Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - The Haddam Neck Fair

I am feeling very Sentimental today.  Yesterday Donald & I went to the Haddam Neck Fair in Haddam Neck, CT, something that I did with my parents and my father's parents when I was a child.

Labor Day 1972

Also Labor Day 1972

I hadn't been to the fair in many years, but Donald & I were looking for something relatively inexpensive to do last year and I thought of this and we obviously had a great time because we went again this year.

Walking from the parking field to the tractor pulling ring it almost seemed as if I had stepped back in time.  It looked as though nothing had changed from the 70s until I saw the ATM tent and the Tai food vendor.   Even so, it still feels like a slice of another time.

This was the 103rd year of the Haddam Neck Fair which runs from Friday afternoon through Monday night every Labor Day weekend.  Next year I want to go on Labor Day as we did when I was young and see the antique tractor pull instead of the modified tractors.

Missing from the old days was the volunteer firefighter's dunk tank and pie-in-the-face fundraisers which my father loved to try his hand at, but a wonderful newer addition is a church that fundraises barbequing half chickens over a huge pit served with the sweetest, juiciest corn I've ever had, no condiments necessary.

Due to scanner issues, I don't have any pictures of the five of us at the fair that I can share, but here is one I took of the four of them at our old house.

Getting to Haddam Neck from Long Island means going through Middletown, home of Wesleyan University, where my grandparents lived from the time I was born until they died and where they are buried, at Indian Hill Cemetery, adjacent to the Wesleyan campus.

Both my father and grandfather went to Wesleyan, and my grandfather spent the last twenty years of his career there, as Vice President of Business Affairs.  So the whole town is like a trip down memory lane and even driving through it makes me sentimental.

When we visited the cemetery last year, we found my grandparents headstone tipped over.  The cemetery management took care of the issue right away. We went back yesterday and took these photos.

Click on the last photo to see the view from their plot, it really is spectacular in person.

It can be hard to revisit places like this when three of the four people you shared them with are gone (my father died in 2005) but we made new memories, and we will definitely keep going back.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sepia Saturday 216: Suits and Hats

When I first saw the prompt for this Sepia Saturday, I immediately thought of one of the photos from my grandfather's albums from Bishops College School.  Something about this photo has amused me since the first time I saw it.

Prefects - 15

Bishops College School (BCS) was a prep school for boys only in Lennoxville, Quebec back when my grandfather and some of his brothers attended.  Today it is co-ed having amalgamated with King's Hall Compton, a girls' school, in the 70s.

This photo was taken by my grandfather, George Washington Smith, who was born on February 22, 1898.  He was a student in 1915 when he took this picture which includes his brother Herb (second from left) when he took this picture captioned in his album, "Prefects 15."

What I think I find amusing about this photo is that these four boys don't look like prefects to me; they look like they are having a very serious clandestine meeting, like the heads of four families, or their consiglieri.  Maybe it's the hats.  As was pointed out in the post for this week's prompts, hats did not survive as a fashion choice in the same way that suits have and these days we see them most often in period movies, or at Sepia Saturday.

Thank you for stopping by and giving me an excuse to share one of my favorite old photos.  Happy Sepia Saturday!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday - Musical Christmas Card

I haven't posted to Sepia Saturday in a long time, but while I was checking out some of the other posts, I suddenly remembered my grandparents' Christmas Card featuring my mother playing the piano and couldn't let the opportunity to participate pass me by.

I don't have the year for this Christmas card but it must be mid-late 1940s.  The only thing I remember about it is that my mother often comments that her hands were not in proper playing position when the photo was taken.

Happy Sepia Saturday!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funeral Card Friday - Mathilda A Anderson

This past Saturday we drove out to see my stepmother for a "birthday" post-holiday dinner.  She had mentioned a few weeks ago that she had found a bag of loose photos (oh, the horror) of me at about age 2 or 3.  I couldn't imagine where they had come from.  As an only child of an avid photographer, volumes of photos of my childhood grace my bookshelves.  I just couldn't imagine my father leaving loose photos in a plastic bag all these years.

On the way home we stopped for coffee and I couldn't keep myself from reaching in the back seat for the bag and looking through it.  I was amazed at what I found.  Yes, there were pictures of me but there were also pictures of my dad as a baby that I had never seen before, even one of him as a newborn!  There were also graduation pictures and Christmas pictures and pictures of dad with his Lionel trains.  A treasure trove and the best Christmas gift I could imagine!

It will take me some time to get these photos all scanned and organized but for a start, here is the funeral card of dad's maternal grandmother, Mathilda A Anderson, as well as a photo from the bag, taken in the summer of 1937.

Mathilda A Anderson Funeral Card - Inside
Mathilda A Anderson  Funeral Card - Cover

Mathilda A Anderson Funeral Card - Back Cover

Mathilda A Anderson and Stephen D Matthews - Summer 1937

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Society Saturday - The Greater Pittston Historical Society

It has been over a year since I have posted to this blog, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about my genealogy or even doing the odd bit of research when I could.

After two years out of work I found a part-time job in December 2011.  Ten months later I was promoted and while it was absolutely a blessing, my new position leaves me with little time or energy for research, blog-hopping or post writing.

Last week I was finally able to take vacation and spend two days on a family history trip to Basking Ridge, NJ and Pittston and West Pittston, PA.  It was a fun and educational trip and I had much more success than I had any right to expect considering my lack of preparation.  The success of my trip was due in large part to Ron Faraday, President of the Greater Pittston Historical Society.

Without Ron, I never would have been able to locate the Matthews plot at Pittston Cemetery and the graves of my great-grandparents, Arthur William and Ada Hobbs Matthews.

I had read in a few places online that Pittston Cemetery had fallen into horrible disrepair and it also seemed that no one was managing the property at all.  I really wanted to find the plot and since I wanted to visit Pittston anyway and the old family home was only a couple of blocks away, I was willing to search for it.  I pictured us with plenty of water and bug spray, wearing old sneakers, long sleeves and our socks pulled over our jeans to protect from bigger critters, searching for hours but ultimately emerging victorious with photos of the headstones of the five family members buried in the plot...I had no idea.

About a month before our trip I stumbled on the website and Facebook page of the Greater Pittston Historical Society and discovered that they were in the middle of two weekends of a massive cleanup of Pittston Cemetery.  Before and after photos tell you just what an incredible undertaking it was and what a wonderful job they all did.  I found an email address on the Facebook page and wrote to the society to thank them and all the volunteers for their hard work and ask about burial records.

My reply came from Ron Faraday, the president of the society, with a telephone number for himself and one for the caretaker. A couple of emails later and he had had the caretaker show him the plot and then he met me at the cemetery on a weekday afternoon to show me the graves.

Pittston Cemetery is huge, folks, absolutely huge.  I would never have found the family plot on my own.  If we had decided to start at the entrance and work our way forward, even between three of us, we never would have had time to get to the Matthews plot.

Ron also put us on to the Northeast Pennsylvania Genealogical Society which it just so happens is open  on Thursdays (the second day of our trip), where I was able to find some fun information on my great-grandfather.

So, this is my shout out to Ron Faraday and the Greater Pittston Historical Society.  If you are fortunate enough to be in need of their assistance in your search, I can tell you they will do anything they can to help you.

Hopefully this will be one of many posts about our trip and I will be back soon.

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