David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Her Face on the Tea Towels


I hope you will indulge me a bit today as I go a little bit off the genealogy trail to share this treasure, for today I am thinking of July 29, 1981.
I had been married myself only a few weeks when Lady Diana married Prince Charles in St. Paul's Cathedral.  I was one of millions who awoke at 4:00 am to watch the festivities.  I had begun my "Diana" collection a few months earlier, quite innocently enough.  Newly engaged, I was watching the CBS Evening News when a brief report began picturing the Prince of Wales and a beautiful young woman dressed in a brilliant blue suit.  As they were shown strolling hand in hand, the story went on to describe their engagement and gave the woman's name as Lady Diana Spencer.  The next day in the newspaper, a photo from that press report appeared and I thought it might be nice to have a copy of it for my "wedding scrapbook" to show something that was going on in the world during the time of our engagement. I thought it would just end at that, but, boy was I wrong!
Lady Diana, the lovely, young, kindergarten teacher caught the imagination of the whole world and "royal wedding" fever began to spread.  I decided to start a scrapbook about the wedding itself and there was no shortage of items with which to fill it.  One scrapbook turned into two, three, four...... 
I also starting buying other souvenirs; plates, dolls, stamps, books and the tea towel pictured above.
After the majesty of the wedding, came the "baby watch" and the births of Prince William and Prince Harry. But, it was soon quite obvious to everyone that the royal marriage was not a happy one.  By the time of the official announcement of their impending divorce, no one was surprised, although it was very sad. Now, we watched Princess Diana begin a life as a single woman; much wiser and no longer the innocent young lady she was when we first came to know her.  When she spoke of the fears she had prior to her marriage, she said her friends had told her she could not back out of the wedding because "her face was on the tea towels".  I have to admit when I read those words I felt very sad.  How trapped she must have felt by the expectations of the entire world.
When Diana died in Paris that Labor Day weekend, I cried my heart out. Her funeral took place during one of my regular work days and those of us in the office sat around the television and watched.  There were several "twenty-somethings" who worked with me and they expressed confusion as to why Diana's death was "such big news".  We had lost famous people before. Why was Diana so special?
I can only speak for myself, but this is what I think.
My generation, maybe more so than any other, was raised on the fairy tale.  The story of the beautiful princess meeting her prince, falling in love and living "happily ever after" was a staple in our lives.  We had the Disney "Big Three" in Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty.  In the 1960's we were even given Rodgers and Hammerstein's brunette version of Cinderella in the form of Lesley Ann Warren. (Who was my special favorite!) So, when Lady Diana appeared, it was almost like a fairy tale come true. It was even spoken in their marriage ceremony, I believe by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who said, "This is the stuff of which fairy tales are made. A Prince and Princess on their wedding day."  We wanted to believe it was true love.  We wanted to see the "Happily Ever After".  So, when it ended so cruelly, so abruptly, it was truly painful.  We felt like we knew her. We were pulling for her to be happy because she had been treated so unfairly and her death was almost too much for people to take. Maybe that's why the emotions were so great.

My scrapbooks became larger over those weeks as I concluded Diana's story.  I'm glad I started my collection almost 30 years ago now,  and I don't think I could ever part with any of it.  It's a remembrance of a special time and it truly is one of my "treasures". 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sentimental Sunday - Shared Birthdays


I have heard people lament the fact that they share a birthday with a family member.  They somehow feel "short-changed" by the fact that celebrations were never just for them alone.  I guess that maybe that might be true for multiple birthdays within an immediate family, but I consider myself lucky to have shared my birthday with my two great aunts, Carmen and Olive.   Our birthdays all fell on September 14.  I was a C-section birth so my parents were allowed to choose the birthdate and I was always happy they chose a day that would allow me to celebrate with "Carmie" and "Olive"

Inside the "Baby Book" my mother lovingly kept for me are two precious handwritten letters, sent to my parents by Aunt Carmen and Aunt Olive just after I was born.  I love reading about their excitement at the news of my arrival and I'm thankful that my mother cared enough to save them for me.  

When I was very young, we actually did have the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays together and I'm grateful for the photographs I have of those times. I don't have any memory of those parties, but they sure look like they were fun!

As I grew up, I could be guaranteed that on every birthday, without fail, I would receive a special birthday card from each of them.  Since we weren't living in the same household, I wasn't "sharing" the attention with someone else, but rather I was receiving "special" attention from people I knew loved me. Throughout my childhood and into my married life, we continued to send each other those birthday wishes year after year, until Alzheimer's Disease began to take Aunt Olive away from us and Aunt Carmen passed away. 

Each year, as the calendar turns to September my thoughts go back to those precious days and to those beautiful ladies that I love and miss so much and I sure wouldn't mind sharing my birthday with them again.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Surname Saturday - Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker

My great grandmother, Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker

Roseanna Varvel was born 15 June, 1876 in Adams County, Ohio.  She was the third child of seven born to George W. and Mahala Mahaffey Varvel, the first of their four daughters and she was named in honor of her grandmother, Roseanna Bowen Varvel.   Sometime in 1895, she was married to Thomas Jefferson Shoemaker, the son of Jacob and Anna Mariah Grimes Shoemaker,  in Adams County and they began farming in the rugged southern Ohio land.  In 1896, their first child, Floyd,  was born and Ann would eventually give birth to thirteen children, twelve of whom survived to adulthood.  It was not an easy life for Tom and Ann as they struggled to feed and shelter their large family, which also included two of Tom's brothers, Ike and Jake.  At one point, they even lost their farm due to a combination of unscrupulous maneuverings by a mortgage holder and poor record keeping by a too Tom.  Somehow, they managed to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  Ann was a strong and courageous woman.  Her daughter told a story of how she herself was terrified of all the snakes that made their homes around the family farm, but Ann was never bothered by them. She would simply pick them up by the tail, "crack" them like a whip and their heads would fall off.  She would just go on about her business, teasing the girls about their fear. 


The Shoemaker Home from 1933-1949 photographed in 1990

As her children grew up, Ann had to watch her oldest son go to war and several of the others leave the homestead to find the jobs that were not plentiful in and around Peebles.  She persevered, taking care of those who remained and watching her family grow as her children married and had babies of their own.
On 19 October, 1943, Tom had a massive heart attack and died at the age of 74.  According to her daughters, Ann was never the same.  She spent a great deal time living with her daughter, Lulu, in Xenia, Ohio and that is where she died on 28 January, 1956. 

She is buried next to Tom in the Locust Grove Cemetery in Peebles, Adams County, Ohio.