Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Four Darts

Pictured above from left to right:  Odile, Mary, Louisa and Desire Dart (or so I'm told)

Odile, Mary, Louisa and Desire Dart are four of the twelve known children of Jean Baptiste Dart Sr and Marie Josephe Podor.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Gone, But Never Forgotten

I've posted before about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and their goal to put a photo with every name on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Of course, not literally on the wall, but for now they have a virtual wall and if you know someone on that wall, please head over to the Virtual Wall and see if there is a picture for that person.  You can also search by city and see who is missing a picture.  It would be a wonderful contribution to find pictures of those brave service members in yearbooks or newspapers and upload them to the site.

This post tonight is in memory of a young man who made the ultimate sacrifice during Vietnam.  I came across his photo in my family scrapbook.  I don't know if he's related to my family in any way or if the newspaper article was clipped because he was a friend of the family.  The Smeesters attended the same church as my family, SS. Peter and Paul in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  Maybe I'll find out if there is a connection someday, maybe it will remain a mystery, either way I take tonight's post to dedicate to Daniel's memory.  I recently spoke to a high school friend of Daniel's.  He found out about Daniel's death while he was still in training with the Army.  Daniel was his "angel on his shoulder" as he served in Vietnam and remains his angel to this day.  He was kind enough to send me pictures of Daniel's grave, military marker and the military monument.  Thank you David for being such a true, dear friend to Daniel and his memory.  I know you miss him terribly.

Green Bay Press-Gazette
"Cpl. Daniel Smeester

Corporal Daniel Smeester, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Alex Smeester Jr., 1019 Harvey St., was killed in action in Vietnam on Saturday, July 1.  He attended SS. Peter and Paul grade school and graduated from East High School in 1965.  He was employed by the American Can Corporation prior to entering service in May 1966.

Survivors include his parents, his mother is the former Eleanor Turensky; two brothers, James and Thomas; paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Smeester Sr.; maternal grandmother, Mrs. Louis Turensky; all of Green Bay.

At Malcore Funeral Home after 6:30 p.m. Saturday.  Rosary 8:00 p.m. each evening, Sunday by Msgr. Peter Skell.  Funeral services Monday 10:00 a.m., SS. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.  Burial in Allouez Cemetery.  Graveside military rites by the American Legion Sullivan-Wallen Post No. 11."

[Thank you to David Peterson for emailing me these pictures to share so we all can remember Daniel as well]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Military Monday - Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery

Last Monday morning as I got the kids ready for school I saw the front page of the newspaper and saw the memorial for the casualties for Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery will be adding the casualties for 2011 onto the 2010 monument and it will be dedicated on Memorial Day 2012.  Why are they adding the names onto an existing stone instead of adding a new monument like they had in previous years?  Well, thankfully for 2010 there were only 10 casualties that were either from Central Texas or were stationed in Central Texas.

Don't get me wrong.  Ten casualties is 10 too many and I look forward to the day when we aren't adding anymore names, but I am grateful that the monument is not like the others...full, or mostly full.  I will head over to the cemetery after the monument is dedicated and get a photo of both sides (one side is a list of names, the other is for photos).

I am posting the list of names published on January 23rd, 2010 in the Killeen Daily Herald.  I know that many people have visited my site looking for names on the memorials.  If you know someone on this list has their name is spelled incorrectly (I double checked my spelling so that it matched the news article), please contact Patrick Turck at patrickturck@yahoo.com or (254) 681-2224 if there is a mistake, if you have a photo to submit for one of the fallen, or if someone's name is completely missing.  Please note that I am fully aware that the abbreviations for some of the ranks are incorrect.  This is the way that they are on the memorials.  Please contact Mr. Turck if the rank is incorrect (not the abbreviation).

Roll Call
Spc. David A. Croft Jr
Spc. Christian M. Adams
Capt. Jason E Holbrook
Pfc. Alexis V. Maldonado
Pfc. Diego M. Montoya
Pfc. Barbara Vieyra
Sgt. Mark A. Simpson
Spc. Donald S. Morrison
Pfc. David R. Jones Jr.
Cpl. Shawn D. Fannin
Pfc. David D. Finch
Sgt. Michael P. Bartley
Sgt. Martin Lamar
Staff Sgt. Mecolus C. Mcdaniel
Staff Sgt. Christian S. Garcia
Staff Sgt. Quadi S. Hudgins
Staff Sgt. Jorge A. Scatliffe
Sgt. Vorasack T. Xaysana
Pfc. Antonio D. Stiggins
1st Lt. Omar J. Vazquez
Spc. Robert M. Friese
Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau
Pfc. Matthew J. England
Staff Sgt. Nicholas P. Bellard
Sgt. Glenn M. Sewell
Staff Sgt. Russell J. Proctor
Spc. Dylan J. Johnson
Spc. Matthew R. Gallagher
Sgt. Robert G. Tenney Jr.
Capt. Matthew G. Nielson
Capt. David E. Vancamp
Sgt. Steven L. Talamantez
Cpl. Frank R. Gross
Staff Sgt. Estevan Altamirano
Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro
Sgt. Paul A. Rivera
Capt. Shawn P.T. Charles
Sgt. John A. Lyons
Pfc. Adam E. Dobereiner
Sgt. Noah M. Korte
Spc. Kurt W. Kern
Pfc. Justin M. Whitmire

May our Soldiers come home soon.

