Friday, November 30, 2012

Truth Restored

 Moroni 10:30: "And again, I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift . . ."
 My new friend Val and I spent about 3 weeks having fun together, 3 weeks that changed my life, before he moved to his family's other ranch in Colorado.  His family also owned a local ranch, not far from town.   We rode horses, went to farm auctions, and did other ranch-related activities, and talked religion all the while.  There was much I did not understand about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and why its members felt it was the only church with the authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ.

One night we were talking in my living room.  I insisted that my church was the legacy of Christ and therefore couldn't be wrong.  He said, "The Catholic Church doesn't have the authority to act in the name of Christ."  Instantly, I was overflowing with the intense warmth of the Holy Ghost telling me this was true, and I remembered that this same uninvited thought had been troubling me for some months.  It was a marvelous revelation.  He left me with a Book of Mormon and a promise from me to read it, and went off to Colorado.

I plodded through the Book of Mormon, still overflowing with questions.   Some of my Mormon friends thought I was being too cautious, that how hard could it be to understand that Christ had restored His Church in its fullness to the earth.  I understood from my experience mentioned above that my church was not the right one, but was the Mormon Church correct?  I was positive it could not be, so I went to the library (and again, I can't believe I did this) to check out books proving that  Mormonism was not correct.  The more I read those negative books, and The Book of Mormon at the same time, the stronger my conviction became that yes, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was the Biblical church restored in its fullness with the power and authority to act in the name of God.   I was so surprised at what I had found, and that I knew.  This was not my plan, but it is exactly what happened. 

Soon after I was talking to some Mormon friends, Robin and Kerry, who were in one of my classes.  They asked me what I thought of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I exclaimed that I knew it was truth!   They were thrilled and asked if I had the missionary lessons yet.  No, I hadn't got that far.  Then get in the car, we're going to find the missionaries.  And we did.  And I was baptized not long afterwards.

And now 40 years have passed.  I have come to understand a consecrated life, and have been blessed by the truths in the scriptures, the teachings of the temple, the service I have rendered and have been given, and I strive to comprehend and fulfill the plan Heavenly Father has for me.

Alma 5:33-34: "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.  Yea, he saith: "Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life; yea, ye shall eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely; Yea, come unto me and bring forth works of righteousness. . . ."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Preparatory Period

 Alma 16:16: ". . . the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming--"

40 years ago, on December 30 1972, I was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I've been pondering this marvelous life-changing event, its course correction to my life, and how it all began.  It did not begin the day of my baptism, nor did the change begin the day I took the first missionary lesson in September 1972.  The change began even before I was given a Book of Mormon in March 1972.   In hindsight there was a definite preparatory period; this is how God works.  He sows the seeds, they are cultivated by us and others, we reap the fruit.

First of all, religion was an important part of my childhood.   Dad was Byzantine Catholic and I loved to attend here:

St Mary's Byzantine Catholic Church, Van Nuys, CA

Mom was Roman Catholic, and because it was closer, we attended here more often [though I preferred St. Mary's by a long shot]:
 Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic, Sepulveda, CA

I was well-grounded in good Christian principles and knew that God loved me. 

In 1968, when I was 13, we moved to the Newhall area and that whole valley was loaded with Mormons and Catholics.  Religion was a common topic of discussion, often in a distasteful competitive manner.   My Mormon friends invited me to their youth night.  I wished I had a fun youth night to invite them along.

Doctrinally, I had no interest in another church, sure as I was that my church was the same as that established in ancient times by Christ himself.  When my Mormon friends told me there was a prophet on the earth today, I laughed.  I knew of no old man dressed in robes preaching, so who was this person?   David O. McKay was his name.  Really?

 Mom and I in 1969, in front of William S. Hart Union High School

In 11th grade I and all of my group of friends tried out for drill team, and every single one made it onto the team except one.  Me.  That fall was lonely as all get out.  My friends were busy.  In my solitary moments I contemplated my life and future.  And resolved to change my one personal trait I hated: my debilitating shyness.  I can hardly believe I did this, and I know it was the power of the Holy Ghost urging me on, giving me courage.  I went to the Newhall Public Library to peruse books on shyness, personality, and conversation.  They had 4, and I brought them all home.  And read them.  And practiced the recommendations.  My outlook changed, and for the first time I began to feel comfortable in groups, in speaking, and so on.  It was thrilling!

