The Houstory Herd: ‘Seeking Family Heirloom Stories’ Edition

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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Do you know of someone who owns a family heirloom with an interesting story? As you know, family heirlooms can take many different shapes and sizes, and monetary value often plays little or no role in the item’s designation as a family keepsake.  If you were to take even five minutes to look around your home, I guarantee you could find several items you hold onto solely because of sentimental value and story. One way to make this determination: what would you take with you if your home was burning?

With all this mind, I have a favor to ask of our readers this month: We are creating a new, professionally produced podcast that will tell the stories behind family heirlooms. But to tell these stories, we need your stories.

 

family heirloom, keepsake

Collectibles are often sentimentally valuable, but not always financially so. (Photo: FOR FLORIDA TODAY )

Can you help us spread the word? Our mission is to preserve the stories behind as many family heirlooms (and houses) as possible, and to make sure they are not only documented but also accessible to the future.

And this all starts with you.

If you hear of or have stories you think might make the grade, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

 

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Natural Resource Conservation. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

Natural Resource

Author: Story of Stuff

Title: “Sailing Past Plastic” – Podcast

Herd-Worthy Because: How do we end the, “take, make, waste cycle”? The Story of Stuff podcast, “The Good Stuff,” tries to answer this very question. On this episode: An interesting conversation about consumerism and one man sailing the seas on a journey to battle plastic pollution.

 

Author: Detroit Free Press

TitleWhen floods ruin family keepsakes, you can still hold on to the memories

Herd-Worthy Because: When disaster mixes with family keepsakes, the results can be tough pills to swallow. “How do you put a value on the things that hold memories? To most, that sewing machine looks old and uninteresting, with a replacement value of a few dollars. To me, it’s invaluable.”

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Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Soup to Nuts: Tracing family history via great-great-grandmother’s skillets

Herd-Worthy Because: One woman’s reflections on her great-great grandmother’s keepsakes, and their place in her family history. “I’ll cook with them knowing that I am only their temporary caretaker. Some day, I’ll pass along the skillets – and the stories – to one of my nieces, and it’ll be her turn to ensure that the memory of these strong women lives on.”

 

Author: Florida Today

Title: “Care, communication key to deciding on keepsakes when loved one dies

Herd-Worthy Because: “It’s important, because this is the very thing that can tear a family apart — fighting over the one thing everybody thinks they should have.” Sad, but very true. Plan now so you don’t have to later.

 

Author: Referred by NGS

Title: “Saving New York’s Neighborhood History One Interview at a Time

Herd-Worthy Because: A very cool oral history project to save the legacy and stories of a quickly changing city of vibrant neighborhoods. How are you saving the stories behind your city, neighborhood, home and family?

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Until we “Herd” again…

The Houstory Herd – August 2014

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

dan hiestand, houstory, heirloom registry, home history book

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You know you are getting old when you start referring to folks  as “young people.” (Actually, you might achieve that designation when you start writing, “folks” in blog posts, too.) Well, I guess I’m getting kind of old because today I’m going to write a little bit about young people and their role in the world of historic preservation.

For some reason, over the past month I’ve seen a slew of stories about the younger generation getting involved with historic preservation projects. As a fan of history — especially history in my own back yard — I love seeing the younger generation take an active interest in the past. To me, that curiosity is something that carries over into many areas of life.

By my estimation, if you are curious to hear about how grandma and grandpa first met, then you are likely pretty curious about lots of other things, such as local politics, world news and the general notion of staying active and making a difference in your community.

To me, curiosity and an effort to understand our history — at whatever scale — is among our greatest virtues.

Take a 14-year-old preservationist by the name of Bridget Brady. Bridget was among a handful of kids who devoted a large chunk of their summer to saving a 167-year-old mansion in Massachusetts. Talk about an inspiring story. It reaffirmed my belief that not every person under the age of 18  is glued to a smart phone 24-7 (although, I do think many are). In fact, some kids are not only offline, they are plugged into the community around them.

