Sunday, July 28, 2013

Welcome to the World! July 28, 2013

This is a wonderful day.
I've never seen this one before.
~Maya Angelou

Hello Family and Friends. 

Welcome to the World! The big news in our family this past week was the birth of my nephew Patrick and his wife Nicole Shepard's baby boy, Logan Joseph Shepard, on Wednesday in Bothell, Washington. Congratulations to Pat and Nicole! Logan is the first grandchild of Darrell and Mary Shepard and the youngest G grandchild of Maida Shepard. He had some problems at birth and is in the Critical Care Unit of a Seattle hospital. Our prayers and best wishes are with him and his family. 

Cindy and I are in Northern California today to celebrate the first birthday of our youngest grandchild William Quincy Shepard, who was born to Nathan and Chenda Shepard in San Francisco one year ago.

Select the link above to see a photo presentation celebrating William's first year.
Barbara's Birthday! William shares the spotlight on this day with my sister Barbara Shepard who is also celebrating her birthday. Born in San Diego at the end of the 1950s, Barb lives today in Anacortes, Washington as do many of the other Shepard's in our family. She is a long time employee of Safeway in Anacortes, and will be one of the family members hosting our family reunion this summer.

The picture on the left was taken in Alameda, California earlier this year and shows Barb holding William and his older sister Preslea. 

Happy Birthday Jeff. And last but not least is the final person of today's birthday trio.
Jeff Clark, husband of Kim Boyd Clark, also celebrates his birthday on July 28. Jeff and Kim live with their family in Blue Springs, Missouri. The picture on the right was taken earlier this month and shows Jeff Clark. Thanks to Kim for sending me this photo. 

The time is drawing very near for our Family Reunion in Anacortes, Washington on Saturday, August 10 at the Shepard home on Wildwood Lane. Have you made your plans to be there?
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Forty Years Ago, July 23, 2013

I'm inspired by my own children,
how full they make my heart. 
They make me want to make the world better.
And they make me want to be a better man.”
~Barack Obama

Hello family and friends. Greetings to all of you from San Diego.

Happy Birthday Shannon! Tomorrow, July 24, is the birthday of Shannon Wilk, one of the Great Grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. Shannon was born 40 years ago in San Diego to Phil and Beverly Russell Wilk. She lives today with her daughter Emma in Atchison, Kansas, near where her father's family originated.

Shannon: We are doing well. The carnival is in town this weekend so we are going to that. I don't have any plans for my birthday. Dinner with friends, maybe go dancing. Nothing big. I was going to do something special but with work and life itself, dinner and good company seems good enough. Emma is going to make me wear a Hello Kitty Birthday Girl pin to work. It only seems right, I made her wear it on hers. It doesn't seem like I'm going to be forty. Karl and mom didn't make it this far. I have some wonderful angels watching over me and Emma. Take care.

The first picture shows Shannon at just a few months old with her brother, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. From left to right in the picture are Karl Wilk, Beverly Russell Wilk (holding Shannon), Pauline Shepard Russell, and Bura Davis Shepard.

40 Years Ago1973 was a significant year in our family for a number of reasons. Not only was Shannon born in July, her second cousin Kelly Shepard (Sauvage) was born in September of that year, also in San Diego. In addition, it was the year that Cindy and I moved back to Southern California, having been in graduate School for a couple of years in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was also in the summer of '73 that our family made a memorable trip to Yosemite, and enjoyed ourselves camping and hiking.

The second picture was taken on Glacier Point in the summer of '73. With Half Dome providing an impressive background, from left to right are Gary and Jackie Shepard, Darrell Shepard with niece Kerri in front of him, Maida Shepard with son Russ behind her, me with nephew Jason Shepard in the backpack, and Cindy Shepard on the right. 

Upcoming Family Reunion. In just a few short weeks, on Saturday, August 10, our family will gather in a family reunion in Anacortes, Washington. All family members and friends are invited to join us for this reunion.

A number of pictures were taken -- as always -- at the last Family Reunion in Anacortes, including the final picture of this post. It shows my nephew Patrick Shepard looking very fatherly as he holds one year old Logan Shepard, the son of his cousin Nathan Shepard. Any time now Patrick will get to hold his own son. He and his wife Nicole are expecting their first child very soon.

