Thursday, July 30, 2009

Found it!

Note the date - July 30, 2009. Today the Pink Easter Bunny was found. The news was blasted around my family by e-mail, by text messages and by phone calls. Within minutes all of my children were informed, they told their spouses and children, my siblings were informed. It actually was electrifying news to my family. Let me tell you why.

About a year and a half ago (March 23, 2008 to be exact), in the wee hours of Easter morning, the Easter Bunny's helper (moi) went about his annual task of hiding little treats and things for the kids & grand kids to find. One of those treats was the Pink Easter Bunny (pictured here).
This Pink Easter Bunny has been a tradition in our home for at least 30 years. We started hiding the Pink Easter Bunny in really hard to find places when our kids were small, and we continued with this tradition after our children started getting married and having children of their own. We always put the best things in the Pink Easter Bunny to make it worth finding. Early on, we started placing money in the bunny. That amount grew as the kids got older - and sometime during the last five or ten years we somehow settled on about $50 dollars.
We have hidden the bunny in inside of a telescope, in the inner-tube of a mountain bike hanging in the garage, inside of the base of a lamp, a lot of really hard places. One time it was hidden inside of the brick facing of our fireplace - hanging by a piece of fishing line. Once it was hidden inside of a frozen loaf of bread in the freezer.
Whoever found the bunny became hero, really, in the eyes of the others. More than the money, it was the bragging rights over who finally found it that became valuable.
As the kids got older, the hiding places seemed to get more and more tricky. It often took two or three months before someone would finally find it, taped up under the kitchen sink or somewhere really hard. The kids would often beg for clues - and I was as stingy with the clues as I could possibly be. It really took effort to piece the cryptic clues into any kind of meaningful idea of where to look. Only in retrospect would the clues seem to have any meaning at all. I guess that I was getting proud of myself as just being ever so clever.
In the last few years the kids weren't really look as hard as they had before. The older kids had grown up and were married, leaving fewer at home. The younger ones, as last to leave the nest, had sort of grown accustomed to not being the ones that ever found the bunny.
Well, on Easter morning, 2008, the bunny was dutifully hidden - and for a few days the kids that were visiting us for Easter looked around trying to find the $50 in the bunny. They knew it would pay for a nice date or something if they found it.
Shortly after Easter, the visiting kids all returned to their homes and to school and whatnot. Those kids and their families that remained in the area would occasionally look for the bunny, but after just a few weeks the 2008 bunny's hiding place seemed pretty secure.
At Thanksgiving, the kids all came back home and we even had family pictures taken. (That was so painful with twelve grandchildren that I'm not sure that my wife is up for that again any time soon.) There was a bit of a curiosity about where the bunny might be hiding, but what with kids in town for just a short time it was soon forgotten.
Around Christmas time some of the kids started coming home - and I thought that I would just verify where the bunny was. So I checked, and it wasn't where I thought it was.
I distinctly remember taping to the back of a drawer, and it wasn't where I thought it would be. Now, even I was getting concerned.
Finally, about February 2009, I confessed to my wife and the kids in the area that I couldn't remember where I had hidden the bunny. After suffering all sorts of ridicule for having forgotten (and being accused of having Alzheimer's and just plain of having lost my own marbles), we all started looking in earnest. Since I had this vision of having taped it to a drawer, we looked everywhere. Everyone in the family, including me, tore the house up (and that is more than just a metaphor), anxious to find the bunny so we could hide it again for Easter 2009.
Finally, in early March of 2009 while I was traveling, I had this thought come into my mind. I called my wife and asked her when we had traded in a certain piece of furniture. Back in February of 2008 my wife bought several pieces of furniture, including a large buffet or credenza that she had in our entry way. After a couple of months she decided that she didn't really like that style, so she traded it in for a different model.
Anyway, I asked her about the timing of this trade, and sure enough, we had purchased the original before Easter 2008 and traded it back in after Easter 2008. Mystery solved, so I thought.
My wife called the furniture store and found that they remembered the model we bought and returned, and after my wife explained the urgency of finding the 79 cent bunny that was part of a family tradition, the store gave my wife the number of the two other people that had purchased that same model of buffet. My wife dutifully called them and had to explain our tradition and the importance of them looking behind the drawers in their dining room credenza. Both looked and reported that nothing was found. My wife and I even went over to one home ourselves and helped the woman take the drawers out and look. Still no bunny...
Easter 2009 came and we had no Pink Easter Bunny to hide. It was a sad day, and I suffered no end of abuse for having "forgotten" where the bunny was, and for letting the furniture get out of the house with the treasured bunny taped inside.

