Thursday, June 30, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Baby Bill Brittain's 1942 Footprints, Hair and Hospital Bracelet

I wish I could give my Grandma Edith a huge hug and kiss for saving, well, everything! You may recall that I was visiting my Mom a few weeks back and she shared with me a bunch of photos and documents from her family as well as from my Dad's.

One of the treasures Mom had in her stash was a very special surprise for me: it was a collection of my Dad's, William Lee Brittain (1942-2003), two-month-old baby footprints, a lock of his hair from when he was three years old AND the bracelet that was tied around his wee baby wrist when he was born on October 28, 1942, in Hayward, California!

You can imagine how thrilled I was to see and touch these mementos from when my Daddy was just a baby! There were, of course, two footprints so Mom gave one to me and is giving one to my sister, Cindy, too (hope I didn't ruin a surprise!). Understandably, she wanted to keep the lock of Dad's hair and the hospital bracelet.

Thanks to both Grandma Edith and Mom for keeping these precious bits of history safe, all these years, for Daddy's girls to treasure!

William Lee Brittain at one month old (1942)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday's Child: James William Hunt circa 1891

Here's a wonderful old picture of my paternal Great Grandfather, James William "Earl" Hunt (1891-1961), when he was just a wee baby. He was born on January 1, 1891, in Lee County, Texas, so it's pretty amazing (and lucky!) that I have the 120-year-old original of this old photo.
James was the son of William Calhoun Hunt (1870-1915) and Francis George Ann Purser (1871-1956). 

I wonder if the Victorian-era frock he was wearing is a christening gown. It sure looks like it. I have another photo of him being baptized in a river as an adult, but I wouldn't be surprised if he was baptized more than once since he he did raise a Baptist minister son (my great Uncle Bud).

Anyway, wasn't he a cutie?

Here's how I'm related to James William Hunt:

James William "Earl Hunt (1891-1961) m. Ethel Modena Martindale (1896-1977) >
Edith Vivian Hunt (1920-1993) m. Woodie Leroy Brittain (living) >
William Lee Brittain (1942-2003) m. Rebecca Elizabeth Bartram (living) >

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Ice Cream A Go Go!!

Summer is FINALLY here!! I'm sure the July fog will soon be rolling into San Francisco, but we've been enjoying fantastic weather this week. Kinda makes me want some homemade ice cream. I have a fancy-schmancy ice cream maker in my kitchen, but today I'm going to share a really low-tech recipe with you.

Our family calls this recipe "Ice Cream A Go Go" and we often used it to make delicious homemade ice cream on our many camping trips to Yosemite when I was growing up. While you don't need an ice cream maker, you will need some 1-pound and 3-pound coffee cans as well as some energy and elbow grease. I know, with Starbucks or Peet's (or Tim Horton's for you Canadians out there) on every corner, not everyone makes coffee from cans these days... However, if you know anyone who still loves their Folgers, you might ask them to save their cans for you!
Growing up, we camped at least a few times a year with
family and friends up in beautiful Yosemite. We made
lots of Ice Cream A Go Go!
 Here's how it's done:

2 quarts milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 13-oz cans evaporated milk
2 small packs instant vanilla pudding
Rock salt


1. Mix all ingredients well.
2. Divide equally between four 1-pound coffee cans (rinsed well, unless you want coffee-flavored ice cream). Seal cans with lid and lots of masking tape.
3. Place each filled 1-pound cans into a 3-pound coffee can. Put mixture of one part rock salt and four parts ice around the 1-pound cans. Put lids on the 3-pound cans and seal with more masking tape.
4. Shake cans for 20 minutes. It's a bit of a workout, but you'll be rewarded with yummy ice cream!

Once the shaking is done, take the 1-pound cans out of the 3-pound cans, carefully open them and enjoy your delicious frozen treat.

