Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Hortense Carpenter: Stepping up to a challenge #ResilientRoots

I've talked about my Paternal Grandmother on the blog before, and I've spoken far and wide about the resilience she blessed me with through a quilt she made for me.  But I've never written much about the resilience she showed in her own life.   She was a strong lady who instilled lots of fortitude in me that is coming in handy right now.

Hortense Snow was born April 25th in 1911.  She was the daughter of  Erastus Beaman Snow Jr. and Rosina Christina Gregerson.  Her mother grew up on a ranch with lots of books, was college educated and taught school before she married.  She loved literature and taught all of her children about the importance of an education.  She loved to travel, entertain and use the good china--all qualities she instilled in Hortense.  

Rosina ran a dress shop in their town and Hortense was always impeccably dressed.  She learned to sew, play the piano and the clarinet, traveled and served a mission for her church.  After graduating from school and returning from the mission, one morning her mother came downstairs and said, ""Hortense, I've not slept all night. I have been worried about you. I don't think you should go to San Diego. You have said several times you might like to go to BYU. Get yourself ready and go on to college. I don't think you will find San Diego the same place now that your mission is over. I would like to keep you here to run the dress shop for me. I have considered selling you the business. I know you could manage the shop and do a good job, but I won't make an old maid, out of you." So Hortense packed up and left for college the next morning.   

Hortense was nervous about going to school but she enjoyed her home economics classes and decided to major in that.  She was president of her sorority and had lots of friends and boyfriends.  When she was about to graduate in the sprint of 1934 her mother took ill and died in April.  Rosina insisted that she graduate and not come home to care for her or she might not graduate.  Hortense did graduate with her teaching credentials and accepted a job at a high school for a year before returning to take care of her father and the dress shop.  

That fall, one of her teachers came to the shop to visit and encouraged her to go on with more school about consumer education and bookeeping to be better at managing the shop.  So Hortense left again after Christmas to continue her education.  There she met my Grandfather G. Alvin Carpenter.  After two years of writing letters, they married June 10th, 1938.  Hortense worked for the State Extension Staff as a clothing specialist until they married and moved to Reno Nevada. 

After stints with Alvin's job in Reno and Berkeley, CA, and getting his PhD at Cornell in New York, they settled in Logan, Utah and began to raise a family.  Hortense put her homemaking skills into her three children, Paul, Don and Colleen.   She was a wonderful mother and taught the children to be hard workers with a couple of acres of fruit trees, gardens. chickens and a horse.  Hortense canned and froze all of the vegetables and fruit that they raised.  She made sure the children all had piano, speech and art lessons.  During this time she finished her work on her MS degree except for the thesis.  She also renewed her teaching certificate.  Little did she know how valuable that would be soon in her life.  

After 16 years in Logan, Alvin moved the family to work for the University of California at Berkeley in 1956.  Shortly after, Alvin was diagnosed with diabetes and Hortense became worried.  To quote her son Don, "She wanted to make sure she could support the family if necessary.  So she began as a substitute teacher and then accepted a full time position teaching home economics at Alhambra High School in Martinez California.  This proved to be a great blessing in her life.  Not only did the extra income help during the children's expensive college years, but it gave Hortense the added peace and assurance, increased self-confidence and new opportunities to serve others in ways that were rewarding and satisfying.  Having raised her own children, she felt more competent, and qualified to teach foods and nutrition, clothing, family finance, and family life than she ever felt as a young college graduate teaching home economics."

After 12 years of teaching, Hortense retired at the same time Alvin retired from UC Berkeley.  They moved to Provo, Utah to be closer to their grandchildren and Alvin worked for 10 more years as a part time faculty at BYU.  It was then that I got to spend most of my time with Grandma.  Each grandchild got to visit by themselves for a week and Grandma taught us how to sew, needlepoint, cook and we went for long walks in the mountains where she taught me the names of all the wildflowers. She organized summer sewing and home economics classes for the children in the neighborhood with her many sewing machines and the room she kept full of fabric. She made her granddaughters beautiful clothes and we had huge family dinners on Sundays and holidays. She loved to hear the piano recitals her grandchildren would perform and she used her many sets of china and dishes for entertaining.   She taught me that I was going to college, it was just a matter of which school I picked.  She knew that it was best for a woman to be prepared to have a career, even at a time when many women didn't.  

