Friday, September 28, 2012

Summer 2012 - A Busy Time

 Story by Louise Lahmann

Some of the garden, looking toward the new studio
 It was a whirlwind summer. We had lots of work done on our home. We added a window and door onto what used to be Al’s woodworking shop and Lorita said its going to be her studio eventually where she can work and be creative. We used a large picture window, we took it out of the living room when we put in new storm windows, and Lorita bought a heavy duty door with a full window in it at the Rebuilding Center that sells reused building supplies. What a difference! Now there’s lots of light out there. Lorita hired a man to come and do the job and he completed the entire task in six hours. He was a busy man. I’ve never seen a job done so well and fast.  It is really nice.

Rachel helping plant seeds
 From the window we can admire the flowers, the garden and the birds eating in the bird feeders and taking a bath in the bird bath. We had a beautiful garden this year and had the best tomatoes. They were perfect, no rot. Lorita said she blenderized banana peels and poured it around them after she read that was good for them. She is the best gardener and she said she hopes to get better. This year her friend Rachel moved to Portland from Seattle and she came over and offered inspiration and help in the garden. They both planted chard, carrots, radishes, lettuce and beets. Lorita had already started the tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peas and beans from seeds. Everything turned out but the radishes which were damaged by worms. Lorita just planted a fall crop to see what happens, as she’s never done that before.

Heirloom tomatoes - very yummy
We talked about putting a roof on the house and even got two estimates but later decided to paint the house instead. Our neighbor across the street painted his house and we got the same guy to do ours. I decided I wanted a light color because I was so tired of the dark brown it has always been. The contractor, Joe, was very good and did everything we wanted and more. Lorita gave him extra vegetables from the garden from time to time too as he had a family with six teens.

Joe made new columns for the front of our house and we used some old wood shingles Al had stored in the attic. Before, it was just some metal poles and 2 X 4’s on each side and now it looks like the new columns were part of the original house. It makes such a difference and when I walk out the front door the new columns help make everything look more beautiful in the yard.

Joe’s also a handyman and can do many things. He told us our roof didn’t need to be replaced yet. He said later we could do a little repair on it and possibly put larger vents under the eaves. But we should get five to ten more years out of it. Lorita tore down the old rotted picket fence along the side of the yard and Joe was nice enough to cut the metal posts off at the cement so they weren’t sticking up. Lucky for me, Lorita likes gardening and landscaping.

He also pressure washed the metal car shelter we have out front that I park the Toyota under. Lorita wanted to figure out how to make the dark blue shelter fit in with the house more so we decided to paint the trim on the house the same color. Now its the best looking house in the neighborhood. It has real personality.

Now the trim matches the shelter (left)
We had a big estate sale at the same time our neighbors across the street did. Lorita sold many items on Craigslist also and started posting things on ebay. We have been going through Al’s tools and things he collected. Its hard to let go of them but there’s other people out there who would love to have them and use them. I even sold some of my things, as did Lorita.

The house when we bought it in the late 60s
Our neighbor across the street, Sharon, was not able to come back home after her stroke and had to go into an adult care home. Her cousin ended up buying the house and the family had a huge estate sale that was professionally handled. They posted ads and signs. So Lorita said, “Let’s have our sale on the same weekend and take advantage of the free advertising.” We had hundreds of people come through over that weekend and sold over a thousand dollars. We were all surprised that so much went and so many people stopped by. One of Lorita’s friends even brought some stuff over and helped us with the sale. A month later Lorita took the left overs to a friend’s house up in Beavercreek and sold a few hundred dollars more. Last week she said, “I’m done with yard sales,” and boxed the rest of it up and we hauled it to Goodwill. She said it would get more as a write off on our taxes than we would make trying to sell it. She kept out the nicer things and started posting on Craigslist and ebay again.

The house before painting - the fence and metal poles are gone
Lorita has her little projects and next moved on to collecting the metal she had noticed all around the house. I didn’t realize Al had so much metal stored all over our property but Lorita gathered it all, sorted it and sold it for scrap metal, bringing in a few hundred dollars. Now there’s so much more room in the garage, shed and attic. Plus the areas behind the garage where some of it was stored. I think Al saved everything because being the handyman he was, he never knew when he might need it. I’m sure he knew exactly where everything was.
Pile of metal

Now its time to get ready for winter. We got our rain barrels set up and bought adjustable spouts that guide the water there. Lorita said she doesn’t see what good it does because they don’t hold that much water and you don’t need to water when it’s raining so they will overflow, but I like them and they’re here to stay.

Monday, September 24, 2012

An Active Week

Story by Louise Lahmann

February 9th 2010 I got up at my regular time. I take my medicine at 8 AM and then trek downstairs to the treadmill. I usually do a load of laundry while I'm walking (they're in the same vicinity of the basement).  Its just enough time for it to wash and when I get off the treadmill I can put it in the dryer. My memory's not as good as it used to be so this way I remember to throw it in the dryer, or its been know to sit wet for days. Then, I put on my track shoes and get ready for action. I walk for a leisurely time and then up the speed some. Not too much, don’t want to overdo a good thing. While I walk I compile my story in my mind. Decisions are made as to the story line so hopefully it will be interesting. Then I think about my every day chores to complete and meal making. After 30 minutes I’m ready to do my next project – which is a breakfast snack.

Ryan hangs out waiting for his car to get serviced
I love to have my fruit smoothie in the morning. Lorita has always made it but today it is my turn to do it for the first time as she has to leave today to go to Phoenix AZ with a friend for a yoga exercise class. She told me I had to learn how to do it so I could still have my drink every morning. I cut up fresh apple, banana, pear, pineapple, carrot and frozen peaches and put them in the Vita –Mix. Then there’s protein and vitamin powder to add and I let the Vita-Mix do the rest. It blends it all into a smooth, delicious drink. I also take vitamins and a fish oil tablet with my smooth drink.

Next is time for my shower and dressing. By this time the mail has arrived. With Lorita and Ryan living here we generally get lots of mail which a goodly share goes to the recycle. Sometimes we get a movie to watch from Netflix which Ryan subscribes to. That is a nice pastime.

Now it is time to take Lorita to the Airport. She is flying out on Alaskan Airlines. Ryan drives her there and off she goes.

Later I go to my acupuncture appointment. Today I have to drive myself. Usually Lorita takes me. Since my acupuncturist Diane moved to 37th and Belmont it seems a long way there. I told Ryan I am going to try a new route and take Woodstock. He asked for the address and said he would look it up on the computer to give me the shortest route. He came back and said, “Just go down McLoughlin until you get to Belmont, turn right and go until you come to 37th, turn left and you’ll be right there.” He is very computer wise. So I took his directions and sure enough I made it in 20 minutes where before it was 30 or 40 minutes. When I told Diane I came a shorter way, she said, “Neat.”

At acupuncture I visit with Diane and we were talking about meat and how sometimes it is not good. I told her I liked the meat at New Seasons better than most. She said she got her meat from Trader Joe’s – especially her ground beef because Trader Joe’s has meat from Australia, which is her home country, and it is the same as organic, as Australians are very careful about their meat – no antibiotics and their cattle are never put in pens. I was shopping there after my treatment and thought I would try their hamburger. I made Ryan and I hamburgers for dinner that night and they were very good and tasty. Lorita called to say her flight had made it and she was on the shuttle to the hotel.

Most of our week was uneventful - reading the paper, and my novel “Half-Broke Horses”, watching the Olympics, cleaning, shopping etc. I decided to go back to the Church of Latter Day Saints family history center to work on my family’s genealogy. I hadn’t done it for a long time and when I came in the door the head gal Marilyn said, “I haven’t seen you for 100 years.” She got me set up on a computer and they help me. I was on a family tree and they had my dad’s name in there so I wanted to see what they had to say about him. But when I clicked on his name the computer froze and I wasn’t able to get it. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find out anything.

One day Ryan took his car to the mechanic because he was having some problem with the brakes and he walked home while they worked on it. I told him I could have brought him but he said he liked to walk. Later he walked back to pick it up and found out nothing was wrong. He also works out on an exercise machine plus he plays basketball at the park with other guys once in a while.

Mom and brother Ben
On Saturday my brother Ben and his wife Cathy were at a doll show in Portland. His wife was selling some of her doll collection – I guess it is quite large according to Ben and he’s glad to be rid of some of them. They live near Eugene so had a long ride. I decided to go to the doll show and see them so I invited my friend Rose. I've know her about 55 years. When we got there I realized I had no cash and couldn’t pay the $6.00 entry fee. I told the guy I only had $2.00 so he said he would let us both in for $10.00. Rose said she would pay and I agreed to pay her back.

We went into the doll show and found Ben and Cathy’s booth. It was a busy place and lots of dolls. Ben and I visited while Cathy sold her merchandise. Then Rose and I walked around. There was a woman in a wheelchair that bought a small doll but was complaining to her daughter that she didn’t want it anymore, that it smelled. The daughter said she often changed her mind. There were dolls of Shirley Temple, Princess Diane, Charlie McCarthy, lots of antiques, and some that looked like real babies – their eyes looked real. They even had rubber pants for sale for the baby dolls. Rose said she thought it was a lot of junk because she would never be interested in dolls for herself. That’s just the way Rose is. But it was interesting to look around and some people do take it very seriously and love their dolls.

Some of Cathy's dolls
When we got back to Ben he was alone as Cathy had gone to look around. He said Cathy did fairly well with selling. Ben even sold one of the dolls while Cathy was gone. The lady didn’t want to pay the $8.00 requested so Ben said he would let her have it for $6.00 and she took it. He said, “At least I sold it so that’s one more gone.” Cathy came back and showed us what she had bought – a pendant and little necklace for her dolls. After that we left and I told Ben I was glad I got to see him.

Lorita called on Valentine’s Day in the evening to wish me a happy one. I was watching the couples skating on the Olympics. She called again on Monday to say her and her friend Ginnie were taking an extra day and renting a car to drive to Sedona, AZ to see the sights. I got confused about the day she was to come back and I wondered where she was and began to worry so I called her friend Lee, who was to pick her up at the airport, and she told me it was the next night. I said, “Oh good, I’m glad to hear that.” She arrived home around midnight on Tuesday the 16th.  All's well that ends well.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

All in a Day's Work

Story by Louise Lahmann

On one of the beautiful days this week Lorita and a friend went to Portland to see the sights. This is a perfect time for me to vacuum as Lorita hates the noise - our vacuum is pretty noisy. It doesn’t bother the person making the racket but if you’re in the same part of the house it can be annoying.

I always vacuum outside the front door on the porch and rug before I finish up. To do this I have to open the front storm door and use the lever to hold the door open. We recently bought a new glass storm door and I figured out how to push the lever to hold the thing open but when I was finished I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to release it. I tried everything I could think of but I didn’t want to force it and break it so I decided to just leave it open until Lorita got back.  I just shut the main door.

What I wasn’t aware of was a huge horse fly had come in while I had the door open. He buzzed around inside like a dive bomber. I decided to try to get him to go back out, so I opened the back sliding glass door and tried to shoo him out but, no, he flew the opposite way and went into the garden window where I couldn’t get to him. I figured I would out wait the dastardly thing so I went back and closed the screen on the slider to prevent more flies from coming in. I already had my hands full.

Meanwhile the wind picked up outside and I looked out the front window in time to to see the wind hit the storm door and push it back. It released the catch and closed. Lorita later told me that’s how it works. You push it back a bit and it releases. It took the wind to figure that out because I sure couldn’t.

Just when I was about to get back to my vacuuming, the fly came out of the garden window and buzzed around close to the floor. I was getting disgusted with him so I decided to get the fly swatter.

I said, “If you won’t go back outside the door, I’ll swat you.” And I proceeded to hunt him down. I soon realized he was on the outside part of the sliding door so I said “aha” and hurried over to shut the door enough so I could still reach my arm out and slide the screen open.

Standing there armed with the swatter he must have decided the smart thing to do was take off because that’s just what he did.

Between the door and the fly and the vacuuming I decided I can still multi-task after all.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Grandma's Favorite Uncle

Charles E. Farr

My grandma Mildred Farr had a favorite uncle named Charles E. Farr. He sent many postcards to her when she was a child after he had retired to Florida with his wife Albertine (Berta). Charles mother, Jane, had moved in with Mildred's family in Cedar Springs, Michigan so when he wrote he always inquired about how his mom was doing.

Grandma Mildred Farr

Charles wrote with a wit and flair keeping Mildred up to date on his doings. I'm sure she looked forward to all of his colorful postcards arriving in the mail and they must have been special to her because she kept them in an album. After grandma died my mom inherited her postcard collection, so it is cherished to this day.

Postcard from Uncle Farr

"Dear Niece How would you enjoy a ride like this [?] come down this summer and you can ride our poneys"

Charles E. Farr was born July 1851 in Ellisburg, New York.  He was the third born. First came Ophelia in 1846 followed by Lucy in 1848 and William in 1853.  In about 1854 the family moved from New York to Kenosha, Wisconsin. A sister Lucetta was born in 1855 and brother Frank in 1858. Shortly after that they moved to Cannon Township, in Kent county Michigan which is 20 minutes northeast of Grand Rapids. Here were born Herbert, Fred, Mark and Ralph (my great grandfather) - 10 children in all.

