Friday, October 30, 2015

A Nightmare On My Street, October 30, 2015

'Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
~William Shakespeare

Hello on this weekend of Halloween from Anacortes, Washington where Cindy and I and Grandsons William and Logan are visiting with family and celebrating some special events.

Birthday Wishes to Pam! Happy Birthday today to Pam Engan Shepard, wife of my brother Russell Shepard. Pam and Russ are the parents of Steven Paul and Linda Shepard. Pam has lived in Anacortes, Washington all her life and works there today at the Cap Sante Inn.

This first picture shows Pam and Russ this past summer at our family reunion in Bothell, Washington. Best wishes to Pam for a very Happy Birthday!

Nightmare on My Street. The following is a musical slide show capturing many halloween moments in the life of our larger family over the years. All of the folks you will see in this slide show are from our varied and diverse family. Can you identify them all? It's not as easy as you might think.

Some of the above images are classics from many years ago (one is from 60+ years ago!) while others are very recent and still others are just a few years old. These Halloween revelers are from places as diverse as California and Texas, Washington and Kansas, Pennsylvania and Missouri, and Oklahoma and Illinois. As varied as the locations are, there is one thing all these creepy critters have in common: the spirit of Halloween!

Birthday Wishes to Maida! Happy Birthday this Sunday, November 1, to my mom Maida Shepard, who will be 91 years young! She was born in Arkansas, but lived for most of her growing up years in Okemah, Oklahoma. The last 72 years of her life have been divided equally between San Diego, California (where she and husband Eugene raised their 6 children) and Anacortes, Washington (where she now lives with daughter Barb and grandson Steven).

This picture shows Maida with her 5 children: Russell, Barbara, Darrell, Gary and me. This picture was taken this past August in Bothell, Washington.
-- -
Steve Shepard

Monday, October 26, 2015

"A World Lives in You," October 26, 2015

You can kiss your family and friends good-bye,
but at the same time you carry them with you
in your heart, your mind, your stomach,
because you do not just live in the world
but a world lives in you.
~Frederich Buechner

Happy 23th Birthday today, October 26, to Mandi Aquiningoc. Mandi is the younger daughter of Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. Mandi lives with her older sister Lyndsey in Granbury, Texas, a short ways from Weatherford.

Mandi is one of the grandchildren of my brother Gary Shepard and Jackie Perry. She is also one of the Great Great Grandchildren of both William and Bura Davis Shepard and Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. Mandi's daughter Kambree is one of the youngest members of our extended family at just 2 years old.

This first picture was taken Friday and shows Mandi celebrating her birthday at her UPS work place. Best wishes to Mandi for a great birthday!

Mandi: Hi, uncle Steve! It's so good to hear from you. I'm doing great! I am still working at UPS and I love it. I am waiting for it to start getting super busy for the holidays I heard it gets crazy busy. Its a great company to work for with such great people and customers. Me and Lyndsey finally got our house together. We can see Granbury Lake from our front door. Kambree going to school and in daycare is probably one of the best things that's happening in our lives these days. I've seen such a huge change in Kambree. She sings her abc's, she can count to 10, and she's been walking around the house with her hand over her heart trying to say the pledge of allegiance. And she loves this country song that I play for her; she can sing every word. Lol! She's such a mini me :) I hope to see y'all real soon!

Mandi's Great Grandmother is Maida Gower Shepard. The family of Maida and the late Eugene Shepard are rooted in San Diego, but in recent years many of them have spread out to other parts of the country. Mandi and her part of the family, including her mother and the other children of my brother Gary, have settled in the area around Weatherford, Texas. They number about a dozen. My mom and a number of others are settled now in Western Washington in the Anacortes and Seattle areas. They number almost 2 dozen. And of course several of us still live in San Diego, but not nearly as many as lived here not too many years ago.

This second picture was taken 21 years ago, in front of Grandma Gower's house on Lynne Street in San Diego. This was the home in East San Diego that was the focal point for many memorable family happenings for the entire second half of the 20th century.

