Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, October 31, 2009

SNGF: Most Memorable Halloween

Tonight's Saturday night genealogy fun question is to tell about a memorable Halloween. I'm going to attempt to do that and am hoping that I'm not mixing more than one year in my memory, but I think I am not. My most memorable Halloween would have been the year that all of us neighborhood kids actually managed to con enough parents into taking us out trick or treating that we spent most of the night engaged in Halloween activities. We started out in our own neighborhood. We went house to house up and down the streets of the Love Subdivision. Love Subdivision was so-named because it was built on the site of the former Love's Cow Pasture. The little white house at the corner of Boulevard Drive and Hatley Road had been the home of the Loves, according to my Mom. Our home was built in 1959. I'm sure a few of the houses in the subdivision were a little older than ours, but I really don't know when the subdivision began. I guess I've just come up with a question to research that will add a little to the background of one event in our family's lives.

After we went there, we talked my Mom into taking us to Easthaven subdivision. A lot of our school friends lived in Easthaven. My Mom would only take us to the "safe" neighborhoods, and this was one that she deemed to be so. After we got back, we talked another Mom into taking us to the Meadowbrook subdivision. We had a lot of friends who lived in that subdivision as well.

Our next stop was the East Amory Community Center. This particular year is the only year that I really remember going to the "carnival" going on there. There was a cake walk. I won a caramel cake. We bobbed for apples. I believe they had a haunted house in one of the rooms there. I think you could "fish" for candy and other things like that. We didn't stay a really long time there. However, there was one house that David and Delores wanted to go to. It was a house that I'd never trick-or-treated at before so I really didn't know what to expect when we knocked. Mrs. Hodo opened the door. She lived across from St. Andrews Methodist Church on Town and Country Lane. She invited us into her home which was dark and eery. I remember that she had us hold our hands in a dish. The texture of the item in the dish was "gross" to a youngster in the late 1960s. She told us it was eyeballs. (They were really peeled grapes.) I began to wonder what was in store for me. I was scared. She continued to take us through her incredibly spooky home which even had a casket with a skeleton. I wanted nothing more than to get out of there and fast. Delores, however, kept insisting that we stick with it because the reward at the end was worth it. I had my doubts that anything could be worth the fright we were getting, but I was too scared to leave the others in my group so I stuck with it. At the end, Mrs. Hodo took us into her kitchen where she had candy apples or caramel apples as our "treat." To be honest, I think I still wasn't sure that the fright I'd had was worth it when I would have just as soon gone to another house or two on that street and received candy instead.
However, I will admit that the apple was good.

That was my most memorable Halloween as a child.

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Music, Music, Music

The theme for the Carnival of Genealogy is Musical Instruments.

Musical Instruments!
Do you play a musical instrument or did one of your family members? What instrument did you or they play? If no one in the family played an instrument, tell what is your favorite instrument or band and what is your least favorite one.

I do play several instruments. I began playing the piano when I was in the second grade. My first piano teacher was a lady named Mrs. Price. I really don't remember much about her. I only took from her one or two years. I later took piano lessons from Margaret Oliver who had been my elementary school music teacher until her retirement. All of us loved Mrs. Oliver. I remember the year after she left that we had a young music teacher named Miss West that we really didn't like that much. She just didn't measure up to Mrs. Oliver's standards. I took piano for several years from Mrs. Oliver. Something I've been told since I've been doing genealogy is that Mrs. Oliver's husband was part of the Oliver family who had lived in Cades Cove when the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created. I really want to research his family when I get a chance since I live so close. Many records will be in Knoxville or at the park library in the visitor center. I never knew him because she was a widow when I first met her in elementary school. When the opportunity came to take from a pastor in a nearby town who played beautifully by ear arose, I took lessons from him. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned more about accompanying and techniques from him than I'd learned up to that point from my previous teachers. After he went to the mission field, I did take from one other lady, but that was short-lived because I was learning nothing from her that I couldn't do on my own.

