Tattered Past

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

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Friendly Visitor

As most of you know I never knew my dad, or any of his family. I have no memories of him except one time when he came to visit when I was around eight years old. 

This photo, I believe, is around the time he left. It's Dad, Mom, and the puppy he brought us, Smokey.

Dad had two brothers and three sisters. (Strangely, my mom was one of six siblings. Three males and three females.) As I got older when any of them visited Arizona they made sure to get in touch with me. Now one of my first cousins comes here regularly because her son married a local girl. 

So I've been lucky to get to know the family. One of my aunts had a puppet ministry which another cousin has since taken over. When Jessica was tiny they were in town and brought one of the puppets in to visit. I don't remember the puppet's name but I'm sure one of my cousins will fill that in. 

This is my cousin, Pam, and Jessica getting to know the special visitor.

I was afraid she might be afraid of him but she thought he was great.

On another visit my aunt bought Jessica a Lamp Chop puppet and taught her some ventriloquism but she didn't keep up with it. I think she still has Lamp Chop though.

Such fun memories.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Around Town

I have always loved photography. I would carry a camera everywhere if it was easier. I started taking photography classes in high school and have had many cameras over the years. 

The main reason I finally went with a smart phone was so I could have a camera with me all the time. Although I'm not thrilled with the quality sometimes. 

I find that roaming around town with a camera in hand makes me more aware of the beauty 
and quirkiness of the places I visit. 

I thought it would be fun so share a few of the photos I've taken around Phoenix. 
I don't like to touch things up with Photoshop. 
To me photos should be left as taken, at least this type of photo.

So enjoy the tour!

In front of the federal building on Central Avenue.

The Irish Cultural Center.

A fun coffee shop on Seventh Avenue.

Desert Ridge Market Place.

Clarenden Hotel.

Japanese Gardens.

Japanese Gardens. 

I hope to go roam around town, camera in hand, before summer is upon us. 
There's so much to see in this beautiful city. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

There have been some posts on FaceBook about how we used to dress for Easter. 
It shows little girls with fancy dresses, lacy socks, white patent 
leather shoes, hats, and, yes, even gloves. 

I'm not sure this first photo with my mom was Easter. She loved frilly dresses, bonnets, 
and dressing me up. She carried that over to my daughter. 

The second photo is my sister and I. Betty was old enough by then to put her foot down about how she dressed. She was never a frills and lace kind of girl. I remember that little cloth coat; it was turquoise.

A few years ago Betty and I were looking at photos and when this one came up she said she was so mad that day. I was really sick and she didn't like that we had to get all dressed up like that. She always looked out for me.

Jump forward a few years to my daughter's first Easter. If I remember right this was the first day she took off walking. A little bit of frill and the white socks and shoes, but not as much as I'm sure her Nana would have liked. 

This is about a month earlier and is in honor of spring. Jessica's favorite flower is still the tulip and she grows many of them in her own yard. 

A woman kept going on-and-on one day that you can't grow tulips in Arizona. I proved her wrong. These came up every year for a long time. Then suddenly they stopped.

Here's another nod to spring. This was the house I grew up in. My favorite spot was in that crab apple tree. There was a branch that was perfect for sitting and I spent many an hour thinking up on that branch. Or as Christoper Robin said to Pooh, "Doing nothing." I'd also sit up there and wait for mom to come home from work. It was a beautiful tree and smelled so sweet. 

Do you have some special Easter or spring memories to share? 
What is your favorite flower?

(My favorite flower is the tulip too with a close second or maybe even tie with sunflowers.)

Friday, March 31, 2017

Tombstone Fun

While our daughter and her family were visiting we took a whirlwind trip to Tombstone. The boys hadn't been there in their memory time so they had a great time.

Saw a few friends and enjoyed the sites all anew through the eyes of the boys.

Performers before the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Boothill Cemetery 

Street scene. Corner location was once the famous Can Can Restaurant and, for a time,
 the Piggly Wiggly store. 

A quiet moment.

