thegenealogygirl


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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.

 

 


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Advice Please ❤️

FullSizeRender

I have finished filing thousands of precious letters between my grandparents, as well as letters from my great grandparents, extended family, and friends to my Grandpa during WWII and my grandparent’s respective missions.

I have begun scanning and transcribing.  What a joy!

But I am struggling with a few decisions.

Should I post the letters here or on their own blog?  I haven’t counted the letters, but there are thousands.  If I post them here, how should I alter my posting schedule?

Should I include everything?  My Grandma wrote the word destroy on a few of the envelopes.  You see, she inadvertently “Dear John”ed my Grandpa and was extremely embarrassed by that.  It wasn’t something she talked about.  Ever.  But my Grandpa told me all about it.  How do I handle those letters with respect to both my Grandma’s feelings and honoring the truth of their story?  (I really don’t think she had a reason to be embarrassed, it all worked out just fine in the end.)

Then there are a few letters written by Grandpa’s friends that don’t exactly paint the letter writers in the best light.  Do I include those?

Oh boy!  So many decisions.

So, I have a little survey here with these questions.  Feel free to answer on the survey or in the comments or both.  I would love any feedback that might help me choose a path forward.

 

Thank you!

 

 

 


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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.


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Photograph Showcase: Ferris Whitesides Sketch & The Google PhotoScan App

WHITESIDES, Ferris, sketch

This cool sketch is of my husband’s great grandfather, Ferris Whitesides.  He happens to be my husband’s namesake.  On Sunday we visited his daughter, my husband’s grandmother.

This sketch hangs in her basement.  It is large and framed, with glass.  The sketch has hung in the basement for as long as I’ve known Grandma, more than 20 years.  It’s the kind of item that is difficult to scan and even more difficult to “borrow” to scan.

I decided to try out the new Google PhotoScan app to capture a scan of this precious family treasure.  I was surprised by how easy it was to use and how well it did in poor conditions.  The lighting in the basement is not good and the glare on the glass is very noticeable.  The app took care of most of that.  You can see a lighter spot on the right side of the image.  This is where the majority of the glare was.  But overall, not bad at all.

I think I am going to play with the app some more and see how it compares to a variety of other scanning and photo taking options.  The real test will come with printing the different images.  We’ll see what the quality differences are.

 

Have you tried the new Google PhotoScan app?

 

 

ps – I feel like I have a genealogy sports injury.  I found out I have a cataract in my right eye.  What on earth?!  I’m 40.  Four-oh.  The worst part is when they fix it, I’ll have to sit on the bench for a bit.  Sigh.  But the bright side is when they remove the lens, they will put in one that is my prescription.  I will get to ditch my glasses and contacts.  Hooray!  Now, here’s hoping they get bad enough to fix this year since I’ve met my deductible already…

 


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Photograph Showcase: Ronald Peterson, age 31

PETERSON, Ronald, 31 years old portrait

This is my Grandpa, Ronald Skeen Peterson, in 1957 at the age of 31.

Two years later he was hired by Utah State University as a counselor.  He would very shortly be made head of the department.  He taught abnormal psychology while running the counseling and testing department for the remainder of his years at USU.

Prior to his hire by USU, he worked as a counselor at the University of Oregon where he completed his PhD work in psychology.

I wonder if this lovely portrait was taken for the University of Oregon or on the occasion of his graduation?  I need to nail down the dates of a few things and I might be able to make a more accurate guess.

Either way – it’s a beautiful photo.  It has a rather large orangish-brown stain across his forehead and off to the side.  It cleaned up nicely in photoshop.  Ahhhhh photoshop, a photo preservers best friend.  😉

 

 


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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: Finding the Original of a Favorite Photo

PETERSON, Ronald as young boy in front of house - smaller

I LOVE this darling little photo of my Grandpa from 1931.  I love his happy smile, that jaunty tie, and the cute little tip of his ankle.  I’ve seen this photo in several places – my dad’s Book of Remembrance created by his mother, my Grandma’s Book of Remembrance, and in bundles of favorite photos that my Grandma made copies of for loved ones.  This is a well known photo for me.

I was sooooo delighted to find the original of this precious photo.  The color difference was a bit hard for me to adjust to.  So I played with a few filters in Photoshop.  Which do you like best?

PETERSON, Ronald 1931

The original – there is some discoloration seen throughout the photo.

PETERSON, Ronald 1931 - b&w

This filter is called “Black and White Beauty”.

PETERSON, Ronald 1931, pw b&w

This filter is called “Pioneer Woman Black & White”.

PETERSON, Ronald 1931 - l&e

This filter is called “Lovely and Ethereal”.

I don’t normally use photo filters on old family photos.  But something about the state of this photo seemed to call for a little editing.  Which do you like best?  How do you feel about filters and old family photos?  Are you a photo purist?  I like to edit out scratches, tears, dust, and other damage, but I usually leave the color alone, unless it is orange from an old magnetic album.  The orange is too much for me to leave alone.

 

Happy Thursday, I hope you make a delightful photo discovery today!

 

All filters are courtesy of the Pioneer Woman and can be found here.

 

 

ps – You may have noticed my absence in reading, commenting, and responding these last few weeks.  I have been on a WILD and rewarding DNA ride that I hope to be able to tell you all about one day.  Let’s just say, when they warn you that when you DNA test you might find a family secret – well, I can now attest to that being completely true.