[To view my other blog posts on this memorial just click on the year to be taken to that post: 2002-2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010]

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Mrs. Odile Dart

Back to trying to sort out my husband's Dart line with another news clipping from an old family scrapbook.

Odile was my husband's great grand aunt and I actually have her and her late husband, Jule, already in my family tree...and with all their kids!  Yay!  I did not have Odile's date of death in the tree though.  I've noticed that in my collection of clippings, the hand-written dates have (so far) always referred to the date of event.  I verified this by checking on Ancestry.com and found Odile in the Wisconsin Death Index, 1959-1997.  Now the date is in my tree and both the clipping and the Death Index have been cited.

While the newspaper has no publication information, I did see from the Death Index that she died in Brown county.  I see from the obituary that her service was at SS. Peter and Paul Church and she was buried in Allouez Cemetery.  While the name for the church is quite common, the three of those are not and it is most likely that this clipping (like most others I have) came from the Green Bay Press-Gazette.  I will, of course, verify the next time I head up to Wisconsin.
May 1960, Green Bay Press-Gazette

"Mrs. Odile Dart [hand-dated May 7, 1960]

Mrs. Odile Dart, 539 Henry St., died at a local nursing home this morning following a brief illness.

She was born Odile Motquin in Brussels and married Jule Dart 56 years at Brussels.  They had farmed in Maplewood until 15 years ago.  Her husband preceded her in death in 1949.

Survivors include three sons, Louis of Green Bay, Julius of Gardner, Door County, and Melvin of Sturgeon Bay; two daughters, Mrs. William (Anna) Lemense with whom she lived and Mrs. Lillian Claflin of Two Rivers; 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren; one sister, Mrs. Josephine Herlache of Green Bay; on brother, Frank Motquin, Green Bay.

Friends may call at Malcore Funeral Home after 6:30 Sunday evening.  The Rosary will be recited Sunday and Monday evening, Monday by the Rev. Peter Skell of SS. Peter and Paul Church and burial will be in Allouez Cemetery."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sports Center Saturday - I Will Remember You, Joe Paterno

This week a great a legendary coach passed away and was laid to rest.  Joe Paterno died on Sunday, January 22nd at the age of 85 after a brief battle with lung cancer.  While the end of his life was marred by the scandal at Penn State, I am not going to be going into that here except to say that while we all wish more had been done, I believe that Paterno thought he had done enough at the time.  Many ask how people like me can hold Coach Paterno in such high regards considering the Penn State scandal. Perhaps I can explain...

I was born in 1972.  I'm going to be 40 years old this year.  Joe Paterno had been the head coach for Penn State University for 46 years, and he had worked with the Penn State football team for 61 years. I am from Pennsylvania, and while I didn't become a football fan until I married a man from Green Bay I still grew up knowing Joe Paterno's name.  Pretty amazing since no one in my family watched football. There has never been a time in my life that Joe Paterno's name was not around and associated with Penn State Football. He was loved and respected by all, whether or not you gave a rat's butt about football.

Additionally, those of us from Pennsylvania (and probably the neighboring states) would look at Joe Paterno and we would see a sweet, cuddly man.  Sorry, but I see a picture of Paterno and I just want to hug him.  He is very much a grandfather figure to many of us, and who doesn't love a grandpa?

Is it natural to feel this way about someone you've never met?  From a college that I didn't even attend? No...it's not, but he was no ordinary man.  His coaching record was no ordinary record.  And his tenure at Penn State was of no ordinary length.  He truly was one in a million and I would say that most people that live/lived in Pennsylvania or that attended Penn State probably feel like a little piece of them is gone right now.  A piece of sports history and Pennsylvania history has written it's final chapter, and it's sad when such an epic tale ends.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Birth that Didn't Go According to Plan

Yes, he's wearing a Green Bay Packer onsie!
Happy 11th birthday to my wonderful, awesome, gorgeous, intelligent son, Benjamin!

I always wanted to have children.  I was that little girl that wanted to be a mommy, so I was ecstatic when I found out less than a month after our church wedding, that I was pregnant.  We weren't shocked or anything.  We planned it. I'm a planner.  I like a good plan and the more detailed the better.  Heck, I used to pack for Summer vacation in the early Spring!

