Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Autumn Trip

Story by Louise Lahmann

October 17, 2009 was my 61st wedding anniversary and I wanted to do something special on that day. I  saw in the newspaper where there was a festival at Hood River and I told Lorita I wanted to go on  this trip and she was excited to go too. But when the day came it was cloudy and downcast. I said maybe it will be better there. So we proceeded to get ready. We got water and some food and my pills and dressed for possible showers. We decided we should go on the 205 freeway to the 84 - we were on our way. 
Al and I

It was fun to do something different but as we drove along it started to rain hard and got very dark. The wind was blowing with the rain making it difficult to drive. At times the car hydroplaned in the high water on the freeway.  Lorita said maybe we should turn back if this gets worse.  I said maybe it will get better when we get there. So we continued on and hoped it would get better.  It was a hazy day and it wasn’t as good as we had envisioned it to be. Lorita complained that she could not see the Fall colors and that was the main reason she had wanted to go. As we got closer to Hood River the rain wasn’t as heavy. They had another festival there on the river so we checked it out. We had to pay admittance there and so we decided to continue on to the original festival just outside of Odell on Highway 35. 

The day had brightened considerably and now we could see all the autumn colors of red yellow, orange and rust. Lorita said I’m taking a picture of that scene of the Hood River. So we stopped so she could take several shots of the river with its fall colors. 

Then we continued on down the road and saw many little farm stands with lots of fruit, vegetables and pumpkins galore. They called the road we were on the Fruit Loop. The flyer says it is “approximately 35 miles of orchards, forests, farmlands and friendly communities.”  We decided to stop at Cody Orchards farm stand. They had herbs, flowers, fruit, crafts and many other things. We got some apples and pears and they were 35 cents a pound, wow! We also got a piece of home made apple pie and shared it. After getting directions to the festival, we were again on the road. 

The festival was on the WyEast school grounds and had three auditoriums filled with all their arts & crafts and food items. There were Gorge wines, prepared foods, fresh fruit and produce, jewelry, clothing, flowers and more. Three women played their folk music on guitar and violin outside under a little roof. There was a salmon dinner prepared by the Native Americans. They had salmon, frybread, baked potatoes and corn on the cob. We decided on one dinner and divided it. We didn’t get the frybread so they gave us two ears of corn with our dinner.  The cook said, as you are sharing the dinner we will give you a larger piece of salmon. It was delicious and all we needed. 

After lunch we went inside to see the crafts. Lorita found a multi-colored knit cap. There were lots of artists and many beautiful paintings and photographs.  A photographer commented on my hat and then added, I can tell you are a mischievous one. I wondered who he was referring to, but no one else was there. Lorita said he was flirting with me. Lorita wanted me to mention this little tidbit but I was embarrassed. Then we went on to another booth and purchased a bottle of honey for my grandson Ryan.  He loves honey and this was fresh from the bee hive. As we were leaving we enjoyed a picturesque scene of the sun in the clouds with a rainbow.

On the way home the rain was lighter and it was brighter so now we could enjoy the autumn leaves and be glad that we continued on with our trip and hadn’t turned back. We went the scenic route for a while along the Columbia Gorge.  

Later when I got home I made applesauce and I wished I had gotten a whole lot more apples because it was so good.  They cooked up just beautiful.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pursuing Family History

Story by Louise Lahmann

In the late 70s my sister Josie was getting married and moving back east and on the way stopped over with an overstuffed manila envelope full of papers and pictures that were to become the beginnings of my interest in genealogy. She told me she didn’t have time to work on it now and wondered if I would like to. It sounded fun. I looked at all the stuff and realized there was so much she didn’t have and I became curious to find the missing pieces.
Mother Mildred, me and sister Josie

I started contacting family members and getting birth dates, marriages and deaths. It was a lot of work but I enjoyed the correspondence and learned a lot. I liked the letters coming in the mail because I never knew what I was going to get. It was exciting. Eventually I was interacting with people that weren’t related but they were interested in family history also. It was helpful to learn about the other genealogist because I discovered how to do it better myself. For instance, I wasn’t very good at documenting in the beginning and later I didn’t know where I got some of my data - so I corrected this.

