thegenealogygirl


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Family Reunion Bingo Games!

Reunion at Lagoon 1926

Isn’t this photo awesome?!  This Family Reunion photo was taken at Lagoon* in 1926.  The family gathered are the descendants of my 2nd great grandparents Frederick William Ellis and Susan Kaziah Davis.

My family still holds three different reunions today.  They look a little something like this.

14774109640_a783c1edfa_o

Great Grandchildren of Ronald & Margaret

I really love family reunions but one of the main challenges is getting everyone talking to each other.  It’s easy for the siblings and first cousins, but second cousins and cousins from different generations?  Not so easy.  Everyone experiences the same silly obstacle – they feel dumb asking people’s names.  We always have name-tags available but hardly anyone puts one on.

Well, last summer I was in charge of the Rulon and Naomi Peterson Family Reunion.  Rulon and Naomi are my great grandparents.  This reunion is held every summer in late July or early August and includes 4 generations of my family.  I love to see and visit with my Grandpa’s younger siblings.  His brothers remind me so much of my Grandpa that it takes my breath away for just a minute, in a good way.

But all those younger cousins, understandably, gravitate to their grandparents, parents, and first cousins.  I wanted to shake that up and get people interacting more and remembering our family members who are no longer with us.

So, I made two bingo games that required asking people questions.  I had good prizes too.  There were lots of little party favor type prizes for Bingos like stretchy frogs, bouncy balls, suckers, lip balm, packs of gum, etc.  Then I had a few big prizes for the first 5 or so people who earned a blackout – a cool water gun, two $10 gift cards for lunch, and a few other items I’ve forgotten.  In all I spent about $90 from the budget.  And every penny was worth it.

This was the easy Bingo game:

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

As soon as I explained the game to the first children to arrive, they instantly starting running around asking everyone the answers.  The adults who were trying to remember things, had to talk to each other about it too.  Lots of good family conversations were going on.  After several kiddos exhausted this Bingo board, they moved on to the harder game.  This one was about our deeper family history.  This entire side of my family are LDS, so you will notice that reflected in both games.

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

I really loved the conversations that both Bingo games generated.  We heard some family stories and facts that I had never heard before – and that is saying something!  There was an awesome feeling during this whole reunion as we had dinner and talked, and filled in our Bingo cards.  Our focus was on our family members and we all felt their love and presence with us that night.

After dinner I wrapped things up by sharing that I had recently come into possession of a large collection of family letters including a box of letters written by Naomi.  This is a special treasure for all of us because she died very young, with one child still at home, and left no journals or personal history.  But those five years of letters she wrote to my Grandpa include so much of her heart and life.  I read this little story from one of her letters:

From a letter dated Friday, October 13, 1944, written by Naomi Peterson to Ronald Peterson:

“I must tell you about Janice and Marilyn.  We went in to Lienhardt’s to get the candy last night and when we came home Marilyn’s new robe was over the back of the chair by the telephone.  It looked wet and on further examination I found a pool of water under the chair.  This morning Janice stated to laugh saying she had never seem anything so funny in her life.  Marilyn had filled the bath tub for her bath.  She and Janice were standing by the mirror.  Marilyn says things just to make Janice angry – rather smart you remember.  Janice gave her a disgusted push and sat Marilyn in the tub robe and all.  Her feet were hanging out and her head against the soap dish.  Janice said she went in very gracefully.  Marilyn says there is going to be a big splash one of these times.”

What a treasure.  It was a joy to see everyone’s eyes light up as I told them about the letters and shared this story.  It was a great reunion with a very simple set of activities.

 

If you have a family reunion coming up, I wholeheartedly suggest you consider making your own version of Family Bingo.  Everyone loved it and they were used again at a smaller reunion for one of my Great Uncles and his family.  I also emailed copies to everyone who couldn’t attend including answers for the second Bingo card.

