Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Minnesota caught in a Time Warp--Transported back to January By Carol Ann Taylor Hart

We had two snow storms within the last few days, one last Thursday night and one Monday Night.  The only one in the month of April that really loves the snow is none other than my dog Travis.  When the snow will end who knows.  Here are some pictures to enjoy!

Friday, April 19, 2013

My Favorite Pet, Shellie By Norma Bruscani

I needed to put up something good today as we are glued to our television news, hoping for a quick and speedy resolution to this terrible tragedy. One of our cousins on the Baker/Youngs side, Norma Stephens Bruscani writes about her favorite pet:


We got Shellie at the Avon Flea Market on a very cold Sunday morning, much to my daughter's surprise, and yes, she did have fleas. She was so tiny and so alert, and just knew that I wouldn't be able to resist her. My daughter, Marisa, was 8 years old, and it was time for her to have a dog.

The two of them were adorable playing together, especially "hide and seek". Marisa would ask me to keep Shellie beside me while she would go hide. Then, I'd say, "Where's Marisa?" Shellie would search and search until Marisa would pop out from her hiding spot, when Shellie had found her. Such excitement from both of them!

They played this game, often, until one day, Marisa asked me to "hide" Shellie, which I did, under the kitchen chair on which I was sitting. Marisa would search the living room and the dining room saying "Where's Shellie? Where's Shellie?" while Shellie stayed anxiously under my chair, with my help. Then, Marisa would come out to the kitchen and pretend that she couldn't see Shellie, and say, again, "Where's Shellie?", as she walked past Shellie in her "secret hiding place".

Marisa would continue walking, still "searching", as Shellie would very quietly come out from underneath the chair and stay directly behind Marisa, following her, but not giving herself away, at all. Finally, after 2 or 3 minutes, Marisa would turn around and act "so surprised" that Shellie was right there. Such excitement would ensue! I must say, though, that Shellie and Marisa weren't the only ones that enjoyed this game of "hide and seek". My mom, and I enjoyed it, every bit as much as they did. It never got "old" for any of us.

My brother gave us a "Neurotic Dog Lives Here" sign, to put on our door, because Shellie hated him and would run right into the bottom of the refrigerator and fall down, every time he came to our home. He had a deep voice and was a smoker, maybe that's why she reacted in such a way. We never knew, for sure, why she didn't like him.

When Shellie was quite young, she had a bladder stone, the full size of her bladder, at about 2" x 1 1/2" x 1/2". Amazingly, the veterinarian said that it was the largest bladder stone that he had ever removed from a dog her size. He kept the stone and used it in training future veterinarians. Shellie was only 12 pounds, when full grown. Once that stone was removed, she never had any other health issues, thankfully.

I've had 3 other Shelties, since Shellie, but none of them ever took her place. Each one of them was special in his or her own way. Chelsea, another Sable colored, was the sweetest, by far. Kody, a Blue Merle Shelty, was the only boy. He had ice blue eyes and was the biggest and oversized, but, oh so beautiful.

Bianca, also, was a Blue Merle. She had one blue eye and one brown eye. She was, probably, the naughtiest...squatting to "pee" in my dining room, while looking right at me as I would screech "NO!", with absolutely no effect. With that said, Bianca was going to have to find a new home. My daughter, Marisa, now with a family of her own, decided that Bianca's new home would be at their house, which worked out, relatively, well. As long as they kept one particular room gated off, Bianca didn't disrespect the privilege of living there. On the other hand, if someone forgot to put that gate up...old habits resurfaced, but, they loved her. Marisa has an amazing love for animals, and their home is best described as a menagerie, these days.

I've recently retired, and I'm enjoying the freedom of coming and going, whenever the desire "hits" me. So, I don't have any pets, at this time, I believe that someday, maybe when I'm more apt to stay home, I will most likely, again, want to add a "little love" to my home.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finding Uncle Alvan Waller By Tom Kinsella

This is the first part of a series of stories about one of our TaylorBaker ancestors, Alvan F. Waller. Alvan was younger brother to Orrin Waller, father of Cordelia (Waller) Taylor, mother of B. W. Taylor, father of Lloyd Taylor, who was CB Kinsella’s dad, and my grandfather. If I calculate correctly, this makes Alvan my great, great, great Uncle.

In brief (and it’s actually a very long story), Uncle Alvan was an early Methodist missionary who left Elba, New York in 1839, departed on the ship Lausanne from New York City with his wife and three children, sailed around Cape Horn, made a brief stop in Hawaii, and finally arrived after seven months in the territory of Oregon in the summer of 1840. Along with 50 others on board, Alvan and his family were reinforcements for the earliest Methodist missionaries who had arrived in Oregon 5 years earlier. For the next eight years Alvan served as missionary among the aboriginal peoples and had many noteworthy adventures. In 1848, Oregon became a part of the United States, and Alvan’s missionary work among the Indians came to an end, but he continued to do God’s work, helping to build several Methodist churches in Oregon and playing a crucial role in the founding of Willamette University. But more on the actual details of Uncle Alvan’s life in later entries. Here I want to give you a brief description of the fun I’ve had tracking down his literary remains.