Move the clock forward to today, July 30, 2009. My five year old granddaughter used one of the guest toilets today and after she flushed (and thank Heaven she does that!), the toilet continued to run water. My wife hollered in that I needed to find out what was wrong, so I came outside of my office and went into the bathroom to see what I could do to fix the running water.
My first action was to take the little knickknacks off the back of the toilet and open the tank.
Unbelievably, it was the bunny. After 16 months of neglect the bunny, it seemed, had become untaped from the inner side of the toilet tank and fallen into the water reservoir. When my granddaughter flushed the water out, the bunny got stuck in the flapper valve and was right there, plain as day, waiting for me to rescue it.
Obviously the money had become wet and covered with mould, but treasure of treasure, the bunny was ours again at last.
The truth finally flashed into my mind. On Easter morning 2008 I HAD hidden the bunny in that credenza, but then thinking that the drawer was too easy of a hiding place, I moved the bunny to the inside of the toilet tank in the guest bathroom.

The lessons learned? From now on, I am writing down where I hide the bunny. Along with old age comes failing (and false) memories. I don't want to go through this again. Also, I think its time to start hiding the bunny in easier places. There was a time when the kids were motivated to look and they were old enough to persist. Now, the searching is going to fall on the next generation, which is much too young to look in the "hard places" and their parents just won't spend the time to look anymore.
We will do our best to keep the tradition alive - but traditions have to be adaptable. If they don't suit the the capacities and interests of those involved they will soon die.
Welcome back, Pink Easter Bunny. We are glad to have you back with us at last.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

From Cherry

It's great to be a grandparent!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Important Things

This is one of those important things that just shouldn't be missed. Irelyn Howey crawling.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Eltweed Pomeroy

Just over 100 years ago, under the name of William Woodbridge Rodman, A.M., M.D., of New Haven, Connecticut, a scholarly article on Eltweed Pomeroy (my own 8th great grandfather - CA) was posthumously published. Dr. Rodman was the first chairman of THE POMEROY FAMILY ASSOCIATION, which was founded in 1891 in New Haven. The object of the association was “to study, and to develop by organized effort the history and genealogy of the Pomeroys in America; including their British ancestry and connections; and all that may be pertinent and tributary thereto.” Although Dr. Rodman died in 1900, his papers found their way to Mrs. Henry Thorp Bulkley, of Southport, Connecticut, who generously finished the manuscript and saw to its publication. (see “Eltweed Pomeroy of Dorchester, Mass., and Windsor, Conn., and Four Generations of His Descendants.”, New-Eng. Historical and Genealogical Register, July 1903, Boston, Press of David Clapp & Son.) I excerpt from that article and insert a few of my own comments below:

Eltweed Pomeroy is believed to have come to America in 1630, in the ship “Mary and John.” He took the oath of freeman, in the Colony of Massachusetts, March 4, 1632. (Mass. Colony Records, Vol. I., p. 367.) He was one of the first settlers and proprietors in the town of Dorchester, and first selectman in 1633. (Hist. of Dorchester, 1859, pp. 33, 35.)

No knowledge of his English home and ancestry has been obtained though much effort has been made to verify various traditions. Researches are now in progress, and it is hoped they will not be entirely fruitless.

[Note: Dr. Rodman did not know more about Eltweed (as he indicates in the above paragraph), but as of January, 2007 the Pomeroy line has been traced back to 1328. Eltweed was born on 4 July, 1585 in Beammister, DC, England, christened as an adult on 4 May, 1617 in Beaminster, Dorchester, Dorset, England, a month after he married his first wife Joanne Keech Kreech on 4 March 1617. Joanne apparently died with no known surviving children, and on 7 May, 1629 Eltweed married his second wife Margery (or Mary) Rockett, in Shewbourn, Dorset, England. It was a year after this marriage that he and Mary embarked for Massachusetts. – CA]

The spelling of the surname has varied from that of his own signature of Pumery to the present Pomeroy. The Christian name is variously spelled, Elty, Eltwed, Eltwud, Eltwood, and Eltweed; and there are suggestions that the crabbed MS. may mean Eldad, or even Edward. But as Eltweed Pomeroy the sturdy armorer and gunsmith is now known to a large circle of descendants, and this spelling will be followed.