 

Vancouver Columbian, house history, washington state

College students have been carefully excavating at Fort Vancouver in Washington state. Photo Credit: Vancouver Columbian

This notion that young people (see, I’m still old) simply don’t care about history got me thinking: What can we do to help inspire the younger generation to care? Taking it a step further, what have you done to help your kids care?

At Houstory, it’s no secret that we primarily focus on saving family history through family heirlooms and house history, which explains our question this week. We would encourage you to sit down, and talk to your kids. Tell them about the things that matter to you. You might be surprised by the results.

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Take the poll below, and let us know what you think.

 

online poll by Opinion Stage

Now, on to The Herd….

What is “The Hearth Herd.” It’s simply a roundup (hence the name “Herd”) of a few stories we’ve seen in the recent past that our fellow Houstorians would likely be interested in. The Herd’s content will be confined to three main categories: 1) House and property history; 2) Family heirlooms; 3) Environmental sustainability issues. Basically, the things you’ve come to expect when you visit our blog.

This is where you come in: If you see stories you think would make our monthly collection, please shoot me an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet

HERD-Sustainability

Author: CBC Radio (#WasteWarrior, @DrTorahKachur)

TitleWhat a Waste: Waste Warriors

Herd-Worthy Because: “If you’ve found space junk in your yard, make kindling out of orange rinds or cure your own urine, we want to hear your story!” A radio series about reducing waste. Aside from the cured urine, we’re on board!

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HERD-FamilyHeirlooms

Author: Ecns.cn

TitleFiguring out history of family heirlooms in Shanghai

Herd-Worthy Because: “There were 109 (figurines) in all, invariably 10 to 12 centimeters in height. But Macaux could not trace their origins, until something caught his eye.It was a label on the trunk, written in French, that read “Orphelinat de Tu Se We, Shanghai,” — the Orphanage of Tu Se We, Shanghai. A date followed: June 23, 1938.”

A story, a label. The Heirloom Registry says, “yes!”

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Author: The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

TitleNew life for the family heirloom: Decorative painters help passed-down furniture blend with today’s taste

Herd-Worthy Because: Great ideas for folks looking to revamp awkward family heirlooms. 

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Author: Miami Herald

TitleCuban immigrants share precious family heirlooms to show history of Cuban exiles

Herd-Worthy Because: Memories of a life since past, experienced through heirlooms of all kinds. “These are not only memories but items of everyday use when Cuba existed as a nation…[These shirts] were on the streets of Havana. They lived there.”

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Author: The Sydney Morning Herald (Contributed by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

Title: “Foster kids to get digital ‘memory box’ to store their precious keepsakes

Herd-Worthy Because: Read this one if you have time.

To help store the keepsakes of the state’s 18,000 children in foster care, leading child welfare agency Barnardos Australia has developed a digital ‘memory box.'” 

What a great and important concept to protect the memories and family histories of our most vulnerable.

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Author: The Emporia Gazette (Referred by the New England Historic Genealogical Society)

TitleOne heck of a hand-me-down: 1928 Model A Ford passed to fifth generation

Herd-Worthy Because: The story behind a 1928 Model A Ford that has trickled down through the same family since it was bought fresh off of the assembly line.

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HERD-FamilyHistory,etc.

Author: The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

TitleFarewell to my great-grandpa’s house, and my sort-of history

Herd-Worthy Because: An interesting — and honest — account of the author’s ties to his grandfather’s central Pennsylvania home. The author discovers how sometimes one’s connection to a place sounds better on paper than it actually feels in real life and how part of honoring a connection is sometimes letting go of it.

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Author: The Cheerful Word

TitleWhy your stories are worth telling: Part 1” 

Herd-Worthy Because:  As the author explains, “You may know your mother or father from a child’s perspective, though you are all now adults, but you may not know much about your parents as the rest of the world experiences them.”

A short piece that discusses collecting and sharing family stories, which the author notes, 86% of boomers (age 48-66) and 74% of elders (age 72+) agree that are the most important aspect of their legacy. 

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Author: Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

TitleAn Obituary Begins With “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Herd-Worthy Because: At 70-year old Joanna Scarpitti’s request, her family wrote her obituary with the first line being a quote from the Wizard of Oz.