This Just In. Moments before posting this, I saw on Facebook a message from Heather Robson Cotton (one of Leroy and Nola Gower's Ggrandchildren), wishing her daughter Victoria a happy birthday. Tori was born on this day 6 years ago! We celebrate with her and her family, including grandmother Paula Tuzzolino and Ggrandmother Vicki Johnston.
- - -
Steve Shepard 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Family Cars and More Stories They Tell, July 17, 2013

 I sustain myself with the love of family. 
~Maya Angelou

Greetings to all of you from Orlando, Florida where Cindy and I are attending the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with several thousand other Disciples from around the country. It is a biennial event we enjoy traveling to for the inspiration and fellowship.

In my last post I shared some information and pictures about our family and their cars from the 1920s and 30s. I am continuing that theme in this post and will share a few more pictures of family members with their autos, these from the 1940s and 50s.

The Way We Were. The first picture shows some young folks enjoying themselves, but this time it is my mom Maida Gower with a boyfriend named Rudy, whom she knew before she met the man she would marry. Mom tells me that this picture was taken in San Diego in 1943 or 44 in front of the Gower home on Arizona Street. Actually the Gower home -- their first in San Diego -- was a small house behind the home that is seen here.

This happy twosome is pictured in front of a beautiful old automobile, which provides a strong, substantial backdrop to the two of them. My mom tells me that the car may have belonged to the owners of the house behind them. If it was Rudy's car it would, of course, have made him especially attractive. It is war time in the military city of San Diego, but you would never know it from the peaceful smiles and warmth of this moment captured in time.

He is in military uniform and she is attired impressively for an Oklahoma farm girl. Only a year or so removed from the small town of Okemah, this lovely, available, Southern Baptist teenage girl now finds herself in the big city of San Diego and is dressed accordingly. She is obviously pleased to be in the company of this marine. Within a year of this picture being taken, it would be another soldier, navy man Eugene Shepard, who would steal Maida's heart as they began a romance that would last almost 60 years, until 2003, when dad died.

A Hot Ford From the 40s. The second photo, also taken in the early 1940s, shows my dad Eugene (on the right) with his older brother Elmer Shepard, in front of the Shepard rooming house on Albatross St. in the Hillcrest section of San Diego. These are serious fellows, in "civvies", posing with what was soldier Eugene's pride and joy, a shiny new 1941 Ford. He used this vehicle to commute the 100 miles between San Diego and Los Alamitos, California where he was stationed at the Los Alamitos Naval Air Station during WWII. This was probably the vehicle he used to date Maida when they began courting in 1944.

Grandad's Stylish Merc. The third picture takes us into the 1950s. It was taken in August of 1957 in Point Loma in front of our home on Rosecrans Street where Eugene and Maida and their first 4 children lived. We lived in military housing (even though dad was a vet in Civil Service) and had a beautiful view of downtown San Diego, North Island and San Diego bay, some of which you can see in the distance.

Our home on Rosecrans Street, from 1955 to 1959, was actually on military property, which included a fuel supply depot as well as a marine barracks. Even so, our home there was easily accessible (this was obviously many years prior to 9-11) and was a common gathering place for our Shepard and Gower families. Nearly all the members of both families lived in San Diego and were fond of getting together. This picture was taken at one such family gathering.

It shows me as a scruffy 8 year old in wrinkled blue jeans, a t-shirt and tennis shoes. I am standing in front of granddad's stylish Mercury, which was just a few years old at the time. Also in this picture are granddad William Shepard, partially visible on the left, and his daughter, my aunt Pauline Shepard Russell on the right.

It was probably my mom (often the photographer in our family) or perhaps my uncle Bill Russell who took this picture. Whoever it was, they considered it appropriate to include granddad's Mercury in the background, a vehicle I remember riding in a number of times. It was usually driven by granddad, but occasionally by grandmother Bura. Even today, I can remember as an 8 year old boy being impressed that my grandmother would drive the car. My other grandmother, Nola Gower, never learned to drive, which may have been part of the reason I admired my grandmother Shepard when she did.

These are just a few of the dozens of old family pictures that show our kinfolk along side their vehicles. Each one tells a number of stories, unfortunately many of them lost to history after all these years. If you are interested in previous blog posts where I have included old pictures of family members with their cars, check out links here and herehere and here and especially here where you can see the very oldest picture I have of some family members with their car.