One tip: make sure you have some mittens, gloves or towels handy for the shaking because those cans get very cold.
This is a great recipe for kids. We always thought shaking the cans was way more fun than turning the boring old crank on our old ice cream maker. It'll wear your more energetic kids out pretty quickly, too. =)

Happy Summer & have fun!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wedding Wednesday: James & Ethel Hunt's 1918 Marriage Record

I solved a mystery this week! I had been trying to figure out exactly when and where my paternal great grandparents, James William Hunt (1891-1961) and Ethel Modena Martindale (1896-1977), were married. Based on census documents and what I already knew, I figured it was before 1920 and somewhere in Oklahoma.  I had been looking for a record under both of their names together, as well as separately. It finally occurred to me (duh!) that Great Grandma Ethel had been married prior to this union, and I wondered if I might have more luck searching under her married name: Ethel Mackey. BINGO!!! A quick Google search led me to the Coal County Genealogical Society, where I found an index of THIS:

It's the Application For Marriage License, the Marriage License and the Certificate of Marriage -- all in one document. Once I found the index, I quickly sent off my $5 donation and a request for a copy of the document. Within a week, this wonderful record showed up in my mail box and I can now see that James and Ethel Hunt were married in Coalgate, Coal County, Oklahoma on January 16, 1918. Ethel was 21 years old, and James was 27 years old. They both resided in Centrahoma, Oklahoma. It appears that they showed up at the courthouse, applied for the license and got hitched by a Justice of the Peace there all on the same day.

James and Ethel raised three children: my grandma, Edith Vivian Hunt Brittain (1920-1993), Edgar James (Bud) Hunt (1922-2004) and George Lee Hunt (1927-1987). James died on April 7, 1961, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ethel married a third time to Joe Gordon Dobbs (as kids, we knew and loved her as Great Grandma Dobbs). Joe passed away in 1964. Ethel died at the age of 80 on August 3, 1977, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Even though she was three times a widow, she was a cheerful lady who was always happy to spend time playing with my sister, Cindy, and me when she visited my Grandma Edith in Livermore, California.

I'm now hunting for the marriage records for Ethel's first and third marriages, and I've learned my lesson to not just rely on maiden names in my searches, especially when I know that one of my female ancestors has been married more than once!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Talented Tuesday: A Poem About John "Bull" Bartram

One of the most fun aspects of sharing my blog with family members is that it really jogs their own memories of our family and its colorful members. I'm also learning that I have some really talented relatives.

My Aunt Brenda (Mom's sister) recently emailed to me a couple of poems that she wrote about her dad, my Grandpa John Bartram. I've already shared some of Grandpa John's rodeo adventures with you, but I think that this poem really adds some color to his cowboy exploits! Grandpa didn't have a middle name, but everyone called him John "Bull" Bartram, hence the title of Auntie Brenda's wonderful poem.

Grandpa John Bartram (far left) and his cowboy
friends in Australia
By Brenda Bartram Cairo
My Dad rode Broncs and Bulls
In the Rodeos years ago
He even went to Madison Square Garden   
Where he put on quite a show

Our cowboys sailed for Down Under
To show those Aussie's up
My Dad regaled, in wonder
Sipping Four Roses from his cup

"Now those Aussies were plum crazy
Like the Broncs that they drove in"
With each sip his speech gets hazy
Then, he starts his tale again

Wild Bush horses the Aussies called them
Small and weedy were their lot
You could see by their decorum
Man or rope, had they seen not

So with sacks and ropes a flyin'
We tried to snub them down
You could see grown men a cryin
For, no chutes were to be foun'

George Marciel got tromped, I do not tattle
Ted Knight was staggerin 'round
Wild Aussies on their sissy English Saddle
Up and rode us to the ground

"But, then, came the real battle"
He says with an awful cuss
Those Aussies drank us under the table
Without so much as a wink or fuss

In earnest now, Dad's tears began to flow
To those sissy saddles, let us raise our glass
To those wiley little horses of long ago
They were way above our class

But most of all
To that wild and woolly wonder
Standing up there gruff and tall
To those Aussies from Down Under
They really stol' our show 
The Bartram Family:
Back: Jim, Brenda, Becky (Mom)
Front: Clay, Grandma Donna, Grandpa John

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: A Tribute to Dad

Dad, Cindy and me
NOTE: well, heck, I just realized I'm a week early on Fathers Day! At least now I know my cards were sent out in plenty of time... =p


Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. This is a bittersweet day for me since my own dad passed away on January 4, 2003, from congestive heart disease and a heart transplant that went badly. I was a "daddy's girl" and I still find it hard to talk -- or write -- about him without getting very emotional. Instead, I'm going to share with you some photos of him, as well as the tribute I read at his memorial service.
Tribute to My Dad (read at his memorial service on January 11, 2003)

When Cindy and I were growing up, we often heard friends tell us how cool our parents were and how lucky we were to have such great relationships with them.  We always knew that was the case and, even during those turbulent teen years, we valued and respected our Mom and Dad -- as both parents and friends.

