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22 November 2016

Mayflower Links

It's that time of year, when some genealogists (and the media) turn to thoughts of ancestors who actually celebrated the event, popularly called the first Thanksgiving. While my ancestors are not among the Mayflower passengers (mine all arrived with the 17th-century Dutch, Norwegians, Huguenots, Swedes and a few English and Welsh stowaways (I suspect), plus a number of early 18th-century Swiss and Germans), my husband's line goes back to a famous couple who arrived in 1620.

Descent from Mayflower passengers John Alden and Priscilla Mullins

John Alden (Sr.) [ca 1599-1687] = Priscilla Mullins (Molens) [ca 1602-1680/87]
Joseph Alden [ca 1628-196/7] = Mary Simmons [ca 1641-after 10 March 1696/7]
Isaac Alden [ca 1666-1727] = Mehitable Allen [1664-after 20 October 1727]
Captain Ebenezer Alden [1693-1776] = Anna Keith [1695-1775]
Abigail Alden [1721-1762] = Ebenezer Byram Jr. [1716-1762]
Mary Byram [1755-1819] = Silas Ayres [1749-1826]
Hannah Ayres [1781-ca 1832] = Isaac Pierson [1779-1859]
Byram Ayres Pierson [1801-1886] = (3) Catherine Holflick(Hossick) [1810-1890]
Isaac Pierson [ca 1847-1911] = Katherine Maybee [1850-1887]
Claude (née Pierson) Gormley [1886-1942] = Cleo (née Cummings) Endicott [1902-1975]
Leo C. Gormley 

It is interesting, genealogically speaking, to learn about some well-known descendants of this couple, such as:
President John Q. Adams →Ruth Alden = John Bass →John and Priscilla
William Cullen Bryan →Jonathan Alden =Abigail Hallett →John and Priscilla
Marilyn Monroe →Elizabeth Alden = William Pabodie →John and Priscilla
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow → Elizabeth Alden = William Pabodie →John and Priscilla
Vice President Dan Quayle → Sarah Alden = Alexander Standish →John and Priscilla
Dick Van Dyke →Sarah Alden = Alexander Standish →John and Priscilla
Orson Welles →Elizabeth Alden = William Pabodie →John and Priscilla

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours. Gobble up!

Graphics thanks to the kind permission of:

24 September 2016

Warning Words to Heed
by Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2016
It has taken me a few years to smarten up, but I have finally broken the code. I think. As one of the elders of the tribe, I want to impart these things to you:
There are warnings in words. Watch out for them, such as:
·       Simple
·       Fast
·       Quick Start
·       Easy Open
·       New and Improved
Simple often appears together with instructions and when it does, run. The instructions will be neither simple nor easy to follow. You’ll be lucky if they are in English. Be prepared to spend hours, perhaps days, trying to figure out how to call someone on your new phone with its “simple instructions.”

Fast is a trap word. It is designed to snare men, but women fall for it, too. We all want to be fast in doing things and getting a project done — heck, it’s the American way. Forget it. If the manufacturer claims it is fast or you can put the product together fast — run away as fast as you can.

Quick Start is dangerous. If the regular start doesn’t work quickly and reliably, why did they have to add a “Quick Start”?

Think about that. Moreover, if the Quick Start works too quickly, you probably will not be able to follow the Simple Instructions. Just saying.

New and Improved? You mean I have to explain this one to you? That means it is still the same old product only in a smaller size and a bigger price in a new box. Improved refers to the profit margin to the company.

For anyone over 30, the words “Easy Open” should ring bells — loud clanging church bell-type. It means there is no way on this earth you can open that package without the help of box cutter, scissors, knife, hammer, lightsaber, gun or dynamite — or all of the above. And, if it also says “child-proof” no one over five years of age can open it — without big power tools.

I know whereof I speak. Following some “Simple Instructions” recently it took me three days to figure out how to input phone numbers into our new phone system. I still haven’t learned to create the “fast keys” — you know where you can punch 1 to ring your #1 kid to help you figure out something in your Quicken program because he’s an accountant.

My bank’s “fast start” wound up locking me out of my own account, forcing me to call for help. Talk about adding insult to injury. I consider myself semi-techie, having grown up with computers, and once upon a time was a pioneer road warrior carrying my laptop and accessories with me on my worldwide travels.

Once I was giving a PowerPoint presentation at a conference and my computer froze up. I just gave it mouth-to-mouth and continued. Just kidding. Actually, I flipped over the laptop, popped open the battery case and then reconnected it and it worked perfectly. That’s an old trick a friend taught me along the way.