As I mentioned in my last post, if you have other old pictures of family members with their cars, pass them on to me with a little something of the stories contained therein. I'd be glad to share them here for all to read.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Cars and the Stories They Tell, July 10, 2013

The farther back you can look,
the farther forward you are likely to see.
~Winston Churchill

Greetings to all of you from sunny San Diego!

I am sharing three old pictures today that were all taken in the 1920s and 1930s, when my parents were young. These pictures tell of the important place that automobiles had in our family's lives in the early 20th century. It is somewhat surprising how often pictures in that day were taken of family members alongside their automobiles. We do that occasionally today, of course, but it seems to have been even more natural for this phenomenon to have occurred in a time when cars carried greater significance than they do today. 

Even though automobiles made their appearance around the turn of the century, in the 1920s and 30s they were just becoming the norm for the average American. Automobiles in that time were somewhat comparable to personal computers for us today. It was a new technology that had only been around a few decades and was drastically changing the very fabric of American society and family life.

Pride Of Ownership. The first picture is one of the oldest I have of our family with an automobile. It shows my grandparents William and Bura Davis Shepard with their first three children. Judging from the age of the children (and the fact that their 4th child Thelma, born 1936, is not in the picture), my guess is that this picture was taken about 1928. 

1928 was the year the Shepards moved from Beaver County, Oklahoma to Two Buttes in Southeast Colorado. Perhaps this car was purchased for the purpose of making that move. It shows granddad William sitting in the driver's seat with the pride of ownership written all over his face. Next to him is his young, 30 something wife Bura, looking to be pleased and proud of this "modern" family portrait. 

Positioned at various locations on the vehicle are their children, like fruit on a tree. On the hood, obedient and well behaved, is young Eugene. On the running board is Pauline, standing confidently in a prominent position, befitting her stature as the first born. And sitting behind his dad, in a place of safety and closeness to his parents, is middle child Elmer, his face in the shade

The overall impression I get here is of a family that is pleased to claim ownership of this fine traveling machine. They seem to be more than just a little taken with this auto and the place it now has in their family life. They do not look as if they just came in the from working in the fields, like some old family photos. Instead they appear to be clean and fresh and ready to go somewhere, indeed anywhere this wonderful, modern vehicle of transportation will take them.

Say Hello To My Lit'l Friend. The second picture, taken about 1935, when the Shepard family lived in Two Buttes, Colorado, shows my father Eugene Shepard by himself, standing in front of what may have been the family's automobile. He's a skinny young school kid (he graduated 1939), and may may have been 14 or 15, at the age when he was just learning how to drive -- a serious right of passage as important for teenagers in the 1930s as it is today. 

His posture and his facial expression tell us that he is clearly attached to this vehicle -- almost literally! He stands easily between the front bumper and the radiator, appearing to be comforted by the warmth of this machine. It is as if he is standing alongside a good friend, as if part of his self image -- even at this age -- is wrapped up in his relationship with this four wheeled companion.

Joy Riding With Friends. The third picture was taken a few years later -- perhaps 1939 or 1940, and indicates a growing maturity of relationship between family and auto, evidenced by the obvious lightheartedness of this particular moment. This picture also appears to have been taken when the Shepards lived in Colorado, before they moved to San Diego in September, 1940. 

Dad and some friends (none of whom I can identify) are enjoying a fun time beside a car that has probably taken them on a short road trip. My dad is the one on the left with a tooth missing, cozying up to an unknown girl in front, and one behind, all of them mugging it up for the camera. What are the girls in front holding? Rustic little purses? Brownie cameras? Joy riding with friends in a fancy car like this would definitely have called for photo remembrances.

The unknown fellow standing on the running board is uneasy, looking off into the distance. At what? The open road? An approaching police officer? Gawking spectators? He does not seem to have gotten the joke the others are laughing at. Perhaps he did not find it funny. Was the joke on him? Did it have something to do with the unseen, camera-shy girl in the car who is sticking her high heel shoe up and out the window. What's that all about? One can only imagine.

Our family and their cars: the stories they tell are countless. These are just a few. In my next post I will continue this theme of family members and their cars by looking at a few pictures from the 1940s and 50s.

