Monday, July 27, 2015

When I Was Young, Part 3 of 3


Alona Tester of LoneTester HQ geneablog has a geneameme up.  It looked interesting, so I’m going to play along.

“Like it or not, life today is a whole lot different from when we grew up. And as genealogists and family historians, we are mindful of recording our own history, yet so often it doesn’t happen, and sits in the “I must do that” list.

So this “When I Was Young” geneameme has been created to allow you to record at least some of your childhood memories. This series of 25 questions will take you back to your childhood as it asks questions about the games you played, what school was like, what heirlooms you have from your childhood, what books or stories you remember from back then … and a whole heap more.
So if you’d like to record a little of your own childhood history, feel free to take part in my “When I Was Young” geneameme.”

Since the list is 25 questions long, I decided to split my response into parts.  In this last part, I’ll do the remaining questions.


  1. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new-fangled invention? (i.e. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?)
Our telephone was old.  Rotary, party line, etc. until after I moved out.  We got a color TV when I was about 4 years old.  I remember watching some stuff on it when we lived on the farm. That TV lasted until I was a teenager.  It was a Philco model.  We got all of 4 or 5 channels!
I don’t remember specifically when we got most of these items.  I do know we got a VCR fairly late, and a microwave as well.  In fact, our oven heating element burned out at one point, so we cooked with the microwave a lot for a long time.
The first computer we got was a Timex Sinclair 1000, a tiny membrane-keyboard device with a whopping 2K of onboard RAM plus the and-on 16K RAM expansion pack!  Mom and Dad got it as a gift for listening to a time-share spiel and gave it to me.  It had a Z80 microprocessor CPU and the connection to the RAM pack was flaky, so if you bumped it at all, you lost everything as it rebooted the machine.  This would invariably happen after typing in about 80-90% of a long program…
  1. Did your family have a TV? Was it B&W or color? And how many channels did you get?
As mentioned, we got a color TV when I was about 4 years old.  We did have a black & white model before that.  And 4-5 channels on a good day.  Channel 2 was KTCA public broadcasting.  Channel 4 was WCCO, the Minneapolis CBS affiliate.  Channel 5 was KSTP, the Minneapolis ABC affiliate.  Channel 9 was KMSP, an independent station out of the Twin Cities.  Channel 11 was the NBC affiliate.  It changed call letters at some point, and is now KARE, but I don’t remember for sure what the original letters were.
If we turned the antenna, we could get KCCO, the Alexandria feed of WCCO and another CBS affiliate.
All of these channels were weak, and on bad days would be quite snowy.  On good days, they came in pretty clear.  We were about 60 miles away from the towers.
  1. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?
We moved several times when I was quite young, but I don’t remember it.  The last was when I was about 5, almost 6 years old, we moved from the farmhouse into St. Cloud, where we stayed put.  My brother is still living in that house today, though my parents did finally move out to an apartment a year or so ago to get away from the home maintenance burdens.
  1. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (i.e. fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc.)
We weren’t affected by any of these directly, although there were tornadoes in the area, and one specific tornado event devastated a mobile home park a few miles away.  Those places sure seem like magnets to a tornado.
  1. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
My musical awareness starts in the 1970’s, although I enjoy music from the 50’s and 60’s as well.  But the new stuff was all 70’s AM Radio Gold, and later arena rock.  No real memory sparkers here.  Oh, one particular song by Chicago reminds me of 3rd grade, when they did a dance unit in Phy Ed, they used Wake Up Sunshine for the music.  I enjoyed the song then, and still do today.
  1. What is something that an older family member taught you to do?
That would be parents.  They taught me everything parents usually teach their kids to do.  No special hobby or other stuff, just general.  My father was a sports nut, and I was emphatically not, so that didn’t translate.  Mom worked nights a lot, so wasn’t around sometimes to teach, and in any case, she wasn’t into space and science like I was.  Different interests.
  1. What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid?
If it says Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label you will like it like it like it on your table table table…
I am not now, nor was I then, a big Brand fan.  Many of the brands then are still around now, though a few have changed, or been absorbed by larger brands.
  1. Did you used to collect anything? (i.e. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.)
At one point I had a collection of stamps – all cancels from envelopes.  Nothing of any value.  I’m sure I collected other stuff from time to time, but never seriously.
  1. Share your favorite childhood memory.
Honestly, childhood wasn’t all that great for me, I don’t have any favorites I can think of, other than what I’ve already talked about above.  I’m sure I had lots of good times, but in my memory it’s all blended into that time I’m glad is over and done with. Things that stick out tend to be less pleasant memories like neighborhood bullies, etc.  I was the proverbial 98lb. weakling, and learned how to run or evade the bad kids.



