Monday, November 28, 2011

Holidays, Kitty Drama and Caregiving

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is now over in the US. It was certainly nice having four days in a row off to veg. On Thanksgiving eve, I began my ritual of prepping food for the big day. Generally, I have a house full of family and friends, but this year was different. Things came up which prevented friends from coming for dinner and to visit, but that didn't stop my food ritual. On Thanksgiving eve (last Wednesday) I prepared tons of food - marinated tofu, vegan green bean casserole, tofu pumpkin pie and vegan scalloped potatoes.

Since the week had been rather hectic, I was cool with the lack of company as that meant I didn't have to find the time to add house cleaning to the schedule. Thanksgiving morning rolls around and the first thing I did after making a cup of coffee was to pop the pie into the oven. I was in the kitchen and so was my sister (she was making our mom breakfast) when my little 14 year old Louie let out a loud and guttural yell. Not once, but twice, and something I've never heard come out of him before. At first we didn't even know where that came from.

My sister and I realized it was Louie and the other cats were disturbed by this sound. We followed Louie and he went to a cat box, but could not go. I said to my sister that I was going to wash my face and take him to the vet. He was "constipated" and clearly in pain. My sister washed up too, and we ran him to the vet. Being the holiday, I wasn't able to call in a regular appointment so was stuck with the "emergency" fee. That was fine as I only wanted my baby well.

Louie at the vet on Thanksgiving

We spent about two hours at the vet and then left Louie there while they did x-rays and gave him an enema. After about three hours, I called to check on him and found out that he still hadn't "gone" and they said to call back in two more hours as they were going to give him another enema. Poor baby.

Louie at the vet on Thanksgiving

My sister and I cooked the prepped dinner and did laundry while my mom kept asking for updates on Louie. When I called back the second time, the tech said he still hadn't gone but the vet said he could go home. My sister went to get him while I finished our Thanksgiving dinner. Louie came home with a huge bottle of liquid stool softener and we enjoyed our dinner and monitored him that night. The vet felt that he wasn't comfy enough to go and would probably be able to once home. He finally did! Thank God.

Louie's x-rays showed that his intestines were pretty full and needed to be "evacuated". The vet sent instructions home to give him a tablespoon of pumpkin pie filling (from the can and sans all the sugar and spice) daily as that is a good "cleanser". Turns out Louie LOVES pumpkin and will eat it right off of a spoon!

He's doing better now and I'm so happy about that. Wasn't quite how I had planned my day, but, do daily plans ever 100% materialize? The food did come together though, and was really good. The art I planned to work on, didn't really happen. Sigh. Louie's OK and I can work on art in the weird wee hours of the night. That does tend to interfere with sleeping though.

So now I just have to get my art going so that I can hopefully supplement my lost income with art sales. My day job work hours were cut after I moved my mom in. Maybe I can learn something from the "mommy preneurs"! I've got to do something! The difference between me and "mommy bloggers", probably not much. They are caregivers to little kids and I'm a caregiver to my mother and my cats. The bottom line is that we are all individuals caring for others while possibly trying to maintain our own "thing", hopefully somehow helping others, and have the means to provide for our loved ones.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Edna Vina Beck Coffman

Edna Vina Beck Coffman was one of my great grandmother Effie's many sisters, and was my grandmother Lola's aunt. Edna was the sixth child (and fourth daughter) of Wells Marcus Beck and Emma Mayben Beck. She was born In Prairie Home, Shelby County Illinois on 1 February 1876.

Based on information I've found online, I am only able to present her dates of birth, marriage and death, along with the names of her spouse, children (Rose, Elzie, Everett and Hazel), parents and siblings, as well as where she was living during the various census years. As with the others in my tree, I do hope to find pictures of Edna and her family.

At twenty years of age, Edna married William Wesley "Wes" Coffman in Shelby County, Illinois. By the 1900 census, they were living in Penn, Shelby County, IL, with two young children. By 1910 census, they were living in San Antonio, Texas with their four children, and 1910 was the year they went to Laramie.  By 1920, Edna and Wes were living in Laramie, WY, with three of their four children. In 1930, Edna and Wes were living in Laramie with their son Elzie.

I did find a memorial on for Lester Coffman (1898-1904) and the memorial listed his parents as Wesley W. and Edna Beck Coffman. The burial is at Prairie Home Cemetery in Shelby County, IL, where many of the Becks are buried. I did not find a child named Lester on the 1900 census, though, so I checked another great resource for Illinois, IRAD (Illinois Regional Archives Depository) and checked the pre-1916 deaths. I did find a Leslie Coffman that died 12 Oct 1904 in Pickaway Twp, Shelby County, IL. The database lists Leslie as a 2 month old male. I also found a newspaper article on from 18 Oct 1904 announcing the death of the "babe of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Coffman". I will have to verify this by ordering a copy of the death certificate. I could not find it on

Edna moved to Denver, CO in 1943 and died there on 19 Sept 1948. She is buried with Wes at Greenhill Cemetery, Laramie, WY.

