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A DAY WITH AUNTIE

Viewing Family Photo Albums

sunny 83 °F

(Sunday) My Aunt Sandra and her late husband, Uncle Dick had much interest in family genealogy. Through the years they collected information on the different branches of their families, both Aunt Sandra's and Uncle Dick's. I went to her lovely apartment about mid-morning where she had the albums laid out for me to see. Therein were meticulously organized both sides of my maternal relatives and their families. She showed me early photos of my Mother's (& Uncle Dick's) ancestors. Of particular interest was that of my grandfather, my Mother's father. He was born in eastern Washington in 1885, four years before Washington became a State. Olympia, the new State Capitol was a distant 300+ miles west along the seacoast. It was the population center in those times.
As a youngster I remember him telling me about some of his childhood. Born one of 10 children to poor parents in the wild Washington territory, he had to go to work at age 10 (1895) to help support his family. First working as a stable boy in the small town of Spokane (pop. 300) he labored cleaning horse stables, later working up to caring for the animals, then advancing to a teamster. There was a picture of him with a 4 horse hitch with reins in hand sitting on a freight wagon. Eastern Washington at that time was the wild west, sparcley populated and horseback riding was the mode of transportation. Again, pictures of Grandpa on horseback. As he matured into manhood, he worked as a lumberjack in logging camps. Another picture was of him sitting on a single log appearing to be about 6' in diameter with reins in hand on a wagon with a 4 horse hitch ready to haul it to the mill. The income from his labors was sent to his family as support for his younger siblings and parents. He later became employed by the Washington Water Power Company, he was responsible for 17 miles of electric line that had to be inspected each week, That's 34 miles of walking through rattlesnake country. If repairs were necessary, he would climb the poles with spike harnesses on his boots to correct the problem. He worked for the WWPCo until his retirement at age 70. He was one tough cookie! His wife, our Grandmother was a more gentile lady, a school teacher. She taught in a one room school house and they lived, in the years of my Mother's childhood, in a humble farmhouse just outside of town. There, raising their own vegetables, they had a cow for milk, chickens for eggs and meat, etc. to support their family. All three children, Aunt Ethelmae, Uncle Dick, and my Mother were college graduates, a testimony to our school teacher Grandmother. All earned scholarships to attend college.
Aunt Sandra's only son, Randy died of cancer several yrs. ago at age 53 leaving a lovely wife and two children. Randy worked along side his parents when they owned Kirkland True Value Hardware. After his parents closed the store and retired Rand became employed for Coca Cola in Kirkland rising to Operations Manager. A. Sandra's scrapbook for Rand chronicled his life from early childhood to his school years, graduation pictures, his Eagle Scout Award, President of Kiwanis, his marriage, his children. He was a cousin I wish I would have known better. The 3,000 miles separating our homes and lives unfortunately, prevented that.
After a bit of lunch, A. Sandra took me on an auto tour of the Microsoft campus nearby. When I said campus, it really is as large as a college campus. Microsoft employs 116,000 people (I looked it up!) and has a tremendous economic impact on Seattle and the State of Washington. Bill & Melinda Gates live in their mansion on Lake Washington shores. After that, we traveled to nearby Woodinville, home of Chateau St. Michelle Wineries. Their merlot wine is one of my favorites. The setting and grounds are simply beautiful and large. There were hundreds of people there sitting in lawn chairs, on blankets spread on the lawns, and just enjoying the sunny day while sipping the vintages. So glad I got to experience it.
We were on a schedule for A. Sandra had arranged for our small family to meet for dinner. We number but 8 relatives now. The restaurant was lovely, the food delicious (I had a raw oyster appetizer, and salmon entree), and the conversation lively and wonderful as we got to know one another better. Rand's wife, Susan and their two children, ages 20 and 16, Cousin Tom and his wife, Edith, Cousin Marilee, and myself had a very nice evening together.

Posted by dixter 07:02 Archived in USA Tagged a with day auntie

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