Wander project all over the place!


My wife pulled together some of her favorite pictures in her family history project. Well, she started to do that and then stopped. There was a time when she was going to have me print all the pictures she put in her family history project but then decided that seeing them online and wandering them digitally would be better. Better for the trees at the very least. But there is still a folder with pictures from her childhood, and pictures from her children’s childhood as well. Funny how the evolution from child to adult to parent catches you sometimes. It isn’t that we grow wiser with each passing day. Rather with luck, we learn some of the things not to do as we get older.

If I may for a moment since I have your attention wax nostalgic, there have been moments captured by the pictures I share that are treasures for me. I should find value in every picture, and I try. But some pictures now only cause pain. I realized today I don’t share the pictures that cause me pain anymore. It hasn’t been a willful or intentional not sharing. Simply, I don’t want to deal with the pain-sharing those images causes right now. I may never share some of those images. I wonder as he is the gneiss of the family history project if my father felt that way about some of the images. I suspect, knowing my father the non-sharing was more his desire only to share perfect pictures.

How we deal with painful memories is an interesting problem. Sometimes we have to share that there is a pain. Sometimes sharing causes the pain. I am not avoiding the first; I am avoiding the second. I am perfectly willing to accept any pain I cause. I am responsible for the pain I cause myself and others. I am not, however willing to accept pain from others any longer. I do not close the door; I leave the screen door shut. I don’t want to let insects in, just a gentle reminder that the screen is shut. I wish I had a better metaphor, but I don’t. Except to say I don’t believe in closing doors. A closed door, as I’ve said before may never again open. You never know what you are losing every minute the door is closed.

The images that make my wife happy, from her past, our past and of course all part of the family history project.

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Family Historian

Wander project, cities I love (was top 10, but well, its not).


Albums 1026I promised after my top three cities post that I would share my list of top 10 all time favorite cities to visit. My three favorites were shared over the last two days. They will be included in the list as co-top spot so that I will share my top 13 all time favorite cities. The rules are very simple, I have to have been to the city for business or pleasure, and the experience had to be memorable. The list will be different today, (other than the top three) than the similar list I published more than ten years ago.

1. Bangkok

1. Dublin

1. Copenhagen

2. Chicago

2. Bloomington IN

3. London

4. Amsterdam

5. Prague

6. Sydney

7. Canberra

8. Melbourne

9. Kuala Lumpur

10. Seattle

Albums 1134Not being on the list, doesn’t mean I don’t love a city, it just didn’t make my top 10 (13). Chicago is where I was born, and I spent a lot of my early professional career in and out of Chicago. It is a city that I love, in part because of the nature of the city and in part because it also houses the sports teams that I follow (Bears, Cubs, Bulls and Blackhawks). Bloomington Indiana made a list as well, is the place I grew up. Although, in fairness, the two Chicago and Bloomington could also be in that list of all time favorite cities as well.

Albums 1794There is a place I have retired from the list. I have been back, and Barb and the kids have been to this place as well. It is a piece of my childhood that will forever be part of me. The retired place is Cambridge Wisconsin. It’s retired because the two people that made it what it was are no longer with us. My grandfather and Grandmother Johnston represent what Cambridge Wisconsin for me was. It was never Marsden family restaurant or Arbor Dells; it was always them for me.

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Family Historian

Wander project dogs, places and greetings…


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There was a recent movie, A Dog’s Life, that I didn’t go see in the theaters. Not that I didn’t want to see the movie, but just watching the commercials made me cry and I couldn’t go to a theater and cry for two hours. Those are the movies I need to watch at home so I can watch or read something really funny right after finishing the movie. I learned that after reading the book “Marley and me” while traveling. Also, with the journey’s we’ve taken as a family with the dogs around us. I remember every single dog I have ever been around. From Mac the collie, Anna Banana the Dachshund to Frosty and Duo the Great Pyrenees or Phoebe the Newfoundland. Every dog that lived with us changed the course of our journey. Phoebe was a second mother, always watching us and waiting to be with the family. MacGregor was a beautiful collie. He loved us but he was dad’s dog. He lived literally to see and be around dad.

