Betty Boop and Bambi


Question:  What do Betty Boop and Bambi have in common besides both starting with a B?


Answer: They both premiered on August 9, Betty Boop in 1930 and Bambi in 1942.

The cartoon in which Betty Boop first appeared, Dizzy Dishes, looks primitive to us now but was likely fresh then.  Click here to watch “Dizzy Dishes”

The improvements made in the 12 years between that cartoon and Bambi are amazing. Not only the quality of the animation, but the differences in music and sound. And Bambi was in color!  Click here to watch a clip from Bambi.

Were moviegoers as impressed by Bambi and Thumper on the ice as my generation was with seeing Disney’s Beauty and the Beast dance, seemingly in 3-D, across a computer-generated ballroom? Probably so.  Click here to see the ballroom dance from Beauty and the Beast.

My dad loved cartoons. His favorite was Woody Woodpecker. He watched cartoons with my sister and me when were kids. And when my girls were little he watched cartoons with them sitting in his lap. Yes he often dozed off, but they happily cuddled up to him and kept watching the cartoons.

Charles Leroy Heiser with Joyce and Nancy, early 1960-cropped

My dad, Charlie HEISER, with my sister and me. I am the baby in this photo.

Personally I didn’t understand my dad’s love for Woody Woodpecker. I found Woody to be annoying, but I didn’t tell my dad that. I didn’t want to spoil cartoon time with him. I liked Pepe Le Pew, Tom and Jerry, and Sniffles; a lesser known Merry Melodies character. I still like them now.

We’re visiting my in-laws this weekend. I can’t wait to ask them who their favorite cartoon character is and what they remember about watching cartoons when they were kids. My father-in-law is nearly 88 and still sharp. I’m sure it will be a fun conversation.  :)

How about you? Who is your favorite cartoon character? And what is your favorite animated movie?



Elephants and Giraffe Swim the Pee Dee

According to the Cheraw Time Line on the Chesterfield County SC Genealogical Society website, in 1837 “the first circus came to town. The elephants are too heavy and the giraffe too tall to cross the covered bridge so they must swim the river.” That would be the Pee Dee River.Elephant-3

One of my 3rd great-grandmothers, Margaret PEARSON GRIFFIN, likely witnessed this event.  She was the only one of my 3rd great-grandparents who lived in one of the counties on either side of the Pee Dee River, and she was a wee girl of 4 in 1837. Other of my 3rd great-grandparents lived in nearby Richmond County, NC, but who knows if they even knew about the circus coming to town, let alone witnessed it.

Now I’ve been to the circus. You maybe have, too. Elephants, lions, trick bicycle and unicycle riders, fire eaters, clowns, and all the rest. The circuses of the mid-1800′s weren’t much different. According to The Ins and Outs of Circus Life by John H. Glenroy, circuses of the mid 1800′s had clowns, horseback riders, modern Samson and Hercules, trick riders, singers, acrobats, plate spinners, a tattooed man, vaulters, jugglers and minstrels of color (which seemed to be a fascination of circus goers in those days.)


Olympians of the Sawdust Circle, A Biographical Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century American Circus by William L. Slout says the following animals were seen in circuses of that time period:  leopards, lions, panthers, tigers, elephants, and rhinos.  Imagine the amazement and awe that people on both sides of the Pee Dee experienced upon seeing the circus arrive with exotic animals and curious performers.

More than one resource used for this quick study said that the first giraffe arrived in America in 1837, coming to New York.


This leads me to believe that perhaps the circus event in Cheraw happened a year or so later than 1837. I don’t doubt the event happened, though. By the way, the first elephant in America arrived in April 1796.

This Cheraw circus event is going on my Margaret Pearson Griffin’s personal time line. I don’t know much about her, but this tidbit helps to add some depth to the flat name-and-dates information that is currently her in my family history.

How To Make the Most of Your Life

Two poems have significance in my family history – The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow andThe Clock of Life” by Robert H. Smith.