 

If you would like to use my docs as a starting point to make your own, here they are:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingowoutanswers

RulonNaomiPetersonFamilyBingo

And if you are related to me and are curious about the answers, here is the copy with answers:

PetersonSkeenFamilyHistoryBingo

 

I will just add one more tip – I did not put a limit on the number of prizes.  I also didn’t worry a lot about the prizes.  The kids knew I had created the game, they would come to me and show me their card and I would send them over to choose their prize.  Some kids made a serious haul, but it kept the conversations going all night.  Plenty of adults and teenagers played too – and took prizes.  I made sure I had a Costco sized bag of High-Chews as backup in case we ran low on prizes, we did use the High-Chews and got very close to running out of everything.

 

Have you ever been in charge of a Family Reunion?  What activities have you enjoyed at Family Reunions?

 

 

*Lagoon is an amusement park here in Utah that started out as a place for bowling, dancing, and eating.  The first thrill ride was added in 1899.

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Visit With Grandparents

PETERSON, Rulon, Janice, Ronald and Joseph Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Rulon Powell Peterson, Joseph Skeen; front l-r: Janice Peterson, Ronald Peterson.

PETERSON, Naomi, Marilyn, Janice, Petrina and Evan Skeen

1931 – Back, l-r: Naomi Skeen holding Marilyn Peterson, Jane Zina Petrina Folkman; Front: Janice Peterson; lying on the ground: Evan Folkman Skeen.

I found these two photos in my Grandmother’s collection.  Rulon and Naomi were the parents of Ronald, Janice, and Marilyn Peterson.  Joseph Skeen and Jane Zina Petrina Folkman were the parents of Naomi and Evan Folkman Skeen.

I am very curious about these groupings.  I wonder who came up with the combinations and what their reasons were?  Either way, I love seeing multi-generational photographs like these.  Such a treasure.

 


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Photograph Showcase: A Rare Moment

PETERSON, Ronald & Naomi, Janice in background - smaller for FT

Naomi Skeen with her son Ronald Skeen Peterson.  Janice Peterson in background.

When I found this photo amongst my Grandmother’s collection I gasped with delight.  It was the first photo I had found with Naomi and Ronald when Ronald was grown.  It made me realize that I don’t have many photos of myself with my children once they reached their teenage years.  They just don’t like the camera much anymore.  So this lovely, and rare, moment with my Grandpa and his mother feels extra special when I compare it with my own experience.

As an added bonus – I love the unintentional photo bombing of Ronald’s sister Janice.

 


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Photograph Showcase: Ronald & Melba

ronald and melba - smaller for FT

This darling photo was labeled simply, “Ronald & Melba”.  Ronald is my Grandpa.  His mother is Naomi Skeen.  Melba is Naomi’s sister, the sister just younger than her.  My Grandpa was the first grandchild in the Skeen family.  It would be 10 more years before Melba would marry and 22 more years before Melba would adopt her only child.  But in this moment shared between Melba, Ronald, and at least two others – the photographer and whomever Melba is smiling at – I just see a lot of joy and contentment.  I hope those feelings continued.  Waiting for children is difficult.  Especially when your sister has six of them before you are able to adopt one.


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Photograph Showcase: Naomi as a Young Mother

PETERSON, Naomi Skeen, Marilyn, and Ronald, spring 1929

Naomi Skeen Peterson with her oldest two children, Janice in her arms, and Ronald.  Handwriting of Mary Margaret Ellis Peterson.  Spring 1929

This photo comes from my Grandmother’s boxes.  Naomi was her mother-in-law and my great grandmother.  Ronald is my Grandpa.  Janice is his younger sister who was born in December of 1928.  Based on her age I think this photo was taken in the late Spring, but I’m confused by the leaves on the ground.  Maybe they had a short fall.  The kind where you haven’t gotten all of the leaves raked up before the snow falls.  This has happened to us here in Utah – and this photo was taken in Utah as well.

What do you think?  Spring?

 

PS – I had a surprise trip come up to hang out with my Dad.  I have so much to say about Rosey Hyde and the gang but I’m a bit out of commission for now.  We’ll see if I get some blogging time while I’m here.  And if not, well, I will happily enjoy my family time amongst the living.  🙂

 


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Photograph Showcase: Peterson Home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home

PETERSON, Rulon & Naomi's home with color edits

Rulon & Naomi Peterson family home with a few edits

This is the home the Rulon & Naomi Peterson family were living in at the time of Darrell’s death.  It is located in Roy, Weber, Utah.