Today, I’d like to share some memories that Cindy and I have shared, separately as well as together, with Dad as well as Mom.

Mom, Dad and me

* The first time I remember seeing Dad cry was when I moved away from home to go to college in San Diego.  My roommate came to pick me up, and I was so excited as we started to drive off to our new lives as young adults in a new city.  Then, I turned around for one more wave goodbye to my family and saw that my Dad was crying.  Of course, I knew that he would miss me, but I was so touched by his show of emotion.  Needless to say, I bawled for a good thirty miles or so down the road

* Even though my family and I missed each other while I was living away from home, we never went too long without visits.  I always loved it when my parents came to visit me in college -- it was so much fun to show them the sites and take them to my favorite bars in San Diego and, later, in San Luis Obispo.  Some of my favorite times where when they would bring my sister, family friends or aunts and uncles.  A particularly memorable time was when they and Mike and Lois Brenkwitz visited me in San Diego one July 4th weekend.  I took them on a rather lively tour of Tijuana that will remain in our memories for years to come.  In more recent years, I’ve relished visits from Mom and Dad to my home in San Francisco.  Dad was NOT a city person, but he was always willing to hand over the car keys and let me be his tour guide

* Dad and I had many things in common.  We tended to drive Mom and Cindy crazy with our deep -- and, at times, incessant -- discussions/debates on politics and social issues.  It’s from my Dad that I inherited my addiction to news and political commentary -- we didn’t always agree on issues or candidates, but we found that we generally were coming from the same place.  We also loved discussing technology and sharing new “toys” with each other -- another topic that drove Mom and Cindy crazy.  Finally, Dad and I shared a passion for music.  He taught me to appreciate western swing and the older country music of Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, Marty Robbins and many other artists.  He and Mom also let me tag along with them and the McCrearys to jazz festivals.  One of my last happy memories with Dad was when he was in the hospital at Stanford and one of the hospital musicians came into to his room to play guitar and sing a few songs.  Dad had been very depressed, but when Jeff started playing “San Antonio Rose,” and I sang along with him, Dad’s eyes lit up -- he was so uplifted that he joined in the singing as well.  
Dad and Cindy

*  Cindy felt especially lucky and privileged to have her Daddy walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.  Most of you know that Dad was not a man of many words, but the toast that gave that night was so moving because it came directly from his heart -- he was so proud of his little girl.  It was also icing on the cake knowing that Luis, her new husband, and Dad already were developing a great relationship.  After spending so much time in a family dominated by women, we think it made Dad very happy to be finally getting a son

*  The morning after Evan was born, everyone showed up at the hospital for a visit.  Liam got up on the bed with Cindy to meet his baby brother.  When Dad walked into the room and saw his daughter and two grandsons together for the first time, a tear came to his eyes.  This moment was especially touching for Cindy and is something she’ll hold dear to her.

*  Dad was such a proud grandpa, and he loved Liam and Evan so much.  I know that it bothered him that he didn’t have the energy to run after the boys or get down on the floor to play with him the way he would have liked to, but to see his eyes light up whenever the boys came to visit him and Mom was something to behold.  Liam and Evan loved their Papa Cow, too, and they both talk about him often and miss him very much.
Cindy, Mom, Pepper, Dad and me
at our house on Bird Road

* While Cindy and I had many separate memories of Dad, we also shared wonderful times with him together.  Some of our earliest memories of Dad were when he’d take us horse shoeing with him around Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin.  He would let us hand him whatever tools he needed to do his job, or just let us loose to play with the kids or dogs who lived at the various ranches.  We’ll never forget the smell of horses and sweat that lingered in his ‘67 Ford pickup.  It’s a scent that -- even today -- both of us find sweet.

* While we were growing up, our family didn’t take trips to Europe, or even across the country.  Instead, most of our family vacations happened up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, usually camping with a motley group of family and/or close friends.  I think that one year, we camped in Yosemite at least four or five times -- we experienced that magnificent place in every season.  Dad loved the mountains more than anywhere else in the world, and he instilled that same love in Cindy and me.  When Cindy and I were old enough to have summer jobs, our parents started occasionally going up to the mountains without us -- while we were excited that they trusted us enough to leave us at home alone, I think that we secretly were a bit envious and sad that they were enjoying our favorite vacation stomping grounds without us!

