thegenealogygirl


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Photograph Showcase: Great Grandma Costello, Before She Was A Great Grandma

 

IMG_3880 - edited

Mary Brown Young Costello in front of her home at 7505 N Regal Street, Spokane, Washington.

 

I love this new-to-me photo of my great-grandmother, Mary Brown Young.  She has always been Grandma Costello to me.  We would visit her at the care facility where she spent many of her last years in Spokane, Washington.  She was a spunky little Scottish lady.  I wish I had paid more attention during our times with her.  She probably shared some stories with my Mom on our visits, but I don’t remember any of them.

We have very few photos of Grandma Costello.  This one comes from Aunt Barbara’s collection.  Aunt Barbara is the daughter-in-law of Mary Costello and has been one of my most valuable sources of information, photos, stories, and details on my Costello line.  I am so thankful for her!

 

I did a little bit of editing on this photo to clean up dust.  It’s a bit light so I also did a few other edits to create these two versions.  I can’t decide which of the three I like best.  Which do you prefer?

 

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you find a fantastic new ancestor photo today!

 

 


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Grandpa Costello’s 1932 Buick

V, Barbara, Amberly

Auntie V, Aunt Barbara, and Amberly at Barbara’s home in Spokane, Washington.  13 March 2018

 

Last week I was able to spend some time with my GrandAunt Barbara and my Auntie V at Barbara’s home in Spokane, Washington.  We had a good time together.  Aunt Barbara shared lots of stories, photos, and other family heirlooms with us.  I have so much to preserve from that visit.  It’s exciting!  One of my favorite finds was a grouping of photographs and stories about Grandpa Costello’s car.

 

COSTELLO, John & Mary by his car

John & Mary Costello standing next to Grandpa’s 1932 Buick

 

Grandpa Costello bought a 1932 Buick right off the showroom floor.  Apparently, Grandma Costello wasn’t too happy about that.  Grandpa babied that car – a deluxe model complete with flower holders in the back seat – he would park it in the garage that had a dirt floor, but every time he took it out he would dust the entire car.

 

COSTELLO, kids in John's car, 1932

Costello children in their father’s car – Dan, Vince, and Virginia

 

When Aunt Barbara was dating Uncle Dan, Grandpa Costello still had that car.  So Barbara rode it in.  When Grandpa Costello could no longer drive, the car was sold to some friends of Aunt Virginia’s.  Dan was very upset by that because he really wanted that car.

Years later, Dan and Barbara flew in Dan’s plane to somewhere near Ione.*  There was a car show near the airport and in that car show, there was Grandpa’s car!  His actual car, not just the same model.

 

COSTELLO, Dan standing by John's car

Dan Costello standing next to his father’s car in 1974.

COSTELLO, John's car in a car show in Bonner's Ferry, 1974

 

Each time I visit my relatives from an older generation I learn new details about my ancestors.  Each and every trip is so worth it.  I LOVE the picture of John and Mary standing next to Grandpa’s car!!  What a treasure to add to my small “John Costello” collection.

 

COSTELLO, John's car pictures from Aunt Barbara

 

I used these photos along with the audio of this part of the interview to create a video using Animoto.  I’m toying with purchasing a plan with Animoto and created this video as part of my trial.  Have you used Animoto or a similar service or program?  Which do you prefer?  I tried using Adobe Spark but there were far too many limitations with the audio.  I have lots and lots of audio files that would work nicely in a video and definitely want flexibility in the audio files I can use.  Here is my video:

 

 

 

Happy Monday, I hope you make a fantastic genealogy discovery this week!

 

 

*{Ummm, can I just say that I wish I had asked about Dan’s plane and flying?  I was so distracted by the car stories that I missed that tid-bit…}


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A Cautionary Tale of Digital Loss

 

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Daniel Ramon Costello & Barbara Ann Deno Costello, my granduncle & grandaunt at their home in Spokane, Washington.

 

 

I am sick.

Heartsick.

Like, really, really heartsick.

Almost four years ago I went on a trip to Spokane, Washington to visit my Grandma and interview her.  I saw, and also interviewed, other family members including my Uncle Dan & Aunt Barbara, and my fabulous Auntie V.  It was a fantastic trip.  My sister and Mom drove up to be there too.  I had brought along a digital audio recorder to capture all of the conversations.

Grandma told me stories I had never heard.  She talked about being a single mom in the 60s.  She described being a rescue diver for years and the moment she decided she couldn’t do it anymore.  She answered questions about family members who she knew, but my Mom and I did not.  She described people and places.  She went over photos with me identifying people and adding details about those people and the events in the photos.  She talked about how hard it was when her father went to prison for a year.  We talked and talked and talked.  I captured it all on my little digital audio recorder.

