Sunday, December 22, 2019

Growing Up Christmas, Part 2

We continue the stories from Christmas long ago.
At the feed mill, my Dad would let me play with his adding machine, which had large type bars which came up when you pulled the handle. I liked putting in all nines, so the bars would come all the way up. Eventually, the noise would be too much and he would tell me I could go sweep the warehouse.   Now this was a code word to me that I could go play. He only let me sweep when we weren’t busy at the feed mill. If you have never been to a feed mill, there was dust everywhere.  So I would go out and tell my brothers that Dad said we could sweep.  We would all fight over the big broom, but would all grab one and start sweeping.  The feed mill had beautifully finished hardwood floors, which would have been suitable for a fine town home, and therefore were easy to sweep. Once we had gathered up all of the dust, we knew we had time for some play.
There were moving dollies or hand trucks that were used to stack large bags of feed to be moved to and from the dock.  The ones at the feed mill were made of wood with metal reinforcements and a metal tongue for stacking.  They were excellent at rolling young children to and fro on a newly-swept hardwood floor. Wayne and Denny would take turns rolling each other and me, although they often would roll me into a wall of bags.  We would all laugh and continue to play until a customer drove up, or Dad gave us another assignment.
If Mom had to go to town to finish shopping without the prying eyes of children, Dad would take us to lunch at the Cedar Hill Grill later known as the Golden Point Restaurant and Motel. Charles B. and Lucille Fulks Powell ran the service station on Highway 41 in Cedar Hill. In the early 1950s they added a motel and small restaurant that was named Cedar Hill Grill and Motel. Many of the local residents remember the restaurant and motel.  It was famous for the good country cooking and homemade pies. Mrs. Powell made all of the pies from her own recipes even down to the crust. Pecan, Chocolate, Coconut, and fruit pies were often on the menu. The restaurant when full to capacity, which was most of the time, held 35 people.
Wayne, Denny and I usually got hamburgers and fries, while Dad often ordered a regular plate lunch. We almost always got dessert, which for me was a slice of warm pecan pie with ice cream. I can still remember some of the conversations between my Dad and brothers at lunch. 
Once we headed back to the feed mill, we would enjoy all of the wonderful farmers who traded with my Dad. We had a great opportunity to know so many extraordinary people, who played such a large part in our lives.
I’ve already shared my shopping experience at Gregg’s 5 and 10. The way this secretive shopping worked was I brought all of the items to the front, while my Mom shopped in another part of the store.  My purchases would be rung up, bagged and held until my Mom finished.  My total was six dollars. I had purchased over ten items, including a large plastic flute for my brother, Denny, a stuffed dog for my sister, Beverly, a tie clip for my brother, Joe, and a checker game for my brother, Wayne.  When we got home, I knew that I had to hide the flute from Denny, (he had a reputation of sneaking under the tree) so I stuck it inside a paper towel cardboard roll and hid it under my pillow.  My sister, Beverly, helped me wrap all of the presents (but hers) and label them with tags.  She even helped me wrap the flute, which I hid under my pillow again, so Denny wouldn’t find it under the tree.
Christmas always included lots of friends and family in our house. This meant that where the kids slept often moved from night-to-night. Remember I had hidden Denny’s gift, a red plastic flute, under my pillow to keep him from discovering it. At that time, the Lowe boys slept in bunkbeds made from heavy angle iron. I slept on the bottom bunk and Denny slept on the top bunk, while Wayne and Joe slept in matching bunkbeds on the other wall. With cousins, Uncles and Aunts added to the household, it was always chaotic, but fun.
Somewhere in the hustle and bustle in the days before Christmas, there was wrapping of presents hidden on every bed and table in the household. The resulting trash paper would be bundled up for burning.
Finally, Christmas Eve arrived and it was time for Christmas in the Lowe household. We had a wonderful dinner that definitely included Aunt Martha’s fruit salad, Miss Lucille’s chocolate or caramel pie, and rolls. It seemed that we young kids could move through that wonderful meal in seconds.  “Let’s open presents,” became our refrain.
Minutes seemed like hours as we sat under the tree waiting for the adults to finish their holiday dinner. Occasionally, someone would remind us not to touch the treasures under the Christmas tree.
Finally, everyone would crowd around the living room and the Christmas tree. Every chair would be moved into the room and once everyone was seated, it was time.  Denny and I would be selected to distribute the gifts to the waiting crowd. Every tag was read aloud.  Wayne would help me with the poorly written names. There were gifts from “Guess Who?”  This usually meant they were from Aunt Martha and Uncle Kenny.
Once the gifts were distributed, we started with the youngest child and worked our way to the oldest. At this point in time I was the youngest and began to discover the wonderful treasures in my pile.  I remember among this year’s gifts a wind-up lion toy, a peppermint stick as thick as my brother’s arm, and a new blue notebook with paper.  We then moved to one of my cousins, then another, then finally time for Denny.
He opened his gifts, thanking the givers, then turning to another package.  As he opened his last gift, I said, “Where’s your present from me?”  As we looked again under the tree, and everyone examined their pile.  I remembered it was hidden under my pillow.  Running to the bunk bed and feeling under my pillow, there was no present. We looked all around the bedroom and someone suggested they had picked up some red paper from the bedroom and discarded it in the trash can. Our search went to the trash can. There was no flute.  We finally decided it had been thrown away and burned in our trash pile earlier that day.
Although Denny was not upset, I described his red flute in great detail. Fortunately, we are able to laugh about that little red flute even today.
May your family have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year. Remember to share your memories with your family. 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Growing Up Christmas, Part One

