Monday, May 3, 2021

Those Family Tales...

Heroic family stories… we all have them. There’s the one about an ancestor of mine, crossing the Ohio River into Indiana from Kentucky with her children in tow, standing up in that buckboard, fending off “Wild Indians” with her shotgun… never happened. Or from Flo’s side of the family, the uncle’s scar, a facial slash, from one of Rommel’s men while fighting in North Africa–when Eoin wanted to include that tale in a school project, the uncle admitted he was just having fun with a naive younger generation–the scar dated back to a childhood auto accident, from the days of cheap windshields and no seat belts.

During the pandemic, I’ve discovered the joys of at-home research using searchable newspaper archives… and one of the family stories I decided to check out was one I recorded in my blog about memories of the old northside, from ten years ago:

“One tale I do not myself remember: I was an infant and my father had just started on the police department—my mother awoke in the middle of the night to fix me a bottle. She heard groaning coming from the alley, and calls for help. She did not want to wake my father, who had just gotten to sleep after a long shift, so she ignored the cries. The next morning, my folks saw police and onlookers crowded into the alley behind the house. About a block away, a man had been caught cheating on his pregnant wife. The couple had a fight, and she stabbed him with a butcher knife. He staggered down the alley crying out for help, and died behind our house. My dad was teased for some time for sleeping through that one.”

The only real discrepancy I could discover in the July 20, 1954 newspaper article, was that she nailed him with “a small paring knife,” rather than a butcher knife. An added juicy tidbit that didn’t make it into the family lore: the wronged wife’s defense was championed and fund-raised by the horndog-husband’s own mother.

One thing you can say about old family memories… the more embarrassing they are, the more likely they are to be true. 😊




Monday, March 22, 2021

Not One of Us #66


A Cabaret of Rosy Rot, by Sarah McGill
Volta do Mar (poem), by Sonya Taaffe
The Mermaid Conundrum (poem), by Jennifer Crow
A Seep of Cats, by Steve Toase
I Feel the Absence of Her Shape, by Alexandra Seidel
And Leaves (poem), by F. J. Bergmann
Things Get Better at the Faster Stop, by S. C. Retsim
A Grim Diagnosis (poem), by Gretchen Tessmer
Morning’s Memory, by Grace Phillips
I Grew Out of It (poem), by Ada Hoffmann
Art: John Stanton

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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Restoration Projects


From my mother’s garage – a coffee grinder that once belonged to my grandmother; she had written her name and address on the bottom of the base. The label on the front had all but disintegrated, but there was enough that I could determine it was a Parker’s Coffee Mill, and guestimate it was from the late 1880’s, based partly on the “301” on the label.

Also restored – a photo of my grandmother.

See also: Memories of the Old Northside

Friday, January 8, 2021

Not One of Us #65



January House, by Alexandra Seidel
The Bargain (poem), by Sonya Taaffe
Death Wears a Crown of Baling Twine, by Steve Toase
Bound Wings (poem), by Jennifer Crow
In the Still of the Night, by Michael Kelly
They Keep Resurrecting Larry Talbot (poem), by Gwynne Garfinkle
Taint (poem), by Francesca Forrest
Toeing the Line, by Finn Clarke
Where They Come From (poem), by F. J. Bergmann
Art: John Stanton 

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Friday, September 25, 2020

Not One of Us 64a & 64b

 Contents of Not One of Us #64a

The Dregs, by Mark Seneviratne
Abduction (poem), by Roger Dutcher
Taking Form, by Nicole Tanquary
Shadows Vanish (poem), by Jennifer Crow
The Devil’s Causeway, by Pam Bissonnette
The Body Suspension Artist, by Hudson Wilding
Wolves (poem), by Phoebe Low
Art: John Stanton

Contents of Not One of Us #64b

Liesel, by Cate Gardner
Excess Baggage (poem), by Gerri Leen
Money for Mars, by Jonny Spinasanto
And Through the Desert (poem), by Alexandra Seidel
Faces Like the Backs of Thumbtacks, by B. Lawrence
Baggage (poem), by Holly Day
Be Prepared (poem), by Neal Wilgus
From the Fourth Floor, by Matthew Evans
Νυχαυγής (poem), by Sonya Taaffe
Art: John Stanton

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Find A Grave Serendipity

(Click on images for larger versions)

On March 5, Deedee Davis contacted me via my profile on Find A Grave, with a pleasant surprise. She works with the Indiana Album project, which digitizes and collects old images and documents about our state and citizenry, and shares them in a public forum on the Internet. She had recently scanned “Fellow Citizens of Indianapolis, 1926” and found a photo of my great-grandfather Clarence W. Abraham on the first page of photos in the book. She was planning to add the photo to his Find A Grave memorial and noticed I’d posted some images of him, and contacted me. In turn, I was fortunate enough that night to score a copy of the book on eBay. I have searched since, and have been unable to locate another copy. DeeDee was kind enough to ask me to submit more family photos to the archive.

While flipping through the book, my wife and I also noticed that her grandfather Donald Ambrose Morrison, Sr., as well as several other of her relatives, was also featured.

Two months later, on May 8, JJ Johnson contacted me, also through Find A Grave. He collects skeleton keys, and he recently noticed that one his mother purchased for him at a 4H flea market in Evansville, IN, a couple of years ago, was engraved with my father’s name and badge numbers, and the year 1954. After some searching, he found my father’s memorial on Find A Grave, and contacted me. Mr. Johnson was kind enough to send the key along, and I had the opportunity to share a few stories about my dad.

I had no previous knowledge of the book or the key. Either one would be a rare find, but both, in such a short time frame, seems all the more extraordinary, especially, in the hands of such kind and thoughtful people.

A couple of blogs with mentions of my father: