Saturday, December 12, 2009

A First Look at

A little bird (named Tamura Jones) tweeted at about 11 a.m. PST today:

"TamuraJones: #genealogy I feel like posting another scoop :-)"

and then

"TamuraJones: #genealogy #news First Look at Mundia:'s social genealogy application for FaceBook "

I missed it the first time around because of Christmas shopping. By the time I got around to looking at it, there was already speculation that Mundia was an online family tree application, a Facebook family tree application, and another way for to lure the unsuspecting genealogy researcher into their web.

I also missed the "social media release" on 6 December 2009 titled launches globally that provides some background data on the beta release of the website. I wonder who the thousands of signups are? Did anybody but Tamura Jones see this? is owned by - it says so right on their web page. It does look different from, except for the ever-present green leaves. If you are not signed up, this is what the home page looks like:

The visitor is invited to enter a surname (don't put in anything except a surname!). I entered "Seaver," hit the green "Search" button, and saw:

Wow. They have over 21,000 "Seaver" matches in their database. I was curious, so I clicked on the "15,865 Seaver matches" link and saw:

An alphabetical list of matches from the database. There are search fields on the left side of the screen above, so I entered "Isaac" in the first name field and clicked on "Search" again and saw:

The second one down the list is my second great-grandfather, Isaac Seaver (1823-1901), so I clicked on him and saw:

The popup window above shows the different family trees available on the system - the one at the bottom looks like my own tree, so I clicked on it and saw:

Ah, the dreaded registration screen! I can't see the actual data without being a registered user of

I will show screens for registered users tomorrow, and will discuss some of the issues facing all of us with this new website.

My impression at this point in time is that this site is intended to be an easier portal to get to the Ancestry Public Member Trees, and to invite friends and family to use it without calling it It may well be's entry to Facebook - there may eventually be a Facebook application that can be accessed from within Facebook.

Oh, the name ... the press release says that "Mundia" means "worlds" in Latin.

Thank you, Tamura Jones, for scooping the genealogy blog world on this website. Only time will tell if this is a useful website for researchers and family tree enthusiasts.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Another Wish List

Welcome to SNGF -- it's Saturday Night, time for more Genealogy Fun!

We had a great response last week to our Dear Genea-Santa wish list - thank you all for posting - perhaps you can use that post as a start for the upcoming Canrival of Genealogy with the topic of "Dear Genea-Santa." My apologies for duplicating the theme last week.

I think that we all want lots of imaged and indexed databases online for our pajama-clad viewing pleasure... so for this week's SNGF, let's express our wishes for databases we want the genealogy companies to bring to us:

1) Define one or more genealogy or family history databases, that are not currently online, that would really help you in your research. Where does this database currently reside?

2) Tell us about it/them in a blog post on your own blog or GenealogyWise or Facebook, in a comment to this blog post, or in a comment to this post on Facebook.

Here's mine:

a) The daily San Diego Union newspaper (1868 to 1992) is on microfilm at the San Diego Public Library in downtown San Diego. There are online dstabases since the early 1980's, but nothing before that. It is poorly indexed on file cards (1868-1915, 1931-1985), and the file cards are on microfiche, at several San Diego area libraries, but the years 1915 to 1930 are missing. Even a database of the index would be very helpful!

b) Probate indexes and probate files are available on microfilm at the LDS Family History Library, but very few are available in online databases. Hopefully, FamilySearch will image and index these for each county or other probate jurisdiction. I believe that many brickwall problems will be solved with this information once these records are name indexed.

How can I preserve my family memories?

Today's San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper has an article titled "How can I preserve my family memories?" by Jennifer Davies. The article leads with:

"This time of year, family is always front and center. Instead of fixating on how aggravating they can be, focus instead on how interesting they actually are. Everyone has a story, from Grandma who lived through the Great Depression to Uncle Franklin who served in the Vietnam War."

In the article, she lists a number of local and national web sites to help persons and families perform this task. They include:

*, a San Diego company that does video oral histories by Bridget Poizner

*, a San Diego company that rents equipment

*, the national StoryCorps organization has equipment to rent

*, a San Diego program where residents can make a three to five minute video for free

The article also mentions the "Do-it-yourself" guide at

This is an excellent article with good advice on how to capture your family stories.

Surname Saturday - KEMP

It's Surname Saturday - and I am working my way down my Ahnentafel List. Each week I am highlighting one surname line.

This week the surname is KEMP. The first generation guy is John Kemp, who magically appears in the Albany-Schenectady area of New York in about 1760. He fights in the Revolutionary War on the Loyalist side, and migrates to Canada with his family after the War. I think that he may be an English soldier in the French and Indian War. One record lists him as "of Merriland."

Here is my Ahnentafel List for this line, starting with #1 - me, and then the families in the line:

1. Randall J. Seaver

2. Frederick W. Seaver (1911-1983)
3. Betty V. Carringer (1919-2002)

6. Lyle L. Carringer (1891-1976)
7. Emily Kemp Auble (1899-1977)

14. Charles Auble was born 31 October 1849 in prob. Newton, Sussex County, NJ, and died 23 March 1916 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA. He was the son of David Auble and Sarah G. Knapp. He married 19 June 1898 in Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, WI.
15. Georgianna/Georgia Kemp, born 04 August 1868 in Middleton Township, Norfolk County, ONTARIO; died 08 November 1952 in San Diego, San Diego County, CA.

30. James Abram Kemp, born 22 May 1831 in probably Hillier, Prince Edward County, Ontario, CANADA; died 19 September 1902 in Delhi, Norfolk County, Ontario, CANADA. He married 10 March 1861 in Middleton, Norfolk County, ONTARIO.
31 Mary Jane Sovereen, born 29 December 1840 in prob. Delhi, Norfolk County, ONTARIO; died 20 May 1874 in Middleton, Norfolk County, Ontario, CANADA. She was the daughter of Alexander Sovereign and Eliza Putman. Children of James Kemp and Mary Sovereen are:
.......... i. Sarah Elizabeth Kemp (1862-1929), married 1889 Andrew J. Cropp (1863-<1920)
.......... ii. Seymour Kemp (1864-1877)
.......... iii. Melvina Marylis Kemp (1866-1929), married 1886 James Henry Trembley (1865-1918)
....15.. iv. Georgianna/Georgia Kemp (1868-1952), married 1898 Charles Auble.
..........v. James Alexander Kemp (1872-1934), married 1892 Bertha Anice Fuller (1874-1951)

60. Abraham James Kemp, born 04 November 1795 in Fredericksburgh, Addington County, Ontario, CANADA; died after 1881 in Norfolk County, Ontario, CANADA. He married 16 April 1818 in probably Prince Edward County, Ontario, CANADA.
61. Sarah Sephrona Fletcher, born 07 July 1802 in perhaps, Quebec, New France; died after 1861 in probably. Norfolk County, Ontario, CANADA. Children of Abraham Kemp and Sarah Fletcher are:
.......... i. Waity Catherine Kemp (1820-1899), married 1842 John T. Rose (1813-1893)
.......... ii. Mary Ann Kemp (1823-????), married 1848 William C. Knapp
.......... iii. Stephen G. Kemp (1826-????)
.......... iv. William H. Kemp (1829-1886), married 1854 Mary Knapp (1834-1922)
...30.. v. James Abram Kemp (1831-1902), married (1) 1861 Mary Jane Sovereen, married (2) 1876 Melissa Wilson
.......... vi. John L. Kemp (1834-1920)
.......... vii. Peter Evans Kemp (1837-1922), married (1) 1865 Isabella Eagles (1839-1873), married (2) 1875 Catherine Frances Ryder (1844-1919)
.......... viii. Andrew Hait Kemp (1839-1915), married (1) Mary Catherine Gaviland (1838-????), married (2) 1867 Elizabeth Eagles (1844-1905)
.......... ix. Sarah Jane Kemp (1843-1891), married 1864 Henry Pulver (1843-1896)
.......... x. Charles W. Kemp (1845-????)
.......... xi. Wesley Kemp (1847-1891), married A1874 ugusta Ann Robertson (1856-1934)

120. John Kemp, born about 1768 in Schenectady, Schenectady County, NY; died after April 1861 in probably Cramahe, Northumberland County, Ontario, CANADA. He married 26 January 1795 in Fredericksburgh, Addington County, Ontario, CANADA.
121. Mary Dafoe, born about 1776 in VT; died before 1851 in prob. Cramahe, Northumberland County, Ontario, CANADA. She was the daughter of Abraham Dafoe and Katreen/Catherina Diamond. Children of John Kemp and Mary Dafoe are:

...60 .. i. Abraham James Kemp (1795-1881), married 1818 Sarah Sephrona Fletcher.
.......... ii. Nancy Anna Kemp (1797-1874), married 1814 Stephen G. Griffis (1792-1871)
.......... iii. John Cook Kemp (1800-1887), married Jane Herrington (1808-1876)
.......... iv. Jacob Kemp (1802-1887), married 1832 Rose Roseborough (1809-1897)
.......... v. George Kemp (1806-????)
.......... vi. Elizabeth Kemp (1806-????), married John Wade.
.......... vii. James A. Kemp (1807-1891), married (1) Elizabeth Cadwell, married (2) 1839 Mary Ann Playter (1820-1900)
.......... viii. Lucy Kemp (1809-????)
.......... ix. Mary Kemp (1812-1912), married 1831 Obediah (Abel) Simpson (1811-1899)

240. John Kemp, born about 1723; died January 1793 in Fredericksburgh, Addington County, Ontario, CANADA. He married before 1761 in probably Schenectady, Schenectady County, NY.
241. Anna Van Vorst, born before 22 October 1732 in Schenectady, Schenectady County, NY (baptism); died 15 July 1789 in Fredericksburgh, Addington County, Ontario, CANADA. She was the daughter of Jacobus Van Vorst and Anna Beck. Children of John Kemp and Anna Van Vorst are:
.......... i. Joseph Kemp (1761-1836), married 1787 Catherine Bovee (1768-1842)
.......... ii. Jacobus/James Kemp (1763-1803), married (1) 1790 Phoebe Van Siclen 2(????-1798), married (2) 1799 Jane Anderson
.......... iii. Rachel Kemp (1767-????)
. 120 . iv. John Kemp (1768-1861), married 1795 Mary Dafoe.
.......... v. Nancy Kemp (1770-1836), married 1788 Abraham Loucks (1760-1852)

Advent Calendar - Day 13: Charitable/Volunteer Work

On the 13th Day of Christmas,
My true love gives to the community
Her time, prayers and compassion.

1) Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women's shelter during the holidays?

These are difficult questions for the Genea-Scrooge...I don't think my parents ever did this in the 1940-1980 time frame. Charity was not on the radar, other than dropping coins in the Salvation Army kettles.

Our church has hosted a homeless shelter for two weeks twice a year, and the shelter is there this week and next. We donate food items to this, but haven't been physically present at the shelter. Linda went down on Saturday to help set up the shelter cots and bedding.

Linda has been part of the Forest Home Women's Auxiliary for many years - Forest Home is a Christian camp in the San Bernardino mountains that our family attended for many years when the kids were kids. The Auxiliary has run a thrift shop in La Mesa for many years until just recently. We donated many clothing and household items over the years, and Linda worked one day a month at the shop.

Randy has essentially sat on his butt and not done anything of charitable value...sad to say.

2) Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?

Once again, I have no idea about this about the ancestors.

3) Were you able to make the holidays special for someone less fortunate? (This question was from two years ago).

The people that I can think of are Linda's great-aunts and second cousins who lived alone in San Francisco during the 1970s and early 1980s. We would go pick them up and bring them to Linda's parents house for Christmas dinner and gift exchange.

Over the years, we have occasionally invited some of the elderly church members with no local family to Christmas dinner with us, and they really appreciate the invitation and invariably are enthusiastic, friendly and fun. Linda is a Deacon at church this year, and the Deacons usually "adopt" one or more church families, or friends of church families, who won't have Christmas gifts for their children or need help with meals. She is one of two persons who go with the pastor to serve communion to the shut-in church members.

Needless to say, I almost didn't respond to this prompt, but what the heck - my readers need to know that I'm a Genea-Scrooge sometimes, at least when it concerns the community. Maybe it's genetic, or a learned behavior?

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Geneabloggers blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Massachusetts Marriage Records on FamilySearch Record Search

One of the new databases appearing on the LDS FamilySearch Record Search Pilot website is the Massachusetts Marriages, 1841 to 1915. Here is the basic Search box for this database:

The collection description says:

"Name index and images of Massachusetts statewide marriage registers. The marriage registers are in numbered volumes arranged by year then by individual town. Currently only marriages for the years 1896, 1897 and 1906-1915 are available."

