Not sure Grandma Liked it or Hated it …

Roseville 278-4

This Roseville piece of pottery was always on top of the living room bookcase at my grandparents’ house. Grandma Florence had a habit of keeping items visible for whoever gifted her with something (see earlier page on the chair from Emma Myrtie) if they might come into the house and look to see if she still had the item. But it was always there and it was actually a quality piece of pottery, so maybe she liked it and it was a safe place to put it. When she decided to redo the living room furniture (also see earlier page on the chair) she chose colors that really went with this piece of pottery. I really like the branches of the pine tree and the pine cones that seem to grow out of the piece.

I was surprised to see it in the “stuff” that was at my parents’ home when I was preparing the items for an estate sale prior to selling the house itself. I tagged as not part of the sale. The people handling the sale wanted me to keep a number of other pieces that they thought were of value — a Red Wing vase plus some other items. But, when you are already living in a fully furnished home, there is only so many things you can justify keeping. So, the vases: gone; the Roseville Pottery: save.

#heirlooms

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Grandma strongly disliked this chair …

My Grandma Florence always hated strongly disliked this chair. As long as I can remember it was in the corner of Grandpa and Grandma’s living room. Pretty much shoved to a place of no use. It was a “gift” from my grandfather’s boss’ wife. Emma Myrtie decided that Grandma needed it for her home. This was back in the 1930s when my mother and aunt were still children. Originally the chair had the usual 1930s upholstery of a red, almost carpet-like, material. Grandma, in the late 60s had a gold slip-cover made for it, but that did not help, she still kept it in the corner. Oh, and the springs had sprung, so it was not that great to sit on. But, I found it a great place for me to sit, since no one else would sit there. When Grandma moved from the family home in Detroit to her apartment near my aunt, the chair was not going to make the trip. I had just gotten my first apartment after college, and employment, and asked for the chair.

A number of years after my saving of the chair, my wife and I had it reupholstered (and the springs re-tied!) putting it into its current state.

When I asked my mother why Grandma kept the chair, even though she disliked it, a story ensued.

Emma Myrtie was a very headstrong wife of Grandpa’s boss. It seems Grandpa and his boss got along quite well. To the point that the families shared vacation time at the Myrtie’s cottage on Detroit Beach, Lake Erie. Grandma was mad because she did not want Emma’s cast off furniture, but had to keep it because the Myrties were in my grandparents’ home quite often. If Emma was not happy it could jeopardize the use of the Detroit Beach cottage, not to mention, Grandpa’s relationship with his boss.

In the long run, I won. I always liked the chair and after we had it reupholstered and the springs fixed, it is quite comfortable to sit on.

#heirlooms

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Grandpa Weaver’s Pocket Watch

This is my great grandfather’s (Lemuel Weaver’s) pocket watch. It was a wedding gift from my great grandmother, Effie Clarissa Lee.

(The smaller of the two watches belonged to my grandmother. More on it in a later blog).

The hunter case is engraved with his initials LLW (Lemuel Weaver). My grandfather, his son, said his father had no middle name, so the second L was for balance. The chain is original as are the duel fobs.

OK, now why do I have this watch? When I was in high school, I was on the Varsity Debate Team. For our meets, I had to wear a suit and tie. My suit at that time happened to be a three piece with vest that had watch pockets. Grandpa Lee (one generation back we called our grandparents by their first names — Grandma Florence’s insistence. Two generations back they were always by last name as was the custom of my mother’s generation) had a watch that he always wore when dressed in a suit. It had been a gift from Grandma Florence and my mother had used it to teethe back in the early 1920s – her tooth marks were on the case. Well, Grandpa decided I needed a pocket watch to complete my look. He was not about to give up his watch, but he had his father’s which he offered to “loan” me with no return date. On debate days, if I ever walked into a bathroom, cigarettes were put out and flushed and then curses rose up when they figured out I was a student not a faculty member.