Which, of course, got me (and other commenters) thinking about what famous line I’d like to open my obituary….

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HERD-HouseHistory

Author: The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash.)

TitleHouse’s history dug up

Herd-Worthy Because: Another example of young people getting involved in preserving the past.

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Author: Richmond BizSense (Richmond, Va.)

TitleThe historic old house lady

Herd-Worthy Because: A Virginia realtor known as the “historic old house lady” talks about the market for historic homes and the challenge of finding the “unique buyer” who “understands old houses, appreciates the history of it and… wants to be a good steward of it.”

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Author: English Chinese News Service

TitleHistoric house partly demolished ‘by mistake

Herd-Worthy Because: “Honey, did you remember to hold the mail and the newspaper?” Yes Dear. “Did you remember to give the neighbor a key a leave the lamp on the auto timer?” Yes Dear. “Oh, and did you notify the city not to demolish the house while we are away?”

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Author: PreservationNation Blog

TitleHow I Spent My Summer Vacation: An Interview with Teen Preservationist Bridget Brady

Herd-Worthy Because: I’m trying to reflect on how I would spend my summer vacations in comparison to this amazing teenager. The only thing I preserved was my parent’s sanity when I left the house.

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Author: New York Times

TitleHome of Johnny Cash Hopes History Will Help It Rise

Herd-Worthy Because: The Man in Black.

The Johnny Cash Boyhood Home in Dyess, Ark. has been refurbished and opened to visitors.

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Author: Metro Weekly (Washington, D.C.)

TitleLiving in History: 5 Great House Museums in Washington (D.C.)

Herd-Worthy Because: If you live near our Nation’s Capital and you like old homes, you  will want to print this out for some fantastic day-trip destinations. Describes how the “old home experience” has been freshened up for today’s visitors at many house museums.

 

Until we “Herd” again…

‘The Vista House’ – A jewel on the Columbia River

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

I wasn’t necessarily planning on writing a blog entry this week, but I was inspired to when I saw “The Vista House” on a recent trip to Central Washington. I had to share what I saw.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

 

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

 

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

They call this octagonal structure a “house” in the loosest sense of the word. It’s more of a monument/observatory perched 733 feet above the Columbia River below. Designed to withstand the area’s famous winds, the face of the building is faced with ashlar-cut sandstone, and the interior walls are Alaska Tokeen Marble and Kosota Limestone.

In other words, this thing ain’t going anywhere anytime soon.

According to The Vista House Web site, the building — which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places — was built between 1916-1918 by Multnomah County (Oregon), “as a comfort station and scenic wayside for those traveling on the Historic Columbia River Highway, which had been completed in 1913. It is also a memorial to Oregon pioneers. It was formally dedicated on May 5th, 1918.”

During the early part of this century, the building underwent a five-year renovation and was re-opened in 2005 to the public.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

The day we were there was a perfect time to take in the views the property affords. I will say it was pretty darn crowded, and be prepared to stop and start quite often on the way down the mountain, especially if you go by the popular Multnomah Falls trailhead. Don’t let the people and the huge, vicious dogs (see the picture) dissuade you from the journey, though.

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house, dog

 

Vista House, Columbia River, Oregon, historic house

 

 

Three great ideas to reduce family heirloom clutter

For some, the equation is simple. Family heirloom = family clutter. This is understandable because, let’s face it, it can be a challenge to effectively — and attractively — keep and display the precious belongings that have been handed down to you.

 Screen shot 2013-11-12 at 7.36.51 PM

 

While we love family heirlooms, we do understand that being a “Family Curator” is a big responsibility. Case in point: you know that 135-year-old pickle passed down to you by your great-great-grandmother? Yeah, you know the one. How the heck do you display that?

Luckily over the past several years, we’ve kept our fingers on the pulse of what people are doing with their precious belongings, and we are going to share a few of these ideas with you.

