Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

You look like . . .

I've always been surprised when people say a baby has his father's eyes or her mothers nose. I just don't see resemblances like that. 

When I posted a photo of my younger self on Facebook most people who know me well commented how much my daughter looks like me. When I look at her I don't see myself at all. It wasn't until a few years ago that I started seeing glimpses of my mother in the mirror. 

I thought it might be fun to take a closer look. Here's my daughter in one of my favorite photos. Don't even ask how old she was. I can't remember. 

And here I am in my Easter outfit. 

We both have very fine, thin hair. We were both small. We both love history, books, and paranormal research. Oops, that doesn't count, does it?

Just for fun, here's my mother and sister.

I guess I do see some resemblance between Jessica and I and even Mom, Betty, and I but it doesn't jump out like it seems to for other people.. 

I do see people who look like famous people all the time. Nobody ever agrees with my assessment. 

Have a great week and watch out for those lookalikes. 

Monday, July 11, 2016


Had a wonderful therapeutic massage today. The music was more calming than usual.

There's so much negativity right now, not only for the world, our country, but among some of my associates. It makes me sad.

So for today I am sending calmness. I will close with the angel card I drew today.






"You will more easily hear and receive our messages if you daydream regularly. Relax and open your mind to receiving, without directing your thoughts. Just notice any feelings, visions, or ideas as if you were watching a movie. This is the seat of creativity."

Photos are from the Japanese Gardens, Phoenix, Arizona a few years ago.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mrs. Wyatt Earp: Laughter and Tears

Meet Mrs. Wyatt Earp.

We went to the Herberger Theater in downtown Phoenix today for the performance by Terry Earp of Mrs. Wyatt Earp. Terry not only performs as Josephine Sarah Marcus Earp, she wrote the play which has been performed throughout the country and is married to Wyatt Earp who also performs as the historical figure he shares a name with.

Terry put on an amazing performance which brought out laughs and a few tears as Josie who is rememberin- Wyatt a few years after his death in 1929. In the one-woman play she tells a feral cat about her memories of Wyatt and how she tried to get the story right.

Friends and fans of Terry and Wyatt Earp were stunned in 2006 when they learned Terry had been struck by a red light runner in north Phoenix and left with a severe spinal cord injury. Wyatt stayed by her side as she fought to recover. We were there when she returned to the stage at Schieffelin Hall in Tombstone, Arizona. Everybody left that evening with tears from the performance of husband and wife as Mr. and Mrs. Wyatt Earp.

I was a little surprised today to find myself teary eyed as I watched Terry perform again. I never tire of watching either of these wonderful people perform.

Terry will be doing her play as "Doc" Holliday's woman,  Big Nose Kate, at the Herberger starting October 3.

Lots of memories.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Remember When: Cowboy Love

I grew up watching all the television westerns: The Legend of Wyatt Earp, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Cheyenne, The Man From Shenandoah, Rifleman . . .  Well, you get the idea.

I still love Westerns, Cowboys, and the Old West. So do many of my friends. Some of those on Facebook have been posting photos from their childhood of the western outfits we all cherished.

My sister got me my outfit complete with black boots and hat. We never went for the frilly stuff so my duds weren't the Dale Evans style with the little skirt. I remember wearing the outfit to a rodeo with my sister and her date. Later we were walking through town and I had a very big blister which caused a limp. He called me "Chester" all evening. (You have to be one of those who watched those westerns listed above to understand that one.)

Here are the only photos I have from a fishing trip with my Mom and of her men friends. I don't remember anything about him, but I'm thankful for the photos.

I believe we were at the old sandpit outside of Great Bend, Kansas. Perhaps some of my friends from that area will be able to tell.

We did pretty good that day. It must have been a long one, I can feel how tired I was just from looking at this photo. Wind has always tired me out and it looks like we had a lot of the old Kansas wind that day.

Another story from the sandpit.

I was there with my sister and her girlfriend. They were sitting on a blanket talking and admonished me over and over to stay where it was shallow. I did, but a boat went by too close and pulled me out over my head. I managed to push myself up and could see them sitting up there talking but I was afraid if I yelled Betty would be mad at me. So I paddled my way back down and crawled a ways. Then pushed myself up to get air, then back down again. I finally found the ledge I had been pulled from and got up onto my feet and on to shore. I remember making my way to the blanket and lying down totally exhausted.

I don't think Better ever knew what happened that day.

Lots of memories here. Do you have memories of the television westerns? Fishing? Or perhaps nearly drowning?

Write them down and share a bit of your memory here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Sister's Art

My sister was ten years older than I. Here we are when she graduated from high school. More often than not she was more like my mother since Mom was trying to raise us both by herself and working two jobs. 

