Tattered Past

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





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?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cousins, Remember When . . .

A couple of things have been said recently which spurred this blog post. First a devoted reader reminded me of my "remember when . . . " series. Her mother has been working on the prompts.
Isn't that wonderful? I hope she shares some of the stories with us some day.

Secondly, my cousin, Kaylee, wants to get together and write-up and compare the family stories we were told by older family members. Eventually we want to share with the rest of the family.
She's checking with her children on ways to do this through the Internet. 
(My only thought is DropBox which I've never had much luck with.)

So, that spurred me to share some photos of us growing up.

Here we are around December 1960. Kaylee is the cute blonde. 
That was her tea set and I always loved it. This was taken in our grandparent's house in Kansas.

There isn't a date on this one. That is my sister, Betty, me, Grandma Jennie, 
and Kaylee. I'm not sure where this is but I'm sure it was Kansas. 


And then there is Kaylee's older brother, Dean and I. He is one year older than me
and is the only one who still lives in Kansas. 



Please no comments on my hair. Mom was always cutting or curling and, 
I think, thinking a few choice words because my hair was so fine and thin. 

So there you are, Kaylee. 
What are some of your cousin memories?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Fun With Quirky Birds

My friends on FB and a few I've seen in person have been introduced to my quirky birds based on an online class I'm taking.

I am completely addicted to these birds. Not just because they are birds, including owls, but because they are fun and relaxing to do.

Materials include watercolor paper, cheap craft paints, stencils and spray inks, stamps, clear Gesso, markers, gel pens, paint pens, and Neocolor II crayons. All things I had on hand. I did go buy a big sheet of paper because I thought it would be easier to work with. I have plenty left to make many more. (I've already started on Quirky Birds II and I'm thinking about doing a Quirky Zoo.)

The folded book is about 5 1/2 by 3 1/2 and unfolded it is 30 1/2 long. I've loved working with the accordion fold style.
Quirky Birds class with Tam LaPorte at Willowing


I put various stamps on the background. When I drew the bird on the right above his/her head came right up into the flower. I didn't even notice it until I started painting. A truly fun bit of serendipity.


Some are "copies" of Tam's as I followed her class and others are ideas taken 
from drawings I saw on the internet. 


The reason I am thinking about a quirky zoo is when I would Google "funny bird drawings" there would be lots of great birds, but also giraffes, horses and a camels. So why not?









The gentleman bird is my hubby's favorite. 



The Quirky Bird class is here. Tam has lots of other classes and does some free videos. Let me know if you decide to take a class or do something similar. Guaranteed stress relief. 

Have a fun, Quirky, day.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Street Fair


Along the curve of Seventh Avenue in downtown Phoenix is an area called the Melrose District. I've long heard about this area, even driven through; but never stopped. This is possibly the most eclectic part of the city and with a street fair added it was a great place to spend the day.


I even enjoyed the cars as this is one of my favorite classic cars. I've long wanted one, 
but not in red or orange. Turquoise or blue would be great. 

A friend has told me many times about Copper Star Coffee.



I did go in to meet her, but I didn't get coffee; this time. 


 This car reminded me of my grandfather's. I'm not sure of years, or even makes, 
but it looks the same. He would tie his cane poles along the passenger side and off we'd go to the creek for some all day fishing. 


This is another dream car. I loved the early Mustangs and would love to have one. 


I did spend a little time roaming through Rust & Roses. Lots of treasures and fun stuff. There was a bicycle like one of mine, but I couldn't get a picture of it. 


I did manage to snap this travel trailer. I'd love to have one of these to park on the 
back of my kid's lot when I visit. 



I can't remember the name of the shop where I bought this owl mug. 
There were two, but hubby and I agreed this was the cutest.  


It was a great day of carnival style food, people watching, and browsing through 
vendor tents and shops. If you are in the Phoenix area put it on your list for next year. 


Finally, there was this great reminder in Rust & Roses. 


Have a happy day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom


My mother would be 93 years old today. It's hard to imagine since she died so young. 
Here she is with her mother on one of those wonderful porches from that time period.
 

Mom never talked about growing up. She was the oldest of six children and a lot of responsibility was put on her shoulders at a young age. 

I am happy to have her high school yearbook. I was on the yearbooks staff in high school and college so they are extra important to me. 

 I met a lady here in Arizona who's father is also on this page of the yearbook. Such a small world.
Mom made notes for each of the people, what happened to them. Another sign of the times that most of the men went into the service.

My dad went into the service after they were married and my sister came along. 


Mom had a very tough life as a divorcee in the '50s. We lived in a small town where most everybody knew everybody else's business. We lived in this small house for all of my grade school years.
(My sister on left, me, Mom on the right). Mom sometimes worked two jobs.

She was cleaning offices at one point and I remember going with her some evenings. That is where I almost learned the hard way about that metal nail files and electricity don't mix. Mom caught me just in time.

Mom has been gone for almost twenty-six years. I don't remember her voice. I do remember her singing "Jesus Loves Me" as she spread Vicks on my chest when I was sick. She was an amazing cook. Grandma once said nobody in the family could make French Knots like she could. She was a hard worker and always had an immaculate home. I miss you Mom.

Happy Birthday.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Working Art Journal

I was out of the habit of art journaling for awhile although I kept up with the various 
FaceBook sites and blogs. 

When I saw the tutorial on how to make this canvas journal I had to try my own.  The series of videos are by Effy Wild. I so appreciate all the art journalers out there who share their time either with paid or free tutorials.


Closed with the flap and beads attached to the spine.


With just the flap open. As it gets full it will expand and the flap will become smaller.


Open to the first page and inside of front cover. I use a lot of paint, stamps, collage, pens, ink, stickers, and anything else I find in my stash.


I use pages to make a statement for myself and others. 
Mostly they are confirmations for my inner, growing self.




Sometimes I just see something that catches my eye like this bathtub cocktail. 
Then I find a quote or words to ponder.

Sometimes I'm just feeling sad and the process of making a page is great therapy.

Art journals have no rules. They can be as simple as a drawing of a flower and a found quote copied out. Other times they have layers and layers of stuff. 

The joy is in the process.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Art Abandonment and Kindness

There is a wonderful movement on Facebook called Art Abandonment. (I'm sure there are others, but this is the one I'm involved in.)

The idea is to make art, leave it someplace public, and leave. Most take a photo of the item in place. There is also a special tag to attach so the lucky finder can let the artist know they found it. 

It is so much fun. 

I did a lot of pieces a couple of years ago and then moved on for awhile. Then somebody posted these wonderful gnomes with the link on how they learned to make them. 

I had to give the gnomes a try. 

The link for the gnomes is:  wee folk art

Actually, there are many videos and tutorials, but this is the one I used to make these wonderful little gnomes.


I will be abandoning these in the next couple of days. 



I abandoned this one at a local open air mall.

If you are interested in art abandonment you can find them on FaceBook or learn more here.

Of course, this all goes along with kindness and the belief in Random Acts of Kindness.

Try it. 
Have a happy day or evening.