Now, just to clarify why Grandpa Lee and Grandma Florence were not Grandpa and Grandma Weaver. Grandpa’s mother, Effie Clarissa Lee Weaver, was my mother’s grandmother. She was always referred to as Grandma Weaver (Grandpa Weaver passed away in 1929, Grandma Weaver in 1945), as was my grandmother’s mother who was always Grandma Koontz. My older cousin was born in 1948, three months before my older brother, and Grandma Florence declared she was NOT going to be called Grandma Weaver at this point. Grandma and her mother-in-law did not get along at all. So, it was at Craig’s birth that the use of first names came into use. While for my brother and I, the custom was applied to our paternal grandparents as well, for my cousins, they still called their paternal grandparents by their last name.

#heirlooms

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From Grandpa Koontz, 1857-1914

Keep me nice & clean or I will tell what I have seen.

This is a very unusual piece from Grandma Florence’s collection of “pitchers” . The full text of what runs around the item appears under the picture. Written on the bottom of it, in a child’s print was the title of this article. I have no idea who wrote this — both my aunt and my mother were born 5 to 9 years after Grandpa Koontz (Grandma Florence’s father) died.

For the uninformed the “pitcher” is a miniature chamber pot (for the truly uninformed this was used as a inside toilet before there was indoor plumbing and it was too dark or too cold or too urgent to make the run to the outhouse.) Now, doesn’t the text that runs around the item make a lot more sense?

I guess keeping it with the rest of her collection in the china cabinet showed Grandma had a sense of whimsy.

So why would I choose to add this to my blog? Because it triggered some memories.

First, my mother’s parents used to use the cottage of Reg and Hazel Adams on Mullet Lake during the summer and Mom would take us up there (I think the trips coincided with my father’s 2 weeks of Army Reserve camp). Anyway, the cottage was very rustic — the only indoor plumbing was a water pump in the kitchen. There was a second pump in the front of the cottage and we used to want to be the one charged with priming the pump and getting it going. Since the only water was a pump in the kitchen, there were no bathroom facilities in the cottage. The outhouse was back behind the cottage near the woods and train tracks. God bless Grandpa, he took the job of emptying the outhouse collection bucket in stride and never complained. I will admit to holding it until we were near a restaurant or gas station.

Second, I accompanied my other set of grandparents on a trip up to Mesick, Michigan, were they visited older friends (yes, even older than my grandparents!). We started out in a quaint cabin in Mesick with pretty much modern facilities. But, Grandma was not happy with the way the kitchen was outfitted. Sometime during the week, we moved to another property that Grandma pronounced “Much better”. I looked to find the bathroom and was told it was out back. That night, Grandma insisted that I go to the bathroom before hitting the sack. My introduction to the chamber pot. Grandma grew up in lumber camps near Rogers City and Newberry and was very familiar with the process. Grandpa grew up in Detroit, so I do not think he was as enchanted. We moved back to the not so nice kitchen unit that had indoor plumbing the next night.

#hierloom

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Grandpa might have been a little off his rocker

My Grandfather Lee [Weaver], born in 1893, had a child sized rocking chair; my grandmother also had a child sized rocking chair (with that much in common, no wonder they married). As a child, my brother, my two cousins, and I all had time in the rockers. Since Grandpa and Grandma each had a chair, and their two daughters each had two sons, the squabbles were limited to when the 4 of us were together.

At the time my grandmother decided to sell the family home in Detroit and move into an apartment near my aunt, the chairs that had been kept from each of their childhoods were not going to make the cut to go to the apartment. Each of her daughters got a chair – my aunt got Grandma’s and my mother got Grandpa’s.

My daughter rocked in it at her grandparents and each of my four grandchildren have discovered the joy of a rocking chair either at my parents’ home or here at my house after my father’s passing and my inheriting this family heirloom.

