52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Bedroom

There is no better way to jump back into these prompts then with my childhood bedroom story!

Week 19. Bedroom. Describe your childhood bedroom. What furniture did it contain? Were there curtains, wallpaper or paint? Was it messy or clean? Did you share a room with your siblings?

I did indeed share my bedroom with a sibling. When I was in Kindergarten, the trailer we were renting was hit by lightning. I don’t think I remember much except my My Little Ponies burned up and that I was sharing the room with my sister and maybe even my brother. I can’t really remember and I’d have to ask my mother.

After that happened, we moved into the trailer that we would live in for the rest of my childhood. It was only a 3 bedroom trailer and not very big at all but it was what we had. I shared the middle bedroom with my older sister for many many years. I remember that we had stuffed two beds into the room but there was practically no room left after that. There was a built in dresser and closet. Part of the room was taken up by the hall “closet” which housed the furnace. I don’t actually remember our furnace ever working though. We always used kerosene heat from what I remember. A few years after we moved in, our neighbor was getting rid of his bunk beds and we immediately forced him to give them to us… Okay, so he was my brother’s best friend and he offered them. We needed them desperately though! So that’s when I think we started getting some breathing room in our shared environment.

The whole trailer had wood paneling on the walls the whole time we lived there. A few years before the trailer was taken out by a tree, we had started rehabbing it. Taking the paneling down and putting up sheetrock. We never painted the paneling, but I will admit to wallpapering them at one point… with my Teen BOP posters. I’m pretty sure Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Devon Sawa were my wallpapers. Every month I’d rip some down and add some new ones. I was obsessed!

Sometime when I was in middle school, I think about the seventh grade, my brother made a huge decision and moved to Miami for love. He did it quietly and quickly. He bought his ticket and said I’m going! He packed his clothes and said goodbye to his bedroom… I let him get a mile down the road before I said, “IT’S MINE!” You have to understand. We were two teenage girls living in the same space, it was a necessity! I had to do it or one of us was going to kill the other. There was of course a hold on the room. If my brother came home with his tail between his legs, then the room was still his. Luckily for both of us, things worked out for him in Miami. Not the love thing, but life did and that’s just fine too!

I got even luckier when he left his room as he did, because he left it with his stereo, television, and computer. I had a computer all to myself! I remember when the internet hit our house. My brother was kind of a genius with computers from the beginning. He built his own first computers. Now he finds it easier to just buy them and upgrade them, but at the time it was extraordinary. We were all relieved when he built his computer because he was always on our family computer. Of course, I didn’t know what to do on a computer at the time anyway. There wasn’t much out there. I actually think when he left for Miami was right around the time I first started making websites on my own. Just flying by the seat of my pants, learning as I went.

So that’s the story of my childhood bedroom(s)!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Movies

Week 12: Movies. Did (or do you still) see many movies? Describe your favorites. Where did you see these films? Is the theater still there, or is there something else in its place?

Movies are probably the thing I’ve loved the longest. We’ve always been a movie family. We celebrate birthdays and holidays by having movie nights. My first job was actually working with my Mom in a locally owned video rental store. That store eventually sold their business to Movie Gallery, who subsequently got rid of all the stores. That’s alright, the video rental business isn’t going to be around much longer. Everything is going digital and I guess our original owner was smart enough to get out while the getting was good!

Yes I even made a scrapbook when I was leaving, I wanted to remember my special friends! Sadly, a lot of my regular customers are no longer living so it’s really nice to have a piece of them still with me!

There is a downside to working in a video store though. Eventually, you kind of burn out on watching the movies. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to sit back and watch a good movie. Only now, I tend to watch them less often and from the comfort of my living room. Usually through pay per view or I’ll buy the DVD. After so many years of feeling the need to know all the movies and trivia, I’ve kind of gone on movie hiatus. Don’t get me wrong, I was good at it! I had customers coming in for recommendations and I was able to know what movies they were looking for by the very fragmented details they gave. Once I left the job though, I kind of backed away from that. It is a little sad, but gosh I really appreciate movies more now.