I'm thankful for a grandmother who taught me so much about kindness, faith, and courage.  When she passed, 6 years after Alvin did on July 6, 1991, she left a great legacy of determination and drive that I draw on today.  

Post written by Janet Hovorka, Owner, Family Chartmasters LLC

Monday, March 30, 2020

William James Reynolds #ResilientRoots

My grandfather, William James Reynolds, was born on 1 April 1919 in Sandpoint, Idaho.  As a child he contracted rheumatic fever, and it ruined his heart.  Despite this permanent health challenge, he proved to be quite resourceful in providing for his family.  Right out of high school, he started working for American Airlines.  After a time he needed heart surgery, and the airlines laid him off rather than giving him sick leave.  Obviously he needed to do something different for employment, so he bought a mattress company for $2000.  He didn't know much about the business but learned very quickly on the job.  Several years into his "career," a man approached him and asked, "Do you do upholstery too?"  My grandfather replied, "Yes"--despite knowing nothing about it.  He figured out how to do it as he went along and eventually did upholstering regularly.  He taught his wife and 3 children how to do many tasks in making mattresses and upholstering, so it was something of a family affair.  Through it all, he worked very hard and was often exhausted--but he refused to stay home.  The day came when he was too tired to go in to work, and he was never able to go back.  He died at age 47 of complications caused by a medication he had taken to strengthen his heart (Digitalis).  He was a great example of tenacity, tremendous work ethic, flexibility, and determination.

Post written by Stacy Wightman, Designer, Family Chartmasters LLC

Friday, March 27, 2020

Resilience in a Health Challenge #ResilientRoots

 I've written before about my maternal Grandmother Eila Mae Romney Dana.  She was a beautiful lady and a wonderful grandmother to me.  She was always generous and I never doubted for a moment that I was the favorite.  She grew up in challenging circumstances.  Her father died of an appendicitis attack while on a business trip.  That left her mother, Viola, as a single mother in 1928.  Eila and her younger brother Douglas were only 7 years and 2 years old.  Her mother went back to business school and then to work at the local department store while Eila and Doug were shuttled back and forth with family and friends.  Shortly thereafter, Viola married Gifford Talbot and Eila had a step father.  They moved several times while Eila went to school so she got good at making new friends.
I've written here about how Eila married my grandfather Darrell Dana in the middle of World War II and he shipped out the day after they were married.  Truly they were part of the greatest generation.  They made alot of sacrifices when they were first married, but they ended up in Southern California and raised three beautiful children.  My grandfather worked for United Airlines as a mechanic and then always had a second job as well to support the family.  Eila served in her church and took care of the children.  They enjoyed a few vacations when Darrell could get away and went to Disneyland as often as they could.

In 1967, just months after her oldest daughter (my mother) was married, Eila was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  She started dragging her feet and couldn't do anything about it.  It quickly got progressively worse.  She was in the hospital when she received a note that my parents had called to tell her they were expecting me.  They released her in a wheelchair to go home for Christmas.  She was able to get up and around some over the next little while, but essentially when I started walking, she stopped walking.  Our trips to Disneyland included a stroller and a wheelchair.  

We visited my grandparents often to try to help as much as we could, so I got to spend a lot of time with my Grandma Dana.  She was a gentle soul and a great example to me of faith and peace amid crisis.  I don't remember her before the disease so I don't know if it made her more peaceful and ok with whatever comes.  But when I knew her, nothing rattled her.  I went to visit them by myself for about a week when I was about 8 years old.  I remember going out into the kitchen and trying to cook something--I'm sure I was making a mess. Grandpa was at work and it took great effort for Grandma to come down the hall and see what I was doing.  So she'd call to me and ask what was going on.  She was so patient.  And I have very fond memories of that trip and many other moments with her. When VCRs were invented, we watched many many hours of Disney videos together.  We loved Pooh Bear the most.

I never heard her complain although I knew she was frustrated with MS.  I heard her moan and grumble in pain when Grandpa had to lift her, but I never heard her speak a frustrated word about her situation.  Grandma and Grandpa looked for cures and help to get her walking again all through my childhood.  There was always some new hope that would help.  But nothing ever did.  Thankfully, medicine and help for MS would come, but by then, the disease had done too much damage.

