My Mother Louise Adele Johnson

Happy Mother’s Mom! Love and miss you today and every day!

Voices of Ancestors

The Early Years: 1920 – 1942

Mom was born January 19, 1920 in Machias, Maine, the third child and only daughter of Ezekiel and Harriet Means Johnson. She had two elder brothers: Warren, born in 1908, and Robert, born in 1918.

She was a towheaded toddler who explored the outdoors in a sweater and boots. The back of the photo reads:

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Mom loved to play in her grandparent’s barn at the house at 24 Broadway. One day, she romped with her brother Bob and cousin Charlie on the upper floor where the hay was stored. While big brother Warren stacked hay, Mom got carried away, forgot about the hole to throw hay down to the horses, and fell through to the lower barn. When she told the story to me over 30 years later, she vividly recalled her surprise descent but didn’t get hurt. There was soft hay below to…

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1913. The Means Family

Voices of Ancestors

This post has been updated with a full scanned copy of the Means Family notebook found here1913.Means

When I was in sixth grade, Mrs. Luce gave the class an assignment: write a story about our ancestors. When I got home that day, I told Mom about my homework project. I hoped to write about my grandparents and great grandparents. She retrieved a small brown notebook from a closet draw entitled 1913. Means Family. Compliments of John H. Means Boston to William G Means. William Means was my great grandfather. I knew the book existed for no one could grow up in my home and not hear stories about my mother’s ancestors but I had never read it, nor glanced at the pages.

I opened the little book and read the first page:

Our Ancestors

Our great-great-great Grandfather and family.

Robert Means born 1689 married Jeane Armstrong, daughter…

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Me and Muriel Watts

my second mother. I’ve known Muriel all my life. She and her husband Phil and their son, David, were always in my life. Phil is gone now, my Mom and Dad gone too, but my memories of our two families together are vivid.

Every summer, our families lived at Indian Lake in Whiting, Maine. We swam, we sailed, we fished, we spent hours/days boating. We started water sports on a surfboard behind the family boat. The first time Dad took me out on the surfboard, I was four or five. Soon after take off, Dad lost his grip on me and I slid between and under his legs into the water.  I remember my surprise to see Dad’s legs fly by. When David and I were eight years old, we learned to water ski. We had to keep up with my older brothers. Soon we were slalom skiing.

David and I explored the woods, tented out, and built a tree house with my brothers, David and Jimmy. It was a fine treehouse on the point, with a porch and a great view out over the lake toward the island. The Watts’ lived in the next cove over. When David and I wanted to get together, we went outside and called like loons. It was the signal that breakfast was over and it was time to hit the lake. On rainy days, there were card games and puzzles. There was no phone and no TV. It was a glorious time in our lives.

Recently I visited Muriel at Avita of Stroudwater, in Westbrook close to Portland, with David’s wife Kate. Muriel has Alzheimer’s disease but her memories of life long ago are as vivid as mine. We talked about all of our antics and fun at the lake. In the photo of us together, I was talking about the old photos of Mom and her before they were married, out on a picnic with the Border Patrol guys. She grinned and said, “We girls were trying to get away with some fun without our parents knowing!” We cracked up laughing. Precious moments.

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Mom, far left, Muriel on the right. They were picking cranberries with the Border Patrol guys some time in the late 1930s, or early 1940s.

I have so many photos of our families at Indian Lake. I shall have to pull them out of storage under my eves and scan.

But, for now, if you want to see the fun we had on Indian Lake, watch the old 8mm movies: Growing Up in the 50s and 60s, We Knew How To Have Fun!  

Ancestor Break Sunday. A Passing Otter.

I was outside on a porch break, so lovely in the Spring. I forgot to take my camera. The otter came in close and dove under the wharf. I waited nearly motionless for him or her to come up. Minutes went by. Suddenly the otter slithered up on the wharf to bask in the sun and feast on a fish head as big as my fist. Moments like this, one cannot capture except in memory. The otter stayed a good 20 to 30 minutes on the wharf. I got this shot later in the afternoon. He was swimming fast so the shot isn’t great. But, it was another beautiful day lakeside enjoying the wonders of nature!

5 Hidden Clues in the US Census — Amy Johnson Crow

The US census forms the basis of much of our family history research. It is often among the first things we search for when trying to answer a genealogical question. However, there are clues that are often missed. Let’s take a look at 5 hidden clues in the US census. […]The post 5 Hidden Clues…

via 5 Hidden Clues in the US Census — Amy Johnson Crow

An Ancestor Break. A Book Recommendation about Vietnam and PTSD.

Fifty Years in A Foxhole by Charles Kniffen.

I belong to a writing group in Trescott, Maine, headed by Dr. Michael Brown. We meet at Cobscook Community Learning Center every two weeks. I first met Chuck Kniffen there, a few years back. Soon after he joined the group, Chuck and his wife made a trip to Florida and tented out in driving rain. Chuck had flashbacks on his “vacation.” After returning home, he began to write about his experiences in Vietnam and living with undiagnosed PTSD for most of his life.

His book has just been published. It is riveting. You will cry, you will laugh at Chuck’s unique humor, but most of all you will see with glaring intensity the true cost of war. The story is so relevant to the times we live in.

I have been involved with this writing group for more than three years and enjoyed our gatherings tremendously. I made friends who regularly support each other, as writers and in our personal lives. It a priceless gift. After joining this group, I began to write about my own life and stories about my ancestors, and writing eventually led to the birth of this blog.

Chuck recently did an radio interview with the owner of Sunbury Press, Lawrence Knorr. It is well worth the time to listen.

Thank you for your service Chuck. Thank you for having the courage to write your story. Congratulations!

Related posts about war veterans:

Lubec Veterans Honor Roll

A Great Resource To Find Your Civil War Ancestors  

 

Happy Easter To You and Yours!

Me and Peter Rabbit many moons ago. I loved the way he liked to lay in my arms on his back. Peter loved to cuddle and he was so soft!

Of course, Easter is not about bunnies. It is a day to renew our hearts and minds and send up prayers into the universe for peace and love in this world.

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Me and my brothers. L to R. Jimmy, David and me (Sherry). I have that (red) blanket on my couch! Somehow I look less serious than Jimmy and David…