During the next year I began to experience impressions that unsettled me about Catholic Church.  Again, without me  understanding it then, I have since known the Holy Ghost was the source.  Most of the impressions whispered to me were about truth, and that my church did not have the line of authority to act in God's name.   These thoughts came to an un-seeking mind.

Senior snow day came around and a large group of us cut school to go the mountains.  I was well-prepared with several  layers of gloves and mittens, but Gordon a good Mormon boy, was without.  I gave him my largest pair of mittens to wear and he gratefully returned them the next day, and from then on seemed to think I was the nicest girl he knew.  My new-found social skills paid off, when a few months later he introduced me to his brother, Val, who had just returned from his 2-year mission to England.

More tomorrow.

August 1971

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bethany's Evolution

This is a very local post about the changes to the main road that runs through our area. When we moved here in 1984 it was called 158th Ave. and looked like this [looking south]:


Same vantage point in 2011:

A few hundred feet north on the road was this lovely farm. The only thing left of the farm now is the big old country house which is hidden in the trees on the left. The rest of the farm was subdivided over 25 years ago.


So by about mid-90s the whole length of 158th had been built out, and the name of the road was changed to Bethany Blvd., signifying that the road no longer dead-ended near our house, but continued north to an historic area called Bethany (settled pre-1870), which was being expanded to accommodate thousands of new residents.

So it came to look like this by 2011:

The problem though, is this section of Bethany Blvd. is extremely substandard. It was built around 1920 as a dirt/gravel road, then pavement was thrown on in the early 80s without any improvement. Narrow and lined with ditches, it has inconvenient and dangerous hills and curves and very short sight-distances. And no sidewalks on many stretches. I've written about this before here, here, and here and my participation on a citizens' committee to make sure the improvements the county wants to make are appropriate for the neighborhood.

The 2-year construction of a brand new Bethany Blvd. began 4 weeks ago. Utilities were moved during the past 2 weeks, street trees are partly removed and continue to be cut. And last week fences were taken out and the new road cuts are now being made.

Now we see these signs everywhere:

And machinery:
Sorry about the darkness. The sun is so low in the sky this time of year and it begins setting about 3:00 in the afternoon.

Next November (blog-post month)  I'll have some pretty nice pictures to show of our road. So looking forward to improvements.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How the Other Half Lived

After reading an article in BYU Magazine about successful female athletes, I thought how cool it is for them to know nothing of the struggle it was in the past to be female. I'm not talking about archaic arranged marriages and disenfranchisement. Those were major issues, and they had been overcome (in the US) long before I came along. Certain other injustices to females took a long time to disappear.

The first memory I have of the unfairness of being female, was in about second grade. Some boys were just jerks, and one who was constantly hazing me, slugged me in the stomach on the playground. After I recovered enough to walk, I marched straight to the duty teacher to complain.  Can you guess what she told me?  Slugging or hitting was a boy's way of showing he liked me.  Seriously, so I should be swooning?  That was not the only time I witnessed a boy getting a free ticket to assault someone.

A constant theme in my childhood was "act like a lady." If I climbed a tree, some adult was sure to say I should "act like a lady." Or if I went out to play street baseball w/ the boys, I heard the annoying refrain. I was interested in fun and adventure, not sitting around with my hands in my lap.

As my friends and I grew into cute pre-teens, then teenagers, we hated walking past work sites where Mexicans were laboring. Without exception, those men would all pause in their work, gawk, whistle, and say probably nasty things in Spanish. We avoided them where possible, which was hard in a town full of migrant laborers.

A serious issue in high school was the limited curriculum and opportunities for females. In 9th grade I approached my counselor to tell her I really, really wanted to register for Aviation Science that fall.  You can guess the chuckled response, yet it's shocking even for 1969: "oh honey, that class is for boys only." Good thing it happened to be full anyway, or Mom and I would have made a fuss. Shop classes were also limited to boys. I certainly did not begrudge learning sewing and cooking, but how useful it would have been to also learn about cars and wood and metal. And boys could have learned the important, useful skills of sewing and cooking.

I was never an athlete, so it didn't affect me personally that only boys were offered competitive sports. But it seemed unfair to me that girls had after-school groups that played each other, but only the boys got the big time attention and funding. Not anymore!   