Transcription of the obituary:

Mrs. Edna Coffman Dies in Denver

Mrs. Edna V. Coffman, 72, former Laramie resident, died at noon yesterday in Denver following a brief illness. She had lived there for the last five years.

Mrs. Coffman was born Feb. 1, 1875 in Decatur, Ill. She came here in 1910 with her husband, the late William W. Coffman, Union Pacific Engineer who died in 1933. She was a member of the Christian Science church.

She is survived by three children; Mrs. O. C. Dinelly, Laramie; Mrs. L. M. Cole, Denver;  and E. E. Coffman, Denver; three grandchildren: Mrs. Duane Cordiner, Laramie; Lloyd Cordiner, Denver, and Delano Dinelly, Laramie; five great grandchildren and a sister, Wade Thompson and one brother, Edgar Beck, both of Decatur, Ill.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Stryker mortuary. Pallbearers will be H. B. Pope, Henry Larson, J. R. Sullivan, James H. White, Joe Vesley and Walter Fredericks.

The Laramie (Wyo.) Republican-Boomerang, Monday, 20 Sept 1948

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My "Famous" Great Grandmother, Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby

This evening I was talking to my mom while watching Katie Couric's interview with Regis Philbin on the eve of his retirement. My mom used to watch his network show and we used to see one of his early shows from Los Angeles back in the 70s. His co-host then was Sara Purcell.

I was washing dinner dishes and my mom came into the kitchen and tried to see the show on my small kitchen TV. That wasn't easy for her as she has macular degeneration. Suddenly she couldn't remember his last name and I tried giving her clues, but rather than getting it, she started laughing so hard she had to pee. Afterward, I think the interest in remembering Regis' name was gone and the discussion turned to Dr. Oz's show and ended with my reading an article I had found a while back but never saved. I recently went back to and found the article. My mom had a good laugh, although she did comment that at the time people did what they could to make money (and I have to agree with that).

I have referred to my great grandmother, Effie (Lola's mother), as "famous" before and I'm doing it again. I have found more articles on her than anyone else in my tree pretty much (you can search Effie here for all the posts). Effie had a hard life, there is no doubt about that. She gave birth to a daughter at 17 years old and the "Lothario" abandoned her. She then married and had five more children that I'm aware of, and her marriage broke up. She and her children ended up separated, living wherever they could get shelter and work.

Her eldest son died at 16 while working as a laborer on a farm for his board. Her youngest son ended up in a different state at 8 years old being adopted by the family he was with, and her two daughters ended up in State Mental Hospitals. She did remarry a man named Ellsworth Elmer Roby at least by 1920 (the year her divorce from George Cloos was granted) and was married to Ellsworth at the time of her death.

I so desire to take a trip to Decatur, IL to really scour through the historical society documents and those at the library. I also want to check court and police records in hopes of pictures. Considering Effie was known to the police, surely pictures of her exist. And surely pictures exist elsewhere, as she was a person that did exist. I firmly believe someone has pictures of her but may not know who she is.

The following article was published in the Decatur Evening Herald on Friday, October 7, 1927, page 10. I know it isn't easy to read and I'm not going to transcribe the entire article, but basically Effie was arrested for running a bootlegging establishment (or speak-easy) and charged with illegal traffic in liquor. According to the police, Effie had a gallon of "mule" at the time of the raids and arrests. Effie did manage to "furnish" the bond money on the same day of the raid to appear on charges and I assume walked because, as usual, money talks!

Effie really does intrigue me. At a time when she should have been content with being a "proper" young woman and "proper" older woman, she was anything but that! I want to know more about her. As I've said before, I believe her story alone, would make a great book!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Leah Furst Beck

Leah Furst Beck was my great great great grandmother. She was the mother of my great great grandfather, Wellls Beck. Leah was born on 30 June 1818 in Mifflin County, Pennsylvania and was the daughter of Thomas Furst and Anna Margareta Ilgen.

She married Joseph Beck at 23 years old in 1841. Leah and Joseph had four children, Wells Marcus Beck (1842 - 1928), Orlando Carson Beck (1843 - 1913), Agnes Amanda Furst Beck (1844 - 1911) and Luther Thomas Beck (1851 - 1935).

She and Joseph moved from Mifflin County, Pennsylvania to Prairie Home, Shelby County, Illinois in the spring of 1864 and lived there for the remainder of their lives. I do not yet know much about Leah but will research her more in the future. I am certain pictures of her are out there.

