Friday, October 31, 2008

October Featured Relative of the Month, No. 3

: What is the ghost’s favorite bedtime story?

Our granddaughter L was born the day before Halloween, and has been a spunky redhead from the start.

She has been singing since she was a baby. Once when she was 2 1/2 years old, I was singing with her and her sisters. When I taught them a round, she looked quickly from one to the next, trying to figure out when to start singing. For the rest of the visit she went around singing, "Hey, Ho, nobody home".

She started lessons in a singing/dancing performance group at a young age, and now is an accomplished dancer, and has won awards in both singing and dance competitions. She loves singing the oldies, and also plays two instruments.

She now sings harmony, is the youngest member of her church choir, and has entertained at nursing homes and a senior citizens luncheon.

She has always had an amazing vocabulary for her age, and just this week wrote us a really great letter.

She is outgoing, makes friends easily, and loves babies and animals.

In 1998, the year L was born,
gas was $1.12 a gallon.

On TV: L's family watched Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, The X-Files, Babylon 5 and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.

Some movies that year were: Air Bud, Golden Retriever; Babe, Pig in the City, The Rugrats Movie, Mighty Joe Young and Dr. Dolittle.

New toys were Olympic Gymnast Barbie, Furby, Giga Pets, Bug's Life Toys, Bouncing Tigger, Teletubbies, Tickle Me Elmo and Tamagotchi. The furry "pet" called Furby was animated with 6 built-in sensors that let it react to movement, light, darkness and touch. It sold out as soon as it hit the stores. Furby opened and closed its eyes, wiggled its ears, and spoke in English and "Furbish".

Here are some facts about the past 10 years.
A Timeline For L:
1993-2000: William Clinton was president of US until age 2
1998: 1st MP3 player sold; 1st 1 GHz microprocessor - DEC Alpha CPU
1999: Pokémon begins; Apple Computer releases first iBook, age 1
2000: PlayStation II sold - most powerful video system to date, age 2
2001-2009: George W. Bush is president of US from age 3 until age 10
2001: Satellite Radio begins; Wikipedia goes online; X-Box console sells, age 3
2002: Euro currency introduced, age 4
2004: Water found on Mars by Odyssey Lander, age 6
2005: Microsoft ships Xbox 360, age 7
2006: PlayStation 3 ships from Sony; Wii first sold, age 8
2007: Comet McNaught swings by the sun - extremely bright, age 9

Riddle answer: Ghoul-dilocks and the Three Scares

Halloween In Our Family, Part Two

: What do witches use on their hair on Halloween?

1973, R has a real ladies' blond wig, and Grampy built a frame to make him really tall. Notice the small opening in his coat so he can see out and breathe.

1974, same costume and wig for R, but now L is wearing the coat.

1974, L and R going to a church party. R's vest from a past year is now small, but she has fringed plastic pants and a really, really tall feather. L is wearing Grampy's old bathrobe, my rollers and hairnet, and white facial night cream on her face.

1975, L wearing Grampy's clothes and cap, R still wearing the blonde wig.

1975, R as an alien. Yes, she's wearing a white trash bag, and those are decorated milk jugs on her feet.

1976, R as Wonder Woman in the elementary school parade.

1977, R wearing her sister's Karate Gi, going to a Primary party.

1977, R in her classroom at Lincoln School.
"Ho, Ho, Ho, Green Giant."

1977, R as the Jolly Green Giant in the school parade.

1978, R as a gypsy at the Lincoln School parade.

1980, R as a gypsy, in 7th grade at Junior High.

1988, B and L

1988, I answered the doorbell, candy dish in hand, and found this scary creature. Just Grampy coming home from work wearing his lunchbox on his head.

Riddle answer: Scare spray

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween In Our Family, Part One

: What do the birds sing on Halloween?

Olden Times
Halloween 1953
Grampy says:
When I was 11, I was in 6th grade and lived on North St, on Munjoy Hill in Portland, ME. I walked a mile to school every day, so I knew my trick-or-treat route, mostly 2 and 3- family houses, very well.
Being older than my brother, my legs were stronger going up the stairs of all those three-deckers. I was also able to stay out later, so I made two runs, filling up my pillowcase twice!
While I was out the second time, wearing my costume of an Indian mask with a feather and blanket, I saw 2 macho athlete guys from my class. They weren’t in costume, and said they were too old to trick-or-treat, and thought maybe I was, too. Not me! I was a little embarrassed, but got over it thinking how big that second load of candy was!
I also went to all the little corner stores in the neighborhood, and even the local Delicatessen, who gave out cold cuts wrapped in wax paper. It was almost 9:00 pm when I finally got home.