* As we got older, we enjoyed many road trips with Mom and Dad -- big and small, well-planned as well as spontaneous -- but always memorable.  Their spur-of-the-moment trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with Cindy and Luis always inspires laughter -- just mention the word “lizard” or ask about the “two dead coyotes driving down the road” and see what kind of reaction you’ll get.  It was during my trips to the Southwest with Mom and Dad that I developed an appreciation for Native American culture as well as the history of West.  I was always so honored to receive the occasional phone call from Mom and Dad, saying that they were thinking about taking a weekend road trip to Shasta or Eureka or wherever, and would I like to come along.  As you can see from the picture board and photo album we‘ve brought along today, these trips were treasured -- not just for the travel -- but for the special times we got to enjoy with both our parents.

Finally, one of my all-time favorite memories of both Mom and Dad together was witnessing a very fleeting, yet loving, moment between them just a few years ago.  I was home one weekend, watching TV in the living room.  I looked up to see Mom and Dad standing in the dining room with their arms around each other sharing a kiss and an “I love you”.  I thought, how cool is it that, after all these years, my parents are still in love with each other.  Their relationship was the solid foundation for our incredibly close-knit and loving family.

It’s so sad to think that we won’t have the chance to create more memories with Dad, but we’re so happy to have had all the happy times with him that we did.  We also know that Dad created memories with just about all of you, and we know that you are treasuring them in your own ways.  We miss Dad so much, and I know that he’s keeping an eye on us and will continue to share in our future memories in his own special way.
Again, Happy Fathers Day to everyone out there. While I'm missing my Daddy, I cherish all our memories together, and I hope you're all able to enjoy yours, as well. 
Dad, Mom and me on one of our Southwest vacations

Friday, June 10, 2011

Family Recipe Friday: Grandma Donna's Mayonnaise Cake

I've been on a bit of a Grandma Donna kick this week, so I think it's fitting that Family Recipe Friday is dedicated to her. If you saw my post from yesterday, you got a peek at her high school home economics text book from the mid-1930s. I was tickled to see that she had written quite a few recipes in the book, and I'll be sharing them with you from time to time.

Here's a recipe that made me raise my eyebrows: Mayonnaise Cake. I know, the name sounds kind of gross, but my mom remembers Grandma making this cake and she swears that it's really good. I need to test it out soon, and I'll let you know how it goes. Meanwhile, here's the recipe so you can try it out for yourself!

Mayonnaise Cake
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3 tblsp cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1 cup dates, chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp soda
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla

Mix mayonnaise and sugar, beat well. Sift flour, spices and cocoa. Dissolve soda in water. Add dry ingredients to mayonnaise mixture with water. Stir in dates, nuts and vanilla. Mix well. Bake in greased 9-inch pan, 350 degrees, for about an hour.
Here's a picture of Grandma Donna with my mom, Becky
(and what looks like Grandpa John's shadow!)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Grandma Donna's 1930s Text Book

Donna Madsen
school photo
A couple of weekends ago, my mom shared with me a HUGE collection of family photos and documents, many that I'd never seen before. For some reason, I also thought that she had some hand-written recipe cards from her mom and grandmothers, but I was mistaken. My query must have jarred her memory, though, because she disappeared into her garage for a little while and then came out with an envelope containing something I never expected to see: my Grandma Donna's circa 1935 high school home economics text book. It's in tatters, and the cover is missing, but the real treasure is inside. In addition to the text and lessons that were included in the book there are my grandma's handwritten notes, including a bunch of recipes!

Here are a few of the pages that caught my eye:

 This is the first page of the book. The cover is missing.

Rules for Work (below) 
Always have clean apron
Wash hand
Study recipe
Get utensils
Get supplies, measure accurately
Work quietly
Set table
Serve food
Stack dishes
Wash dishes
Leave kitchen in order
My mom and I had a good laugh over "Work quietly" -- nobody in our family ever mastered that rule.

 Coffee experiments

 Table Manners
(I love "Make the meal a pleasant one.
Do not talk about disagreeable subjects or your troubles.")

Recipe for Mayonnaise Cake
(in Grandma Donna's own handwriting)
Recipe for Mayonnaise Cake,
in Grandma Donna's writing
Lesson on "Food Nutrients"

You can see just how fragile the book is. It kind of scares me to handle it...