My uncle Ben had worked on my grandmother Cora’s paternal side and he had a lot of material that was useful and my interest grew because it added a lot to the tree. He had done research since 1920 and his aunt Leona had done work on it before him so the information went way back.

About this time I found out about the Family History Center and started going to Portland and using the computer to research for free on I found the people there very helpful and they guided me so I found census and other records. I had never used a computer before so I had to learn and the staff there showed me what to do and worked with me. I developed some good friendships there.  Later I found out about the center in Gladstone and started going there since it was easier to get to.

Uncle Ben Jackson
My family tree grew and I began contacting even more people that looked like they might have data about my ancestors. I got a lot of addresses from the computer on different sites. People who had information for me but some who needed it too - we traded.  I found Shirley, a distant cousin, in Louisiana and we wrote for many years until she died. I got stacks of information from her on that side of my family.

Then I discovered Sandra, another distant cousin in Canada who sent me whole trees and gave me tons of valuable info that helped me in my search. I also found some data that she didn’t have so we exchanged much and emailed each other every so often.
There were two other people I became close with. Alan Potts was another very distant cousin that I exchanged info with. He sent me three informative books that he had written on the family. I was even able to fill in some missing pieces for him. Then, my cousin Leon Jackson sent me four valuable books he had written. He was a professor in Indiana and had traveled to many of the locations to research and look for records.
Cousin Sandra Janzen

A couple years ago quit offering info for free at the Family History Center. The staff told me I would have to pay to access that info now. So what I could learn about my family began to dwindle. By this time Lorita had moved in with me and so I had access to a computer at home now. In my search Online I would go to open a document and discover it was and I had to be a member to see it. I was upset that they wanted to charge for what I got free before. Honestly, I didn’t like very much and complained about them every time. Lorita tried to get me to buy a membership but I refused because I felt it was too expensive.

Then on my birthday Lorita and Ryan bought me a one year membership for the entire world (that’s more than just the U.S.).  Now I love - I have learned so much and met so many people and we email back and forth. I help them and they help me. It’s very fun because I get new information on my family tree every day, make exciting discoveries, and find people that had long been only a blank space on my tree.

My great grandfather's sister found on
On my mother’s side I found great great grandparents and their families that I had never known about before and I had been searching a long time. Sometimes I’ll find an unknown husband or wife or child in a census or on someone's site and its another puzzle piece that fits in place.  Sometimes I feel like a detective.  I love to solve the mystery.                              

Another thing I love is finding photos on someone’s tree - one’s I had never seen. I have shared many of my family photos with others too and I like to help them and they appreciate it as much as I do.

Besides my mom and dad’s family line and extended family lines, I have also been working on my husband’s family tree and also my grandson Ryan. I took his tree back on one side to the 1500s. And Ryan’s dad, Bob O’Leary, who had thought all his ancestors were from Ireland found out most had come from Scotland. That was a surprise for him.

Bob O'Leary's grandparents on the Carroll side. His mom is one of the twin babies.
Every person on the computerized tree has a place for a photo.  If I don’t have a photo of their face then maybe there’s a picture of their gravestone. I also like the time period before photos because on the place where a photo would go I can find etchings of a immigrant ship, a flag,  coat-of-arms or the likenesses of men and women and the way they dressed during that time period and put those in place of a photo.

Researching family history has been a great hobby for me.  It gives me a happy feeling to connect the people together and it helps me understand more about myself and my roots.  I’m glad I got because now I’m back to finding documents and things I never would have found otherwise. I decided it’s well worth the price because it brings pleasure and gives me something to look forward to.  It’s a legacy I can leave to my descendants, if they’re interested.

Mom with all her children (I'm in the white blouse)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Angels All Around Us

Story by Wilda Lahmann

It was a warm summer evening in late August 1986.  Daily Vacation Bible school had just had its closing program. Both sets of grandparents were able to attend along with the kids and their Daddy, Randy.  I had to work that evening but I made sure the twins Jeremy and Melanie had their nice clothes set out for the program before I left.  Jeremy hadn’t wanted to wear his dress shoes. He wanted to wear his beat up, grungy looking sneakers with Velcro closures. “No, you are not wearing those shoes to church tonight,” I told him sternly.  I gave him a quick hug good bye and then I was out the door for work.