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The journey we take and the ones that dogs take with us really is pretty incredible. First of all, there are those who love more than anything to hang out with cats as well. They see cats the same way that I see dogs. Which is wonderful. They are companions on the road of life! Anyway today’s journey is about the changes dogs make to your family. They, the dogs, have changed as have cats. From their natural and traditional habitats and lifestyle to living with humans. They are the prowlers at night that wander your house and make sure everything is safe. You don’t often hear about guard cats, but guard dogs are not mythical. They are real additions to your home or business. Wandering around at night making sure that everything is where it is and that is where it should be. Sometimes the best part of having a dog or cat living with you, is the greeting when you get home!

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Now, when they get to come with us, in their eyes, that is much better. You see then they can make sure we don’t get into trouble or cause mischief. Raven is always nervous when her boys are out and she isn’t supervising them. Much as Fran used to want to be supervising Jakki, all the time. Dylan has given up trying to train me, other than making sure I don’t yell at the TV while watching sports. Then he nips my feet to remind me to be quiet. We have had dogs living with us now in every house we have ever had. Duo lived with us in our rental house in Bloomington before we moved to Cincinnati. Blackie joined us in Fairfield Ohio and lived with us until we moved to Western Hills. Gwen joined us in Western Hills, Mt. Airy and Greenwood. Fran lived with us in Greenwood and Maryland. Dylan joined us while in Maryland living in Gaithersburg and moved with us to Germantown. Raven joined us in Germantown, three years ago now. Dogs are wonderful additions to our life!.

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dog lover

Wander project Christmas 2015 (and wandering the campus of IU)


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As we wander to Christmas 2015 we see Raven clearly in charge of the driving process. She joined our family after the passing of Fran. In many ways Raven is a game changer. A force of nature, rather than a Labrador. She found a way to be pals with everyone in the house. She is a great car rider, a great walker and great boater. She is also a huge goofball. This taken in the van on the way to Grandma’s house. It is funny how dogs transform traveling. First off you have to be careful where you stop. But you also stop more because you are worried that they might have to go. We tend to stop less now that the kids are older. But more with dogs than we did before if that makes sense. The trip to Indiana from Maryland takes us through Pennsylvania. If we want to take the turnpike it saves about an hour and costs 16 bucks. If we take the on-toll road way then we lose an hour or so but it cost s16 bucks plus the extra cost of an hour of car gas.

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Dad taught at Indiana University, Barb and I both graduated from IU. This is the new media school that IU has added. It is in the old campus actually one building away from the old quadrangle and the Sample Gates. The Sample Gates are the most photographed entrance to Indiana University. They were added after we moved out of Bloomington. I think that Sample Gates is an odd name. I suspect someone named Sample donated the money to build the gates, but still there has to be a better name. Across the street from the Sample gates is Bloomington’s downtown. Right across from the actual Sample Gates (the end of Kirkwood Avenue) is the building that used to hosue the Gables. The Gables are famous as it used to be a lounge years ago. There was a piano and legend has it that Hoagie Carmichael actually wrote the song Stardust in the Gables. I love the song. The link takes you to a YouTube music of the song!

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There is my crew hanging out with Herman B. Wells. When I went to IU Wells was still alive and still active on campus. He was the chancellor at the time I was a student. He was famous for walking campus and talking to people. This picture was taken in the old quadrangle of Indiana University. All the buildings are more than 100 years old. It is also the home of the wooded area in the center of campus and the campus telescope. I got my first glimpse of the universe from that Telescope. We wandered the campus of Indiana University, it was empty because they students had all gone home for the holidays. Well there were a few non-local students still wandering campus but for the most part we got to wander on our own. 2015 was the second straight Christmas trip Jakki couldn’t make, she had to work around the holiday’s. So we were one person short on the trip. As your children get older the moments you get to spend with them become more precious, because eventually they begin to become less and less.