We got two cuttings from the Rose Tree Inn Museum. The Lady Banksea rose bush has been in Ripley's Believe It or Not and the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest rose bush in the world. We'll see how we do with cuttings in Washington and central Arizona. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Long-Time Friends: Remember When

 My daughter was in town a couple of weeks ago. We always spend some time looking at old photos and reminiscing.

This time we had a cohort in the memory searching, my friend Connie. We met back before we had kids. Now both our kids are married and living in other states.

I found some of the photos of my daughter and her son over time. It was fun remembering when.

Halloween at the park. I'm not sure about ages. 

Jessica's fifth birthday party. 

Sometime after that we lost contact. Connie moved away for awhile and the years slipped away.
Then about three years ago she found me again through FaceBook. 

One thing we wanted to make sure and do was all get together for coffee. Here's Jessica and Connie at the local Starbucks. Connie made the beautiful crocheted blanket for her. 

New friends are wonderful, long-time friends are the best.

Do you have a long-time friend who is special to you? Or is there somebody you've lost touch with? Take the time to find them again and make new memories. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Remembering the TV Westerns

I met with a friend for coffee the other day and we got to talking about the old westerns. Neither one of us keep up with actors much but I was rather stunned when I did check on some of the names that came to mind.

One was Lee Van Cleef. He passed away in 1989. He came up because I occasionally take a break from writing and research and watch an old western on tv. He was in an early episode of "The Rifleman" playing a very young bad guy. I judged that it was early because of how young Johnny Crawford was.

That brought up Chuck Connors who I knew had passed because I had read how much Johnny Crawford had thought of him. Chuck Connors died in 1992.

My sister, Betty, loved anything to do with horses and the West. Being ten years older she kind of ruled the television so I grew up on westerns. I think my first big movie star crush was Johnny Crawford so it was a real treat when I finally got to meet him a few years ago. He's a very nice person.

When my husband and I were involved in a lot of events in Wilcox and Tombstone we met a lot of the western stars like Robert Fuller, Robert Horton, Hugh O'Brien, Bill Smith, Buck Taylor, Dirk London, Jan Shepherd, and Peter Brown. 

How many do you remember? 

I'm never sure if I should post photos I've had signed although I see others doing it. I have collected a lot of autographs in a book, "TV Western Round-Up."

It has publicity photos from all the westerns and I've been so lucky to have many of them signed. I've also been able to talk to some of the people at length. If I met someone who wasn't in the book I asked them sign the front pages.

 A lot of memories. One year my sister came down for the event in Tombstone. The joy on her face when she met the people she'd watched for so many years is unforgettable.

Peter Brown, Betty, Robert Horton

I was thinking I really got off the subject through this post, but maybe not. My sister is gone now too. She died a couple of years after this event. She never quit talking about it. 

An era ended when those old westerns were taken off the air. None of the new westerns have the honesty and integrity of those shows. Perhaps they weren't true to history or clothing or how things were really done, but they gave us a basis for being good people. I miss them. 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mom's 94th birthday. It's hard to imagine what she would be like today because she passed away nearly 27 years ago. Really? How can that be?

That fact came home to me the other day while I was going through a couple of boxes of photos. Most of them were my daughter's childhood, but a few strays sneaked in over the years. I was looking for some particular photos and noticed there just weren't many of my mom and daughter together. Then I remembered. Jessica was only ten when Mom passed away.

No wonder she doesn't remember her voice or a lot of other things about her nana.

Mom as a baby. 

Mom, me and my sister when I was four. Betty was fifteen.

Mom holding my daughter. She was so proud of that baby. 

When I went to the hospital we decided not to call her until we had some news. Finally,
eighteen hours later, the little one arrived. By then mom had figured it out and came to the hospital. When they wheeled me out I could see her through the windows and she was bursting with pride. I think the baby was in a nursery in between at that point, but I'm not sure. 

I know she was at our house the first chance she got. 

The first time we went out without our daughter was to a movie and mom babysat. I swear she couldn't wait for us to get out the door so she could have her all to herself. 

Besides loving her grandkids to pieces, mom loved her garden (she could grow anything), her home, decorating, shopping, cooking and baking, and Jim Reeves and Nat King Cole. 

She didn't like antiques ("Who'd want somebody else's junk."), or dirt in any form (unless perhaps it was in her garden), or cold weather. 

