Thursday, April 28, 2011

Three Novels with Family History Themes

I've recently read and reviewed two novels with family history themes, one for adults and one for children. I read and reviewed another in the latter category about eight months ago. The titles link to my review on my other (book review) blog.

Finding Family by Tonya Bolden is the book most recently published.  Aimed at ages 8-12 (grades 3-6), it's historical fiction, set in the African-American community in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1905.  Twelve-year-old Delana is an orphan trying to learn more about her parents. The story is built around antique photo portraits and postcards in Bolden's collection, and includes a family tree. In her author's note (pages 180-181), the award-winning author said she
had the great thrill of combining my passion for history with my wonderings about long-ago lives: the millions of everyday people from the past who experienced problems with peers, traumas, and dilemmas, and in the end life-lifting revelations like we do today; people who are footnotes in history books -- or not in history books at all.

Thankfully, in museums and historical societies, in libraries and private collections, we have people's diaries, family bibles, handicrafts, letters, and other artifacts - like photographs.  Such treasures not only give us insights into history but also allow our imaginations to take flight.

As for your life, I hope that you will take good care of artifacts from it, along with your family stories.  A century into the future, what you have left behind may very well be prized by a writer working on a book of nonfiction.  Or fiction.

Half Broke Horses is a "true life novel" (its subtitle) by Jeannette Walls about her grandmother, who lived an unconventional life in West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Chicago in the first half of the 20th century. "I'd been hearing stories about Lily Casey Smith all my life, stories she told over and over to my mother, who told them to me," Walls stated in the author's note (page 271).  She continues (on page 272):
In telling my grandmother's story, I never aspired to that sort of historical accuracy. I saw the book more in the vein of an oral history, retelling of stories handed down by my family through the years, and undertaken with the storyteller's traditional liberties....

Lily Casey Smith was a very real woman, and to say that I created her or the events of her life is giving me more credit than I'm due. However, since I don't have the words from Lily herself, and since I have also drawn on my imagination to fill in details that are hazy or missing...the only honest thing is call the book a novel.
Also written for 8-12 year olds, Search for the Shadowman by Edgar-winner Joan Lowery Nixon is set in 1996 Texas. While working on a genealogy project for his seventh grade history class, Andy becomes determined to solve the mystery of the family's black sheep, and his connection with the (real) Texas Salt Wars of 1877. Andy uses many tools genealogists use (library research, genealogy discussion boards and e-mail, heirlooms, and cemetery visits) to solve the mystery.  Nixon also wrote two series of historical fiction based on the orphan trains of the late nineteenth century.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 1973: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Pets - Sentimental Sunday

Easter, April 22, 1973:  kneeling, Brian, Bismarck, Mark;
standing:  Karen, Mary, Amanda (Mom made our dresses).
In the backyard of our home at 8015 Sharpview, Houston, Texas.
The prompt for Week 17 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Pets.

Did you have any pets as a child? If so, what types and what were their names? Do you have pets now?

I should start this out by confessing that I am not an animal lover.  Apparently my parents really aren't either - we didn't get a pet until I was 15 and my youngest sibling was 7.  Dad had various dogs growing up, but I don't think Mom had any pets.  We all hate cats.

My parents got a purebred basset hound puppy in the summer of 1972.  We named him Bismarck.  Sadly, he died pretty young, but my parents got another purebred basset hound puppy in late 1976, that we named BarneyBarney lived a long time, until just before my father retired in 1994.

My ex-husband had a purebred Belgian sheepdog named Keena when we married in 1983.  She had puppies and we kept one that I named Cascade's Rio Frio de Tejas, aka Texas.  Keena died of cancer in spring of 1991, and Texas of unknown causes a couple years later.  We then got a bare-eyed cockatoo named Genius, but that's a story for another day.  Don't have and don't want any pets today.

Happy Easter, everyone!

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Friday, April 15, 2011

National Library Week: Houston Public Library (Julia Ideson Building), c. 1928

I picked up this lovely postcard of the downtown Houston Public Library (the Julia Ideson Building) in a local antique shop a couple years ago.  The postmark on the back is June 28, 1928, and the building was completed and opened to the public on October 17, 1926. This building served as the main downtown library until 1976 when the Jesse H. Jones Building opened.  I'm posting it in honor of National Library Week.

The new library opened after I graduated from high school.  The downtown Houston library I remembered going to was this one. Named for the first (and only) librarian from 1903 to 1945, the building has been undergoing restoration and is now the home of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center.

