For Momma - Memorial Slide Show (Turn Playlist Music off before watching)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Seven

Not long after passing the Nebraska state line we start spotting the Pioneer Village billboards. Pioneer Village is in Minden, Nebraska and houses many of the items the pioneers would have used as well as a replica of an old time village. I mention to my hubby that one of my great grandpa's buggies is displayed there and we make plans to see it. We lived in Minden for a year in 1956 while my dad was stationed in Morocco. I tell him about the old house we lived in and how the mice would run across the kitchen floor while we watched TV in the next room - well they did until mom took control. Feeling the affects of all the coffee we've drank we stop at one of the many rest stops through Nebraska to check out the facilities and stretch our legs a bit. Once we're back on the road it's not long and we are again chatting about Uncle Willis.

In September of 1943 Willis was sent to Port Moresby, New Guinea. He joined the 8th Fighter Group, 80th Squadron as a fighter pilot serving under Maj. Edward "Porky" Cragg. They call themselves the "Headhunters", a name that Maj. Cragg came up with to honor the local tribesman who helped rescue many downed pilots to safety and also to show their fighting spirit.

A patch was designed to depict a proud Papuan Chief and two bones in the shape of a "v" for victory below the head. The original patch was designed by Msgt. Yale Saffor who had been an artist with the Walt Disney studios. Through the years the patch has gone under a few changes, but is still worn today by this squadron.

At Port Moresby, Willis joins well known Aces such as Norb Ruff, Edward "Porky" Cragg, Louis Schriber and many others. He writes home that the plane he is assigned is a P-38 Lightening and states "it's old but it flies good". This plane was flown earlier in New Guinea by Pearl Harbor famed George Welch. George Welch was one of the only pilots at Pearl Harbor to get a plane off the ground to fight the Japanese that invaded Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

Soldiers stationed overseas used a mailing system called V-Mail during WWII. The letter was censored and copied onto microfilm. Using this system saved space on the transports for war materials. Once the microfilm reached the U.S. it would be printed on a specialized form which reduced the size of the letter to about 4x5 and then mailed to the recipient.

September 11, 1943
Dear Mother & Dad,
Here it is 6:00 P.M. I am writing this letter at our club, a cement floor a few poles to hold up the roof and the sides are covered with screen. We have a bar, a radio, phonograph, tables, chairs and because we are having a party tonight we have a piano, just think a piano. Lt. Mcgee, he shot his 5th down yesterday, is playing the piano. Some of the fellows just brought us some flowers and they are decorating the place.
Lt. Hill, one of the fellows that went to Seattle with me is here in my squadron. He shot his first zero down yesterday. He told us all about it when he got back.
This morning another fellow and I went down to the beach and went swimming. It was a lot of fun. You would be surprised at the different fellows that are in the squadron. One was a Missionary, one a clerk in Washington D.C., one a motorcycle racer and etc. So far I have not heard from anyone.
Sincerely, Willis

October 15, 1943

Dear George,

I just got your letter of August 19th. For a while I thought maybe you would be sent out of the States before I would have a chance to write to you again.

So you don't like the place where you are stationed now. I know that you would think this place much worse. For breakfast we had French fried toast. For dinner we had Bully beef cold, dehydrated potatoes and carrots. How I'd like to get a good meal of fresh vegetables.

So far as I know Elmer Hinricks is stationed south of here. I wrote home for his address. Maybe I will get a chance to look him up while on leave if Mother sends me his address in time.

Half of the time we fly over jungle the other half over water. I was close enough to see in the cockpit of 4 Jap plans as they passed me. But, I have not fired on them as yet. A lot of ack ack burst near me while flying over different targets.

I wrote Joe a letter yesterday I sent along 3 pictures I took here. She will send them home to the folks. You can ask Mother to send them to you.

It has been raining almost every night here for the past week. Our rainy season has just begun.
It's time for chow now so I'll write again later.
Sincerely - Willis

(some pictures in the post are in the public domain of the Federal government - others a privately held - do not use without permission)

To be continued........

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Six

Sunday, August 1, 1943

W. E. Dwinell, Willis and Allen Hill

It won't be long until all three men
are sent to
Port Moresby
in the Pacific..........

Friday, March 27, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Five

June 22, 1943

Dear Mother & Dad,

Here I am down at the Naval air station at San Diego, California. This morning we left March Field this morning and went to Glendale. From there I caught a ride in a B-34 bomber to this station. There is a P-38 squadron station here with the Navy. We sleep in Navy quarters, eat Navy food etc. We are out on an Island in the bay. It is nice and cool here. Everything looks pretty nice, at least so far.

