Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shepard Family Update, December 24, 2009

Christmas ...
is a piece of one's home
that one carries in one's heart.

- Freya Stark

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings to all of you and Merry Christmas on Christmas Eve 2009! Tomorrow the birthday of Jesus is celebrated by Christians throughout the world, but it is also the anniversary of the birthday of Granddad William Shepard (1888-1976). Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard had been married 61 years when he died in 1976 at the age of 88. The first picture I am including shows Bura and Will Shepard on Christmas Eve 1973 -- the day before Will's 85th birthday.

In a 1975 recording that I shared in this blog a few months ago, Granddad talked about some formative events in his life that took place nearly a hundred years ago. He talked about his proposal to Bura, and their wedding in 1915, as well as some events that lead up to their marriage. He shared that the previous December, at the age of 26, when he was courting the teenager Bura Davis, he was baptized at the urging of his father, in a horse trough that some neighbors had brought into their home. Evidently the South Flat Church of Christ in Beaver County, Oklahoma, where their families were members, did not have a baptistery. (I remember my own father, Eugene Shepard, telling of how he also was baptized in a horse trough when he was young.)

Bura's encouragement was probably also a factor in Will's decision to be baptized that December so long ago. She was the driving spiritual force in their relationship for their entire marriage, probably from the very beginning. 

At that time Will's father, William Elmer Shepard, was on his death bed with stomach cancer. He himself had recently been baptized, and wanted Will to do the same before the cancer took his life. He understood well the seriousness of his illness, because in February, 1915 he died, just a few short months after Will's baptism and just a few months before Will and Bura were married in June, 1915. It was an incredibly important time in the life of these two, whose legacy we celebrate in this blog, and who we remember fondly on this anniversary of Will's birthday.

His daughter, my aunt Thelma (Shepard) Boyd, of Gallup, New Mexico, reminded me recently that the last day of November was the anniversary of Will's death in 1976. Thelma and her brother Elmer Shepard of Mustang, Oklahoma, are the only two living children of Will and Bura (Davis) Shepard. I coaxed Thelma into sharing some memories of her father, which she was glad to do.

My favorite memories of daddy was when I was maybe 5, 6 or 7 years old. We lived in the Hillcrest section of San Diego and always went to see Roy Rogers and Gene Autry movies at the Hillcrest Theater. On my birthday, he would take me to the drug store on the corner across from the theater to get a malt. I never could drink it all, but that was my thing to do.

When we first moved to San Diego in 1940, I remember him leaving everyday. I really don't know where he was going, but I'm assuming it was to work. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking he worked for Bea and Harold (Bea was Harriet Gibb's daughter). I think they had a shoe store downtown. They are the ones that got us to move to San Diego when I was just 4. When it was time for daddy to come home, I would see him coming down the street from the bus stop and I would run to meet him and put my hand in his jacket pocket. There was always a Milky Way candy bar there for me. In San Diego we first lived on Granada Street and then moved to Albatross Street. I think daddy went to work for Convair when we lived on Albatross.

The only memory of him from when we lived in Two Buttes, Colorado (1928-1940) was when I was probably 3 1/2. It had snowed a lot and there was a big drift out our back door. Rex Russell -- my nephew who was exactly two weeks younger than me -- was there and Daddy had him by the back of the shirt collar and the seat of his pants. He was swinging him out the door, like he was going to throw him in the snow. That looked like fun, so I wanted him to do that to me. He did, but it shocked me when daddy actually threw me in the snow! I didn't get hurt. I just remember him pulling me out and standing me up in the kitchen and drying me off.

I don't remember any Christmas until the next year when my sister and brother-in-law Pauline and Bill Russell (Rex's parents) moved to San Diego and we all lived together.

Rex and I were "two peas in a pod" when we lived in Colorado. Mother and Daddy always said the way they could keep track of us was by the dog we had. His name was Ole Red. He was as tall as the two of us and he had a long tail that always stood up in the air. If they could see his tail when we were out in the field, they knew we were right there with him.

The second picture I am including today is from Christmas 1960 and shows
Rex and Ellen Russell (on the left) with Terry and Thelma (Shepard) Boyd - each of them in their 20s. They are in front of a Christmas tree at Bill and Pauline (Shepard) Russell's home on Mandalay Place in San Diego.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may good memories of Christmases past fill your heart, and lift your spirit for the year to come.
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Friday, December 18, 2009

Shepard Family Update, December 18, 2009

Our hearts grow tender
with childhood memories
and love of kindred,
and we are better
throughout the year
for having, in spirit,
become a child again
at Christmas-time
~Laura Ingalls Wilder
Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting to all of you on this last Friday before Christmas. From our family to yours comes warm wishes for a joyful holiday celebration!

The first picture I am including today shows the four of us in Nathan and Chenda's apartment in San Francisco earlier this month. Even though this is Chenda's first real celebration of Christmas, she is in the spirit.

We will begin our celebration of Christmas after the Christmas Eve service at our church, when we pick Nathan and Chenda up at the airport at nearly midnight. Then we'll spend Christmas morning at our town house in San Diego. Later we will be with Cindy's family at her mom's house on Burgundy Street where we'll gather for a Christmas feast with assorted Harris relatives young and old.

It has been a year of amazing changes for us. Last year at this time we had not even met Chenda, our new daughter-in-law, except through the miracle of internet technology. Christmas Day a year ago we were in the early stages of our trip to Cambodia to meet her in person for the first time. Here we are a year later, she has finally been allowed into the county, she and Nathan are now married, and they are expecting next spring (with Will and Bura's 9th GGgrandchild). It has been a long time since that much change has occurred in our lives in one short year!

