Friday, February 25, 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday - Forever Green

Little cabins nestled among the redwoods at Siskiyou Camp in California.

The card is postmarked 1933, O'Brien Oregon, and reads:

Dear Nettie (Monday)

I am going on this A.M. All fixed up fine. Am feeling only fair. Rather high here for me. Will write when I get to the coast. Love, A. C.

Nettie lives in Medford Oregon. I'm pretty sure A.C. does as well since the card is addressed to Mrs. A.C. Walker. A prominent feature of Medford is Roxy Peak, a 30 million year old dormant volcano.
It sounds as though AC is having health issues. I was afraid he was on his way to Olalla Washington. It's not too far north of O'Brian. A retreat that claimed to cure by starvation was in Olalla during the early 1900's. Linda Burfield Hazzard cured several people to death there.

They all signed their estates and personal items over to her. Well, someone signed the documents. Also their gold teeth and anything else of value. Linda was arrested and convicted of manslaughter in 1912. She served just 2 years and then packed up and moved to New Zealand for a while. In 1920 she came back to Olalla and practiced the starvation cure for another 16 years. Greg Olsen's excellent book, Starvation Heights, tells the history of the "sanitarium" and the plight of the people who came in search of a cure.

Anyway, since AC was headed north and doesn't appear to be going directly home, I was afraid he might have thought a cure was in order for his unspecified ailments.

I chose today's postcard with a photo of coast redwoods (Sequoia Sempervirens) because I saw some in person recently. Sempervirens is latin for ever green, but the word "ever" applies to their longevity as well as their "always green" leaves.

I took this picture at Muir Woods! A magnificent, quiet, beautiful park. This is land that Teddy Roosevelt set aside for all of us to share and enjoy for as long as there are people to come and enjoy it.

I got up close and personal with this beauty. It felt like the tree was hugging me. I hugged a few myself.

It is a dark woods with patches of sunlight that manage to make their way down between the 300 to 375 foot redwoods. There are several varieties of the sequoia genus in the U.S. This variety is the one commonly called "redwood". The other varieties are called sequoia. Redwood is part of the cypress tree family. They do not have resinous sap and do not have a piny scent - or any scent at all.

The cone of the massive coast redwood is about two thirds the size of those shown above. Big trees from little seed cones grow.

Redwood Creek provides background music in the silent forest. Silence persists because there are not enough food sources to attract birds. The tannin in the trees actually repels insects. Only about 50 varieties make their home here including pileated woodpeckers, Steller's jays and northern spotted owls. I only saw one bird, a winter wren, while I was there.

The ground is damp from frequent fogs that roll through. Oyster mushrooms are happy and abundant here on fallen logs.

Jennifer brought me to Muir Woods for the day. It was a contemplative trip. Visitors seem to talk in whispers, but it's because their voices are caught up in the quiet air.

For more postcard voices, stop by and see Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Poetry Bus - Did I Forget Something?

Our bus driver for this tour is 120 Socks. How she ends up with an even number of socks is a mystery to me. I always have orphan socks that sit alone in the drawer waiting in vain for the mate that disappeared forever, somewhere between my foot and the clothes dryer. The single sock gets to stay on only because I believe in miracles.

The prompts that 120 socks have given us are intriguing -

1. This was one of the first creative prompts I ever received and it proved to be a good one -

I knew a woman who........ or indeed I knew a man who........
(real/fictitious or somewhere in between)


2. The last time I was there...........

(again real,imagined, emotionally felt or pretty well any way you'd like to go with it)


3. The photograph below or the colour Amber.

I've chosen number two - the last time I was there...