Here's a ridiculous anecdote: After my marriage I went to the DMV to renew my license. I wanted it to say Suzanne B. Walker; the letter B was for my maiden name which was now my middle name. The DMV clerk  said ok, but the letter B would have to be in quote marks, like this: "B".  What the?  No, I said, like this: B.  He insisted that a maiden name was more like a nickname--not your real name, so it would need quote marks. No way!  Of course I stood my ground, but I wonder if Mr. Insane-DMV-Man did that to every woman changing her name.

I'm very glad for my girls, grand-girls, and all other girls out there who can do whatever they are capable of doing, without being restricted because of their wonderful girl-hood.

Monday, November 26, 2012

5 SOBAD Years

5 years ago my friend ML organized our first annual women's backpacking trip, which has come to be called SOBAD--Sisters Of Backpacking Active Divas.  I'm not sure on the 'A' word.

SOBAD has a core of 4 of us who head out every year the Thursday after Labor Day, for 3 days.  Others join in now and again.  We bring our own breakfasts and lunches, then take turns doing dinners for the group.  We have a purification system for water, and we're prepared for every variety of weather.  At night we tell stories and sing silly ditties around the campfire.  ML packs a small handgun for emergencies that may or may not involve bear, cougar or humans.
Inaugural Year, 2008--We hiked the Eagle Creek Trail, the premier hiking trail in the Columbia River Gorge.  It's 13 miles to the top at Whatum Lake, with a 4000 foot climb.  The first half of the trail, up to 7 mile camp, is lined with amazing waterfalls: Metlako Punch Bowl, Loowit, CrissCross, Tunnel, etc..  You know how far you've come because of those landmarks.  The second half of the trail, from 7 mile camp to the top is the opposite.  It's much drier, the scenery is pretty much fir trees the whole way, so it's harder to know when you're almost there.  I carried 35 pounds that year and learned my lesson.

Tunnel Falls

2009--Goat Mountain, north of Mount St. Helens in Washington, about 20 miles total.   A very steep and scenic climb on the first day took us through meadows of bear grass, and stunning views of the collapsed north side of Mt. St. Helens.  The trail wound through the volcanic blast zone, then we would turn a corner and be in what we call "leprechaun land," verdant green and shady, untouched by volcanic trauma.  We camped by a small lake the first night, and by a creek the second.  On the third day I knew something was wrong with my right foot; every step was excruciating and I was afraid what that might indicate.  Turned out to be a stress fracture, so for the next month my foot was in a walking cast.  And I had surgery that November.

blast zone in the distance

2010--I missed this year due to having visitors at home.  Waaaa.  I hear one of the days was miserable due to a deluge.

2011--The Tanner Butte trail begins at Eagle Creek and heads west from that point.  Altitude gain on this trail is about 5800 feet.  Much of the trail winds through huckleberry heaven, which means bear country.  We passed a fresh deer kill being preyed upon by swooping turkey vultures, and walked like pants on fire to get away from there.  We did a lot of singing on the trail to discourage any bears who might be around.  Refreshing Dublin Lake was our first camp.  The second night we nooned at Big Cedar Spring, then camped at 8-mile camp.  To get there we had to step rock to rock across a wide rushing stream wearing our packs, which was a little dicey. 

 snacking on huckleberries

2012--Big Slide Lake east of Estacada.  We let men join us for once.  Craig on the first day and Jeremy on the second.  This trip was different in that we did not move our camp.  Both nights were spent next to the lake.  On the second day we hiked up to a fire lookout on top of a scenic mountain.  The coolest thing about this trail was evidence of major geologic disruption.  There were enormous rock slides in several spots that we picked through.  The "big slide" couldn't have happened all that long ago as there were only small trees growing through it.  You need 10 billion rocks?  Come and get 'em.

campfire at Big Slide Lake

2013-next year will be the mother of all backpack trips (for us old ladies).  We'll need an extra day--4 instead of 3--we're going to circumnavigate Mt. St. Helens, 29 miles . . . so much to look forward to!   Being out in the wild with my friends and family is one of my favorite activities!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

(My) Grandchildren are the Best

This post is for each grandchild to see him/herself on my blog, and see each other.  Our 3 families of grandchildren do not live near each other.  They are all bright, kind, loving, and bound to set the world on fire when they grow up (some literally, others figuratively)!