A special thanks goes to Randy Seaver of Geneamusings blog for running this geneameme in his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series, where I saw it and decided to play along.



This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2015 by Daniel G. Dillman

Sunday, July 26, 2015

When I Was Young, Part 2 of 3

“Like it or not, life today is a whole lot different from when we grew up. And as genealogists and family historians, we are mindful of recording our own history, yet so often it doesn’t happen, and sits in the “I must do that” list.

So this “When I Was Young” geneameme has been created to allow you to record at least some of your childhood memories. This series of 25 questions will take you back to your childhood as it asks questions about the games you played, what school was like, what heirlooms you have from your childhood, what books or stories you remember from back then … and a whole heap more.
So if you’d like to record a little of your own childhood history, feel free to take part in my “When I Was Young” geneameme.”

Since the list is 25 questions long, I decided to split my response into parts.  In this second part, I’ll do the second eight questions.

  1. What games did playtime involve?
Many of the usual kids’ games.  Kickball, cops & robbers, etc.  I used to play outside a lot as a kid, which would probably amaze people who know me now.  We used to ride our bikes all over the place.  This was before the era of the 24-hour news cycle that got parents in a panic about letting their kids out of their sight for more than half a minute.  The sad part of this is that even though I would let my kids go out and do stuff, they don’t leave the yard much.  I think they’ve absorbed through cultural channels that it’s no longer okay to go off and have adventures without parents around.  And I think that’s a sad thing.
  1. Did you have a cubby house?
If you mean a fort or playhouse, no.  We didn’t have suitable trees, nor really any other workable places to build such. 
  1. What was something you remember from an early family holiday?
My parents took us to Mt. Rushmore when I was about 12 years old.  I still remember the campground we stayed at on a hill overlooking Rapid City, SD.  I took my kids on that same trip when they were in that age range.  The campground is still there, though we stayed at another place.
  1. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthdays or Christmas?
Birthdays weren’t super memorable for me, nor are they a big deal now.  I know I had a few birthday parties when I was younger, but I really don’t remember them much.  I had one cake with little plastic space ships and other toys on it once.  I have a summer birthday, so I never got to have a birthday party in school the way some kids did.  I usually brought cupcakes or something on one day anyway, just to celebrate.
Christmas was always fun for getting new toys for presents.  I remember one year my brother and I inadvertently found some of the Christmas presents early, and we got found out, so we didn’t think we would get the presents because Mom was angry.  We did get them anyway, one item was an air hockey setup. Most years we got to open one thing on Christmas Eve night to keep us from bugging Mom about opening the rest until Christmas morning.
  1. What childhood injuries do you remember?
I didn’t get many.  One I do recall was from when I was quite young.  I was being given a ride on the back of a bike from a girl (memory now fails if she was a relative or a family friend’s daughter) and somehow my right foot got caught in the rear wheel spokes.  Crashed us both to the ground.  They ended up taking me to the doctor, and put a cast on it for a couple of weeks because they weren’t sure if it was broken or not.  Turns out it wasn’t.
  1. What was your first pet?
First I remember was a cat named Cigar.  I remember almost nothing about her, as she died when I was just turning six in 1972.  After that, we got a dog, a Pekingese-Terrier mix named Angel.  She was with us for many years.  I don’t generally go for small lapdog types, but she was a sweetheart.
  1. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
I don’t recall this being a facet of my youth.  In fact, we lived far away from any relatives, so we only got to see them once or twice a year, and then the grownups spent their time talking together, not really with the kids much.  Only later, when doing genealogy questions, did I get older generations to open up about their youth.
  1. What was entertainment when you were young?
Saturday morning cartoons.  Going to the movies was a special treat.  We mostly made our own entertainment as kids, playing in the neighborhood.  I did like to read a lot.
I'll post the next set of questions and answers in a future entry.



A special thanks goes to Randy Seaver of Geneamusings blog for running this geneameme in his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun series, where I saw it and decided to play along.

This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2015 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, July 25, 2015

When I Was Young Geneameme, Part 1 of 3

Since something obviously went wrong last time I tried to post this, I'll try it again.

Alona Tester of LoneTester HQ geneablog has a geneameme up.  It looked interesting, so I’m going to play along.