Photo:Family and Friends gathered for a Lowe Family Christmas celebration: (L to R) Frank T. Jones, Denny Lowe (known for sneaking under the Christmas tree), Flossie Denton Haynes, Mark Lowe (down in front), Lucille Chester Jones Smith, Wayne Lowe (enjoying some nog).  

While touring the wonderful homes on the Historic Homes Christmas Tour this weekend, I felt a warm, traditional feeling come over me. It reminded me of the days not so long ago, when the last day of school before Christmas meant the Holiday was upon us.  Join me as I go back a few years to one of those days.
When I ran into the house, my Mom and sister were waiting to take me to town to finish up our shopping.  Now I thought I was really finished anyway.  We had bought my school friends’ and teacher’s gifts, plus I had spent several dollars at Gossett’s General Store on the important gifts I bought my family.  We hopped into our big green Oldsmobile and headed to Springfield, while a light snow continued to fall.  We stopped at Kroger’s first, then headed over to Ehrenwald’s for several boxes; down to Randolph House & Co for some other items; and down the hill to Gregg’s for our last bit of shopping.  My Mom asked if I needed to do any more Christmas shopping.  I told her I would like to get a few things for the family and went down the aisles to complete my purchases. 
The way this secretive shopping worked was I brought all of the items to the front, while my Mom shopped in another part of the store.  My purchases would be rung up, bagged and held until my Mom finished.  My total was six dollars. I had purchased over ten items, including a large plastic flute for my brother, Denny, a stuffed dog for my sister, Beverly, a tie clip for my brother, Joe, and a checker game for my brother, Wayne.  When we got home, I knew that I had to hide the flute from Denny, (he had a reputation of sneaking under the tree) so I stuck it inside a paper towel cardboard roll and hid it under my pillow.  My sister, Beverly, helped me wrap all of the presents (but hers) and label them with tags.  She even helped me wrap the flute, which I hid under my pillow again, so Denny wouldn’t find it under the tree.
It was still a few days until Christmas, so it seemed that the hours just dragged along. The weather was really cold, so to go outside one had to wear several layers of clothing and then put on the heavy waterproof coat with a hood along with a muffler wrapped around your face. I think this is why we all appreciate the scene from Randy (the brother) falling down in Jean Shepherd’s Christmas Story.  Once you were bundled up and couldn’t move around we could venture out for a few minutes, until the face turned red and then you were ordered back into the house to warm up. The only time we could stay out a little longer was when we were feeding our baby calves.  We would heat up enough water to mix with powdered milk formula for the calves.  My brothers would argue over who got to pop the nipple over the bottle, but eventually we would head out to the pens to feed.  We usually got these calves from Mr. Leon Haynes, who had culled them from his dairy herd.  The calves would nudge and butt us, which was a natural way to stimulate their mothers to provide milk.  I was small enough that they often just knocked me over.  My brothers would laugh and tell me to hold on.  I would get back up and try again.  Occasionally we would have a calf, which would bite on the bottle so hard, they would pull the nipple off and the milk would run out.  If this happened, one of us had to start over with that calf.  My brothers could hold the bottle close to the calf’s mouth to prevent this, but my hands were too small and it was all I could do to hold the bottle anyway.
If I was lucky, Dad (J. W. Lowe) would take me to the Feed Mill on the days when we were out of school.
The Feed Mill was located in Cedar Hill where the road split between Main Street and Washington Road. Across the street was the Cedar Hill Methodist Church and next door was the Cedar Hill Baptist Church.  Today, the site of the Feed Mill is the parking lot of the Baptist Church.
There were four steep steps to the front door of the Feed Mill. At least they were very steep to a youngster like me. A storm door opened outward, which served as an additional obstacle to one short like me. Once inside, it was a kids’ dream – jars of bagged peanuts, a candy bar machine and a soft drink cooler.  The office was closed off from the rest of the building.  There were various types of heaters over the years from milk room electric heaters to propane heaters, but there was always a place to warm up. The balance of the building was unheated, which meant we had to store the extra soft drinks in the office to keep them from freezing.  My brothers, Denny and Wayne were the masters of making a drink freeze just right.  Once frozen to the right consistency, they would roll the bottle in their hands until the soft drink became a slushy treat.  One of our favorite frozen drinks was Kick, a drink very similar to Mountain Dew. RCs or Royal Crown colas were a close second.  If the weather was warmer, we were satisfied with a bag of peanuts poured into an RC cola.
Join me next week for more Christmas stories and fun.   Be sure to share your Christmas memories with your family over the next few days.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