Hey what do you know two Waves just walked by the quarters. It's the first time I actually saw a Wave.

How is the harvest coming back there? Did the grain come out OK?

I saw a couple boats like the ones Delbert said he was assigned on
They have quite an assortment of Navy planes here.

We will not be flying for a day or so yet as our flying equipment hasn't arrived and we have to
have a physical check to see that we are in flying condition. Say these quarters we got here are really swell. They are the best I have ever had in the Army. We even have inner spring mattress in our beds.

I would like to see some of the pictures you took while I was at home. Would you send some of them. I can return them again as I will not have much room to pack them around.

Hope you are all well. I'll be waiting to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Four

1943 - Letter from Willis to brother George

Hi George,
"If the gadgets get out of hand get a fire hose a squirt them full of cold water.
Wish you could have been here the last couple of days. Raymond met me in Ogden, Utah then we came on home together on the train. What a dirty, slow train. They came around in the evening and lit the gas lamps in the car. We reached North Platte about noon and were told that we would have ten minutes. We went about a block and stopped in a cafe for a hamburger. When we came back out the train was starting to pull out of the station. We really had to stretch out to make the train. And the darn old conductor stood there on the platform with a dry look on is face. He wouldn't even help us up on the platform.
We have been up late every nite since we got here.
Bertus was here when I got here, but he had to leave the next day. Then we got word from Johanna that she would be in on the same train that Bertus was leaving on. Bertus got on when Joe got off and they never got to see each other. Lucille came back home with us. We have all been on the go every since.
Bill Buss and family came down this evening. This ought to be a big fat letter, there are three of us writing now.
Ray and I are leaving on the train at Kearney tomorrow noon. I am going with Ray to Twin Falls and will stay over night there before going back to the desert at Monroe. How I hate to go back to that windy, dusty, sandy, dirty old place.
Did you ever see an Officer milk cows, wipe dishes, sweep floors, etc.? If you didn't you should have been here."

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Three

When I was a kid I just hated road trips - the endless miles that never seemed to end were almost too much to endure. The highlight of the trip would be stopping for lunch at Howard Johnson's. Occasionally I was given a dollar to spend in the gift shop - that was fun. As I've grown older I've learned to enjoy road trips and realized that part of the fun in arriving at our destination is the joy of the journey. One of the best parts of a road trip with my hubby is the chance to really delve into conversation. We chat about everything under the sun from what color to paint the bathroom to politics. Our conversation on our trip in 1989 mostly consisted of me reminiscing about days gone by and telling him about the Uncle I had never met.

Uncle Willis hadn't been home since 1943 so our conversation seemed to center around the events of WWII. We all complain about the price of gas these days, but, in spite of the price we still seem to be able to purchase as much as we want. During WWII it wasn't that simple - you not only had to have enough money to pay for the gas but you had to have the right number of ration stamps too. Most items that were needed to help the war effort required ration stamps. If you ran out of stamps - well you were just out of luck until you got your next ration book.

Families and communities really had to work together to keep there homes going. People were encouraged to plant vegetable gardens to supplement their pantries and take the pressure off the countries food supply. The gardens were dubbed "Victory Gardens".
We stop in Julesburg for gas and I take over driving. I guess we are both lost in our own thoughts now because we head down the road in silence. I'm anxious to see my cousins, but, I can't get my Uncles letters out of my mind.
To be continued........

Monday, March 23, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part Two

Willis went after his dream to fly. He wrote numerous letters home to his family telling of his adventures learning to fly. This letter was written November 28, 1942......

"Dear Mother & Dad,
It has been to hazy to go out and fly most of this morning. I just got through writing to George and Lucille. I have a little over 2 hours to fly yet to get in my 60 hours. We had our last day of ground school yesterday. We are having our graduation dance here tonight.
Yesterday I took a solo ship up and started to see how high it would climb. When I got up to 7000 ft the air started to get thinner. I got up to 12,300 ft. above sea level, the the motor started to slow up and the plane would climb no higher, so I leveled off and made a 90 deg level turn and lost over 500 ft. so you can see the air is pretty thin up there.

Our class came out pretty good here. There has been less washouts in our class for its size than any other class that went through this school. The lower class have already as many men washed out now as we had all through the course and they still have a month to go.

There were three of us that started from South Dakota and all three of us are still going strong.
I had a picture taken on the flight home of me in a plane ready to take off. I am going to mail it one of these days when I think of it.