Betty was an amazing artist. One corner of our shared room was set up with her easel and a table covered with oil paints and related chemicals. Those smells always bring back a flood of memories. 

While still in high school she sold quite a few paintings and I remember her doing the door of some company's pickup in hand lettering. 

As she got older she dabbled in everything. Pen and ink (always my favorite), acrylics, carving, glass etching, ceramics, and so much more. She mastered each one in record time. 

She did this painting of raccoons on leaves. She seldom needed something to draw from. She just sat down and did it. 

One time while we were visiting them in Colorado she whipped out this pair of leaves for our mom. She said to never take the glass off as they crinkled as she pressed them in.

I cherish both paintings.

Betty loved to draw Western scenes. Lots of cowboys and long horned cattle. Her love was horses and her drawings were always amazing.  

She taught me a lot about art. Sometimes getting quite frustrated, possibly forgetting how much younger I was. Perhaps some day I will try painting on leaves. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Remember When: Fishing Hole

In my writing group last week we were told to write about summer. Big surprise.

We are only allowed around ten minutes to do each prompt so there is no way to add all the description and information to tell the whole story. I chose to write about going fishing with my grandparents. I don't think most of them understood what I was trying to portray.

We lived in southwestern Kansas. Hilly country with lots of creeks and county roads built on a grid. The countryside is split off into farms and cattle ranches. We always fished at the creek in Greene's pasture.

Before we left Grandad tied his cane poles to the side of the car. Much like this one.

The poles were tied to the door handles and over the side mirror. They pretty much reached 
from one end of the car to the other so whomever was in the passenger side couldn't get out
unless they slid all the way over. 

Grandad would pull up to a gate, get out, open the gate, get back in, drive through, get out, close the gate, and drive on to the next one. One of my uncles once counted over 20 gates to get to the creek. 

When other family members went with us there were others to help with gate duty. Mostly I remember Grandad, Grandma, and me. 

I loved to watch the prairie dogs standing on the edge of their holes watching us pass. To the ranchers  and farmers they were varmints needing to be exterminated. To a child they were magical as they guarded their villages. 

We'd pass bushes and bushes of sand plums that we would go out and pick in the late 
summer so family members could make plum jelly. 

The main catch at Greene's was catfish; like this prize catch held by Grandad. 

We also caught perch and frogs. One time Grandad caught a snapping turtle and let out a whoop that echoed off those hills. If Mom was there she seemed to get cleaning duty and spent hours at the kitchen sink getting our catch ready for the table. 

Our family settled that area in the early 1880s. They lived in dugouts and later lumber built and then block homes. They lived off the land as much as possible. It's heartwarming to think about my ancestors back to my great, great grandparents picking sand plums and catching fresh fish for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Remember When: The Greats

A few months ago a cousin on my mother's side started a "secret" Facebook page for the 
cousins on that line. I've been busy posting photographs as have others. 

It has been a great chance to get to share memories and to catch up on some of those that are 
far away or in the next generation. 

Today I posted this photo of my gr. gr.grandfather Francis Marion Martin and my gr. grandfather William Albert "Bert" Martin. Frank was born in Ohio in 1844. He lived in Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas and Oregon where he died in 1925. Bert was born in Wisconsin in 1876 and died in Los Angeles in 1952. He left when grandma was young and she didn't see him again until he was very old. He was married at least 3 or 4 times. 

We have visited both of their graves. I was very disappointed that Frank didn't have a headstone although he is buried near his daughter and her family. 

The next greats are Salenia Alzadie (Freeman) Waggoner who was born in 1870 in Arkansas and died in the same state in 1948. Her husband was Isaac Tandy Waggoner who was born in 1864 in Tennessee and died in Arkansas in 1949. Isaac's father was a Civil War soldier and either died or disappeared during the War. His mother went on to marry again and live to a ripe old age as the saying goes. Salenia and Isaac were my great grandparents on my father's side.

After I became involved in the Facebook page on mother's family I decided to start one for my father's side of the family. I never knew my dad and haven't been in touch with most of the family so it is slower getting started because I don't have the contacts. I hope it will expand and grow so we can become acquainted.

A cousin on Daddy's side was here last week and we had lunch together, twice. One day we sat in 5&Diner going through a box of old family photos as she tried to help me identify and learn about those people. We've gone from not knowing each other to becoming friends.

Linda and I last week. 

Think about gathering your family through a secret FB page. Only those you invite and who join will see the posts. Reconnect with your family and share photos and memories. Don't them fade away in a box some where. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Time Flies

We all comment about how time flies, the weeks, the months, and then the years. It seems to fly even more for me when I realize I've gotten out of the habit of posting to my blog.