Uncle Dan and Aunt Barbara told me about John Costello and Mary Brown Young, my great grandparents.  I knew Mary, but John died when my mother was a child.  They shared how sorry they were in later years that they hadn’t asked Grandpa Costello more questions about his family in Spain before he passed.  Uncle Dan talked about his time in the service during WWII.  Aunt Barbara started to tell us about how sad my biological grandfather was when he and my Grandma divorced before my Mom and aunt cut her off.

My Auntie V shared some insights, when we were alone, about various family members from the past.  Her “unvarnished truth” to balance what Grandma had shared.

My Grandpa told me detailed stories from Viet Nam that are so fascinating.  I’ll leave it at that since he is still living.

All of these gems and much more were recorded on my handy little digital audio recorder.

I returned home from my trip and was immediately swept back up in daily life with my children who were 16, 13, and 2.  I was able to process some new data and information, but my trusty little audio recorder didn’t make the cut.

More than a year passed and one of my uncles from my dad’s side of the family needed to borrow my audio recorder for a family reunion I wasn’t able to attend.  I wrote up a short list of instructions and stood holding that recorder, struggling with whether or not to leave the micro sd card inside.  It has an internal memory that was more than sufficient, but what if the contents on the sd card were somehow erased?  After going back and forth I popped that oh-so-tiny micro sd card out and set it on my dresser.

I think.

Here is the moment in the book where you want to scream at the character, “No!  Don’t do it!!”

The recorder was used by my uncle at that reunion and then returned and placed on top of my dresser.

I think.

This week I am going back up to Spokane to help with an archiving project, among other things.  I will see Aunt Barbara, my Mom, Auntie V, and Grandpa.  Grandma and Uncle Dan have both passed away.

I need to be able to record and I debated – do I use my digital audio recorder or do I use my phone?

I pulled out that recorder and thought I had better pull the audio files off of it.  I plugged it into my computer and searched the files.

There were five.

Four nonsense practice files that last just a few seconds and a 33-minute file from the reunion.

That is all.

I must have checked the micro sd card slot at least 15 times hoping for something to appear that simply wasn’t there.  I even used a flashlight just to be certain.  I went through the folders on the internal memory over and over hoping to find something more but coming up empty every single time.

Panic set in.

I started tearing apart every place in my house I could imagine myself considering “a safe place” for that teeny-tiny-little micro sd card.  (Carefully, of course, but definitely fervently.)  All the while I was racking my brain and praying for a memory to pop to the surface.  Did I really just set that invaluable sd card on my dresser?  That miniscule, but more precious than gold, fragile tiny card on the edge of a dresser?!

That seems like a terrible decision.  And the thing is, I don’t know for sure what I did.  I just know that there is not a micro sd card inside of that digital audio recorder.

So far I have found one micro sd card – but not the one I need – but seriously, where did that come from? – and one regular sd card.  What is happening here?  Why aren’t these properly stored?  Why is my organizational system falling apart?!  What on earth?

Why didn’t I transfer those files immediately after my trip?!

Why didn’t I transfer those files while I was still on my trip?!!!!!  I had my laptop with me.

And this is the point where I could ramble on and on about my laptop being super full and being a busy mom with big and tiny children and being the Relief Society President in my ward and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You know that moment I mentioned, the one where we all want to scream at the character, “No!!  Don’t do it!!”?  Well, I didn’t listen.  If I could have even had a tiny glimpse of my present anguish, I would have moved mountains to get those files transferred to AT LEAST two other places.

But I didn’t.

And now I am heartsick.

So terribly heartsick.

Real tears have been shed several times now as I continue to search and continue to come up with nothing.

 

There are two very small glimmers of hope.

One, my Mom interviewed my Grandma about 2 years ago and still has that recording – that I will immediately move heaven and earth to transfer to AT LEAST two places the minute it gets into my hot little hand.  There are two major disappointments with this – one, I love you Mom, but I ask better questions 😳 – and two, my Mom says it’s all fiction.  But let’s be real, would I know the difference?  And is my Mom’s opinion of Grandma’s stories accurate or fair?  I don’t know.

Two, I just might still find that micro sd card.  I believe in miracles.  I’ve experienced miracles plenty of times.  I don’t know if I actually need a miracle this time or just more time searching, but I’ll take that treasure anyway it comes to me.  So I’ll hold out hope that somehow, someway, those hours of audio files will make their way back to me.  And no matter the path it takes, I will consider it a miracle.  But I have learned a VERY BIG lesson.

NO MATTER HOW BUSY I AM, THERE ARE SOME TASKS THAT NEED TO BE DONE IMMEDIATELY.

Good preservation requires having multiple copies in multiple places.  So guess what I will be doing over the next month?  Assessing and addressing my current level of preservation of family photos, home movies, and priceless papers and artifacts.

 

But I still really, really, really want to have that oh-so-precious and oh-so-tiny micro sd card back.  Please.

 

I’ll take any good vibes, happy successful treasure hunting thoughts, or prayers you want to send my way.  I could definitely use them.