Richmond Magazine’s R Home: “Embroidered memories: Sarah Wiley of Huger Embroidery stitches nostalgic keepsakes

Synopsis: “Sarah Wiley has found a way to celebrate and preserve … mementos through her embroidered designs.”

 

Sunset Magazine: “How to mix vintage treasures with your own upbeat style

Synopsis: “Be inventive. If you like the shape of an old piece, hold on to it until inspiration strikes.”

 

Making Lemonade Blog: Quick Ways to Display Heirlooms

Synopsis: “Here’s my advice when it comes to heirlooms: wrapped up in storage boxes, they don’t help anyone.  If you love something and it brings happy memories, find ways to display it so it honors those memories.”

 

The Heirloom Registry

Finally, as all of these folks point out, what good is displaying a family heirloom if no one knows why it’s significant? If you want to make sure its story lives on, we’ve got such an easy way to help. Without a story, a 135-year-old pickle is just a disgusting cucumber.

Do you have any clever ways to display family heirlooms? What are some of the unique heirlooms that you like to show off in your house? Do you feel pressure to display? Let the Houstory Nation know!

Top 12 House History Research Supplies

Researching your home’s history is a lot of fun, but you don’t want to be caught flat-footed if an opportunity to research and collect value information on your property presents itself. In an effort to help out our fellow “Houstorians,” we’ve come up with a list of the top 12 supplies for house history research.

House History Research

 

Notebook/laptop computer: To keep track of everything, of course.

Tape measurer: Try to have one on-hand at all times. Whether it comes to creating a map for your home, or measuring a room – accuracy is of paramount importance.

Camera: A picture is often worth a few thousand words.

Recording device: When conducting interviews, it is helpful to have a device on hand — whether it is a tape recorder or something more sophisticated, such as a digital recorder — that will allow you to record (with permission) the people you speak to along the way.

Large folder: During your research adventures, you’ll likely run across a slew of loose papers/documents that need a home. Eventually, many of these documents can be showcased in your Home History Book, but in the meantime, a folder will do.

Magnifying glass: Tiny print — common in the types of documents you will likely be examining, such as maps or government documents — can strain the eyes.

Tracing paper: For those times when you can’t copy some of the truly historic and fragile documents, or perhaps they are too large.

Pencil: Oftentimes, libraries and historical archives will not let you use a pen on the premises if the documents they house are too fragile or old.

Stapler: Keep the loose stuff organized.

Flashlight: The home historians sometimes has to follow the research trail to dark nooks and crannies in a home to dig up elusive information.

Sharp knife: Need a sample of wallpaper, or paint? This can help.

Mirror: If you are trying to explore hard-to-see areas, such as under an appliance or behind a wall – mirrors can be invaluable.

Is this list complete? What do you like to use when you research your home’s history? For more information on researching your house histories, visit www.homehistorybook.com

Is the family heirloom dead?

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

Are family heirlooms still important?

This week, the Houstory Hearth examines two pieces of evidence — ironically discovered on the same day in a batch of Google Alerts — that contradict one another when answering this  question. It got me thinking: I should take the temperature of the family heirloom movement.

houstory, family heirlooms, heirloom registry

2 articles, 2 viewpoints.

First, the side contending that family heirlooms are a thing of the past for many.

According to an article at United Kingdom online lifestyle magazine Female First, the family heirloom may be on life support.

That Web site cited a survey released by DeliveryQuoteCompare.com, a moving company that recently reached out to 1,456 people (18 or older)  from around the UK to ask them what their “highest safety” priorities are during a move.

To that end, the company furnished  participants with a list of items they consider to be valuable items typically found in a home.  The wide-ranging catalogue included everything from computers to clothing to furniture, and, yes, family heirlooms. The big winner was — drumroll please — the television! Approximately 52 percent of respondents said they considered the television to be the most important item in their home, primarily due to high replacement cost. Not surprisingly, the PC/laptop came in second at 48 percent. Admittedly, if my house was burning, my laptop would be right up around No. 1 on my list, too.

 

family heirlooms

 

Family heirlooms didn’t even crack the Top 10, coming in at the No. 11 spot with 14 percent of the overall vote.

