This and That

This past week I took a break from blogging, and simply enjoyed being a reader instead. One of the things I like about Google Reader is that, unlike a lot of my Google applications, I can access it at work during my break or lunchtime (the public school’s browser filters are naturally very strong, since we’re really only supposed to be accessing the Internet for educational purposes). For those of you whose blog feed is set to display only the title or the first paragraph of your post, it can be a bit frustrating not to be able to read the whole thing. If the title or first paragraph truly piques my interest, then I star it and try to remember to come back to them later when I’m at home. Otherwise, they never get read. Hmm…something to consider when you set up your RSS feeds.

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COG poster courtesy of the footnoteMaven

One of the things I enjoyed as a blog reader instead of a blog writer this week was perusing the 55th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy published by Jasia at Creative Gene on Thursday. The theme was “Show and Tell” and 49 bloggers posted 50 articles about their favorite heirlooms, documents, photos, or significant ancestors in this most-participated edition ever! My submission was about my 4th-great-grandmother’s cross stitch sampler. Kudos once again to Jasia for an interesting and pleasurable COG, especially as she labored over it while mourning the recent loss of her dear canine friend, Caesar. Jasia is considering some changes to the COG, as it is experiencing some explosive growth in popularity. The 56th Edition’s topic will be: 10 essential books in my genealogy library. It will be hosted by Lori Thorton at Smoky Mountain Family Historian. The deadline for submissions will be September 15th, and you can submit your blog article using this carnival submission form.

Speaking of carnivals, I’ve updated my “September Is…” post with not only carnival deadlines, but deadlines for other genea-blogging events this month. Check it out.

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The Grand Rapids [Michigan] Historical Commission contacted me after coming across my mother’s guest post about her school years at Hall Street Elementary. They sought permission to publish my mother’s photograph of the school, as they did not have any of the entire front of the structure that they could use on their website (permission has been granted).

And speaking of mom’s guests posts, you may recall her mentioning her best friend Beth, with whom she ended up drifting away during their high school years since they had no classes together. Earlier this summer, Beth came across mom’s posts and contacted me. When my parents visited Michigan in July, Mom and Beth had a reunion! You never know what will happen when you start a family history and genealogy blog!

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Jessica Oswalt from Jessica’s Genejournal awarded me the “I Love Your Blog” Award. Thanks, Jessica! UPDATE: Thank you also to Sheri Fenley of The Educated Genealogist and Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family for also awarding me this honor! UPDATES #2 and 3: I’m honored that two three more bloggers also picked me for this award: A. Spence of Spence-Lowry Family History, Travis LeMaster of TJL Genes: Preserving Our Family History and Jeanna of RootsReading.com. The rules are to give this award to seven other blogs (with links) and let them know that you have picked them. Also, link back to the person who gave you this award. I am picking seven new-to-me blogs that I have enjoyed recently and hope you will add them to your list of great reads as well:

These are just 7 of the currently-214 genealogy-related blogs on my Google Reader list!

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Speaking of great reads, fellow Michigan ancestry blogger and shirt-tail relative Cheryl (her cousin TK is a distant cousin of mine!) has a new URL for her Two Sides of the Ocean blog here after Blogger ate her old one. 😦 Be sure to update your feeds or bookmarks, or if this is a new blog to you, check it out!

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"School Years: Part III" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:

Source: Creston High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1960. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

In September, 1959, I entered Creston High School with a student body of nearly 2000 whereas the student body of Riverside Junior High was less than one-third of its size. Everything seemed very confusing to me and my classes were hard, especially geometry. Beth was in my homeroom only (its duration was a mere few minutes) and soon had another best friend. In spite of that, two great things happened that year: I received all A’s in gym class merely for suiting up and fulfilling my quota of showers (I was not athletically inclined), and I joined the school choir led by Frank Goodwin. The rules were strict: among them, three dismissals (for not listening, talking, etc.) and you were counted out for the rest of the semester. But he taught us to believe in ourselves. Number one, you are the best! Number two, if you make a mistake, act as if everything is okay. And three, if someone compliments you and you know you messed up, just say thank you. After all, you don’t want to be impolite and contradict them.

My junior year went much better and I started to make new friends. Then came my senior year and it turned out to be awesome! Beginning the summer of 1961, my family and I went camping near Hart, Michigan to a campground named Silver Lake. I met a young handsome man named Bryan Robbins who was out there camping with his family. (The evening we met happened to be my seventeenth birthday). He asked me to go out in his boat with him the next day which I did and then we walked for several hours over the sand dunes getting acquainted. We shared our views on the political scene and world events. He asked for my address that afternoon just before our family headed for home.

My studies went very well that year, thanks to my physiology teacher–and sponsor of the Senior Honor Society–named Evelyn Ostrander who showed movies to us about study habits for a few weeks before we finally settled down to the subject at hand. That year, I finally made the honor roll which made my parents and myself more than happy. Then there were dates with Bryan every so often and his phone calls. He would turn out to be the love of my life and my future husband.

Source: Senior Portrait of Faith L. Valk. Digitally restored photograph. 1961 – 1962. Digital image in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

I graduated number 48 in a class of 360 and made plans to attend Grand Rapids Junior College now called G.R. Community College. I would graduate with an Associate of Arts in 1964 and go on to enter what is now called Cornerstone University for one year. My husband and I were married in June 1965. Therefore is the saga of my school years ended.

Note from Miriam: Although her step-father attended the University of Michigan, my mother was the first generation in either her mother’s or her biological father’s direct lines to attend college and obtain a degree. As her biological father had an eighth-grade education, she was also the first generation in her father’s direct line to attend and graduate from high school.

Both my parents have been–what we call in the education world–life-long learners, and they shared their love of learning with my siblings and me. Our home was always filled with books and music and they set the example for us by always learning new skills. History, art, geography, and science, as well as my heritage and culture, were taught in everyday, ordinary situations. In many ways, they prepared me for my avocation in genealogy.

One of these times, I’ll ask my father to be a guest blogger as well. I know you’ll enjoy his stories as much as you’ve enjoyed my mother’s.

"School Years: Part III" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:

Source: Creston High School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1960. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

In September, 1959, I entered Creston High School with a student body of nearly 2000 whereas the student body of Riverside Junior High was less than one-third of its size. Everything seemed very confusing to me and my classes were hard, especially geometry. Beth was in my homeroom only (its duration was a mere few minutes) and soon had another best friend. In spite of that, two great things happened that year: I received all A’s in gym class merely for suiting up and fulfilling my quota of showers (I was not athletically inclined), and I joined the school choir led by Frank Goodwin. The rules were strict: among them, three dismissals (for not listening, talking, etc.) and you were counted out for the rest of the semester. But he taught us to believe in ourselves. Number one, you are the best! Number two, if you make a mistake, act as if everything is okay. And three, if someone compliments you and you know you messed up, just say thank you. After all, you don’t want to be impolite and contradict them.

My junior year went much better and I started to make new friends. Then came my senior year and it turned out to be awesome! Beginning the summer of 1961, my family and I went camping near Hart, Michigan to a campground named Silver Lake. I met a young handsome man named Bryan Robbins who was out there camping with his family. (The evening we met happened to be my seventeenth birthday). He asked me to go out in his boat with him the next day which I did and then we walked for several hours over the sand dunes getting acquainted. We shared our views on the political scene and world events. He asked for my address that afternoon just before our family headed for home.

My studies went very well that year, thanks to my physiology teacher–and sponsor of the Senior Honor Society–named Evelyn Ostrander who showed movies to us about study habits for a few weeks before we finally settled down to the subject at hand. That year, I finally made the honor roll which made my parents and myself more than happy. Then there were dates with Bryan every so often and his phone calls. He would turn out to be the love of my life and my future husband.

Source: Senior Portrait of Faith L. Valk. Digitally restored photograph. 1961 – 1962. Digital image in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

I graduated number 48 in a class of 360 and made plans to attend Grand Rapids Junior College now called G.R. Community College. I would graduate with an Associate of Arts in 1964 and go on to enter what is now called Cornerstone University for one year. My husband and I were married in June 1965. Therefore is the saga of my school years ended.

Note from Miriam: Although her step-father attended the University of Michigan, my mother was the first generation in either her mother’s or her biological father’s direct lines to attend college and obtain a degree. As her biological father had an eighth-grade education, she was also the first generation in her father’s direct line to attend and graduate from high school.

Both my parents have been–what we call in the education world–life-long learners, and they shared their love of learning with my siblings and me. Our home was always filled with books and music and they set the example for us by always learning new skills. History, art, geography, and science, as well as my heritage and culture, were taught in everyday, ordinary situations. In many ways, they prepared me for my avocation in genealogy.

One of these times, I’ll ask my father to be a guest blogger as well. I know you’ll enjoy his stories as much as you’ve enjoyed my mother’s.

"School Years: Part II" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:

Source: Valk, Faith, age 12 in her 6th grade graduation dress in front of the DeVries Home at 505 Shamrock, NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. 1952. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

As sixth grade drew to a close, our family discovered that we needed to move because our house [505 Shamrock] was in the way of a highway project. We moved to north Grand Rapids where my friend Beth had moved a year earlier. We were ecstatic when we found we would be at the same junior high school.

Source: Riverside Junior High, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1956. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

Riverside Junior High produced new friends including dates with some boys in my class and activities such as hayrides, ice- and roller skating. Elvis and Pat Boone were the then-current teenage musical idols.

My first date was with a red head named Norm AND his buddy Bill. He asked me where I wanted to go and I had an answer all ready for him. We spent our evening at a local church watching a movie about five missionaries murdered in Equador. He never asked me out again!

Faith’s Parents

Source: DeVries, Adriaen “Ed” and Ruth Lillian (Hoekstra). Photograph. 1953. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

At one point, Beth and I thought up the idea of going to the local skating rink to look for boys. It was her idea and I wasn’t sure about convincing my folks. Sure enough, my stepfather found out what we were up to and sternly forbade it. Sooner than we could imagine, we were graduating from ninth grade and getting ready for high school.

"School Years: Part II" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:

Source: Valk, Faith, age 12 in her 6th grade graduation dress in front of the DeVries Home at 505 Shamrock, NE, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. 1952. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

As sixth grade drew to a close, our family discovered that we needed to move because our house [505 Shamrock] was in the way of a highway project. We moved to north Grand Rapids where my friend Beth had moved a year earlier. We were ecstatic when we found we would be at the same junior high school.

Source: Riverside Junior High, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1956. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

Riverside Junior High produced new friends including dates with some boys in my class and activities such as hayrides, ice- and roller skating. Elvis and Pat Boone were the then-current teenage musical idols.

My first date was with a red head named Norm AND his buddy Bill. He asked me where I wanted to go and I had an answer all ready for him. We spent our evening at a local church watching a movie about five missionaries murdered in Equador. He never asked me out again!

Faith’s Parents

Source: DeVries, Adriaen “Ed” and Ruth Lillian (Hoekstra). Photograph. 1953. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

At one point, Beth and I thought up the idea of going to the local skating rink to look for boys. It was her idea and I wasn’t sure about convincing my folks. Sure enough, my stepfather found out what we were up to and sternly forbade it. Sooner than we could imagine, we were graduating from ninth grade and getting ready for high school.

"School Years: Part I" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:



Source: Kindergarten Portrait of Faith Valk. Photograph. 1949. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

My school years began in 1949 at Porter School in the suburb of Wyoming Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was five years old and already knew how to write my name. My kindergarten teacher was a Mrs. Beamer who was both jolly and strict. We had a band in our class and it was my task to play the drum when I really longed to hold the triangle. I had a playmate named Jackie Hall who lived on the next street and who was also in my kindergarten class. I began to tell my mother who was very much interested in finding out how school was going for me about his and my activities. She learned, for instance, that both Jackie and I were disciplined by Mrs. Beamer’s purple hairbrush but that he received far more spankings than I did. When my mother picked me up at the last day of school, she mentioned the situation to Mrs. Beamer and told her that I needed the discipline at times. Instantly, I went and hid in the cloakroom while my teacher burst out laughing. She explained in between chuckles to my startled parent that she had no purple hairbrush. It was a mortified soon-to-be first grader who walked the mile home that afternoon with my mother.

First grade brought the delights of reading to which I took as a duck does to water. I also loved music. In second grade, the traveling music teacher decided to compose a class song in which six of the outstanding students were named. Although I stood on my tiptoes, I was forever famous for being the shortest in the class!

Source: Hall Street Elementary School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1956. Original photograph in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

In April 1952 our family bought and moved to a larger house in south Grand Rapids. I attended Hall School where my step-grandfather [George DeVries] planted the trees as a young immigrant boy at the front of the building. It was there I met my best friend, Beth Runnels and where for three years we were inseparable.

At the age of nine, I attended Camp O’Malley, a place sponsored by the Grand Rapids police force. One day at the pool, a life guard told all of us campers gathered there a story of a boy who did not have a buddy when he went swimming in a local gravel pit and who drowned. The boy’s name was Jackie Hall. I cried with grief and still today remember with fondness the bright-eyed boy I played with.

"School Years: Part I" by Faith L. Robbins

Written by guest blogger, Faith L. (Valk) Robbins (my mother) for the 48th Carnival of Genealogy, “Mom, How’d You Get So Smart?”:



Source: Kindergarten Portrait of Faith Valk. Photograph. 1949. Original in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

My school years began in 1949 at Porter School in the suburb of Wyoming Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was five years old and already knew how to write my name. My kindergarten teacher was a Mrs. Beamer who was both jolly and strict. We had a band in our class and it was my task to play the drum when I really longed to hold the triangle. I had a playmate named Jackie Hall who lived on the next street and who was also in my kindergarten class. I began to tell my mother who was very much interested in finding out how school was going for me about his and my activities. She learned, for instance, that both Jackie and I were disciplined by Mrs. Beamer’s purple hairbrush but that he received far more spankings than I did. When my mother picked me up at the last day of school, she mentioned the situation to Mrs. Beamer and told her that I needed the discipline at times. Instantly, I went and hid in the cloakroom while my teacher burst out laughing. She explained in between chuckles to my startled parent that she had no purple hairbrush. It was a mortified soon-to-be first grader who walked the mile home that afternoon with my mother.

First grade brought the delights of reading to which I took as a duck does to water. I also loved music. In second grade, the traveling music teacher decided to compose a class song in which six of the outstanding students were named. Although I stood on my tiptoes, I was forever famous for being the shortest in the class!

Source: Hall Street Elementary School, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Photograph. C. 1956. Original photograph in the possession of Faith Valk Robbins, Colville, Washington. 2008.

In April 1952 our family bought and moved to a larger house in south Grand Rapids. I attended Hall School where my step-grandfather [George DeVries] planted the trees as a young immigrant boy at the front of the building. It was there I met my best friend, Beth Runnels and where for three years we were inseparable.

At the age of nine, I attended Camp O’Malley, a place sponsored by the Grand Rapids police force. One day at the pool, a life guard told all of us campers gathered there a story of a boy who did not have a buddy when he went swimming in a local gravel pit and who drowned. The boy’s name was Jackie Hall. I cried with grief and still today remember with fondness the bright-eyed boy I played with.