In 1636-7, Mr. Pomeroy emigrated with Mr. John Warham’s congregation to Windsor, Conn. (Hist. of Dorchester, p. 75) Scanty as are the records of his life – something of his standing and character may be gathered from incidental references to him to be found in Stiles’s “Ancient Windsor,” Vol. I., p. 164 et seq. His place in the meeting house was on the “long seats” ; land was granted him in 1638 ; he had a house and lot in the Palisado, which he sold to Thomas Nowell in 1641 ; and he made gifts of houses and land to his son Caleb, and his youngest son Joseph, the latter getting “the little stone house built on his land, adjoining his dwelling house” which he allowed Mrs. Elizabeth, widow of Rev. Ephraim Huit, to build “in time of her widowhood, by way of courtesy; which she enjoyed ; and after her death, said Eltweed Pomeroy took for his own, at a price agreed upon between him and those which she desired to be her overseers and friends to order that little estate which she left for children ; which price he hath payed as they appointed him.”

[Although I am not certain exactly where this house was located, I am providing a Mapquest link to the First Church in Windsor, the nation’s oldest Congregational Church. This building (their fourth) was built in 1794, but is next to the original cemetery, with the oldest marked gravesite dated 1644. (About 75 yards NE up the road, Palisado Ave., is one of the oldest surviving frame dwellings in Connecticut, the Fyler House, built in 1640.) This is most interesting if you click on "Arial Image" to see the actual terrain. No doubt grandpa Pomeroy’s home was in the neighborhood. – CA]

Of his first wife, the mother of his eight children, we know only that she was named Mary, and died in Windsor, July 5, 1655. [Actually, Dr. Rodman did not know about Eltweed's wife in England, Joanne, and this Mary was his second wife – but the one with which he emigrated to the U.S. – and we do know a bit more about her than Dr. Rodman did 100 years ago. – CA] On Nov. 30, 1661, he married second [third – CA] Lydia (Brown), widow of Thomas Parsons. In 1665 he made generous provisions for his “dear and loving wife Lydia.”

In 1671 he removed to Northampton, Mass., to live with his son Medad. Tradition says that he became blind. He died at his son’s house in March, 1673, being probably about seventy-eight years old.

We are descendants of Eltweed’s 8th child, Joseph, who was born in Windsor in 1652. Our grandfather Joseph had just turned three years old (on 20 June) when the next month his mother Mary died.
It is interesting to point out that it is this child Joseph Pomeroy who grew to adulthood and married Hannah Lyman, and Hannah’s lineage traces back into the oldest of lines in England (through the Lymans to the Lamberts to the de Umfrevilles - Hannah was 18th great grand-daughter to King Henry I.