After my grandma passed we found “The Clock of Life” written again and again on index cards, notebook paper, paper scraps, and stationery.  I know there is more to this poem than what she recorded, but this is the part that was meaningful to her.

The Clock of Life Poem in the hand of Florrie Thomas Martin cropped

A portion of The Clock of Life in my grandma’s hand

My grandma lived through both World Wars and the Depression. She was the wife of a tenant farmer, and they moved often. Between 1923 and 1943, they lived in 12 different places. Two of her brothers died as boys, one after a freak accident. She was a widow for 24 years, and she buried 4 of her 8 children before she passed at the age of 84.

1978 Martin Family Reunion Florrie Thomas Martin-2

My grandma, Florrie Thomas Martin, in 1978.

She knew how ugly life could be, but she didn’t let that fact control how she lived her life. She was generous with her time and her prayers, and with the small amount of social security she received and what she made selling her crocheted creations. She laughed sometimes until she cried, and she loved people as they were, not how she wished they would be. She lived each day for the gift that it was, an admirable example of how to live.

What words to live by did your ancestors leave for you?



Time to Binge-Watch ‘River Town’

River Town, a web-based video series, ‘takes a look back at everyday rural Harnett County, North Carolina in the adventurous 1850′s.’  The series uses local talent and citizens to portray real people and tell real stories about the history of Averasboro, aka River Town. The cast also includes locally ‘known’ people like NC State Senator Ronald Rabin.

Campbell Creek at Cape Fear River

Campbell Creek at the Cape Fear River, the river featured in River Town

The series has been featured in local papers such as the Fayetteville Observer and the Dunn Daily Record, and on an episode of WRAL-TV’s Tar Heel Traveler. Plus River Town’s facebook page has over 1600 likes.

River Town is a drama, and it has twists and turns in the storyline but a lot can be learned from watching it, too. For example, in Season 1 Episode 4, I learned about turpentine farming, an occupation that shows up many times in the census records of my North and South Carolina ancestors. In this episode, the actors actually perform the necessary tasks to farm turpentine.

Season 3 begins this fall. Go to River Town’s youtube page to watch seasons 1 and 2. Each episode is less than 15 minutes long, so you can easily binge-watch and be current before Season 3 begins.

Know of other web-based video series like River Town?  Please comment if you do!

Etch-A-Sketch: 54 years in America

Etch-A-Sketch was launched on the American market 54 years ago this month.

Mona Lisa Etch-A-Sketch

image from

I had a love/hate relationship with Etch-A-Sketch when I was a child. I loved what other people could draw with it, and I hated that drawing a square with it was a major accomplishment for me! My brain didn’t work that way then, and it still doesn’t now. The difference is that now I can be in awe of what people can draw with it, but not envious that I can’t do it, too.

Click here to see some amazing art done on an Etch-A-Sketch. Note that some of the creations were made on the pocket version.

Then check out this history of Etch-A-Sketch drawn with an Etch-A-Sketch.

I’ve shared my experience with Etch-A-Sketch. Tell me about yours.


Daddy always liked you better

The Ancestry Insider

logo from The Ancestry Insider

When I read this blog from The Ancestry Insider – New FamilySearch Add On: Find A Record – I was intrigued, and I gave it a try. I narrowed my search to Chesterfield County, SC where my Grant ancestors lived for many years.

From the choices I was provided, I chose to focus in on probate records. The records were mostly indexed which helped aplenty. Also, the records I wanted to see are housed at the SC Dept. of Archives and History (SCDAH). Applause from me for the SCDAH. They are awesome to work with!

I called the SCDAH. They took my information about the three probate records I was looking for, said they’d research for the records, and invoice me for the cost of the research and copies. Yes, I called them and they did this. Like I said. They are awesome to work with. :)

Invoice arrived, check sent, and then the waiting game.

Last week, my packet of papers arrived. It was like Christmas in July as I opened the tightly stuffed envelope. Two of the records were average probate records. Names, dates, signatures, value of the estates, etc. All interesting and worth the cost for research and copying.

