Saturday, October 26, 2019

Celebrating 95 Years, October 26, 2019

Celebrating Maida Gower Shepard at 95

Next Friday, November 1, my mother Maida Gower Shepard will turn 95 years old, which is quite a milestone. Her family plans to have a small, quiet celebration on her actual birthday, but then will have an open house at mom's Church on Saturday afternoon, November 2, to which all family and friends are invited. Assuming mom is up to it, the Open House will be an opportunity to visit with her and celebrate this special day.

Maida Gower Shepard with husband Eugene Shepard 
and his brother Elmer Shepard, San Diego, 1945 
She was born on All Saints Day in 1924 in Mountain View, Arkansas, the second child of Leroy and Nola Shannon Gower. She married Navy man Eugene Shepard (1921-2003) in San Diego in 1945 and spent 58 wonderful years with him, first in San Diego then in Anacortes, Washington. Their life together has resulted in 6 children, 9 grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren, and 2 great great grandchildren.

Not many things in life get to be 95, human or otherwise. Not airplanes, boats, animals, relationships, computers, furniture or any number of other items. Some things might be able to survive that long if well cared for, like cars, institutions, buildings and churches. But even if they make it to 95, it is somewhat extraordinary. Do you live in a house that is 95 years old? I never have. We do attend a local Church that is over 95 years old, but even that is cause for celebration.

Maida with daughter Barbara and son Russ
on Wildwood Lane, earlier this year.
Only 13% of American women, and only 7% of American men live to be 95. Being from the class of 1924, mom has been in good company. Others born that same year include President Jimmy Carter, President George H. W. Bush, Gloria Vanderbilt, Marlon Brando, Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver, Lauren Bacall, and Lee Iococca. Mom is from a family of people who tend to live long lives. Her mother Nola Shannon Gower (1903-2004) lived to be 101 years old. Nola actually lived so long her family tended to forget the year she was born. Some swore she was born in 1902. But the historical record is very clear that she was born in 1903. My mom's grandmother Finetta Dearien Shannon (1861-1960) lived just 3 months short of 100 years. Her aunt Peggy Shannon Hutson (1885-1981) lived to be 95.

Longevity is not a given, nor is it necessarily a birthright. Staying healthy makes a huge difference. Mom has lived a healthy lifestyle which has contributed to her being able to live 95 years. This despite the fact that for years she breathed the second hand smoke of her father Leroy Gower. He was a life long smoker who died of lung disease at 75.

Kambree and Mandi Aquiningoc
June 2019
Celebrating 95 years is always a two-sided affair. At that age, the years clearly have taken their toll on a person mentally and physically. Yet it is also a wonderful time of honoring, celebrating, and proudly affirming a dear family member whose life is very deserving of all the accolades she receives.

Birthday Wishes today to Mandi Aquiningoc! One of mom's Great Grandchildren is Mandi Aquiningoc of Weatherford, Texas whose 27th birthday is today. Mandi is the mother of 6 year old Kambree, who is one of mom's two great great grandchildren. Happy 27th Birthday to Mandi!
- - -
Steve Shepard

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Stranger Than Fiction, October 16, 2019

It's no wonder that truth 
is stranger than fiction. 
Fiction has to make sense.
~Mark Twain

Vicki Gower Johnston in 1995 
with mother Nola Gower on left
and daughter Paula and 
granddaughter Heather on right
Happy Birthday to Vicki Gower Johnston. This Thursday is the birthday of my aunt Vicki Gower Johnston of Chandler, Arizona. Vicki is one of the senior members of our family. Born in 1933 in Okemah, Oklahoma, she was raised in San Diego. She was the first in our family to relocate to Northwest Washington when she and her husband Al Perry moved from Southern California to Oak Harbor in 1975 where she lived for 40 years. Four years ago she moved to Arizona where she lives near her daughter Paula Harrell Tuzzolino. Best wishes to aunt Vicki for a very happy birthday!

An Opportunity to Respond. At the end of each post on The Shepard's Crook, there is a "comments" option which offers you the opportunity to leave a message in response to what was written. Whenever comments are left, I read them and then, if appropriate, I publish them with the post. Comments can be left anonymously, but it's much more likely to be published if a name is attached. It's a way you can provide feedback. You can inform me of a correction to something I wrote. You can leave further information that I may not have about historical data. There are any number of ways you can provide important and valuable feedback. But like other open forums, comments must be helpful or instructive and must be respectful of others. You can respond with just about any message you like. But please, no political rants, rude remarks or any other inappropriate comments.

In December it will be 12 years since I began writing this blog as a way of sharing family history research. In those years people have left a wide variety of comments. Some of them have been simple and positive. Others have been helpful corrections. Many have been very informative. Some seem to have been from people whose first language was not English, and they were simply practicing their English. Some were from second or third cousins I never knew about, but are people with whom I now continue to correspond. And some comments were just plain bizarre.