- Craig

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sarah Melissa McClendon

I just received the following from Mom. Apparently, this was transcribed into an e-mail that was sent to Sandie about 10 years ago. It was written by our great-uncle, (Warner Russell Watkin's brother) Joseph Heber, who was the 5th of the 8 sons from Thomas Russell Watkins and Julia Allen (our Grandpa Watkins was the 3rd son) was known as "Uncle Heber" to most of us. This is perfect for our website...
12 March 1947 – I, Joseph Heber Watkins, grandson of John Hatch Watkins and Sarah Melissa McClendon, would like to relate some of the faith promoting incidents that were told to me by my Grandmother while I was a small boy. I am completely relying upon my memory of the following incidents as I have written no history or journal or known of any daily journal that was kept of the following incidents. If I error in any of the following statements, I do so innocently as it has been almost fourteen years that my grandmother has died.
Grandmother was raised in the deep south in the state of Mississippi. She had only three years of schooling and taught herself to read and write. She was the oldest of a family of four girls and three boys, and had to accept the responsibility of raising her younger ones as their mother died when grandmother was only nine years old. The Civil War had left the family in poverty so the family had to labor in the fields picking cotton from early I the morning until late at night as that was the only employment that they could get. The deserters of the army would frequently loot their small home and keep them in poverty. Their garden would be destroyed and their livestock would be driven away. Their clothes were sometimes taken from their backs.
There is a space in my grandmother’s life that I cannot fill in. I will skip many years and start my story again at the time she was converted to the Church. I am not sure as the name of the Elder who brought the Gospel to her, but I think that his name was Elder George Louis. Grandmother was married and now a widow and had two small children. (Thomas Russell and Henry Cobb Watkins) Because of her early responsibilities, she had learned how to work at many trades. One of her abilities was that of farming. Her fingers seemed to have that magic touch to make anything grow. One of her abilities was that of building. Without the aid of anyone, she built her own house. She also built much of the furniture. Wherever she lived, even until she died, her home was made more beautiful by the flowers that seemed to bloom the year round. After grandmother joined the church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), persecutions were heaped upon her. The grocery stores refused to sell her anything. Her cow was found poisoned and she was threatened many times. Finally she decided to move west. She had no money and could get no cotton seed to plant on her small farm because of her religion. She almost felt the Lord had forgotten her. She felt impressed to go to the cotton gin and try to get some seed there. All they would give her was the seed that was considered not worth planting. She took the seed home and planted it, having faith that the Lord would help her. As grandmother has often said, “It seemed as though every seed I planted came up.” There was a large cotton boat that would come down the Mississippi River and buy the cotton from the local people and would take it on to New Orleans to the manufacturing center. When grandmother’s cotton was matured, it was the finest in the county. She received the highest price and had enough money to get her ticket on the river boat to come west. She decided not to go immediately as she wanted to sell her home and livestock. One evening after she put her two small sons to bed, (Tom and Henry), she retired to her bedroom and prayed to Heavenly Father for protection for herself and her two sons. She went to bed and in the night she was warned in a dream that she and her sons should leave immediately or their life would be in danger. Grandmother awoke, but thought that it was just a nightmare and went back to sleep. Again the warning came that she must leave immediately. Grandmother awoke and got out of bed and walked around the room and decided a second time that it was just a nightmare. This time with such force, that she awoke with a start. All sleep had left her and she knew that it was a warning from the Lord. Immediately, she packed a few clothes and awoke her two sons and dressed them hurriedly and was in a short time on the river bank waiting for the boat. Soon the boat came, they hurriedly went aboard. As the river boat slowly pulled away from the shore, Grandmother saw her home burning in the distance. Even though she had sacrificed her home and all her possessions, she was happy that she was going where she could worship our Heavenly Father in peace.
— J. Heber Watkins 12 March 1947

Thanks to Mom for sending this to us. (I should point out that the Grandma Watkins - or Sarah McClendon - that J. Heber speaks about also had a third son, Mason, who was born on 10 May, 1880 but died in June of that same year. Uncle Heber only mentions the two brothers that survived.)

I would like to have our next article on our great grandmother Watkins, Heber's and Grandpa Warner Watkins's mother, Julia Allen Watkins. Remember, she was the grandma that we always called, "Grandma Watkins with the figs" - as she had a wonderful fig tree in the front of her house. She is also the grandma who was famous for cooking all of her toast on Monday for the whole week - and for diluting the root beer that she gave to us boys on hot afternoons, "It's too strong if you don't add water," she would say.
Send your recollections of Grandma Julia Allen Watkins to me at as soon as you can.
- Craig

Monday, August 07, 2006

Grandma Watkins to me

I have often tried to think what it means to be a grandparent. All on this earth have parents of our parents; some we were able to get to know personally and some we only know through pictures or stories or even just a list of dates and places for birth and death.
But what does it mean to be a grandma or a grandpa? …to be a grandparent while you are alive and your grandkids are alive… What does it really mean?

So, to help with this thought I solicited those in our family who know Grandma Watkins. I asked everyone what their favorite memory was of Grandma Watkins. She has been alive during all of our childhoods; most of us have stayed in her home; we’ve eaten the cookies that she always keeps in the jar by the refrigerator; and we have all had drinks of water in those clear plastic cups that I’ll always think of as “Grandma cups.” We all know who she is. So from her maybe we can learn a little bit about being a grandparent.