According to Female First, “Respondents to the study were given a list of potential items with the following question: ‘What items would you consider to be Family heirlooms?’ This revealed antiques to be the top heirloom at 51 percent , followed by jewelry at 48 percent and silverware at 36 percent.”

The article continued: “Brits were then asked: ‘Do you own anything that you would consider to be a family heirloom?’ to which the 59% of participants said ‘no’. The remaining 41% said that ‘yes’ they did own a family heirloom. When asked if photographs were regarded as heirlooms, 62% of respondents said that they ‘treasured’ photographs but didn’t consider them to be heirlooms. However, 46% of these said that they wouldn’t be ‘too concerned’ if they lost their photos as a large number were still available on social media.”

Even the study’s author, DeliveryQuoteCompare.com, seemed surprised.

“It used to be the case that the family silver came first,” said Daniel Parry, spokesperson for DeliveryQuoteCompare.com as quoted at Female First. “Now it seems that it’s the family television. Or possibly the laptop. It’s probably a modern take on society; priorities change over time, but it’s sad to think that we’ve gone so far that family heirlooms are no longer regarded as something precious.”

I would be curious to see the demographic information on the study, as in how many males were asked vs. females; how many 20-somethings were asked vs. 50-somethings? Let’s face it, often times the closer people are to facing their own mortality, the more important things like legacy and family heirlooms become.

So, there is that side, which highlights the naysayers who believe family heirlooms have little to no importance when it comes to family history.

The second article is much more anecdotal by nature. But I think it shows that asking that question, “Is the family heirloom dead,” completely depends on the respondent. If I were to ask my 16-year-old niece if she values grandma’s quilt as a family heirloom, she might say “yes,” — but probably for reasons that have much more to do with aesthetics than with sentimentality. You know why? Because legacy — and thankfully, the great beyond — don’t really matter as much to her right now as much as the latest iPhone apps, or filling up her car with gasoline.

Fast forward 50 years, and you’ll likely be singing a different tune. Developing legacy in kids is — much like forcing them to eat vegetables — something they may not like now, but something they will be thankful for later.

Which brings me again to the second article in The Guardian newspaper, entitled, “My family heirloom project.” The project, undertaken by a photographer named Joakim Blockstrom, attempts to catalog family heirlooms through story and photo (sound familiar?)

According to the article, the project has grown in popularity and scope, transitioning from a photographic endeavor to something about family history.

The article stated: “As word spread about Blockstrom’s project, he began to hear from strangers who had objects for him to photograph and their own stories to tell. Gradually, he concluded that we all have heirlooms, though they are not always what you would imagine. ‘I have one person who has nothing from her dad except for one of his teeth. It’s a bit gory, but does an heirloom have to be beautiful?'”

To see some of these stories, visit the article. To me, his project shows that interest in family heirlooms is a passion that exists, and can be tapped.

I can’t tell you how many hours Mike and I  have spent listening to stories about family heirlooms — told by complete strangers — at trade shows, local antique stores or genealogical society meetings. Coupled with hundreds of registered users at our own company, The Heirloom Registry, and shows such as Antiques Roadshow on PBS, and it’s clear to me that there is a large contingency of people who hold passion for provenance.

Family Heirloom

So, there you have it: two opposing views on family heirlooms, captured on the same day. I have my own opinions, but we want to hear yours.

What do you think — are family heirlooms dead? What are the factors that play into whether or not family heirlooms are important (age? gender?) 

 

 

 

Road trip to Oregon’s Elvis shrine, historic bridge house

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory

So, a few weeks ago my wife and I hopped in the car and took a drive from our home in Eugene, Ore. to the sandy — and much chillier — Oregon coast. Our destination was a sleepy town called Florence, a seaside community as well as a tourist destination for many in  the area. Situated at the mouth of the  Siuslaw River, Florence was the site of a barbecue competition my brother-in-law Eric was competing in.

 

DESTINATION: FLORENCE, OREGON. Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Along the way, my wife Tasi and I were met with several welcome distractions — including a stop at Shake, Rattle & Roll Record Shop in Mapleton, Ore., and a photo op of a bridge house just outside of Florence at a place called Cushman Bridge.

