52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy: Week #50 – Holiday Gifts

The most memorable Christmas gift that I received was a Christmas morning when I was in grade school about 4th grade or so. My parents bought my sister and I little rocking chairs. When we went into the living room, there sat the rocking chairs with big stuffed monkeys sitting on them! I loved that little chair.

I also remember that another Christmas a couple of years later, my brother, sister, and I got an Atari 2600 for Christmas. I became the family pacman champion on that Atari.

One of the gifts I remember most though is a gift that we helped my dad give to Mom. He got her a bunch of earrings and we put them in a really big box and taped the earrings down so that they wouldn’t make any noise when she shook the box! We kept that gift a secret until Christmas Morning.


Week #50 – Holiday Gifts

Week 50. Holiday Gifts. Describe any memorable Christmas or Hanukkah gifts you received as a child.

This challenge runs from Saturday, December 10, 2011 through Friday, December 16, 2011.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy: Week #49 – Historical Events

There were many historical events that have occurred in my lifetime.

I was born in 1969. I don’t really remember and of the events of 1969 through the early 70s but they have played an important part in my life. I have seen many of these events replayed many times through television coverage. TV has made these events seem as if I was there even though they actually occurred before my birth or while I was a very small child.

John F Kennedy Assassination
Robert Kennedy Assassination
Martin Luther King Assassination
The Manson Family Murders
The First Man Landed on the Moon
Senator Edward Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick Car Accident and following Scandal

Computer Floppy Disks Introduced
Kent State Shootings
VCRs Introduced
MASH Premiers on TV
Watergate Scandal
US President Nixon Resigns
Microsoft Founded
Elvis Dies
Roots Miniseries appears on TV
Jonestown Massacre
Iran takes American Hostages
I remember Elvis dying. I have a distinct memory of watching his last concert on TV and then seeing the announcement by his father of his death. I don’t think that I really believed he was dead for a long time. It didn’t seem real that someone that famous should just die.

I remember the Roots miniseries on TV. I found it fascinating the Alfred Hailey could find out the identities of his ancestors. This might have been the first hints of my interest in genealogy. It seemed that he had put together the pieces of a puzzle to identify his ancestors and I have always enjoyed puzzles.

I remember the Jonestown Massacre as well. This event was scary to me. This was the first time that I realized that people could be convinced to go against their own beliefs to do something so totally insane. It was the first time that I realized that peoples minds could be deceived and manipulated to that extent. I remember thinking that if all those people could be convinced to do those things then how did I know that I wasn’t being manipulated like that!

I remember the hostages being held in Iran and the yellow ribbons appearing everywhere in support of them. I remember thinking that President Jimmy Carter wasn’t doing enough to get them back home!

John Lennon Assassinated
PacMan Released
Ted Turner Establishes CNN
Royal Wedding: Charles and Diana
Reagan Assassination Attempt
Aids Identified
Personal Computers Introduced
Challenger Space Shuttle Explodes
DNA first used to convict killers
Berlin Wall Falls
The 1980s was the first decade that I can really remember completely. I remember the coverage of John Lennon’s assassination. I wasn’t a Beatles fan really but I knew who John Lennon was.

PacMan was my favorite video game as a kid and I was the family PacMan champion on our Atari Game system.

I don’t really remember clearly the day that CNN was established but I do remember that during this time news started being available all the time! The news from around the world and across the country was now available 24 hours a day. Now when there was a major event, you could turn to CNN and watch live coverage of the event!

I remember distinctly the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana. I got up in the middle of the night and watched the wedding coverage. I have always been a romantic and bought into the whole Fairy Tale Wedding of the Century.

I remember the assassination attempt on President Reagan. I saw it over and over on TV. I was very concerned that President Reagan was going to die and I was relieved when he recovered. It seemed strange that a mentally ill man could almost end the life of a President. It became a reality to me that nobody is completely safe in this world!

I don’t really remember the personal computer being specifically released! But the release of the personal computer has completely changed my life! I spend most of every day using a computer. My cell phone now has more computing power than the “Mainframe” computers that were in the University when I was high school!