This picture shows Mandi at the bottom at just 2 years old, with her mom Kerri Aquiningoc (in red) and Cindy Shepard. Interestingly Mandi in this picture was just about the same age as her daughter Kambree is now, and her mom Kerri in this picture is very close to the age Mandi is now.

Also in this picture are Nola Gower on the left, with Sean Gower behind her, then Aurora Agnibene Gower with her grandson Thrax and her husband Hank Gower. In the very middle are my parents Gene and Maida Gower Shepard, next to Jason Shepard, Gary Shepard and Kelly Shepard. On the right am I, holding 4 year old Lyndsey Aquiningoc.

When this picture was taken my parents Maida and Gene had already moved to Washington and were back in Southern California for a visit. Within a few years, Grandma Gower, Aurora, Hank and my Dad would pass away, Gary and Cindy would move to Washington, and Kerri, Kelly and Jason would move to Texas.

With all these family movements, and many more, it just goes to show the wisdom of Frederich Buechner's quote at the top of this post. When it comes to family, "You do not just live in the world, but a world lives in you."
- - -
Steve Shepard

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Fall Celebrations, October 18, 2015

The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant.
Every table had an argument going.
~George Carlin

Happy Birthday Vicki Johnston! Today is the birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington. Born in Okemah, Oklahoma, in 1933, Vicki was raised in Oklahoma and then San Diego, which is where her family moved in 1942. Vicki and her sister Maida Gower Shepard are the senior members of the family of the late Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. 

The first picture shows my aunt Vicki (seated) with her daughters Gloria and Paula, and Vicki's granddaughter Heather. This picture was taken this past July at Vicki's home in Oak Harbor, Washington.

Vicki's husband Duke Johnston passed away this past summer, so Vicki is still adjusting to life without Duke at their home on Whidbey Island as she struggles with aging issues. She has 4 children Paula Tuzzolino, Gloria Watson, Michael Harrell and David Harrell.

Since this blog is just as concerned with history as it is with the present I'd like to include another picture of my aunt Vicki. This second picture was taken nearly 30 years ago and also shows Vicki (in the middle) with her daughters Gloria and Paula, with Paula's husband at the time Bruce Robson. At the bottom is Paula and Bruce's daughter Heather Robson Cotten. 

Happy Birthday, Korilyn Boyd! Today is the 18th birthday of Korilyn Boyd. She is the 20th of the 21 Great Grandchildren of William and Bura Davis Shepard. She lives across the bay from San Diego in the town of Coronado with her family, including her father Darren Boyd. Her grandmother is Thelma Shepard Boyd of Blue Springs, Missouri.

This third picture, taken earlier this month, shows Kori (on the right) with her mother Vicki and her sister Courtney. Originally from Santee, Kori is a student at Coronado High School. The birthday present she is most proud of is a tatoo on her forearm that she received today as a gift from her mom. Happy Birthday and best wishes to Kori!

Last call for Halloween pictures. If you have a family Halloween picture that you'd like me to include in an upcoming Halloween Photo Presentation, please send it my way, I would love to include it.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Birth, Old Ancestors, October 14, 2015

A new baby is like the beginning of all things -- 
wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.
~Eda J. Le Shan

Greetings to all of you from the good ole U.S. of A. where Cindy and I have returned after our extended travels to Northern Ireland and Scotland on what was, at least partly, a genealogical journey to the homeland of many of our ancestors. Not being able to stay put, today we happen to be in Tucson, Arizona where we are visiting with some friends for a few days.

Insights From A Genealogical Trek. I learned a number of things about family history from our most recent trip to Europe. First, that there is not really a lot to discover about our ancestors from visiting the actual places from whence they came. This is especially true when we are talking about ancestors of many years ago, like our most recent European ancestors who came to this country about 200 years ago. Almost all of what I know about the Irish and Scottish immigrants in our family tree I learned by sitting at my computer in San Diego. The online world has opened up genealogical research to a degree never before experienced. While we were in Northern Ireland, I did visit the very impressive Public Records Office in Northern Ireland (PRONI), which is a major repository of historical records. It was an impressive place and I wish I had spent more time there. But the fact remains that much of what is available there in person is also available online. 

