|My dad with his grandmother & grandfather, who fought in the Civil War.|
Years ago I picked up a book about the Amish customs and sayings, and returned home to have a serious visit with my aging mother. Within the pages of this book were not only, my mother's most frequently used quotes, but my mother's idiosyncrasies. It was as though I was reading a book all about her, and indeed I was. Her family all came from the Pennsylvania Dutch culture of Lancaster County. I have since become friends with a woman who is somewhat younger than my mother whose family also came from this same region. We laughed and compared notes about our customs: suppressed outward expression of emotions, blended with a strong independent spirit of living their faith with practical knowledge that "God helps those who help themselves" resonated with us both. My mother's grandparents worked hard to teach their children to be "industrious, frugal, honest, and pious" through their "own example of living right". These values taught to my mother by her mother, made her very practical, hard-working and strong! She took pride in doing whatever she did with much care and diligence, and saw to it that her children did the same!
|My mother, dressed in black, with her six sisters and one brother.|
|My grandmother's parents. "Education and good character all important"!|
My mother was very close to her next older sister. There was only one year age difference between them and everyone had thought this sister was their mother's favorite as she got to go everywhere with their mother. They all were shocked to learn later that this was her mother's very intelligent way of keeping her sister from leading my mother and her other sisters into mischief, as she did without her mother's careful eye!
|My mother (light colored jacket), her next older and two younger sisters.|
All of these stories added to my own childhood adventures in Denver, Colorado, where our living was still quite rural. Collectively we joined water hoses together to stick in a prairie dog hole, hopeful of flushing one out and into a box placed over another hole. Their front and back doors were not so easy to figure out however! Catching crawdads and garter snakes was definitely easier.
|My kids, living on a farm in Vermont with gardens, hay lofts, and kittens.|
|My mother's mother, my grandmother, college educated.|
|A too serious message to my grandmother by her father in her autograph book!|
|My grandmother's three brothers, "universally respected, admired and loved".|
I returned to Nebraska years ago to bury my parents and I received a grand tour of the region, by mom's cousin, and heard more stories, and visited ancestor's grave sites. What a privilege to be a branch of this long extended Martin/Kiechel clan!
|My dad's grandmother and mother, both French milliners.|
|My dad's mother's and grandmother's French Millinery shop.|
|My dad was never proud of pictures of himself donned in lace. I love them!!|
|My great grandmother's thimble and case...a real treasure!|
|My dad's mother. Sadly she died when he was but a young boy.|
|Dad's relations that he stayed with when his grandmother took him to France.|
Listening to the stories about my dad's grandmother who was so very close to her French relatives was heartwarming, especially as I hadn't had the chance to know my grandmother or great grandmother. His cousin's family narrowly escaped the bombing in Europe during World War II with a mattress tied to the roof of their car, and the last time they had seen my father was shortly after World War II. Dad's cousin and her husband still live in Brussels, but have an apartment in Paris and their family's ancestral modest cottage on the French Riviera that she and my dad enjoyed as children. They are well traveled and enjoy various musical and theatrical events, fitting my image of "cultured European relations". I mistakenly thought that learning the French language would come easy for me, and instead must content myself speaking only English! My dreams and thoughts of far away foreign places is not as easily extinguished, however. How rich I feel with ancestors as interesting as these!!
I cannot stop this reverie without talking about my musical ancestry. My mother and her two older sisters sang in a trio, that performed at funerals and other occasions in the small town in Nebraska where she and her sisters grew up. As I got to know my mother more in her later years, I learned that she sang with her father and aunt and uncle as well. She had sisters that played the piano, and a brother that played the trumpet. Her mother had played the piano and had met my grandfather when she accompanied him playing the violin. He also fiddled.
|My mother's father, who played the violin and he fiddled and sang as well.|
|My Aunt, Ruth Martin, who sang on her own radio program in California.|
My love of music did take me to a local folk concert hall weekly where I met my husband who plays guitar and sings. He also played the trumpet when he was young. I tried to play the guitar as well as the piano with equal lack of success, but finally contented myself learning to play the harmonica, when my car radio broke down. Cars, showers and closets remain my only performance venues!!
|My daughter, with a music gene, played the flute all the way through school.|
My youngest daughter was quite the drummer, but never played in sync with the band? My husband assures me that she has great rhythm! She does, however, seem to march to the tune of a different drummer, choosing to complete her high school curriculum early in order to take college classes while still in high school! She is an apple that doesn't fall far from the tree! My dad was always a non-conformist and proudly claimed that my siblings and I were the same, along with his many grandchildren! Both my father and his father were professional engineers. My dad was a very successful business man in the construction business as Denver quickly sprawled into the city that it is today. He claimed he could solve any personal problems on his slide ruler. He was proud to follow in his father's footsteps, as he was an engineer as well and had been one of the core of engineers who built the Panama Canal!
|Dad with his mom and dad, an engineer who helped build the Panama Canal.|
So here's "to life"!! I see the genetic DNA and family values live on through each of us and I am so proud of my family history and future. Strong faith, character, determination and talent are within my gene pool and my ancestors indeed make me stand a little taller! My father did warn us however, that when he asked his grandfather why the family name was changed from Campion to Campen, he was told "to never to look too close as there might be a pig thief among his relations".
|She is one of my relations! Possibly of royalty judging by her crown? LOL!!|
(Disclaimer: I have much more to learn about my ancestors and so if I didn't get all my facts straight, or you know who these unknown relatives are, please let me know!)
|More relations? I am glad that this wasn't my mama!|
|Mom thought he might be a relative from Hollywood...the nose is familiar!|