Probably the most revealing clues come from our mom, who wrote the following:
With tenderness in my heart, I remember….
• Her loyalty and love of her rich heritage
• Her diligence in record keeping and encouraging others to do the same
• Her homemade ‘tuitti-fruiti’ ice cream…a delight for our family
• Her sewing skills in creating a lovely wardrobe for me and my sister, Merlene
• Her love and patience in teaching sewing skills to me and others
• Her devotion to serving others throughout her life…particularly the downtrodden
• Her desire (and Dad’s) to make quilts for family, friends, and even strangers
• Her uncanny ability to memorize scriptures, poems, presidents and facts
• Her rescue efforts (with Dad by her side) to help our family when in need
• Her leadership qualities in serving the Lord…especially in the temple
• Her living example of her testimony and love for the Savior

Here, Mom reveals that her relationship with grandma taught her about love, and kindness, and faithfulness. Grandma taught Mom skills, like sewing, and she taught her how to give service to others. I like that… a grandparent should teach their children to give love and service, and that helps perpetuate the traits.
Mom also talks about memories of doing things with Grandma – like making “tuitti-fruitti” ice cream. One thing that I notice is that Mom didn’t mention that she remembered any scoldings or lectures. This may be selective attention – or maybe it means that all of those lectures we give our kids really are “in one ear and out the other.” Why waste our time with lectures. Instead, lets teach our children by doing things with them… apparently that is what Grandma is remembered for.

Sandie had the following narrative:
The times that I remember the best with Grandma Watkins is when she would teach us to do crafts, crochet pot holders, hangers, make TV guide holders for recliners, first aid kits and corn bags. I think each of my neighbors, visiting teaching families and children have benefited from her example. Mom is just the same, always making and doing things for others. I honestly hope that I can be just like them and reach out to others the way that they do. I have lots of favorite memories of Grandma Watkins. Another memory that I have is when Grandpa was in the counselor in the Branch presidency at Superior branch. We used to get to go with Grandma and Grandpa to go to Church. Sometimes we would get to give a talk. I just remember it was always fun to go with them. When Grandma and Grandpa Watkins were on their mission in Washington DC, for Christmas they send Kris and Meela animal cutouts that were already sewn together. They just needed to be stuffed. She sent Kris a raccoon. He still has it and his children play with it. It makes me smile when I see the huge uneven stitches on the bottom that were sewn when he was so little.
We used to travel to their house and stay for a while in the summer. It always seemed so exciting at Grandma's home. Warner R was at home and he would 'let' us wash his El Camino before his dates and he would put firecrackers under cowpies and watch them explode and listen to us scream. There is a time that Grandma probably wishes that we wouldn't remember..... We traveled from New York and came to Arizona while school was still in session. Craig and I loved being with Norman during our stay. Well, one time we did not want to go to school, so Norman and I got a great idea to feed Craig a whole bottle of cocktail onions so that he could get sick and we could stay home to take care of him. Craig ate the whole smelly bottle and did not get sick. All three of us had to go to school. After school started, Craig got sick and he was the only one that got to come home! Grandma was not very happy with us at that time. I feel so blessed because I have such a wonderful family. Grandma has made sure that each of us and our children have copies of family pictures and stories, also spiritual experiences so that we can draw closer to the Lord. Hope this makes sense!!!

Now Sandie also remembers doing things with Grandma – the same crafts and needlework that Mom mentions. But notice that Sandie also sees the service that Grandma has given to others (e.g., her service as a missionary up in Superior Branch). This is service that is seen past one generation (Mom) by the next generation (Sandie). So this means to me that Grandma Watkins gives significant service (which we can call “generation skipping” service). I think that I want to give that kind of service.
I find it interesting that Sandie sees Grandma in the context of her younger family (like when Warner R and Norman were living at home). I hope that my kids remember my mom in the context of her family at home. There are no better times than when there is family in the home. Not only does it bring out the best in a parent – it brings out the memorable reactions to the surprising events. (As an editor’s comment, I would like to correct Sandie’s statement about the cocktail onion incident. I did NOT get to come home to be sick – but I had to stay at school and just feel gross! I was the only one that had consequences to our little scheme of trying to legitimize a day of hooky. – CA).

