Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The DNA Dimension in Family History (Part 1)

From the time I was small my parents made me very aware of the simple 50/50 split in my heritage. Mom was Irish through and through, and Dad's parents had come on the boat from Czechoslovakia (his term) before his birth. My parents left their native East Coast for California shortly after I was born. I did not grow up around extended family, yet Dad's yearning for certain foods (stuffed peppers, pickled pigs feet, buttermilk, and bread slathered with butter) alerted me that he was a square peg in a round hole, as compared to my friends' fathers. Mom talked about her family background, and she had her ethnic foods too: corned beef and cabbage on St. Paddy's day, and potato pancakes with applesauce as often as she could rustle it up. And she made sure we knew the phrase, "Wren, Wren, king of all men," indicating we were descended from the kings of Ireland through our Wren line.

I was always full of questions to relatives about our background, even interviewing my Baba when I was only 15 years old. I officially started family history research when I was 18, and will never forget the exhilaration of locating my immigrant Doyle ancestors on the 1880 Census of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

The paper trail is thrilling, and does have its limits. Given that Ireland suffered under the English for 700+ years, Irish records are sparse, of low quality with limited information, and don't extend back far, at least not compared to English and Continental records. Now that some wonderful Eastern European records are accessible online, I have made extensive progress on that side, yet the challenge in reading multiple foreign languages is daunting at times.

Enter the DNA dimension. In less than ten years it has become a fascinating facet of family history. While a DNA test doesn't give you names, dates, places, it provides several important services: 1) If you go through Ancestry or 23andMe (and perhaps others), your results will connect you with other researchers seeking family members and additional information.  2) The results will show via some super interesting graphics, where in the world your DNA traces to.  3) Depending on the company, you will get some helpful health hints (23andMe provides this).  4) Another benefit of DNA results is they demonstrates that ancestry is much more varied (for many many people) than most of us ever guessed.  Doesn't that make a person a little more tolerant, a little more understanding of folks from other places? I think so.

I've been tested through both of the above mentioned companies, 23andMe about six years ago and Ancestry within the past year. My brother, one uncle, and one son have also done the Ancestry DNA test, so they pop up as relatives when I log in to see my results. It's fun to compare each others data, and to find strangers who are not really strangers.

Tomorrow: My own results.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Cowardly Claude Dallas

 Conley Elms, a 3-year Fish and Game veteran

Bill Pogue, a 25 year Fish and Game veteran

This outrageous Idaho murder case from the early 1980s came to mind this week. The perpetrator of the crime was never in question, and the hunt for him went nationwide--twice. The perp was Claude Dallas. He has been romanticized into a macho, independent, self-sufficient mountain man who was good with a gun and a target of women. In truth he was none of that. Dallas adopted a "movie cowboy persona" who was without genuine charisma or appeal. His supposed machismo was a lie--he was a poacher who wasted wildlife, who despite his mountain-man boasts depended on friends and regular jobs for survival, and worst of all, he murdered two Fish and Game wardens in cold blood in Bull Basin, an isolated corner of southwest Idaho, on January 5, 1981, when they caught him poaching. Conley Elms and Bill Pogue were the victims.

Due to the remoteness of the crime, word of the murders didn't reach civilization for a couple of days. It descended on Boise on a crystally cold, frosty winter afternoon, and by the end of that work day Bill Pogue's original art work, which was for sale in various local shops, had been grabbed up by collectors. The shocking news depressed the city--Boise was still small then, and was peopled by folks who, if they didn't know the victims, probably knew someone who knew them.

Dallas wasn't seen for 15 months, then was captured in a shootout in Paradise Hill, Nevada, tried, and got off easy, convicted of manslaughter. Some jurors believed he felt threatened because Pogue pulled his gun on the poacher (Dallas's statement; no witness). Pogue never fired. Both he and Elms, who was not armed, were shot down by Dallas, then executed by a shot in the head as they lay helpless in the dirt. Elms's body was left in the camp but Dallas buried Pogue out in the desert. During the trial when he revealed the location of the body, Pogue's brother hastily left the courtroom to locate the body and remove it for proper burial.