“Like it or not, life today is a whole lot different from when we grew up. And as genealogists and family historians, we are mindful of recording our own history, yet so often it doesn’t happen, and sits in the “I must do that” list.

So this “When I Was Young” geneameme has been created to allow you to record at least some of your childhood memories. This series of 25 questions will take you back to your childhood as it asks questions about the games you played, what school was like, what heirlooms you have from your childhood, what books or stories you remember from back then … and a whole heap more.
So if you’d like to record a little of your own childhood history, feel free to take part in my “When I Was Young” geneameme.”

Since the list is 25 questions long, I decided to split my response into parts.  In this first part, I’ll do the first eight questions.

  1. Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (i.e. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)
I doubt they still have much more than photographs.  I’m pretty sure, because they moved out of their house into an apartment a bit over a year ago, and downsized a lot during the move.  I know Mom used to have a picture frame assembly of an upright 8x10 frame (which contained my 1 year picture if I remember correctly) on a horizontal shelf.  The shelf itself held my bronzed baby shoes. I don’t know what happened to that, but I remember it clearly.  Mom also had a baby book with lots of scrapbookish things.  Being first child, my life got documented.  Later kids never get as much of that sort of documentation done.
  1. Do you know if you were named after anyone?
Sort of, yes.  My father is Dana Eugene Dillman.  My name Daniel was taken from Dan, which was shortened from Dana.  My middle name is Gene, short for Eugene.  I have never liked my middle name.  Mom mentioned once that she had another middle name in mind, and told me what it was, and I remember preferring it to Gene, but I have since forgotten what it was.
  1. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?
Aside from that potential other middle name, no.
  1. What is your earliest memory?
I remember climbing onto the wing of a small airplane to get in.  Mom took me for a ride in a small plane in Sioux Falls, SD when I was two and a half years old.  It’s possible this is a false memory, but all of the other planes I remember from childhood were Cessnas with upper wings, not something you would climb on to get in the plane, so I am personally convinced this memory is real.
  1. Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?
I know Mom read a whole bunch of Dr. Suess and Berenstain Bears and such books to me when I was little.  I had no older siblings.  I still love those books, and bought a large number of them for my kids when the time came.  I still have a bunch of them in a box for when grandkids start arriving.
  1. When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?
Here’s an easy one.  From very early, say 1st grade or so, I wanted to be an Astronaut.  In fact, I was very outspoken about it.  All of my friends and teachers knew about it, such that when one teacher announced a free showing of a movie to be held one weekend, and said the film was The Reluctant Astronaut (a Don Knotts picture), every head in the class turned to look at me.  That whole thing fell through when it became clear that NASA wasn’t going to be putting a lot of men in space at the end of the Apollo Program. 
During high school, I got interested in photography, and aimed for that.  In fact, I went pretty far, as I enlisted in the Navy as a Photographer’s Mate.  I spent almost six years doing photography and photofinishing.  However, doing photography the Navy way is a great way to burn out the creativity of a photographer, and I ended my enlistment and virtually did not pick up a camera for almost a decade afterward.  I had to have my arm twisted to take pictures of my kids when they were young.

Lately, I have renewed my interest in photography, shooting mostly animals, landscapes and concerts.
  1. Did you have a favorite teacher at school?
For elementary school, I would have to say it’s a close race between Ms. Dooher in 3rd grade and Mrs. Knettel in 4th grade.  Mrs. Knettel would probably edge out for the win.  She cared enough about the geeky science kid to go out of her way to find extra-curricular learning tools for me.
In high school, Leroy Pauley was hands down my favorite.  He was the German teacher.  I took three years of German from him, largely because he made his classes fun and interesting.
  1. How did you get to school?
In elementary school, I took the school bus.  It usually picked us up at stops a block or three away, depending on which year and so forth.

Starting in 7th grade, I walked or rode my bike to school.  It was a mile or less to both Jr. and Sr. high.  Just had to be careful crossing the highway.



This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2015 by Daniel G. Dillman

Friday, February 6, 2015

He was born in the United States WHEN?!



I’ve recently been doing a bit of research on my early American ancestors, immigrants who arrived in various New England locations in the 1620’s-1700’s.  This is a time when North America was just being opened up for settlement along the east coast.  Life was hard, people died young.  Often, people would marry two and three times as spouses died off, and families tended to be large, often with many infant deaths. 