Just this past weekend, I learned I'm not the only member of my family who's worked for a library.  My mother, Geraldine Guokas Pape, worked in this very library building, shelving books for ten cents an hour when she was about 14 (so that would have been about 1942).  She didn't like the work, though, and quit after about two weeks.  She also said her first job with the Humble Oil Company (now Exxon), after her graduation from the University of Texas in 1949, was as a clerk in their company library.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Status Report

For a variety of reasons, I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like since the beginning of the year.  For one thing, I've used a lot of my "free" time working on income taxes, as our situation (and my son's) were rather complex this year.  Also, I've been doing a lot of work at my mother's request researching our various brick walls, and have not been very successful.  Not that there's nothing to write about, as I've had some successes in other research areas, just have not sat down and written about them (I'm also at least five posts behind on my book reviews).  And I'm WAY behind on gardening tasks.

However, now the taxes are finally done, so after doing some more work on my mom's requests (this weekend, as I will see her and Dad on Tuesday and Wednesday) and some weeding done and mulch film down and canteloupe seeds planted in the beds in the backyard, I will hopefully be back to blogging more regularly!

During the past 16 months that this blog has existed, I've been honored by being named a recipient of a number of awards by my fellow bloggers:

Ancestor Approved Awards from Joan Hill of Roots'n'Leaves, Debbie of Mascot Manor, Joy Burkhart of Tomorrow's Memories, and Sharn White of FamilyHistory4U;

Happy 101 Sweet Friends Awards from Joan again and from Greta Koehl of Greta's Genealogy Bog (yup, I'm in a bog too--love that blog name!);

a One Lovely Blog Award from A Rootdigger (who has many blogs), and

the Kreativ Blogger Award from Elizabeth O'Neal of Little Bytes of Life.

Thank you for the recognition, and more importantly, for taking the time to comment. Unfortunately, for the same reasons that I'm so behind on blogging, I can't fulfill the various requirements of these awards, so I won't be displaying them in my sidebar.  However, I am going to try to be better about commenting on other's blogs, and not just when I think I have something relevant to say. :)

©2011 copyright Amanda Pape - click here to e-mail me.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bluebonnets, Daffodils, & Tulips: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Spring - Sentimental Sunday

The prompt for Week 14 of 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is Spring:

What was spring like where and when you grew up? 

Spring is my favorite season! For me the harbinger of spring has always been flowers blooming.  In Houston, where I grew up, I remember lots of azaleas everywhere.  I also remember my grandparents stopping along a highway in the spring to let my siblings and I play in the bluebonnets.  My step-grandfather took home movies of us and there's a scene of us briefly playing in bluebonnets in late April, 1965, when I was eight.

I worked at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historical Park from April 1977 through March 1979. It's at one end of the La Bahía Road Bluebonnet Trail in Washington County, one of the most prolific areas in Texas for the state flower.  If I remember correctly, in either 1977 or 1979, the bluebonnets were blooming early at the park, on March 2, Texas Independence Day.
Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park, April 1978
Me with the dogs, Corpus Christi, Texas, March 1984
I lived in Corpus Christi from April 1979 through mid-October, 1984, and the photo above right was taken in the I-37 median with my ex-husband's female Belgian Sheepdog, Keena (on the left), and two of her puppies, Texas and Ranger.

Then we moved to Washington State.  I remember arriving there on November 1, 1984, and feeling SO depressed because all it did was rain the first couple weeks I was there.  But then I got a Christmas sales job at the local mall, and it snowed around Thanksgiving, and come springtime, we went biking in the Skagit Valley, where acres and acres of daffodil and (later) tulip bulbs were in bloom.
Daffodils in the Skagit Valley of Washington state, mid-1980s.
Roozengaarde, Mount Vernon, Washington, 1990s
West Shore Acres, Mount Vernon, WA, 1990s
For the following 21 years, I tried to get up to the Skagit Valley in springtime whenever I could, to visit display gardens of the owners of those blub farms at Roozengaarde (Washington Bulb Company) and West Shore Acres.

Anytime I was lucky enough to be in Texas in the spring (March 1995 and April 1999), I'd find some bluebonnets. I moved back home in January 2006, and have been lucky enough to see them every year on my way to and from work since 2007. The photo at right was taken in April 2007 at the Rocking MJ Ranch Bed & Breakfast near Canyon Lake.

© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.