The trial was a sensation in Idaho. The venue was switched from remote Owyhee County to more populated Canyon County. Owyhee's courthouse was tiny and no way could they host trial participants plus the media and the public. Groupies followed the trial. One band of women coined themselves "The Dallas Cheerleaders." I don't know what they saw in a dumpy, cold, calculating murderer, but he had taken on a folk-hero aura in the minds of anti-government folks who wanted to believe that he shot in self-defense.

Dallas was sentenced to prison and in a few short years escaped, leading to a second nationwide manhunt that lasted 12 months. It ended in a 7-11 convenience store in Riverside California. Mmmm, what kind of mountain-man shops at a 7-11?

Dallas has been out of prison for 10 years now. His life and crime have been woven into ballads and tall tales, and generations from now will be one of those curious legends Western folklore is cut from. Elms and Pogue won't be forgotten. They were two lawmen doing the job they were paid to do, who had the sad misfortune to have a run-in with a savage killer.

The Ballad of Pogue and Elms

Sunday, November 27, 2016

It's Gonna Be Okay


My favorite music these days comes from The Piano Guys. They create the most delicious stunning music videos set in places like Scotland, the Great Wall of China, on the Amazon, or on a mountaintop somewhere, anywhere. If the music wasn't great it would still be fun to view the scenery, but the music is fabulous. Most of it consists of piano and cello, and a few numbers have vocal. The four Piano Guys are creative and kooky.

In July the Piano Guys came to the Oregon Zoo for an evening concert, so I went. Until that night I had no idea there were dozens of types of cellos, or that a grand piano could be played from such varied angles. In his greeting to Portlanders the pianist mentioned that he was happy to have his daughter there in the audience. She didn't stand up to be pointed out, so I didn't know if she was a younger child or an adult.

The Guys introduced a new rousing, raucous number called "It's Gonna Be Okay
whose tune and message invites you to rock out and agree, that no matter what happens, "it's gonna be okay."  A fun song, but it bugged me somewhat. It's a trite phrase that is used so often in reply to everything. Dad died?  It's gonna be OK. Kid strung out on drugs? Gonna be OK. Your financial investor absconded with your life savings? It will be OK. I've read books that have used this phrase umpteen times and I just can't finish them, because, sometimes it's just not gonna be OK.

And then. Not three months later, the pianist's daughter disappeared while hiking locally here, in the Columbia Gorge. I have no doubt this was the daughter he referred to that night. I thought back to the happiness and energy of that night, and who could have known that shortly, this very child would vanish into thin air, just about the worst thing to happen to any parent.

Over a two-week search involving family members, friends, her congregation, and the local community who didn't even know her, not a trace was found. The family felt that she was deceased so they talked in terms of finding her body. It was a gut-wrenching vigil.  Everytime a hiker is lost it feels close to home for me. This past summer I attended the funeral of a friend's son killed hiking in the Gorge.

I thought about the song, and whether the Guys could even bear to think that this situation was going to be OK. A couple of Sundays ago they publicized a special fast and prayer for the missing woman, because they so desperately wanted to find her and lay her to rest. At the end of the week the family came back to the Gorge for another try, with fresh searchers. On that Friday her body was found and taken home.

The song, "It's Gonna Be Okay" has a deeper connotation to me now. In the case of the missing hiker, she has been found, her family is freed from the torment of not knowing her fate, her remains are laid to rest, and she is with those who love her on the other side. The coroner determined she died instantly in a fall off a cliff, no suffering involved. Hundreds of people showed their love and concern by physically helping the family and thousands of others were involved in prayer and fasting for them. Prayers were answered. The family believes in the continuation of life, and what a comfort that is. They will be reunited with her. So even a tragedy such as this can turn out to be OK. The service and faith of many, and the awareness of God's love and answered prayers has made it OK. An OK outcome does not always equate to what we want, but refers to the miracles of peace, love and comfort, no matter the outcome of our challenges.

