Blizzard of 2016


This past week for two days I had to call off work. I live 60 miles outside of Chicago where I work so the weather there can be totally different from the weather by my home. Chicago got only approximately 2″ of snow and we got 15″ of snow.  I am proud to say Midwesterner’s are resilient and can normally withstand snowstorms, but it is the blowing and drifting snow that stops us. On the open country roads the snow blows horizontally causing massive drifts and blocks us. Cars and trucks get stuck and people either abandon their cars or are stuck in them for hours.

The wet and heavy snow also caused mass power outages on Day 1 and commuter trains not running the morning of Day Two. In our home we had no electricity for 21 hours which also resulted in no heat and no water.  We have well water so when the power goes, the water goes…which means no flushing possible!  When I moved out this way, that really freaked me out because I had never experienced that before! With a cold, pitch black home on Wednesday night we went to bed at 9:00 p.m., and we slept under the covers with a 56 temperature in the house.

Of course, my experience was minor in comparison to those who were left stranded in their cars and trucks for hours on country roads or walked through the blizzard to their homes.

All of this certainly made us aware of and appreciate the luxuries and comforts we take for granted having electricity.

While clearing out my refrigerator/freezer and putting food in coolers to set out in the snow before anything was spoiled, made me think how my grandparents and great-grandparents lived like this daily. They had to work hard every day just to handle daily activities of eating and keeping warm.

Suckers Flat MO - CopyMy grandfather is the six year old boy in the center of the picture standing between his parents. I can only imagine the hardships that these folks struggled through everyday. The men in this picture worked in the lead and zinc mines at the Suckers Flat Mine in Webb City, Missouri in 1890. The women, most likely, tended to the food, taking care of children, animals and daily chores.

Many of the businesses in our town were also closed beyond their control due to power outages so it wasn’t possible to hop in the car to pick up something quick to eat. And what I did have in the house I couldn’t cook, but we certainly didn’t go hungry as we found things tucked in our cabinets that obviously weren’t our favorite. Again, our ancestors experienced this daily.

It was a “hallelujah moment” when lights were on again Thursday afternoon and life was back to normal. Here’s to our ancestors who daily worked hard back in their time!

Do you remember stories that your grandparents told you about their experiences as a child or their grandparents who lived without the luxury of electricity? Now is the to pull out your laptop or pen and paper and start Keeping Your Memories of those stories.


Preserving Cherished Moments



I have journaled my existence since I was a teenager. I wrote about high school friends and sweethearts, family, God, college, marriage and infertility. But the day came on June 16, 1986 when I opened up a brand new journal filled with fresh, clean, empty pages to start recording my experience and elation of finally being pregnant with my first child. Twenty-nine years later I pulled out that book from my closet shelf, blew off the dust and carefully opened up the cover so small papers that were tucked between the yellowed pages wouldn’t fall and began reading the pages . The first entry read:

“June 16, 1986:  Dear Baby – I always said that when I get pregnant I would start a journal for my little one and give it to him or her when he or she gets older. Hopefully I will keep this book filled with memories for you to always cherish and to pass on to your children. Well, tonight I finally was able to get in the doctor’s office and take the pregnancy test. It was positive! We are so happy that we are going to give birth to you. Babies are a gift from God and we praise Him and thank Him for this gift.”

My little baby finally arrived, and I was extremely happy and thankful that I had a baby girl. Twenty-nine years ago this evening I wrote:

“February 23, 1987:  Dear Joanna May – You have finally arrived! You looked beautiful after you were born. We can’t believe that you are finally here. You were born at 10:03 a.m. and weighed 8 lbs., 12 oz and 22” long. You were born with your big dark eyes wide open and born with dark brown hair.”

That evening I continued writing to my daughter about the entire day and what I experienced delivering my first child and how I fell in love with her.

Days and months passed quickly, but I would write entries for this precious baby about her monthly doctor visits, who came to visit her, and every milestone in her life. I shared with her how I was feeling, what I was experiencing, and how much I loved being a mother. That book filled quickly and I began another but eventually three children later,  all of us growing older, becoming busier and having less time the pages didn’t fill up as quickly. But I know that what I did write will preserve the memories of my daughter’s birth for future generations to read.

One day I will have grandchildren and they will read how excited I was the day their parents were born. I definitely would have cherished reading my mother’s and my grandmothers’ emotional and physical experiences when they were pregnant.

Now is the time to start Keeping Your Memories of your newborns and children.  Open up your laptops or grab paper and pen and start recording the precious moments, love and adoration you have for your children.



A Trunkful of Memories


Today I had the honor to present to Violet on her 101st birthday the printed book of her life story that she and I had compiled, “A Trunkful of Memories – Reminiscing on the Past 100 Years.” Our town’s historical association, which I am a member of, understood the necessity and the importance to interview Violet, a lifetime one hundred year old town resident. Preserving Violet’s memories of her family, farm life and education will enable future generations to read her first-hand account of the life of this early 20th century family from this small town in Indiana.

Barb, a longtime member of the Association as well as a longtime friend to Violet, was willing to make the introduction. Barb met with me to give a brief introduction of Violet’s background and to see the treasures Violet donated to the Association.

Opening Violet’s trunk we found priceless family pictures, her christening gown, baby clothes, and her mother’s wedding dress along with a tin container protecting the flowers from her parents’ 1908 wedding.

I was already excited to meet Violet so it was a pleasure to meet this energetic woman at an assisted living home in town. She flawlessly maneuvered her electric powered wheelchair in her room and down the hallway.

Once we rearranged the seating and Violet was able to self-maneuver her wheelchair into reverse to back herself against the wall, and the video camera  was set up, we were taken back up to one hundred years ago as she described her childhood, her parents, grandparents, brothers, life on the farm and moving to town. She seemed to vividly remember riding the horse and buggy to school and the family Christmas tradition of cleaning the house for Santa Claus.

I also had the opportunity to meet Francy and Erick who not only purchased Violet’s 177 acre farm but they, along with all of their children, became dear friends to her. Francy and Erick graciously let me visit them giving more details to the farm’s history and sharing pictures with me. Walking through the old dairy barn and buildings, climbing the ladder up to the hayloft and seeing a wider view of the farm, and walking around their property helped me visualize Violet as a young woman living on this farm in the early 1900’s.

We had a few copies of the book at the open house and it was satisfying to see the adults skimming over it and some sitting for an extended time reading it and giving positive reviews. However, I did a double take when glancing to the left of me I saw a young eight year old boy sitting at a table perusing the book. Thanks to the pictures and stories that Violet shared, he was able to visualize this 101 year old woman as a child. That was gratifying as my mission was met: “Keeping Your Memories for future generations.”

Recording Violet’s life story has kept her legacy preserved. And Keeping Your Memories of your life will be invaluable to your great grandchildren years from now. You would not be just a picture with a few recorded facts, but you will be an ancestor turning your life experiences into life lessons for your descendants.

Open up your laptop or grab pen and paper and start recording your life experiences for future generations to read.  Start with these questions:

  • What is the most important date in your personal history?
  • What was the hardest thing that you ever had to do?
  • If you could change anything in your life, what would you change?
  • Was there one moment in your life that changed everything for you?