I remember seeing the space shuttle disaster on TV. I was in high school at the time of the disaster. I think that I must have seen it on the news after the actual event. I always felt that it was horrible that so many of the family members were there to see the launch and instead witnessed the untimely death of their family member. With the teacher on the shuttle, millions of small school children were watching the launch and saw the explosion. That must have been completely terrifying to them!

I remember watching the fall of the Berlin Wall on TV. I think that I saw it live! It was a joyous day.

Waco Texas Raid
Internet comes of age
1993 Bombing of World Trade Center
OJ Simpson Trial
Oklahoma Center Bombing
Two Royal Divorces
Unabomber Arrested
Princess Diana Dies
President Clinton Impeached
Fear of the Y2K bug
John F Kennedy Jr Killed in Plane Crash
Killing Spree at Columbine High School
The Waco Texas Raid played out on the 24 hour cable news channels for days and ended with children dying in that horrible fire!

The internet has changed my life in many ways. First, as a genealogist I can now access copies of records in seconds that would have take weeks (and a significant amount of money) to get before the internet. Also, now news is available in seconds instead of days!

I vaguely remember the 1993 World Trade Center bombing but I don’t remember it really affecting my daily life. It was a sad event that played out on TV but I didn’t know anybody really involved in the tragedy and so life just went on.

The OJ Simpson trial was a major event for me. I loved to watch Court TV with the live coverage of Trials. I was in college when the OJ Simpson trial occurred and I would come home every day from classes and watch the trial coverage. The trial lasted for almost 9 months! Johnny Cochran was a sight to see in that courtroom. Whatever you believe about the verdict in the trial, if you watched the trial you would have to acknowledge that he was a great lawyer who ran that courtroom!

I vividly remember the Oklahoma Bombing. I saw the immediate aftermath of the explosion on the TV. I was shocked that someone could bomb a building like that in the middle of our country. I remember thinking that it must a terrorist attack like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Then, it was discovered that it was a US Citizen who had killed all those people. This was the first time that it really felt like anyone could be killed just going about their daily lives.

I remember being saddened by the divorces in the Royal Family. Not because they were royalty but because they were people who were so obviously unhappy!

The unabomber being arrested was a strange time for me. He was bombing technology related people and places. I had seen the story of the unabomber on Unsolved Mysteries and I remember looking at packages suspiciously after watching that show. It was a relief when he was arrested. I watched much of the trial coverage and feeling sorry for the brother who had made the awful decision to turn in his brother. That would have been a horrible decision to make!

The death of Princess Diana was a horribly sad time for me. The end of an era. The end of a fairy tale. As long as she was alive the story might have ended much differently. I am a romantic and I always thought that maybe Charles and Diana would get back together but that wasn’t to be. The funeral was sad.

Then, President Clinton was impeached. This was also a sad time for me. I was disappointed in someone whom I respected. His behavior was inexcusable and I felt incredibly sorry for Hillary Clinton at her public humiliation at the hands of her husband.

I vividly remember the fear of the Y2K bug. It was feared that since early computers were programmed with only two digit years and that many of the calculations for activities were calculated as if 00 was 1900 instead of 2000 that many computers would not work correctly! There were fears of massive power outages, plane crashes, and massive business failures and problems. Not discussed as much but a present fear was the fear of terrorist attacks on the New Year’s celebrations that year.

The John F Kennedy Jr death in a plane crash was sad. He was a young man with so much potential and then he was dead! It also ended the dreams of Camelot and another Kennedy Presidency! We will never know if he would have become a president but the potential was there.

The Columbine Killing Spree was the beginning of the mass shootings in public places. This was the first one that made the news across the country and the beginning of the school shootings. Now, even children weren’t safe just being in school. This event more than any other removed our feeling of security as we go about our daily lives. We now know that anyone can die at any time.

9/11 Attacks
Iraq War
Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster
IPod, IPhone, and IPad are released
Hurricane Katrina
Facebook and Twitter are launched
US Recession
Royal Wedding: William and Kate

The 2000′s have seen amazing changes! There was the beginning of the decade with the 9/11 attacks. I woke up that morning and my mother and sister were watching the news. The first plane had crashed into the tower. A few minutes later we saw the second plane go into the second tower! It wasn’t just a tragedy but almost certainly an attack on our country! I felt uncertain about our future! The planes were grounded and the president was in the air in Air Force One! I spent the day watching the news and wondering about the future of our country and our safety. The following days made our country more united! We decided that we wouldn’t allow the terrorist to make us change our way of life! We went back to our lives and didn’t allow our fears to change our lives.