11 1/2

9 1/2


5 1/2


3 1/2


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Antique Postcards

A few years ago I began buying up old postcards of places that were important to my family and our history. We have few photographs of our ancestors, so the next best thing to pictures of our people is a picture of the places they lived, worked, and worshipped. Companies created postcards of the most average mundane scenes, which is a bonus for people like me who buy them for family reasons. I don't need a postcard of the Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, because it doesn't have significance to my family. But a postcard of a the coke ovens in Star Junction, Pennsylvania? I'll pay bucks for that one!

Ebay is ideal for this. There's many for sale and if you wait long enough, a postcard of the exact place you want will pop up. Some examples:

Powers Institute, aka Bernardston Academy, is where my great-grandfather Michael Henry Toomey attended high school circa 1876. It still stands, now as a museum. The photo is probably from the early 1900s.

 A view of South Vernon, a railroad junction that straddles the state line of Massachusetts and Vermont. The building on the left is the old hotel, which is still there, and was new when my Toomeys lived in South Vernon in the 1870s and 80s. This quaint view has been altered by a modern a highway.

The dangerous intersection of three bridges north of Brattleboro, Vermont, late 1800s. The writing on the bridge says "Walk Your Horses." This junction was modified after some terrible accidents between trains and horses. My Toomey and Sullivan ancestors would have passed through here once in a while.

The Brooks Free Library, Brattleboro VT in 1910. It was built in the 1880s when some of my family would have borrowed books (I hope). What a pretty picture of the first real library in town. It has long since been replaced by a modern, but less attractive library.

A public school close to my Grandma's house in Brooklyn, NY. She lived on the corner of 4th Ave. and 78th, so this may have been where she attended. If not this one, then one a lot like it.

Even photographs of events such as parades and fairs were sold as postcards. This one of the local county fair in Brattleboro, called Valley Fair, I believe was taken pre-1910. Fairs, lectures, church socials, traveling circuses, and post-Civil War GAR events were our ancestor's entertainment, and you can find postcards of just about all of those events.

My Mom grew up in Washington Heights on Manhattan, not far from this library, immortalized in a postcard circa 1900.

The Dellbrook House in Perryopolis, PA, circa 1950, built by my step-mom Hazel's then-husband in 1948. In 1996 Dad married Hazel and moved into this house. In 2001 the stairs became too much, so they sold it to my brother who lived there until 2007 ish. This postcard is entitled Modern Perryopolis, the Carl Dellbrook House and is still sold in the local drugstore.

Monessen PA's Greek Catholic Church, which my grandparents attended about 1918-1921. Nice that someone thought to make a postcard of it.

This postcard pertains directly to my life. Beale Cut, aka Fremont Pass, aka San Fernando Pass or Newhall Pass, near Newhall, CA. When I was growing up it was a major thrill to climb down into this cut which was made for the Butterfield Stagecoach Line, about 1863. This was the original road from Los Angeles to San Francisco. On the other side of this cut was the local oil refinery. I remember the thrill of finding shell fossils in the side of the cut. It is badly eroded now. And it is seen in plenty of old western movies.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Unsolved Family Mysteries

When you have worked on family history for as long as I have, you are bound to run into intriguing mysteries, some solvable, some elusive, and some downright maddening.  Here's just a few I have solved or am still facing.

My Mom told me about the mysterious case of Tom Brosnahan, her father's cousin. He was in college at a Catholic seminary, and, suffering from intense overwork, came home for some R and R. He stopped by to visit Mom's family in Massachusetts, and after that was never seen again. Mom could barely remember this; she was born in 1926, so a likely time period for the disappearance could have been about 1930-ish. To this day no one knows what happened to him, despite the investigations done at the time. The police even dragged the river looking for a body. I have done some fishing, but without actually visiting Massachusetts and devoting days to searching police records and other public documents, it will remain a dead-end. As much as I yearn to solve the case of disappearing Tom, it would be a better project for someone who lives in the area and wouldn't have to rack up hotel bills and use vacation time.


