Tag Archives: family tree

Older Than Dirt: A Photo Challenge Part 2


Hi there!

This is my 2nd entry to Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge:  Older Than 50 Years.  As usual, my photos are more about the stories that go with them, and less about the photographic composition.   I’ll have to make this short and sweet though, because I seem to have gotten tendonitis in both of my elbows and my right arm is flaring up right now.  And if you really believe that will keep me from writing a long dissertation then I have some swamp land under the Leo Frigo Bridge I would like to sell you.

Last post (you can read it here if you missed it) I told you about a mini family reunion we had and the stalking finding of our 3rd cousin Randy, still living on the original Conard family farm.

Our jolly caravan’s next stop was to visit my grandparents cottage on the bay, where we spent many a spider-filled day.  The original plan was to park on the road and peer thru the leaves at it while trying not to be noticed (or arrested), and then mosey on to my house for lunch.  However we were spotted by the current owner, Callista, who graciously invited us in and let us run amok on her property while we ooohed and aaaahed over our collective memories.

Callista was as thrilled to hear our stories as we were to hear hers.  While the interior is completely different, much of the exterior has the same feel, mainly because they kept the original stonework of the outside walls and fireplace – built with bay rock picked from the shore by the original owner (not my grandparents).

The door is gone, but you can see the space where it was.  That door survived a lot of grandchildren banging in and out of it all summer.  My sister and I got a little teary eyed walking across the cement steps.  Lots of memories there.

The door is gone, but you can see the space where it was. That door survived a lot of grandchildren banging in and out of it all summer. My sister and I got a little teary eyed walking across the cement steps. Lots of memories there.

The same wet cement steps that our young feet ran across when we banged thru the wooden screen door into the cottage to play crazy eights and drink bug juice. The same stoney corridor along the outside back of the house where chips of blue china were cemented in the grout and waves of bright green moss spilled across the top.  The same slab stone steps leading to the same rocky beach with the same boat house, although the front portion was gone.  They even had a hammock where my grandparents used to have one.

New, steel supported steps were built over the top of the old stone slab steps leading down to the beach.  Much safer, but I am glad they left the old ones underneath.

New, steel supported steps were built over the top of the old stone slab steps leading down to the beach. Much safer, but I am glad they left the old ones underneath.

What was missing?  Besides the front section of the boat house, I spotted only a few spiders – most of them quite small.  I swear when we were kids the spiders were the size of quarters and had huge bulbous abdomens and they hung on EVERYTHING.  I remember calling for grandpa to beat webby paths thru them in order to get the bamboo fishing poles or the black inner tubes we used for swimming.  Before going to bed my cousins and I would call for grandma to spider proof the bedrooms and make sure we didn’t have any in our sheets.

A note about the boathouse:  As kids, we spent very little time in it (spider haven – the really really big ones lived inside the boat house) but a lot of time on top of it, as it served as a beach deck.  A web and spider covered beach deck which I recall being a bit freaked out about.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down here?  I hated spiders.  Still actually not a fan.

Anyway, my grandfather got a really good deal on some irregular cinder block – which couldn’t have been too bad seeing as the boat house is still standing.  He sent my Uncle Jim and my dad and some guy who had access to a milk truck to go pick it up.  Now remember, this was the early 40’s so you need to get that image out of your head of the giant tanker trucks you see running around today.  This was probably more like a 1935 panel truck or something.

My uncle, my dad, and the driver were hauling the load of cinder blocks to the cottage when the transmission broke.  My uncle said they “broke gear box” just as they were about to go down the escarpment to the cottage.  I’m not sure what that hill looked like in the 40’s but I can barely ride my bike up it now without needing oxygen, so I’m sure it wasn’t any better.  It was, needless to say, a harrowing descent, well remembered by two mid-80 old farts.

They laughed when they told this story, but fewer smiles appeared when they described how they had to haul that cinder block down to the beach two at a time in a wheelbarrow.  Which leads me to the next tidbit – there was a family of girls in the next cottage down – one of whom still lives there and happened to come talk to us while we were visiting.  I am sure there were many girlish eyes stealing glances at the sweaty teenage boys building muscles while hauling cinder blocks….