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Family Historian

Wander project Indiana of the past and a side trip to Copenhagen…


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The 1987 Pan Am games were held in Indianapolis Indiana. There was a radio content on our local radio station and I won tickets. I used to win stuff via radio contents all the time. I kind of got out of that business as I got older, but back then the allure of free was, well something. It was amazing to see the quality and level of international basketball that night. I kept this ticket stub in my photo album that had all my pictures randomly stored for future generations. Or more likely randomly stored and then forgotten. As we scanned this album during the family history project a couple of things happened. The first was a reminder of all the crazy things I saved. The second was the changes since that game. First off, this was the first team for the US after Robert Montgomery Knight coached the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal team. This was before the 1992 US dream team (Jordan, Magic etc) when the US was about to hit a low point in International Basketball.

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This is our Collie MacGregor. He was with us for only three years. Mac was a great dog. He loved my dad more than anything on this earth. The day he died was a tragic day for me. The first dog I lost to death. (Anna Banana was given away because we were moving from a hosue in Vernon Hill’s near Chicago to student housing in Bloomington Indiana). The Veterinarian (who still made house calls) told my mother that Mac was going to die that night (it was a Thursday night when he came). My father was out of town until Sunday night. Mac didn’t move for three days but he got up and greeted my dad one last time. That love, that bond is one you don’t forget. In the background of this picture is my sister and I, sitting on the couch in the living room of our house in Sherwood Oaks. Sherwood Oaks is still around. It is on the South side of Bloomington Indiana. You head down Walnut street until it merges again with College and becomes Business 37 heading South. You head past Bloomington High School South and a long business area until you get to a shopping area. It was for many years a Marsh supermarket. turning left there would get you to Sherwood Oaks. When we lived there Dunstan Drive was the second road to the left in the sub division. Now there are several new roads that fill the front section of the sub division. As a kid that front section was empty, and we used it as a bike torture track, to play army and all the other crazy stuff we did.

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This is the picture I took, in Copenhagen 1972. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my father as he, with his manual Pentax 35mm camera and I with my Kodak Instamatic 110 camera took this picture. This was on our journey home after being in Bangkok. The world changed while we were there. Well I changed forever while we were there. I treasure this picture, and the one that dad took. In 2016 while we were in Copenhagen, I made Barb and the kids trek to the Little Mermaid so that each of us could take this picture, of the harbor, of the  mermaid and Copenhagen as my father and I had done 44 years before. Not, as a maudlin recreation but as a tribute to the person whose idea it was to take the first picture. My father, the kids grandfather. They grumbled a little, but they all took the picture. They understand the importance of family history. After all, I probably scanned 1100 images. Between the three of them they actually scanned closer to 10,000 images each. Our final tally, from Barb’s parents, my parents and all the pictures Barb and I took, was 44,000 scanned images. We made a hard drive for each of my sisters, Becca got one, Barb’s brother got one, Jakki got one when she moved out and most importantly my mother got one.

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Family Historian

Wander project, A Bloomington Indiana that was…


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The science education lab at Indiana University. When I was little these labs were in the old University School located next to the IU School of Music and the new preforming arts auditorium. The original school of education (actually where I attended) was a fun place to hang out. But the library was small and stuck in the corner basement of the building. The new building went up long after I graduated but it is very nice. It is also a little further into the old dorm area of campus rather than in the middle of the area by the Presidents House. (President of the University). It was, back in the day, nice to go to class and then during breaks wander around the wooded area between the Union and the old School of Education. The old school of education has been renovated and is now part of the ever expanding Indiana University school of Music. Anyway we visited the new facilities with the kids and my parents a few years ago. This is the picture I printed and had on my wall, and I think I also gave a copy to my parents with the inscription just as it appears in the image there. Young Scientists destroy lab!