 

And friends, I hope you will learn from my mistake and avoid a similar bout of sorrow and loss.  What do you need to digitize, duplicate, or store in another place today?  Don’t wait.  Please, don’t wait.

Good luck.

xoxo

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas is Definitely Cuter with Children and Kittens

costello3 edited

I love this photo of my uncle!  This is another portrait taken by his grandmother, my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit.  I also display this photo during December.  The original was cut into this strange shape before it came to me.  It has a piece of cardboard attached at the back to serve as a stand.  You can see a bit of it peeking out from behind.  I spent a little time editing to make it appear as a full image once again.

Here is the original scan:

costello3, unedited

Do you have any photos that could use a little editing love?  What programs have you tried?  I’m a PhotoShop purist.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you are enjoying the December festivities!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Christmas Cuties

costello2 - smaller

Aren’t my aunt and uncle adorable?!

This is another 11×17″ portrait that I recently scanned.  It was taken in 1954 by my great-grandmother, Hope Estelle Maffit Duval.  I’ve been wondering if the star was crafted out of tin foil.  What do you think?

The last several Decembers this photo has been on display in my piano room.  Do you like to use vintage family photos as holiday decorations?

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you find a precious family photo to preserve and share today!

 

 


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Photograph Showcase: Seeing Grandpa Costello’s Smile

COSTELLO, John and Mary family 1950 Chritmas time

John & Mary Costello Family, 1950, Spokane, Washington

Do you see that happy Grandpa sitting front and center with one of his sweet grand-babies kissing the top of his head?  Do you see that beautiful and happy smile on his face?

Well so do I!!

 

I have seen two other photos from this particular sitting.  In both of them, Grandpa Costello is not looking at the camera.

So imagine my delight when my sister brought this photo to me.  For the first time ever, I was seeing a photograph of my Great Grandpa Costello looking at the camera and smiling.  Really smiling.  ❤

But I have to give credit where credit is due.  See that lovely, happy woman on the back row on the far right?  That is my grandaunt Barbara.  She sent my sister home with a bundle of photos for me to scan.  This little treasure was amongst them.

I am so grateful to Aunt Barbara for sharing and especially to my sister for making an impromptu visit to our Aunt.

If you’ve been reading along for a while you may remember that I discovered 7 seconds of video of Grandpa Costello earlier this year.  In that video Grandpa is definitely smiling, so this photo isn’t the first time I’m seeing his smile, but it is the first high quality photo with his smile.

I think that the important lesson in all of this is that we can’t ever consider our efforts “done”.  I’ve talked to Aunt Barbara several times over the years.  I’ve visited her in her home and interviewed her and Uncle Dan.  I’ve exchanged letters asking questions.  But this past Spring I specifically sent her a letter asking if she had any photos of Grandpa Costello that I might scan.  Because of my letter, she had gathered a small group of photos and then had them all ready to send with my sister when she visited.  Her bundle included several photos of my Great Grandpa Costello that I had never seen.  That my mom had never seen.  These photos may have NEVER made it to my branch of our tree if I hadn’t thought to ask Aunt Barbara about photos of my Great Grandpa Costello.

So, keep asking questions of your oldest living relatives.  I thought I had gleaned every detail I could from Aunt Barbara.  I hadn’t.  I wonder what else I might learn the next time I visit her?

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you think of a great question to ask one of you oldest living relatives today!

 

 

 

ps – Because only three family members in this photo have passed on, I am not labeling this photo here.  If you are a family member and want the names, shoot me an email.  I will add a detailed description of the photo in my private Ancestry tree.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Grandma Costello’s Art

COSTELLO, Mary, 1939 sailboat art - smaller

This lovely little sailboat was created by my Great Grandma Mary Brown Young Costello in 1939 using chalk.  It appears to be an oil chalk.  My great aunt recently gave it to my sister who brought it straight to me to scan.

What a little treasure!  Grandma Costello was very talented.  She crocheted, cross-stitched, tatted, arranged flowers at a flower shop, and apparently created beautiful chalk drawings.

Aunt Barbara said that Grandpa Costello didn’t like her to draw.  I’m curious about that.  I wish I had been there to ask a few follow-up questions.  Like, did he dislike her art or the time she spent?  Or did she go somewhere to take a class and maybe that was his issue?  Expense, time, or a handsome art teacher?  😉

I am so happy my sister has a new family treasure to love and that she allowed me to capture a high quality scan so we can all enjoy Grandma Costello’s art.

 

Do you have any artists in your family?  How do you preserve and share their work?

 

ps – This drawing is framed under glass.  I did not remove it from the frame because of it’s age and the fact that it was created with chalk.  I scanned it on a high quality flat-bed scanner at my local family history center.  It turned out great!  I scanned it as a .tiff at about 1200 dpi so that family members could print the image in whatever size they prefer.  I sized it down and saved it as a .jpeg to share here.