Anyway, my husband and I were stationed in Hawaii and we tried to decide when having a baby would be the best for our careers and for our units' training schedules.  It finally dawned on us after comparing his unit's schedule and my unit's schedule  that having a baby would never be convenient for the Army, so we decided to start trying immediately and had immediate success.

The guys at work were very supportive of me being pregnant.  They were awesome and didn't treat me any differently.  Sure I had a profile now, but I was able to do pretty much everything I did before except really heavy lifting and I had to stay away from certain chemicals.  I even went "to the field" a couple times while pregnant.  I was asked if I wanted to move to headquarters while pregnant and gave a resounding (or was it deafening) response of "NO WAY IN HELL!"  You don't leave your buddies...pregnant or not.

I had some crazy cravings when I was pregnant with Benjamin...bologna sandwiches (this grossed my husband out), and broccoli with LOTS of butter.  The guys in my platoon joked that they should buy stock in Junior Mints with how I was eating them!

I was no small pregnant chick!
My pregnancy was uneventful.  I had to take a 3-hour glucose test (yuck) because there was a concern that I might have gestational diabetes, but after getting stuck with a needle four times in three hours by a very inexperienced med-tech, it came back that I was good to go.  There was lots of morning sickness, although I would get sick around the clock.  My husband joked that, "It's always morning somewhere!"  I suppose so but that didn't make me feel any better as I leaned over the toilet, holding my hair crying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  Note-to-self:  Do not eat kimchi when suffering from morning sickness.  That burns coming back up!

About halfway through my pregnancy the sickness just stopped and I felt better.  I was huge, but felt better.  When you're in the Army, you have to stay in shape and watch your weight.  Not when you're pregnant and I took advantage of that.  I was afraid that with my throwing up that the baby wasn't getting enough food (HA!) so if I ate and then threw up, I would eat again.  How silly I was!  I weighed 127 pounds before I got pregnant.  By the time I gave birth I weighed 183!  Not the 25-30 pounds of weight gain they tell you about.  My First Sergeant would joke that I now weighed more than he did....but it was really no joke...I did!

So an easy pregnancy, and eventually it came time for the ultrasound. I wondered if they would be able to tell what our baby was, but Ben was asleep and lying there legs wide open, just showing the world that he was a little boy!  So we new the gender now, and had to find a name.

Daddy finally gets to see his boy

Noah, was what we decided on.  Noah Romand.  We knew that we wanted Romand for his middle name.  Romand Kuehl was my husband's maternal grandfather, although we were saying and spelling it as "Roman" until just before filling out the birth certificate.  Luckily we checked!  But as you can tell, Noah is a Benjamin.  I would love to say that I wasn't hormonal when I was pregnant, but that would be a bold-faced lie and my husband would no doubt let everyone know that in a comment to this post! One day, he came home from work and I just started blubbering that I didn't like the name, "Noah" and didn't want to name the baby that.  It's not that Noah is a bad name.  In fact one of my dearest friends ended up having a son around the same time as me and named her son Noah, but when you're hormonal, you're hormonal! OK...no Noah, but what to name him?  We had no idea.

A peaceful moment
My pregnancy continued and soon it was difficult to tie my combat boots (and yes, I wore them the entire pregnancy...no sneakers for this old sergeant!).  The guys in the platoon office would get a kick out of (or was it get freaked out by...) my stomach just moving.  I would sit there at the end of the day or at lunch with my BDU top off and they could see my bump under the brown t-shirt move.  The guys said it looked like something from Alien.  I just thought it was neat as heck.

The end of my pregnancy was nearing.  My due date was January 27th and the baby had been head-down for weeks.  Dr. Ellis (our awesome baby doctor that was also a good friend of my aunt and uncle) had to go away for just under a week, but he set me up with another doctor to see for the one appointment he would be missing.  He promised that he would be back before my due date.  I had had no contractions yet, and being my first pregnancy he wasn't too concerned about me going into labor early.  What could go wrong...right?

During that one visit with the other doctor I found out that my plan had a pretty major kink in it.  The doctor measured my belly and then felt it.  He told me that the baby was breech.  I told him that it just couldn't be.  My baby had been head down for over a month.  He sent me for an ultrasound to confirm it and to check the size of the baby.  Yep.  Breech.  We were also told by the technician that  the baby weighed around 8 pounds, give or take an ounce.  At that diagnosis the nurse that was in the room put her hands on my belly and commented, "Eight pounds?  Feels more like you have 2 five pound bags of sugar in there!"  Let's just say that she was closer than the tech was...