I input "Seaver" in the last name field on the search box, and received 445 matches. Here is the screen with the "mouse-over" popup box for the first person on the list:

I noted that this summary of the indexed data does not include the numbered volume of this collection - this is a gross oversight, since the numbered volume is how you find the record on FHL microfilm or at the Massachusetts Archives or New England HistGen Society.

The image of the record can be seen by clicking on the "Record Image" icon on the far-left of the person's name (or by clicking on the "Record Details" icon and then the "Record Image" icon, both on the far-right side of the screen - you have to click each of them once):

This record image can be magnified using the + and - buttons on the small thumbnail image, which shows in yellow the portion of the image displayed on the screen. The user can manipulate the image using their left-mouse button to move the image with the "magic hand" around the screen.

These Massachusetts Marriage Records are also available on the NEHGS website behind their firewall. NEHGS has the entire collection of Massachusetts Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1841-1910 and Massachusetts Marriages 1911-1915 on their website. The NEHGS collection does provide the Volume Number, but is somewhat more difficult to search and display the images.

I have collected information for many Seaver surname persons from the microfilms of these records available through the LDS Family History Library. I ordered them one at a time over a period of about 5 years - and now they are all online.

Chula Vista Genealogical Society Activities

The Chula Vista Genealogy Cafe blog highlights these posts from the last two weeks:

* Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - December 2009 -- what's happening this month.

* CVGS December Newsletter is online -- the latest newsletter, edited by yours truly

* CVGS Research Group Summary - 9 December 2009 -- this monthly group talks about their research challenges and successes.

* New and Updated Genealogy Databases - November/December 2009 -- a summary of some of the additions to free and commercial genealogy websites.

Follow Friday - Geneablogie!

It's Follow Friday, where I get to choose another "favorite" blog and recommend it to my readers to "follow." This week, I've chosen Geneablogie written by Craig Manson.

Craig's "About Geneablogie" page says:

"GeneaBlogie consists of genealogy news, tips, stories, some tech stuff, reviews of genealogical media of all sorts, and of course, my personal observations on my research. We have an informal motto here: 'Learn, Share, Enjoy, Appreciate.' I hope you’ll be able to do a bit of each as you read this blog.

"About me, Craig Manson: I’m a professor of law and public policy at a California law school. Over the last forty years, I’ve been a Top Forty DJ at a couple of radio stations, both AM & FM; a broadcast journalist; a cable television sportscaster; a radio sportscaster; a newspaper stringer; a lobbyist in a state legislature; a military officer, a college professor, a lawyer, a judge, and have served at the highest levels of both state and federal government. And then there was the time I got picked off first base for the third out in the ninth inning of the only professional baseball game I’d ever played in . . . ."

Check out Craig's posts in The Best of Geneablogie.

Craig's genealogy blogging about legal issues is valuable (even priceless) for the rest of us, and his ongoing research articles about his ancestral families are excellent tutorials about genealogy research and persistence.

Advent Calendar - Day 14: Other Traditions

On the 14th Day of Christmas
I tried to share ethnic traditions
but we are plain old Protestant Christians!

1) Did your family or friends also celebrate other traditions during the holidays such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa?

The short answer is "no."

2) Did your immigrant ancestors have holiday traditions from their native country which they retained or perhaps abandoned?

I don't know, because my latest immigrants were from England in the 1850's. Linda's latest immigrants were from Norway in the 1850's.

The holiday traditions we have observed are pretty much the modern American Protestant Christmas expressions with caroling, gift-giving, prayers and family gatherings.

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Geneabloggers blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Nebraska State Censuses - 1860 to 1885 announced the release of the Nebraska State Census records for 1860 to 1885 today - see Crista Cowan's blog post Ancestry World Archives Project Releases Nebraska State Census, 1860-1885.

I love it when new databases that contain records of my ancestors and research targets come online. The only ancestors I know about in Nebraska in this time period were my SMITH family - Devier J. Smith, his wife Abbie, and their children, Della, David and Matie.

Here is the record summary for D.J. Smith:

It shows four people in the family - with Albret listed first, then D.J., Della and Matie.

Here is the actual census record (1885 Nebraska State Census, Red Willow County, McCook Township, Page 3, Dwelling #35, Family #35, National Archives Microfilm Series M352):

The information for this family shows:

* Smith D.J. - white, male, age 45, wife, married, Lineman (?? unreadable, may be liveryman), born NY, father born NY, mother born NY
* Smith Albret (should be Abbie) - white, female, age 41, daughter, married, at home, born NY, father born England
* Smith Della - white, female, age 23, single, born Wisconsin, father born NY
* Smith Matie - white, female, age 19, single, born Wisconsin, father born NY

The enumerator mistakenly put "wife" for D.J. and "daughter" for Abbie in the relationship column. He didn't write in the mother's birthplace for Abbie or the two daughters. The indexer couldn't read Abbie's name on the page accurately and indexed it as "Albret" - I can't fault the indexer here - it does look like "Albret." I submitted an alternate name saying that the enumerator had erred.

I have several other related families to search for and find in this census database - maybe I will be able to add information to my genealogy database as a result. Available to NEHGS Members

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) newsletter yesterday said:

NEHGS is pleased to announce that members may now access the Footnote and Marquis Who’s Who databases through

On Footnote, users can search and browse millions of historic documents, many of them made available through partnerships with the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. Among the many resources are census records, military records (including Revolutionary War pension files), naturalizations, vital records, and the Pennsylvania Archives historical records.

Marquis Who’s Who features comprehensive profiles on over 1.4 million individuals from all fields of endeavor. It includes biographies from Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the East, Who’s Who in the Midwest, and many other Who’s Who titles. Please note: access to this database is limited to five simultaneous users. If you are unable to access it when the limit has been reached, please try again later.

To search these new databases, visit our External Databases page at, where you will find links to Footnote and Marquis Who’s Who, along with links to 19th Century Newspapers and Early American Newspapers. You must be logged onto with your NEHGS login in order to access the databases. (These resources are not available to Institutional Members of NEHGS.)

In other database news, please note that Access NewspaperArchive through will end on December 29, 2009.

The access to is a major benefit for NEHGS members - the retail subscription to is $79.95, while the NEHGS membership for individuals is $75.

I am sorry to see the NewspaperARCHIVE access dropped by NEHGS. Many of the newspapers on NewspaperARCHIVE are available to subscribers, and many public libraries have a subscription to NewspaperARCHIVE through their websites.