Tintype of a Grant-cropped

Tintype photo believed to be D. B. Grant


The final record was a juicy one, though. Jeremiah Grant, my 3rd great-grandfather died without a will. As expected, his oldest living son, my 2nd great-gandfather, Daniel Baity Grant (aka D.B. Grant) would be the likely executor named by the probate court. But two of D.B.’s sisters weren’t keen on that idea.

His sisters, Ella Grant Gardener and Malinda Grant Quick, petitioned the courts requesting that D.B. not be named as executor. Their reason: D.B. ‘is not a successful business man’ and ‘has proved a failure and is today without any property and is hopelessly in debt’.

Sibling Rivalry-1

Modern day version of D. B. and his sisters?


The sisters also said in the petition ‘that said D.B. Grant has no interest in the estate, his father having advanced to him in his life time, as needed, more than he would be entitled to receive from said estate.’ I can hear the sisters now, “Daddy always like you better.” They also provided evidence that D.B. was in debt for nearly $6000. The court ended up appointing D.B. as the executor anyway.

I still have some chicken scratching from the sisters’ lawyer to interpret. Who knows what else I might find out about D.B.!

I certainly will be using this FamilySearch Add On again. Thanks, Ancestry Insider, for blogging about it.



Is there a ham in your family?

Photo Bomb-1

No, I’m not talking about the person who photo-bombs every photo or monopolizes every conversation. I’m talking about a ham (amateur) radio operator. It’s quite possible there is a ham in your family tree. Maybe someone who has passed but maybe someone who hasn’t, too.

This past weekend was the annual Field Day event for amateur radio operators. Field Day is a contest to make as many contacts as possible and to practice operating under less than optimal conditions. For more information about Field Day, click here:  Field Day and search for ‘field day’

Ham radio operator-1


Skills are practiced and used, too, when hams help with events like marathons and parades, or when they participate in exhibits at fairs or museums. Keeping these skills honed ensures hams are ready when our modern communication systems go down like in times of natural or man-made disasters.

There are several hams in my family. My husband and I are both hams, as well as both of our children. My husband is always proud to share with other hams that he has an all-ham family! His father is a ham, and his late grandfather was one, too.

My daughter was able to change her assigned amateur call sign to that of her great-grandfather, a man she’s never met. Still, she feels like she knows him from all she’s heard about him. We’ve been keeping him alive through stories and photos.

Back to your family. Ham radio operators were trained as communication personnel by all branches of the military during WW2. Each branch maintained training schools, and the government actively sought out amateur radio operators because of the skills they already had. It was easy to find them, too, since hams carry a federal license to operate an amateur radio.

Amateur Radio Rig-1

The links below may help you as you search for records and details about amateur radio and your ham relatives, details that will add depth to your family history.

ARRL:  The National Association for Amateur Radio

Little Known Story of the Coast Guard in WW2

Army Air of World War II

For each of the following resources, do a search for ‘radio’ to get the record number(s).

Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel

Records of the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

Records of the Army Air Forces (AAF)

Records of the United States Marine Corps


Are you or someone in your family tree a ham?


Interview with Denise McDaniel of Memory Lane Boutique

Memory Lane Boutique Photo-1

The small one was made from a shirt.

Denise McDaniel, owner of Memory Lane Boutique, started sewing in high school. After marrying at 18, she learned to do alterations, as well, and made most of hers and her children’s clothes. She worked as a seamstress in the garment manufacturing industry, too. Making Memory Bears and other items allows Denise to use her passion for sewing to create keepsakes for her clients. I interviewed Denise to learn more about her and her business. Here is the interview:

Q1. What kind of sewing machine do you use to make Memory Bears and the other memory creations?

A1. I use a Kenmore sewing machine. It is the machine my husband bought me 33 years ago. Before he bought me my sewing machine I would go to an older lady’s house that went to our church and use her Singer Pedal machine, which took some time to learn how to stop the machine.