The days are fairly warm here. The nights get rather cold. If froze a little a couple nights last week. There a lot of flowers blooming here yet even though it froze a couple times.
I'll drop you a letter when I get to my next station.

Sincerely yours"

Willis received part of his training at Ryan Field, Hemet, California and was part of Class 43D. He received his Silver Wings on April 12, 1943 at Williams Field in Chandler, Arizona. He truly loved flying, the excitement, the adrenaline rush that went with flying and maneuvering among the clouds. By 1943 the war in the Pacific was raging and fighter pilots were in demand.
To be continued....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Going Home - The Unexpected - Part One

The topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy is: Uncle, Uncle! This edition is all about our uncles. Have you got a favorite or interesting uncle? Tell us about him! Maybe you had a older cousin, neighbor, or friend you called "uncle"... that works too! No uncles in your life? No problem. Write about any gentleman on your family tree who was an uncle to somebody :-) The deadline for submissions is April 15th (get your tax return done early so you don't miss out!) and I'll be hosting it here at Creative Gene

Our trip to Nebraska in 1989 was not unlike many we had made in past years. Highway 76 goes through eastern Colorado where it is dry and basically lifeless. Oh, there's the occasional rest stop or gas station, but for the most part all there is to see is sage brush and more sage brush. As you cross the state line into Nebraska you see the "Nebraska -...the good life" sign. Soon the scenery begins to change. Rows and rows of green corn stalks all of which seem to be standing at attention saluting the sun. Field after field line both sides of the highway. Loving history, it's hard for me not to think of the original homesteaders. I can picture those men and women struggling in the heat behind a plow pulled by a team of horses. If they could just see the legacy of farms today, I'm sure they would be amazed.

My thoughts wander back to when "going home" meant hot summer days and quiet moonlit nights when the only sound you heard was the chirping of crickets. Days spent riding on an uncles tractor or walking to town to see Grandma at the library. Going to the Evers "home place" for a Sunday dinner of fresh fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade bread, just picked sweet corn and for desert ice cream. Not just any ice cream either - homemade ice cream that we all took a turn at the crank to make. To top the ice cream - strawberries that had been prepared earlier with a little sugar and set in the fridge to juice - oh my - just like heaven!

But this trip would be different. A family reunion with aunts, uncles and cousins, some I had not seen for many years. We would be gathering at "home" - this year was special because my Uncle Willis, who had not been home for 47 years, would be returning and we all wanted to be with him.

My Dad is the youngest of five children, he and his brother Willis, being just a year apart, were very close. Growing up they spent many hours playing cops and robbers or walking through the corn fields hunting pheasants or rabbits.

In 1936 the two of them purchased a Harley-Davidson Police Special motorcycle for $65 and headed to Minnesota to work the harvest season. Willis was the daredevil of the two. He would stand on the motorcycle and ride it down the gravel road balancing on the seat. I would imagine that was something grandma was not to happy about!

It wasn't a surprise, when Willis enlisted in the Army Calvary in 1940, that my Dad followed his lead and enlisted a couple weeks later. Willis was sent to Ft. Meade, South Dakota and trained with the Fourth Calvary for combat on a motorcycle. He was sent to Arkansas where he received training riding through the thick woods. But what he really wanted to do was to learn to fly airplanes........

To be continued.....

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Happy Blogoversary to The Shades of the Departed

Please join with me in wishing footnote Maven a happy one year blogoversary at "Shades of the Departed". ( I know how she loves photographs of "girls in glasses", so I thought I'd share one of my great aunts who are both wearing glasses in this photograph, in her honor.

Original Photograph

(do not use w/out permission)

Restored photo - I'm still not
satisfied with my great aunt Minnie's
red hair so I'll continue to work on that.....

(do not use restored photo w/out permission)


Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Fun!

It's Saturday night fun with Randy - and this week is a real blast! Try it - it's free and really fun!
For more information go to Randy's blog site at

It's Saturday Night, so it's time for more genealogy fun.Did you see John Newmark's post today about Surname Wordles on his blog, TransylvanianDutch? Let's do that tonight.Here's your assignment if you want to play:1) Go to and create a Wordle with your surnames in it. As many as you want. 2) Post it on your blog or web page, and/or print it out and hang it on your wall. Show off your prowess!3) Tell us what you've done - either in Comments to this post or in your own blog. Brag about your creation! If you want me to post it here, send a JPG file to me at 4) Can you make something else really creative or pretty? If so, show us.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Celebrate St. Urho's Day - March 16th

I devote most of my blogging to the research of my German ancestors, so I thought it was only right to mention that my husband is of Finish descent. His ancestry is very difficult to trace because of the custom in Finland to change their last name based on where they were living. For example my husbands family name is Kallio - which in Finish means rock cliff, however, if the family moved to a meadow their last name would be changed to Lehto - so you can see the difficulty.

So to honor my hubby and his heritage I wanted to share with you a Finish legend. Now you Irish have your St. Patrick but American Finlanders have St. Urho and he is celebrated on the day before St. Patrick's day. (Personally I think it's just an excuse to drink more beer - LOL.)

Apparently at one time there were wild grapes growing all over Finland and they know this because of the geologist who have studied the remains of bears. Many many years ago a young boy named Urho grew big strong by eating "feelia sour" (sour milk) and "kala mojakka" (fish soup). As swarms of grasshoppers swooped in and began devouring all the grapes Urho began stomping his feet, raising his pitch fork and yelling in a loud deep voice - "Heinäsirkka, heinsäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen" which means grasshopper, grasshopper go to hell. He chased all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the vineyards. He became a hero and was Sainted by the Finlanders on March 16th.

St. Urho's day has been celebrated every year since on March 16th. The Finish people dress in purple, to represent the grapes, and green to represent the vines. The celebration starts early in the morning and last well into the night. Men will run down the hills yelling, waving their arms and stomping their feet - the women usually will gather by the lake shore and chant "Heinäsirkka, heinsäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen." The celebration continues with polka dancing, drinking and eating "feelia sour" and "kala mojakka" (sounds yummy doesn't it? ugh).

The Legend as told by the Finn's: (written in Finish dialect)

Ode to Saint Urho

by Gene McCavic and Richard MattsonVirginia, Minnesota

Ooksi kooksi coolama vee Santia Urho is ta poy for me!
He sase out ta hoppers as pig as pirds.
Neffer peefor haff I hurd tose words!
He reely tolt tose pugs of kreen
Braffest Finn I effer seen
Some celebrate for St. Pat unt his snakes
Putt Urho poyka kot what it takes.
He kot tall and trong
from feelia sour Unt ate kala moyakka effery hour.
Tat's why tat kuy could sase toes peetles
What krew as thick as chack bine neetles.
So let's give a cheer in hower pest vay
On Sixteenth of March, St. Urho's Tay.

Visit me on the 16th and I'll tell you how the legend really began..........

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Christena (Harms) Busker - 1885-1963

(Original photograph- do not use w/out permission)

(restored photo - do not use w/out permission)

Christena (Harms) Busker was the daughter of German immigrant farmers who settled near Hildreth, Nebraska. Her parents were Herman E. Harms and Antje (Ufkes) Harms. After she married, Christena and her husband moved to Milbank, South Dakota. Christena is buried near Hildreth, Nebraska at Emanuel Lutheran Cemetery.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Tribute to Women - Carnival of Genealogy

In keeping with the month of March being National Women's History Month, and March 8th being International Women's Day, the topic for the next edition of the Carnival of Genealogy will once again be: A Tribute to Women. Write a tribute to a woman on your family tree, a friend, a neighbor, or a historical female figure who has done something to impact your life. Or instead of writing, consider sharing a photo biography of one woman's life. Or create a scrapbook page dedicated to a woman you'd like to honor. The next edition will be hosted at Creative Gene. The deadline for submissions is March 15th.

My life has been enriched by five women each in their own way. My father was in the Air Force the first 10 years of my life, so traveling to grandma's house when we were "on leave" was very special. The three day road trip from Massachusetts to Nebraska was excruciating. Traveling in the late 1950's, in a car, in July, with no air conditioning was no picnic for any of us. And I'm sure us kids continually asking "how many more miles" had to drive my poor Dad crazy. We knew we had arrived when we heard the sound of the gravel road against the tires. Those last few miles were the longest of the entire trip - I can still feel the excitement building in my heart as we would turn into grandma's driveway. Oh my...... Grandma and grandpa would be so happy that we arrived safely and to finally see us after a year apart. My grandma was the best hugger in the world, her beautiful smile would light up her entire face, her blue eyes would twinkle as if there were stars shining in them. Oh how I long to see that beautiful smile again.