The second picture I am including today was taken in San Diego in 1977, another year of great change. Not only was it the year our son Nathan was born (the baby in the picture), it was the last year Eugene and Maida (Gower) Shepard spent in Southern California before moving to Washington State in the spring of 1978. On the right in the picture is their youngest son Russ.

Here's a story for this last week before Christmas.
After an afternoon of Christmas shopping, a man rushed into a church business meeting. Before he could even catch his breath, he heard a proposal from a well meaning young woman to buy a new Chandelier for the church social hall. 
Before the head of the committee could respond to the proposal, a middle-aged man spoke up. He was the self appointed voice of reason among the group. Whenever a proposal to spend was brought forward, he always had something to say and some reason why the money should not be spent.
“I have three things to say about this request.”  He was very determined. “First, I doubt if anyone can spell the name of the thing, so we probably can't even order it. Second, I don't think something like should even be played in this church. And third, instead of this newfangled thing she is proposing, what we really need around here is more light!"
Wherever you may be on Christmas day, may your celebration be filled with the joy of family and the light of the divine.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shepard Family Update, December 11, 2009

Happy, happy Christmas,
that can win us back
to the delusions of our childhood days,
recall to the old man
the pleasures of his youth,
and transport the traveler back
to his own fireside and quiet home!

- Charles Dickens

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greeting to all of you from San Diego, where chilly, wet winter weather is preparing us for our celebration of Christmas.

With winter upon us, I thought it an appropriate diversion to think about warm summer vacations. I recently rediscovered some old family pictures that were taken during a camping trip over 50 years ago to Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite is a true national treasure and a place of many family vacations over the years. For many of you -- as for me -- it is a place of wonderful memories, a place where our families went tent camping or backpacking or day hiking or to attend Christian encampments or just to sight see.

The first picture I am including, taken in Yosemite in 1953, shows Eugene Shepard with the three children he and Maida had at the time -- me, Gary and Linda. In addition to the four people in this particular picture, our trip included Maida Shepard, and her parents Leroy and Nola Gower. Behind us in the picture is the old sedan that all 7 of us piled into, with the tent secured on top.

Select this link to see a slide show of other pictures of this same memorable vacation. Part of what makes the slide show pictures so interesting is that they were taken on what may have been my very first trip to Yosemite. The pictures may have been taken with our family's old "Brownie" box camera, which had a little trouble adjusting to bright light as you can see from the picture above. Mom, however, who took this particular photo and others in the slide show, seems to recall the pictures being taken with a Kodak Instamatic, which was quite an advanced camera for its day, and was all the rage at the time. In the summer of 1953 Eugene was 32 and Maida was 29 and was in the early months of her pregnancy with their 4th child Darrell. It is interesting to me to note that Eugene and Maida were exactly the same age then, that our son Nathan and his wife Chenda are now.

The second picture I am including today shows three children who, like the three in the first picture, are descendants of Will and Bura Shepard. These three are just about the same age as the three kids in the first picture. In this second picture, taken last year at Christmas time, are Ashlyn, Damian and Ciara Ortiz, children of Desiree and Jeremy Ortiz, and grandchildren of Kim Boyd Clark. They are among the GGgrandchildren of Will and Bura.

Have a great week getting ready for Christmas. As you take family photos this holiday season, email one or more to me so that it can be shared with the rest of your larger family.
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Shepard Family Update, December 4, 2009

When you look at your life,
the greatest happinesses
are family happinesses. 
~Joyce Brothers

Hello Shepard Family and Friends,

Greetings from the chilly but beautiful city of San Francisco where Cindy and I are visiting our son Nathan and his wife Chenda on this first Friday of December.

Happy Birthday Patrick! Tomorrow is the 19th birthday of Patrick Joseph Shepard who is the 16th Ggrandchild of Will and Bura Shepard. Pat's grandmother is Maida (Gower) Shepard, and his parents are Darrell and Mary (Medina) Shepard of Kirkland, Washington. Pat works for a retirement facility in the Seattle suburb of Bothell, which is also where he and his girl friend Nicole Haw live. Hard working Pat plans to take tomorrow off and celebrate his birthday with his family and a few friends at his parents home.

The first picture I am including today was taken last month in Anacortes, Washington at Maida Shepard's 85th birthday party -- a gala event that also celebrated her daughter-in-law Pam Shepard's 45th birthday. (Select the picture to see a larger view.) On the far right in the picture are Patrick and Nicole with their little dog Tootsie. Also in the picture, from right to left, next to Patrick are: Barbara Shepard, Chris Shepard, Nathan and Chenda Shepard, Rachel Shepard with boyfriend Brian Miller, birthday girl Maida Shepard, Darrell and Mary (barely visible) Shepard, birthday girl Pam Shepard, Steven Paul Shepard, me, Linda Shepard, Cindy and Gary Shepard, and Russell Shepard.

Pat is one of those four descendants of Will and Bura who I have mentioned before, who were born in 1990. Consider this: Will and Bura have had 45 descendants born in the 93 years since 1916, when their first child Pauline (Shepard) Russell was born. That is an average of less than one every two years. For 4 of their 45 descendants to be born in the year 1990 is something of a anomaly -- a virtual "baby boom" for our modest sized family. The other descendants of Will and Bura born in 1990 are Steven Paul Shepard, Lyndsey Aquiningoc and Courtney Boyd.

The second picture I am including today shows a much younger Patrick. This picture was also taken in the front yard of Eugene and Maida Shepard's home in Anacortes, Washington, but in 1995. With Patrick on the swing is his brother Christopher.

It is hard to believe that we are now into the month of December! Christmas is just three weeks from today. The countdown begins. May your family be a blessing to you as we move rapidly toward the celebration of Christmas.
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