I also play the organ. When I finished my seminary studies, I went to work for a church in Nashville, Tennessee as a director of children's education. The organist had a habit of running late on Sunday evenings because of his job selling musical instruments in one of the mall stores. I began going into the sanctuary and practicing during breaks during the day and with extra time on my lunch break. One night the organist wasn't there by 6 p.m. so the pastor had me play. I was scared to death since I really had not played the organ that much, but I made it through the service fine. I continued to practice and gained some confidence before I had to do it again in the next week or two. I still play the organ about once a year for a service.

Band was a big thing in Amory, Mississippi where I grew up. We joined the band in the 6th grade. There was never a question of what instrument I would be playing. I had been given my sister-in-law's flute and piccolo. When we got to the 8th grade, we had to audition to be able to continue in the high school band. Our high school had traditionally received all superior ratings in the band contests, so it was a big deal to be able to continue. My sister-in-law died of cancer during my middle school years. I still have her flute and piccolo. I did get a newer flute when I got into high school. I think that I can still play the Panther Fight Song and the Stars and Stripes Forever by memory on the piccolo. The disadvantage of playing the piccolo during marching season was that your fingers on your gloves had to be cut way back. During those Christmas parades where the temperature was below freezing, that was a rather frigid experience on those metal keys.

I also should not neglect to mention that the voice can be a musical instrument. I sing a lot. At one time, I might have said that I sing "all the time." I generally sing tenor in our church choir. I sing tenor or alto in ensembles. I have been known to sing soprano, baritone, and bass as well. I can't hit really high notes, and I have to use a technique I learned from a bass singer to hit notes below a certain point to reach them, but I can stretch that range an extra half octave lower with that technique if needed. The tenor range is the most comfortable for me.

My favorite instruments are probably the tenor saxophone or the oboe. I love the tenor sax on jazz tunes. Actually I like any saxophone. I love the oboe on classical.

I love music. I've been told that my Cockrell family ancestors were very musical. Bob Franks wrote an article about the musical talents in his Cockrell branch which is from the same family as mine. I'm happy to say that one of my nephews is also very talented musically. He plays guitar and piano.

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Odds & Ends

About a week and a half ago as I was working on FGS stuff during fall break, my computer suddenly "turned off." It appeared to be a power issue, and when I couldn't get it to come back on after about an hour, I decided that I'd better try to go to Knoxville and get a new power cord. I wasn't sure it was the power cord, and I certainly had no previous symptoms to indicate that I'd had an issue with it. When I got to Best Buy, I decided to go to the Geek Squad counter just to get them to check to see if another power cord would work before I purchased a new one. The "geek" looked and said he was pretty sure that it was the jack into which the cord plugs that was the issue. He tested my cord and determined that nothing was wrong with it. He was pretty sure that the jack could be sauntered and recommended someone at Shields Electronics to do it. I had just enough time to get it to Shields before they closed for the day. I was given an estimate of two days because of computers ahead of mine with the same issue. When the tech there got to it, he discovered the jack was actually split in two and would need to be replaced. The replacement wouldn't arrive (due to the weekend) until the following week, but he thought it would arrive Monday and that he would be done by Tuesday. When he got the jack replaced, the computer still wouldn't power up so we realized that the jack was probably not the big issue (although it did need to be replaced) and that the motherboard was the problem. No warning -- just gone. I had him take out the hard drive and put it in a case so I could get to everything easily. I also had an online backup of all my files. I'm thankful for that. I had to use an old computer that has a tendency to overheat as a backup while I was without my usual machine. I also was very grateful for my iPhone which was my most reliable computer at the time! I now have a new computer with Windows 7. I've managed to get most of my software reinstalled on the new computer. I am still trying to locate my download of Paint Shop Pro's latest version's installer file. I know that I put that on either a CD or a USB drive, but I can't find it at the moment. In the meantime, I'm trying some of the free graphics editing programs out there. I downloaded Gimp, Photoscape, and Picasa. I'll see how I like those. I really don't want to pay another $70 if I can't locate the installer file. I have my product code!