I was sitting in a Waffle House
Just outside Peoria
Trying to get some syrup off my elbow
With one of those inadequate tissue napkins that pop out
None at a time
From a black and silver dispenser
Invariably jammed
Between sticky salt and pepper shakers
And a crusty catsup bottle

I wish to God that Estelle
(Her name tag reads)
Would spend more time
Cleaning syrup off chipped Formica table tops
And less time washing leatherette seats
With that sour dishrag
That appears to be universally owned
By every Waffle House in the region

Probably has “Waffle House Midwest”
Stamped on one smelly corner
And makes the rounds by express truck
Arriving three minutes before I do
At any given location

At least I can depend on a good cup of coffee
And a runny egg
If I want one

Reminds me of my mother’s kitchenette table
With that yellow oilcloth cover
Always slightly damp from a sour dishrag
Frayed some around the pinking-sheared edges
Dotted with small blue flowers

Probably forget-me-nots
Must be
Because I haven’t

And those cigarette burns on the corner
Where my father used to sit
And peruse the morning paper
Over his runny eggs

Might as well call the cigarette burns
Forget-me-nots too
Because I haven’t

Cynthia Ann Conciatu

Stop by 120 Socks for more bus riding poetry HERE!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poetry Bus - Reserved Seating

Our very own TOTALFECKINEEJIT (Or TFE as we call him or Thomas Francis Edward as the nuns call him "because TOTALFECKINEEJIT isn't even a saint's name, now is it, Mister!") is driving us on Valentine's Day. It's Himself, the very one our mothers warned us about in hushed tones and a wild look of fear in her eyes. Our father's shake aside the evening paper to peer at headlights entering the drive: "Should I offer a drink or just set my '45 on the coffee table." And grandmother, always warning of mashers and libertine's, nervously fingers her cameo brooch while peering over her reading glasses: "Why, he's not even wearing a tie." And yet, we climb aboard because he promises a safe trip. And we'll believe him before we will believe our own mother.

And how do we pay for our ticket? Here's what TFE has to say about that:

" It's Valentine's Day (or it will be on Monday - stop being so technical!), but you don't have to write any love sonnets or Conversation Heart verses. Unless you want to - go for it if that's what's on your mind. I'm listing three different picture prompts below which should hopefully stir some creative juices. I'm sorry that it's on the heels of last week's picture prompt, but not sorry enough to change it."

And so, I've chosen picture number two of the sorry lot and written the first and only thing that came to mind.

(This picture is the property of TFE and/or his neighbor - Dr. M . I'm not sure which. Considering that one or the other may be litigious by nature, I have taken complete leave of my senses and copied, without permission, the picture here.)

Reserved Seating for Valentine's Day

It’s all been said

It’s all been done

Forty-two years of chocolates or

Flowers or

Heart shaped meatloaves

Or "I forgot's"

Find us seated on comfy sofa and

Overstuffed chair rolling

Our eyes at commercials that portend

Chocolate diamonds and open heart pendants

Are the only perfect gifts to portray unending love

When really it comes down to the

Comfy sofa

The overstuffed chair

And those who remain happy seated there

Cynthia Ann Conciatu 2/13/11

That brave few - that band of brothers who have stepped aboard the Poetry Bus may be found seated at TOTALFECKINEEJIT'S

As often happens, I read too fast and missed the part where Dana The Bug is our host today. I'll not change anything I've written - I'll just add Dana's link HERE so you can find the other poem posting passengers without too much mus, fuss or bother!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sepia Saturday - Wyeth Not?

I love this picture of the cat waiting outside the kitchen door. It's from a time when cats were utilitarian, so I think it's all about wishful thinking. She can look inside all she wants. but she'll not be invited.

I hear - and see - through the screen the woman of the house kneading bread for dinner. Rolling out dough for pies. Some of her hair has escaped from the bobby-pins and tortoise shell combs hastily applied hours ago when her day started. She's wiping a bit of pastry from her busy hands onto her apron. It's an off white apron that she made from flour sacks just like her dish towels. There's a little spot on her chin but that will have to wait. She rarely has time to look at herself. Just for that moment in the morning when she brushes her hair.

It reminds me of a Wyeth painting. There's a sense of lot going on and a lot to see by the quiet observer.

This is an Andrew Wyeth painting

There's a lot going on - a soft fresh breeze - the first of spring, a warm sun, and billowy curtains that brush your skin as you approach to see what's going on down at the far side of that tractor path.