By the way, you can receive the weekly NEHGS eNews - to subscribe or view back issues of eNews, please visit

Treasure Chest Thursday: Seaver-Richmond Wedding Announcement

It's Thursday - time for something from the Treasure Chest:

I found this wedding announcement in the Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel dated 22 June 1900 on (NewspaperARCHIVE) the other day, and transcribed it into my yearly Seaver-Richmond Family Journal:


Alma Bessie Richmond Became the Wife of Fred W. Seaver

Fred Walton Seaver, son of Frank W. Seaver, and Miss Alma Bessie Richmond, daughter of Thomas and Julia Richmond, were united in marriage last evening at 6 o’clock at the home of the bride’s parents, 42 Summer Street. Rev. Frank A. Brown officiated, using the full Episcopal church service with the ring. The bride was given away by her father. The couple were otherwise unattended. The room where the ceremony was performed was very prettily decorated with laurel daisies and roses. The wedding march was played by Miss Jennie Marcy. The bride was handsomely gowned in Swiss muslin, trimmed with Valenciennes lace and white satin ribbon. She wore pink roses and carried a white bound prayer book.

Only the immediate relatives and friends of the family, to the number of about 25, witnessed the service. A short reception was held, afterwards followed by a wedding supper. Mr. and Mrs. Seaver went immediately to their new home at 149 Lancaster Street.

The contracting parties are very well known in town and have the good wishes of a large number of friends.

Advent Calendar - Day 15: Christmas Gifts

On the 15th day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
The greatest gift of all - her love.

1) What were your favorite gifts, both to give and to receive?

I'm guessing at the date, but on about this date in 1969 I realized just how much Linda loved me and that I really loved her also. We had known each other for almost two years, but had been seriously dating only four months. As we made plans for Christmas with our respective families (mine in San Diego, hers in San Francisco), we talked openly about how much we meant to each other. I don't remember the physical gift we gave to each other at Christmas 1969, but I do know we gave each other a gift of commitment and happiness. The proposal was yet to come on Valentine's Day in 1970 (see, I was Mr. Romantic before I started doing genealogy), but this was the happiest Christmas of my life even though we were apart on December 25.

As a child, the best Christmas of all was 1954, when my brother Stan and I got our Davy Crockett coonskin caps and our Daisy BB guns for Christmas. Next best was 1955, when we got our Flexible Flyers, and the next best was 1956 when we got new bicycles. With the Flexies and bikes, we could roam all over San Diego and deliver our paper route on wheels - they meant freedom. We had had older bikes before this, but these were new with balloon tires and better brakes (still braking with the pedals, though).

Nowadays, I can count on receiving something electronic (I'm hoping for a Netbook) and photographs of the grandchildren from my daughters and their families, some Hawaiian shirts and HP ink cartridges from Linda, and I usually treat myself to some genealogy books after the holiday. I usually get Linda some clothing - usually colorful (aqua, green, blue, red, purple) tops, gift certificates and perhaps a promise of a cruise or vacation.

My daughters provide hints for gifts for the grandchildren which makes it pretty easy to shop online for them.

2) Are there specific gift-giving traditions among your family or ancestors?

I don't recall any gift-giving traditions for my family, nor do I know anything about traditions from the ancestors, and we don't have any for our daughters and their families.

This post will be part of the "Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories" carnival - organized by Thomas MacEntee at the Geneabloggers blog. Please go to Thomas' blog and read the submissions for each day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gifts for the Genealogist

The UpFront from NGS blog has a nice list of possible gifts for your favorite genealogist or genea-blogger - see the list, and take the poll at

I had to log into the NGS web site to see the poll the first time.

What would I choose?

#1 Netbook

#2 2010 NGS Conference Registration

#3 Kindle

It only lets you vote once, I guess.

SDGS Seminar features Jean Wilcox Hibben

From my email from Marie at SDGS --

The San Diego Genealogical Society will hold their annual event on January 9, 2010, 8:30 am-3:00 pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Resort. Please note the change from our regular site. The Crowne Plaza is located at 2270 Hotel Circle North (Taylor Street off-ramp), San Diego.

The guest speaker is the renowned genealogist Jean Wilcox Hibben. Our presenter will discuss:

1) Clue to Clue: Tracking A Family Over Time and Miles,

2) Deliveries in the Rear!

3) Communicating in Your Ancestors' Homeland,

4) Appalachian Ancestors: Their Lives, Legends and Lyrics.

We are sure there will be something for everyone!

A reservation form can be downloaded from our website, Cost for the day, including lunch is $40.00 for SDGS members and $45.00 for non-members.

If you have questions, please email Gloria Osborn at We hope many of our members will take advantage of this great opportunity.

Also, if you have not yet had a chance to visit our library at the new location, please plan to pay us a visit. The library is open to the public Thursdays, 9-3 and members may visit anytime. Times may vary over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

We are now located at 7343 Ronson Road, Suite O, San Diego 92111. Please come and CHECK US OUT!!

Thank you, Marie, for the reminder. My check's in the mail! Jean Hibben is one of the "don't miss" speakers on my list - her programs are original, informative, humorous and musical.

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday - Family Photographs: Post 83 - Randy and Santa

I'm posting old family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they won't be wordless Wednesday posts like others do - I simply am incapable of having a wordless post.

This photograph is from the box of loose photographs given me by my mother between 1988 and 2002:

This photograph was probably taken at Marston's Department Store in downtown San Diego where my grandfather worked for 55 years. This photo was probably taken in the 1947 to 1950 time frame. My guess is that my grandfather, Lyle Carringer, took this picture, although my mother may have taken it.

It looks like Santa has a good hold on me - an arm around my waist and a hand holding down my left arm. I was never scared of Santa Claus, so my smile is genuine and anticipatory. Either that, or someone made a funny face at me when the picture was snapped.

I was so surprised to find this photograph in the box of photographs that I scanned earlier this year. I saved it for this week when we talked about Santa Claus in the Advent Calendar of Memories, and the Dear Genea-Santa letters from SNGF and the coming Carnival of Genealogy.

Advent Calendar: Day 16 - Christmas Weather

On the 16th day of Christmas,
I want everybody to know
That it doesn't snow (much) in San Diego.

This is the first "Christmas Grab Bag" edition of the Advent Calendar, which I really appreciate!