As for actual movie theaters, we do have a small 6 screen theater “in town”. I remember seeing a lot of movies in that theater. However, it’s gotten very run down and it’s not in a great part of town. Over the years, I don’t think much maintenance has been done either. For some reason, this over-populated town hasn’t gotten a new theater though the citizens are screaming for one! Literally. No one quite knows whats happening there, but it’s sad. I might see movies in a theater more often, if I had a more comfortable theater to go to. Right now we trek all the way to the Arundel Mills Mall movie theater which is close to two hours away. We really only go that far for the big ones, like Harry Potter. 🙂

My favorite movies haven’t changed. I used to watch them at work all the time. Newsies, The Little Mermaid, Empire Records, American Outlaws, Gone with the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Sound of Music. I could really go one. That’s another side effect to having seen all those films. You really grow attached to them. Right now what I really love are mini series. I don’t understand why they aren’t more popular. When I first got into Genealogy, Mom bought a used copy of Roots so I could see that. Since then I’ve replaced it with the anniversary DVD. I also love North & South, Band of Brothers and Taken.

I guess I should have warned you I can tend to run on about movies!

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2011) that invite genealogists and others to record memories and insights about their own lives for future descendants. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your memories on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 7

Week 7: Toys. What was your favorite childhood toy? Is it still being made in some form today?

It goes against everything in me to only choose one thing. I have no idea why I’m like that, but I am. So I’ll just make a brief mention of the other toys I loved. My Little Pony. There I said it. I had more My Little Ponies than I did Barbies. I had Barbies too though, and my Momma made their clothes. How awesome was she? I also loved, loved, loved C.U.T.I.E. figurines. If you do a google image search you can find them but I have a link that does better. There was another toy I loved, they were little clear, plastic princesses I think but no one remembers their names. It reminds me of when I was trying to remember the name of a cartoon I watched as a kid. All I could remember was the little girl in the yellow dress flies out the window with a koala bear. My momma was stuck on David the Gnome. She sure loved David the Gnome. HA. It was called Noozles by the way.

Back onto the subject, I’m here to talk about my number one love. They were called Little People and they were made by Fisher Price. I loved these things. I loved them to death. I even talked about them way back in Childhood Car memories week. This one is made out of wood, and it was bought off eBay probably around 10 years ago. I don’t know what happened to my Little People. Most likely they were given to a family friend who had little girls, much like my Barbie collection. The set I had were plastic. If you want to read about the complete history of these (I’m the only one right? haha), there’s a great write up of their evolution here: link. On that page, the ones I’m familiar with are at the bottom of the History page. I had a million of them though and I had all kinds of accessories. It was my most played with toy and it’s the one I associate with my childhood.

My favorite thing to do was make families, and have them go about their day to day. I’d pick up the kids with the school bus and I’d drop them off all over the house on the “bus route”. It’s probably why I’ve switched to The Sims 2 as I got older. Same concept, just on a computer!

Sadly, Little People are no longer how I remember them. A quick trip to the Fisher Price website will show you how they’ve changed. Visiting the website made me want to go out to the shed and dig out the school bus and house (also from that eBay purchase) I know are in there somewhere. It could be fun to compare them right?

Little People today. Picture from Fisher Price website

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is a weekly series thought up by Amy Coffin and hosted by GeneaBloggers. It encourages genealogy bloggers to share their own memories and history, so that we don’t forget that one day, our own stories will be important to future generations.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 6

Week 6: Radio and Television. What was your favorite radio or television show from your childhood? What was the program about and who was in it?

I must preface this post by saying I was in no way raised by the television. It’s going to look like it briefly but I promise I wasn’t. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Every featured show is there for a reason that I’ll explain. There were plenty more but they weren’t as important as the ones that I am actually featuring.

Saved by the Bell: Saved by the Bell is probably a staple of every child of the 80s and 90s childhood. I remember watching it every Saturday morning through it’s entire run and then even moving onto Saved by the Bell: The New Class. This is probably the first show that I loved enough to watch it every week. It was definitely one of many shows that was played on Saturday mornings but this one was the staple. The others came and went (California Dreams, City Guys, One World) but this one was perfection.

It dealt with real teen issues and is still played today and I still watch it if I catch it on! Zach Morris, played by Mark Paul Gosselar, was cute and charismatic. He was a schemer you just couldn’t help but love. Just like the television audience, Zach’s friends and family couldn’t help but laugh at his antics. Yet Zach definitely had a heart and knew when he was in the wrong. I think my favorite episode was when he was writing a report and made friends with the Indian chief who passed away. Out of all the episodes, that’s the one that still sticks with me. Probably because of the genealogist I didn’t know was in me yet!