So again I say, "Happy Birthday Mom."

Monday, March 6, 2017

Return to Tombstone

As I mentioned in the last post, our daughter and family are coming to visit next month. Our son-in-law is adamant that they go to Tombstone so we will be traveling south for a couple of days. 

The main thing I want him to see is the Gunfighter Hall of Fame. This is a relatively new attraction in the town and one I know he will find extremely interesting.

Owner, Richard Ignarski, has an amazing collection which he has arranged in wonderful display cases.

There are some great items from throughout the West including my home state of Kansas. Some of the displays include Bill Tilghman, Buckskin "Frank" Leslie, The Texas Rangers, and the Earps.

Hubby and I visited in October and Richard was wonderful at pointing out special items and telling us stories about some of them. We shared ideas on a few local history events and had fun reminiscing a bit about some people we know.

Richard is also an artist and actor. I'm sure he could add a lot more from those aspects of his life also.

See you soon, Richard.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fiddler On The Roof

One of our favorite movies is "Fiddler On The Roof." It seems, although there are sad parts, it is always heartwarming and uplifting. 

Hubby saw the Broadway play in his younger years and I saw it done by a local theater a few years ago. We never grow tired of the story or the music. 

When I learned that a man I went to high school with would be playing Lazar Wolf at another small local theater I immediately asked Hubby if he'd like to go. I was somewhat concerned he might be disappointed in this type of venue, but I shouldn't have been.
We got our tickets for the Don Bluth Front Row Theatre and looked forward to a night out. 

The theater is owned by Don Bluth who used to have performances in his living room. He now owns the theater in north Scottsdale. There are no more than three rows of seats on three sides of the stage so each guest feels a part of the action. We were greeted by the owner/director which will give you an idea of what kind of atmosphere the theater has. 

To say we had a wonderful time just doesn't give the evening justice. Hubby leaned over once and said he had goosebumps. I just smiled. I did too. We both laughed, shed a few tears, and just sat back and enjoyed a group of actors who obviously love what they are doing. 

After the show, we got to talk to Doug who played Lazar Wolf and learned his wife, Lisa, played Yente. 

It was dark outside but Hubby snapped a couple of photos for me. 

We also met their daughter who will be in the April performance of "The Little Mermaid" in which their son will play Eric. I just love that the whole family is involved. 

Our daughter and family are coming in from out-of-state in a couple of weeks and they have already purchased their tickets. I think we went on a bit about how much we enjoyed the show. 

Go check out the web site. There is a video of the scene where Tavye's daughters sing about the Matchmaker. 

My favorite song in the movie has always been "Miracle of Miracles." What's yours? 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Friends and Arizona History

Almost thirty years ago I put my name on the researcher list at the Arizona State Archives. I was mostly looking for genealogy clients at that point and had no idea where it would take me.

I have since worked for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, some filmmakers, attorneys, and quite a few authors.

Some of them have become good friends. One of those is Jeff Richardson. When we first met he lived in Alaska but he'd come down to Arizona so we had coffee a few times. He was researching the first Phoenix marshal, Enrique "Henry" Garfias.

Henry became one of the most notable lawmen in Arizona serving numerous terms as city marshal, constable, Maricopa County deputy, and US deputy marshal. He was known for always getting his man; one way or another.

Jeff and I kept in touch by email and phone calls as his research progressed.

One year he came to one of the western history events in Tombstone, Arizona. Here he is with well-known author, Leon Metz (on the left.)

Last month Jeff's book on Henry Garfias came out. It is an amazing journey through early Hispanic history in California (his father once owned the land where Pasadena and neighboring cities now stand) and Arizona. 

Jeff has a way with blending his narrative and thoughts with real accounts from documents and early newspapers. 

Published by Goose Flats Publishing in Tombstone the cover is a work of art in itself. Copies can be ordered from the publisher and through Amazon.

I will be posting more about Jeff as his visit to Arizona in the fall is finalized. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Grandma Thompson": Remember When

In 1981 we took a trip to Kansas so I could introduce my husband to where I had grown up. He is an Arizona native so I had seen all of his memory places. 