There was the Iraq war beginning with such a feeling of patriotism and that it was necessary. Now there are questions about the validity of the reasons we went to war. Was it really necessary? Whatever the answer to that question, our troops deserve our thanks for our freedom and our respect for their service to our country.

The Columbia space shuttle explodes on reentry! Another tragedy for our country.

The horrible images of those people trapped after Hurrican Katrina are burned into my mind. The response to that disaster was inexcusable!

The killing of Osama Bin Laden was a victory for our country. He was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and responsible for many deaths in our country.

Facebook and Twitter have made many changes to our lives. I have both a facebook and a twitter account and I update to them periodically. Mostly I use them to stay in touch with my extended family and to share my genealogy findings.

The recession has made a major difference in all our lives. Gas went from about a $1 in the early 2000s to almost $4 a gallon and all of the other costs have increased while many people are unemployed or at the very least haven’t had their incomes increase at the same pace as the prices have increased.

The Royal Wedding of William and Kate was an event that brought back the fairy tale feeling of his mother’s marriage in the 1980s. But with this wedding you don’t get the feeling that she is going into the wedding without being aware of the problems she will face. Maybe this will be wedding that lasts.


Week #49 – Historical Events

Week 49. Historical Events. Describe a memorable national historical event from your childhood. How old were you and how did you process this event? How did it affect your family?

This challenge runs from Saturday, December 3, 2011 through Friday, December 9, 2011.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy: Week #48 – Thanksgiving

The foods we have now for Thanksgiving are pretty much the same as they have been since I was a small child. We have a turkey, dressing, ham, potato salad, mashed potatoes, gravy, deviled eggs, pumpkin pie, cornbread dressing, baked beans, and rolls. The deserts have varied a lot over the years but are the same kinds of desert. Chocolate is a big feature.

My mom’s mother used to make homemade chocolate and lemon pies. These pies were the best things about any holiday dinner at their house! My dad’s dad would make this wonderful rocky road fudge!

Thanksgiving when I was a kid was a day of traveling. We would visit both sets of grandparents and there would be all (or at least almost all) of the aunts, uncles and cousins at the dinners. We would have lunch at one and supper (or dinner for those from the north) at the other grandparents.

At mom’s family dinner there was usually about 30 people! At dad’s family there was usually about 20 people. We would have a great time at both families and would eat all day!



Week #48 – Thanksgiving

Week 48. Thanksgiving. What was on your family’s Thanksgiving table? Do you serve the same dishes now as your family served in the past?

This challenge runs from Saturday, November 26, 2011 through Friday, December 2, 2011.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy: Week #47 – Fall

Fall in Northwest Arkansas in is a beautiful time. The leaves change colors and the summer heat moves out and leaves the mild temperatures of Fall. Sweaters are retrieved from the closets and schools begin. Then, it is time for Halloween and fall festivals. Then, Thanksgiving is on the way with Christmas waiting in the wings.

Fall is also the time for football. Arkansas Razorbacks football is always a joy to watch (well except for a couple of the recently previous seasons but we still watched!). High school football is a major activity for high school students across the state.

Fall is the time when we change from the cookouts of the summer to the chili, soups, and stews of the fall.


Week #47 – Fall

Week 47. Fall. What was fall like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

This challenge runs from Saturday, November 19, 2011 through Friday, November 25, 2011.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.


52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy: Week #46 – Politics

I have been a political junkie since I was in high school. Politics was a frequent topic of conversation in our house even when I was a kid. In our house our opinions were considered even when we were very young children. Each of us would discuss the latest political events and we usually watched any presidential addresses or debates on TV. We would usually watch the news on TV and would discuss what was going on in the world that day.

The first president that I remember was Jimmy Carter. I remember that times seemed tough and that the news was full of the gas shortages and the hostages in Iran. I don’t remember thinking of him as a good president.