Imagine my surprise the other day when my husband’s laptop “hung up” and I told him to do that and he says, “But, I can’t open the battery case.”

I couldn’t either.

Who on earth would think to get a toothpick and stick it in the hole above the battery case and turn it so it (the battery case) will pop out?

That’s what I learned by “googling” help for opening a battery case on a particular laptop computer.

Words and toothpicks are important. Pick them carefully.

23 June 2016

Cat on a Hot Skateboard

Cat on a Hot Skateboard
By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (c) 2016

Sometimes I become so involved in researching and writing about the past that I forget to record what’s going on in the present. That may just be a personality quirk of mine. It also might be an indicator of a brain disorder from which I have suffered for decades.

Living in a small gated condominium community consisting of 38 owners — mostly much over 55 year olds — it is not exactly party city. In fact, except for a few strange ones who stay up until 10 p.m. or gasp, later; it is pretty quiet around here most of the time.

However, once in a while exciting things happen. The other day, we had a sprinkler head burst and spurt forth enough water to flood a driveway. It needed washing anyway. Just as the landscapers were trying to fix that problem, down at the other end of the community a flooded water meter erupted and the city was called to fix it (their meter, not ours).

The landscape crew also discovered some standing water outside one of the homes and when they dug down they found a broken water pipe, which had to be replaced quickly. It was water, water, everywhere. Of course, in the Pacific Northwest in April, one doesn’t get too excited over wet things.

Our landscape committee has been busy lately getting rid of some sickly plants and replacing them with 170 new ones. Actually the count is 169, because one of the azaleas has disappeared. It was last seen the other day in front of Unit 13-A, awaiting to be planted in a lovely location. I was drafted to be on azalea watch all week, but so far, no sighting of the fleeing flowery shrub. We may have to get Marcie’s toy poodle to do some sniffing around to find it.

Like many communities, we have a few rules pertaining to pets and owners. One of the rules is that all pets must be on a leash or carried in your arms (and owners must, of course,  clean up the poop and are responsible for their pet’s behavior). Imagine the surprise to see an unleashed cat on a skateboard sailing down toward the RV parking lot last Saturday. Close behind was a girl chasing it. Neither the girl nor the cat was wearing a helmet (another transgression of our laws). The Neighborhood Watch patrolman got a workout writing tickets for those violations — and tracking down the grandparents who had allowed such outrageous behavior.

Just when things began to settle down, a drone flew over the community, making lazy circles in the sky and frightening some of us who were enjoying the sun on our patios. Immediately, or so it seemed, a distraught woman appeared at our entrance gate, crying for help and begging to be let in. One of the community’s board members happened to be doing some work near the gate and heard her cries. He learned that she and her husband had been in Cirque Park (which abuts our community on the west) flying his new drone when he lost control of it and it flew down into our community.

Eventually the errant drone was found on the roof of Unit 17-B and returned to the tearful lady, along with some words of advice about what will happen next time their drone wanders into our air space. Something about “finders keepers; losers weepers” I think.

Obviously our governing board is going to be writing some new laws about unleased cats on skateboards and wayward drones that invade our privacy and disrupt our dull, drab lives.

Meanwhile, just got a tip about an azalea that’s hiding out in back of Unit 19-A, pretending to be a rhododendron.  Gotta run.

15 February 2016

In Search of Taillights, Elephants and the Ugly Patrols

By Myra Vanderpool Gormley (C) 2016

Just when we were talking about taking an early Spring driving trip out here in the Far West, news arrived that a state representative from Missoula, Montana has introduced House Bill 365, which as I understand it, means yoga pants will be illegal to wear there, along with other garments that reveal too much of one’s anatomy.

At this stage of my life, I’m into covering up as much as possible, but I do resent being told that I can’t pack my yoga pants if I am going to or through the Treasure state.

I also discovered that in Montana it is illegal for married women to go fishing alone on Sundays, and it is illegal for unmarried women to fish alone at all. That does it. Scratch “the Big Sky Country” off my list.

Having spent some of my early life in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, I am aware that there are some silly laws on the books in those states. State lawmakers have way too much idle time in my humble opinion. How else can you explain that Kansas actually has laws on the books that:
  •  Ban shooting rabbits from motorboats. I never saw a rabbit anywhere near the water when I lived there; and actually never saw any water on which motorboats could cruise in those wheat fields either.
  • Require pedestrians crossing the highways at night to wear taillights. Really? Have you seen any taillights for humans lately? Do they come in various sizes and styles? How do you wear them? Will they go with my vacation wardrobe and look good with my yoga pants?
In Oklahoma, it is against the law to:
• Wear your boots to bed. I bet my granny was behind that one.
• Be tattooed. Probably lots of lawbreakers roaming the Sooner state now.
• Read comic books while operating a motor vehicle (guess texting and using smart phones are OK though — along with fracking.)
• In Tulsa, you can’t take elephants into the downtown area. No problem. My elephants never had any hankering to go there anyway.