In the history of Naomi that was compiled by her oldest daughter Janice, Janice captioned photos of this home with this statement, “A lot of good memories were made in this home.”

It looks like a happy, well cared for place.

I tried to bring the colors back to a truer version but this was a close as I could get.

When I come across photos of ancestral homes – even in the recent past – it makes me realize I don’t take photos of my home nearly often enough.

 

Have you photographed your home lately?


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Uncle Darrell – Part XII, Final Thoughts

PETERSON, Darrell Skeen, chin in hand

My great uncle, Darrell Skeen Peterson

I never knew Darrell, or Naomi, and I have very few memories of Rulon.  I can’t add any facts, memories or insights into Darrell’s life or the circumstances surrounding his death.  I do, however, want to end his story with a few of my thoughts and what I plan to do next.

I lost a child once too.  Under very different, horribly traumatic, take-your-breath-away painful circumstances.  A baby that was not mine by birth but that lived with us from the time he was 10 months old until he was 20 months old.  A baby that we were told we could adopt.  Until the shocking day when he was taken away, moved to another home, and adopted by someone else.

In the horrible aftermath of the storm, when I was the saddest I have ever been, I remember thinking often about my great grandmother Naomi.  I knew a little bit about her loss.  I knew the bare bones version of the story of Darrell’s death.  I had the funeral transcript, Rulon’s personal history, and the histories written by her daughters.  I had read them.  I knew that she had been heartbroken and that her health never recovered.

What I really wanted were her words.  I wanted to hear her own complete heartbreak and know that I wasn’t going crazy.  I wanted to know that it was possible to be in the depths of sorrow and still have hope, still know that God loved me.  And I wanted to know that not from myself but from seeing it in my great grandmother’s own writing.  I wanted to feel her sense of life moving forward and joy coming in the morning – whenever my morning would be.

I didn’t know that there were any records that existed that were written by her.  I didn’t know if she kept a journal or had written letters.  But in that time of sorrow so deep, loss so overwhelming, when the love and support of my family and friends could barely register let alone reach my aching soul in a meaningful way, it was my great grandmother’s comfort I wanted.  And I didn’t get it.  Not for a very long time and not until well past the need had subsided to a dull ache.

I hope that this collection about Darrell – his life, his tragic death, his family member’s reactions to it all – will someday help one of Naomi’s other descendants.  Because child loss is not new, and unfortunately it happens with cruel regularity.

I hope her honest reactions will be a comfort to someone in their darkest hour.  A lifeline from the past reminding them that they will get through it no matter how painful the way.  An example of enduring faith, hope, and love for God and his promises.  And sadly, an acknowledgement that weathering the storm changes the boat.

I am so thankful for Naomi.  I’m thankful that I have been able to collect so many pieces of her story and Darrell’s. She is one of my heroes.  I want to make sure her story – particularly this part of it – is available to all of her posterity.

Which brings me to what I plan to do next.

First, I have been adding each item to both FamilySearch and my Ancestry Tree.  I am also compiling all of the information, photos, newspaper articles, excerpts from other works, etc into a book.  Once I have a rough draft I will share a copy with Darrell’s three living siblings so they can review it, add any thoughts or insights, photos etc.

I’m going to take a class in May on Publishing Family Histories.  I know the teacher well and know that he shares several different publishing options in the class.  I know he has identified several publishers that allow you to create a nice hardbound book that is printed one at a time for a reasonable price.  This way family members can order what they want without me dealing with collecting money, writing a big check, shipping books and all of that.  When I make my decision on who I will use to publish, I will share it here.

I also need to go through my Grandma’s boxes again to see if there is anything else in them that belongs in this collection.  I know there are letters from my Grandpa’s mission in there.  I need to organize them and see if any letters mention this part of his story.  I hope to be finished and ready to publish before our Rulon and Naomi Peterson family reunion in early August.

And last, thank you to my readers for your kind, thoughtful comments as I’ve shared Darrell’s story.  I know I don’t usually devote extended periods of time to a specific family member, but his was a story I wanted to tell.  Your support made the journey even richer.  Thank you.