Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memories in the Background

This is my grandfather: Cecil Covey. He had a single chair barber shop in the tiny Kansas town I was born in. This photo caught my eye today because I wanted to study the things around him.

My grandparents lived in the same town for as long as I've been around but they did live in a few different houses. I'm not sure which one this is. 

He loved pickled pigs feet and I remember him standing there with the fridge door open as he pulled one out of the jar. I see them in the store every so often but I haven't talked myself in to trying them. lol

He always wore a white shirt and suit to work or for outings but when at home or heading out to the local fishing hole he wore overalls. Overalls always make me smile. 

As for the picture itself although there are many items in the background the only one that really stands out is the mustache man plate. There was a matching woman. I wonder what happened to those plates. I can see a corner of the metal breadbox. I wish I could remember what color it was. Most of the ones I see in antique stores are turquoise. 

When looking at family photos always pay attention to the background. There are so many memories hiding out in the space around the people being photographed, 

Even more important is to write those memories down somewhere and link to the photo. Some day our kids and grand kids will appreciate our efforts. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Movie Experience

Back in 2002/03 a friend was working for an agency that cast local talent for movies, television, and whatever else came along. One day she asked me if I wanted to do an infomercial that actually paid.

I learned a lot that day. Infomercials aren't what they seem. Filming for a full day and listening to a guy give his talk over and over is BORING. Of course, you have to appear attentive at all times. Don't move when the camera comes near you because they may hit you in the head.

No, I don't remember who the guy was or even what the infomercial was about. I never saw it.

Another time she called and asked if I wanted to do a walk-on for a movie. No pay. Sure, I said. I'm always open to new experiences. We were supposed to be people in downtown Phoenix walking along while the star sat on the side of the street and played his guitar.

I dressed in a nice blue dress and flats (thank heavens). There were about eight of us that walked up and down the street as the director, Susan, got the shots. After awhile my feet were killing me and I was sure the little rocks on the sidewalk were going to come up through the soles of my shoes.

But it was interesting. There were some serious actors there and little ol' me who didn't have a clue but I guess I did okay. I think my mouth dropped when one of the men flipped out his compact. Serious actor.

The movie was finally released and Hubby and I went to the theater in Tempe to see it. I had no idea what it was about and was somewhat aghast when one of the opening scenes had some nudity. Oh dear. We watched and watched and finally near the end of the movie there I was. Blue dress and all. It's amazing how different you look and feel on the big screen.

As we were leaving the theater we ran into Susan and I went up and reminded her I was the "lady in blue." She started laughing and gave me a big hug. I may not have my name on the credits but I did stand out. lol

So "Greasewood Flat" won a few awards and eventually we got our DVD of it. It is somewhere in the shelves of Hubby's collection. As time went on I more or less forgot about it until there was a bunch of hype about the restaurant where it was filmed.

Greasewood Flat was a restaurant in north Scottsdale with a local following and many memories for many people. It closed a few weeks ago and somehow my husband got me a movie poster for Mother's Day.

Cindi had to give up her job with the agency because of health problems but she had a great time up in Superior, Arizona with the filming of "Eight-Legged Freaks."

In the excitement of receiving the poster I posted it on FB and quite a few people commented. Sure, I have lots of friends who have been in movies and on television but it's still fun to have my little moment on camera.

You can see the "Greasewood Flat" movie trailer and apparently watch it through Amazon.com. We aren't signed up for that one.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Tribute

Today I'm missing Mom. She passed away on May 6, 1990 at age 67. My daughter is on her way to Oklahoma to visit her paternal grandfather and will stop in Kansas to visit with Mom and my brother.

Jackie Lynn was born before me and only lived a few days. They are together in Kansas.

This is Mom as a girl. I wonder what she thought of her hairstyle. She was always curling mine.

Here she is with curled hair. I didn't have enough to curl which I imagine drove her a bit crazy.
After my father left Mom worked for the Great Bend, Kansas police department for many years. I was always so awed by her uniform and always wanted to become a policewoman. Didn't work out but I still admire women and men in uniform.

Mom's happiest moments were with her family and the grand kids were top of the list. This is Mom and my daughter.

 And one last photo of Mom, my sister and I. Others think I look like Mom but I don't see it although I did have her hairstyle here.

What do I remember most about my Mom?
An amazing cook
Hard worker
Loved the holidays - and family
Took great pains to always look nice
Loved flowers and gardening
Favorite color was orange
Favorite performer was Eddy Arnold - played his records constantly
Loved It's a Small World at Disneyland

Thank you, Mom, for all the wonderful memories.
I miss you. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Playing With Dolls

It's so fun to see these photos of my mother and her sister playing with their dolls. 
Do little girls even play like this anymore? 

They seemed to always have their babies. And since my mother was the eldest of six she was able to take care of real babies.

 None of these dolls, as far as I know, survived. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have one of those dolls?
I do have some of my dolls and one of my daughter's.

Little girls pretended to be like the adults around them. Can you imagine what the conversation over that little tea table were like? Perhaps my mother was saying her child in the buggy had kept her up all night. My aunt might have commiserated and then talked about the three children by her side. (Or the other way around.) I'm not sure which is which.

Spend time with your family photos. Use your imagination to get to know those people in other times.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jennie and Nellie

This is my grandmother, Jennie, and her mother, Nellie. There are no dates but I'm guessing around 1915. That would put Jennie at about 12. I've never been good at judging ages.

They lived in southwestern Kansas either in Meade, the county seat, or Fowler a smaller town nearby. Nellie's husband had deserted them a year or so before and so Nellie was left to support her daughter on her own. I asked Jennie once for a few words to describe her mother. I don't know where those notes are but I remember her saying "strong" and "determined."

Nellie was born in Illinois in 1878 and took a wagon train with her parents and other family members to the area southeast of Dodge City, Kansas. There they built dugouts in a place still called Keith Canyon after the family.

This photo was taken in Keith Canyon in 1990. You can see where the dugout collapsed over time. Part of the "house" was dug into the canyon wall and then a partial roof and front were added in wood and stone.

I found this photo either at a local museum or a local history book.
It says it was taken in Keith Canyon.

Being a genealogist is like being a detective. Gathering clues here and there. Talking to people. Comparing evidence. That's what makes it so thrilling.

Do you have a story of finding some interesting things in your family history and being able to fit them together?

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Sometimes I don't have an idea for a blog post so I browse through the photos I have scanned into my computer. (And always feel guilty that there are hundreds more to do.)

This one of my Mother pushing Jessica on the swing set caught my eye. This might have been an Easter Day. 

This picture of my mother (on the right) at about the same age followed. 

Jessica and her Nana had many fun times swinging, working in the garden, picking 
flowers, and having tea parties. 

When my sister became a grandmother she said she wasn't a banana and didn't want to be called grandma. So she became Granny. When my day came I became Grammy. It helps keep us all straight.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Saving History

This is near the entrance to the Phoenix Pioneer and Military Cemeteries at 15th Avenue and Jefferson in central Phoenix. Numerous volunteers have worked for years to preserve and extend the records on this group of early cemeteries. They cover eleven acres and it is thought there are about 3,700 buried here but only about 600 have markers and those are deteriorating.

When they put out a call for people to train in assessing the remaining stones I volunteered Doug and I. I thought it would be interesting and fit in with our love of Arizona history and cemeteries. On Saturday we joined a large number of people at a local library to learn about gravestones. What they are made of. How they are made or perhaps have been repaired in the past. What the emblems and different styles mean. How to assess if they need immediate care, can wait a year or so, or are should be reassessed down the road.

What the planners and volunteers didn't expect was that we would be hitting record temperatures for this time of year. After lunch we all trooped to the cemeteries. Each team had a photographer, recorder, and two others to help assess and measure each marker.

This was the second Phoenix city cemetery. A part of it was bought up by Mr. Loosley but they aren't sure which parts were his so it now carries both names. As you can see, shade is minimal. This was the headquarters where they kept us well supplied with water and even gave us bandannas to wet down to wrap around our necks.

I snuck off for a minute to take this photo of our team. 

We are both very proud of having been a part of this project and have our names down for future work.

I know people have worked hard to save the cemeteries where some of my ancestors are buried. I have records and photos from Illinois, Kansas, Tennessee, Arkansas and other states because of those people. This is my way of giving back to them and to the state I have grown to love.