I do have a good excuse. Kind of. I've been really busy working on western history articles for four different publications. Some of them take hours and hours of research. Especially if I get diverted into other channels and make notes for future article ideas.

That is all for a future post.

I'm happy to say that we finally got out of town for three days to one of my favorite little places: Pioche, Nevada.

I discovered Pioche during one of my driving trips to Washington State and fell in love immediately. I've stopped on other trips but only for an overnight rest. I've told Doug so much about it he wanted to go too. It's hard for him to get any time off from work but we managed a three day weekend and off we went.

Pioche was founded after a silver strike in 1863. From 1870 to 1877 more than $20 million of ore was mined. It became the Lincoln County seat when that county was formed. The name was named after it's founder, F. L. A. Pioche

The highway passes this beautiful wildlife area that goes on for a couple of miles at least. As you can see the area is desolate and dry, part of the Great Basin, so the water is nice to see.

We stayed at the Overland Hotel. A wonderful old place which was featured in a "Ghost Adventures" episode a few years ago. It was built in 1948. 

We had a lovely suite which we hadn't even realized when we made the reservations. 
My only complaints about this place is it is over the bar and smoking is allowed in Nevada. 
Also the stairs are rather steep. 

The view is interesting for old building buffs like us. I don't know what that first building was but next to it is the Gem Movie Theater, now closed. On the other side of that is the Thompson Opera House which we toured and enjoyed. It has been refurbished and they have various programs throughout the year. 

Pioche has two hotels, two museums, a few shops, one restaurant, and kind of a coffee shop/cafe. 
We had all our meals at the restaurant. Of course Flat Stanley joined us. 

The Million Dollar courthouse was started in 1871. It was originally supposed to cost $26,400 but because of graft, political corruption, and delayed payments the cost grew to almost one million dollars. By the time it was paid off in 1936 a new courthouse was needed. 

Those who saw that episode of "Ghost Adventures" may remember Zak sitting on this bench in front of the courthouse. See Flat Stanley waving from the back of the bench? 

Flat Stanley visited the jail behind the building.

 Next door is the Old Mountain View Hotel built in 1895. It is now closed and run down 
as most of the old part of town. 

Pioche claims 72 men were killed violently before one died of natural causes making it one of the deadliest towns in the west. Here's part of the old Boot Hill Cemetery with the ore tram overhead.

 While driving around the outskirts we found a street with a very special name. 

 Main Street.

Inside the Thompson Opera House. The ground floor was a merchantile with cold storage reached by ore car.

We took one little side trip to the Cathedral Gorge State Park. Actually we found it by accident and it was late in the day so we didn't go in but saw some of the scenery.

 The Lincoln County Museum is full of amazing items donated or loaned by local families. It is a mile high so the weather was nice except for the wind that plagued Arizona and Nevada that weekend.
A restful, if busy, weekend. The people of Pioche are friendly and the pace slow. 
A wonderful retreat from the city and modern day.

Monday, May 2, 2016

A Collection of Owls

I've been busy working on a client projects, and researching and writing articles.
It takes a lot out of me, but I hate to miss doing my blog.

So this time I thought I'd quickly share a few of my owls. 

Most have been gifts. 

The first one I found at a retro store in downtown Phoenix. Can't remember the name. I tried putting a rosemary plant in it for my desk but it died. Not sure what else to do with it. I don't want to drink from it because I'm too afraid it will break. 

This one was a gift. He's furry feeling. I think he was an ornament. 

Found this one at a discount store in Washington State. 
My grandson picked it out. 

My friend's daughter gave me the pink one, just because. 
When they had to move to a smaller place her mom gave me the others. 
I may share them with my grandsons. Or not.

And of course one of the quirky birds. The birdcage was a stamp I put on 
the page long before I decided what bird to draw. Usually I paint over the stamps if they 
get in the say. this one seemed to need to stay there. 

I also have a hedgehog collection and there are various other things around like 
fairies that my sister was always sending me. Oh and a Winnie-The-Pooh collection.

Guess I should get the camera out again.

It's funny how these things have grown over the years. 
I don't actively collect anything any more, don't have the energy to dust them all.
I do treasure all the things I already have.

What collections do you have? 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Events, Remember When . . .

 For nine years I was part of an amazing group put together by these two men:

Michael M. Hickey, author, publisher and Old West enthusiast and Ben Traywick, Tombstone City Historian, Retired.

I could say much more about both of them. They both had a part in changing my life.

I've always been interested in the history of the west, especially the legend of Wyatt Earp. Partly from the westerns of the 1950s and partly from growing up near Dodge City, Kansas.

