Chickenhouse Chronicles—-Genesis

A few months after my mother, Barbara, died in 2010 I discovered a time capsule—including my grandparent’s urns— locked in the chickenhouse on our old homestead in northern Minnesota. (I stopped calling her Mom the spring of 1962. In 1960 she had been committed to Fergus Falls State Hospital—we children had been sent to foster …

First Thanksgiving Rememberance 1937 Thanksgiving Celebration, Brussels, Belgium

After my mother died in 2010 I discovered this church service bulletin tucked in a mouse-stained scrapbook, locked in the Chickenhouse on our old family homestead in northern Minnesota, USA. Holland played an important part in the first pilgrims–Separatists from England’s religious persecution. Apparently those roots were still celebrated in 1937. Are they still celebrated …

Thank You to the Community

Patti and I are humbled at the success of Muddy Jungle Rivers. In September we were able to increase our year-to-date contribution to $1,000 to the Bemidji Community Food Shelf, a share of book sales—our way of saying thank you. Since Patti and I returned from the Mobile Riverine Force Reunion in Indianapolis life has …

SS American Farmer Played Important Role in Family

> SS American Farmer On September 24, 1937, my grandmother, mother, and aunt traveled to Europe aboard the SS American Farmer. My grandmother, Elsie, kept a detailed account in her diary. In this excerpt, Pol, fifteen years old, is my aunt and Bar, seventeen years old, will be my mother ten years later. “Third day …

Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference 2013

This past week I participated in a writing workshop titled “Nonfiction and the Archeology of Memory,” taught by Joni Tevis. Joni’s website, http://www.jonitevis.com/ Joni’s class was a perfect fit for the project I am working on, reconstructing our family’s past from the wealth of primary documents I have. The biggest takeaway was when Joni told …

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 …