#heirloom

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Not Sure Why Grandma and Grandpa had this picture hanging …

This picture was always hanging in my grandparents’ bedroom. I never really understood why or what was the significance. Grandpa was a devoted dog person, had very little use for a cat as a pet. My mother and aunt were the same. Grandma never gave an indication, but apparently went with the flow. Another of those lost opportunities to just ask “What is it?” and “Why do you have it on your wall?” Even with no intelligence about its provenance, I decided to keep it.

Then I “crowd sourced” the origins of the work. A colleague was kind enough to research, find, and send me the following:

So, now I know what it is. Still have no idea when Grandma and Grandpa had it hanging in their bedroom. Based on the age of the item, it may have come from either one of their parents or possibly grandparents.

In any event, I have the memory of it whenever we went to stay at my grandparents’ house for the evening or for the rare night sleep over. In the summer, were were allowed to bed down in Grandpa’s room (where this picture resided) if we were just being put to bed until we were picked up. Grandpa had a number of allergies and his room had the window air conditioner.

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Grandmother Weaver’s Dining Room Chairs

Effie Clarissa Lee Weaver’s Dining Room Chairs

My great grandmother, Effie Clarissa Lee Weaver, had six chairs around her dining room table. At the time of her death in 1945, my grandparents, her son and daughter in law, stored the complete set in their basement. Over the years, as my mother and aunt got permanent homes, the set was divided up — my grandparents kept 2, my aunt and mother each received 2.

Mom had hers in the basement of our house. Apparently, at some time, my father decided they would make good saw-horses. One of his carpentry projects cut thought one of the sides of the seat. Mom was a bit mad. I think it was soon after that incident that my father was gifted with saw-horse brackets to make actual saw-horses with 2X4s as the legs and cross bar.

My aunt found out that Goodwill Industries would refinish the chairs and took hers and my grandparents chairs to be done. Mom was still mad about the damage and would not send her set.

As I recounted in the section on Grandmother Weaver’s desk, in the later 1960s the antiquing of furniture kits came on the market and I asked if I could have my way antiquing one of the chairs to go with the desk. My mother agreed and I antiqued both the desk and chair.

The chair was meant to have a caned seat. My grandmother, Florence, was a self proclaimed expert on how to cane a chair. After all, her father, a furniture maker, had learned the technique at the Ohio State Prison and had taught his children. Grandma, at this point, would jump in and explain that he was not an inmate, he went there during the day and came home at night. It was just where he was able to go to learn a skill needed for his business. Well, I spent every visit to my grandparents’ home one summer bringing my chair and caning materials, being instructed on the CORRECT method of caning a chair seat. I never knew who caned the chairs my aunt had taken to Goodwill.

After our parents’ deaths, my brother and I divided up the heirlooms that were in their home. I had the cedar chest and acquired another of the dining room chairs (the one with the sawn through side of the seat) which needed to be repaired and refinished. So with the cedar chest and the additional chair, we loaded the desk and chair to which I had applied antiquing paint and hauled them off to the furniture refinisher to be restored to their original state. The picture is of the restored chair. Both chairs are identical. You cannot tell which one had a near fatal accident.

Sorry, Grandma Florence, I did not re-cane the chairs myself, but you would approve of the method used by the refinisher. Smooth seat, no snagging!

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Sometimes a break for fun with technology is just required.

Esther Jenks Lee

Charles Norton Lee

My Great Great Grandparents, Charles Norton Lee and Esther Jenks Lee.

Grandfather Lee was born on 13 March 1833, to Horatio and Hannah Munn Lee. He passed away on 23 October 1905, in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan. It is through Grandmother Hannah Munn Lee that I have traced my Mayflower Ancestry.

Grandmother Lee was born on 24 October 1832, in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan, to Morris and Almira Botsford Lee. She passed away on 10 February 1918, in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan. It is through Grandmother Esther Jenks Lee that I have traced my Sons of the American Revolution Ancestry.

