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.

1 of 13,000

My dad didn’t talk much about the war. And when he did it was the good times he mostly talked about like when he transported troops from Florida to San Francisco on troop trains. Women and booze were always on the trains to keep the men’s morale up. It was party all the way across the country.

CLH WW2 Troop Trains-4

Soldiers on troop train going to San Francisco from Florida

Dad eventually went to Europe where he served as a glider and airplane mechanic. I asked if he ever parachuted from a plane. “No,” he said. “It was my job to tell them [the soldiers] when to jump.”

CLH WW2 Europe - Glider Ol'e Lady IV with Airmen-1

Glider with Airmen, somewhere in Europe








Dad was in one of the 13,000 aircraft that participated in the D-Day invasion. He said D-Day was a mass of confusion. So many men and ships and planes. And no one really knew what anyone else was doing.  He was in the air, telling soldiers when to jump. They couldn’t see anything and just hoped they were in the right place. We all know how that story ends.  :)

CLH WW2 Europe - Camp - CLH on left, back says Rec. Thur. Feb 8th 45

My dad (on the left) at his camp in Europe, dated Feb 8th 1945, seven months after D-Day.













Thanks, Dad, for your part in the D-Day invasion. Thanks for being brave.

That’s my dad’s story. What D-Day stories have your fathers, grandfathers or uncles shared with you?

Florrie and the Cure for the Itch


Iron tub-2 large

Photo credit:

What do you remember from when you were 3 or 4 years old? Something unusual I’d guess.

When I was 3, I locked myself in the bathroom at the neighborhood Peoples Drug Store. I can still hear my blood-curdling screams and see my feet and hands kicking and beating the door. A woman opened the door, and I darted past her desperate to find my mother and sister.

My mom and my sister got to laughing about as they told my dad over dinner that night. I didn’t think it was funny at all. And I’ve never been in that bathroom again.

I found a cure for the itch when I was going through my grandma’s things. The itch must have been pretty bad if the cure was unslacked lime (calcium oxide) and flour of sulfur dissolved in warm water. The body was to be saturated in it and then wait 30 minutes before rinsing it off.

Under the cure itself is a note written in my grandmother’s hand: 1898 by Margaret Thomas. Margaret Thomas was her mother.

My grandmother, Florrie Thomas Martin, turned 4 in late 1898, so how did she know for sure when this was written down, I wondered. It struck me recently…my grandmother probably had the itch and endured the cure.

I imagined her little 3-year old self sitting in an iron tub while her mother saturates her shivery body and dark wavy hair with the repugnant solution.

“Be still, Florrie,” her mother says as Florrie scratches herself here and there.

            “It stinks, Mama.”

            “I know, but it’ll get rid of the itch. Now sit here a while and I’ll rinse it off.”


How about you? What likely events have you discovered in your family’s history?

Hiding the Past: A Review

I’ve had Hiding the Past by Nathan Dylan Goodwin in my Kindle cloud reader since December, along with about 300 other books, plus another 200 in my Nook reader. (Hello, my name is Nancy and I am an ebook-aholic.)

Last weekend I wanted a light read and Hiding thHiding the Past cover for blogpost reviewe Past seemed like a good choice. I mean, what’s not to like…a forensic genealogist main character (Morton Farrier) and a murder mystery (who killed Peter Coldrick).

The story has two plotlines: the murder mystery and the main character’s personal journey having to do with the knowledge that he is adopted. The former is dominant as it should be. The main character’s musings about the latter come and go in a logical way that doesn’t take away from the main plot or distract the reader from it.

I didn’t see the ending coming for the murder mystery, but I wasn’t surprised at the resolution for the main character’s personal dilemma. Each ending was satisfying. I wouldn’t change a thing.

The violence wasn’t graphic, a plus for me. And I enjoyed the links to records and locales interspersed within the text of the story.

I’d prefer to give this book 4.5 stars instead of 4. The only downside for me was the setting. Not because I don’t like Great Britain, but because some of the language and abbreviations were foreign to me, me being American. I had to stop a few times and refresh myself on the meanings of things, and there was a slight learning curve with where records are stored in Great Britain as opposed to US repositories. These are minor problems, though, and I wouldn’t avoid this book, or any other with a foreign setting, because of this.

Hiding the Past was a delightful Sunday afternoon read. Morton Farrier is easy to like, and I look forward to the next book in this series.

Free Access to WW2 Collection at Fold3

WW2 cemetery and memorial in Netherlands

WW2 cemetery and memorial in the Netherlands. Photo credit:

From Fold3:  This Memorial Day season, explore Fold3′s World War II Collection for free now through May 31st.

Find your family heroes in Fold3′s vast collection of WWII documents, records, and images, including draft registration cards, Army enlistment records, Navy muster rolls, “Old Man’s Draft” registration cards, missing air crew reports, casualty lists, and more.

You can also explore records that provide historical context, such as Navy war diaries, submarine patrol reports, naval press clippings, JAG case files, European Theater Army records, US Air Force photos, and beyond. Also included are the extensive Holocaust Collection and the interactive USS Arizona Memorial.

Read more about this free access opportunity here:  Fold3′s World War 2 Collection Free Access