Now . . . there were some interesting developments while I did not have a reliable computer to use. Many of you know that I enjoy reading. I've been pondering a Kindle purchase for some time. Sony has improved its ebook reader in the last few months, but Barnes & Noble has just come out with the Nook also. I think all of these are interesting. Right now, I've got an ebook reader called Stanza that is an iPhone application. I'm able to download public domain books with it for free. I have also learned that there is a Kindle application for iPhone which is very intriguing. One of these days, I'm sure I'll bite the bullet and get one, but since I had to purchase a new computer 1.5 years before the planned replacement, I simply can't afford one right now.

Another interesting development is the announcement of Footnote.com's interactive census. How many times have those of us researching on Ancestry.com wished that we had a similar feature rather than just the "corrections" feature? At the same time I'm excited about the interactivity of this, I'm also concerned that we'll end up with a lot of problems by persons who jump to erroneous conclusions. These would be the same types of errors that many online trees have. I specifically think back to a case in which most of the data on my Harris family was incorrect in Ancestral File. One brother had lived apart from the rest of the family and really had not kept in touch with his brothers and sisters who had moved on from the family's earlier residence (where he remained). The person who had submitted information was from this brother's line. The erroneous conclusions were reached because the person was searching for full names instead of initials which had been used by the enumerator for the census in which wrong conclusions had been made. While I realize that we will be able to interact and correct those errors, the fact that they may be there before we realize that they are there concerns me. I just don't go back and review online censuses that often. I tend to print a copy for my personal records which is filed for future consultations. If I'm not at home, I may look at an online census using the citation in my database. You also have to realize that until the last few years, most of my census research was done on microfilm. I have tons of print-outs which predate Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest census records. I even still have those 1880 CDs that the LDS issued. About the only time I've used those in the last few years though has been to consult an image which was hard to read in the other sources.

I need to get back to work. I'm working on FGS stuff and on a presentation I'm making in North Carolina next weekend. I also need to write a blog post for the carnival later today. I haven't participated in a long time, and I need to get back on track!

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Blowing Off Steam

Recently I've been attempting to follow a discussion that has been occurring among members of a professional organization to which I belong. It's a trend that I've seen in other professional organizations to which I belong when voting migrates from a paper ballot that is mailed out to an electronic ballot. For years, members have been content with the brief sketches provided in a publication about each candidate. When the balloting moves to an online situation, those persons are no longer content with basic candidate information. They want to know more -- including the position each candidate would take on any individual position. (The suggested lists of questions were really somewhat amusing to read because many were "petty" questions that had nothing to do with the candidate's qualifications to serve in elected office.) I really disagreed with their statement that we knew nothing about the candidates. By having attended national conferences in that field, I knew each candidate who was running for an office, and I knew which ones I thought were the best persons to serve the organization. I also think that the committee responsible for elections did an excellent job of screening potential candidates for the positions. I think most of those listed as candidates would do an excellent job in advancing the organization. I know that in tough economic situations that it is sometimes not possible to attend a national professional conference each year, but when I see persons who claim to know nothing of the candidates, I question whether they've ever attended such a conference to enhance their own professional development. I have been purposefully vague on the discipline because I've seen the same thing repeated in others. I don't want to single out any organization because this statement applies to multiple ones to which I belong.

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Has it been 6 weeks?

I just noticed that it has been six weeks since I've posted anything here. My apologies to my readers. Sometimes life just gets busy! I managed to say "yes" to something that has taken most of my free time during that period. Things will get slower in about another month, but in the meantime, I'm afraid my posting will continue to be erratic as I compile some information needed soon and attend to a couple of other duties with this new responsibility.

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