Shelly has a slightly different, but related set of memories:
As far as my favorite memory of Grandma Watkins? I don't know that I could think of just one. But when I think of her a few things come to mind.
One time I tried on a diamond ring that she had been given by Roy or Wayne or some relative and I wore it in her back yard and she caught me wearing it. She was so disappointed in me that she made me sit on the toilet in her bathroom for an hour. I will never forget it. I could tell you every swan and shell she has in there!
Another thing I remember is one year we went to Grandmas for Christmas. I am not sure why... But she had a white Christmas tree with dark blue bulbs and I remember spending a lot of time in her living room looking at it.
Finally when I think about Grandma every time I use a velour quilt at my house. I can't even imagine how many she has made but it is something we always use and when we see we are reminded of her. I wish I had her discipline to write things down, to keep records and things I think she is one of the most amazing grandmothers I could have ever had.

Shelly also remembers the service (i.e., the velour quilts), but for some reason Shelly had the “diamond ring experience.” I guess grandmas get annoyed at kids that play in the backyard with diamond rings. Go figure!
Even Shelly’s memories involve being in Grandma’s house, and recognizing Grandma’s keen interest in recording every event in our lives.

Stacy added this:
My favorite memory of Grandma Watkins is definitely sewing together in the
sewing room. She is a great seamstress and I loved learning from her and
just being with her, not to mention the finished product was great too. She
always made sure that it turned out good.

Where she makes reference again to the crafts and the time that Grandma took to pass down her needleworking skills.

Sherri had the following to say:
My favorite memory of Grandma Watkins is not any specific memory, but just how she would always be teaching us how to crochet in the back green room of her home with the hair dryer in it, which by the way is now changed dramatically. She was always teaching us the sewing things.

Do you notice the craft theme and the teaching that Grandma has always done?

Stephanie added the following (and do you notice the trend?):
Now, as for my favorite memory of Grandma Watkins... it is not a specific one it is more of a collection of memories. I always looked forward to driving to go stay at grandma's for a week every year. I have vivid memories of sleeping in her back room and being in awe at her pile of sewing she had completed. Also, I always looked forward to sitting on her couch for hours crocheting. We would compete for the longest chain ever to be crocheted while watching Jeopardy. She was always so patient with us while she taught us new techniques, and so sincere in her excitement as we completed hot pads and hats.

So what does it mean to be a grandparent? If you ask me, it has to do with loving your children (and their children), doing things with them to create memories of things together, and then teaching them. There is a responsibility to pass down skills from one generation to another, to teach families to give service, to demonstrate love and obedience – adherence to principles that are good and worthy.
You know, I want to be a grandparent like Grandma Watkins. We all love her dearly, we respect her, and we have many, many fond memories of the time she spent doing things with each of us. I want to do things with my grandchildren. I want them to love and respect me as much as we love and respect Grandma Watkins.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Let's Get Going Again...

Hello there family! I suppose that we have been on a mental vacation or something and haven’t really updated the family blog site for about 5 months.

In the spirit of repentance, I am ready to improve and do a little more work…

I would like to start off with a question to which I would like each of you to respond. If you send me your responses (via e-mail), then I will post them and compose a blog entry that tries to bring all of the responses into something cohesive. The best e-mail to use for this is, although you could use any of my e-mails and I will eventually get around to reading it...

The question for this week is:

“What is your favorite memory of Grandma Watkins?”

You will notice that I have posted a photo of Grandma from some wedding. I don't recognize hardly anyone in the photo - but I am assured that Grandma is one of the people there...

Please send me your responses as soon as you can, and I will post them. I would also like to get a real survey about where and exactly when in 2007 that our family reunion should be. We received four responses for our next reunion - two suggested every year (Mom & Craig), two every other year (Steph & Stacy - and then alternating summer and winter get togethers). We really need at least one more response to break the tie.

We are suggesting something around July 4th, 2007 - and a Utah venue, maybe near to Lake Powell (or Hawaii - but we would have to shop carefully for tickets). Any other ideas?


UPDATE 18 July, 2006: Well, Sherri just called me on the phone and said that she was OK with meeting every other year as well, and suggested the summer of 2007 in Utah (maybe even at her new home).