Halloween 1955
Grammy says:
As a child, I didn't go trick or treating. My father didn't give out treats, either. Our house was kept dark so no one would come to the door. We lived on a busy 4-lane highway with woods all around, not in a neighborhood where I could walk to any houses or any children could walk to ours. Once I saw children in costumes getting ice cream cones at Foley's Ice Cream Stand across the road. I begged and pleaded, and my father finally walked me across. I wore a black Lone Ranger mask. I was too shy to say anything, but was handed a cone with a tiny dab of ice cream. I was so thrilled.
In 1955, when I was 13 and in 8th grade, a school friend invited me to a party at her church. We went to a costume rental store and got real beaded 1920's flapper dresses.

In 1965, my mother bought L her first Halloween costume, complete with tomahawk.

Grampy, L and baby R in 1968

In 1969, L had a cast on her fractured wrist, but she also is wearing makeup, my tiara, her Grammy's rhinestone necklace and white plastic zippered Go Go boots!

R in 1969

In 1970, L is a long-haired bride and R is wearing last
year's red tutu. Our foster child D is wearing L's past Indian suit.

In 1971, L is a bejeweled gypsy, and R is in an Indian vest and headband.

L and R at the Lincoln Elementary School parade, 1971.

1971, R, L and Grampy, who has put a mask on a snowmobile helmet far above his head.

1972, cowgirl R, front and side view

1972, L wears Grampy's track shoes, back before running shoes were invented. They were made with turned-up toes, so were perfect for clown shoes.

1972, R wears L's Indian suit 7 years later. Grampy's shoes are even funnier with L wearing them on the wrong feet.

1972, Grampy looking sinister in regular clothes, and R as a fanged witch in a bathrobe.

1972, Now Grampy is the fanged witch, and has powdered his beard to look older. He hasn't had to do that in a looong time!

1972, Leaping through the doorway and scaring the cat, it looks like Grampy's had more than his share of candy this Halloween!

1972, Grampy at Oak Hill, with my father's police hat, jacket, gun belt, night stick and flashlight. The beard and love beads complete his outfit as a hippie cop.

1972, Can you tell that Halloween was Grampy's favorite holiday? Lots of candy and getting to dress like this! Click on this photo to enlarge it and see my Dad in the mirror.

Riddle answer: twick or tweet

Monday, October 27, 2008

October Featured Relative of the Month, No. 2

: What do you get when you cross Bambi with a ghost?

Merrill Granville Frost was born Oct 24, 1909 in Bar Harbor (then named Eden), Maine, the youngest of 4 brothers. He grew up at 4 Davis Place, where his parents lived for the rest of their lives.

Photo: Merrill, age 6

In his youth, he was a caddy at the Bar Harbor golf course, where many rich and famous tourists played. He was also on the survey team that laid out the road up Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the highest point on the North American Atlantic coast.

Merrill graduated from Bar Harbor High School in 1927; he wrote the class ode:

Bar Harbor High we leave you now and sing a sad farewell,
We hate to leave you dear old High, the school we love so well.
Our goal now lies in front of us and we must say good-bye,
But we'll recall those good old days in dear Bar Harbor High.

Dear friends and teachers, the time has come when we must say good-bye,
We'll always think of those wonderful days in old Bar Harbor High.
Each one a different road will take as we leave Bar Harbor High,
And now we'll say to all of you farewell, dear friends -- good-bye.

He spent a month that summer in a Citizens Military Training Camp held at Fort McKinley on Great Diamond Island, part of Portland, ME. CMTC camps differed from National Guard and Reserves training in that the program (1921-1940) allowed men to obtain basic military training without an obligation to be called-up for active duty.
He married a Mt. Desert Island girl and had 2 daughters. She divorced him, moved out of state, and remarried. He rarely saw his little girls.
He married again while working in the shipyard, and was a great Dad to Grampy and brother J for the rest of his life.
He was drafted into the Army and spent 1945 in the Philippines, earning several medals and ribbons for Sharpshooting, Good Conduct, etc.
He was employed as a route salesman for Coca Cola, and for 2 1/2 years (1942-44) by New England Shipbuilding Corp., So. Portland, ME as a first class shipfitter, but for most of his life Merrill Frost was a salesman of electrical appliances, both retail and wholesale.

