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?