A daddy-Benjamin moment in the hospital
So we had to discuss options.  Luckily, with my aunt (a nurse/midwife) and my uncle (a doctor) living in Hawaii, calling them was a no brainer and they came out to be with us and to help us with our decision.  I was getting a little scared. Our options were to do nothing (not really an option), induce labor (I didn't want to do this and deliver a baby breech...plus the labor could last for days with an induction and I wasn't thrilled about that), or they could attempt an External Cephalic Version (ECV) and turn the baby.  If it was successful, they would induce me so I could have the baby before he turned again.  If it wasn't successful, they would go straight to a C-section so that I wouldn't go into labor breech.  We opted for the last option. I was feeling a bit harassed by some of the staff (not my doctors) for not just trying to deliver breech.  I kept saying no, and they kept coming back.  Like if they asked a million times, I would eventually say, OK.  "Why not try?  He's not a really big baby or anything," they would say.  I think my aunt or uncle finally said something to them, because shortly after I told them that the staff was beginning to upset me with their pestering, it stopped.  Have I mentioned that my aunt and uncle are awesome!?!

So on my due-date I was given an epidural and they attempted the ECV.  What is an ECV? Essentially, what they do is push the baby out of the birth canal and attempt to turn him.  So there's a lot of pushing on your belly from the outside.  The epidural was to help with the pain and so they could go to a C-section if needed without additional meds or waiting.  My aunt briefed me before going in for the procedure.  She told me that it should be a firm, but gentle pushing.  That if they were too forceful, that they could hurt the baby.  She also told me that if I wasn't comfortable at any time with what they were doing to stop them.

So I'll segue briefly at that scary ECV thought and remind everyone that we still had no name for the baby.  As luck would have it my husband walked through the hospital (Tripler Army Medical Center) and saw a name on an office, "Dr. Benjamin Berg".  He told me about it.  It sounded good.  After all, the last 4 letters of our surname is "berg".  It was decided as easy as that.  Benjamin Romand Cayemberg it would be.  I loved it.  Yay...a name!  OK...back to scary ECV stuff...

9 pounds 5.8 ounces of baby...8 pounds my butt!
So my doctor was back, the epidural was given and into the operating room I went.  My husband was there, Dr. Ellis was there, the doctor that had noticed the baby was breech was there, and another doctor that was also a surgeon was there in case I needed a C-section...oh, yeah...and the rest of the delivery team was there too. I was strapped to a table.  And no joke, I felt like I had been strapped to a cross.  My arms strapped out to the left and right of me. Not a good feeling.  It didn't get better.  I could feel the pushing for the ECV and it hurt.  A lot.  I was in tears, by the time I told them to stop.  They went straight into C-section mode.  An ice cube was rubbed across my lower abdomen and I was asked if I could feel it.  My smart-ass answer, "It's ice...it's kind of cold and numbing.  I don't know."  So they began the c-section.

I stopped them again.  I could feel the incision.  I told them that and they just reassured me that I would feel some pulling, but that was all.  They continued.  I stopped them immediately.  No, really, I can feel that.  It's like a bad paper cut.  They wanted to up my epidural, but they were told that I was maxed out. No more meds for me.  It was time to put me under general anesthetic.  My husband would have to leave.  He kissed me and left.  Before they put me under the last thing I remember saying through tears was, "I'm scared."  And I was.  I had never been under general anesthetic.  I was scared that I wouldn't wake up.  Silly, but I was.  The nurse anesthetist was very understanding and comforting and under I went.

The first time I held Benjamin
My husband apparently had to be kicked out of the operating room a couple times.  He kept going back in there, and they kept escorting him out.  He was scared too.  To me, I went to sleep and woke up a groggy mom. I didn't realize that I had been in the operating for an unusually long time.  I wouldn't find that out until later. The baby was born fine.  Benjamin was doing great, but they were having a problem controlling my bleeding and my husband was scared.  SPOILER ALERT!!!!  I lived....

When I woke up, I was in the recovery room with my husband, my baby, my aunt and my uncle.  My hubby came over with Benjamin so that I could hold him.  I didn't want to.  Yep, you read that right...I was too scared.  I  was afraid that I would drop him.  Luckily, I had some great support there that day.  My husband placed a swaddled Benjamin on my chest and helped me hold him.  As soon as I saw him, I started crying. The feeling of joy is indescribable.  I was finally a mom and was holding this perfect little mixture of me and my husband.

It hadn't been the birth I had planned for.  I never felt the pain of labor and delivery.  I never got to use the information I had learned in our childbirth classes.  Did that bother me?  Yes.  No, I'm not saying that I want to be in pain, but I did feel like I had missed out on a part of the childbirth experience.  I got over that quickly enough though as we welcomed the first new member of our little family.

Happy Birthday, Benjamin.  I love you more than words can say!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Waiting for the 1940 Census...

Green Bay Press-Gazette
Today I will continue looking into the news clippings I have for the Dart line of my husband's family.  The next clipping I came across in the scrapbook was for the wedding of Rita Dart.

"Rita Dart Is Tonet Bride

Special to Press-Gazette

TONET, Wis. - Miss Rita Dart was married to Leonard Delveaux in a ceremony performed here Thursday at St. Martin's church by the Rev. L. A. Dobblesteen.  The bridegroom is the son of Mrs. George Bertrand.