Grampy says:
Dad never said anything bad to me or my brother J, but he did often say that he hoped we'd have two just like us!
He was such a trouper in serving the family. He spent every Saturday doing laundry, working around the house, and cleaning out the coal furnace. He brought home wood pallets from the appliance store where he worked, and split the boards for furnace kindling.
Once in Gorham when we were putting wood down cellar, I complained that my brother wasn't keeping up. Dad explained that it was all right because I was older and really strong. It made me so proud that he thought I was strong that I worked harder than ever.
Once after supper, Dad said J and I should thank our mother for the good meal by doing the dishes. Did I want to wash or dry? It was the one time I gave him a real dirty look, the only thing I've always wished I could take back.
When he was home, J and I spent time with him listening to the radio, watching TV and playing games like Canasta and Cribbage.
He always had strong family ties, and took us to Bar Harbor to visit our grandparents and cousins.

My Dad never gave me a spanking in my entire life. There was always intelligent encouragement instead. I knew he loved me.

From 1957 on he worked at the Hospital Pharmacy near Maine Medical Center in Portland. I (Grammy) knew him during those years as always kind, quiet and generous.
He loved his grandaughter L, and brought her a silver dollar in an envelope with "Love from Grampa" on it each time he visited. At every visit he also brought huge T-bone steaks for all of us for dinner, which I had never seen before.
He gave us our first TV, his black and white set, when he got a color TV. He said he wanted L to be able to watch Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo, Howdy Doody and Bozo the Clown like other kids. It would have been years before we could have afforded one.

Photo: We visited him in Portland on his last day.

A Dec 1966 news article reads: Man, 57, dies in fire after saving others - Portland, Maine (UPI) - Merrill G. Frost, 57, died Monday in an apartment house fire as he ran through the building warning tenants of the danger. Frost apparently was overcome by smoke and asphyxiated as he tried to arouse the four families who lived in the Ellsworth Street building with him, authorities said. The other occupants escaped without injury. The building was heavily damaged by the two-hour fire. Cause of the blaze was not known. [It was overheated Christmas tree lights, left on for days, that set the dried-out tree on fire]

His obituary reads: Portland - Merrill (Jack) G. Frost, 57, of 39 Ellsworth Street died Sunday evening [25 Dec, 1966] at his residence. He was born at Bar Harbor, Oct 24, 1909, the son of Irving and the late Inez (Dunham) Frost. He attended Bar Harbor schools and served with the U.S Army during World War Two, and later was employed as an appliance salesman at Portland and surrounding towns. He had been with the Hospital Pharmacy [in Portland] since 1957. He is survived by 2 sons, R of Lynn, Mass.; J, stationed with the U.S. Navy in London, England; 2 daughters, Beverley and Judy of CT; 3 brothers, Carroll of Bar Harbor, Nolan of Brewer, Stuart of CA; several grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at the McFarland Funeral Home, Bar Harbor [ME]. [A funeral was also held in Portland for his family, friends and co-workers.] He was buried in Lot 48E, Ledgelawn Cemetery, Bar Harbor, ME, near his parents.

Riddle Answer: BamBOO

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October Featured Relative of the Month, No. 1

: What do prisoners use to call each other?

This is the only riddle I ever heard Dad tell:
Riddle #2: What lies on the bottom of the ocean and twitches?

Note: Pictures 2, 3, 4, and 5 are not family photos, but from the internet.

George Gilbert Nickerson was always called Gilbert or Gib by his family, George when he moved to southern Maine, and Nick by his co-workers through the years and everyone in Scarborough, where he worked for 32 years. He was born Oct 17, 1920 on a potato farm in the small town of Fort Fairfield, Aroostook, Maine, on the Canadian border. With a population in 2000 of 3,579, and an area of 75 square miles, there are still only 47 people per sq. mile. He was the 5th child of 6 (the 4th died as an infant) and second son.
Photo: Dad and Laddie in his front yard, 1930.

He grew up with a dog, a horse, and plenty of farm chores. He proudly told us that by age 9 he drove the tractor (and sometimes the horse team) in the potato fields. He was too small to lift potato barrels, so his driving freed a man to do the heavy work. He learned to plow, harrow and spray the fields driving in a straight line down the furrows, and this skill got him promoted to Corporal in the Army. He said he could strike off and march in a straight line all day, unlike the rest of the troops, so he was made their leader.

