tweeted this;

tweet

And believe me, that is a true statement. I have been chasing my Campbell line (and other family lines – but mostly Campbell) since the late 90’s. I have had and canceled, renewed and canceled again my Ancestry account ad nauseum.  I’ve had accounts at least three email addresses ago.

In the beginning, finding family members from long ago wasn’t all that hard. My paternal grandmother (Nanny – I’ve written about her before), told me many stories of my dad’s early time and his father. His father, my paternal grandfather died in the Spanish flu epidemic of 1919. Although my siblings tell me that they believe Nanny had some men friends, she never remarried leaving my father as an only child. Because of this, finding cousins and other distant relatives isn’t easy.

I remember one day at my mom’s house in South Carolina (she moved back near where she grew up after dad died) and Wifey® and I going through boxes of old stuff in her garage. Everybody said we wouldn’t find anything but what did they know!  We found sister-the-eldest’s baby book with birth records. So sweating our asses off and drinking cheap ass beer (this was before the wonderful Craft Beer revolution), paid off greatly. I found my paternal great-grandfather’s name along with his wife!  So let’s renew that Ancestry account and go searching the census records.

While it still took about ten more years to add another generation, I kept going. I finally found my great-great-grandfather and his family along with all my great-grandfather’s siblings.

In those ten years or so, I managed to fill out a lot of the missing data on my family. Birth, marriage, and death dates were located and added to my family tree.

But I still have two stumbling blocks. One, my father had a marriage prior to marrying my mother. He has always told us that “Trudie” had died within the first year of their being married. I have pictures of her (quite the beauty too). But that is all he would tell us. No dates, places, or even her real name. So that is a minor hurdle.

don & trudie campbell

Donald & Trudie Campbell

And mom was no slouch in the look department either..

with love neva

The second hurdle is finding the next generation. What I have so far;

  • My father – Donald Sherwood Campbell 1912 – 1985
  • My grandfather – Herbert J. Campbell 1884 – 1919 (No idea what the “J” is for but guessing James as that name is all over the place)
  • His father – Samuel W. Campbell  1861 – 1924 (This was the one I found in the baby book)
  • His father – James Harris Campbell 1825 – 1902

There the train falls off the tracks.  I do have a lead on his father, a possible James Richard Campbell.  The problem in the 1880 US census James Harris lists his father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania (my paternal line is very heavy in Centre County, PA), but in the same census, James Richard lists his birthplace as Maryland. No this is not a show stopper. From what I’ve read, back then the census was done by hand. After all, they didn’t have all the technology we have today to screw everything up. Instead, they screwed it up by hand, you know, the old-fashioned way!

It would not be unheard of for the census taker to ask questions about neighbors instead of the individual in question. If the person that the census taker need information from was not at home, or maybe the next home was far away (this was rather rural country then), or just plain lazy, they would ask neighbors. And many times the neighbors guessed at the answers, or the worker just made it up. Let’s face, it still happens today.

Enter the DNA tests. I have done DNA at both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA. They both are quite similar in results. The problem lies in that I cannot find any close matches from the Campbell side. Nanny’s side, Bodle, is all over the place. I have more cousins on that line that I could list! But, Campbell’s? Not so much.

Then about five minutes after tweeting the tweet above, I found a new line! It had all the correct sibling names and dates, but a different set of parents for James Harris. Naturally, this peaked my interest.  A whole different set of parents could very well fix my birthplace problem. So I jumped right in with both feet.

One of the main goals I have right now is to find the “immigrant ancestor”. The first person to come over the Atlantic from somewhere in Europe, most likely either Ireland or Scotland.  This family tree had exactly that and so much more!

As I went generation by generation back I became more and more suspicious. The names that were appearing were the BIG names in Campbell history. This tree placed me directly in the same tree as the Duke of Argyll (the current Chief of Clan Campbell, The 28th Mac Cailein Mòr, the thirty-fifth Chief of Clan Campbell, His Grace, the 13th Duke of Argyll (S), and the 6th Duke of Argyll (UK) Torquhil Ian Campbell. See here for more information on His Grace.

This “tree” listed the 1st Mac Cailein Mòr, Sir Colin Campbell or “Colin The Great” (wiki here). But (and there’s always a “but” and this one is big) it didn’t stop there. Many generations after Mac Cailein Mòr was (wait for it…) the one, the only, King Arthur. Yes, that King Arthur. With a birth date and place none the less! I just about punched my laptop screen when I read that. I mean come on. There is no proof of a real Arthur, King or not. There is no consensus of a date, place or even a name for this legend. A great resource for King Arthur can be found at The Great Courses, King Arthur: History And Legend. This 24 lecture series is presented by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.  I highly recommend it.

And, of course, the “tree” continued another five generations or so. I was so pissed, so frustrated. Who would post a tree to a reputable genealogy site, with “myth and legends”.

tweet2

Two hours wasted…

So now I’m stuck back in 1825 Pennsylvania. No Campbell DNA matches, no hints other than one with questionable parentage.

If you have any hints on other research areas for Pennsylvania genealogy, and onwards to Scotland, please, PLEASE let me know. I did contact a professional genealogist but was basically told: “go find someone else”.

And yes, I renewed my Ancestry membership (but only for a month). With any luck, this link will take to Ancestry to view my current tree.

Peace,
B

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A Sad Day In Music History

27 August 1990 – the day Stevie Ray Vaughan died.

Son-the-younger was almost named for Stevie, but at the last-minute we changed it to honor his maternal grandfather.