The bride wore a dress of velvaray on mousse line de soie, long sleeves and puffed shoulders, and her long lace-edged veil was caught in a tiara of orange blossoms.  She carried a bouquet of briar cliff roses, fever few, calla lilies, and pink carnations.

Attending her as maid of honor was Miss Annabelle Willames, and Virgie Johnson and Bertha Dart were bridesmaids.  Robert Johnson was best man, and Clifford Dart and Roy Rogers the other attendants.

Wedding dinner and supper were served at the home of the bride's parents with about 30 guests present, and a dance was held in the evening.  The couple will live at the home of the bride's parents."

Wow...the bride's parents aren't even mentioned.  Not at all helpful.  At least they mentioned the husband's parents!  Sheesh!  And Rita is not in my tree, so here we go again...

So the clipping came from the Green Bay Press-Gazette. Unfortunately, this is one of many that does not have a date on it.  I can't really guess her age either, and as I did an Ancestry search there were really no good matches for Rita Dart or Rita Delveaux.  That's a bummer.  Maybe a relative will visit my blog and make this easy on me.

So I decided to conduct a search on one of the bridesmaids (possibly a sister), Bertha, to see what I'd turn up.  I do have a Bertha Dart in my tree.  A daughter to Wilbert and Alice Dart nee.....(wait for it)...Delveaux!  Keep it in the family...and as sad as that sounds, it really wasn't too far from the truth with our grandparents and those before them.  You married someone local.  Still, it's not proof and that's what I'm after.

Bertha was found with her parents in the 1930 U.S. Federal Census living in Luxemburg, Kewaunee, Wisconsin (Tonet is also in Kewaunee).  Bertha was only 5 years old and there are no other children, so if Clifford and Rita are also children of Wilbert and Alice I will most likely find out when the 1940 census is released.

Looking for the husband for links...there is a death registered in the Wisconsin Death Index, 1959-1997 for Leonard D. Delveaux.  He was born around 1923 and died in Green Bay on 24OCT1976.  Looking deeper the SSDI has his birth as 22JUN1923 (not primary sources, but still...and to be sure I will be checking for his obituary when I go home).  In the 1930 US Federal Census there is a Leonard Delveaux living in Door County, Wisconsin.  The son of Annie and Elmer Delveaux.  Well, considering the clipping states merely that Leonard Delveaux is the son of Mrs. George Bertrand, that's no help either.  I wonder if Elmer Delveaux died young or if they were divorced.  Either way, the groom's mother's surname is different than his, so she most likely remarried.

And since my other searches to locate Rita and Leonard were rather disappointing, it looks like I'll be waiting for the 1940 census...and waiting...still waiting...at least it's not too much longer....

UPDATE:  While I haven't found (OK, I haven't looked) Rita in the 1940 census yet, I did come across the obituary for Alice Dart nee Delveaux and they only had one child that survived and it was the above mentioned, Bertha.  So is this the same Bertha and she was a cousin?  Who knows, but I'm still looking!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Military Monday - A Familiar Name, but Missing from my Tree

Probably from the Green Bay Press-Gazette
Eli Laurent.

I know, I know...I said that I was going to spend time tracking down the Darts in my family tree, but as I  looked through old clippings for Military Monday, I saw this clipping for Eli Laurent and decided to use it.  It was the military photo and the death announcement stating that he died of a heart attack.  I wanted to know if this was an older photo and he died of a heart attack or if he was actually that young.  Then I checked my family tree.  He's not in there.

This has happened to me before and more frequently than I'd like to admit.  So it's time to do some research and analysis.

The clipping is from a scrapbook passed on to me by my husband's family.  It was put together by his grandmother Laura Cayemberg nee Laurent and some of the clippings may have actually been clipped by her mother, Mary Laurent nee Dart, or her mother-in-law, Florence Cayemberg nee Villers.  It doesn't really matter which though because many of the names are repeated through both lines.

The clipping is hand-dated.  Not all are.  Apparently, the person that did the clipping wanted to remember the date.  The date should be the date of death and not the publication.  I have yet to find a clipping with the publication date on it.  To us, it's important to make a citation, but to them, the important date was the date the event occurred.  Of course I have to verify the date, but now I can go to a newspaper with it in hand.

Not sure of the newspaper that it was published in, but I do know that the Malcore Funeral Home is in Green Bay, Wisconsin and that my husband's grandmother was most likely living in Green Bay by this time so the newspaper should be local.

I found a WWII Army Enlistment Record on Ancestry.com for Eli F Laurent.  He enlisted in Milwaukee, but was from Brown county.  He is also the only Eli Laurent found for WWII or the Korean War (I may be a vet, but I'm no expert on historical uniforms so I could only narrow it down to those two wars/conflicts).  Just because another wasn't found doesn't guarantee my search didn't miss something.  Interestingly enough the record states that Eli was divorced and had no dependents.  Again, might not be mine, but if it is I'll want that information in the tree.