Jasia asked two years ago "Did you ever see snow on Christmas" in a comment to my Day 24 post.

The short answer is "Yes -- on television - on the weather report, the national news and the football games. Not outside our window ever."

Our weather in San Diego at sea level on Christmas Day is typically partly cloudy, with a high in the low 60's and a low in the high 40's. We have had sunny and warm (highs in the 80s) Christmas Days before, and have had rain all day on occasion. We don't usually have real cold (for us - temps in the 30s) weather in December - it usually happens in January.

The record low temperature in San Diego is 25 F, which happened in 1923 - the water froze in the fountain at the downtown Plaza. The temperatures on the coast are always warmer than inland - if you go 10 miles inland, the low temps are always 5 to 10 degrees colder than the San Diego city temperature.

The Laguna, Cuyamaca and Palomar Mountains to our east and north (all are over 6,000 feet high) get snow occasionally, even at Christmas time. The TV stations always show folks parked on the sides of the roads, sliding down hills and throwing snowballs. Every 5 years or so, we get a snow fall down to 2,000 feet elevation but rarely at sea level.

It has snowed several times in my lifetime in San Diego. At sea level. In January 1949 (I think), it snowed while I was walking to school (I was in kindergarten and it made a big impression on me). In December 1967, it snowed on my way to work. This time, the snow stuck for most of the day in the suburbs, and many San Diego kids (including the 25 year-old Randy) had a lot of fun. It snowed again in late December 1987 in San Diego, but we were on the way home from San Francisco and missed it. In every case, it snows at sea level early in the morning when a fast-moving cold front follows a clear and cold night.

In all the years that we went to San Francisco at Christmas time, it never snowed on us there, much to my disappointment. In 1987, it did snow on us at King City (south of Salinas) on Highway 101 and we stopped and had a wonderful snow ball fight. In 1985, we went to Yosemite after visiting San Francisco, and stayed several nights in that icy wonderland. We marveled at the frozen ponds, the waterfalls shedding ice, and had a glorious day sledding and snowballing at Glacier Point, a ski resort.

I have been in snow on occasion on trips to Portland in 1968, Boston in 1968, Cincinnati in the 1990's, and Topeka in 1987 and 1996. Each time, I am filled with wonder. Others (the natives) laugh at me - my lack of preparation (no hat, no gloves, no boots), my giddiness, my sliding on ice (unaware of the dangers).

For me, snow is really special - a treat.Our daughters live in areas that have snow occasionally, but we haven't been there when it has snowed. At least my grandchildren will have some memories of playing in the snow as children. We travel to their homes at Christmas time every other year - we might get lucky and really have a fun snow time with the little ones.

As a kid, I was very jealous that we did not have snow, at least on occasion, just so I could enjoy what other kids all over the country enjoyed. We didn't even have snow clothes, and still don't. We got Flexible Flyers (sleds with wheels) for Christmas, not snow sleds. When there was snow in the mountains, my folks never took us because of the crowds. I did go several times with the church youth group when I was 10 to 12 years old - it was cool! Wet. Cold. Fun.

We don't have snow tires, or own chains, or ice scrapers. We try to avoid driving where it is snowy and icy. We didn't take the kids to the snow when they were young because of our lack of proper equipment. The kids did go with their youth group several times, so they weren't totally deprived.

These days, I look forward to the absolutely clear days that follow a storm that dumps snow on the mountains. We can see Mount Cuyamaca (an Indian name, pronounced "kwee-ah-mack-ah") from all over San Diego County, and it occasionally has a snow mantle down to 4,000 feet. It is majestic and beautiful -

The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article on 6 December 2007 -- "The day it snowed in San Diego" describing December 13, 1967 - the day I remembered in my post above. There is also a list of other San Diego snow days - including January 11, 1949 and December 24, 1987. I saved it to my hard drive. The opening paragraphs:

“ 'This is something you tell to people who are from out of the area. They have a hard time believing it,' said Ken Ayers, a county native who was a dazzled 7-year-old on that wondrous day. 'It's the California Christmas dream.'

"The dream came true 40 years ago this morning, when gale-force winds blew a Canadian cold front far, far off course. Across San Diego County, residents woke up to see the air shimmering with something cold, white and unfamiliar."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tombstone Tuesday - Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet

I ran out of gravestone pictures of my ancestors some time ago, and therefore have posted no Tombstone Tuesday articles for months.

However, some of my distant blogging cousins are posting pictures of gravestones of my ancestors, so I thought that I would highlight one of them in order to continue the Tombstone Tuesday meme.

This week, Barbara Poole on the Life from the Roots blog shows a gravestone picture for Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet. Anne is one of my 9th great-grandmothers, and probably the best known of all of my colonial American ancestors. I posted Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet (1612-1672) - poetess last year to commemorate her life.

Thank you, Barbara, for the picture posted online of Anne's memorial stone. Please see Barbara's post for the details of the memorial in the Andover (MA) Burial Ground.

Some Ancestry ExpertConnect Examples

While browsing the blogs today, I happened across the post Procrastinator’s Present Perfected by Jeanie Croasman on the Blog. That linked to a promo for an Ancestry Magazine article (November-December 2009) titled All We Want for Christmas... which is provided in PDF format.

The article documented several samples of ExpertConnect requests made by Ancestry Magazine researchers that were intended to test the cost, response times, and response quality of typical requests.

The Ancestry ExpertConnect service is at There are seven service areas -

* Custom Research: Outsource an entire section of your family tree, or recruit a seasoned genealogist for a project that's beyond your experience or time availability. Learn more.

* Ask an Expert: Pose a research question to a panel of experts, but only pay for the most useful answer. Then proceed with your research on your own. Learn more.

* Record Lookup: Hire an expert to verify a hunch you have about an ancestor. Rely on an expert to identify the document you need and track it down for you. Learn more.

* Record Pickup: Save yourself a cross-country trip. Hire a researcher in another state to visit a specific archive, collect the record you need and mail it to you. Learn more.

* Language Translation: You’ve found a critical document on your ancestor, but cannot read the language. Find an experienced translator to interpret the document for you. Learn more.

* Local Photo: Get a picture of your grandmother's headstone without leaving your living room. Pay a researcher who lives near her old hometown to snap the photo for you. Learn more.

* Sponsored ServicePersonal History: Hire a professional to create a high quality Life Story biography book for a loved one or yourself. Learn more.

From a user's standpoint, this seems to be a good way to obtain distant research at a reasonable price.