I also wanted to do some genealogy, so one of the places we stopped was the Graceland Cemetery in Meade, Kansas. 

I found my great grandmother's grave along with other members of the family. I remember Nellie and her funeral. 

The sad part of this story is her son who died at about ten days old. At that time there was just a wooden marker. I don't know if it is still there. 

Near them lies Nellie's sister, Laura Bell, who never married. 

At some point she turned the family home known as the "Keith House" into a boarding house. 

Then came the frustrating one: Grandma Thompson 1811-1900.

I knew Nellie and Laura's mother was Nancy Ann Thompson so I figured this might be her. At some point I learned she also came out from Illinois after her husband, Soloman Thompson, died. But what were her first and maiden names?

She remained "Grandma Thompson" in my mind and on the genealogy charts for a long time. As I learned more about doing genealogy and also as records became available I would occasionally returned to the search for this lady. I finally found out her name was Jane and much later that her maiden name was Malone but that is about all I know.

She was illiterate as she signed her land records with "her mark."

She lived in Clark County in a small sod house as described in her land record. She also had an "idiotic" son who lived into adulthood and probably helped her farm. His name was James and I haven't found anything on him after she died.

Jane's death was another problem. I couldn't find an obituary or any other record. Finally, I don't remember exactly how, I learned she died in 1903 instead of 1900. My theory is the stone was put on much later. If you compare hers to Laura's you can see they are the same so my guess is that is when her stone was put on the grave and whoever gave the information (probably Nellie) remembered wrong.

Here's the obituary I finally found for Grandma Thompson:

"The Meade County News", Meade, Meade County, Kansas.
Thursday, October 8, 1903.
Two aged soldiers of the Cross have fought the good fight of faith and gone home to rest.
Grandma Thompson, sister Keith's mother, passed away Friday p.m., Oct. 2. This Sainted mother in Israel was born ninety-eight years ago, living with her children until the day of her death. Grandma Thompson united with the Baptist Church more than 70 years ago. The writer visited her several months ago and held services in her room, she expected a desire to unite with the Meade church, stating that she desired to die in the church. She enjoyed her religion and was always able to give a reason of the hope she had in Christ.

We laid her to rest in Graceland cemetery on Saturday afternoon to await the voice of the resurrection.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God."

The search for Jane Malone Thompson's ancestry continues. Meanwhile, it is rewarding to go back over how much information has been found in the past 36 years.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Imagining My Mom as a Child: Remember When

It is hard to imagine our parents, who we only knew as adults, and possibly now as aged men and women as children. I just can't picture my mother running around playing tag or hide-and-seek. 

It is a little easier to imagine her playing house because she loved keeping up her home and caring for my sister and I, and later the grandchildren.  

Mom was the oldest of six; three boys and three girls. I'm sure a lot fell to her shoulders as she got older. 

Here she is at a family gathering. That is her on the left sitting on her father's hip. He was always a stern man and seeing him holding my mom is kind of funny for some reason. The woman to the right is Grandma Jennie holding Aunt Marie. I have to wonder what had Marie's attention, or was she just squirming and ready to go play? 
To the right is Nellie Keith Martin, Jennie's mother. She raised Jennie by herself in southwestern Kansas. Another thing that is hard to imagine. 

The two ladies are grandad's sisters and the men are their husbands. I don't know who the children are. This was taken at one of the sister's homes a few counties to the east of where my grandparents lived. 

Another bit of imagining: What brought the families together? What did they have for dinner? My guess would be fried chicken with lots of mashed potatoes and fresh tomatoes from the garden. 

Here's my mother a little older. I'm terrible at ages and there aren't any dates but my guess would be third grade.

My mother has been gone for almost 27 years. That doesn't even seem possible. I asked a lot of questions growing up, especially after I started doing genealogy in 1976, but there was never enough time and too many questions. I didn't always write them down. 

Mom didn't talk a lot about her childhood. She grew up to be a strong woman who raised two of us on her own. 

Have you thought about your own parents as children? 
Have you asked the questions? 
Have you written the answers down? 

Hmmm. Maybe they had a pot roast for dinner.