In the 1930 census, I found 2 Eli Laurents in Brown County.  One was born around 1901 and lived in the Desire Laurent household.  The other was born around 1902 and was a border in the Ervin Bohn household.  Both would be old enough to fight in WWII when it began.

I did find an Eli F. Laurent in a Public Member Tree with the death date of 29MAY1959, but that doesn't mean that their conclusion in putting Eli in their tree was right.  Additionally, they had no parents for Eli, so I couldn't see if they believed his parents to be Desire Laurent.  They also had no citations (shocker, I know).

I spent some time looking through the rest of my clippings and while I didn't a find full obituary for Eli Laurent I did find an Eli Laurent in the obituaries for Clement (1957) and Ernest (1948), listed as a brother. It's not proof, but if it turns out that it is my Eli, then he would be the child of Desire and Rose Laurent (as seen in the US census records, misspelled in various ways).

It doesn't look like I'm going to find the solution to where Eli fits in my tree tonight.  Another, not completely successful story, but I have added the information I do know about Eli into my research calendar and when I get back to Green Bay in June, I'll be tracking down those leads.  At least I've done some research for the trip!

"Funeral Services [hand-written May 29, 1959]

Eli Laurent - Funeral services were held this morning at Malcore Funeral Home witht he Rev. Peter J. Skell in charge  Burial was in Fort Howard Cemetery.  Malcore Funeral Home handled arrangements.  Mr. Laurent died Friday afternoon at his home, apparently of a heart attack."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

21COFH - Processing Photos & Files

Reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
This week's assignment from Michelle Goodrum (Turning of Generations) for the 21st Century Organized Family Historian is Process Photos & Files.  The instructions:

-Transfer the photos to your computer or wherever you store them.
-Use the scheme you decided on from last week.
-Use tags and metadata if doing so.
-Adjust/process photos as needed (and time allows)
-Back up your work!

What a great idea this it is too!  I have tons of photos from the holidays (and Halloween, and the first day of school, and the summer, and....) that need to be transferred over to my computer, but more than that...

I have a system (when I use it, and I really need to get on it), where I get the pictures to my computer, name them, make any adjustments to the photos, delete ones that just don't make the cut, and then I get them off my computer.  That's a habit my husband started me on.  I take so many pictures, I can fill a hard drive in no time!  So I upload the named and corrected pictures to Shutterfly (cloud storage) and then I transfer them to the backup drive in our home.  I'm trying to only keep pictures on my actual laptop that I'm currently using (this does include all genealogy related photos).

I was able to get 3 sets of photos named, tagged, and uploaded...our Cub Scout Pack marching in the Veterans Day Parade, Our Pack's Christmas Caroling and Christmas Eve.  I kept my tags simple.  Just a name of who is in the picture, the date if known, and event.  I have a Mac so I can actually type in a location a tag it on a map (very cool).

Now I just need to keep up with it!

I'm motivated to continue.  Not difficult to do (although it can be time consuming).  Just pop in a movie or listen to music and organize files!  Great idea, Michelle!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wedding Wednesday - Unravelling the Darts

Green Bay Press-Gazette
So, I posted my Sunday's obituary about Frank Dart and explained that I like to use my blog to do research so I can fit all these people into my family tree.  Simply transcribing a clipping does force you to look at it a little more closely.  You might get some new search ideas that just hadn't occurred to you before. So I decided that I was going to go through my great big scrapbooks of newspaper clippings and get to work on my Darts.  We'll see how that goes as time goes by.

"Dart-Rollin [hand-dated Sept 1, 1956]

Miss Beatrice Dart, daughter of the Henry Balzas, 1103 Smith St., and Raphael Rollin, son of the Joseph Rollins, New Franken, Rt. 1, were married at 11 o'clock Monday morning in SS. Peter and Paul Church.  Luncheon followed at the Rollin home, with supper at the Rendezvous, Luxemburg.  The newlyweds are en route to Canada, and will be at home at New Franken, Rt. 1.  Mrs. Rollin is a graduate of East High School and is employed at Bellin Memorial Hospital.  Her husband, a barber, is employed by Steve Zacharek.

The bridal gown of lace and nylon tulle was fashioned with a fitted bodice, the scoop neckline edged with a net scroll, and long sleeves.  The bouffant skirt of net and lace was worn over ruffles from the waist to hemline.  A demi-cap of sequins held her French silk illusion veil.  Mr. Balza gave his stepdaughter in marriage.

Mrs. LeRoy Rollin, sister-in-law of the bridegroom, was the matron of honor.  Her gown of cotillion blue was fashioned with a snug lace bodice and wide cummerbund.  The ruffled skirt was worn over antique taffeta.  A queen's coronet of velvet matched the gown, which was worn with a lace bolero.  In identical shrimp colored gowns were the bridal aides, Mrs. Maynard Dupont, sister and [sic] the bride, and Miss Jo Ann Heim, the bridegroom's cousin. Carol Bertrand, the bridegroom's godchild, was the miniature bride and wore a copy of the bride's dress.  Steven Dupont, nephew of the bride, was the ring bearer.