Q2. About how long does it take to make a Memory Bear?

A2. For a Memory Bear from the time I cut the bear out to finish around 1.5 hours. For a Necktie Bear - which will soon be on the website – about 2 hours, because I have to make the fabric after I take the 6 neckties apart.

Necktie Bear

Necktie Bear

Q3. The photography on your website is lovely. Who does it?

A3. All photography for the website I have done myself. Mostly with my Galaxy S4 phone.

Q4. What hobbies or activities do you enjoy besides sewing?

A4. Besides sewing I love to play tennis, go the Lake Lure, NC and go on cruises. I also love to read when I have the opportunity and to spend time with my family. I have a daughter, a son, and daughter-in- law. Also I have a wonderful dog, Charlie.

Q5. Are you a native North Carolinian? If not, where are you from originally?

A5.  I am a native of Mocksville, NC. My husband and I were next door neighbors and married when I was 18.

Visit Denise’s website to learn more about her memory keepsake creations, and be sure to look at the gallery to see before and after photos:  Memory Lane Boutique.

Book Review: Where’s Merrill? by Gearoid O’Neary

Wheres Merrill cover croppedWhere’s Merrill? is described as a genealogical thriller. That is an accurate description! Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down until I knew the truth about Merrill. There are actually two stories going on in this book – the story of Merrill and his family, and the story of the researchers learning about this family’s history.

The author used dates and place names to keep the reader abreast of what was going on, and he did well with this. Interaction between the main characters is believable, but I especially enjoyed the secondary characters, like the townspeople, who added spunk to the story.

Reading Where’s Merrill? gave me a sense of how others might feel when I talk about the many members of my own family during one conversation. At times I felt like I needed to make some notes as to who was who, and I assigned some details to the wrong people as I read along. That is to be expected, though, with a story of this kind. It didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the story at all since I was able to quickly regroup the cast and details in my mind.

Long narrative paragraphs are present in several places which made me want to skim over and rush past. I am a short paragraph kind-of-girl.

The author, Gearoid O’Neary, asked me if I’d like to review Where’s Merrill?, and he provided me a copy. That in no way has influenced my review. I liked this story, and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it easily to anyone who enjoys a mystery that is light on graphic violence. There were twists in the plot, and I was truly surprised by a few of the revelations. I give it a 4 out of 5.

For more information about Where’s Merrill? and Gearoid O’Neary go to:  Where’s Merrill?

Not Just Flag Day for Me

In September 1946, a former government girl named Gladys was working in the Office of Personnel  in Washington, DC. One day she spied a movie-star-handsome man waiting to be processed for a new job. Gladys caught his eye.

When he smiled at her, his brilliant blue eyes sparkled. She smiled back easily with a smile so memorable it was spoken about years later at her funeral. Once he’d left, she turned to a co-worker and said, “I’m going to marry that man.” The co-worker chuckled in jest.


Gladys Martin Heiser

Charlie, the man with the sparkling blue eyes, came around looking for Gladys, and by spring 1947 they were seeing each other regularly. One day while eating lunch in the cafeteria a coworker joked, “When you gonna marry her?”

Charles Leroy Heiser, ca. 1930's, probably taken at Myrtle's house closeup

Charles Leroy Heiser


“June 14th ,” Charlie replied without hesitation.


Gladys was taken aback since they hadn’t talked about marriage, but sure enough Charlie and Gladys were married on June 14th 1947 – Flag Day. Their wedding photo can be seen in the header of this blog.

My mom, Gladys, always told that story like it had just happened…reliving it every time…describing how she felt when she saw him across the room for the first time…and how she just knew he was the man she would marry. Oh, how she loved my dad.

Yes, I will fly a flag on Flag Day. But mostly I will dwell on memories of my movie-star-handsome dad and my mother’s beautiful smile. June 14th ,  for me, will always be their anniversary first and Flag Day second. Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! Miss you like crazy.

Do you have any special holidays like this in your family? Comment below to share.