Michael Toomey, my great-great-great-grandfather, came to Brattleboro Vermont from Ireland about 1848, and likely worked on the railroad there (no direct evidence for that, yet). His gravestone says he died April 9, 1870. Gravestone information is notoriously in error, but supporting evidence for that death date is in the town's tax records for that year, dated April 15, 1870. Michael's name is entered, then crossed out with "dead" added next to his name. But there is no death record for him found in Vermont at any time. I have checked all of the surrounding states and found no death record for him.  Such a record would give me his occupation and his cause of death, about which I'm very curious. 


 George, John, Andrew, Michael Bubnash

 My Baba told me that my Grandpa's father, Paul Bubnash, died when Grandpa was a baby (he was born 1891). Yet some cousins in Montana showed me a photo taken circa 1900 of four of the Bubnash brothers, and they were sure Paul was the one on the left. This info was passed down to them from the previous generation. My instincts trusted Baba; she was very good on details. I was sure Paul Bubnash couldn't have appeared in a 1900 photograph. Finally, about 1996 the parish records of Valaskovce, Austria-Hungary, became available on microfilm. I dove right in looking first for Paul's death. And yes, he died at age 28, before my Grandpa was even born. Two months before my Grandpa, his second son, was born, in fact. And who was the man on the left in the photo? My Slovak relatives tell me it's the oldest brother, named George. And that makes perfect sense.


My Baba also told me the circumstances of her brother Michael Csornej-Maczko's death. Briefly, Michael was living in their native village of Nemet Poruba during the war. The Germans marched through and forced the residents to flee or be shot. They fled to the mountains on the Polish border. When residents returned to the village they found it burned to the ground. Michael lit a fire for warmth, in what remained of the chimney. The Germans had planted a bomb in the shaft, it exploded, and Michael was killed.  o which war was this, I asked Baba. She just couldn't remember. She was near 100 years of age, and some details of things that had happened to other people had naturally faded from her memory.

In 2002, we visited Dukla Pass in Slovakia, the site of "the biggest battle you never heard of." Over 100,000 people were killed when the retreating Germans, pursued by the Russian advance, made a last stand at Dukla Pass on the  border between Poland and Slovakia, from October--December 1944.  Learning what happened at Dukla Pass was the key to solving the mystery of when Michael died. As I studied military maps of battles that took place in Eastern Slovakia, and read the rare accounts of people's experiences, everything fit for Michael's death occurring in December 1944 or January 1945, and definitely not during World War One. The pattern of the German retreat near the end of World War Two was repeated all along the front: banish or kill the villagers, burn the village, leave behind murder and mayhem. Baba knew Michael's death occurred in winter. Many innocents were killed during the fighting at Dukla Pass.


In the mid-70s I located a death record for my great-great-grandfather, Cornelius O'Sullivan.  He was 51, died in Brattleboro Vermont, and his death was listed as accidental. I was able to get someone in Vermont to check an the June 1871 Vermont Phoenix newspaper for a report on the accident. A terse couple of lines in the paper explained that Cornelius was "run over by a hand-car just above the West River Bridge." He lingered five days until his death. That's it.

Fast forward years later. Curiosity about what happened had been eating at me. I was in Brattleboro Vermont and found bound copies of an obscure short-lived newspaper called The Vermont Record and Farmer. This one shed more light.  Poor Cornelius was one of a group split between two handcars, who rode up and down the track checking its condition. He was on the lead car. It hit an obstacle large enough to cause a lurch; he fell onto the track and was run over by the rear car. His injuries were dreadful. About the same time, I discovered a handwritten piece of paper in an old book that had belonged to Cornelius's daughter, my great-grandmother, Mary. On it was written a list of terrible bodily trauma without any reference to whose injuries were described. I am sure they were his.

Mary Sullivan, daughter of Cornelius O'Sullivan

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Disappearing Railroad Blues

A favorite childhood memory of mine was listening to the faint sound of a distant train whistle winging through the night and in through my bedroom window, landing on me, who was usually lying sleepless in my bed. The Southern Pacific lines ran in every direction through our San Fernando Valley. One line traveled northwest through San Fernando, over near the old Sunkist orange juice plant.  Another snaked west and north through Van Nuys on its way to Central Valley. And the Coast Line ran a few miles south of our house through the mountains, toward the Pacific Ocean. The whistle, borne to me in the quiet of the evening, piqued my curiosity about what was at the other end of those rails.

