Sunday, March 18, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 11: Lucky: How We Loved to Play Games

I am working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

One pleasant memory I have of childhood was playing games. My mother loved to play games and loved playing them with us. A favorite location where we played was the kitchen table.

Board Games
When we were young, we played board games such as Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Sorry. As we got older, we played other board games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, and Clue. I never got the feeling that my mother or father let us win. I was always pretty competitive. I liked to win but when I didn't, I just tried harder the next time.

Card Games
Card games started out with young children’s games of Go Fish, Old Maid, and Crazy Eights. We had a special deck of cards to play Old Maid, but when we didn’t, we used a regular deck and removed all the face cards except one queen. As we got older, we learned to play Rummy, War, Blackjack, and Solitaire. I especially loved playing double Solitaire with my mother.

Made up Games
One favorite made up game was a word game. Today you can buy this game called Scattergories. We took a piece of paper and drew a six by six grid. On one side we wrote down some categories such as girl’s name, animal, state or country. On the top we wrote out letters. These letters we got from closing our eyes and choosing letters from an article in a magazine. This way, the letters chosen were random. I  loved this game. It could be played anywhere as long as you had paper and pencil. I didn’t always get words in every square but it was fun to try. As we aged, our vocabulary grew and the game got easier.

Dice Games
Two dice games we played were Yahtzee and Liars Dice. My father loved playing Liars Dice and it was a completely different skill to learn.

As an adult, my favorite games are Scrabble, Boggle, and playing cards on the computer, especially
Hearts. Once when my daughters accompanied us on a train trip in England, we played Hearts with real cards and it was great fun. My daughters also loved playing games and made sure we played all the same games I played as a child with my family. As they grew up, the games grew into Life, Monopoly, Trivia Pursuits, and Apples to Apples.

I have also played Boggle and Scrabble with my mother-in-law, Thelma and sister-in-law, Sylvia. I've played a Facebook Scrabble-like game with a former co-worker. And I've played Yam-slam and Farkle with a girlfriend. 

Playing games is a great past-time!  

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Monday Genea-pourri, Week of March 5-11, 2018

Randy Seaver of Genea-Musing started this meme and I loved the idea. Genealogists are great at documenting our ancestors’ lives but not so great documenting our own. I’ll write about what I’ve been doing the past week.

Monday, I started the 6-week Intermediate Class sponsored by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society and the Concord Family History Center. The class is two hours long and held at the Concord FHC. There are six participants and the first lesson was about forming good research questions, creating a research plan, and then completing a research report after the research.

Tuesday, I worked at the Contra Costa County Historical Society’s History Center. I’d been gone over six weeks, so there was a lot of work to catch up on. One query looks very interesting and I look forward to working on it next week.

Wednesday, I began a new volunteer position at the Oakland FamilySearch Library. A bunch of members of the California Genealogical Society have volunteered to help keep the evening hours at the FamilySearch library. I worked the main desk where we collect money for copies made. I found some great newspaper articles about my Hork, Sullivan, and Quigley families from

I also met with some of the participants of the CGS Trip to the Family History Library in April. I was pleased that several of them have great plans for research in the library.

I attended the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society’s meeting on Thursday, where the presentation was on Names, primarily first names, nicknames, and naming patterns.

I met with the certification study group on Friday and we discussed what we had done that past week and about the probate chapter in North Carolina Research. I had worked some on the development activities portion of the portfolio. I was working the desk at the library of the California Genealogical Society. I had no customers in the hour of the meeting.

So each day of the week, I had a genealogical activity. The weekend was to stay at home, where I worked on the lesson for the second week of the Intermediate Class, and participated in Game Night at DearMyrtle.

My blog work for the week included two installments of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 9: Where There’s a Will and Week 10: Strong Women and a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post on six childhood memories.


I did have a German conversation class on Monday and a music lesson on Thursday, where I brought my ukulele. I’m trying to learn to read and play by notes and I have a great new book that helps me. 

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Six Memories

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is to:

1)  Judy Russell asked six questions in her 2014 Keynote address at RootsTech to determine if audience members knew certain family stories about their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.  She demonstrated very well that family stories are lost within three generations if they are not recorded and passed on to later generations.

2)  This week, I want you to answer Judy's six questions, but about YOUR own life story, not your ancestors.  Here are the questions:
a)  What was your first illness as a child?
b)  What was the first funeral you attended?
c)  What was your favorite book as a child?
d)  What was your favorite class in elementary school?
e)  What was your favorite toy as a child?
f)  Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?
 3)  Tell us in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

My mother kept a baby book about my early childhood and I’ll use that for some of the questions. I have scanned the pages so the book can be put away safely.

1. My first illness was having Scarlet Fever in September 1959. I was five years old and had just started kindergarten. My mother wrote “Rest and the miracle drugs.” I was thinking that our family was quarantined, but in researching scarlet fever, I find no reference to the need. I do remember the doctor coming to the house, though, and how I hated the tongue depressor, as it seemed he was trying to gag me. 

2. The first funeral I attended was when I was nineteen. My maternal grandfather, Tom J. Johnston, died on 11 July 1973, and the funeral was held at the Oak Park Hills Chapel two days later. We were promised that the casket would be closed, but it hadn’t been. What a shock to see a dead person, though he had been made up quite nicely. My youngest sisters, who were nine and seven, were not there, as my parents thought they were too young. I don’t remember details about the funeral, but remember riding on a jump seat in a limousine to the cemetery. The gathering afterwards was at my grandmother’s home and we saw cousins we rarely had seen before. My Aunt June had brought the best tasting lemon meringue pie I had ever eaten.

3. My favorite books as a young child were the Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik with drawings by Maurice Sendak  and the Angus books by Marjorie Flack. I loved them so much I bought them for my own daughters to read and enjoy. Later, I was a big fan of biographies in the Childhood of Famous Americans series and I read them all from the school library. Then I discovered mysteries and read everything I could get a hold of: Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, then the Man From Uncle series.

4. My favorite class in elementary school was art. Our classroom teacher had activities for us and once a month the district art teacher came and taught us specific techniques. In intermediate school, I finally got to take art as an elective and did for both 7th and 8th grade. I probably wasn’t as proficient with the technique as other students, but I enjoyed creating art very much. By the end of 10th grade I decided I was not talented enough to take on the more complicated projects and selected other classes as electives. I wish I had a sample of my art. I know my parents saved some but since their deaths, I don't know what happened to them. Perhaps I have some in storage.

5. I didn’t care for dolls but in 5th grade, trolls were introduced and I loved them. My mother found a pattern to make clothes for them out of felt, so none of my trolls were naked anymore. We made troll houses out of cardboard boxes and furniture out of smaller boxes. I even had a troll that fit on the end of my pencil. It was fun to play with their long hair.

6.  Ugh, swimming. I finally learned to swim in the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I could play around in shallow pools, but my mother decided we would all really learn to swim. She enrolled us at the high school pool and because I couldn’t swim at all, I was put in the beginner’s class—full of six and seven-year-olds. That was enough motivation for me to learn to swim really fast. In two days I was moved up to a class more my age group. I’m still not very good at swimming. I don’t like to put my face underwater. Some summers we had doughboy pools, and later, our neighbor, the Potters, let us swim in their pool. It was always a treat to go there. But I found sunbathing a lot more fun than swimming. 

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, My Trails into the Past. All Rights Reserved.