1863 map of Cannon

Charles parents, my great great grandparents Henry and Jane Farr, worked hard to raise their large family. In New York, Henry was a stone mason and dug wells. Later, in Michigan he farmed the land.
Jane (Clark) Farr

Henry Francis Farr

When the Civil War came, Henry became a Union enlisted man at the age of 38 in 1st Michigan Light Artillery Battery "E" where he was injured and sent home. He died in 1903 at 77 years old.  Jane lived 10 more years, she was 83

Sunfish Lake in Cannon Township

My mom discovered a mystery while researching this family. There was another Charles E. Farr born in Michigan the same year as my great uncle. Though my Charles was born in New York, it seems a few people on were getting them confused.

One day a man emailed mom to tell her they were related through Charles, but she discovered his Charles had different parents. She began looking into this and saw that his Charles had multiple wives, none named Albertine (although this man had Albertine married to him on his tree).  Later mom found an obituary that gave the other Charles wives names and Albertine was not mentioned. Also the children’s names were different.  This man just had not done his research well.

More postcards to Mildred
It was interesting though to discover that two Charles E. Farrs were born the same year, both lived in Michigan and both died in 1927 - one in January and one in December. Its easy to see how these people had gotten confused.

If it hadn’t been for my grandmother’s postcards from Charles and Albertine all those years, mom may have been a lot more confused. Thanks to that and the census she made sense of it all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grandfather Beckwith

Example of an 1800s grist mill
My great great great grandfather Charles W. Beckwith was born Nov. 25, 1815 in Madison County New York to Elizabeth Buttolphs/Buttles and Seth Beckwith. They were of English descent and Charles received a common-school education in Eaton, Madison County, New York.

Charles had possibly five siblings Orpha born 1807, Eliza born 1809, Nelson born 1813, Dorcas Elizabeth born 1819 and George D. born 1828. Early census records are difficult to understand and don’t give a lot to go on before 1850 so its a shot in the dark.

A biography posted by a member on revealed Charles parents. Also that he was a farmer and worked in a grist-mill and had mercantile transactions in Michigan.  He was a Democrat and served as Justice of the Peace and Postmaster.

Charles married Emily Minerva Patrick in Sparta, New York in 1843, moved to Kent county Michigan and settled in Fallasburg (near Grand Rapids) where he lived for 12 years.  It was here that his first child Mary Ellen (my great great grandmother) was born in 1843 in Ionia, Michigan. They had nine children. Son George followed Mary Ellen in 1845, Edgar 1847, Charles (Sidney) 1850, Ida 1852, William 1854, Fannie 1857, Inez 1860, and Fred 1863. I'm always amazed at the number of children these women managed to give birth to and raise in a meager surrounding with no conveniences.

Fallasburg map
Fallasburg was settled by two brothers from Tompkins County, New York in 1839.  John Wesley Fallas and his brother Silas purchased land and other family members soon followed, making the long journey in covered wagons. John built a sawmill on the east bank of the Flat River in 1839. He soon added a three story gristmill thirty feet down stream. Later came a tavern and hotel.

A school district had been established in 1837 and a log school house, the first of its kind between Ionia to the east and Grand Rapids to the west, was built the following year.

At the time Charles lived there Fallasburg was a small settlement and the roads were poor with few bridges. Roads gradually improved as need dictated, although most commerce was conducted with Ionia and Grand Rapids along the river.

Fallasburg bridge & sawmill
The first bridge built across the Flat River, in 1840 was at Fallasburg in the Vergennes township.  The early bridges all succumbed in a short time to high water and massive spring ice jams.

In 1841 a state road between Grand Rapids and Detroit ran through Fallasburg. This route, used by stagecoaches, created demand for repair shops and businesses catering to the travelers.  Three parallel roads ran through the village, only one of which still exists. The other two roads were located on either side of the Covered Bridge Road.

In the 1850 census Charles listed his occupation as a miller in Vergennes. This township is located in the same area as Fallasburg. In 1855, Charles transferred the mercantile business to Ionia county (the next county over, east of Kent county) where he continued that business for four years. By the 1860 census he was a hotel keeper in the same area and had seven kids. In 1870 and 1880 he was a farmer with one of his sons.

In 1871 the Fallasburg Bridge was built in Vergennes Township, Michigan,  five miles north of Lowell on the Flat River. It was a 100-foot span Brown truss covered bridge which still stands. 

Fallasburg Bridge
Charles first wife died in 1872 of a tumor in her side and Charles married again in 1874 to Emily (Lull), a widow of Abraham Miller. They had two sons.

By 1890 all the original descendents had died or left the area. Lansing, Lowell and Grand Rapids grew as the commercial centers in the area leaving Fallasburg the sleepy pioneer town it has remained for the past 100 years. Many buildings dating from the nineteenth century still stand, a representation of the growth and development of a small town during the mid-to-late-nineteenth century. A unique little town where I have a small bit of history.

Bibliography (photo of bridge)