Obviously we had to take our picture on top of that iconic building and I was a little worried about the actual structural integrity left in those old block walls.  All that boyish hard work paid off however, because the boat house still supported the weight of a bunch of older than dirt cousins.  I was impressed.

We are all over 50, and the boathouse is over 75, so we all qualify.  The railing is new, thank goodness....

We are all over 50, and the boathouse is over 75, so we all qualify. The railing is new, thank goodness….

Old fartedly yours,

Sue

PS.  Besides frightening long lost relatives and imposing on complete strangers, we also visited the cemetery to say howdy to our Belgian immigrant ancestors.  great-great-great grandparents Gillian and  Marie Francoise Nihoul Conard and our great-great grandparents Louis and Marie Flore Laurent Conard and our other great-great grandparents Joseph and Mary T Boulet VanCaster (whose daughter Pelagie Blanche married Louis and Marie’s son Julian (my great grandfather), in turn having my grandfather Cliff Conard who then had my father – Thomas W. Conard).  I have pictures below for my family members who were not able to make the reunion, and of course for any weirdos of my followers who happen to have a bit of a morbid streak like me and love looking at old grave markers.  I also included a few bonus pics.  ENJOY!

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Walking With Grandpas


So last week, I told you about my family tree project.  This week, I’m going to tell you a little story about my Great-Grandpa Julian Conard.

For those of you who could give a rat’s patootie about that, scroll down for some photos celebrating the color “orange” in response to this weeks WordPress Daily Post Photo Challenge.  But they won’t be as fun if you don’t read the story, so….

I was telling my dad about the family tree project and making sure I was following the right family, seeing as basically half of Belgium immigrated to Wisconsin in the mid 1800’s.

I asked specifically if “Julian” was my dad’s grandpa, which he confirmed.  He went on to tell me that Great Grandpa Julian absolutely hated being out doing chores in the winter – especially chopping wood – and he froze his feet so many times that he vowed he was going to move into town as soon as he was old enough.  Which is exactly what he did, and started a clothing store business, but that’s not really part of this story.

Great Grandpa Julian’s farm was located not just too far from where I live now, and my dad told me they used to have to come to town every Saturday, with the wagon and horses, to get supplies.  The trail ran along the escarpment that later became the main paved highway to Door County (part of which is now abandoned due to the new highway that went in several years ago) and what is now Bay Settlement Road.

But in the 1870’s and 80’s, it was just a dirt trail, with a tree canopy so thick the sun never made it to the forest floor.  On the way into town, they always had to go with two guys – one to drive the team and one to hold the shotgun, in case of horse thieves.

Unfortunately, many times the horse thieves were local Indians and my dad did tell me that my Great Grandpa had to use his gun a time or two.  Hopefully, just AT them to scare them off, and not IN them. But, they couldn’t risk losing their horses.

Horses were more important then than cars are to us now. Not just a mode of transportation – their lives depended on them for plowing, transportation, hauling, etc. Without their horses, their family stood a good chance of starving.  So to them, it was about survival – you didn’t give up your horses.

Last weekend, I hiked thru the woods along part of the now abandoned old highway.  It’s much more open now. and part of it is used as a snowmobile trail, but it was still kind of fun to let my mind wander back in time, and think that perhaps I was walking where my Great Grandpa walked.

Below are some photos taken during that walk, appropriate for this weeks “orange” theme for the Daily Post Photo Challenge

Snowmobile marker, with a fuzzy yorkie trail companion in the background.

Snowmobile marker, with a fuzzy yorkie trail companion in the background.

Red Banks Alvar

A treasure of pine needles and leaves under the melting snow.

Red Banks Alvar

Blarney! It’s an orange shamrock!

Red Banks Alvar

Don’t worry, I stayed on my side of the fence! I was hiking in a DNR natural area. Loved the shape of the bark on this tree, and the orange sign.

Until next time

Yorkie butts blazing the trail.

Yorkie butts blazing the trail.

– me and my hiking companions bid you farewell!

Sue

 

Squirrel!


It’s been a weird week and I’m not sure what to talk about.  Actually, I was sure, and then I sat down and now I got nothin’.  Not sure if it’s writers block or exhaustion or ADD.  Not that I have ADD, although sometimes I do wonder, especially when I can’t focus or sit still long enough to string a coherent sentence.

Because I don’t know where to start, I’m just going to start with today, and work backwards.