First, Shake, Rattle & Roll: Not that I’ve been actively seeking an extensive collection of Elvis collectibles and memorabilia, but if I were this seems like a pretty good place to start. Darrel Dixon, the shop’s proprietor, was a super nice guy for starters. He said he got most of the collection “7 or 8 years ago” from an Oregon woman. She obviously really dug on The King, because the place is a shrine. Two rooms full of stuff. Personally, I have two  obvious connections to Elvis. First, my I share his birthday (Jan. 8). Second — and this is what drew me to the store — is my niece (and goddaugher) Jessica’s affinity for the man, which started when she was probably three or four years old. In my opinion, Jessica is an “old soul” in a lot of ways, which I completely love. Now at the age of 20, she still maintains a mini Elvis altar herself, so whenever I see a chance for her to add to the collection, I let her know about opportunities.

elvis, memorabilia, collectibles, antiques

Elvis Heaven

 

The second stop along the trip was a picture I snapped of an old swing bridge — unofficially known as Cushman Bridge — crossing the slow-moving Siuslaw River. According to information I could find (but not officially substantiate), it was built in 1914 near the unincorporated community of Cushman. On top of it is a house-like structure, which I thought made for an interesting house history shot — even though it was likely never used as a permanent residence.

house history, oregon, siuslaw, swing bridge

The historic bridge house.

 

The final leg on the trip was the barbecue competition. My brother-in-law is a genius when it comes to all things smoked, and his ever-expanding barbecue competition trophy case is a testament to that. This time, he placed first in the rib competition.  And yes, they were tasty. To visit his barbecue world, check out his Facebook page. But don’t blame me if you get slobber on your keyboard.

barbecue

Yes, I got free barbecue. It pays to be a relative.

barbecue, Florence, Oregon

Eric (right) with my father-in-law Jim, showing off his first-place trophy.

Legacy through the stomach: Family cookbooks and family recipes as family heirlooms

This post originally ran Aug. 1, 2012. It details the importance that family cookbooks play as family heirlooms — and in turn as vital parts of family history.

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Publishing Marketing Director

For the better part of two decades, my grandparents lived in paradise. To find this “Eden,” pull out a map of the contiguous United States, and let your fingers inch up, up, north to the Canadian border; then left, left, west to the Pacific.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you reach the part of Washington state that isn’t there. Or rather, only bits of land are visible  — tiny dots amid the cold, salty waters of the Puget Sound. It was on one of these specks, among the San Juan Islands on a place called Lopez Island, that I spent some of my most memorable childhood days.

Lopez Island, Washington state, San Juan Islands, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family cookbook, family recipe, heirlooms, heirloom, family stories, family history, genealogy, family cookbook, keepsakes, keepsake, heirloom registry, legacy, nostalgia, inheritance, treasured belonging, antiques, antique, provenance, heritage, tradition, historical preservation, family valuables, sentimental value, grandparents

Gommy in the garden on Lopez Island.

Lopez is a little less than 30 square miles in area, and is a biker’s paradise because of its relatively flat landscape. During the ’70s and ’80s, when my grandparents Tom and Gerri Walsh lived there, it was still a relatively unknown place compared to the vacation home-laden landscape of today — a retirees’ paradise where everyone (quite literally) waved to everyone they might pass on the road.

For me, what defined paradise as a kid was simple: spending summer days skipping glacier-flattened rocks on Fisherman’s Bay; upturning boulders to search for scurrying rock crabs; sailing to town for warm french fries and cold cokes with my brothers; hot dogs by the fire on the beach…you get the picture.  

Food, of course, was a centerpiece of my memories. I suppose that’s what having fresh Northwest berries with nearly every breakfast (picked straight out of my grandparent’s garden), or dining on crab caught just an hour earlier will do.

I still remember, very clearly, Gommy (“grandma,” for our audience) baking bread in the kitchen, and Gompy (grandpa) picking long, fresh green beans for the night’s dinner.