World War One Veterans Are Gone, But Where Are There Records?

Sadly, I read this morning that Frank W. Buckles died yesterday on his farm in West Virginia. Washington Post Article Mr. Buckles was the last living U.S. Veteran of World War I (WW1). It seemed like I interviewed several living WW1 Veterans from Tennessee and Kentucky only a few days ago. As I checked my file, the interviews were done in 1998 and 1999, with the 90th Anniversary of the War.
The first-hand accounts of the battles from the perspective of these heroes had often never been discussed with their families. One soldier had his son locate an old box. The man said he hadn't opened this box in years, but wanted to share what was inside. Inside were photographs taken my this soldier. A few of the photographs were of young men excited to be going overseas, but the tone turned as they moved to the front. The pictures were somber and dark. They included dead soldier lying in trenches, other bodies piled in mud and water.
This man said to me, "I spent all of my life trying to forget those months."
If you have family members from this time period, consider the records that might have been created.
Although Woodrow Wilson had declared his intention to keep America neutral in this conflict, the nation declared war on April 17, 1917. Before the war ended, more than four million “doughboys” had served in the U.S. Army with American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), U.S. Navy, or Marines.
Under the Selective Service laws enacted in Congress in 1917, all men (U.S. citizens and aliens) born between September 1873 and September 1900 were required to register with the local draft board. The Draft Registration cards provide information not only about the soldiers who served, but about men in the community who registered for the draft. These records are available at many state libraries and Archives, and the National Archives in Washington, DC. The original draft registration cards are located in the National Archives-Southeast Region in Morrow, Georgia.
There were three dates of WWI draft registration: 5 June 1917 for those age 21-31; June and August 1919, for those age 21 since first registration; and 2 Sept 1918, for those age 18-21 and age 31-45.
Comer Apple was born at Carthage, Tennessee in 1895. He was the son of Tom and Effie Apple. The family moved to Robertson County after 1910. His siblings were Bailey, Tommie, Della, Jones, S.T. , Olcie, and Woodard. Comer registered for the draft in Springfield. He was inducted on 21 September 1917 and joined the Company A Engineers. He was overseas from 1 May 1918 until 2 April 1919. He was honorable discharged on 16 April 1919.
After the great war, Comer married and settled into the Coopertown area. He and Sallie raised their children, Comer L., Virginia, and Buford. In addition to the direct official records created, there are many other records of the events surrounding the World war. Remember the first step of genealogy, which also applies here - Start with yourself and your home. Be sure to look for World War I era certificates or medals. Don’t forget to check the newspapers of larger towns, which was the collection point for companies. There are daily accounts of soldiers’ enlistments and company movements. In addition, there are regular accounts of the events in Europe and even larger accounts of the Armistice and Victory continuing into 1919. There are many more records, which we will discuss later.

Start by reviewing these websites:

Experiencing War: World War I; Veterans History Project, Library of Congress

Cyndi's List; WW1
National Archives; International Researchers 'jazzed' over WW1 Draft Cards
World War I Draft Registration Card Request Form; Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region
Ancestry; Link to World War I Draft Registration (requires subscription)
Be sure to records this information in your family files, and also share with repositories where others can locate. Remember to keep the story alive.

Finding MORE Vital Records for Our Research

I have used County Histories for years, but have noticed recently that certain volumes contain very specific vital records. 