A long time ago, when I was in graduate school in Philadelphia, I needed to complete some research at the Rosenbach Library and Museum, also in Philadelphia. PENN, where I went to school, had some early editions of Robinson Crusoe; the Rosenbach had others. I wanted to read them all. So I made an appointment, walked the twenty blocks to the Rosenbach, and started to read the second and third editions. This was tiring work -- and a little boring -- so at one point I stood up, stretched, and peered into the glass-encased bookcases that lined the walls. Two volumes caught my attention. Their spines read simply “A. F. Waller, Oregon.” Not long before I had been reading Great, Great Grandma Cordelia’s journals and knew that she had an Uncle Waller in Oregon, and that on one trip back from East he had baptized her son B. W. Taylor (that is Bryant Waller Taylor). It turned out that the library had two of Alvan’s early journals, one dating from late 1839 when on board the Lausanne; the other from 1845 when he was living among and proselytizing the natives of Oregon. I came back to the Rosenbach a time or two and quickly read the journals and also, of course, told Mom (CB) about them.

Flash forward to early 2013, about 25 years after I first rapidly read Uncle Alvan’s journals. I received a letter from my mother asking that I get my butt in gear. “I’m getting Old,” she wrote. “Please go back and read those journals more thoroughly.” So, given this polite nudge, I returned to the Rosenbach about a month ago and began to reread the journals. Wonderful stuff. Wait till I tell you about them in later entries (but not yet).

As I was chatting with the librarian, she suggested that other papers having to do with Waller might have survived. She told me to check the archives of Willamette University, which is one of the Western Methodist repositories; she also told me to check out the archives of Drew University in New Jersey, which is the repository for the Methodist archives nationally. She essentially said, “start digging.”

I went home after that and told Christine Farina, my partner, about the journals. She commented, “Think about it, you Kinsellas, or Taylors, or Bakers, whoever, you all write, write, write. You know, don’t you, that your Uncle must have written like that too.” So, I began to write archives asking about Uncle Alvan, and I began to go on-line, and what I have found so far has staggered me.

First, I find that the Oregon Historical Society in Portland has at least two more journals from the period when Uncle Alvan was an active missionary (they may have as many as four more journals, although two may be copies of the Rosenbach journals, I’m not sure yet). They also have several letters to and from Uncle Alvan. The University of Puget Sound in Washington has no journals, but they have at least 5 letters from Uncle Alvan. I have seen copies of these letters, which are reports back to the Missionary Society in NYC. They are fascinating. Willamette University wrote me back and said that they have no letters from Uncle Alvan, although many letters to him. They asked whether I knew (I did not) that the oldest building on campus, for years the only building -- essentially the heart of the college -- was built with money raised from the local community by Uncle Alvan, and that it was named Waller Hall in his honor.

Waller Hall at Willamette University, Oregon

Uncle Alvan is mentioned in dozens of histories of Oregon and of the Methodist Missionaries in that state, sometimes very extensively. And there is an on-line repository of Oregon’s Historical newspapers that when searched, also turns up many articles about him.

So, I am heading to Philadelphia about every other week to continue carefully rereading the original journals, and I am planning an early summer trip to Oregon to read the materials in Portland and to visit Uncle Alvan’s university. There are many, many interesting details of his missionary life that I have already turned up and more to come surely. Let me simply close by suggesting that our Uncle Alvan was in the middle of history making (good & bad) on the west coast. I’ll report more soon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

'Coming Home' -- A Poem for Spring, by Joan Tiffany Doran

Last Autumn, Mom and Dad exchanged emails with Mom's first cousin and his wife, Tom and Joan Doran. Dad had just gotten out of the hospital and was resting up at home. Joan ended her email with:

"We hope Jack is recovering nicely--usually returning home is the best medicine. That reminds me of one of my poems, which I'll attach, with love.

--Joan (Tom, too)"

Joan and Tom Doran


Today, a silent robin claims the cherry tree
and sits immobile on the topmost branch.
You’d hardly notice him at first,
but then you’d realize

his is the peace of resting after long travail.
Lately, he was just a speck against the sky,
churning through the winds
that seemed to blow the other way,

but always, he was flying toward this tree,
though its blossoms are still closed,
its fruits still to be set, its branches
waiting for the nest.

He’ll rest a little while, this traveler,
while snow melts from the mountainside,
spring rivers overflow their banks,
the valleys flush at last with green–

and in good time, the nest will fill,
the time to sing will come.
But when your passage has been long
and your only compass, thoughts of home,
just being home at last is song enough.

Thanks, Joan! And, Happy Spring to All Cousins!