Friday, December 19, 2014

Our Christmas letter, December 2014.

Merry Christmas from Vancouver BC!
Robert and I have just returned from a dream vacation in Oahu, Hawaii.
We had wanted to go two years ago in order to celebrate our 30th anniversary, but due to financial constraints it didn't work out, so we celebrated our 32nd anniversary instead.
Hawaii in December is all anyone has ever said it was; humid, hot, balmy, with warm ocean water and soft sand, delicious food, lovely hula dancers...
We stayed at the Hilton Waikiki Beach hotel, one block from the Kuhio and Waikiki beaches, from Dec 3 -13. The photo above shows Robert and I wearing our new Hawaiian print shirts and kukui nut leis and flower leis at our first luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center. I especially loved the poi buns and the kalua pork! Here is a recipe for the pork. (which I haven't yet tried)

Robert rented a beach chair a few times and soaked up the sun's rays, while I sat in the shade and tried to read. I was distracted by the beach sights and did little reading. I also loved to browse in the air conditioned gift shops in the hotels along Kalakaua Avenue, the main street in Waikiki.
I love all things Hawaiian.
We took three tours, arranged through our helpful hotel concierge. 
We took the grand island circle tour on Dec 5, the Polynesian Cultural center tour on Dec 8, and the Pearl Harbour tour on Dec 10.

It was like being in paradise. Now we know how the wealthy feel, traveling here each winter.
If it was closer, I'd try it too. The 6 hour jet ride didn't really agree with me; too many coughing people and crying babies. I also loved the flora and fauna in Oahu.

Here is Diamond Head in the background in Waikiki. It was like a dream to be here.
We totally unwound and relaxed. We loved Oahu!

Kelsie our little Jack Russell Terrier enjoyed a doggie stay-cation at a kennel for 11 days while we were gone. She is doing well for her great age of 13 1/2.  

Matthew, Robert, my Mom Susie and my Dad Jack at our Thanksgiving feast.
My Dad is now totally blind from glaucoma. It was quite an adjustment for him, but he has a good sense of humour and cracks jokes a lot, and has become very talkative at the age of 85. His hearing is fantastic, and his memory is phenomenal.
My Mom is his main caregiver, but now allows us to do the grocery shopping, while Leona my sister often cooks meals for them both, and visits them every Saturday.

Matthew and his Grandma. He stayed with us until March of this year, after being with my sister Marlene and her husband last year for 6 months. He returned to his job at Dussa's in Granville Island, and is living downtown in walking distance of GI, sharing an apartment with a roommate. 

Robert was discovered online last Dec 2013 by a recruiter, and employed through Fusionware in a contracted basis as a project manager at Coast Capital Trust in Surrey BC. After 9 months he was hired full time as they really liked him and his work. So thankfully after many years of financial ups and downs and a rough time since 2008, Robert has a regular paycheque. 
We had a new back sliding door installed in September, which is just wonderful. It has blinds inside the tempered glass doors which operate on magnets. It has such a good seal compared to the old door, and now the heat stays inside the kitchen on a cold winter day!

The other home improvement we made was in Matthew's old bedroom, which became my office and sewing room in April. I painted it a pale pink, and it makes such a difference for my mood. I write and sew in the room, and I feel inspired. I've written 16 genealogy articles for our local newspaper, the Renfrew Collingwood newspaper. If you click on the link, and search for "Family Tree Tips" you can read them all online. I still love to hunt for genealogy clues, and hope to accomplish more in 2015.

We wish all of you a lovely peaceful Christmas, filled with God's blessings.
May you have a happy New Year in 2015 as we keep looking up.

Love from Robert and Loretta

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My parent's first little home in Burnaby BC.

I've always loved this photo of my Mom, Susie (Brutke) Williams standing outside her first little home at 4683 Union Street in Burnaby. Until today I didn't know the actual address, so I phoned my Mom and asked if she knew it off the top of her head. (she has a phenomenal head even if she is 81!) She remembered, as she verified it later after looking up an old mortgage receipt. 
My parents were married in Sept 1955 and lived at 131 W 12th Ave in Vancouver until they saved up enough money to put a down payment down on this house in 1956. The house was $6,350 for two double lots! After the down payment they owed $4,900 and paid $50 each month on it. They lived here until buying another home in Vancouver in 1959.

There is a neat online website which features terrific aerial photos of BC.
I realized that the Brentwood Mall area might have my parent's first house in it, if only I could figure out where it was, which I did by using Google maps. It was a little tricky as I needed the hundred block of Union Street and then I needed to figure out where Union Street was!
The white arrow shows where the house is. It's totally amazing how much this area has changed in the past 60 years.

This is getting closer to the house. I didn't recognize Hastings Street at all.
Can you? I counted down from Hastings, to Pender, to Frances, to Georgia and then Union.
Next I needed to know which direction the house faced, and what was next to it. I remember my Mom saying that they were on a double lot, but couldn't remember if it was on the corner. I asked my Dad today, and he remembered the corner street; Beta.

A closer zoom in. My Mom told me today that when they went to finalize the deal and sign the papers, the school just a block away burned down and had to be rebuilt. She was worried as it was quite close to their house. I'd never heard this story before.

By confirming the address with my Mom today, and checking Google maps to get the odd numbered side of the street correct (facing South) and also using the 1958 photo up above so I knew what the house next door looked like, I could pinpoint my parent's first little home. I assume that it was built in the 1920's era. I can verify that by double checking the BC directories and seeing who lived there.
I feel extremely pleased with myself! I also feel like a really good detective...
By Loretta Houben

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas Eve 45 years ago in 1969!

The other day I found an image someone had put online from a page of the Simpson Sears Christmas catalogue from 1969. The doll above, "B" and $6.98 was the one I got for Christmas that year. Here I am holding her. We loved getting dolls for Christmas! Each year brought a new doll until we outgrew them. Aren't we cute?

We always opened our gifts on Christmas Eve which is a German tradition.
Right after supper at 5:30 pm we would scurry and get changed into a pretty dress.
Our Christmas tree was real, and was bought from Simpson Sears in Burnaby BC for the grand sum of $2.00 - $4.00. We loved our tree! We helped decorate it, and Mom hung the tinsel while we were at school. Dad put on the lights. The Santa Claus in the middle of the tree was a gift given to me in 1960 when I was a baby, and was always put in the middle each year.

The grand mess of the Christmas wrappings! My parents would carefully fold up all the paper and reuse it the next Christmas. Anything that was too badly torn was burned in the fireplace. 

This is a snippet from the above picture, showing Leona playing with her new doll, and myself playing with a neat Barbie sized grocery play set which had small sized food and a scale etc.
Leona got the little lantern that's on the coffee table, which ran on a battery. Later that night, she crept out of bed, went and got her full bulging stocking from the mantle, brought it back to bed, TURNED ON THE LIGHT, and opened her stocking! She was 7 years old. She woke me up of course, and proceeded to describe all the items in her stocking. I crawled under my covers and plugged my ears as we both got identical presents in our stockings. Then she put everything back and took her stocking back to the living room. I've never forgotten it! One of the items was a cute Winnie the Pooh cookie tin from England, filled with delicious little biscuits.
I have many fond memories of Christmas!

By Loretta Houben

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

George Palmer; my great great grandfather and his wife, Emma (Cork)

On Monday, October 6, 2014 I was racking my brains for a subject for an article I need to write for the RRC newspaper, which is due by the 10th of each month. For fun I decided to type "George Palmer, 1842" into the Google search engine. Every once in a while, I re-do these things.
Amazingly, new information came up on my screen!
I snipped the above information and the items below, because although I knew George's parents names, I didn't know his wife's parents names. 
I found the information on this site.
This is the PAGE which popped up.
Catherine Day has put together over 22,000 names in her database!
She did this for her thesis, and this has led to her writing a book:
Wiltshire Marriage Patterns 1754-1914

The above shows the names of Emma's parents: Thomas and Ann Cork.
This is thrilling!
George Palmer is my great great grandfather on my Dad's side of the family.

Ann's information above.

Emma's brother's information above.

And this is a photo of Emma (Cork) Palmer, my great great grandmother.
On the left is her daughter, Alma. 
I find it fascinating to find clues on the internet, just by being persistent and methodical.
The moral of the story is, never give up!
By Loretta Houben

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Precious memories...20 years ago.

I find it hard to believe that it was 20 years ago this September that Matthew, our one and only, started school! And now here in BC, the teachers are on strike and so many little ones will miss their first day of school. I'm glad we had the finances to send Matthew to a private Christian school. He enjoyed his elementary school days there, and did very well. 
Here he is with flowers for his new teacher.
He was so little and so cute!

Miss Tiu; she and Matthew hit it off from day one!
He loved her and he loved Kindergarten. His classroom had a neat loft with a fire pole.
He had a schedule of attending full days on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for one week, then alternating the next week. At least that's what I remember vaguely. It seems like such a very long time ago. Robert would drive him to school, and pick him up afterwards. In those days he had a flexible job! Then when Robert began to go on a lot of business trips, I would sometimes get Matthew by bus, or more often my parents would pick him up. Matthew always had a nap when he got home.
He just loved school and learning new things.
By Loretta Houben

Monday, August 25, 2014

Visiting the past in Cloverdale BC.

I'm rather behind in my blog postings this summer of 2014, due to the heat and humidity we have experienced for nearly four months. I don't really do too well in that kind of environment and turn into a limp dishrag! I've also been keeping up with household chores, gardening, taking care of my parents, and writing each month for the Renfrew Collingwood Community newspaper.
In between those things, Robert and I get away and do something different each weekend, as this summer due to his new job and the project he's working on, he doesn't get time off except for a day here and there.

Saturday August 23 we headed out to Cloverdale, just across the Fraser River one half hour drive from our home. While poking about online last year I discovered the

Volunteers have done a marvelous job re-building the Cloverdale Interurban Station.
Train 1225 is the one in the photo above. For $10 each you can ride it out into the countryside to Sullivan Station. The trains used to run out into Chilliwack! My Dad remembers riding on them as a youngster. This link shows the refurbishing of train 1225. What a great deal of work! And all by volunteers! Robert and I enjoyed our excursion immensely and we highly recommend it to all railway buffs!
By Loretta Houben