Their marriage occurred on 25 December 1855, in her father’s home in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan. The home was built in 1853 on land Morris Jenks started to farm in 1822. Both Charles and Esther were born in Michigan prior to Statehood.

I happened to have pictures of each, part of photos that belonged to my grandfather, inherited by my mother, and passed on to me. I uploaded each to #MyHeritage to enhance and colorize. Then on 25 February 2021, it was announced that MyHeritage had added the feature to animate a photograph. So, of course, I gave it a shot. I am not sure about the movements that each of the subject are being given, but I do like the 3D rendering. It adds perspective.

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Grandma Weaver’s Secretary Has a Long History

My Great-Grandmother’s secretary sits in the front hall of my home. It has had a varied history since it sat in Grandma Weaver’s home on Tireman in Detroit. Grandmother used it as a desk with its pigeon holes and two drawers — one inside and the large one beneath the desk. After Grandmother Weaver died in 1945, the desk went to my grandparents’ attic (her son, Lee’s) where it sat until 1956. Then, my parents borrowed the desk as my father was designing and building a room for my brother and I to share. He was building with the major furnishings built in– dressers inserted in the walls, a 12 foot bookcase to next to the stairs, and two desks. My desk was the first as it was used at the short side of the stairs coming up to the room. He used my great grandmother’s desk as a model for the huge desk he created. Once he was done, my grandparents did not want the desk back so my parents relegated it to their basement. For a while it was ignored, then it was put into service as a shoe polishing station (the brushes fit nicely into the pigeon holes, the cloths in the inside drawer and everything else just inside the desk. My mother liked it because with the lid closed, the mess was out of sight. And it WAS A MESS! I think more liquid shoe dye ended up on the inside of the desk than ever hit all of the shoes that were ever polished.

Then the craze of antiquing furniture hit in the later 1960s and I asked if I could have my way antiquing the desk. I also asked for one of the chairs that had been in my great-grandmother’s dining room. My mother agreed and I antiqued both the desk and chair.

The chair was meant to have a caned seat. My grandmother, Florence, was a self proclaimed expert on how to cane a chair. After all, her father, a furniture maker, had learned the technique at the Ohio State Prison and had taught his children. Grandma, at this point, would jump in and explain that he was not an inmate, he went there during the day and came home at night. It was just where he was able to go to learn a skill needed for his business. Well, I spent every visit to my grandparents’ home one summer bringing my chair and caning materials, being instructed on the CORRECT method of caning a chair seat.

After our parents’ deaths, my brother and I divided up the heirlooms that were in their home. I had the cedar chest and acquired another of the dining room chairs (more about them next week) which needed to be repaired and refinished (see earlier Blog about the cedar chest). So with the cedar chest and the additional chair, we loaded the desk and chair to which I had applied antiquing paint and hauled them off to the furniture refinisher to be restored to their original state. The picture is of the restored desk.

Sorry, Grandma Florence, I did not re-cane the chairs myself, but you would approve of the method used by the refinisher. Smooth seat, no snagging!

#Heirlooms

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Happy 122nd Birthday, Cousin Pearl!

My first cousin, twice removed, Pearl Geneva Churches, was born on 21 February 1899, to George W. and Ora Lee Churches. Pearl was my grandfather’s first cousin. At the age of 22, on 4 August 1921, Pearl married Ortheldo Miller, the son of Henry A. and Mary E. Miller. The couple had one child, Mary Ellen (1926).

Besides having an unusual name, Pearl, and being the daughter of one of my favorite named aunts – who doesn’t chuckle when the think of Ora Lee? – Pearl and my grandfather were in constant post card communications. Although 6 years younger than Grandpa, the family was very close and would send off a post card to cover anything that their 21st Century counterparts would use a text. The first two years of this blog contains the entire collection of post cards my grandfather saved.

Pearl passed away on 8 August 1959.

#Jenks #Lee #Genealogy

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