NOTE: this article tells how one searcher was miraculously driven to find the missing woman

Links to some marvelous songs by the Piano Guys:
Scotland: This is Your Fight Song


Bring Him Home

Over the Rainbow / Simple Gifts

Angels From the Realms of Glory

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Artsy Finland

 I saw many pretty things in and near Turku Finland this summer

I want to comment on this one. The photo was taken at a lace museum in Rauma, about an hour north of Turku. For hundreds of years the city has been known for its fine lace-making. An interesting bonus is the woman who cuts my hair here in Oregon is from Rauma. Her mother was visiting Oregon from Rauma recently, and we talked about my visit to Rauma (with her daughter translating). Next time I go to Rauma, she's going to give me the VIP tour!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Finland 2

Some favorite memories of Turku and environs



 marsh hikes

 castle hill


 marsh hikes






exploring castles


Thursday, November 24, 2016


 the entrance to Castle Hill

I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks in Turku, Finland with Bridget's family in June. I'm in love with Finland! Correction: I'm in love with Finland in the summer time. I arrived on June 10, Craig arrived 10 days later, then we departed on July 1.

The Palmers bought some used bicycles for us and we rode-rode-rode all over the place. Turku is a small city and their family lives about a mile from the city center. It was so easy to cruise down hill to the cathedral, the castle, the harbor, and to ride upriver and downriver and through the city. In the photo above you see me about to head up the trail to the top of a  hill where in Medieval times there was a castle that commanded views in every direction. That site is about a 5-mile bike ride away and we rode it often.

We hiked up and down mountains and on narrow boardwalks through marshes. One day we did a 20-mile bike ride to the southern tip of Russalo, an island in the archipelago. After a rest and dinner back at home, we hiked eight miles through a national park. In summertime Finland, it doesn't get dark until after midnight, so you can do that.

from the summit of Castle Hill

 an uphill hike in another area whose summit gives a panorama of Turku from the platform below

scenery in the marsh

another marsh hike

warming hut where we enjoyed hot sausages [see note below]

 wading pool at the local park: the weather wasn't super warm but our grandgirls didn't care

Turku Cathedral

 I want pretty door handles like this in my house

and this gate

More about Finland tomorrow

NOTE about the young Russian man in the background: moments after this photo was taken, this fellow went over to his family's tent and apparently was adjusting a lantern. Somehow the oil spilled onto his arm and caught fire. He bellowed and immediately ran for the lake where he immersed his burning arm in the water. The burn was below his elbow, and looked serious. The family called an ambulance. I believe they got him lying down in the hut where the photo was taken. We left shortly after but there wasn't anything to do, they were doing everything right. I think about him now and then, and wonder what he endured--terrible pain and possibly skin grafts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Postulate

Among the divers math terms thrown at me in my high school algebra and geometry classes was the term, 'postulate.' Love that word. Postulates are principles of math that require no proof, so if you know them, you already know how certain problems work. Some postulates have catchy names such as (don't bother reading the explanation):

AAS (angle-angle-side): If two angles and the included side of one triangle are congruent to the corresponding parts of another triangle, the triangles are congruent.
SSS (side-side-side): If three sides of one triangle are congruent to three sides of  another triangle, then the triangles are congruent.
SAS (side-angle-side): If two sides and the included angle of one triangle are congruent to the corresponding parts of another triangle, the triangles are congruent.

We had to memorize these and learn how to apply them in geometry. I would have forgotten all about postulates by now except that there was a guy in my class whose last name was SAS. Yes, his last name was Side-Angle-Side, as I and my friends called him. But after a while we shortened our chosen nickname for him to "The Postulate," as in, "Don't look now, but here comes The Postulate. Or, "Uh-oh, The Postulate is heading straight for you." The 'you' in this case was me. The Postulate had a major crush on me, but sad for him, his was an extreme case of unrequited love.

It isn't that he wasn't a good guy. He was actually one of the nicest and most polite of all the guys I knew. We just didn't click. He seemed dorky to me, but who am I to say that, because I was just as dorky as the next person in high school. He was over-attentive, and always in a too-cheery good mood, and maybe not the sharpest when it came to social cues.