I looked at the Find an Expert page, which has two tabs - one for "Find by Specialty" and "Find by Person and Location."

Two of my problem ancestors are John Richman and Ann Marshman who married in the early 1800's in Wiltshire in England. I don't anticipate going there anytime soon, so I looked for an "expert" in Wiltshire using the "Find by Person and Location." There was one researcher listed for Wiltshire, and she has done five jobs in the past seven weeks, and the comments are all positive. I may decide to ask her questions to help me decide what to pursue next.

My second try was to determine if there was somebody who could search for newspaper and church records in Dodge County, Wisconsin. I put in United States, Wisconsin and Dodge with no results, then Juneau with no results, and Watertown with no results. It appears that the experts have classified themselves by state but not by county. With just US and Wisconsin, there is a list of 28 "experts," some of whom live within two counties of Dodge County. But only two of them have any satisfaction ratings. There are four "experts" listed in Madison WI, but only two have listed services. I didn't see anyone living in or near Dodge County WI, but I may be wrong since I'm not all that familiar with the geography.

There are several other "Hire an Expert" genealogy services, including Genealogy Freelancers at and Expert Genealogy at I haven't used them, but have looked for people living in Wisconsin and found none that live there.

It's good that there are several competitive websites for these services. Using services like this may be the only way that researchers can obtain genealogy results from distant places.

Advent Calendar: Day 17 - Christmas Cookies

On the 17th day of Christmas,
my angel honey presented me
a whole plate of sugar cookies.

1) Did your family make Christmas Cookies?

My mother, my grandmother, my wife and my daughters all made or make Christmas cookies. They all had or have a set of the classic cookie cutters - a snowman, a Santa, a tree, a sleigh, etc. In olden times (pre-1990 or so), they would make the dough somehow (always a mystery to me), roll it out with a rolling pin (who has one these days?), and try to get as many cookies out of the flat dough as possible. Then they would take the scraps and mash them together, roll it out again and cut out more. Pop them in the oven and then sprinkle them with colored sugar crystals, or cover them with colored frosting and maybe M&Ms or red-hots, when they come out.

Now, the cookies seem to be packaged - you put a blob of dough on the cookie sheet and put it in the oven, bake it and mark it with R (hmmm, wrong song), and dress it up if necessary.

2) How did you help?

I was, and am, a champion cookie eater. I made every female in my life feel good about their culinary skills by devouring their baked goodies. It contributes mightily to my "look like Santa" thing. I did help my mother when I was a kid by being creative with the cookie cutters, and by lavishing extra frosting and sugar on the baked cookies.

3) Did you have a favorite cookie?

I think my favorite Christmas cookie is a Christmas Tree sugar cookie with green sugar crystals on them. Close behind is a Santa cookie with red sugar crystals. Third is a Snowman cookie with white sugar crystals. I don't count chocolate chip cookies with red and green M&Ms in them, or Oreos with red or green filling (why hasn't Oreo come up with a red and green cookie?). I like those too, of course, but they aren't my favorite at Christmas - just the rest of the year? Yummy.

I haven't had any Christmas cookies yet - my first taste will probably be on Wednesday at the CVGS holiday luncheon (see, there is some genealogy in this series!).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Santa Claus in the Census?

A person named "Santa Clause" (born April 1887 in MO) was the son of William Clause (born Feb 1857 in MO) and Henrietta Clause (born May 1861 in MO) in the 1900 census, with siblings Emma B. Clause (born Jan 1881 in MO), William E. Clause (born Nov 1882 in MO), Earler (?) Clause (born Dec 1885 in MO), Nellie Claus (born Nov 1889) and Earl Clause (born Dec 1894 in MO). The family resided in Liberty township, Saline County, MO (NARA T623, Roll 902, ED 129, Page 3A).

In the 1910 census, "Sante Claus" was age 23, single, a farm laborer, living as a hired man in the household of David Fleshman in Liberty township, Saline County, MO (NARA T624, Roll 823, ED 172, Page 4A).

In the 1920 census, "Santy Clause" (age 31, single, a boarder) resided with his brother Earl Clause in Blackwater township, Pettis County, MO (NARA T625, Roll 939, ED 125, Page 4B).

In the 1930 census, "Santa Claus" (age 42, married, first at age 24, born in MO, a laborer, works in river construction) resided in Marshall township, Saline County, MO with his wife Mabel Claus (age 36, married, first at age 18 in MO), son William Claus (age 15, born MO), son Raymond Claus (age 12, born CO), son Fred Claus (age 9, born MO), son Joseph Claus (age 6, born MO), son James Claus (age 3, born MO) and daughter Dorthy Claus (age 0, born MO) (NARA T626, Roll 1246, ED 20, Page 12A).

Notice that son Raymond Claus was born in Colorado, not Missouri. And also note that Santa was in Missouri in the 1920 census listed as single, but he obviously had a wife and children in 1920 if the 1930 census records are correct.

There is more:

Santy Clause married Minnie Mabel Hill on 9 June 1912 in Marshall, Saline County, Missouri. Their marriage record is in the Missouri Marriage License database on, but it only says that he was from Marshall and over age 21, and she was from Marshall and over age 18.

"Santy Clause" registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917 in Prowers County, Colorado. He was age 29, born 4 April 1888 in Marshall MO, a natural born US citizen, Caucasian, married with two children. He was a farmer, and resided in Lamar, Route A, Prowers County, Colorado. He was medium height, medium build, blue eyes, light brown hair, and no disabilities, and had no previous military service.

I was unable to find Mabel Claus or the two children, William and Raymond, in the 1920 census - perhaps someone else would like to try! My best guess is that they may be in Colorado then, or back in Saline County MO.

One last bit of data: Members of the Clause family are buried in Blue Lick Union Church Cemetery in Saline County, Missouri. The list includes:

Donna Clause (died 3 Oct 1942, age 0-4-24)
Earl Clause (1894-1940)
Helen F. Clause (1919-1955)
Henrietta S. Clause (18__-1915)
Minnie Mabel Clause ("mother," 1894-1944)
Raymond E. Clause (1917-1971)
Santa Clause ("Father," 1888-1957)
Silvina Clause (1877-1964)
William Clause (1856-1917)

So, to summarize:

"Santa Claus" was born 4 April 1887 or 1888 in Marshall, Saline County, MO, the son of William and Henrietta (--?--) Claus. He married Minnie Mabel --?-- in about 1912 and had at least 6 children, and was a laborer in river construction in 1930. He died in 1957 and is buried in Saline County, Missouri.