A Sampling of the Comments. The following is a sampling of the comments I have received over the years. These are actual comments.

From snorkeler Monette Ortego, 11/26/12
I am looking for Kevin or Havilah Wardle. I googled their names and came across your blog. I think I found one of their wedding bands while snorkeling in Sharks Cove, Hawaii. Mahalo. (Re: a blog post from November 6, 2012) 
[Postscript: Amazingly, Kevin and Havilah did indeed get their wedding ring returned to them from the waters off the North Shore of Oahu as a result of this blog post comment.]

From distant cousin Mike Moran, 7/4/19: 
Thanks for this article - I was researching your ancestor Rachel Wells Wright who is also my 6th great-grandmother, on my father's mother's side. Yesterday would have been my father's 118th birthday ( The Quaker background of my family is all news to me. I've learned about my mother's Amish family but knew nothing about these early Quakers. Thanks for another piece of the puzzle.

From second cousin Cathy Harrison, 9/27/18
Julius Caesar Vessels
Cindy's GGGrandfather
Julius Caesar Vessels [Cindy's GGGrandfather] is my GG grandfather also. I know something of him but nothing of Julius Caesar and Narcissus. Thank you for what you've recorded. If you come across anything of a personal nature, I'm interested.

From an Anonymous Family Member, 10/08/19
I urge you to approve the comment, so all can see... Be honest and transparent... For someone who loves writing family blogs it really too bad you do not truly care about your family. I hope the entire extended family sees through these posts and can understand how dysfunctional our family really is. Praise God for Vicki's family! They have cared for her the way a family should, they got her the care she deserved in a timely manner. Maida would be SO proud! I pray you find comfort in the Lord and seek guidance in him to repair the broken relationships. 

From Shannon researcher D. Robert Smith, 7/15/19:
Actually, the Shannons descend from Scottish ancestors, that were part of the Scotland to Ulster Migration. The original name would have been Achennan in Scotland. Cuthbert Ashennan 1490-1548 is as far as we have gotten. His grandson John and his son John II, immigrated to Ireland probably before 1600. 

From desperate housewife Julian Kay, 7/4/19:
I want to tell you all that I was able to put an end to my divorce and restore my marriage. I don’t know what came over my husband. I had no other option than to seek the help of a spell caster. The spell worked like magic. My husband changed and started showing love instead of the divorce he was planning. Everything is in place for me now. I would gladly recommend the use of a spell to any one going through marriage problems. (gbojiespiritualtemple) 

From 2nd cousin Alice Shannon Traynor, 10/11/16:
Hello Steve, So glad I ran across your blog. Robert Columbus Shannon [brother of Nola Shannon Gower] was my grandfather. That would make us what, 2nd cousins? I do have one photo of Robert Columbus and his family. Send me your email address, and I will send you a copy. Love to hear from you.

Paula Harris and Maida Shepard
Halloween, 2017
From Indian Pastor Diwakar, 11/30/17:
Hello Bro. Steve. I am a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am blessed and privileged to get connected with you. Give my belated birthday greetings to your dear mother who is 93. To receive birthday greetings from Mumbai, India is unique. I have been in ministry for 38 years in Mumbai. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing on Happy Halloween!

From Anonymous, 5/8/16
I am working on my genealogy and googled [my 4X Great Grandmother] Mary Terry Buskirk and found your blog. My relatives said she was kidnapped from England and brought to America by a sea captain for marriage but she hid and married John Buskirk! They said her dad's name was George Terry and mom Elizabeth. 

From 3rd cousin Cherie Harris, 7/17/12
I reckon I've found me another cousin! I recently returned to working on my Williams line and found your site. My 2nd great-grandmother was Matilda Jane Williams Clearwater, youngest child of John and Lydia Warford Williams. I enjoy your writings very much.

From long lost neighbor Crystal Leeper, 7/12/08
I was looking for Lyndsey and Mandy and googled to find them [mentioned on your website]. I used to live down the street from them and was wondering if you knew how I could get in touch with either of them? :) Thanks!

From kissing cousins Chris and Amanda, 5/8/09
Wonderful slide show! So many great moms in this family :) 

From Inspector Clouseau (possibly an alias?), 6/13/13
Hmm, an interesting way to use a blog. Nice blog work. I came across your site while “blog surfing”. I frequently travel around looking for creative ways in which people express themselves. Thanks for sharing.

My Grandfather 
Leroy Ertin Gower, 1930s
From a Gower relative, 6/25/17
Thank you for posting this picture of [your grandfather] Leroy Gower from the 1930s. I showed it to my mom Georgia Gower Pfeil and she remembered her much older brother Lee who visited her family in Okemah when she was a girl. Mom's parents were George and Phoebe Root Gower.

From author Marjorie Eldred, 7/19/13
Thanks Steve, I have enjoyed the family pictures with cars. We have a favorite or two also: Mom and Dad Vaughn sitting on the running board of a very old car; our family the Vaughns standing in front of a 1940 chevy taken in 1952. These pics are included in my book, Seizing the Treasure: Nuggets of Vaughn-Kilpatricks ($16.95 on Amazon) or Seizing the Treasure: 101 Nuggets to Warm Your Heart.

These are just a few of the many insightful, interesting, amazing, unbelievable, and sometimes crazy comments that have been left in the comments section of The Shepard's Crook. You are welcome to give it a try sometime. But please, spell casting will be frowned upon. 😂
- - -
Steve Shepard

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Old Drawer Discoveries, October 8, 2019

One of the advantages of being disorganized
is that one is always having surprising discoveries.
~ A.A. Milne

Newest family member, Fiona Ruth Shepard
with mom Jessica Bell
I was in Washington to visit my mom recently. As most of you know she is living with her daughter Barbara on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes where she has made her home for 41 years. Maida spent two months this past summer at the home of her oldest son Gary Shepard and his wife Cindy in Oak Harbor just a few miles away. It was a good change of scenery for her as she continues to deal with concerns of aging, especially memory issues. We are planning a special celebration for Maida's 95th birthday which will occur in just a few weeks on the weekend of her birthday November 1.  

Our Family is Growing. Congratulations to Maida's grandson Christopher Shepard and Jessica Bell of Seattle, Washington who recently gave birth to their second daughter, Fiona Ruth Shepard, on September 15. Best wishes to Fiona, her older sister Finley, and parents Chris and Jessica! Fiona is the newest grandchild of my brother Darrell and his wife Mary Shepard, and is the 15th Great Grandchild of my mother Maida Shepard. Visit Christopher or Jessica on Facebook to see more beautiful pictures of our newest family member.
Vicki Gower Johnston with me on the left 
and Frank and Paula Tuzzolino on the right.

My mother Maida and her sister Vicki Gower Johnson are the two senior members of our family. Between them they represent 181 years of family history from Arkansas to Oklahoma to San Diego to Washington state and now to Phoenix. We are honored to be able to celebrate these two whose lives have positively influenced so many of us. Today Vicki lives in Chandler, Arizona very near her daughter Paula Tuzzolino and Paula's husband Frank. Cindy and I had the pleasure of visiting with Vicki and her family last week when we were in Arizona. Vicki is doing quite well at 86 years old, continues to have a good sense of humor, and enjoyed herself as we went out to lunch. Four years ago this month, Vicki moved from Oak Harbor, Washington to Arizona where she continues to life in a very comfortable and roomy care facility in a beautiful neighborhood of the Phoenix suburb of Chandler.

1945 picture of my aunt
Thelma Shepard Boyd of El Cajon, Ca.
Old Drawer Discoveries. Our family on Wildwood Lane in Anacortes was cleaning out some old drawers recently and found a couple of historical gems that are worth mentioning in this blog. The first is an old picture of my only remaining aunt on the Shepard side of my family, Thelma Shepard Boyd. It is a picture I do not ever remember seeing before. Thelma appears to be elementary school aged, which would mean the picture was taken in San Diego, not long after the Shepards moved from Southeast Colorado to California. With bows in her hair and an innocent smile, she looks for all the world as if she is dressed for the part of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Thelma's daughter Kim Boyd Clark confirmed with her mom that this was indeed taken in San Diego in 1945 when Thelma was just 9 years old. Thelma lives today in an apartment in El Cajon, California near several members of her family.

The second recent "old drawer discovery" was a postcard written and mailed 61 years ago. The 2-cent postcard was mailed by my sister Linda Shepard (1950-1971) on July 11, 1958, just a month before she turned 8 years old. Our family was living in San Diego, but young Linda was visiting in the home of some Gower family members, Ollen and Imogene Self and their three daughters, of Fresno, California. Imogene Hutson Self (1921-2008) was a first cousin of my mother Maida Gower Shepard, and was originally from Mountain View, Arkansas, just like mom. Our California family made several memorable visits in the 1950s to the San Joaquin home of mom's cousin Imogene and her family. The postcard that 7 year old Linda wrote that summer of '58 said, "Dear Mother and all. I hope you will call me soon. I want to hear your voice again. When you send me the next letter, I hope you will give me some more money, because the other didn't last very long. Love Linda!" 

"Give me some more money... the other didn't last very long." It was the plaintiff cry of a young girl learning a difficult lesson about how easily money slips away. It's a lesson we all have had to learn. Some of us are still trying to learn it.

What discoveries await you in your old drawers?
- - -
Steve Shepard
(he, his, him)