Randy was busy in the kitchen making the kids’ favorite: macaroni and cheese.  He discovered the milk was nearly gone and bread was low too, so he asked our 13-year-old son Scott if he’d mind running over to the corner market for milk and bread. “No problem,” he replied. He knew that a trip to the “GetnGo Market” usually meant a soda or candy too. Jeremy, age 7, asked if he couldn’t please go along too. Randy wasn’t sure as neither of the twins had been allowed to cross the busy street…ever. “Please Daddy,” he begged with his huge, brown “puppy dog” eyes. “I’ll stay right with Scotty.  I promise.” After a few more minutes of begging, Randy relented and said yes and gave them each extra change for a treat from the market. The boys excitedly headed out the door together, 2 brothers hand in hand. Melanie never asked to go. She stayed behind with her Daddy, fixing “mac n cheese.”

My brother Randy with Wilda, Scott, Jeremy & Melanie

It was a busy Friday night at the restaurant.  I was the evening hostess and I loved my job as it allowed me to interact with so many different people. I knew the regulars by name and I would serve them water and coffee and visit with them for a few minutes beside their tables. That is exactly what I was doing that evening when the phone call came in. My manager motioned to me from the front desk. “Phone call.”  Usually, we weren’t allowed to take personal calls while working but he must have known this was an urgent call from a frantic 13-year-old on the other end of the line.

I put the phone to my ear.  It was Scott. He was crying and breathing heavily. “Mom, there’s been a terrible accident.” More crying…. and background noise.

Instinctively I asked “Is it Jeremy? What happened?”
Jeremy Lance Lahmann

Before he could answer I heard what sounded like the whirring of helicopter blades over the phone, so loud that I wouldn’t have been able to hear Scott if he had been talking. Then “Mom, there’s a helicopter landing in the front yard!”

It hit me like a blow to my stomach: Life Flight. They come to the aid of only the worst of accidents.

After a few minutes of unsuccessfully comforting my eldest son on the phone, I knew I had to get to the hospital ASAP. I had to be with my baby, to speak words of encouragement so he would know that he had to hang on. He couldn’t leave our lives already. We had just celebrated the twins seventh birthday, fifteen days earlier.

What hospital? Emanuel. How do I get there? I’ve never driven in that part of town before. I talk with a few waiters and waitresses who tell me that I really shouldn’t be driving at a time like this anyway. But who can drive me?

A smaller dark haired lady was waitressing that night. It was her first day on the job and I didn’t know her, but she came up to me and offered to drive me to the hospital. I readily accepted and we went out to her car and began our drive. It was a beautiful night. Stars were shining, the moon was bright. How could it be possible that I was riding to the place where my youngest son was likely taking his final breaths.

I asked her name. “Anne,” she told me softly.  She had the most comforting voice. She reminded me that regardless of the outcome, Jeremy was already a child of God. She quoted scriptures for me that gave me hope for the future. She also told me that I would need to be strong for the rest of my family. When we got to the hospital she walked with me to the main doors and then told me goodbye. I asked if she maybe wanted to come inside?  She told me “no” that she knew I had family and friends waiting for me inside the hospital. She was glad she was able to give me the ride.  And then she was gone.

Jeremy made his transition from his life on earth shortly after being struck by the drunk driver in the crosswalk in front of our house. It happened so quickly he likely never knew what hit him.  He never regained consciousness. Our beautiful baby boy, Melanie’s twin brother, Scott’s little tag along … was laid to rest beneath a tall fir tree overlooking the valley and Mt Hood to the east.

Mt. Hood from Mountain View Cemetery
I returned to work a week or so later and I wanted to see Anne, to thank her again for being there for me when I needed her. I was told that Anne had never been seen again at the restaurant. She had never returned for her paycheck and they didn’t have a phone number for her.  It was then, while talking with others who had been there that Friday night, I had the feeling I had been visited by an angel.  Others agree.

Since then I have learned that a few of the meanings of the name Anne are “messenger of God”, “God’s gift” and “favored by God”.

The Anne I met that night, was every one of those … and so much more.