Texas ranks up near the top with crazy laws and I was lucky to escape from the Lone Star state before getting arrested. I had no idea I was breaking the law by consulting the Encyclopedia Britannia. The entire set is banned in Texas because it contains a formula for making beer at home. Imagine that. Now you can just Google “beer making” until the Texas Rangers catch you.

• It is also illegal to shoot a buffalo from the second story of a hotel. Always stay on the ground floor, on three, or above— if you’re into buffalo shooting. Problem solved.
• It is against the law to milk another person’s cow, too. Somehow, this activity has never come up — probably because I buy my milk at the supermarket and quit milking any cows when I left Oklahoma. 
Down in Houston it is illegal to sell Limburger cheese on Sunday. Dad would not have liked that one bit. He was against any restrictions on cheeses. Over in Texarkana, you can’t ride horses at night without taillights. What is it with all the taillight laws?

When I moved to the West Coast, I thought I had escaped from the crazy laws, but I was wrong.
California has almost as many as Texas, including:
• Women cannot drive in their housecoats. Really? I didn’t know there was a dress code for drivers — or is it just for women?
• Toads may not be licked in Los Angeles. Anyone seen the Toad Police? Now that’s an ugly job.
• Women can’t wear high heels in the city limits of Carmel, but guys can.
• In San Diego, it is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar. What is it with all the laws about shooting rabbits?
• In San Francisco, if you are classified as “ugly” you can’t walk down any street. Only place I know of that has “ugly” police patrols. Do you have to carry an “ugly” ID card?
• You better keep your elephants on a leash if they are going to stroll down Market Street in San Francisco. I had no idea we have so many elephant problems in this country.

Utah also has its share of goofy laws too, including:
• It is illegal not to drink milk. Watch out for the milk police in the Beehive state.
• It also is illegal to fish from horseback. Well, there goes my vacation fun.
• When a person reaches the age of 50, he/she can then marry their cousin. But, the law doesn’t specify which cousin or the degree of closeness — first, second, or thrice-removed? The genealogists let that law slip through.
• In Salt Lake City, you can’t walk down the street carrying a paper bag containing a violin. Evidently, tote bags and backpacks are OK though — and violas.

In Nevada, where one would expect some crazy laws, it is illegal to drive a camel on the highway. Says nothing about elephants though.
• Out in Elko if you are walking the streets, you are required to wear a mask. (Note to self: Better pack masks to use while in the Silver state.)

Arizona has more than its share of weird laws, including one that forbids donkeys to sleep in bathtubs. Now, just where can one let one’s ass sleep?
• In Tucson, women may not wear pants. The brilliant lawmakers neglected to specify whether these are under or outer pants, so ladies, wear any at your own risk.

In Oregon, whose state universities’ mascots are Ducks and Beavers — a place where you’d think some reasonable lawmakers exist — I discovered that
• You can’t eat ice cream on Sundays. Well, I’ve broken that law more times that I care to count.
• Dishes must drip dry (what moronic lawmaker came up with that idea?)
• You can’t bathe without wearing “suitable clothing,” i.e., that which covers one’s body from neck to knee. Are they going to be checking in my bathroom? I think not.
• In Klamath Falls, it is illegal to walk down a sidewalk and knock a snake’s head off with your cane. Pity.

Washington, my adopted home state, has a few strange laws on the books too. In the Evergreen state, it is against the law to:
• Buy a mattress anywhere on Sunday or to buy a TV in Spokane -- on that day.
• Pretend that one’s parents are rich. That’s never been a problem for me.
• In Bremerton, you can’t shuck peanuts on the street. Maybe that’s to protect the seagulls who are allergic. Why don't those birds just wear ID bracelets like the rest of us?
• In Seattle, you may not carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length. (You have to realize how much Viking blood runs through Seattle pioneers to appreciate this law).
• In Wilbur, it is against the law to ride an ugly horse. The ugly police are everywhere out West. So watch out which horse you pick to ride — if you are ever in Lincoln County.

So, if you’re going to vacation out West this year, watch for all the ugly patrols, rabbits, and elephants — and don’t forget to turn your personal taillights on. I hope Costco has some of the latter and that they match my vacation attire, especially my yoga pants.