Transcription of Leah's obituary from Findagrave:

Death of Mrs. Leah Beck

(Review Special Service)

Prairie Home, Ill., April 27--Mrs. Leah Beck died at her home, three fourths of a mile west of Prairie Home on Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock, aged 86 years, 9 months and 21 days.

She moved from Mifflin county, Pennsylvania in the spring of 1864 and has resided in the same place ever since.

Her husband died almost eight years ago. She leaves four children, one daughter, Agnes A. Beck of Pennsylvania, Wells M. Beck of Prairie Home, Orlando Beck of Montana and Luther Beck of Kansas, besides several grandchildren, great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter.

She was a member of the Lutheran church in ___ when she moved here when she united with the Presbyterian church at this place, of which she remained a member until death.

Daily Review, The (Decatur, IL) 27 Apr 1906

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11 and Happy Veteran's Day, Happy Remembrance Day and my 200th Blog Post

Well that was a long title! Today is 11-11-11. It is also Veteran's Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada. This is also my 200th blog post!

First I must thank all Veteran's, past and present, for their service. Theirs is a service I was never up for. As a teen, the thought of someone yelling at me at the crack of dawn to remake my bed because a quarter didn't bounce on it, turned me off! As an adult, that isn't an appealing thought! However, serving your country is obviously much more than that.

I do come from a long line of veterans, and as far as I can tell, they all came home. I know I have veterans in my tree of the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korean War and Viet Nam.

Both my parents were WWII veterans. My dad served in the United States Marine Corp (Semper Fi, dad) and my mom served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. In honor of this special day, I took my mom out for dinner. She had been craving "old school" meals (not my vegetarian stuff) and all day I wracked my brain trying to figure out where I could take her. On my way home from work, I had to stop for gas by the house (the fuel light was on), and I noticed a "family" restaurant across the street from the gas station. I decided we'd go there.

I got home and googled them and found the menu. I read it to my mom and she was very excited by the huge selection of items! So off we went. She was smiling as we walked in and the hostess seated us. As we were seated, I flashed back to my childhood. This place reminded me so much of a restaurant we used to go to on Friday nights back in the 60s when I was kid.

This place has a massive menu, a full bar, wood panelling on the walls, oil paintings hanging on the wood panelling, is open 24 hours. The extensive menu includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, kids menu, cocktails, you name it pretty much. Earlier in the week, my mom had been craving pork chops, but just couldn't remember what they were called and referred to them as ribs, but not ribs.

As we sat on our booth that was upholstered like a vintage car, I read her the menu options. As soon as I said pork chops and apple sauce, she said that is what she was trying to say the other night and she wanted that. Her dinner came with a baked potato with whipped butter, sour cream and chives, a little corn on the cobb, dinner roll and salad, and her choice of jello or tapioca pudding! Oh how old school!

I was able to order spaghetti with vegetarian marinara sauce. My dinner didn't come with all the extras my mom's did (which was fine by me). We both did get a lovely dinner salad prior to our meal that was served on chilled plates with your choice of dressing (including blue cheese or thousand island). We both picked Italian. The other throw back was that the salad also came with a package of Rye Crisp crackers and Saltine crackers!

The clientele as well as the waitress were basically of the senior generation. My mom just loved the entire experience. There was a couple there with a baby (a grandchild possibly) and young hip guy, but other than that, I think I was the youngest person there! My mom just loved the entire experience and so did I. I told her I was tempted to order from the kids menu because I flashed back. We will go there again. When I got the bill I was so surprised. My mom's meal, my meal, her glass of wine and my iced tea cost half the price that a meal for two cost at Olive Garden (two meals, glass of wine and glass of water)!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family Research - What Would They Think?

I was just reflecting on my past two years of "hard core" genealogy research - all the people I've found, the living cousins I've found, the documents, pictures, etc., and about the blog posts I've dedicated to various family members.

I don't come from famous folks, but rather, working class people. I started to wonder what they might think if they knew that I (in some little way) have "immortalized" them via my blog. I'm not so sure my dad would like it (or at least my attempt to find his mother) but maybe some of the others would find it kind of cool.

I wonder if many of the people in my tree may have felt no value in their lives, but this exercise in gen research has proven to me that everyone does have value.

Does anyone else ever think about this and how their long gone relatives might feel about being "out there" via this new technology?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Donald Elmer Robinson

Donald Elmer Robinson was my dad's first cousin. He was born 16 May 1928 in Lincoln, Logan County, Illinois and was one of the many children of Harry Ward Robinson (1889 - 1960) and Luella Sutton (1899 - 1943).

Don's father, Harry, was my grandfather Earl's (aka Red) brother. I couldn't tell you if Don and my dad knew each other, but Don did live in the Southern California city of Long Beach and died there at 40 years of age on 5 January 1969. Before my dad retired, his final work location was in Long Beach.