Along with listening in the dark for a lonesome whistle was the thrill of being stopped at a railroad crossing. Boxcars from all over the country whizzed past the windshield of our car, our front row seat on the world. Each picturesque boxcar seemed to be throwing out a story of its travels, and of what it had seen. Santa Fe, Southern Pacific, Cotton Belt, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie, Baltimore and Ohio, Soo, Norfolk and Western, Wabash, Canadian Pacific, Denver and Rio Grand, and a score of others were as magic carpets, leading me to imaginary places my little brain couldn't even fathom.

San Fernando Valley Train Routes, circa 1930

My number one favorite boxcar to watch for was Great Northern Railway. That mountain goat perched on a cliff just looks cool, that's all. Not  until decades later did I discover that my great-grandfather's brothers all worked for Great Northern. And, three generations of my Mom's ancestors had worked for the Boston and Maine Railroad in the 1800s. Railroading runs in the blood.

My normal childhood activities incorporated railroading. We jumped rope to "Engine engine number 9, rolling down the Chicago line. If the train jumps off the track, do you want your money back?!"  My favorite song in my Dad's repertoire was "I've Been Working on the Railroad." We lined up empty cardboard boxes to form a choo-choo train through the living room. TV westerns were full of stirring railroad scenes. Old railroad stations fascinated me and still do. Visiting Union Station in Portland sends me back to a simpler time. Harry Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) once said the most thrilling words ever are "anchor chains, plane motors and train whistles." Yessiree.

In 1976 Craig and I traveled through the British Isles via rail. In 1981 I took my first ride on an American passenger train, a night ride from Boise to Salt Lake. What a thrill to be ON the train that was blowing the whistle, and passing through scenery where cars couldn't follow. About 5:30 a.m. the conductor softly woke up the passengers to alert each one that the train was passing through Logan Canyon, and we might want to take a look. We looked. Out one window of the train was the flank of a mountain and on the other was . . . nothing.  Just air, as we peered down into the canyon far below.

We have a half dozen of these not far from our house:

I've hiked over a few of these old trestles. Can't help it--I must see what's on the other end. A few of them are still occasionally used by logging trains. One day Steven and I hiked through the mile-long tunnel that runs between Helvetia and Burlington. My sister and I once had to claw our way up a hill to escape from a train that burst out of the mile-long San Fernando tunnel. And in high school my friends and I leaped off the railroad bern behind Bonelli's house when a train suddenly rushed around the bend.

Well, the heydey of railroading is long gone, but I have my treasured memories. Arlo Guthrie sings in his ballad The City of New Orleans, about a doomed railroad system:

And all the towns and people seem
To fade into a bad dream
And the steel rail still ain't heard the news.
The conductor sings his song again,
Passengers will please refrain:
This train's got the disappearin' railroad blues.

This train fan's got the disappearin' railroad blues.

Bonus: View this cute little train-related safety clip is posted on YouTube. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Funny Christmas Memory

For Christmas 1983 we traveled from Idaho to Southern California to spend the holiday with our folks.  Our 3 children were all attacked by chicken pox that month.   The lengthy16 hour drive was not the most pleasant we ever made.

Not long after we arrived at my folks' house, my Dad (George), with a shopping bag in his hand, cornered Craig out in the yard.   He pulled out a red box, the container for a TI-5015 adding machine, and asked Craig "the engineer's" opinion of this clever little device.  Dad meant it as a Christmas gift for my Mom (Jean).  Craig expressed his opinion which was that it seemed like a useful quality gift that my Mom would enjoy.  Dad went away satisfied.

Later that same day, when Dad was out doing chores, my Mom cornered Craig in the kitchen with a shopping bag in hand.  She pulled out a red box containing a TI-5015 adding machine, and asked Craig's opinion on this handy new device.  She intended it as a Christmas gift for my Dad.   Craig did his best to keep a straight face as he gave her the same opinion: it was a useful good quality gift my Dad would enjoy.

He reported the incidents to me and we cracked up.  Needless to say, we were ready with our camera Christmas morning to catch this hilarious photo of my folks:

Don't you just love the look on each of their faces?   Dad is trying not to laugh out loud and betray the secret that he thinks only he knows..  Mom obviously suspected what was in her box.  And she was right.