Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Popcorn, a Mouse, My Dad, and Ice Hockey

I'm a Chicago Blackhawks hockey team fan. Last night I was watching game five against the Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks eliminated the Kings from the Stanley Cup finals in double overtime. A lucky charm -- my tuxedo cat Jefferson -- was laying on the back of my chair; my husband showed up periodically to watch bits of the game; I was eating popcorn while watching the almost four-hour, roller-coaster game.

Eating popcorn and watching the game is tradition, it seems so natural to me -- I've been doing it now for almost 60 years! The only difference between mid-1950s and now? Well, now I microwave popcorn, I have a cat on the back of my chair, a husband who isn't a hockey fan, and there's no mouse! 

This got me to thinking. I know, that can be dangerous, but in this case it was a sentimental thought of times past. Memories, this blog is not just for genealogical research.

Besides watching "Howdy Doody Show" or Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" back then, I remember watching the Blackhawks hockey games with my dad who was an avid sports fan. It was a simpler time sitting on the couch waiting for the television's tubes to warm up. There was no remote to get lost in the couch. We had to get up from our seat and walk across the room to change channels by turning a "dial" or slap the side of the tv box to stop the screen's "snow." This was not the HD tv we know today!

Getting ready for the hockey game, dad would pop corn the old-fashioned way -- on the stove. He used an old stock pot with a lid that didn't fit tight because of all the dents. This made for a few laughs because some of the kernels would pop out onto the floor. Sometimes dad would forget to put the lid on right away and we had kernels escaping like a volcanic eruption, onto the stove and the floor -- much to the displeasure of my mom, but a grand time for me! This seemed to also satisfy our ever-hungry doggie whose keen sniffer tracked down every kernel.

White popping corn -- popped in lard or butter, add some salt, no butter added please.... 
With bowls of popcorn in hand, dad and I climbed upstairs to where the tv was in our old, old house. Our television stood near my mom's bedroom door. We had a tv similar to the small stand-alone in the picture above. Our couch was across the room maybe 7 feet from the tv -- you just didn't sit close. Mom's bedside lamp was usually on when we came up at game time; she would be reading in bed. When the game finally got to her, mom's bedroom door would get closed, but we could still see under the door that her light was still on and probably still reading; she didn't like hockey games.

Mom would insist I go to bed early especially when there was school the next day. Dad would defend my staying up to watch the game. We usually stalled the inevitable. He knew mom would be sleeping soon and never know what time I really went to bed. So we would just keep watching the game and eating popcorn.

I really enjoyed learning about the game from my dad; I watched Bobby Hull play as a rookie. Even now when I see some nostalgic images of the young rookie, I can hear my dad explain why Bobby used a slap shot and how effective it was. I can still see the "Golden Jet" race up the ice then shoot a defenseless goalie. I remember the goalies not wearing masks -- how daring they were. No one wore helmets either. Quite a change from the equipment players wear now. Those were good times.

All that game bonding was great, but the best thing about those times together in front of the "tube" was when dad would tell me to stay quiet and not make any noises or sudden moves. Then he would throw a kernel towards the TV; he was smiling all the time he did it. Eventually a little gray mouse with a cute pinky nose would come out from behind the tv, look right at me and scamper towards the kernels, one by one he would grab one and dash back behind the television until he cleared any evidence of dad's indiscretion.

Time and again, that little mouse would come back and sit at the back corner of the tv and wait until a kernel was thrown to him. He and dad seemed to be old friends. He wasn't afraid to venture out a little ways to grab it either. After all, this was a game for the both of them!

Dad would give a little snicker. There was a twinkle in his eye as he put his finger to his mouth, "shhhh...don't say a thing to your mother!" And he'd toss another kernel across the room. This would go on for quite a while. It was really fun to watch, almost more than the hockey game. I didn't want to go to bed either!

I'm not sure what mom would have done if she knew what dad was doing with the mouse. Mom did get sort of a kick out of the story when she heard me tell it some 20 years later.

I find it fascinating how the smallest thing can spark such a crazy memory. .

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Why didn't I see it the first time?

Why is it when you are rummaging through documents, newspapers, images, and various other items collecting information to add to particular family member stories, you never quite catch every detail until some time later -- maybe even years later?

In just the past week, I answered a couple questions about my mom's sister Florence's interment and her ROWLEY family's final resting place. 

One day last week, Bob mentioned we had a soon-to-expire Groupon for a German bakery & cafe situated on the north side of Chicago, east of the river on Montrose Ave. We decided to have lunch at the bakery's little cafe. Bob never suspected my real mission for going was to visit a cemetery, not to eat at a bakery!

At lunch, I mentioned to Bob there was a cemetery near there I would like to stop at -- since we are here already... (you know how that goes). I got out my iPhone to check on where Montrose Cemetery was and to refresh my memory on whose grave it was I'm looking for, but I couldn't find any mention of it in the phone. I even checked my genie program app, but without information, we couldn't go there -- much to my dismay and my husband's relief...we decided to just go home.

As we left the bakery with our last-minute purchases from the bakery counter (you know how that goes...those smells of fresh baked breads...!) and headed for the car, I felt a little disappointed. Knowing we won't be going to that nearby cemetery, Bob had somewhat of a light step back to the car. He was reveling at the thought he didn't have to go to yet another cemetery to watch his wife traipse around looking for and snapping pictures of headstones. He wouldn't be dragged into the search either! Besides, it looked like rain!

