Tattered Past

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

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. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Essential Oils: There's Always More To Learn

I remember first discovering essential oils about twenty years ago. My niece and I bought the little bottles that just smelled good. We dropped the oil on clay diffusers and thought we were doing good. Now I know most of those types of oils are mostly alcohol and have very little actual oil in them.

About fifteen years ago I was introduced to Young Living at the yoga studio. One of the members was a doctor who swore by the use of these therapeutic grade oils. What a difference. Try these and you'll never go back. 

This is my box of oils. I use them for pain, relaxation, cleaning, and so much more. 
I thought all these years I was using them correctly. I applied them topically, ingested some (like peppermint), and smelled them. 

Then I found the Alchemist's Guild and have learned there isn't much that YL oils can't do. I've learned to make skin cleansers and creams, blends for better pain control, cleaning products, and even cooking ideas.

Now the Guild has a book that I wish I'd had twenty years ago. Or even five years ago. This book is geared to the oils that come in the beginner's kit. It has a bit of history on each oil or blend and the uses for each. The oils in this kit include Peppermint, Lavender, Lemon, Copaiba, Frankincense, and blends; Purification, Di-gize, RC, PanAway, StressAway, and Thieves.

There is a section in making blends using carrier oils to dilute and stretch the use of the oil. The different types of diffusers are covered and how to best use them. The best part and where I hadn't used the oils to their fullest potential is recipes to make things like an anti-bacterial type foaming hand cleaner, mouthwash, moisturizers, and lip balm.

I've made wool dryer balls and gotten rid of those dryer sheets. Glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and air fresheners. In other words detoxing my home.

On the side of there's always more to learn there are spaces for writing in your own recipes and ideas. There is also an accompanying journal to keep more information.

I have read the entire book and am now going back and studying more things, besides using it for reference. I'm finding it invaluable.

If you haven't discovered top quality essential oils ask around. You probably have friends who have. There are numerous books and web sites on using oils. "Basic Alchemy with Essential Oils" is a great place to start.

You can find it here:

Or if you are in Phoenix it is available at Dog-Eared Pages Used Books near 40th Street and Bell Road. http://www.dogearedpagesusedbooks.com/