Little House on the Prairie: I have a confession to make with this one. I used to watch this one in syndication when I was home sick from school. I wasn’t supposed to watch TV if I was sick but I did anyway. If Mom is reading this now, she’s probably laughing because I doubt I pulled the wool over her eyes! What little girl hasn’t seen this show and loved it? I remember reading at least the first book, but I don’t think I ever made it through the others. The show is what hooked me, and I didn’t know at the time it was a true story!

I think the casting of Melissa Gilbert was perfect. They’ve tried to remake the series again and again but nothing quite measures up. The show was a perfect mix of wholesomeness and history. Looking back, I think this show too was part of the road to my genealogy future. I’ve always been fascinated by the time period this takes place in. I also loved the length of the show and how you saw everyone grow and mature, even Nellie Olson!

Road to Avonlea: This is one of the lesser known shows but it rounds out my top 3. I actually got the DVDs from eBay because I love the show that much. I think I’m still missing the last two seasons but I’ll get them eventually. This was shown on the Disney Channel. It’s a Sullivan Entertainment production, based on Prince Edwards Island in Canada. It’s actually a somewhat continuation of the Anne of Green Gables story. Unofficially of course. The show itself is an original out of Canada and Disney bought distribution rights to it I’m guessing. If you have a little girl that loves the Anne books, this is definitely going to be a hit!

Once again, I was interested in history before I realized what a huge part it would play in my life. The thing I loved about this show was the family dynamic. I didn’t grow up around my cousins and aunts and uncle. So this show was really as close to an extended family as I was getting. I just loved to how Felicity was a brat to begin with but by the end of the show, she was mature and the star! Sarah was a free spirit who had lived a privileged, lonely life only to have it crumble down around her. They started out as foes and turned into the best of friends. Alec and Janet King were Felicity’s parents and Sarah’s Uncle and Aunt. They gave her the family and stability that she needed at the time in her life that she moved to PEI.

Also thrown into the mix, you get little snippets of Anne Shirley! Rachel Lynde is a constant presence and probably as much of a foe to Sarah as she was to Anne! Later you see a softer side when Marilla Cuthbert and Rachel take in orphans Davey and Dora Keith.

Punky Brewster: I’m not going to lie. I’ve always been a bit eccentric. I didn’t realize until recently how much, but it all started with Punky. It’s because of Punky I’m not ashamed of my crazy socks! Don’t get me wrong, they’re always matched, but they are never boring!

Punky is about an orphan who ends up living with Henry. A widower who is a bit of a grump. He can’t resist Punky for long though! Punky is definitely unique with her own style.

Full House: I saved the other kahuna for last! It’s definitely not last place in my heart though. This is another show that I grew with. I remember Michelle Tanner (Olsen Twins, respectively) as a baby all the way through the end of the show. This was a show I never missed!

There’s not much I can say about Full House that everyone else doesn’t already know. It dealt with family issues, school issues, sibling issues, everything! In fact, life imitated art more than once in our house! Once after being entirely fed up with having to share my room with my older sister, I too “moved out” into a less habitable part of the house like DJ. I even played a Full House trick on my Dad when me and my best friend accidentally broke something. We sent him on errands to try and buy time for us to fix the problem! In the end, just like the show, you’ve got to fess up and take your punishment.

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History is a weekly series by Amy Coffin and hosted by GeneaBloggers. It’s purpose is to promote writing your own history down to be preserved for future generations.

Week 4: The Childhood Homes

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Week 4

Describe the house in which you grew up. Was it big or small? What made it unique? Is it still there today?

Now this could get emotional! This week my task it to talk about my childhood home… or homes as I remember it. I’m very fortunate to have not moved very often in my life. I’m hoping that trend continues, but only after I move to a nice, quiet town where I want to spend the rest of my days. I know I’m a little young to be thinking about the rest of my days, but as the town around me grows, I can’t help but realize city life is not for me.

My family tells me we lived in a small trailer when I was born, but moved to the bigger one I do remember later. I’ll have to trust them on this because I was only a few months old at the time and my memory ain’t what it used to be if you get my drift.  We lived in this trailer from my early baby years until I was in Kindergarten. I remember the circumstances around the end of our time there so clearly.

I remember being in my class and it was very, very dark outside. I don’t know if my fear of storms roots from this day or if it’s always been there. It doesn’t matter, because that day when I got home, I think I already knew something bad happened. Our trailer was struck by lightning and burned to the ground.

Mattapany Rd house, 1987.

