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Monday, Sep. 15, 2014

Memorial Day weekend

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hi neighbors. It is difficult to believe another Memorial Day weekend is here. Most of us will gather flower arrangements and flags and head for the areas where our loved ones are resting.

Many will gather with other family members or friends to have a meal, go to the lake, participate in, or sit and watch, a family ball game, or enjoy an afternoon ice cream social.

Family and friends may travel to other towns, or even other states or countries, to share time with family members or to simply visit "the old home place" or the family patriarch or matriarch.

My family visits several cemeteries and tells a little of the life story of the people whose graves we decorate. Those who served in the military receive a flag and the story is passed on to younger family members about how they served their country. How they lived their lives before and after their military service is told as well.

The main objective is to remind youngsters that a cemetery isn't just row after row of rocks, but a symbol of the lives of once-living people. People they are related to, in fact.

Of course, you don't have to spend one day each year telling your ancestor's stories or remembering those you have lost. Their lifestyles and time period in history were shared by many others.

One thing genealogists learn early, you can't study your family's history without learning something about history in general.

My granddaughter visited with me last month and when I said I wished I could play a video game just to look around, she got the game out and we played it the way I wanted to play it!

We didn't have to shoot any one and we didn't have to go to jail. It was a video game set in the late 19th Century out west. It involved a man, his wife and son and their ranch. There were several towns around as well.

Alyssa and I took the buggy into town and strolled up and down the streets looking into shop windows and even going into one or two stores that we could enter.

"That lady has a pretty pink dress on," Alyssa said about a young woman walking down the street in front of us holding a parasol.

"Why is she carrying an umbrella, though?"

I explained that it wasn't rain gear but a lightweight portable shade to keep the sun off of her face so she would stay pale and not get a tan.

That was confusing to her when so many people she knows now want to be as brown as berries.

The dress started an adventure to find a store that sold cloth and other sewing notions. We could get into that store so we looked around as the game's preset parameters allowed.

When she asked why there were no pre-made dresses for sale in town I told her it was the general habit to make your own clothing back then. Some people could have clothing made for them by someone else, or they could travel to larger places and get pre-made clothing. I tried to explain the influence the Sears & Roebuck catalog had on people at the time, but I don't know if she understood the dramatic change that catalog made for the average person in that time period.

She said she could make her own dress with a sewing machine. I reminded her sewing machines back then were mostly like my grandmother's and used a pedal for power.

The whole concept of making a pattern, cutting the dress, sewing and finishing it was talked through.

"You know, Grandma," she said at last, turning off the game; "I think these people lived when they should have or had to, and I'm living now with electricity. That's how it should be." Well said Alyssa.

But once a year we can humbly leave our air-conditioned homes and electric sewing machines behind and spend a little time remembering those who had a much different lifestyle --and be grateful.

Nancy Malcom
The Third Cup