Some early settlements, like Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts, left us a decent amount of records of when people were born married and died.  These records are available on Ancestry.com and other places online.  But here we come into a problem, one that has been causing me some irritation.  When importing many of these records to my ancestors, I keep running into location fields populated with a location, followed by “United States”.  This is obviously incorrect data, as prior to 4 July 1776, there was no United States of America!  How am I supposed to trust records that include such blatantly incorrect data?

It’s 2015.  We’re living in a time when computers are everywhere, and systems are being built with a lot of built in intelligence.  Why, then, have services like Ancestry.com implemented some of that intelligence in fighting this sort of database corruption?  For it is corruption to include demonstrably false data in a database.  Why have they not implemented controls that examine records being entered for such anachronisms as chronologically non-existent countries?  What’s more, we know when most counties in various states were created, as well, and we could also screen for that!  Not only would this screen for bad data, it could then flag the user about the problem, so that they could do further research to get the correct data, instead of relying on erroneous entries that have been passed about for decades.

As an IT person, I have a little experience with programming, and I know this problem is not trivial, but it is also not insurmountable.  Data could be examined, modified to repair blatantly incorrect entries, or perhaps even remove the incorrect portions.  This would not fix existing databases of users of those services, but it would keep new users from filling their databases with bad data!  Perhaps Ancestry or MyHeritage could even offer database cleaning service, to examine users’ data and suggest items to be cleaned.  After all, most major genealogy software now offers some error checking capability; this could be implemented for users who are just using the websites as well.  Heck, it could even be set up as an in-app purchase to help cover the costs of implementing it!

We’re using all of our computing power to collect and store reams of data.  Isn’t it time we used some of that power to make sure the data’s correct?
 


This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2015 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 28, 2014

SNGF - Summer Vacation As A Kid




Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) It's summertime in the Northern hemisphere, and time for summer vacations for many people.

2)  Tell us about a memorable summer vacation when you were a child.  What are your memories of summer vacations with your family?  Did you travel?  How?  Did you visit extended family?  Who?

3)  Share your memories in your own blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here's mine:
 




I remember a number of summertime vacations.  Several were to visit family in other states, most notably the family in Louisiana.  They were so far away it took a major trip to visit.  Others were closer in South Dakota, so we visited them more than just summertimes. 

We visited Louisiana several times, but there are only two I recall, once when I was about 8 years old, and the other when I was just about 14.  As my birthday is in the summer, those would have been the ages I was advancing to.  When I was eight, I remember staying with my Aunt Eva in New Orleans.  It’s the only time I’ve ever visited the French Quarter.  I have very vague memories of some of the architecture and signage.  At that age, I didn’t get to really experience the whole New Orleans vibe.  No jazz, no Mardi Gras, etc.  I do recall one other thing, however, from that trip.  We went outside to the lake right across from my aunt’s place to look at the moon and stars.   Someone there had a telescope, and he let us look through it.  I don’t remember what we looked at specifically, but I was a space nut when I was a boy, and that fed right into it.  That trip was memorable for one other reason: my cousin Sharon Paulette McLin married Michael Andre.  I was supposed to be in the wedding, but at the last minute the little girl I was to be walking up with got cold feet or something and dropped out, so they dropped me out, too.  Michael and Sharon left for their honeymoon a couple of days later (we went home in the meantime) on their way to Michael’s duty station in Germany with the Army.  We found out shortly after arriving at home that their plane crashed in New York City (Flight 66) and killed both of them.

The trip to Washington, D.C. was when I was about 11 years old.  My uncle and his wife were both deaf, and both worked at Gallaudet College there.  We visited the campus one day, and saw some sights while driving, but spent most of the time at their house, playing in the pool and catching fireflies at night.  I remember getting stung by a bee on my finger while splashing in the pool.  My cousin Maria was 12, my cousin Ricky was about six months older than me, and my cousins Ray and Kathy were both a few years younger.  As my brother Mitch was about two and a half years younger than me, we had a couple of small groups we naturally formed.  This trip was memorable for another thing – we took the train.  My father, brother and I all three went, while mom did something else (I don’t remember what, maybe she went back to Louisiana to visit).  We rode the Amtrak Empire Builder out of St. Paul, MN all the way to Washington, D.C. where my uncle picked us up.  The trip took the majority of two days each way, and was interesting for a while as we explored the length of the train several times, but then got very boring.

One other vacation I remember was to the Black Hills area in South Dakota.  I don’t remember how old I was, probably 13.  We drove out, which took about 10 hours or so of driving time.  We stayed in a campground in the hills overlooking Rapid City.  It had a pool in which we spent a lot of time, and a net view of the city lights at night.  Last time I was out there with my family, we drove past that campground.  It’s still in operation, or was as of about 2007.  We didn’t go to a huge number of attractions, but we did go to Mount Rushmore and a couple of other attractions in the area.  This trip was one reason I wanted to take my own kids out there when I got my own family.  Maybe it will be a tradition they will continue when they also have families of their own.
 



This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2014 by Daniel G. Dillman

Saturday, June 21, 2014

SNGF - Summertime!



Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Summertime Fun as a Child
Calling all Genea-Musings Fans: 


 It's Saturday Night again - 
time for some more Genealogy Fun!!



Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission Impossible music, please!):

1) It's the first day of Summer 2014, so let's talk about what we did as children (not teenagers or young adults) on our summer vacations from school.  


2)  Write about your life as a child in the summertime (say, any age between 5 and 12).  Where did you live, what did you do, how did it influence the rest of your life?


3)  Write your own blog post, or leave a comment on this post, or write something on Facebook or Google+

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here...

I grew up in a couple of places I can remember well, plus a couple more I can’t.  First, I remember living on a farm halfway between St. Cloud, and Foley, Minnesota, on State highway 23.  We rented an old farmhouse from the farmer who had built a newer house.  I was about 4 when we moved there, and almost six when we moved away.  Being that young, I had lots of free time to wander around and look at the cows and pigs, play in the dirt with my cars, and ride the farm wagons and other implements.  I remember riding along to bale hay, harvest corn, spread manure and pick rocks, for example.  I remember “helping” to feed the cows.  I remember swinging on the rope in the hayloft.  The farmer had a son about a year older than me, and we got along well.  We played a lot together.   I’ve recently heard that he now owns and operates that farm.

When I was almost six, we moved into St. Cloud, to a house on Breckenridge Avenue, right across from the railroad yard.  We rented that house for a while until our landlord decided he wanted to sell it, and my parents purchased it.  That’s where the rest of my childhood was spent.  My youngest brother is currently living in the house; my parents recently opted to move to an apartment and forego the lawn maintenance in summer and sidewalk shoveling in winter.

There were a number of kids on my block, and we played together more or less, depending on which kids were feeling “cooler” than others at any given time.  Most were older than me, and didn’t always want me around.  We played football beside the street, and kickball in the street.  We played variants of cops & robbers.  We rode our bikes up and down the sidewalks.   Certain driveways would be designated as having “stop signs” and we would have to stop, or the “cop” would give us a ticket.  No one had helmets or pads, and occasionally someone would fall and get a scrape, but generally there were no injuries. 

We rode our bikes along the rail yard in a wide swath of packed earth.  In fact, we played in and around the trains, looking for odd bits of stuff that would fall off the trains, like ball bearings more than an inch in diameter, or taconite (iron) pellets less than half an inch in diameter that made excellent slingshot ammunition.  We found stubs of flares they would use for directing train movements at night.  We found that the sulfur would burn hot and bright red, with choking fumes.  We weren’t supposed to be on the tracks, and sometimes would get caught by the railroad employees and escorted off the property.  We learned when it was likely we could get away with sneaking around, and when we should probably find other things to do. 

We biked other places, too.  All over town, really.  Down to the park, with the swimming pool in the summer, downtown to the library, although that was mostly later when I was a teen.  Across the highway on a railroad bridge to a wooded area where bike trails had been hacked into the undergrowth, and we could ride and jump our bikes for hours.  Over to friends’ houses to play with them, many blocks away from home.  We always knew we needed to be home for supper, and I don’t recall missing that mark too many times.

You might notice the missing element here – we had no video games, no computers.  We had a television, a color one, even, but the four channels we got over the antenna offered little choice in what to watch, and you watched what you wanted when it was on, or you missed out.  And you only had ONE television, so had to compromise on when you got to watch, especially as a kid.   The time period involved here was at the very beginning of what would be come home video game consoles and personal computers, and no one we knew could afford either one.   And by video games, I mean the likes of Pong, simple black and white back and forth tennis-style games and similar.  About this time Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were creating the Apple I, a kit computer that one could build if they had the skills for a few thousand dollars.  Phones all had those twisty coiled cords, and a rotary dial, because that’s what the phone company provided.  AT&T had not yet been broken up, long distance calls were expensive.  Some homes shared a phone line with other homes, known as Party Line.  If you picked up when another house was using the line, you could listen in to the conversation.  We’ve come a long way in technology!
 




This and all other articles on this blog are © copyright 2014 by Daniel G. Dillman