Do you have other old pictures of family members with their cars? Pass them on to me with a little something of the stories contained therein. I'd be glad to share them for all to read.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Happy Independence Day! July 3, 2013

My heritage has been my grounding,
and it has brought me peace.
~Maureen O'Hara

Happy Independence Day tomorrow!

July 4th is not only a day to celebrate the birth of our nation, it is also a time to celebrate our family heritage in America, a heritage that predates the United States. All four of my grandparents had ancestors who were around to witness the birth of our country in 1776. Here are just a few:

  • Jane (McKnight) Shannon, born 1759 in Rockfish, Amherst, Virginia, was the GG grandmother of my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower. Jane was a young woman of 17 on Independence Day 1776.
  • Matthew Gower, born 1762 in North Carolina, was the GGG grandfather of my grandpa Leroy Gower. Matthew was just 14 when our country was born.
  • James Shepard, born in 1775 in Hagerstown, Maryland, was the GG grandfather of my granddad William Shepard. He was just a year old on the first Independence Day.
  • Drusilla (Forrest) Davis, also born 1775, was from Anne Arundel County, Maryland (about 20 miles from DC) and was the GGG grandmother of my grandmother Bura Davis Shepard. She too was just a year old in 1776 and may have been able to see the first fireworks from Washington in the distance the night of that first July 4th. (Okay, she probably couldn't actually see them, but she was still pretty darn close!*) 
This is just a sampling of the many folks in our family tree who were around on Independence Day, 1776 when our nation was born. Our roots go very deep and are very broad in our country. In a few instances I can trace our descendants back much farther than 1776. For example, Jane McKnight (listed above), though born in 1769, was a 4th generation American, whose GG grandmother Jane Alexander McKnitt had immigrated to American from Ireland in the late 1600s. (Read more about her here and here.) Matthew Gower (also listed above) though born in in 1762, was a 5th generation American. His GG grandfather Abell Gower (the child of English immigrants) was born in Henrico (Richmond), Virginia in 1640 when American was little more than frontier wilderness. (Read more about him here and here.)

As you celebrate the holiday tomorrow, know that you are part of a long, long history of family members who not only looked back in gratitude to 1776. In some instances they anticipated Independence Day by several generations. Ours is truly an all-american family from way back.

Birthday wishes to Desiree! Happy Birthday this Saturday, July 6, to Desiree Ortiz of Blue Springs, Missouri. Desiree and husband Jeremy are the proud parents of 5 young children. Jeremy is one of the G Grandchildren of Will and Bura Davis Shepard.

Happy 11th Birthday this coming Sunday to Nathaniel Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. Nate is the older brother of Kyle whose birthday was just 11 days ago. Best wishes to Nate for a wonderful birthday! The second picture shows Nate a few months ago with a medal he won at the end of his basketball season.

Elvira Owens Shepard (1865-1931). Two days ago, July 1, was the 148th anniversary of the birth of my G Grandmother Elvira Owens Shepard of Madison County, Illinois. Born in 1865 just as the Civil War was winding down, she and my great grandfather William Elmer Shepard were married in Madison County in 1886.

In about 1905 when their children Sadie and William were young, Elvira and husband William Elmer moved their family to Beaver County, Oklahoma. The second picture, taken in Beaver County in the early 1920s, shows a smiling Elvira with her daughter-in-law Bura Davis Shepard on the right.

William Elmer died in February 1915, just a few months before their son William Shepard and his bride Bura Davis (my grandparents) were married. Elvira outlived her husband by 16 years, and spent her last few years with second husband Cal Williams. She is buried in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County.

G Grandmother Elvira Owens was originally from another all-american family, one rooted in Madison County, Illinois. Following the July 4 theme of this post, I can mention that her G Grandmother Sarah Rives Owens was born in 1769 in Bristol Parish, Prince George, Virginia. She was a young girl of just 7 years old on July 4, 1776.

*Footnote: For the sake of historical accuracy, I need to mention that there were almost certainly no fireworks in Washington or anywhere else, on July 4, 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was signed and our nation was born. The signing was not even in Washington, but in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Church bells rang out in Philly that day, but the work of independence had only begun with the signing of the Declaration. The real celebration would follow much later.

- - -
Steve Shepard