The bridegroom's brother, LeRoy Rollin, was the best man.  Other attendants were Maynard Dupont and John Dart, the bride's brother.  Hymns offered during the ceremony were 'Ave Maria' and 'On This Day O Beautiful Mother.'

The Mmes. Henry Balza, Maynard Dupont, Robert Johnson and Miss Louise Dart were co-hostesses at a linen shower at the Eagle's clubrooms Aug. 9.  Mrs. Dupont, Mrs. Joseph Rollin and Mrs. LeRoy Rollin gave a coin shower for the young couple at Rainbow Gardens, Humboldt."

So I jumped over to Ancestry.com (I have a full subscription so I better use it!) and I conducted a search for Beatrice Rollin and I looked for the results for death and burial information.  There was a hit for the SSDI, for Green Bay, Wisconsin (I don't know where in Wisconsin this clipping was taken from, but many of my husband's family ended up in Green Bay so this was a possibility).  I needed something more and luckily there was a hit in the U.S. Obituary Collection as well.  It was a scant 2 lines saying that funeral arrangements were pending, but I recognized the funeral home and knew they had a great website.  Beatrice died on November 5, 2009, but Proko-Wall does a great job keeping up obituaries.  I typed "Rollin" into their search box, and there she was.

Her obituary filled in a lot of gaps that the wedding announcement had.  Her father's name wasn't even mentioned in the wedding announcement (Divorce? Death?  I don't know yet).  Now I know her father was Harvey Dart and her mother's maiden name was Lorraine Laurent.  Laurent is another name in my family tree.  Also, I can guess from her obituary that the news clipping I have here was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette because it states that she was married in Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Green Bay (incidentally our family church).  If this actual clipping wasn't from the Press-Gazette, I'll bet that a similar copy ran in it!  Also, the date that was written on the clipping wasn't the date of publication..it was the date of the marriage (as mentioned in the obituary).

Harvey Dart is in my family tree.  Beatrice and Lorraine are not.  The Harvey in my tree was born around 1912 and died around 1948.  Beatrice (according to her obit) was born on October 18, 1936. My Harvey would fit and maybe even seems likely, but I have no proof yet.

The results of my searching online tonight didn't give me any concrete proof that Beatrice is the daughter of my Harvey Dart so I can't put her in my tree yet, but I will be researching more when I get to Wisconsin in June!  What I need to find is when Harvey Dart died and grab his obituary.  I couldn't find the obit on Ancestry, but do you know what I could find?  A bunch of unsourced family trees that list my Harvey Dart's death date as January 5, 1949.  I don't have to copy information from their Ancestry trees, but I can use them as leads and head to the library to pull the obits for that date. Who knows, maybe it will give me the pieces I need to add this Dart to my tree.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - And the Tombstones are Slowly Eaten by the Ground

I've seen pictures of graveyards with tombstones leaning to and fro.  They actually have a unique beauty too them, but as those tombstones lean they are coming closer to the end of their lives.  I have a few tombstones like that in my family.  You can still read the stones very well....at least for the part that is still above ground.

I come from a coal mining town.  I don't know if these graves start to sink because of the labyrinth of mines beneath the city (that's actually a fairly disturbing thought after living there for 20+ years) or if it's just soft soil and lots of rain over the years.  Either way, it's happening and it's hindering some of my research.

As you can see the tombstone for my 3rd great grandparents, Edward and Susan Lee nee Phillips, is sinking and leaning (well maybe you can't tell that it's leaning but take my word for it).  As a result I can see Edward's information just fine (1820 - 1904), but Susan is not so easy to read (1821 - 188?)  It looks like it's 1882, but I can't be sure.  I have quite literally danced on my ancestors' tombstone here trying to trample down the earth far enough to see her death date.  My funny little Irish jig did nothing for my research, but it did tick off a small ant hill that was there (that was not a good experience).  I suppose I could have dug away a bit of the earth to check, and maybe I will do that this year, but I try not to make a habit of walking into graveyards with a shovel.  You tend to get strange looks....

So I suppose what I really need to do is to contact the church and ask what the burial date is for Susan.  They don't always have it and I may only be able to find out when the plot was purchased, but I suppose this is my next step.  Unfortunately for Susan she was a woman that died in the 1880s and the chances of me finding on obituary for her are somewhere between slim and none.  I'm hopeful only because her husband's death 20ish years later (if memory serves me correctly, because my filing system right now isn't) actually was front page news and his obituary called him one of the town's most highly respected citizens.