Michael was working on his book on Warren Earp and contacted me through the research list at the Arizona State Archives to do some research for him. We quickly became friends and talked for hours about our common interest of the history of Tombstone, Arizona.

With the release of the Warren Earp book Michael planned a big event in Willcox, Arizona, where Warren was killed in 1900. Michael invited other enthusiasts from around the world. We ended up having nine such events some including stars of those very same television shows that we had all grown up with.

Friends and food. Laughter and sharing. 

Melissa Gilbert and then husband, Bruce Boxleitner, (behind her) 
after I had given her a miniature sunbonnet I made. 

Michael Biehn, "Ringo" in the movie Tombstone and author Steve Gatto.

I have at least a thousand photos from all those events which I want to get sorted and shared with those who attended. It is a daunting task as many of the photos will need to be scanned. In the meantime, some of us are friends on FB and share memories and others get together at other Old West history events.

Michael M. Hickey has since passed as have many of our friends from those years. It was an era that we both miss. Something I never dreamed possible all those years ago watching those westerns and dreaming of another time.

What are some eras of your life? We don't often think of our lives in that way except by perhaps, working days, retirement days, child rearing years, empty nest. In the midst of those, we have smaller eras when we are involved in various things. What are some of yours?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Unknowns: Remember When . . .

Each week somebody brings writing prompt ideas to our writing group. This week the leader for the day brought some old photographs, including tintypes, her husband had collected to draw and paint from. It was an amazing collection. 

He gathers them from antique and thrift stores. We've all seen them, those lost friends and relatives. Sometimes they have names and dates on them. If I were rich I would buy all the ones with identifying information and try to return them to their families. 

There are even Web sites to post photos to help find their homes. One is Dead Fred. 

Growing up, one of my favorite past times was to go through the suitcase of old photos. There are some great ones in there. Sadly many of them are not identified and try as I might I haven't found who these people are. 

Here are some of them. I do believe this first one is a cousin of my great grandma's whose maiden name was Thompson. I can't be sure. Isn't it a great photo though?

This little girl looks like she is just waiting to get up to some mischief.

This man looks like he'd been working on the range.

This is another one I may know, another cousin my my great grandmother.

 I've been working on an article this week about a photographer from this time period and when the debate came up at the writing meeting about why they never smiled I added that to my research. I found the following:

It has long been the notion that it was because of the long exposure times. That is certainly a factor. Even though it was down to about 15 seconds by this time; try holding a smile even for that long. My daughter had a tintype done with original equipment last year and she said it is nearly impossible.

The second factor is bad teeth. However, even people with good teeth didn't smile. And since so many did have bad teeth it wasn't really an issue. (You can smile without showing your teeth.)

The common theory now is that smiling just wasn't done. As Mark Twain once said, "A photograph is a most important document, and there is nothing more damning to go down to posterity than a silly, foolish smile caught and fixed forever."

So there you have it. Why those people didn't smile.

Do you have unknown photographs in your family collections? 

What stories could you write about them? 

What stories do you see in the photos I have share in this post? 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

New Home: Remember When . . .

We moved to Arizona when I was thirteen. I was not happy. Back in Kansas grades seven, eight, and nine were in junior high. I was at the end of my eighth grade and looking forward to being in ninth. I had also made a friend who turned out to be life long and leaving her was very hard.

A thirteen-year-old doesn't have much say so we came to the Valley of the Sun. We stayed with my grandma who lived in a seniors only trailer park for a month or so. We arrived on Easter Day so there was a couple of months of school left and to my horror I had to go back to elementary school.

I was painfully shy so being in a new school was especially hard although the kids were nice. I was included in the eighth grade graduation with gowns and all. I had mixed feelings about that.

We lived in a one-bedroom apartment for a while and sharing a room with my mother was not a happy time. Then Mom became the manager at the Stagecoach Inn on Van Buren near 44th Street.

We were there through the summer and in to my freshman year in high school.

The building on the left was the lobby and our apartment was behind so Mom could take care of the lobby and still have our own place. I had to go through her room to get to what was more a storage room, but I finally had my own room again. I loved it.

There were two swimming pools and an endless supply of people. Some families stayed in the completely furnished apartments as they made their own transitions to living in Phoenix. I made a couple of friends that lasted for a few years, then we lost touch. 

I now love the desert and parts of Phoenix. It isn't the small city it was even then. A funny thing is my husband's mother also managed a hotel on Van Buren when he was young. Single moms didn't have a lot of options in the 1950s and '60s. 

Did your family make any major moves? 
How did you feel about the changes? 
Have you lived in "unusual" places?