Those ruins are the first house I remember. In fact, I remember my sister getting stung by a swarm of bees that loved to hang out on that swing set. I remember when my parents got me a bike for my birthday and my Dad ran around the outside of the trailer trying to hide it from me. It’s not in frame but we had a tree line on the other side of the house. It was  there that we built the tree house. It was there that we hung the zip line and tire swing. It was there my brother cracked his head open and I fell out of the tree house breaking my arm (first and only broken bone!) It was here my sister was riding her bike down the driveway and she flew over the handlebars and broke both arms.

Lots of childhood memories of this house.

If I believed in coincidences, I would call what happened next the biggest of my life. You see, as our house burned down, my parents were signing papers to purchase the property where we still live. We had to stay with friends until all the details were ironed out. It wasn’t long before we moved into the trailer where we lived for the rest of my childhood.

The differences were huge though. We had a bigger yard for one. We had a neighborhood with more kids around us (that I can remember anyway!). Most of all though, it was ours. Our previous trailer was just a rental. So this time everything in the place was ours. Literally because we had nothing left. We quickly filled the house with memories though.

I remember playing basketball, croquet, and football with my siblings and the other neighborhood kids. I remember being grounded and not being able to “leave the yard”. Gosh that was a horrible punishment! We had a virtual mecca of places to go! Other peoples houses, and the store down the street. Nowadays, that’d be out of the question of course. The road is way too busy for kids being about.

House #2 - Jun 2005.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures of our houses. At least in their glory. 🙁 Not that I think the trailer was ever in its glory stage. It was our home though. Mom loved it because she was always in her kids business and they couldn’t get away with anything! Not that I would try any of that nonsense, right? haha. Our trailer definitely had many battle scars. There was the soy sauce stains on the ceiling (I was not apart of that food fight… that I remember). A hole in my parents bedroom door that my brother put there after roughhousing with his friends. Unfortunately for Mom’s bedroom door it was right next to the back door.

You’ll probably notice the arrow in the picture above. It would be that tree that would fall onto our trailer and force our hand on the next move.

The thing is, I’ve said numerous times I don’t believe in coincidences. Things happen for a reason and we may not always know what that reason is, but it’s our job to realize when it happens and take action. You see, for my whole life, my mother’s stepfather was on her case about building a house on our property. He was just worried about the trailer, and that we would have another tragedy like the Mattapany house. It was one year to the day of his death that the tree fell onto our house. It happened when Moms children were all grown, still at home, but grown. It happened when she was taking a break for the first time in her life. She’d decided to try and retire from work, at least retail work. My Dad had a more flexible, more generous job.

Our House - Jan 2011

This is the house as it stands today. We’ve finally realized Grandpa Wayne’s dream for us. It took a little pushing from him if you get my drift, but we did it. We’ve lost in our life, everyone has. We came out on the other end though, stronger then you can imagine. Now when we have these monster snowstorms, or powerful storms I just think about our little trailer. You could hear the wind blow in the old thing. I can’t hear a semi truck in this one! I know this is a house my parents will be enjoying for a long, long time. They now have a big kitchen, family room, and a guest room! Well, more when me and my sister finally go. It was always stressful to have visitors because there just wasn’t room. Last 4th of July, we had two of my Aunts and their husbands here and everyone had room.

Note: Yes, that is a large, blue M&M in front of our house. My Mom is eccentric, what can I say!

This post is a part of the 52 weeks of Personal History and Genealogy series hosted by GeneaBloggers and created by Amy Coffin.

Week 3: Cars

It’s time for another 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History post! This week the topic is cars.

Week 3: Cars. What was your first car? Describe the make, model, and color, but also any memories you have of the vehicle. You can also expand on this topic and describe the car(s) your parents drove and any childhood memories attached to it.

I don’t have a drivers license so I don’t have any first car memories yet. I’ll just stick with cars from my childhood. There are two that I remember well, but my family had a lot of cars before that.

Our Station Wagon, May 1994.

The first car of my memory is this old station wagon. Boy did we have this a long time. Don’t ask me why we put a shirt on our dog. It was the 90’s, we did those things for fun. If you look closely, near the back bumper was our other dog, PIB. His original name was Red, but mom eventually just started calling him P.I.B. (Pain in Butt) because he followed me around and was always underfoot. Gosh I miss my Pibbers.

