Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Celebratory Trifecta, July 27, 2014

The family you come from
isn't as important
as the family
you're going to have.
~Ring Lardner

Happy Birthday Barbara! Tomorrow is my sister Barbara Shepard's birthday. By some measure she becomes a senior citizen tomorrow, as hard as that is to believe about this young lady. Born and raised in San Diego, she lives today in Anacortes, Washington where she has resided for most of her life now. She lives with our mom Maida and has worked at Safeway for over 8 years. She was recently promoted and became a checker there and is enjoying the work very much.

The first picture was taken in April of this year in San Diego at the home of Chenda and Nathan Shepard, and shows Barbara and her nephew William, with whom she shares a birthday.

Happy Birthday Jeff! Also sharing a birthday tomorrow is Jeff Clark, husband of my cousin Kim Boyd Clark of Blue Springs, Missouri. The second picture shows Jeff (sitting) holding his new grandson Kyler. On the left is his son Casey and on the right is his oldest grandchild Ciara Ortiz. 

Kim: Jeff got a new grandson for his early birthday gift this year. His son Casey and wife Amanda had baby boy Kyler Zane Welch born July 18. Jeff is busy painting and sprucing up our house to get ready to sell. We are wanting to down size so we will move into one of our rentals here in town until we decide where to buy again. We will have a family dinner for his birthday and Desiree will probably make his cake. She does so well at it.

Love Is Everything. And finally, tomorrow is the birthday of our youngest grandchild William Shepard, youngest child of Nathan and Chenda Shepard of San Diego. Willie Q turns 2 years old tomorrow. He enjoys swimming (in a manner of speaking), eating, biking, eating, feeding the koi pond fish, and slides at the playground (did I say eating?). 


The above picture presentation features William Quincy Shepard from his birth in San Francisco through his first year at Alameda, to his most recent days in San Diego. The music is k.d. lang singing "Love is Everything."
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Steve Shepard

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Western Washington Connection, July 23, 2014

The happiness of the domestic fireside
is the first boon of Heaven.
~Thomas Jefferson

Greetings to all of you from Anacortes, Washington where Cindy and I are visiting Shepard and Gower family. Anacortes in particular and Western Washington in general has become home to my mom and all my siblings in the last 36 years -- interestingly the same number of years that mom lived in San Diego. Southern California was home to all of us until mom and dad's move to the Northwest in 1978. Today Cindy and I and our kids are the lone "hold outs" in our immediate family who still reside in Southern California. 

Logan's First Birthday! One of my Washingtonian siblings is my brother Darrell Shepard. Tomorrow, July 24 is the first birthday of the grandson of Darrell and his wife Mary. Logan Joseph Shepard was born last July in Bothell, Washington where he and his parents Patrick and Nicole still live today. 

Patrick: Logan's birthday is a very exciting time. We have had quite an adventure his first year. Logan has been so strong and is making great strides and doing great! We love him more and more each day. He has been such a blessing to Nicole and I, and we thank God for him every day. We are celebrating with a big party at our house. Next we look forward to welcoming Logan's brother in December! Attached is a picture that was taken in San Diego just a few weeks ago, in fact [Steve] took the picture!

Happy Birthday to Logan and best wishes, good health and even more positive development in the coming year!

Happy Birthday Shannon! July 24 is also the birthday of Shannon Wilk who lives with her daughter Emma in Atchison, Kansas. Shannon, who was born and raised in San Diego, is the daughter of Phil Wilk and my cousin Beverly Russell Wilk, the second grandchild of Will and Bura Davis Shepard. The second picture was taken last month and shows Shannon on the left with a couple of friends boating on a lake during the July 4th holiday.

Shannon: The picture is with Erin and Mason. They are family without the blood! lol. We were at Paradise Lake in Effingham, Ks for the fireworks they have there.