Lopez Island, Washington state, San Juan Islands, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family cookbook, family recipe, heirlooms, heirloom, family stories, family history, genealogy, family cookbook, keepsakes, keepsake, heirloom registry, legacy, nostalgia, inheritance, treasured belonging, antiques, antique, provenance, heritage, tradition, historical preservation, family valuables, sentimental value

What brought all this up for me was a video I recently watched over at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel. In the piece, genealogist Lisa Louise Cooke interviewed Gena Philibert-Ortega, who authors the blog “Food.Family.Ephemera,”which looks at how food history and family history intertwine. You can hear the full interview at the Genealogy Gem’s podcast page (episode 137).

As Gena and Lisa discussed, knowing what past generations incorporated into their meals brings a family’s history alive in a way other bits of data (such as census records and obituaries) simply cannot. The “Rhubarb Torte” recipe that Gommy submitted to The Lopez Island Cookbook — a 189-page community effort flowered with the dishes of the island’s citizens — is now my “Rhubarb Torte.” Anytime I want to take my taste buds back to the driftwood-lined beaches of Fisherman’s Bay, I’m but a few ingredients away.

Through her palate and her cookbook, a vital part of my grandma’s legacy is alive. Now, it’s up to me to make sure my heirs receive this message.

It’s been more than 20 years since Gommy and Gompy sold their house on the island, and the Lopez of today has a much different feel than the one I grew up with. I think it simply doesn’t feel quite as small as it once did.  I’m glad I have my grandmother’s cookbook to remember it the way I want to.

Lopez Island, Washington state, San Juan Islands, houstory publishing, family heirloom, family cookbook, family recipe, heirlooms, heirloom, family stories, family history, genealogy, family cookbook, keepsakes, keepsake, heirloom registry, legacy, nostalgia, inheritance, treasured belonging, antiques, antique, provenance, heritage, tradition, historical preservation, family valuables, sentimental value, grandparents

The back page of my Lopez Island Cookbook.

For Gommy’s “Lopez Island Cookbook” Rhubarb Torte recipe, as well as some more photos, please visit our Facebook page. Do you have any family cookbooks that have been passed down, or you plan on passing down to your heirs? How about any family recipes? Please share it with our readers, and let us know what you think of our blog. Thanks!

FamilySearch Genealogy Video Series Highlights Importance of Preserving Stories Now

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Director

Too often, genealogists and family historians don’t consider their own stories — or even their own family members — as valuable branches of a family tree until its too late.

Sure it’s great to research the “big branches” of ancestors hundreds of years ago, but why not look a little closer to home in terms of both proximity and time? Yesterday, I stumbled across a great video collection produced by FamilySearch that really illustrated this point.

The “5-Minute Genealogy” series episode I came across, called “Learn From Family,” drove home the importance of sitting down with loved ones to share family history before that option no longer exists. It included tips and techniques for completing the task.

Take a looksy. Let it soak in.

And then DO IT!

Have a great week…

How to Archive Family Keepsakes Blog Book Tour: Caring for Heirloom Clocks

Guest Post by Denise May Levenick, The Family Curator, author of How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012).

It’s not surprising that The Heirloom Registry was born when Dan and Mike Hiestand wanted to share the story of their heirloom grandfather clock. Watches, clocks, and timepieces of all shapes and sizes have been favorite family keepsakes for generations.

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Denise Levenick, The Family Curator

Houstory Publishing and I share a common interest in preserving family treasures, and I’m delighted to share a few tips for clock care from my new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes with readers of The Houstory Hearth Blog.

Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26, 2013 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website for the complete schedule.

 

Saving Time: Caring for Heirloom Clocks

Timepieces are one of the most popular family heirlooms passed on from generation to generation, and with proper care and regular maintenance you can help keep your keepsake watch or clock ticking well into the next century.

Most clocks consist of two distinct parts, the clock itself and the outer case. Grandfather clocks, cuckoo clocks, and mantle clocks are often made of wood and metal parts. Decorative clocks may be constructed from brass, bronze, marble, plastic, or other materials. Wristwatches, pocket watches, and ladies’ brooch watches are usually cased in silver, gold, or a combination of materials.