One of the great ironies of their later lives were the chances for travel they had because of Darrell's career at United.  They had free tickets anywhere they wanted to go but it was so hard to travel with the wheelchair.  They bought a camper so they could visit their family members, and they did get to take a grand trip to Europe with their son Ken along to help.  Luckily they were able to move closer to the family in 1991 and they were able to stay close to their siblings, their kids and of course their grandchildren.

I remember lying next to Grandma in their adjustable bed watching TV one day when a program about Christopher Reid came on.  He had been paralyzed and was in a wheelchair.  She  shook her head and said, "I just don't know how he does it."  I don't remember if I turned to her and said, "Grandma, you're in the same situation." but I certainly thought it.  It didn't even occur to her that she was dealing with the same challenge.  It just was and she just dealt with it.
Alot of credit needs to go to Darrell too.  My Grandfather took exquisite care of her their entire life.  He rigged up a system in their bathroom so that she could use it without help and could be self sufficient while he was at work. At a time when men didn't take care of households, he took care of everything.  He was so good to her.   

Eila died in 2000, 33 years after her initial diagnosis.  She was the epitome of grace during a challenge.  The day she died, my mother sat with Darrell and thanked him for all of the years he took such good care of Grandma.  He said to her, "When you have something so precious, you take good care of it."  That is what both of my grandparents were to me--precious.  The 32 years I had with them were such an example to me, of true love, of perseverance, and of resilience.  I'm so thankful that I carry their DNA.

Post written by Janet Hovorka, Owner, Family Chartmasters LLC

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Resilience After Losing a Child

This is Mary Jane, my great, great grandmother. I came across this picture in my family tree and wanted to learn more about her. Upon doing some research, I found out that she witnessed her son's death by gunshot in their living room. What a tragedy this must have been for her and her family, but Mary Jane made it through because she knew they would be reunited again. During this time of uncertainty, I find comfort knowing that my great, great grandmother was able to make it through such a tragedy with such optimism.

Below is the memory recorded by one of Mary Jane's grandchildren.


Post written by Kathryn Ward, Marketing Director, Family Chartmasters LLC

Family History for Right Now

Several years ago, there was much ado about Bruce Feiler's article in the New York Times entitled "The Stories that Bind Us."  In it he talked about how family history stories give kids resilience.  His assertions were based on some studies done in the Psychology Department of Emory University.  There, in the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life, Marshall Duke, Robyn Fivush, Jennifer Bohanek, noticed that children who knew more about their family history did better in therapy.  They created the "Do You Know" test with 20 questions about family history.  They found that the children who scored the highest on on the test also scored higher in tests of feeling like they have a sense of control in their world, lower levels of anxiety and more resilience.  

A sense of control in the world, lower levels of anxiety and more resilience!! Exactly what we all need--no matter what age you are--in these surprising, challenging, crazy pandemic times.  

Now is the perfect moment for each of us to look to our ancestors for strength and inspiration.  Now is the perfect time to instill those stories in our family members to lower anxiety and produce more resilience.  When you tell a family story, in person, over social media or over video conferencing, you are creating more peace in the midst of the storm.

SO, we've decided to look to our ancestors with you, over social media, our newsletter and etc. with the hashtag #ResilientRoots.  We hope you will join us and share your ancestor's stories of faith, resilience, patience, perseverance, flexibility, optimism, kindness, grace and connection.  We're excited to share ours with you.  I think we can all find the hope we need already inside us.  It is in the very DNA they gave us.  

Watch over the next couple of weeks:
Here on the blog

To read more: 
My previous writings about the science behind family history: https://zapthegrandmagap.blogspot.com/search/label/Science

Bruce Feiler's RootsTech Keynote: https://youtu.be/i8sZl-Ny2D0

Fivush, Robyn. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia; Bohanek, Jennifer G. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Duke, Marshall.  Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.  “The Intergenerational Self: Subjective Perspective and Family History.” in F. Sani (Ed.) Individual and Collective Self-Continuity.  Mahwah, NH: Erlbaum, 2007. Available at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/ad62/42da2284543ed3fe161049f941b3f0a43daf.pdf

Fivush, Robyn. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia; Bohanek, Jennifer G. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Zayman, Widaad. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.  “Personal and intergenerational narratives in relation to adolescents’ well-being.” In T. Habermas (ed.). The development of autobiographical reasoning in adolescence and beyond. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 131. 45-57.