The first presidential election that I remember was the election of Ronald Reagan. I have vague memories of watching the debates and the lead up to the presidential election. I was in favor of Ronald Reagan because I thought he would do something about the hostages and would make things better in the economy. I don’t remember until the election coverage being aware of Ronald Reagan as an actor before he became a presidential candidate but I have since watched some of his movies and he was a pretty good actor, too.

I don’t remember much about the election of the elder George Bush. I was finishing high school and starting college so I don’t think I was really focused on politics in that election although I am sure that it was a frequent topic of conversation. I do remember the end of his presidency and thinking that he was out of touch with most Americans.

I remember watching the debates at the end of Bush’s presidency with Clinton. He seemed completely out of touch and, in my opinion he lost the election during the town-hall debate when he answered the question from the audience about the price of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. He answered that he had never done the shopping for his family and that the housekeeper usually did the shopping. Bill Clinton answered that while he hadn’t been in a store in the location of the debate, that “back home in Arkansas a loaf of bread was about a dollar and a gallon of milk was about $2″. I loved that answer and I think he won the election at that moment!

I actually attended a political rally for Bill Clinton on the U of A campus. It was my one and only political rally attendance to date. Bill Clinton is one of the most political men in this country and it is my belief that we would have had a completely different list of presidents if Al Gore and Hillary Clinton had followed his advice in their campaigns!

Bill Clinton’s presidency was a difficult time for me. There were many difficult things going on in my life and his presidency was a very emotional time for me. I think for many people my age he was the president of hope and dreams. He was inspirational to me and actually gave me hope for the future. During his presidency, there were many things about his personal life that became public that I thought were wrong for him to have done. I was very disappointed in him and his actions. However, as a president, he did many things that benefited me and my family. The changes in student loans and scholarships in particular helped me and my brother and sister be able to attend college. At the end of his presidency the budget was in surplus and financially the country seemed better off to me.

The election of the second George Bush as a disappointment to me. I thought Al Gore should have won but I also think that the long, drawn-out election procedures would not have been necessary had Al Gore followed Clinton’s advice instead of running as far away from him as possible. However, I thought at the time of 9/11 that he did what was needed to bring the country together and unite us against a common enemy. I particularly thought his speech at ground zero was inspiring and comforting to the nation. I do not think that the war was necessary but I don’t know whether he lied to the country about the evidence of weapons of mass destruction or whether the intelligence was really that bad! Either one is a scary thought to me!

I was very interested in the last presidential election in 2008. I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton and I think she would have been president had she listened to the advice of Bill Clinton or even my advice. I actually took the time to email her during the election and advise her to fire any of her staff advising her to conduct herself in the debates with Barrack Obama as she was! I somehow don’t think that her staff showed her my email since it likely advised her to fire whoever was giving her the email! I was very disappointed when she lost! One of the moments of that campaign that made me the most happy was the night that Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama had a meeting! The press was all waiting outside her home for her to leave for the meeting when she returned home from the meeting that had already taken place! To my knowledge the content of the discussion at that meeting has still not been leaked to the press! Although, in my personal opinion, the discussion probably included some discussion of her current position as Secretary of State if she would support Barrack Obama’s presidential campaign.

The last congressional election was also very interesting to me! I particularly enjoyed watching the coverage of several of the candidates. First there was the candidate who actually released a commercial denying that she was a witch! What I still want to know is who was the advertising salesman who got her to make this commercial. This is a salesman that someone should be trying to hire because he can sell anything to anyone! Then, there was the candidate who made some sort of remark (I can’t really remember what was said), but the result of the remark was that people dressed in chicken suits to show up to polling locations and to several of her events. You can’t beat the entertainment value of people in chicken suits! Finally there was the senate candidate in Arizona who was running against Harry Reid. She kept threatening that her supporters would likely kill Harry Reid if she lost the election! I believe her language was something similar to they “would exercise their 2nd Amendment remedies” if she lost! I personally think that a case could be made that she was threatening a sitting US Senator, which I got to believe is some kind of crime!

The current campaign season has been very interesting! I will withhold my comments on this election until a later date. But things are changing every day!

 Week #46 – Politics

Week 46. Politics. What are your childhood memories of politics? Were your parents active in politics? What political events and elections do you remember from your youth?

This challenge runs from Saturday, November 12, 2011 through Friday, November 18, 2011.


52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.