Photograph Showcase: Grandma and Her Fancy Dress

ELLIS, Mary Margaret, wearing black sequined dress in snow - smaller

This photo of my Grandma, Mary Margaret Ellis, comes from a bundle of negatives found in her collection.   She has an engagement ring on, so I am guessing this was taken sometime while my Grandpa was on his LDS mission in New Zealand.  I need to do a little digging to nail down those dates.

I love the details of her dress.  She made most of her own dresses.  I wonder if she made this one too?  It’s a little bit fancy, I wonder what it was for?  They got married in June so I don’t think it was for any wedding festivities.



Major Milestone Right Here!



Last week I filed and filed and filed letters.  Do you know what a treat it is to open letter after letter and see your grandparents handwriting?  To touch the pages they touched?  To hear their sweet and enduring love for each other?  It was completely joyful for me.

I am soooooo happy to say that I filed every single letter for the 5 1/2 years they wrote to each other!  Ten Hollinger boxes filled with letters.

(Of course, I still have the letters from the 1960s when my Grandpa was in graduate school.  But we won’t even think about those yet.)

As soon as I finish scanning Aunt Vera’s scrapbook – these letters are next on deck for scanning.  I think they deserve their own blog.  Maybe this fall.  😉


These four boxes were mostly full on Wednesday when I started.  They look so beautiful empty, I might just leave them on my table for a day to enjoy their tender place in my heart.


Happy Monday, I hope you conquer a special genealogy project sometime this year – it is an incredible feeling!




Memorial Day Tribute

Ronald Peterson & Margaret Ellis

Ronald Peterson & Margaret Ellis

In the Spring of 1944, my grandfather was 18 and graduating from high school.  He knew he would be drafted so he chose to enlist in the Marine Corps.  During his basic training someone was giving him a hard time about something which led to a comment that changed the course of my grandfather’s military service.  The comment was something along the lines of, “You would never pass the test for Officer’s training.”


That did it.

My Grandpa applied and was accepted.  He spent the duration of his time in the service at Colorado College completing his Officer’s training and playing football for the school team.  Before he finished his training the war ended so my Grandpa never saw combat.

I am proud to descend from someone who took the bull by the horns.  He didn’t wait around for something to happen to him, he dove in.  He chose the Marine Corps because so many boys were dying in the Army.  And he didn’t let people tell him what he was or was not capable of, he went ahead and worked for what he wanted.  I think he was very brave.  Despite his bravery and acceptance of the inevitable, I am also grateful that he was spared combat.

This photo was taken during his years serving in the Marine Corps.  It is such a treasure to me.  My Grandpa was given a very short, 48 hour leave.  He hitchhiked and rode a bus to get back home unannounced.  He was home for an hour or two – just long enough to see his family and his girl – before he had to turn around and head back to Colorado.  It would be five years before my grandparents married.  After his discharge from the military he served a 2 1/2 year LDS mission to New Zealand.  It was upon his return that they were finally wed.

This Memorial Day I am thinking of my Grandpa.  I am thinking of my Grandpa and all of the other young men who were in his shoes.  They knew they were going to be called up and so many of them chose to enlist.  They were sent all over the world to fight in a terrible war.  A war that claimed far too many.  A war that saved so many.  Today, I honor their sacrifice and willingness to serve.  Today, I remember that my freedom was paid for time and again by others.  Today, I am grateful.

Happy Memorial Day.


Treasures: The Original Locks of Love

Ronald & Margaret - darkerRonald & Margaret

During my college years I lived 2 1/2 hours from my grandparents.  This was the closest I had ever lived to them.  I visited them often.  I loved all of that time with just them.  Many of my most treasured memories come from these visits.

During one visit, my grandpa invited me into his office to show me something.  He sat down and reached for a frame that was sitting front and center on his desk.  His eyes became misty as he explained his new treasure.

When he was a young man he enlisted in the Marine Corps during WWII.  While he was away he and my grandmother wrote to each other.  In one of her letters she included a few of her curls tied together with a patriotic ribbon.  He carried those curls in his breast pocket throughout his time in the service.  Over the years the curls had been forgotten in a drawer.

Fast forward to the mid nineties – my grandma came across the envelope of curls and had an idea for a special gift.  She cleaned, combed and re-curled her locks.  She found a suitable shadowbox frame.  She gathered a scrap of the wallpaper she and my grandpa had carefully chosen for his office.  The wallpaper served as the backdrop for her newly freshened curls.  After putting the frame together she presented this special gift of their past and present to my grandfather.

Listening to him explain the significance of this gift was a special experience for me.  I felt like he had invited me into the circle of their love.  It was about a year later that my grandpa died.  My grandma lived almost seven more years.  After her death our family very carefully worked together to make sure everyone was able to take some of my grandparents treasures into their lives.  Among the few items I chose was this special gift.

These curls are one of my greatest earthly treasures.  They remind me of the special times I spent with my grandparents, of their sweet love story, & of the joy that comes from giving a meaningful gift.

I am so grateful that I am blessed to be the current steward of these curls – true locks of love.

Grandma's Curls

Do you have any earthly treasures that help you feel connected to your ancestors?