As I mentioned before, there are a whole bunch of recipes in this book that were written in Grandma Donna's hand. You can bet that some of these recipe's will be popping up in my upcoming "Family Recipe Friday" posts.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: Livermore Rodeo Queens

I love this newspaper photo featuring my maternal grandma, Donna Madsen Bartram (1919-1966), and her sister, Rae Madsen Christensen (1921-2010). I even have it framed and proudly displayed in my living room. The article is promoting the Livermore Rodeo, and is from the mid 1930s. I'm not sure of the date, but it's probably 1936 or 1937. Grandma and Grandpa met in 1936, and were married in March 1938, and the article identifies her and Aunt Rae by their maiden name (spelled incorrectly).
Aunt Rae is at the bottom, Grandma Donna is in the middle, and their friend,
Maxine Compoe is the girl in the hat (at the top)
In case you can't read the fine print on the image, here it is (misspelled names and all):
Snoozin' in the sun after doing full justice to a barbecue meal fit for a king -- and a California cowboy -- Maxine Compoe (top), Donna Modsen and Rae Modsen, stellar riders who will be seen next Saturday and Sunday in Livermore Rodeo events, enjoy a siesta. They're dreaming, perhaps, of the thousands of dollars to be given as prizes.
It just occurred to me that the 2011 Livemore Rodeo is happening this weekend (June 11-12) in Livermore, California. If you're in the area, it's a lot of fun!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: John and Donna Bartram

John & Donna Bartram
on their wedding day
Here's the tombstone of my maternal grandparents, John Bartram (1911-1987) and Donna Madsen Bartram (1919-1966). They are buried together at the Memory Gardens Odd Fellows Memorial Park cemetery in Livermore, Alameda County, California. Since I live only about 45 minutes from there, and it's on the way to my mom's house, I'm able to visit the cemetery several times a year to pay respects to Grandma and Grandpa as well as several other of our family members who are interred there.

I didn't get to know Grandma Donna since she passed away when I was a baby, but I feel like I know her through the stories told by my mom, her siblings and their cousins. I was lucky to know Grandpa John very well as he lived with us for a good part of the time when my sister, Cindy, and I were growing up. I miss them both and wish they were around to help me tell their colorful stories.
John & Donna Bartram grave, Livermore, CA. Photo taken December 2010.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mystery Monday: Who Are These People?

I've been scanning hundreds of photos and documents that my Mom gave me last weekend. A lot of them came from my Grandma Edith's family: the Hunt clan in Oklahoma. Many have Grandma's own handwriting on the back, identifying who is in the photos as well as the date and, in some cases, where the photo was taken. I could kiss her for this! However, she wasn't terribly consistent in her documentation, and there are a bunch of pictures that are a complete mystery to me.

 Here's one such photo:
Are any of these men my Oklahoma Hunt relatives?
I don't recognize who any of these men are, but I have some clues:
  • I strongly believe that this came from the Hunt family, and that there's likely at least one Hunt man in this picture.
  • My great grandfather, James William Hunt (1891-1961), was an oilfield worker in Oklahoma, and the clothing on these men appear to be soiled with, possibly, oil. 
  • They are also standing in front of a pipe -- could it be part of an oil pipeline? 
  • I don't know the year of the photo, but from the clothing, it appears to be sometime in the early 1900s -- probably after 1910, but before 1930.
If James William Hunt is one of the men in the picture, I can't see him. It's possible that he's one of the guys in the rear whose faces are a bit concealed.

Are any of my Hunt cousins out there looking at this? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas regarding who is in this mystery photo!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Faces of Genealogy - The Bruhns Family

In response to Thomas McEntee's call-to-action regarding an event article from the LAWeekly website that included an offensive photo, many genealogy bloggers are banding together to show the true faces of genealogy. Here's a photo that I recently found in my mom's files. It's of her great grandparents, John Bruhns and Christina Schlichtmann Bruhns, and their children: Matilda, Christina, Johanna, Bertha and John, Jr.

Sunday Obituary: James William Hunt 1891-1961

James & Ethel Hunt
Here's the obituary for my paternal great grandfather, James William "Earl" Hunt. He died before I was born, but my dad knew him well and had fond memories of him as a grandpa.

James was a New Year's baby: born January 1, 1891, in Lee County, Texas, to William Calhoun Hunt and Francis Georgia Ann Purser. He married Ethel Modena Martindale in around 1917, and they raised three children: my grandma, Edith Vivian Hunt Brittain (1920-1993), Edgar James "Bud" Hunt (1922-2004), and George Lee Hunt (1927-?). James passed away on April 7, 1961, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.