Washington coast antique store full of stories

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory Marketing Guy

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I went to a presentation a few weeks ago that featured Annie Leonard, author and founder of The Story of Stuff.  The Story of Stuff, if you haven’t heard of it, is an organization that effectively uses video to examine the ways we, as a culture, manufacture, use, and often throw away stuff.

The Story of Stuff message, while perhaps not as personal, is very similar to what Houstory is trying to convey. The Story of Stuff looks at issues from a much more global perspective, examining not so much the individual stories associated with the things we manufacture and buy, but the systemic environmental and economic burdens our throwaway culture places on the planet.

Interestingly, Annie said she can’t look at simple objects anymore without thinking of their provenances.  For example (and I’m paraphrasing), a simple faucet has myriad parts. The handle, the stem, the screws that keep it together. Where was the brass mined? In which factory did the threaded spindle get manufactured? These stories are ever-present in how she views the world and objects within it.

In much the same way, I ponder the stories of the things I see everyday as well. For example, I can’t walk down the street without seeing a house and wondering who lived there. Or if I’m visiting a friend’s house or browsing through an antique store, I can’t help but question who owned the objects I’m seeing, and what their stories were?

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Who once owned this Chia Homer? A mystery remains…

Recently, I visited an antique store on the Washington coast. And, as per norm, I saw history and stories everywhere I turned. Today, I’m going to share a small glimpse of what I encountered in the form of a short video. For purposes of time, I focused on popular culture-type items. I hope you enjoy!

Do you ever wonder about the stories behind your stuff? Let us know what you think. Leave a short comment, send an e-mail to info (at) houstory (dot) com, say hello on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet.

It’s not often a story about a piece of furniture waters the eyes

By Dan Hiestand, Houstory

A few weeks ago, True Value Hardware released a video story on YouTube, simply entitled, “Table.” I didn’t really know what to expect when I watched it — aside from knowing it was at least loosely related to family heirlooms. Upon hearing the narrator’s first sentence about his grandfather going hungry around “this table” during the depression, I knew I was in for something special. I urge you to take 1:30 seconds to watch this beautiful, moving video.

Okay, I didn’t cry. But, under the right circumstances…

Then I encourage you to think about the “tables” in your own life — the things that matter to your family history — and to save them properly (stories and all). By the way, if you have another couple of minutes, take a look at a video The Heirloom Registry produced about a table. Notice any similarities?



What are the things that matter in your life? Do you have an old table or another piece of furniture with a story? 

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.

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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.


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.

Service links ‘orphaned heirlooms’ in antique stores with families who cherish them

Just for a moment, think about all the items (and potential family heirlooms) that could be floating around out there that may have something to do with your family. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all donated things to the local Goodwill or sold items on the lawn during a Saturday morning garage sale, so your presence is likely out there in some capacity.

I’m guessing these items were distributed with some degree of thought and didn’t hold a particularly lofty status in your collection of belongings. What about your parents, though? Or your grandparents? Or your great, great grandparents? How can you be sure they took the same care you did when you were downsizing? (You did take care, right? Of course you did!)

What if Grandpa gave away that  early 1900s family photo? What if your aunt decided the only copy of the 1958 yearbook your father appeared in wasn’t worth holding on to? How do you get those items back?

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Joy Shivar, founder of JustaJoy.com with Dan Hiestand of Houstory at FGS 2012 in Birmingham, Ala.

Enter JustaJoy.com Family Heirloom Exchange.

Joy Shivar is the owner of the company, and is a frequent vendor at family history, genealogy, and antique shows around the country. I first met her during the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in June 2012, and re-connected with her at the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference last fall. Joy’s service is a valuable one for those who seek to add texture to their family trees.

According to her Web site, JustaJoy.com Family Heirloom Exchange is the link between “orphaned heirlooms” in the hands of antique dealers (and collectors) and the families who would cherish them. The service is $20 per year, and includes:

* Complete information about thousands of family-related items listed by quality antique dealers associated with nearly 50,000 families

* E-mail alerts when new items are added related to your  family  (Up to 20 surnames)

* Members can list, buy and sell for free

* No buyer’s premiums, commissions, listing fees or final value fees.

* Sold items remain on the site for research purposes.  No charge for  printing pictures or documents.  (Individual researchers only. Commercial applications are protected by copyright.)

For more information, check out the video below. Have you ever used Joy’s service or anything like it to find family heirlooms? Do you see any value in a service like this? Let us know what you think!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Grand Prize winner announced for Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt!

After a week-long event that included three hunts, 12 blogs and more than $500 in prizes, the winner of the Heirloom Registry Grand Prize Package is Deb Andersland of Gainesville, Mo.

Deb won a very impressive collection of products, including a Flip-Pal™ mobile scanner and books from genealogist Janet Hovorka and Antique TraderMike and I want to thank everyone who participated during the week, including our sponsor blogs. We hope to put together a hunt again in the near future. We also hope that you continue to follow all of these blogs that add such important voices to the family history and antique worlds.

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If the concept of saving the stories behind your family heirlooms resonated with you, don’t miss out on your chance to follow The Heirloom Registry on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest. We’ll keep you up-to-date on the family heirloom/antique/family history universe, keep you aware of fun contests such as the scavenger hunt and provide exclusive discounts on our product line.

And remember: It’s not an heirloom without a story.

-Dan Hiestand, Houstory

Third Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt winner announced

The winner of the third and final leg of The Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt Week is Brenda Ciesla of Conklin, N.Y. Congrats to Brenda!