I had the lovely job this morning of scooping the cat boxes, which led me to discover doggie tootsie rolls that Mr. Lucky thought he had cleverly hidden behind the summer stack chairs.  A smart idea for a dog seeing as it may never be summer again and who knows when next I would be digging around those chairs except for one small detail.  My dog is a terrible poop hider.  All I had to do was follow his little poop trail to the poop jackpot.  Ding ding ding!  Why is this the only lottery I am winning?

I didn't poop on the floor.  Ok, fine.  I did poop on the floor, but look how cute I am!

I didn’t poop on the floor. Ok, fine. I did poop on the floor, but look how cute I am!

Last week, I was hanging out with my friend Geri, and we were talking about the woman’s retreat we are planning for our church group.  Just a small retreat – we do it twice a year and it’s just for a day, but we do seem to pack a wallop of spiritual growth in 8 hours.

This year, our theme is “mindfulness” and learning to focus on the present and find joy and peace in the midst of troubles and chaos.  Yeah – like I’m SO GOOD at that.  “Sue, can you please tell me how you have such peace and harmony in your life?” asked No One Ever.

So naturally, I volunteered to lead the meditation section.  After leaving Geri’s, I sent a panicked text to my sister (who really is an expert at meditation) and begged mercy.  After laughing for 20 minutes (I’m laughing WITH you, Sue…), she sent me a bunch of info and I feel a little less freaked out.  But now I have to practice at home.  Yeah, this should prove interesting, seeing as the only meditative states I have are over ginormous pieces of cake with 3 inches of frosting.  And we’re all out of cake.

One other thing happened at Geri’s.  She showed me a scrapbook/family tree she is working on, and I have to say it’s pretty cool.  She even has photos of headstones and newspaper clippings – a lot of which she found on the internet.  She showed me some sites she used and we started looking for people in my family and pretty soon I’m getting all jacked up about doing my family tree.

I spent most of this past week and weekend digging around the internet, reading old census records and birth certificates.  And you know what?  I LOVED IT. Possibly even better than cake right now.  Which is good, because did I mention we are out of cake? But, I know my personality so what I’m hot after today could be on the back burner next week, so we will see how long I last.  In the meantime, I am having a blast – this is like archeology without mummy curses and sand in your underwear.

In my family tree building excitement I thought “I should scan all my parents photos and my photos so I can add some to my project and have a digital copy of the rest and then put them all in photo albums but my scanner is slow so I should buy a faster one and I need more photo albums…”

And while thinking of this, I remembered our old family movies on 8mm and some on VHS and some on old reel to reel film, so those are now sitting in the middle of my new office because of course I am going to haul them in to Camera Corner and have them put on DVD, because I can’t just have one small family tree project.  I have to have a massive DO-ALL-THE-THINGS project.

Like when I pulled every single one of my photos out of my photo albums in my “Scrapbooking and stamping” phase because I was going to scrapbook EVERY SINGLE PHOTO IN MY POSSESSION. WITH STAMPS! AND WITTY COMMENTARY! AND ADORABLE PAPER CUT OUTS! AND FANCY SCISSORS! AND IT WILL BE A TOUCHING AND BEAUTIFUL GIFT FOR MY CHILDREN WHO WILL CHERISH IT ALWAYS AND SHOW IT TO THEIR CHILDREN AND THEIR GRANDCHILDREN AND IT WILL BECOME A FAMILY HEIRLOOM!

(*Hint*. I’m not done yet and unless I win the real lottery and not the poop lottery and can afford to pay someone to do it, Lindsay and Matt will remain frozen in time at age 5.)

After digging those all out, I found an old SD memory card which I think is from my old camera.  I popped it into my computer and everything froze and my mouse quit working and my photo memory stick I had in my computer fried and after a brief moment of freaking out that I busted my computer, I finally got everything to work again.  This made me realize I don’t have my photos backed up on anything reliable – they are just on my computer.  Which led to a panic attack in the shower and now I have “remote hard drive” on my “To Get” list.  Right there with the photo albums and scanner, and probably a big ass cake for energy because, as I said before, we are out of cake.

Did I mention I also have to do my taxes?

I’m going to need a bigger cake.

Until next time,

Your squirrely friend who is off to find something shiny,

Sue