My Maternal Grandparent’s Wedding at the Fratt Mansion, Everett, Washington, December 10, 1917

The wedding photo is interesting because the painting in the background, titled, “Portrait of a Young Girl,” by Simon Harmon Vedder, 1890, was passed down to my mother. Sadly, it had to be sold to settle her estate debt in 2010.   This weekend as I thumbed through a 1918 address book I realized that it …

Chickenhouse Chronicles: Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia

My Aunt Polly and Grandmother Elsie Philips, circa 1939, in Darien, Conn. This past week we’ve been studying schizophrenia in the psychology class I’m taking at BSU. Schizophrenia often manifests itself in late teens and early twenties. This evening I was reading some of my grandfather’s letters and discovered this one, where he discusses Polly’s …

Chickenhouse Chronicles: 1950 Holy Land Visit

  My great grandmother, Katherine Thomas Philips, had a younger sister named Alice, who married Edmund Garstin.  They had two daughters: The eldest, Martha “Pattie” Thomas Garstin, born 1888, died in a mental institution, Normansfield Hospital, Teddington, in 1935. The second daughter, Eloise “Emily” Thomas Garstin, was born in 1889 and died in 1970. Eloise, a name …

Chickenhouse Chronicles: WWII Letter about my Grandfather’s Ship sinking

I discovered this terribly water-stained letter in a packet I am currently reading. The tone of the letter seems fatalistic. Frederick Pierce, the author, has a son on a coastal patrol craft in the Mediterranean—perhaps one of WWII’s famed PT Boats. Fred Pierce is my great uncle, an elusive link to our past. The Pierce family …

Chickenhouse Chronicles: Whidbey Island, Washington

My great grandfather, Calvin Philips, owned several thousand acres on Whidbey Island, Washington in the early 1900s. Over the course of several decades it was sold. Today his original Greenbank Dairy Farm is a community center. http://greenbankfarm.biz/history/ Ironically, I craweled across the the Naval Base land he once owned during my SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) training …

Chickenhouse Chronicles—World War II Memories

Tomorrow I’m invited to speak to residents at a local nursing home. As I reflected on how to present a Vietnam War memoir to a group of World War II era citizens, I decided that I should focus on a formative event from their past. I will mention Muddy Jungle Rivers but then I will read a …

Chickenhouse Chronicles/Katyn Forest Massacre

Three years ago, after my mother died, I discovered a time capsule locked in the chickenhouse on our old homestead near Nebish, Minnesota. Some of my siblings wanted to burn what to them appeared to be trash. My two oldest sisters and I rescued the treasure and brought it to my house.   Most biographical …