Denise Levenick, The Family Curator, Houstory, Heirloom Registry, family history, family heirlooms, family keepsakes

If your antique clock isn’t working or keeping the correct time, don’t try to repair or clean the interior workings yourself. Clock repair and maintenance is a specialized skill, and your local jeweler should be able to refer you to a certified clock repair shop. They can also show you how to wind the clock mechanism and recommend a routine for maintenance that will keep it good working order.

Many antique clocks and watches require daily attention to keep running, and this is often the best way to keep the timepiece in working order. Clocks should be cleaned and oiled every two to three years to avoid undue wear of moving parts. If your clock needs replacement parts that are no longer available, or the cost makes repair impractical, enjoy it as an heirloom decorative object.

Care for your clock will depend on its construction material:

 

Wooden Clocks

Like any fine wooden furniture, wooden clocks, are especially susceptible to swelling and shrinking from extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity. They will do best in a room that is comfortable for everyday living, not too hot, too cold, nor too damp.

Treat wooden clocks as you would fine wooden furniture. Do not use aerosol furniture polish or waxes; instead dust regularly with a soft cloth and use solid paste wax annually to keep the wood clean and supple.

heirloom clock, family heirloom, family history

The grandfather clock that inspired The Heirloom Registry

 

Metal and Stone Clocks

Care for metal and stone cased clocks by dusting and polishing with a soft cloth.

Keep china figural clocks in a glass cabinet if possible to minimize dust and potential damage.

Most clocks contain metal working parts, and will benefit from a clean dry environment.

The best housekeeping is often a routine that is regular and minimally disturbing to the item itself. Keep your heirloom clock in a location where it can be enjoyed, yet is out of the path of likely damage. A living room or dining room can be a better choice than a family room filled with active children and pets.

Working or not, clocks are time-honored family heirlooms and a wonderful reminder of a family legacy.

Find more ideas for sorting and organizing inherited family treasures in How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012).

Guest Post from How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia & Genealogy Records by Denise May Levenick (Family Tree Books, 2012). Copyright, 2012, Denise May Levenick. All Rights Reserved. 

How to Archive Family Keepsakes (Family Tree Books, 2012) ISBN 1440322236
Paperback / eBook Family Tree Books, Amazon.com, Scribd, iBooks, Barnes&Noble.com. 10% Savings Coupon ShopFamilyTree.

 

Join the Blog Tour

Join the Blog Book Tour for How to Archive Family Keepsakes January 10-26, 2013 for author interviews, book excerpts, giveaways, and more. Visit the Blog Book Tour Page at The Family Curator website for the complete schedule.

Proceeds from the sale of How to Archive Family Keepsakes during the Book Tour will help fund the 2013 Student Genealogy Grant founded in 2010 in honor of Denise’s mother, Suzanne Winsor Freeman.

 

Blog Book Tour Giveaways

Comment on daily Book Blog Tour Post
Tweet the Tour Twitter @FamilyCurator #keepsakebooktour
Share the Tour on FaceBook, Google+, Goodreads

It’s easy to enter to win a free copy of Denise’s new book or one of the weekly giveaway prizes. All you have to do is leave a comment to the Blog Tour Post hosted at one of the official tour blogs. Random winners will also be selected from social media comments on Twitter, FaceBook, and Google+.

Each blog tour post comment gives you one chance to win; one entry per post per day, please. Leave a comment at each stop on the blog tour and increase your chances of winning. The lucky names will be announced each Saturday during the tour at The Family Curator.

 

About the Author

In every family, someone ends up with “the stuff.” Denise May Levenick is a writer, researcher, and speaker with a passion for preserving and sharing family treasures of all kinds. She is the creator of the award-winning family history blog, The Family Curator www.TheFamilyCurator.com and author of the new book How to Archive Family Keepsakes: Learn How to Preserve Family Photos, Memorabilia and Genealogy Records, (Family Tree Books, 2012).