Have you visited your local cemeteries or those where your ancestors are buried? What are some interesting stones you have found? Do you have photos to share?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Lovely Lady and Synchronicity

This lovely lady is my husband's maternal great grandmother: Lucille Martin Overdeer.
She was born in Washington State near where our daughter now lives. 
We had no idea when she met and married that she was moving to the very town where some of her father's family was from.

Such is family history. Full of synchronicity and surprise.

Lucille came to Arizona with her parents. They lived the Globe/Miami area where she met her future husband, William E. Overdeer. They had two children; a son and a daughter.

She passed away in the Miami Inspiration Hospital in 1920 leaving a father, two sisters, a brother, a husband and two children. My husband was born there 31 years later. 

As we followed through on the genealogy and traced the family to Washington my daughter and I have been able to visit the cemeteries and learn even more. Jessica lives in a tiny farm community and there in that tiny cemetery lie Lucille's brother, sister and brother-in-law.

It never ceases to amaze me the smallness of this world and the connections we all have.

Those other ladies are sisters and friends. Looks like they were having fun doesn't it?

Have you done your family history? Do you have synchronicity in your family? Other interesting stories to share?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Memories of John Denver

My husband tuned into a show on PBS about John Denver. I was in the next room reading, or trying to read, as I was mostly listening to the music and what the people had to say about this amazing musician.

This photo is from a concert we went to at the Sundome in Sun City, Arizona. This was a benefit concert and he did the entire show by himself. It is probably one of the first major concerts our daughter attended. It was a magical night.

It feels like I grew up with John. He was popular all through most of my high school and college years. I remember visiting a friend in her apartment and "Country Roads" was playing. I remember walking along University Blvd. in Tempe and hearing his music floating from a passing car.

I remember when our daughter was in Junior Girl Scouts and my husband and I were the troop leaders. We decided as a group to be focused on the environment so I wrote a letter to John and he sent back a very nice letter and signed photo. As a troop, we did many projects to clean up the area, planting trees and helping at one of the local parks.

John touched many lives and will always be a part of mine. When I remember the things he did, hear his music and think about the things he stood for I get a warm feeling.

Is there an entertainer that touched your life in some way? Did you grow up with John Denver as we did? What memories do you have of his music?

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happiness is:

I've been working on an art journal from the Prompt 60 challenge by Daisy Yellow. I'm way behind,  but I'm still enjoying it. I'm not posting my work to the group because, well, I'm way behind.

I did Prompt 17 today which is a "list/Happiness is::
I had so much fun doing I wanted to share with my friends here.

This was especially fun because I've had a quiet morning catching up on stuff and petting my dog. I was sitting in a ray of sunshine when I started the page.

The materials I used are:

acrylic paints spread out with an old credit card
washi tape
stamps and various stamp pads

This project is going into a journal I made a year or more ago. This is the back, spine and front opened out on the scanner. I took the book apart and then made a new spine with some duck cloth. I made signatures with watercolor paper and folded them in half and then sewed them in with waxed linen thread. 
It is a long process, but I like how it turned out. 

When I make journals that take a lot of work I tend to be afraid to work in them. Not any more. I'm using all those journals and enjoying every minute of it.

Make sure to go check out Daisy Yellow's blog and the FB page. She is wonderful at sharing and uring people to use prompts. Thank you, Tammy.

What would be on your happiness list?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lost People

When I started tracing my family history almost 40 years ago I collected everything I could. I had a set of lenses for my 35mm camera which allowed me to copy old photos and I did just that everywhere I went. Visiting distant cousins and even museums. I took photos of photos, heirlooms, Bibles and diaries. 

I tried to identify all of them but there are still a few I can't put names to. 

Like this pretty young lady.

Or this couple.

Ot this lady with her stylish dress. 

Or these children.

I do know that F. M. Steele was a prolific photographer of ranchers and farmers in Western Kansas in the late 1800s. You can learn more about him here and here.

As the years pass I am reminded over and over that I need to get the hundreds of photos identified and sorted by family name. Write what I can about these unknowns. Time periods and locations, perhaps even the families they may belong to or that they may just be friends of my ancestors. 

Recently my reminder came when we were visiting an antique store in Cottonwood, Arizona. There was a large box of family photos, most of them identified. If I were rich I would buy up all these photos and try to return them to members of their families. 

As it is the best I can do is get back to work on identifying and filing my own collections. My descendants deserve to know. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Time Stands Still in Jerome

 Time has been getting away from me. I can't believe I haven't posted in three weeks. 
I got to thinking that perhaps it would be nice if time could occasionally stand still as with this clock in Jerome, Arizona. 

I'm currently reading an Utopian fantasy Pangaea by Anna Questerley. It is about two dimensions; one the normal Earth time and Pangaea where the years pass slower, 15 Pangaean years equals 1 Earth year.

Would we get more done? 

Jerome is a place where the past and the present seem to slide along together. This old head frame is over a shaft that is as deep as the Empire State Building is tall. 

This little cage is how the men were lowered into the shaft. 

There have been many fires and years of neglect before the town became a 
hippie, artist, escape mecca.

Up on the hill is the Grand Hotel, once the mining company's hospital and reputed 
to be the best equipped in Arizona if not the West.

History, legends, and ghost stories abound. It's easy to find a corner and imagine time standing still. Perhaps that is the best we can do in this modern age of hurry, hurry, hurry. 

What would you do if you had more time?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reading Challenges and BOOKS

I love challenges and when this reading challenge came across Facebook I had to take it on. You can find it here.

This challenge contains a list of types of books such as:

*A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet.

*A book your mom loves.

*A book with magic.

*A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't.

Some of these I won't be able to do because I don't know a book my mother loved and I read all the books I was supposed to in school. At least as far as I remember.

I have already read these:

*A book with more than 500 pages. The Glass of Time by Michael Cox.
*A book you can finish in a day. Inspiration Sandwich by SARK.
*A book by an author you've never read before. Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

I am also in a monthly book discussion group and have challenged myself to read 67 books this year on Goodreads. Luckily many books will fit all three.

I joined the book discussion group a few years ago to challenge myself to read a broader range of books. It's worked. I've read a very wide variety of books. Some I loved and some, well, not so much.

Books are not dead and I honestly believe never will be. Reading is good for you. How can you challenge yourself to find the time to read more? What books are on your list to read?

If you have a great book you'd like to share please list it in the comments. I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kansas Winters

I lived in Kansas until I was thirteen. Yes, I had to walk to and from school in the snow. It wasn't fun and I don't miss it one bit.

I was talking to my massage therapist yesterday and she said, "I'd rather sweat than shovel." We were discussing how people in Arizona complain about the summers but they are shorter and easier to deal with than the winter most of the country is having.

This photo is from Montezuma in southwestern Kansas. I don't know the year but I'm sure it was a common sight.

The article below was cut out and saved by my great grandmother, Nellie Keith Martin. The date is February 7, 1956 but the story is from 100 years before that. 

Basically the story is that Miss Martha Perkins, about 16 years old, went to visit her brother-in-law and on the way home it started snowing, hard. She was on foot and lost her way a mile from home and took shelter in a deep bushy ravine. She was able to build a little house out of weeds and spent the first night without food, warm clothing and fire.

The next morning she started out again but went the wrong way. She wandered through the day sometimes in four feet of snow. That night she built another weed house where she lay for days. Finally a search party found her. She had been lost in the storm for four and a half days in weather reaching 17 to 20 degrees below zero.

Somehow she kept herself awake during that time fearful that if she fell asleep she would never wake up. The prognosis was that she would totally survive although at the time of printing they weren't sure if she would loose some toes.

Here's another Kansas winter with my great grandmother standing in front of the family home with five of her grandchildren including my mother on the far right.

Imagine all the winters she saw during her lifetime first in Illinois and later in Kansas. I'm glad I don't live where it snows and am certainly glad I don't have to deal with the cold as she did.

Did you grow up or do you still live where there are heavy winter storms? Do you have stories to tell of your own or somebody else's struggles with living in that type of weather?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


 I love journaling and art. 
Art journaling is the best of both worlds. 
This year I am starting off with four art journaling projects. 

These are the books I am using. 

The top one is made from the front and back of two old hardbound books. The binding is fabric and hand stitched. This is the first time I tried this stitch and I'm rather happy with it. The pages are folded sketch paper.

The second one is a Strathmore Mixed Media spiral bound journal available at most craft and art stores.

The third one is another hardbound book but I left the covers alone and just went through and pulled out a number of pages to allow for paint and collage. 

The bottom one is a "PaperBlank" I found at Goodwill. The person who donated it had only written on a few pages, notes from some seminar, so I just covered those up with other paper and away I went. 

This page is from the hand bound book on top. This is for the Daisy Yellow Prompt60 challenge. 
It is a collage of papers, stickers and washi tape from my stash. I still have to do the journaling around the edges. You can learn more about this project here.  

This is a doodle mandala from the same project. It was a lot of fun. 

The Strathmore book is just for me and I have no plans for it. I think it is necessary to
have a play book and this is it. There isn't anything in it yet.

The bottom book is for the 30 Day Prompt challenge by Lisa Sonora. I didn't take a photo of it because it is just writing although I add a little doodling and maybe some color to the edges. 

The last book is the white one. It is done on regular book pages which I cover with paint, collage or whatever. It is for Journal 52 which is done once a week for 52 weeks. I did it off and on last year but hope to do better this year. 

This prompt was "Pathways" and I copied what I wrote unedited below. The photos came from an old gardening magazine I found at Goodwill.


I love the look of pathways that lead to unknown places -- even if it's just around the corner.

We follow many pathways during our lives -- we can usually only guess what is around the corner.

We can follow with confidence and wise, informed decisions.
When there is a division or "Y" in the path we have to do our best -- find the way that will lead to peace and harmony and help others along the way.

Along the way it is also important to stop and smell the roses and to be appreciative of the beauty and joy around us. To greet even the rough places with gratitude.  (1-3-15)

Write about your pathways and how some of your decisions have affected your life. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Childhood Home

 This is the house I grew up in. I'm guessing not too long after we moved here. It was small but it was home and I still miss it. There were great trees all around including a cherry tree and a crab apple tree which was my favorite place to sit and ponder life.

For many years I shared a room with my sister (on the left, I'm in the center and Mom on the right.) We had bunk beds and she always had the bottom. They moved around, sometimes stacked and sometimes on opposite sides of the room. At one point my sister had all of her oil paints and easel set up in one corner. I was so envious of all of that and her amazing talent. She sold paintings of dogs and horses while still in high school.

There was a big kitchen and an average living room with the big black and white console television. So many memories. 

Last week the girl who once lived next door visited the home town and snapped this picture of the house for me. Thank you, Jan. The years have not been kind. When I last saw it (in 1990) the shutters were there but it was in better shape. I have since thought that it was perhaps three smaller houses put together at some time, or at least an addition on the back for the bedroom and part of the kitchen. 

I lived in that house for about nine years. Betty got married and moved out so I finally got my own room. You can see the window at the back of the porch. I spent hours listening to the Beatles and others in that room. 

What are your memories of your childhood home? Do you have photos?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


This is the time of year for families and memories. This photo is from Jessica's second Thanksgiving at my mother's house. She still remembers looking up at the table and being overwhelmed by all the food. Mom's favorite thing in life was cooking and sharing the fruits of her labor with her family. That's Doug with her.

A month later we were on to Mom's for Christmas dinner. We stopped off at the stables 
to give Blaze a few holiday carrots. He enjoyed them. 

She got her first doll house that year. We still have it and our grand kids have also played with it. 

Since she has married and moved to another state we haven't shared Christmas except by phone. She was ten when we lost mom. Things change but memories stay the same.

Be sure to share your memories with your family and friends this and every year. 

Monday, December 8, 2014


My cousin recently sent me this photograph of my old tricycle. She found it out in a junk pile at the family farm. Even though the front tire is broken she brought it to her home to decorate with.

She is a few years younger than me and apparently it was given to her when I outgrew it. Now, its so hard to believe that her grand daughter is sitting on that tricycle. 

Here I am sitting on a tricycle which I thought was the same one. However, now that I look closer this is a smaller one. This photo was processed in 1958 so I was about four years old. This one doesn't have the bar across the back.

I do remember the bigger one and later on when I got my first bicycle.

Do you remember your early wheels? 

Do you have photos and special memories to go with them?