She will be awarded a prize package valued at approximately $70 that includes products from Marian Pierre-LouisThe Heirloom Registry, Antique Trader magazine, and Denise Levenick (“The Family Curator”). 

The grand prize winner will be announced on Wednesday, March 13, so make sure to check back then. Everyone who entered the hunt will be eligible to win.

Last day of The Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt; grand prize announced!

You’re cutting it mighty close, but you still have just enough time to enter the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt for a chance to win two pretty darn impressive prize packages — including our grand prize!

In fact, more than $300 in great products are still up for grabs — including a Flip-Pal® mobile scanner.

As you may have heard, we’ve already given away a lot of good stuff this past week for Leg 1 and Leg 2 of the hunt. These final two remaining prize packages include a collection of items fans of family history, genealogy and antiques will truly appreciate. Your chance to win ends tonight when the Scavenger Hunt concludes at 11:59 PST, so don’t miss out.

Unless you don’t like cool, free stuff.

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For more information and to play, visit the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt page. Good luck!

Your last chance: Houstory’s Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt week coming to an end

Editor’s note: All of the participating blogs should have their scavenger hunt posts ready by noon on Friday, March 8, so make sure to check back if you don’t see their scavenger hunt post at first.

Well, it’s been a fun week at Houstory. We’ve had a lot of hunters join us along the way, and we’ve given out some great prizes.

Today marks the opening of the third and final hunt of the week. By entering this hunt, you will also automatically be entered into the drawing for the grand prize next Wednesday, March 13.

In other words, what are you waiting for? Get hunting and don’t miss out!

For more information on the four (4) blogs you’ll need to visit during this final hunt — which runs today through Sunday — please make sure to see our official scavenger hunt page.


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Hunt No. 3′s prize package includes:

* How to Archive Family Keepsakes (electronic version)

Antique Trader Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2013

Plan Your Way to Research Success – Webinar-on-CD

* Heirloom Registry Standard Stickers (5-Pack)


Entries for Hunt No. 3 must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. PST on Sunday, March 10. Good hunting!


Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt: ‘A grown-up scavenger hunt focused on celebrating…heirlooms and antiques’

Houstory’s Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt is next week. Are you ready to take advantage of your chance to win more than $500 in great prizes?

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For those interested in genealogy, family history, family heirlooms, historic preservation or antiques, it should be a lot of fun. For more on the hunt, including a schedule, visit the official scavenger hunt  page.

Make sure to follow Houstory at Facebook and Twitter (#HoustoryHunt) for current scavenger hunt updates. In the meantime, here are few comments from those involved in the hunt. Houstory thanks all the sponsors and participants!

“When Houstory asked me to participate in his Scavenger Hunt, of course I said yes. What genealogist doesn’t love a scavenger hunt? It’s what we do, except I’m doing the hiding this time.”  — Caroline Pointer, founder, 4YourFamilyStory.com

“Be it a flour sifter, slide rule, quilt or grandfather clock, preserve the story of your precious heirlooms with HeirloomRegistry.com. It’s easy to order the registry stickers, then snap pics and upload to this innovative site. I won’t always be around to tell the history of our family pieces. My 8-year-old grandson can search by the registry number and read about his second great grandmother’s red ceramic pitcher just like that!” — Pat Richley-Erickson, author of the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog

“The Heirloom Registry takes documenting family keepsakes into the 21st century with its simple and inexpensive method for recording heirloom histories. It’s a perfect fit for the mission of The Family Curator blog – ‘Preserving and Sharing Our Family Treasures’ – and I am delighted to help share this great program with readers of my blog through the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt.” – Denise Levenick, The Family Curator

“We are thrilled to be participating in this special event. What’s not to love about a grown-up scavenger hunt focused on celebrating, researching and preserving heirlooms and antiques? It’s an honor for us to be one of the ‘stops’ in this adventure, which includes so many companies we admire for their devotion to helping people learn from and commemorate the history of their own lives.”– Antoinette Rahn, Antique Trader editor

“Isn’t genealogy just one big scavenger hunt? So if you enjoy ‘the hunt’ like I do, take a break from your family history research and try your hand at this fun online activity. Who knows? You could win something that will help take your genealogy to the next level!” – Thomas MacEntee, founder of GeneaBloggers

“We hope being part of the Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt will inspire family historians to preserve information about those treasured objects.” — Diane Haddad, managing editor with Family Tree Magazine

“I’m excited to participate in this fun hunt that will get people excited about their family history, help them learn more about The Heirloom Registry and give them opportunities to win great prizes.” – Janet Hovorka, President Utah Genealogical Association, author of Zap The Grandma Gap

“We at Flip-Pal mobile scanner are enthusiastic about giving people greater opportunities to easily capture and share their memories. Sponsoring The Heirloom Registry Scavenger Hunt is a great pairing—not only to easily capture your memories—but then saving your scans in a safe place for future generations to use.” – Diane Miller, Genealogy Account Manager for Flip-Pal mobile scanner

“I am passionate about helping people explore their personal history and that of their house or local town. The Heirloom Registry is committed to preserving the stories behind those histories. Partnering with Houstory on the scavenger hunt was a fun way to get genealogists and historians involved in recording family and house history in a hands-on way.” – Marian Pierre-Louis, author at Marian’s Roots and Rambles blog

“It’s such a treasure to have family heirlooms in our home. I love this opportunity to celebrate and remember those who came before us.” — Katie Briscoe, a founder of DIY Del Ray blog

 “We all have family heirlooms – large or small – that need saving for the next generation.” – Maureen Taylor, The Photo Detective