[I never let the weatherman know ahead of time if I'm planning a cemetery visit because invariably the weather turns for the worse and there are 50-mph winds, blinding snow or rain; or the sun is so hot you were wishing the headstones were under some shade near a water fountain! I've been drenched or sun-poached more than I care to mention. So mums the word -- catch him off guard!]

Driving a few blocks west, then turning south towards Irving Park Rd., we came to a red light; my thoughts turned to Acacia Park Cemetery! After all we weren't that far from it anyway and the weatherman was holding any rain at bay. Can't go home without satisfying me with a cemetery fix!

I've been looking for my aunt Flo's final resting place a long time now. All along, I suspected the ROWLEY family graves would be there because my she was a BUSCHICK and her parents and a couple siblings are there, too. It just seemed probable. This was a long shot worth taking. I was hoping the genealogy gods were working on this, too.

I waltzed into the office, very confident of my suspicions and came out not at all disappointed. What luck I had. I guess the genealogy gods were looking down at me at lunch when I couldn't find any mention of that other cemetery. This is why they suddenly sent me here. In Acacia Park Cemetery, not only was my aunt Florence and uncle Lyman there (Section: Tecoma; Lot SW 11; Block 5; Graves: 2 and 3), but so was their son Lyman Jr. and his wife Betty (Grave 1). All had similar headstones lined up, side-by-side near the lane. Very easy to find. I also noticed other similar headstones in line, to the left of my aunt and uncle...sure enough there were more Rowley family...uncle Lyman's mother and father and possibly siblings, too. Then the heavens opened up and it rained hard for about five minutes just as I had my camera out and was snapping pictures. Oh well, I guess the gods can't control the weatherman...

For several years now I have been asking cousins what cemetery they were in, but no one seemed to know or weren't willing to divulge...what ever. Doesn't matter now. So I do feel a sense of accomplishment in finally locating the graves -- with a little help, that is!

Next to our car are the ROWLEY graves with similar headstones with a bowed face.
Starting from right [not the flat faced stone] is:
Grave 1: Lyman Jr. & "Betty"; Florence B. Grave: 2 [should be Florence L.]; Lyman Sr. Grave: 3.

As soon as I got home, I downloaded the headstone images to my computer, cropped them, and uploaded them to

Florence B. Rowley
1896 - Eastern Star symbol - 1987
Find A Grave Memorial #111336732 
Lyman C. Rowley
1893 - Mason symbol - 1975
Find A Grave Memorial #111336834 
Lyman C. Rowley, Jr.
1920 Husband 2001
Elizabeth C. Rowley
1924 Wife 1988

Find A Grave Memorials: #111336920 and  #111336976

I also uploaded Lyman Sr.'s parents' headstone images. The next day I received an email from a Rowley descendant and researcher. We exchanged emails and had a nice conversation. He filled me in on the Rowley's in Iowa and Lyman Sr.'s grandfather the first Lyman. Since the Rowleys are "married" into my Buschick family, I'm not sure how much I want to research collateral lines. I do appreciate receiving information, but have to hold back on pursuing any other than my direct lines. I promised my contact I would go back and get images of the Rowley headstones I skipped.

I have been a contributor to Find a Grave for several years and have uploaded many images with some details and obits. I have made several contacts with distant cousins from various families I research over these past few years. is a great website containing thousands of headstone and cemetery images. Genealogists all over the world search or contribute to this site.

I was updating all I collected on the Rowley family that day into "Reunion" when I noticed I had an obituary entered for my cousin Lyman C., Jr. Lymie passed away over 10 years ago. Funny, I don't remember much about entering it. I'm sure I read it before -- I'm the one who typed it! I do remember a little about him being in the Army during WWII. So, I read the obit again. After all it's only been a few days since Memorial Day and it is nice to reflect on those who served. 

His military accomplishments are quite impressive, especially for being a "combat medic" in one of the worst battles of the European theater. All I ever knew about him in the military was what my aunt Florence always said to us kids who were curious about WWII, "Do not ask him about the Battle of the Bulge." So it was quite a surprise to learn all this about cousin Lyman who was always pleasant to be around, always in good humor, and seemed to not have a care in the world.
He served in the U.S. Army, 7th Corps., 294th Engineer Combat Division, and Medical Detachment during World War II as a Combat Medic. He participated in the Normandy Invasion, June 6, 1943, The St. Lou Breakthrough, the Sweep across Northern France, The Battle of Ardennes, The Battle of the Bulge and the capture of the first bridge across the Rhine River. He was the recipient of three overseas service bars, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with a Silver Battle Star, Good Conduct Medal and a World War II Victory Medal.
I read on about his post-war career as a podiatrist and that he was a Mason; where the wake and funeral would be held. All the normal things you would suspect in an obit...then at the end there it was -- the cemetery -- Acacia Park Cemetery [on Irving Park Rd., Norridge, Illinois]!

How could I have missed the obvious? It would have saved me all those questions to all those cousins all those times and all those emails, not to mention I could have just asked at the cemetery office a year ago when Bob and I were there taking pictures of Buschick's graves just two sections over! Duh!

By the way, I rechecked my notes on my iPhone -- Montrose Cemetery was there all along! Why didn't I notice it earlier? Do-Do-Do-Do.