I mentioned earlier in this post that in 1978 my parents Eugene and Maida Shepard first moved to Anacortes, Washington from San Diego. That move began a migration to the Northwest that eventually included most of their immediate family. One of their first return trips to Southern California was in 1981, the year the third picture was taken.

Cars and The Stories They Tell. In this picture is my 22 year old sister Barbara, standing in front of her sporty yellow Pontiac Ventura, which she drove to Southern California from Anacortes, Washington in the fall of that year with Dad Eugene Shepard and brother Russell. The picture was taken in front of the home of Cindy and me in Los Alamitos, 100 miles up the road from San Diego. It was a special occasion for the family of Eugene and Maida to share a few days together. We had all lived in San Diego for most of our lives, and were still getting used to living 1,500 miles apart. 

Barb tells me that not long before the trip to SoCal, Dad took her to a car lot in Anacortes, pointed out the yellow Pontiac Ventura and said, "That's your car if you want it. I'll put some money down and make the first two payments, and you take it from there."  She took him up on the offer and drove home with the first car she ever owned. From her body posture and the look on her face in this picture, you can see that she took great pride in ownership. If there was one thing our Dad enjoyed doing, it was buying used cars, tinkering with them and traveling in them. In this particular case he helped Barbara buy the car and then shared the experience of making a trip back home to see family and friends in San Diego. 

Cindy and I are in Anacortes right now continuing that 36 year tradition of traveling between Western Washington and San Diego to be reunited with family.
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Steve Shepard

Thursday, July 17, 2014

More Cars and More Stories, July 17, 2014

When we try to pick out anything by itself,
we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~John Muir

Remembering Manuel Aquiningoc (1961-1992). This Saturday, July 19, would have been the 43rd birthday of Manuel Aquiningoc, late husband of my niece Kerri Shepard Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas. His untimely and tragic death in San Diego occurred 22 summers ago in 1992.  Manuel is still warmly remembered today by those who knew him, especially his wife Kerri and his daughters Lyndsey and Mandi.

The first picture shows Manuel (left) with his wife Kerri (in front) and Kerri's dad Gary Shepard (right) and Gary's wife Cindy (in the middle) holding Lyndsey. This picture was taken in 1991 in front of the Harris home on Burgundy Street in San Diego. 

More Cars and the Stories They Tell. Last summer I spent a few weeks in a different kind of family story telling which I titled "Cars and the Stories They Tell." I considered various automobiles that were significant in the life of family members in the first half of the 20th century. I would like to pick up that same theme and look at the second half of the 20th century.

A 1952 Ford Country Sedan was our family's station wagon for several years when we lived in the Point Loma community of San Diego in the mid-1950s. At that particular time the Country Sedan was a common vehicle for modest working class families like ours. It was something of a step down from the big flashy Buicks of my uncle Hank Gower, or even the stylish Mercury Medalist of my Shepard Grandparents. But in its own way our Ford was something of a classic. Here's a website that tells you more about this special car.

The second picture gives you a pretty good view of our 1952 Ford Country Sedan in the driveway of our home on Rosecrans Street in Point Loma. Taken in June of 1958 this picture also shows my siblings Linda and Darrell Shepard, who at the time were the two youngest children of Maida and Eugene Shepard. Barbara would be born the following year, and Russell three years after that.

Our station wagon was a light brown vehicle with white sidewall tires, a V8 engine, three rows of seats, but not a single seat belt. It was the only car we had and it took us everywhere, including to Church each Sunday morning on El Cajon Blvd. Sadly this Ford was the instrument of death for the family puppy when mom accidentally ran over it as she backed out of the garage one hurried morning. Despite that, it was a memorable vehicle for us for several years and served us well. As I recall, it was even the primary vehicle used in moving our family to our first purchased home on Armstrong Street in 1959. I remember going on several family vacations in it, usually with dad's homemade, one wheel, wooden trailer being pulled behind, full of camping gear and other traveling needs for a family of 6.