This Santa Claus is, unfortunately, not coming to town soon - he's dead and buried in Missouri. It doesn't appear that he could possibly be the jolly purveyor of toys and good cheer with a big belly and long white beard who lives with his unnamed wife and elves and 9 reindeer at the North Pole, does it? Don't tell the kids.

Isn't it amazing what you can find on the Internet with lots of spare time on your hands?

I posted this originally on 27 November 2006 and had two comments from granddaughters of Santa Claus, one from a cousin several times removed, and one from a lady whose parents were married by Santa Claus..

Honors: The Genea-Speak Award

Thomas McEntee of the Destination Austin Family blog honored me with the Genea-Speak Award. The award was created by texican wife on the Mountain Genealogists blog and is given "for excellence in writing, speaking, and the promoting of good genealogical practices." Thomas was the first recipient of the award.

Thomas had very kind words to say about me and co-honoree, Miriam Robbins Midkiff, who writes the Ancestories: Stories About My Ancestors blog and co-authors the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society Blog. Congratulations to Miriam - it is well-deserved.

The requirement upon receiving the award is to pass it on to at least two deserving recipients.

I hereby award the Genea-Speak Award to two dear genealogy friends and outstanding writers, speakers and genealogy evangelists:

Pat Richley-Erickson,
better known as DearMYRTLE for many years. Pat authors the DearMYRTLE's Genealogy Blog and the Teach Genealogy Blog, and co-authors the Internet-Genealogy Blog. Pat's blog header says "Providing practical down-to-earth advice for family historians since 1995 --- online since 1984." She also leads the Just Genealogy discussion group on Second Life, speaks at regional and national conferences, and has written several genealogy books, including her latest - The Joy of Genealogy. Her website is

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak
is one of the most visible and best-known genealogy evangelists at present. Megan is the Chief Family Historian for (including hosting the videos available on the Learning Center), is co-owner of the RootsTelevision online genealogy video service, writes the Roots Television: Megan's Roots World blog and the Megan Smolenyak blog on The Huffington Post, has written several genealogy and DNA books, appears regularly on television interview shows, writes for print magazines and online websites. Megan's websites is at Honoring Our Ancestors. I'm sure I left out some things here - it's hard to keep up with Megan!

By nominating Pat and Megan, I realize that I am driving the award toward "professional genealogists" - but my view is that professional genealogists embody many of the attributes in "excellence in writing, speaking, and the promoting of good genealogical practices." Pat and Megan are two of the most qualified persons for this award that I know! I do have a long list of persons that I hope will receive the award in the near future.

Perhaps the award should be awarded on two tracks - one for "professionals" like Pat and Megan and one for "non-professionals" like myself, but the dividing line sometimes isn't clear.

Advent Calendar: Day 18 - Christmas Parties

On the 18th day of Christmas,
my relatives acted hearty
at a family Christmas party.

1) Did your family throw a holiday party each year?

When I was a kid, we didn't have a separate holiday party that I recall - just celebrations with my grandparents and my cousin Dorothy's family.

After we were married, my parents, my brothers and us would have a Christmas party either on the weekend before Christmas, on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day with the traditional dinner. As the children grew, these became great fun watching the little ones open gifts, show off for grandma and grandpa, and play out in the yard.

Our family would fly (on Christmas Day) or drive (several days before Christmas) to San Francisco to celebrate the holiday with Linda's parents and brother. They would invite their living aunts and uncles to dinner and Paul (Linda's brother) and I would often go pick them up and take them home. Sometimes, we would go down the peninsula to visit the aunts, uncles and cousins. There was always lots of laughs, sharing of memories, interesting gifts and lots of good food at these events.

2) Do you remember attending any holiday parties?

Besides the family parties, there were Christmas parties at church and with colleagues at work. The church couples group adopted a New Year's Eve "progressive dinner" party, with white elephant gift giving, rather than a pre-Christmas party. This was done because everybody had a busy schedule with their kids and family, needed a sober New Year's event to attend, and we could get rid of useless but valuable gifts at the New Year's party. We also attended a pre-Christmas party with our Marriage Encounter board couples with a white elephant gift exchange. If we didn't like the gift we got here, we took it to the New Year's party. Fruitcake, especially!

For many years, my work group got together for an evening pot luck party with much drinking and telling stories about people who didn't attend. These were always at someone's house, and it was a good way to meet the spouses of your colleagues, stand under the mistletoe and be spurned, and to see how they lived. I don't have many specific memories of these, of course, except that Linda had to pour me into bed more than once.

Linda's teaching colleagues also had a pre-Christmas party at someone's house, which was similar to my work colleague party, except it was more interesting because the families were in different income brackets. The group was much more diverse and the people more interesting. There was a designated gift giving at these parties - each teacher drew a name at school to give a gift to.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Getting History Right

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak has an excellent article on Huffington Post titled Getting History Wrong, dated 3 December 2009.

The article is about Annie Moore, the Irish girl who was, supposedly, the first immigrant through Ellis Island on 1 January 1892. A woman named Annie Moore from Illinois claimed that she was this first girl, but Megan investigated this story back in 2006, and a legion of genealogists helped her uncover the real Annie Moore.

Read the article - it's a good summary of why we all need to find the facts and not just listen to family folklore. We need to Get History Right!

Best of the Genea-Blogs - November 29-December 5, 2009

Hundreds of genealogy and family history bloggers write thousands of posts every week about their research, their families, and their interests. I appreciate each one of them and their efforts.

My criteria for "Best of ..." are pretty simple - I pick posts that advance knowledge about genealogy and family history, address current genealogy issues, provide personal family history, are funny or are poignant. I don't list posts destined for the genealogy carnivals, or other meme submissions (but I do include summaries of them), or my own posts.

Here are my picks for great reads from the genealogy blogs for this past week:

* Case Study: Frances I (Goering) Froman McDonnell , Case Study: McDonnell Part II - SSDI, Docu-Challenge #2 - Funeral Card, Case Study: McDonnell Part III - Death Certificate, Case Study: McDonnell Part IV - Family Bible by Pat Richley-Erickson on the DearMYRTLE Genealogy Blog. It is great to have "old MYRT" blogging again - and this series provides an in-depth look at how she gathers and analyzes different resources. To be continued!