My mom says she finally got a station wagon so the kids would stop complaining, “SHE’S TOUCHING ME!!!! MOOOOOM!! HE HIT ME!” A lot of my younger memories are of this car. Mom used to drive me out to the school bus stop at our old house, the one that we lost to a fire. The driveway was very long and I remember the rides, listening to 98.3 Star FM, our local radio station. You don’t know it but I just sung the jingle. It’s one of those things, I can’t say it without singing the age old jingle. This is the car of my childhood. In fact, I have a lot of memories in the very back of this car. It had two fold up seats in the back. I used to sit back there and play with toys on trips to Ohio. One trip was very memorable. My favorite toy growing up were the Fisher Price Little People. I had more Little People then I did Barbies. I used to set them up in the back of the car and have little towns, including a school bus route.

Nissan Stanza, 1986 model, picture courtesy of Wikimedia.

This is the car of my teenage years. This is the car I remember through middle and high school. I have a lot of pictures of me and my best friend playing around in this one (yet I can find none at hand). Ours was a blue color. We nicknamed it Bessie. I have a habit of naming our cars. It’s a problem, I know but it’s just the way I am. The Nissan was with us for a lot of life moments. It went with me and my friend to all our concerts. I’ll never forget getting lost going to concerts in DC and Virginia in this thing. Oh it was fun. We had this car for a long time, because we replaced the engine at least once. I have memories of sitting in the back of this car on the way to Ohio. Me and my friend would make faces at other drivers on the beltway.

This post is part of a weekly series, 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History, by Amy Coffin. It is being hosted and promoted by GeneaBloggers.

Week 2: Winter

It’s time for another Personal History entry from me! This week’s topic is:

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

Winter is never really the same around here. We’ve had periods of snowy winters and periods of no snow.

When we do have snow, boy do we have it! As long as I remember, when it snows like that I would go into work with my mother. It was one of my favorite activities. The picture above was taken in 1996 and she was working at a drug store. After that it was a 7-11 just outside of Washington, DC. I have a lot of pictures of this year. I think it’s the year where we went without power for 2 weeks! That’s a record for us still.

What do you think you’d do if you were a mother of three with the neighborhood kids and no power? My mother taught us how to make candles! We’ve always had a gas stove, it’s just what my mother prefers. So even though we didn’t have power, we had the stove. So she taught us how to make candles, we played board games, and I’m pretty sure we did a lot of shoveling. I even remember one year there were six of us shoveling for hours! We wanted to make sure that my dad could get back in the driveway. We shoveled and shoveled, and we still had quite a ways to go when he got home. He ended up just driving over it, but it was the thought that counts right?

During that snow storm, I remember the camping out in the living room. We all got out sleeping bags and flashlights. We stayed up late telling ghost stories. I was the youngest, so I was tortured of course. As for the food, I can’t really remember that. I’m sure we had a combination of soups and chili. I do love my mama’s chili!

My tastes haven’t changed much, these days there’s nothing better than curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and a bowl of mom’s chicken and noodles! For me there’s nothing more relaxing then snow falling and having a movie day. If you haven’t noticed movies are big in our family. We don’t change much during the winter, it’s just we do more indoors, together stuff.

We’re supposed to get some kind of winter weather today, and I plan on spending it with my genealogy database! I’ve been so busy organizing and doing other things I haven’t had a “genealogy day” in awhile. Hopefully this entry doesn’t sound scatterbrained. I do have an attention span problem when it comes to writing.

Note: This entry is part of a 52 week series called 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History.

Week 1: New Years Memories

This year I’ll be participating in the weekly series, 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History. It’s a joint effort between GeneaBloggers and Amy Coffin at the We Tree blog. Every week there will be a new topic for me to write about my own past and family history.

Week 1: Did your family have any New Year’s traditions? How was the New Year celebrated during your childhood? Have you kept these traditions in the present day?!

For as long as I can remember, we’ve always done movie marathons on New Years Eve. In fact, that’s our family activity. When we were little, Dad would take us to the video store and we’d have to agree on one movie and then he’d get a “grownup” movie. It would be all of us, and then as we got older it was just me and my sister. We would actually stay up and watch whatever marathon was on TV whether it be a Corey Haim/Corey Feldman marathon on TNT or it was the top 100 music videos on MTV. We weren’t real formal about it.

This tradition has evolved from a marathon night to a family movie night. Now we usually just watch one movie (this year Inception), and we make snacks and drink sparkling cider. I know it’s tame but it’s our little tradition and I can’t see us ending it anytime soon! One day I’m definitely going to instill this tradition in my own family. My best memories growing up are the family movie nights. Whether it be New Years, Halloween, Christmas, and of course birthdays!

The above image is a free clipart image from the Microsoft Office website. I do not own it and am not using it to make money. I am just incapable of having an image free entry.