From http://ultimateclassicrock.com/stevie-ray-vaughan-dies/

After the second of two shows on Aug. 26, everyone from Vaughan and Clapton’s bands and crews boarded four nearby helicopters to take them to Chicago. Vaughan himself was on a craft with Clapton’s agent, bodyguard and assistant tour manager. Reports indicate that there was fog and haze as they departed around 1 a.m. and attempted to fly over a 1,000-foot ski hill.

The helicopter didn’t make it — it veered to the left and crashed into the hill. Everybody on board was killed, including the pilot. An air patrol team wouldn’t locate the accident site until hours later. No drugs or alcohol were involved in the tragic crash. And contrary to rumors, Clapton did not hand over his seat to Vaughan.

One of my favorites of Stevie’s The Sky Is Crying

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 7

outside of campbell restaurant 3

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Since I never tend to follow directions I’m going to comment on my selections for this challenge. First, the “no people” requirement made it very difficult for me. As you can tell, all the photos I’ve used are old photos that I’ve scanned in to add to various genealogy projects. I have some wonderful old photographs of family members dating back to the early 1900’s. But I couldn’t use them for this challenge. What a shame. Maybe I’ll use some for another post.

Day one is a picture taken by my father of the beach at Matheson Hammock in Miami, Florida. My family (and Wifey’s®) grew up on this beach. My dad was a pretty good amateur photographer. He had some of his work of Hurricane Donna damage (1960) picked by the Associated Press and United Press International.

Day two is the “Campbell House – Milesburg, PA”. Yes, there are people in it, but they’re not the focus of the shot, and it’s not really a B&W – more of a sepia, but I used it anyway. The 1930 census lists my paternal grandmother as a “boarding house owner”. I think this is that house, but I am not sure. And I have no idea who the people sitting on the porch are.

Day three is a winter shot of my mother’s house in Gaston, SC, where she moved after my father passed. It may not be a true black and white, but I always thought it was a striking photo, so I used it. Plus it’s one of my favorites that I actually took!

Day four is, according to the note on the back, a picture of Shep. Shep was my dad’s dog way before my siblings and I were around. The location is unknown.

Day five shows my brother’s, Chevy Nova. I’m not sure of the year, but the house I grew up in is in the background so it had to be after 1960.

Day 6 has a very interesting note on the back; “This is where the cookies come from – Friend’s Union State College, PA.” My paternal grandmother, “Nanny”, told me many times that she was the first cook hired by Penn State University. I have a letter from the Civil Engineering Camp of the Penn State Univ. accepting Josephine as Head Cook for the school camp demonstration project, dated 9/20/1956. The demonstration project ran from 9/30 through 10/12 of the same year. Along with many pictures of her in the kitchen of this building cooking up a storm.

And finally, Day 7. Just to show how good a cook Nanny was, this is a picture of her BBQ restaurant. All I know is that it was somewhere in Pennsylvania. And you see that I come by my love of all things grilled naturally.

This is a picture of the inside of her restaurant:

inside of campbell restaurant mirrored

I love the “Open Kitchen”. Same way I run mine.

Today I’ll nominate: Little Fears

I want to thank Kiersten again for tagging me in this project. And a big hearty Welcome! to all my new followers. Hope I can continue to earn your support.

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 6

Friends union penn state univ

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge. The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: Divine Minds

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 5

terrys nova at 29th st

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge.  The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: YummyHood

Peace,
B

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Gibson Girl

The idea for this post came out of the “7 Day B&W Photo Challenge” that my lovely friend Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine tagged me in. Go check out her blog, she has some excellent book reviews (even some books that I’ve read!)

According to this Wikipedia page;

The Gibson Girl was the personification of the feminine ideal of physical attractiveness as portrayed by the pen-and-ink illustrations of artist Charles Dana Gibsonduring a 20-year period that spanned the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States and Canada. The artist saw his creation as representing the composite of “thousands of American girls.”

So, even though I am as old as dirt, the Gibson Girl concept was before my time. But not before my grandmother’s time. My dad’s mother did some modeling way back around the turn of the 20th century.

josephine -right- and unkown

A tin-type photograph. Unkown when it was taken, but I would believe 1890 – 1900. My grandmother is on the left.

I have to say that when I found these tintypes (here’s the Wiki page on exactly what a tintype is), I was amazed that that was my grandmother! I had only known her much later in life when she came to live with us. I know my brother and she did not get along. Probably because he was the oldest son, and much more was laid on his shoulders, then on my shoulders as the second son (and 10 years his junior). But I had no problems with Nanny. We got along famously. Especially after about the third time she was upset with me and said: “Just wait until your father gets home”. I was truly scared the first two times. But dad was like “I didn’t see (whatever I did), so you should punish him”. From the third time on, I was like “No problem!”. But then she also told me that if you could sprinkle salt on a birds tail, you would be able to catch the bird. And of course, I believed her. Standard course for a 6-year-old!

josephine campbell -bottom right- and unks

Nanny is the one in the bottom right.

Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane with me. I’d love to see photos or whatever of your family!

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Photo Challenge – Day 3

campbell house gaston, sc

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge.  The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: Char

Peace,
B

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7 Day B&W Challenge – Day 2

campbells house milesburg

I was challenged by Kirsten over at Once Upon A Spine to do the “7 Day Black and White Photo Challenge”, and I’m always up for a challenge.  The rules are simple: Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

Today I’ll nominate: Frozen Wings

Peace,
B

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