My picture is not a Wyeth

Mine was taken from this picture.

The half with the cat looks just like a water color. The other half just looks a photo. There's really no one in the house at all. Everyone is outside posing for a last minute picture before Mary and Mark leave to go back to the city. How'd they get all the way to Coldwater anyway? They're 140 miles from home. It's war time. Did they save months and months of gasoline ration cards. Is the railway station nearby? I'm not sure, but I know they got home alright because they were there just a few years later when I was born. And they never mentioned having any problems getting home from Coldwater.

More on Coldwater - and how they got there can be found HERE

Stop by Alan's Sepia Saturday launch silo for more Sepia Saturday fun!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday - Shadow of a Doubt

Postcard (c. 1900) of a Burmese Monastery

(Burma is now Myanmar)

Burma Road postcard and stamp. First day of issue.

Burma in the spring of 1942 was a prize coveted by two forces: The Japanese and the Allies. Within Burma's boundaries lay rich mineral and oil reserves. The country also produced major quantities of rice. If the Japanese captured the country, a vital link between China and India would be severed and the two countries would be susceptible to invasions. Unfortunately the Japanese were much better prepared for taking Burma and closing the Burma Road than the Allies were to defend it. In May, 1942, U.S. Lt. General Joseph Stilwell was driven from Burma, but he returned as the head of the Chinese division in October, 1943. An acerbic man who was often at odds with China's Generalissimo Chaing Kai-shek and his own subordinate General Claire Lee Chennault, Stilwell was nonetheless a capable leader. Allied forces thus prevailed partially opening the Burma Road in January, 1945.

Chaing Kai-shek claimed the victory. Stilwell's acerbic comment to that was:

"China has taken Burma. I'll take umbrage."

I love the phrase "take umbrage". It is one of many words and phrases that are drifting into the abandoned warehouses of the English language.

Today Stilwell might have said "Well, like, you know, that dude Chaing Kai-shek goes, 'So Burma is like, you know, mine!' So I go 'Yo! You just disrespected me and I'm like, you know, feeling all dissed about it. Bummer."

Bummer is right. I take umbrage to what passes for today's version of the English language.

Before we take umbrage too far from Burma, let me just say this: Burma-shave! The brushless shaving cream supposedly contained herbs, minerals and oils from Malaysia and Burma. Thus the name.

And now a word about the word umbrage: It comes from the Latin "umber" meaning shadow. In this case the shadow is anger.

Umbrella comes from the same Latin word for shadow

so does "umbel"

like the umbel shaped flowers of the wild carrot called Queen Anne's Lace

Penumbra, Antumbra and umbra describe shadow phases of an eclipse as well as the darkened sunspots on the sun.

And then there's the chemical umbellafirone which is used in sunscreen.

And of course, we would be remiss not to discuss the color, umber, which gets it's name from the brownish red clay in Umbria Italy. There is "raw umber", and then there is "burnt umber" which takes on a brighter reddish hue. It happens when heat is applied to raw umber. This brings other colors to mind - like sienna and burnt sienna. These come from the limonite clay in Siena, Italy. All of these are shades of brown that many of us became familiar with when we opened our first big box of Crayola Crayons.

This stadium seating style box from 1948 contained the first "burnt sienna" crayons.

As you can tell by this post, I'm not one to stay within the lines. Please don't take umbrage.

Instead, take a trip over to visit Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday Fun. This is Beth's 50th PFF post host!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sepia Saturday - A Summer Wedding in the Autumn of Their Years

"Anna Zynda Weds, 1920's. The Wedding photograph of Anna Zynda and Edmund Grocholski took place at the Bellvue Avenue home of her father, brewmaster John Zynda. The grand home is draped in patriotic bunting. The house included a chapel where mass was offered by visiting priests. (Frank Zynda)"

I posted this picture from the book Detroit's Polonia by Cecile Wendt Jensen several months ago along with a lot of who's who and how does this fit into my family tree questions. I did several searches through documents and records on, looking for Edmund Grocholski, the purported groom, but with no success. It just didn't fit that Edmund Grocholski was the groom based on other information I have. I tried one more time, tracing records (yet again) for Anna Zynda and finally found the connection! The difficulty in finding answers: The groom was identified as Edmond. He is actually my paternal great uncle, Ignatz Grocholski, Edmund's father.