The Postulate sometimes called me on the phone and with Caller ID a futuristic fantasy, I was trapped once I answered his call. In the outdoor halls at school I'd head another way if he was in view. After all, I would get enough chummy exposure to him in geometry class. After that school year we didn't cross paths anymore. If I ran into him now I would know him. He had the physique of a wooden telephone pole and a smile that lit up his face like a searchlight, displaying his braces in all their glory. The Postulate was a gentleman; I hope he has had a good life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

POO-PITCH, POOP-ITCH, POOOOOP-ICH: My Mom's Brilliant Scheme

 Mom--Dad--my sister Nancy in our backyard about 1963

Mom was the architect of small but important ideas that enriched the lives of her children. She taught us how to braid by hanging up a piece of cardboard with three hanks of yarn attached, for us to manipulate. She taught me how to ride the city bus so I could go to my grandparents' house for the weekend--at about age eight. She ran us kids through 'decorum drills' so that we were able to be smooth in the presence of company. And her prescience now and then headed-off potentially harsh or embarrassing moments in our lives.

Dad worked in the field of forms design and management for Lockheed Aircraft Co., located at what is now Hollywood-Burbank Airport. His office, in Building #9, was right next to the air terminal. Offices were formal then. Men wore white shirts, dark suits and conservative ties every day. Women wore suits or dresses, heels and jewelry, and got their hair done every week. Work hours were 8 to 5, and they meant it. Most families had one car as did we, so Dad carpooled to work with other men in dark suits. To sum it up, white collar work was a stiff, regulated, button-up environment.

One fine day when I was about nine, Mom announced that we four children were going to visit Dad's work on our way to an event. What a rare treat! We would wear our Sunday best, and for weeks we brushed up on our manners. We practiced hand-shaking, curtsies (bows for my brother), our "how-do-you-dos" and "pleased to meet yous." We would be meeting Dad's co-workers: Mr. Benedon, Mrs. Knaack, and a staffer named Pauline Pupich.Yeah, that last one was problematic. Mom knew just how we would react to meeting Miss Poop (ich). It wouldn't be pretty. In fact, it would look about like this.

Mom approached the problem this way. If she said the name Pupich hundreds of times before we actually met Miss Pupich, we would get our laughs out of us, and be straight-faced at the critical moment. So for weeks at very unexpected times, Mom uttered the word, Poop-ich, with an emphasis on the 'POOP,' in our presence. She could be in mid-sentence, say the 'magic' word, then continue on with her thought. She delivered it while tucking us in at night, while serving up dinner, and when she breezed through the room while we did our homework.

Presto! It worked. We silly kids were so tired of hearing it, that when we met beautiful blond Pauline Pupich, not a laugh crossed our lips. Mom was so proud of us; I think we got some kind of reward. Really, Mom deserved a reward for her brilliant strategy. We kept our dignity and so did Pauline.

NOTE: After writing this I wondered about Pauline. She was probably in her late 20s at the time of our only meeting. A Google search showed she was born in CA in 1934, in 1955 was a student at Valley College, and was active in student affairs. She married John Richmond  in 1968. I found a 2012 obituary of her brother Milan that said Pauline pre-deceased him. Further search shows she passed away in 2007. And she is buried in the same cemetery as my Mom. Mmmm.  Life can be so strange.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The World's Oldest Twins

Cleo & Clifford Hawthorne, born Prescott Iowa in 1912

The world's oldest set of twins was born 103 years ago. Cleo, on the left, died this past week. The brothers were close. They held their wedding ceremonies together in 1937. Neither ever drank or smoked. They both ran on their high school track team. They both farmed and worked in creameries. Each kept their driver's license until in their 90s. They have a 96-year-old sister. Now the Cleo is gone, Clifford will miss their occasional visits. They were in facilities a hundred miles apart.

I'm sharing this today because I thought it a poignant story. If you live 103 years close to a person who looks like and is just like you, how hard that would be when the other is gone. At age 103 Clifford won't be without Cleo for long.

as toddlers