After potatoes, the second most plentiful crop in his
hometown was snow. He said that he could ice skate on his birthday each year. Last winter (2007-08) set a new record for total snowfall in the town, 198 inches!

Dad's winter school bus looked like this. They each had a tiny wood stove inside.
In good weather they drove their pony and cart to school.

In 1920: The National Prohibition Act against alcohol (18th Amendment) went into effect January 16, 1920.
Women's suffrage, (the 19th Amendment) allowing women to vote, was ratified.
The first Agatha Christie mystery was published in October. (For extra points, what was the title? First correct answer wins)
Formal radio broadcasting began on Nov 2, when station KDKA in Pittsburgh announced the Harding-Cox presidential election returns.

When he was married in 1941, and for the duration of World War II, he worked in the South Portland, ME shipyard. This photo was taken the day I was born.

His grandaughter L wrote this eulogy on 6 Aug 2004:

(Photo: 1969) My Grampy

Duty, Honor, Loyalty -- these are words to live by for a man who was born 83 years ago. George Gilbert Nickerson was born October 17, 1920, the 2nd youngest of 6 children to Herbert Nickerson and Floss McDougall. He was raised on a potato farm in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine.
He was large in stature, and large in spirit. In second grade he was as tall as his teacher, so he said. No stranger to hard work, he labored on the family farm.
His life changed as the world changed during World War II. He joined the service, and the young man from the cold north was sent to tropical Panama. He became ill and was sent to San Francisco to recuperate.
He made friends with Al Trout. He met and married Dorothy Trout, settled down in Oak Hill, Scarborough, Maine, and had two children.
He was a man of his time, known by many names. Called Gilbert by his sisters and brother, Nick by his fellow police officers and close friends and George by all others. I knew he was really Jolly Old St. Nick.

At the age of 40, he became my Grampy. From my earliest memory, I knew that Grampy was Santa Claus. For many years he was the town Santa, visiting schools and riding in the Christmas Parade. I was the luckiest kid on the planet. His secret was safe with me.
Photo: 1962
He loved the outdoors, and enjoyed gardening and hunting. Using nicknames from the outdoors, he called me "Punkin" and my sister R was "Skeeter."
I have fond memories of listening to the police-band radio, waiting for his voice to say, "Code 11" as he pulled in the dooryard. Then I could explore a real police car and hear stories of protecting the citizens of Scarborough and Prout's Neck.
He had a sharp sense of humor. We often enjoyed a battle of wits across the holiday dinner table. His demeanor mellowed with time, and the rough edges of younger days became smoother. He found it easier to share tender feelings in later years. In rare moments, he told me some of his hopes and dreams.Those are very precious memories.
He became the Great-Grampy of 6. My children S and R and my sister's 4 - B, C, L, and A. Although he was a man of few words, we mostly visited on the phone. When I called he'd say, "How's the weather? It's your nickel, do you want to talk with Grammy?"
He dedicated his retirement years to caring for Grammy. After her passing last Sept., he told me although he wished she had been able to travel in retirement, he said, "I never minded taking care of her."
August 23, 2004 marks 63 years since they were married. They have only been separated a short time, and will be together again this anniversary.
I know that we will see them again, free from physical pain and the cares of this world. Duty, Honor and Loyalty are the legacy of George Gilbert Nickerson. I love my Grampy.

Riddle Answer: Cell phones
Riddle #2 Answer: A nervous wreck

Monday, October 20, 2008

Generations of Men: A Family Photo Album, Part 2

: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

Here are the rest of the photos of men, those on my side of the family.

My father's side:

Generation 4
4. George Gilbert Nickerson
1920 - 2004 ME
Police Officer for 32 years
Photo, 1927

5. Herbert O. Nickerson
1880 - 1939 ME
Potato farmer

6. My grandmother's father:
Alexander Donald MacDougal
1839 - 1922 ME
Potato farmer and
country storekeeper
Photo, 1915
50th anniversary

My mother's side:

Generation 5
5. Francis Leroy "Leroy" Trout
1892 - 1934 NJ
Bookkeeper and Nurse
Photo, 1916

6. Francis Lee "Frank" Trout
1868 DE - 1932 NJ
Country storekeeper
Wedding photo, 1889 NJ

7. Archibald Trout
1836 - 1915 NJ
Farmer and milkman

Riddle Answer: Frostbite