Especially memorable was one particular vacation in the late 1950s when Dad, Grandad, my older brother Gary and I used it to go camping in Sequoia National Park, a few hundred miles north of San Diego in Central California. We encountered a thieving bear on that trip which formed the grist for tales that Dad and Grandad told and retold (and probably embellished!) for many years. The hungry bear came into our camp in the middle of the night, rummaging through our food bin and awakening Dad. He frantically turned on the Ford's lights and honked its horn to scare the furry thief away. Through it all Grandad slept peacefully and, much to his chagrin, had to be told of the night's events the following morning.

On the way out of the mountains, as our station wagon carried us down Highway 198 into the San Joaquin Valley we descended a long steep grade and the Ford's brakes began to fail. I don't ever remember Dad and Grandad being as worried as they were that day, with the smell of burning brakes in the air. Carefully using the emergency brake as well as the foot brake, Dad negotiated the grade and we made it to the flatlands safely, breathing a sigh of relief. At least Dad and Grandad did. Gary and I weren't worried a bit and thought it was a great adventure. The four of us returned to San Diego, none the worse for wear, grateful for Dad's prowess, and appreciative of that '52 Ford that carried us safely home.
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Steve Shepard

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wedding Bells in California, July 10, 2014

Only in the family can so many extremes
be reconciled and synthesized.
Only in the family do we have a lifetime
in which to do it.
~Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Greetings to all of you from the mountains of California's Sierra Nevada. Cindy and I and our granddaughter Preslea are enjoying the trails and views, the flora and fauna of one of the most beautiful places on earth. In the early 1950s, when I was a pre-schooler, my family, including my grandparents Leroy and Nola Gower, first introduced me to this remarkable area. It is now our turn to share with our granddaughter the wonders of this scenic treasure.
The first picture was taken yesterday and shows Preslea, Cindy and me with the crest of the Sierra Nevada, including The Minarets, behind us.

Remem- bering Nola Shannon Gower. Speaking of my Gower grandparents, it was 10 years ago yesterday that my grandmother Nola Shannon Gower died. At 101 years old she was the oldest person in our family that I ever knew, but more importantly she was a wonderful human being: down home, resourceful, resilient, faithful, healthy, and always respectful of family. She will always be remembered as a remarkable person whose influence is reflected in her descendants when at their best.

Congratu- lations Joan and Dee! Congratu- lations to my cousin Joan Shepard, one of the grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard, and the daughter of the late Elmer and Beryl Shepard. Joan and her partner Dee Shannon were married this past Monday in Davis, California in a beautiful family gathering at the U.C. Davis Arboretum. The ceremony included their 3 children and a few other family members, including Cindy and me and our granddaughter Preslea. It was my privilege to officiate at the ceremony. The second picture shows Dee and Joan and me right after the ceremony.

The third picture shows our larger Shepard family 47 years ago in a holiday gathering at Elmer and Beryl Shepard's home outside San Diego in 1967. 
I am including this picture because in it are the Shepards mentioned in the previous paragraph: Joan (far left), William and Bura (near left), Elmer (far right) and Beryl (just right of center), and myself (behind Beryl). Also included in this family picture are most of the other children and grandchildren of Will and Bura Shepard at the time: Beverly, Barbara, Pauline, Phil, Russell, Kim, Dane, Rex, Ellen, Eric, Eugene, Darrell, Maida, Linda and Bill.
- - -
Steve Shepard

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Most Prolific Father Among Us, July 3, 2014

Let us not seek to satisfy
our thirst for freedom 
by drinking from the cup
of bitterness and hatred.
~Martin Luther King

Happy Independence Day tomorrow! Ours is definitely an all American family with ancestors that can be traced to the earliest days of our nation and even several generations on this soil before the U.S. came into being. We can also proudly claim to be a truly American family with some recent immigrants being an important part of the mix, in the best tradition of our great nation.

Elvira Owens (1865-1931). July 1 was the 149th anniversary of the birth of my great grandmother Elvira Owens (1865-1931). She was born and raised in the farming community of New Douglas in Madison County, Illinois as the Civil War was winding down. She was the second youngest of the 8 children of Peyton and Mary Owens, who were significant land owners.
She married my great grandfather William Elmer Shepard in 1886, and with him had two children, William and Sadie. In about 1905 the 4 of them were the first of our Shepard family to move to the Oklahoma territory. Elvira outlived William by 16 years and after his death married a second time to Cal Williams. She and both her husbands are buried in Sophia Cemetery in Beaver County, Oklahoma.

Happy Anniversary Heather and Sean Cotten. July 1 was also the 14th Wedding Anniversary of Heather and Sean Cotten of San Antonio, Texas (see first picture). Heather is the daughter of my cousin Paula Tuzzolino and granddaughter of Vicki Gower Johnston of Oak Harbor, Washington. Happy Anniversary and best wishes to Heather and Sean and their daughters Victoria and Alexandria.

Happy Birthday Desiree Ortiz. This Sunday, July 6, is the birthday of Desiree Ortiz, wife of Jeremy Ortiz who is one of the Great Great Grandchildren of Elvira Owens Shepard. Desiree, Jeremy and their children live in Blue Springs, Missouri, not far from Jeremy's grandmother Thelma Shepard Boyd, and his mom Kim Clark and her husband Jeff Clark.

It has been just a few weeks since Father's Day, so I am still in the mode of considering ourstanding fathers in our family. Jeremy is one such outstanding father. He and Desiree deserve special mention for having more children than any couple in our family in over half a century. With our 21st century sensitivities, it may not be "politically correct" to talk about this, but as an historian of our family I am compelled to mention it. (Besides, it is politically INcorrect to be politically correct these days!)

On this weekend of Independence Day it is worth noting that this robust spirit of fatherhood has made our country what it is today. The second picture, taken last December, shows Jeremy and Desiree on the right with their 5 children. In the upper left are Jeremy's siblings Scott (with girl friend Christa) and Amanda (with husband Justin).

You have to go back to 1962 -- 52 years ago -- to find a father in our family who had more than 5 children. That was the year my father Eugene Shepard celebrated the birth of my youngest brother Russell Shepard, the last of his and Maida's 6 children. In the 1960s, a family of 6 children was somewhat unusual but not too uncommon. I was number two in that sextet, so I can speak from experience and say that growing up in a family that large was a happy experience and special in its own way. My mom will have to speak to the parental challenges of a family that large, but I can say with confidence that we never lacked for anything essential. (For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit my memory is not what it used to be.) 

Jeremy, the father of 5, would, of course, be considered a "slacker" by the standards of 100 years ago when it was common for couples in our family to have numerous children. Three of my 4 grandparents were from families of 7 or more children. But times change, and these days, as we all know, couples have fewer children than they did a few generations ago.

I will leave it to the experts to explain all the reasons why things have changed. For now we celebrate the accomplishment of the most prolific father among us, Jeremy Ortiz, and wish him and Desiree the very best as parents.

Happy Birthday, Nate! This coming Monday, July 7, is the 12th birthday of Nathaniel Sauvage, the older son of James and Kelly Shepard Sauvage of Weatherford, Texas. The third picture shows Nate with his mother Kelly on the left and his cousin Lyndsey Aquiningoc on the right.

Mom Kelly: Nate is going to be 12 on the 7th. Can't believe he will be a pre teen! Nate is a whiz at video games. He came to work with me one day, went to the computer animation class, and beat three high school students at the game. The teacher was so impressed he now wants to go straight to high school. Lol! Nate is still the most loving boy I've ever met. He always wants to give everyone a hug and tell them they are beautiful and have a wonderful day. He still melts my heart and the hearts of everyone around him. He loves swimming, playing games, going on vacations and hanging out with his friends.
- - -
Steve Shepard