Check out this YouTube video with some examples I found.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Reviewing Old Files and Notes

I have been researching since I was seven years old, so I have collected 55 years of papers and notes.  I'm trying to handle those notes only  _one more time!  It is my attempt to add the data from that note to my Family Files/Database and be sure to include the proper source.  I am also including a digital copy of that data in the file, so that these individual notes can be discarded.

My efforts include an attempt to ARRANGE the notes in a useful format (i.e. surnames, chronological, or locations); CONFIRM the data in the note or reference.  This sometimes includes pulling the actual document, rather than an index entry.  I also include a full citation of the source of the information.  DIGITIZE the note, documents or at least provide an extraction of the important data.
Rather than reference an Index Entry to Kentucky Death Records, I consulted the copy of the actual Death Certificate. Reviewing this information and adding this source to my Family Files, encourages the inclusion of complete, accurate information.

Review this YouTube Discussion Here:

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Learning More About Dr. John Thomas Carman, the Original Owner of This Old Book

Video posted on
 “This historic and very valuable book was given to me by my kind and lovable step-grandfather, Dr. John Thomas Carman. “ These words are written in the front of an original edition of Goodspeed’s History of Tennessee, published in 1886. I purchased this book from an old bookstore near downtown about thirty years ago. 

John Thomas Carman was born in Macon County, Tennessee to William B. Carman and Nancy Stubblefield Carman. He was the sixth of seven children born to this couple. [Elizabeth, G.G., Sarah J., William R., Martha, John T. and Nellie H.] William B. is enumerated as a Carpenter in the 1860 census.
He married Ida C. Cornwall, the oldest daughter of Thomas Jesse Cornwell and Jane Draper Cornwall, also of Macon County, Tennessee.
Although I am still working on the medical career and history of Dr. Carman, a great deal of information was contained in an October 1989 article from The Monitor published in McAllen, Texas.  The article focused on the renaming of the San Juan Elementary School to the Edith and Ethel Carman Elementary School. 
According to Ethel, the family moved to Texas in 1931 after her father, Dr. John T. Carma, retired from active practice. “His health was poor and he wanted a warmer climate.  Not liking Florida, he chose to find out what South Texas was like.  It took us about four to five day to drive down from Tennessee. The roads were not very good back then. The roads in Arkansas were the worst, mostly gravel roads. The roads in Texas and Tennessee were much better.
We stayed at a tourist court in Edinburg and then got halfway to Pharr the next day and my father said, ‘That’s it. This is where I want to live.’ “
“Both of the Carman sisters received their bachelor’s degrees from West Kentucky State Teacher’s College in Bowling Green and later their Master’s degrees from George Peabody College from Nashville, Tennessee.  Both [sisters] taught in Tennessee for several years prior to moving to San Juan, Texas.  Of the combined total of 75 years taught in Pharr-San Juan- Alamo, Ethel taught for thirty-eight and Edith for thirty-seven. The two taught for combined total of 90 years, including the years taught in Tennessee."

This article made the connection of the Carman family to Texas, where Dr. John Thomas Carman was buried after his death in Franklin, Simpson County, Kentucky.  His wife, Ida, died in Texas in 1933.  He returned to Tennessee, where he married Ida Slate Patterson.
His obituary as published in the McAllen, Texas Monitor explains more. 
Funeral Services for Dr.  J.P. Carman, 89, a winter visitor in the Valley for the past 25 years, will be held Monday at 10 a.m. from the Virgil Wilson Funeral Home Chapel. The rites will be conducted by the R.F. Head of the Church of Christ at San Juan, assisted by Leon Davis of Weslaco. Burial will be in Roselawn Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be A.R. Denton and J. B. Welch of Pharr; T.W. Worley of McAllen, E.E. Granes of Alamo, J.C. Foster of San Juan, and W.R. Dugger of Edinburg.
Dr Carman died Wednesday of last week at his home in Franklin, Ky., He had been coming to the Valley each winter since 1933. A native of Tennessee, Dr. Carman was a practicing physician in Tennessee and Kentucky for 60 years. He had been a member of the Church of Christ for 70 years.
Surviving are his wife,  Mrs. Ida Carman of Franklin, Ky., two daughters, Misses Ether and Edith Carman of San Juan, [son Paul E. Carman of Nashville, TN.]

I will continue to learn more about this great family, and feel honored to hold the book that
Dr. Carman purchased and read 133 YEARS AGO.

Sources: "School renaming to honor Edith and Ethel Carman," The Monitor, McAllen, Texas, 12 Oct 1989, p 33.
"J.T. Carman" Obituary, The Monitor, McAllen Texas, Sunday, 5 Oct 1958, p 2

J. Mark Lowe
J. Mark Lowe Reviews
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