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When they moved back into town on Kinser dad of course planted more Apple Trees. He was the Johnny Appleseed of Bloomington. Mom and dad owned four houses in Bloomington and each time they moved, they left apple trees. Every fall we would all gather and pick apples, dad would roll out the cider press and we would make cider. The fun thing about making fresh apple cider is the taste. The unfunny thing about making fresh apple cider is the many bees that the process attracts. I have no idea how many bees got in the apple cider during the annual event. This was not a machine based apple cider press. This was a human powered old fashioned cider press. I think that was 1/2 if not more of the fun. Picking the apples, throwing them into the large wooden container on top (after washing them) and then turning the crank. There was a bag that caught the pieces of apple skin and core that was produced so all that came out was cider. There are a couple of commercial orchards near Bloomington. One of the North side of the city and one on the West side a little further out in the country.

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Trips to Melton’s orchard were always anticipated. One year when I was younger, may 8 or 9 years old we got a mix of red and green apples (My father loved Apples more than anything). We took them home and for some reason we left them in the old dining room on Dunstan drive and went to do something else. We came back to two less bags of green apples and a very full and uncomfortable Newfoundland laying on the floor of the living room obviously having eaten all of the green apples. The other big thing the kids did besides ruining labs and apple cider when visiting mom and dad’s on-line house was race down the long driveway on various motorized contraptions mom and dad kept. The one in the picture was the flying turtle. The kids would go out when hey arrived and spend hours going down the hill. Then walking back, and going down the hill again. I have pictures of this event occurring as early as 1996 and going on well beyond that (this one is from 2006). It became a family tradition. The one with the flying turtle of course was the one who went the fastest!

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Family Historian

Wander project Bloomington Indiana 4th of July Parade


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The wander project is about sharing memories. Often, they are my memories and don’t always coincide with those of my family. Hence the occasional modifications of what is shared. My youngest (by youngest I am supposed to say significantly younger than I am) used to work for a company that had an office facing the main North bound drag of Bloomington (College Avenue). Its interesting that it is named College, because it is one of the few streets on the West side of Bloomington that doesn’t actually touch part of campus. We would, as you can see from the picture sit outside that office and the entire family would enjoy the 4th of July parade. Memories of those parades are something I treasure. First off watching the girls prepare for the parade was always fun. Sometimes it was sunny (and really really hot) sometimes it rained (but luckily was still really really hot). But it was always the entire family (well almost always entire, sometimes Dad skipped the event and stayed home cooking).

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Every Fourth of July, St. Patrick’s day, Thanksgiving day, Rose Bowl new years day parade has the same theme. Old cars, fire trucks and floats. Oh year don’t forget the marching bands. Bloomington is really two cities. It is the city that hosts Indiana University. Or the other way around. For 9 months of the year the city and the University are wound together always and inseparable. There are times that the University is frustrated by the reality of small towns. For example there is no traffic in Bloomington so to speak. The worst case you will run into of traffic is around the IU Athletics facility. Then you will experience Chicago or Seattle type traffic. You won’t experience New York, L.A. or DC type traffic but its bad for a time. I suspect at that moment the university regrets being in a small town without the infrastructure to support the traffic. The town, I suspect also has moments like that. A sewage system that has capacity changes of roughly the size of the entire town. But for the most part the two co-exist happily. They are simpatico and have similar goals.

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July is a time when the University, normally between 30-40 thousand students is down to 10-15 thousand students. It is the peak of Summer II in the college. Most of the students have wandered off to their homes. So the town is less congested and less of a small city, more of a small Indiana town. It is an interesting transition you see and feel every year. By mid-August the students begin again to arrive and the city changes back to a University town. So perhaps the 4th of July parade is more than simply a celebration. After all, the actual date is July 2nd. The signed document sitting for two days before announcements were made. The biggest 4th of July parade in Bloomington was 1976. That of course to be expected. But each year the parade was a moment in time where we were all together. It is also an event that you can enjoy. Sitting by the side of the road and watching the many pieces of the parades. If you are smart, you can pick a spot that allows you to get in and out quickly avoiding traffic as well!

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Family Historian