* Genealogy is Like Love by Travis LeMaster on the TJL Genes:Preserving our Family History blog. Travis states a wonderful maxim - "Genealogy is like love - it is nothing until you give it away." He then explains how he helped another researcher over Thanksgiving. Excellent post!

* English genealogical sources newly digitized by John D. Reid on the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. John lists recent additions to the Allen County Public Library, and Internet Archive (, digitized records.

* Intimations of Mortality… Using the U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules by Carolyn L. Barkley on the blog. This post explains the US census mortality schedules and where to find them. Nice work.

* Family-Friendly Video-Sharing Platforms by Denise Olson on the Family Matters blog. Denise offers several options for the budding creator to upload their videos for the world to see...or keep them private.

* Saving A Life’s Work by Tom Fiske on Leland Meitzler's GenealogyBlog blog. This is another outstanding piece by Tom - what he is doing to save his genealogy work for posterity, or whoever else wants to use it.

* From Birthday Gift to Heirloom… by Sherry Stocking Kline on the Family Tree Writer blog. Sherry has a fascinating story about an heirloom in the making - interesting take and great story-telling.

* How to Batch Genealogy Tasks to Save Time by Katrina McQuarrie on the Kick-Ass Genealogy blog. Katrina has excellent ideas on how to work efficiently and effectively when gathering, sorting, inputting or analyzing your genealogy information.

* Didn’t Have To Travel Far by Lee Drew on the FamHist blog. Lee discusses the feelings we have, and the need to visit, the burial places of our family and ancestors. Nice post.

* It's All On the Internet (No, Really) by Martin Hollick on The Slovak Yankee blog. Martin found 300 years of ancestry in 15 minutes for a friend - but that's because the guy had a New England ancestry. Great quote: "It's your brick wall that's impossible." Read all of the post, especially the caveats.

* Privacy laws? Even for 100+ year old burials by Paula Stuart-Warren on the Paula's Genealogical Eclectica blog. Paula laments the various laws that make no sense and keep genealogy records hidden away.

* Graveyard Guru – December 3, 2009: The Death Wail by Stephanie Lincecum in The Online Graveyard Rabbit Journal. Read about wailing, keening, banshees, and death songs in Stephanie's post.

* "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground" & The Great Locomotive Chase by Jean Wilcox Hibben on the Circlemending blog. What a fascinating song and bit of history that Jean provides us in this post.

* 85th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy: Orphans and Orphans by Greta Koehl on Greta's Genealogy Bog. Greta did a great job summarizing 22 posts on the topic of "Orphans and Orphans." There are several "new-to-me" blogs on this list.

* Footnote, Census, and FamilySearch by Beau Sharbrough on The Unofficial Footnote Blog. Beau describes the present status of online US Census records and wonders what will happen when they are all freely available.

* Weekly Rewind by Apple on the Apple's Tree blog. Apple does a weekly summary of her activities, carnivals posted, get-well notes, and her selection of favorite blog posts.

I encourage you to go to the blogs listed above and read their articles, and add their blog to your Favorites, Bloglines, reader, feed or email if you like what you read. Please make a comment to them also - all bloggers appreciate feedback on what they write.

Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 540 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems.

Read past Best of the Genea-Blogs posts here.

Advent Calendar: Day 19 - Santa Claus

On the 19th day of Christmas,
I have many happy memories
of visiting and being Santa Claus.

1) Did you ever send a letter to Santa Claus?

I don't think I ever did send a letter.

2) Did you ever visit Santa and "make a list?"

We visited Santa Claus every year down at the Marston's Department Store in downtown San Diego where my grandfather worked for 55 years. I think we "made a list" sometimes, especially as we got older and the wanted gifts became more complex. My recollection of visiting Santa is one of awe - this really big fat person in a red suit with a long white beard who flies around in a sleigh who goes down chimneys to leave gifts for children - I didn't question this for a long time (being a pretty smart kid, I guess).

3) Do you still believe in Santa Claus?

They say that in the first part of your life, you BELIEVE IN Santa Claus. In the second part of your life, you DON'T BELIEVE IN in Santa Claus. In the third part of your life, you ARE Santa Claus, and in the last part of your life, you LOOK LIKE Santa Claus. In my case, I have all four of these attributes ... still.

The magic of Santa Claus in a child's eyes is priceless. Everybody FIGURES OUT that SC is a figment of imagination - why do we fool our children like that? I love giving gifts to my wife, children and grandchildren. I've had a beard for 30 years, been practicing my "ho-ho-ho's" forever, but am working on reducing the belly. I still believe ... irrational, isn't it? I love going to the shopping center, and sitting on a bench near Santa's little hut and watching the little ones go up and talk to Santa. He waved at me on the escalator the other day - he knew! I've thought about being a "store Santa," but doubt if I ever will.

4) When did you find out "the truth" about Santa Claus?

We lived on the second story of a two-story house at 2119 30th Street in San Diego from the time I was 4 until I left home in 1968 at age 24. The house did not have a fireplace, so my brother Stan and I could never figure out how Santa Claus could bring the presents under the tree. Did he come in the window? Did dad leave a key or leave the door unlocked?

My maternal grandparents, Lyle and Emily Carringer (“Gram and Gramps”), built a beautiful home on Point Loma in 1951, and Christmas Eves were spent there for many years – and it had a fireplace! Our stockings were hung there in hopes that Saint Nick would fill them to the brim. Before bedtime, my grandmother would lead us in Christmas carols while we lay in bed – it was a wonderful way to fall asleep, and is one of my most cherished memories of her.

Santa was always good to us, probably because, in retrospect, we were usually good boys – mischievous but not criminal, loud but not abusive, whirlwinds but not destructive. We usually received toys that were all the rage of the day, plus the usual boring clothes, and fruit, candy and small toys in our stockings. The most memorable gifts were the "good" toys, of course. BB guns and Davy Crockett coonskin caps in 1954, Flexible Flyers (sleds on wheels) in 1955, bicycles in 1956.

Of course, Santa Claus isn’t mysterious forever. The Point Loma house had a two car garage that my grandfather had filled with generations of stuff – it was a wonderful place to hide, explore and search. We found the bicycles in the garage before Christmas in 1956, but didn’t tell anybody else. Sure enough, on Christmas morning they appeared by the fireplace and Christmas tree marked “from Santa Claus.” Aha! So, we knew, but being rather smart guys we didn’t tell the folks – why kill the golden goose?