Photograph Showcase: Grandpa Costello & His Guitar, aka Photo Heaven ❤️

COSTELLO, John playing his guitar, November 1960

John Costello, November 1960. Photo courtesy of Barbara Costello.

In May of this year, I shared my joy at finding 7 seconds of video of my great grandfather, John Costello.  In that post I shared that I have exactly 5 photos of my great grandfather.

Guess what?

That is not the case any longer!!


{Insert major genealogy happy dancing & celebrating right here.}


In July, my sister visited our grandaunt Barbara.  Barbara is the widow of Dan Costello.  Dan is the son of our great grandfather, John Costello.

Aunt Barbara sent my sister home with a lovely chalk drawing created by John’s wife, that I shared last week.  She also sent her home with a small, but very precious, bundle of photographs for me to scan and return.

This photo of Grandpa Costello was among them.  My heart is bursting with joy to see Grandpa Costello in – what I am guessing is his living room? – playing his guitar.  He didn’t like having his picture taken, so each photo is extra special.  Here is, as a 67 year old man, still playing his guitar.  Be still my heart.



Have you been blessed to have photos shared with you, photos you weren’t expecting to ever see?



ps – Thank you!! for all of the input and advice about my letter collection.  I really appreciate each of your comments, emails, and poll answers.  Between all of you and some conversations with family, I think I have made a tentative plan.  I think.  The part I know for sure is that I will not be sharing the letters here.  My goal is to be ready to begin sharing them with family in January.

As a side note, my sister talked me through every possible way of sharing, all of the issues to consider – both for those who are deceased and those who are living, plus the time required for each avenue.  In all of that discussing, she helped me have an interesting and very valuable a-ha moment.  There are letters missing.  I know this for sure.  There are also letters that have been edited by scissors or permanent marker – by Grandma.  That leads us to believe that she definitely destroyed many letters, leaving no trace, and that the ones that remain that were marked “destroy”, were either too special to her to destroy or she changed her mind about their fate.  We can’t know for certain, but it has impacted our position on how to handle those letters.  One thing all of this has caused me to reflect upon, is what my own wishes are for my personal items like journals and letters.  Hopefully I can make my wishes clear so one day my granddaughter will know exactly what I would have wanted her to do.




Photograph Showcase: Grandma Margaret and her Violin

ELLIS, Margaret playing her violin - smaller

This beautiful photo of my Grandma was found amongst a bundle of negatives from her collection.  Because it was a negative, there is no information about the photograph.  I know that it is my Grandmother, Mary Margaret Ellis.  She played the violin and the piano.  She also had a beautiful singing voice.  I love seeing her here as a young, and clearly dedicated, musician.  Isn’t she darling?

What a treasure!


ps – I will be in letter sorting heaven for the next few days while most of my family is on a boys only adventure.  Would it be rude to put a Do Not Disturb sign on my front door?  😉


*Post updated with photo turned to the correct direction.  Grandma was right handed and her sister noticed that the original posting had the photo backwards.


Tell Me A Story – “You missed a B♭.”

Tell Me a Story

Tell Me a Story Challenge :

Choose a person.  Then do any or all of the following:

  • Make a list of the top ten stories about this person, a word or phrase will do.
  • Choose one story and tell a compelling, short version that will interest your family members in one minute or less.
  • Tell a more detailed version of that story including photos if you have them.

Note:  You can read about my inspiration behind this challenge here.  I’ve decided to reverse the order in my post.  If you are reading this, you like stories so I’ll start with the full story, then the bite-sized story to hook my family members, then the list of ten stories.

Margaret purple dress

My Grandma

My grandmother was very musically talented.  She played the piano, sang, and played the violin.  When she was young she was involved in various performing groups and performed as a soloist.

By the time I came along she had poor health and her musical talents were limited to sharing with her family.

I started playing the piano when I was four.  My Grandma was always one of my biggest fans.  She would sit and listen to me play for as long I would play for her.  She often pulled out her tape recorded and recorded me so she could listen again later.

When I was in college I regularly visited my grandparents.  One weekend when I was visiting, I gave them a little concert.  Well, a long concert actually.  Grandma was recording and they were both relaxing with their eyes closed, listening.  After a while I ran out of songs I had perfected but Grandma wasn’t done listening, so I moved on to some less polished material.  During a particularly difficult section of music I hit a bum note and my Grandma sleepily said, “You missed a B♭.”

“You missed a B♭?!”

I knew she was talented but I had NO IDEA she had perfect pitch!  She was so apologetic for correcting me and went on and on about how beautifully I play and she didn’t mean to criticize and so on.  I think she had gotten a bit sleepy, let her guard down, and spoke before she thought.

I still can’t get over it.  My Grandma was so much more talented than I had ever realized.  Not only did she notice my mistake but she knew exactly what note I should have played.

I wonder if it had been painful to listen to me when I was younger.  How many times did she smile, praise, and bite her tongue?


One Minute Story

My Grandma was very musically talented.  One time when I was playing a song for her I hit a bum note and she said, “You missed a B♭.”


Top Ten Stories List for Grandma

  • Cabbage Patch Dolls, Pound Puppies, can stools, quillos, and more!
  • The movie file
  • Identical feet
  • “You missed a B♭.”
  • Road map brain – travel map trip
  • Our last lunch
  • The Last Christmas Party
  • “I really need to write these things down…”
  • Pouring over her scrapbooks
  • Grandpa’s bracelet, grandma’s curls
  • “So this is Margaret, so this is Margaret.”
  • Two VCRs


My Musical Beginnings & A Tribute

Deane Duval - Sept 22, 1944My Grandma



On Saturday I attended my local Family History Fair.  It was excellent.  Certainly a day of learning.

As I was gathering my things after the last class, I pulled out my cellphone.  There was a text message from my mom telling me that my very first piano teacher had died.

My heart and mind were flooded with memories of my first piano lesson and my lovely teacher.

I took my first lesson at the tender age of four.  I was so tiny.  I remember my teacher having me stand on the piano bench and jump down.  She talked about how I was high when I was standing on the bench and low when I was on the ground.  She compared it to the piano and showed me that there is a high and low on the keyboard.  I remember the room, her kind face, and the sound of her voice.  I remember my parents sitting on a couch on the opposite side of the room trying to be quiet and watch.  There were a few moments when I felt self-conscious knowing that they were watching.  Mostly, I just remember that I loved my teacher right away.

We moved away when I was eight years old.  I went on to have three more piano teachers.  One teacher was just for a short time, one was for my junior high and high school years and one was during college.  I am grateful to each of my teachers.  I have a love for music and particularly for playing the piano.  I treasure my musical knowledge and ability.  And because of that, I think of my first piano teacher often.  She started my musical journey and I will forever be grateful to her.

I haven’t seen her since I was a little girl.  I never thought to send her a card and tell her how much she meant to me.  I hope that somehow she knows.