However, there is no doubt that visiting the actual places, in person, that our ancestors came from has merit that cannot be denied. There is a sense of personal connection with the towns and streets and local people and historical sights that has real value though it may be very subjective. When in Northern Ireland, for example, we walked the streets of the little town of Antrim, where ancestor William Gray (1771-1865) was born and raised in the late 18th century. 

Among the local places we visited in Antrim was the Antrim Round Tower, an impressive structure that was there when our Gray forebearers lived there over 200 years ago. The first picture I am including shows the Antrim Round Tower with Cindy in the foreground. When William Gray was a child in the town of Antrim, this tower was already 700 years old! Even at that time it was a relic of the past, just as it is today.

When we visited Antrim we walked about a mile from the train station to the Round Tower which today has a beautiful grassy field all around it, which functions as a public park for families with kids and dogs, and for passing tourists like us. The Tower was built just about 1,000 years ago as a bell tower for protection from raiders and is known locally as "the Steeple". It is 93 feet high and 50 feet in circumference at the bottom. It was just as much an attraction in William Gray's time 200 years ago as it is today.

New Shepard Baby! Congratulations to  Jessica Bell and my nephew Christopher Shepard on the birth of Finley Grace Shepard early Sunday morning, just 3 days ago. Finley is the most recent birth in our family, and the newest descendant of my grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard AND Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower.

Finley's birth is also the 4th grandchild born to my brother Darrell Shepard and his wife Mary in the last 2 years! "When it rains, it pours", as they say. Best wishes to Jessica and Chris and both their families. By the way... Finley being a good Irish name (as is Kellan, another recent birth in our family) just goes to show you that our Irish heritage continues to have its influence on us today!

Thanks to Grandpa Darrell for this picture of Finley, taken at just a few hours old.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Our Scottish Spiritual Roots, October 7, 2015

Every line of strength in American history
is a line coloured with Scottish blood.
~Woodrow Wilson

Hello to all of you from the west coast of Scotland where we are presently in the town of Fort William! We are drawing our extended trip to a close as we make our way back to the big city of Glasgow, Scotland and prepare to fly home in just a few days. 

I mentioned in my last post that our family roots are deep in Ireland and Scotland, with numerous ancestors having migrated to America from Ireland. A number of those Irish immigrants had previously migrated from Scotland to Ireland and then became part of that important, influential influx of Scots-Irish folk to America.

For those of you who are members of the Church of Christ or the Christian Church there is another strong spiritual connection to this land we are visiting. Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander Campbell were two of the key leaders of "the Restoration Movement" of 19th Century America that gave birth to what is known today as the Stone-Campbell tradition, encompassing the Churches of Christ, the Independent Christian Churches, and the Disciples of Christ. 

The Campbells were among those Scots-Irish Protestants who made a great impact on the religious landscape in America. Their Scottish roots are still felt in the heirs of the Stone-Campbell tradition today. There is much about this small country of Scotland for which we can be very grateful, not just genealogically but spiritually as well.

Among the places in Scotland that Cindy and I and our traveling companion Linda visited in recent days was the Isle of Skye, a beautiful resort area just a ferry's ride from the west coast of Scotland. It feels much like the San Juan Islands of Western Washington: wet and cool, green and lush, a place of great scenery and wonderful trails. 

The first picture (above) shows Cindy and me two days ago on a cool, sunny but very windy day as we hiked a remote trail in the hills of Skye with the enchanting Faerie Pools our destination in the background. I saw no Faeries myself on this hike, although someone else in our little group did. Even so, their presence was felt in this special place of beauty and magic.

Scary Days Ahead. Halloween is just a few weeks away, and again this year I plan to put together a slide show of family halloween pictures. If you have a recent or old halloween picture, of a youngster or an oldster, that you would like for me to include, please send it my way.

This second picture shows Shannon and Emma Wilk of Atchison, Kansas in a frightening pose.
- - -
Steve Shepard