Once I learned about Don and that he died in Los Angeles County I had to go pull his death certificate. According to the record (and mind you these records are only as good as the informant), Don lived in California for 16 years (yet according to his father's obituary in 1960, Don lived in Phoenix, AZ). The informant listed on Don's death certificate was Records - VA Hospital, 5901 E. 7th Street, Long Beach, CA. Don died in that VA Hospital. He was a US war veteran - an Army Sergeant in Korea.

According to the death certificate, Don never married and had worked for 7 years as a cook at a place called Fleet Inn. I assume that was in Long Beach as Long Beach was also his last known address. Like so many others in my paternal family tree (both Red's and Lola's sides), including my dad, Don died of congestive heart failure.

His body was transported home to Lincoln, IL on 8 January 1969, and he is buried at Bowers-Templeman Cemetery in Mount Pulaski, with his parents.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Robert Clay Beck

Robert Clay Beck was the brother of my "famous" great grandmother, Effie, and the uncle of my grandmother, Lola. He was born in Prairie Home, Shelby County, Illinois on 21 Aug 1869 and was the second son, and third born child of my great great grandparents Wells Marcus Beck and Emma Mayben.

My research indicates that Robert married Cora Patton on 9 May 1892 in Shelby County, IL and that they had three children, Alverna Beck Taylor (1892-1971), Alma Lucille Beck McConnell (1897 - 1975) and Wells Marcus Beck (1899 - 1961).

Robert's wife Cora died in 1901, and he married her sister, Lulu Patton on 26 Feb 1903.  They had a daughter Dorothy Beck in 1907.

By 1910 they were living in Rio Grande, Colorado (where his sister Zadie Beck Loser was living) and that is where he died on 22 May 1925 at the age of 55.

Transcription of obituary

Robert C. Beck

Robert C. Beck, aged fifty-five years, and husband of Mrs. Lulu Beck, died suddenly in his home in Monte Vista, Colo, Friday afternoon, May 22, at 1 o'clock. Mr. Beck was born in Shelby county Aug 21, 1869. He is the son of W. M. Beck Sr. of Decatur.

Mr. Beck is survived by his wife, Mrs. Lulu of Colorado; four children - Mrs. O. C. Taylor of  Decatur, Mrs. Ray McConnell of Moweaqua, Mark Beck of Decatur and Dorothy Beck of Monte Vista; also five sisters and one brother - Mrs. Oliver Loser of Monte Vista, Mrs. W. W. Coffman of Laramie, Wyo; Mrs. William Wempen of Santa Ana, Cal; Mrs. E. F. Roby, Mrs. Wade Thompson and E. B. Beck, all of Decatur.

The funeral arrangements have not been completed  as yet, but will be held at the Prairie Home church, east of Moweaqua.

The Decatur Daily Review, 23 May 1925, page 10

Friday, November 4, 2011

See The USA in a Chevrolet and Song of the Week

Unless you grew up in my house. We didn't see the USA nor did we have a Chevrolet. We did see California in a Ford, but there are not songs about that! However, my  big sister did have a Chevy Camero in her teens.

Me, sisters, Puddles (our dog), 59 Ford Fairlane
Chevrolet turned 100! Can you imagine? What an impact Chevy had just in music - Elton John, Dinah Shore (yes an ad for Chevy), and maybe the most famous, in my opinion, was Don McLean's American Pie. I know so many people that actually tried to analyze that song (including myself) and I can't hear it without getting a bit choked up. Why, I don't know. Maybe because my mom loves that song or because it reminds me of a time when life was less stressful.

So, may you have happy or sad memories, or be inspired to analyze the song, I hope most of all you enjoy it! It was, and still is so very cool. My song of the week is American Pie by Don McLean.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Aunt Sadie

I love this picture and came across it while going through a large box of old photos. It is my maternal aunt Sadie McPhee and her precious cat Sam. This was actually in a little plastic photo book that contained pictures of Sadie's cats, her dog Brandi, and me with Sam when we were both babies.

Sadie and Sam, 1962
Growing up, Sadie was the "fun" aunt. She took my younger sister and I to our first walk-in movie, That Darn Cat! I naturally thought Sam was in the movie.

She was a glamour girl in her day and was tall. She used to tell people she was 5'12"! She also drove small cars for many years (a Karmann Ghia, a VW Bug and a Toyota Cressida).

Patricia McPhee Dolan, Clara McPhee McPhail, Sadie McPhee

When Sadie passed away in 2004, I made the funeral cards. I found a great old photo booth picture of her that I used and printed the cards with my Gocco.

Sadie McPhee in photo booth in Toronto

Funeral Card

She was always very organized and had her entire funeral planned and written out and everything was paid for. She is buried next to my aunt Pat in Rowland Heights, CA.