I hope Ignatz enjoyed this day of celebration and had a happy marriage. He certainly deserved it. This was his second marriage. His first, to Helen Goike, produced seven children. Five of their little ones died at birth or in infancy. I found each of the death certificates on Ignatz signed every one of them. Shortly after the 1920 census was taken, Helen died, leaving him with their two remaining children, Lester and Edmund. The census page that I viewed was written and signed by Edmund. He was a clerk for the government, and he was the Census Enumerator for his neighborhood.

Ignatz either had his own beer and soft drink business or worked with/for Brewmaster John Zynda. In 1927 he married John's eldest daughter, Anna. She was 43 at the time of the wedding and this was her first and only marriage.

With no further clues about the wedding, I was able to make some educated guesses about the participants in the photo:

Ignatz the groom is standing just to the left of his bride. The young boy standing next to him appears to be about 10 years old and is probably his young son, Lester.

I've circled five suspected Grocholski's seated to the right of the bride. As you look from your left to right these are my guesses: Ignatz - nephew of the groom and youngest son of Stanilaus; Stanislaus, brother of the groom and my paternal great grandfather; Rozalia Stanley's wife, my great grandmother; Frances my maternal great grandmother or perhaps a sister of Ignatz; Edmund, the eldest son of the groom.

The young man sitting in the first row may be also be a Grocholski, but I'm not even guessing who he might be. He may be a brother of the bride.

I've also circled Anna's father, John Zynda and his 2nd wife. John's first wife, and the mother of his 9 children died. He traveled to Poland and met and married his 2nd wife.

I've mailed a letter to the Zynda decendent who is the current owner of this picture. I'm hoping that someone wrote names on it. Based on my own experience of hundreds of unnamed and undated photos I'm not very optimistic, but it's worth a try.

A final word about Anna and Ignatz: I found them in the 1930 census. They were living in Detroit, and Lester - now 13 was living with them. They also listed a 2 1/2 year old daughter, Delphine. I found a passport application for the family. They were planning to travel to Poland to visit relatives of both their families.

I'm pretty sure this was a marriage of love and not of convenience, as many 2nd marriages were back then, and I hope they enjoyed many happy years together.

Stop by Alan Burnett's place for more Sepia Saturday links

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Postcard Friendship Friday - Tell Us What You Really Think About Coldwater

My last post talks about a family picture taken around 1942 in Coldwater, Michigan. I know my great uncle Frank lived there for a time and he enjoyed hunting and fishing. The Coldwater river runs south of the city and there are plenty of lakes and open land around the area - including Coldwater Lake so he had plenty of access to his favorite pastimes. Uncle Frank wore flannel shirts and smelled of gunpowder and fish bait - but in a good way. His skin was weathered from the wind and sun and he had a gruff voice and a hearty laugh. He was less than a traditionalist, and there were hushed conversations about his private life that I was not privy to. Otherwise I would have another paragraph of interesting tidbits right here.

I couldn't find much about the history of Coldwater or what it's like there, but I did find this 1949 postcard with a candid opinion about the little city.

It reads: This is a jerk town but we found a nice place. Will be back Sunday.

Well, there it is. Well said. Tell us what you really think.

Coldwater lies just 12 miles north of Indiana and was easily accessible by rail back in the 1940's. This station was a stopping place and had a cafe and, hopefully, restrooms inside.

Mary and Mark (wearing hats and ready to hit the road) took a trip out there to visit their Uncle Frank and his family. Continue down to my previous post, Wyeth Not, to find out more about this picture!

Stop by Beth Niquette's The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Postcard Friendship Friday links