One of my favorite times of our visit was bed time, because it was our custom that I slept with my grandma - now she was all mine. She would tell me stories and listen to mine. She would sneak little words of wisdom into those stories that I can still remember. And when I grew up we had many conversation that gave me insight into life that I know I would not have gained without her. Grandma worked side by side with my grandfather in the fields, raised six beautiful children and was very involved in her community. In her retirement years she ran the local library and put together the activities surrounding the book mobile in her community. In spite of dealing with loosing her mother at the age of 2, the pains of the depression, two world wars, the black blizzard and sending her oldest son to war, her faith grew stronger and she relied on that faith to provide better days ahead. In spite of her own pain and grief when my grandfather died, just 4 days before I was to be married, she set that aside for the moment, to be with me in celebration. She was a strong woman and generous with her love and affection - almost to a fault.

Grandma & Me in 1974

What can I say about my Momma - she is my rock, my anchor in the storm - she is the one I turn to for comfort when I'm lost or sad. She is the one who shares my triumphs and joy. The one who never fails to cheer me on and the one who reminds me to go to the dentist - ha ha (That's one of a mom's responsibilities.) Mom grew up in the '20's and '30's and as the oldest daughter in a family of eight it was her job to take care of her younger sisters. She would keep my aunties busy, having them dancing and singing to her. Saturday night before church she would wrap their hair into candles to make long ringlets, similar to Shirley Temples, so that they looked their best for church in the morning. When she completed the 8th grade her father felt that she had had enough education and was needed at home, but she was determined to go to high school. He finally consented, but she had to find a way to get there on her own. Her determination helped her find ways to accomplish her desire. Not having the $1.00 it cost per week to ride the bus she would hitch a ride with the mailman. But, when the mailman said he was not allowed to give her a ride anymore, she boarded with one of the school teachers where she washed dishes for the other boarders before going to school. I think that was when she adopted the attitude of "where there's a will - there's a way". She married my Dad in 1942. They spent the first few years of their marriage apart. Then when they were finally able to be together she followed him from one Air Force Base to the next until 1962 when my Dad retired from the Air Force. In spite of working a full time job she still found the time to sew all of my clothes as well as her own, was a Cub Scout Leader, attended all of our school programs and played the organ for Church. I know I may be partial, but she is an incredible woman. At 87 she still drives, takes care of my Dad and still worries over her children. How do I express the full impact that she has had and continues to have on my life I'm not sure I could find all the words, but, to be blessed with this woman as my Mother is something I thank God for every day.

Mom and her brothers going to school with the pony cart.

My Moma

The next 3 women that influenced my life were my Mom's sisters. Oh sure sisters always have their little squabbles but I've never seen four sisters who were closer than my Mom and my Aunties. From taking care of each other's children to standing vigil at a sick bed - they are always there for each other. None of them ever wait to be asked for help they just say what can I do. Each one of them have influenced me and probably never realized how or that they did. Some of my memories are silly ones. I remember when my Aunt Lee came to Nebraska for a visit when I was 4 years old. She had all this white luggage and beautiful blond hair, she really was a vision. I was just sure that she was really Marilyn Monroe - oh my......... My Aunt Mickie liked to spoil me. She knew at 3 years old that I loved to talk on the telephone - so she would walk to a pay phone to call me - just so I could talk on the phone. She would let me wear her earrings and save all of her almost empty perfume bottles so I could have them. These three woman are so extraordinary - always willing to listen, to give advise and to love. They faced life fearlessly and met every challenge that was put before them. From managing the entire appointment system for Fitzimmons Army Hospital to going to her sons baseball games my Aunt Marji taught me that you just put one foot in front of the other to accomplish the task at hand.
From my Aunt Lee I learned that no matter what life hands you in the way of sorrow that there is always a brighter tomorrow. And from my Aunt Mickie I learned of how the little things you do really become the big things in life.

Marji, Mickie, Lucille, Me and Lee - 1994

So to the five most influential woman in my life I salute you and thank you for all you have shared in my life..............

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Shades of the Departed" - "The Wanna-Be-Artist"

When I was recently asked by fellow blogger footnote.maven to write an article for her blog site "Shades of the Departed" at - I was absolutely thrilled, but couldn't help thinking "who me - write an article?"

The article is called "The Wanna-Be-Artist" and will appear on "Shades of the Departed" on March 6th in the "Friday From the Collectors" series. I hope you will all enjoy the article and that it will inspire you to try your hand at photo restoration and using the photo's to create wonderful family history books!

You can read a little more about me at . Don't forget to mark March 6th on your calendar as I make my debut as a guest author on "Friday from the Collectors - Shades of the Departed". LOL


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