Edward and Susan are two of my brick walls, but I'll keep chipping away at them and hopefully find out more about them and their journey.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunday's Obituary - Blogging Gets My Butt in Gear

Green Bay Press-Gazette (abt 1951)
I've said it before and I'll say it again, my blog gets me into my research.  We blog to connect with other genealogists, but we also blog to get the names of our families out there in hopes of making connections, and I know that I blog to get my work done.

Think about it, I'm dedicated to my genealogy research but everything ends up getting in the way.  Life just has a tendency to do that.  When I started my blog a little over a year ago, I told myself that I wasn't going to give it up.  I didn't know what I was doing, but I was going to post and I was going to post regularly.

Even if I only transcribe an obituary, I'm looking at it and making sure it's in my tree and citing it.  I've got tons of obituaries that haven't made their way into my tree so this is a good thing, but I've been trying (when the kids aren't saying, "Mommy, mommy, mom, mom, ma..." every 2 seconds) to do more then just transcribe.  I'm trying to see if there's anything new that I can find online while I'm doing it.  Sure not everything is online, but not looking doesn't help, and when I conduct this research I can always put into my Research Log what I need to do offline.  Research and planning at the same time.  Sweet!

So this is what I'm tackling this evening as I watch the playoffs...

"Long Illness Fatal To Frank Dart, 49

Frank Dart, 49, 1203 Reber street, died in a local hospital early Wednesday evening following a lingering illness.  He had been employed by the Van Drisse Motor company for 28 years, and for the last year by the Checker Yellow Cab company.

Survivors are his wife, the former Mildred Van Caster; two sons, Donald and Cletus, Green Bay; and a daughter, Mrs. Bernard Motquin, Green Bay.  Also surviving him are six grandchildren; his mother, Mrs. Louise Dart, Green Bay; and two brothers, George, Green Bay, and Richard Algoma.  He's father died a year ago, and a brother, Harvey, preceded him in death four years ago.

The body is at the Schauer and Schumacher funeral home, where the rosary will be said at 8 o'clock each evening.  Funeral services will be held at 10 o'clock Saturday morning in the Cathedral.  The Rev. John Gehl will offer the requiem mass and burial will be in Allouez cemetery."

Since this was one of those clippings that I have with no publication information, I had to do a little research on the newspaper.  I confirmed my suspicions (using Google maps) that 1203 Reber Street is in Green Bay, Wisconsin, so I'm fairly certain that the newspaper was The Green Bay Press-Gazette. As for the date of death and birth.  Sadly only an age was given for Frank Dart and no birth. I do have Frank (and his siblings) already in my family tree, but I had no birth.  So here we go...

I searched on Ancestry.com and found a record for his birth on December 1, 1903 (in the Wisconsin Birth and Christenings Index, 1826-1908, FHL Film# 1302886) to John B Dart and Louisa Jadin.  This was a great find since I had no maiden name for his mother and no death date for his father, Jean Baptiste.  Now, I'll at least be able to estimate since the obituary tells us he died a year earlier.  I also didn't have any information on his brother, Harvey's, death so I can estimate that one too.

I actually had no spouse for Frank previously.  Now I do and there is another Van Caster in my family tree already, not Mildred, but it may be a relative.  All the same region!  No proof yet though.  Moving on....

Since I had no spouse for Frank, I had no children.  Now I've been able to add and cite them.  Of course I have no name for his daughter since, at that time, it was acceptable to say nothing more than "Mrs. Bernard Motquin".  An irritant to genealogists everywhere...er...I mean an exciting new puzzle to try to solve!

A quick online search wasn't favorable for finding a name for his daughter, but I have high hopes of finding her, Jean Baptiste, Harvey, and many more people as I get through the hundreds of newspaper clippings that were passed on to me and my blog will help me get there.  I just need to persevere!

[Frank Dart is my husband's 1st cousin twice removed].

Thursday, January 12, 2012

21COFH - Develop a Digital Organizational Scheme

This is my first week participating in the 21st Century Organized Family Historian, and I'm getting kind of a late start at it, but I wanted to get this post up.  Michelle Goodrum's (Turning of Generations) assignment for this week is to choose one or more of the following tasks:

-Have an organizational plan for your hard drive
-Develop a naming format for digital files
-Use tags or metadata to find files easier

I've posted before about how I organize my digital photo files and how I organize my genealogy research by surname.  You can read each post by clicking on the links.

I really like my way of organizing my files, but the bottom line is it works for me.  I really haven't had to use tags for files because of the way I sort them, but I do need to start using them regularly for photos. Even though I like how I organize my photos, because they are done by location, it can be difficult to find pictures of specific events or people unless you use tags or metadata.  Something to shoot for, I suppose.  Baby-steps though.

I'm still kind of in the process of transferring all my data from my old PC to my Mac, and I have noticed that things do appear differently on my Mac.  Not sure if I like it or not, but I suppose that it's just because I'm not completely used to it yet.  Only time will tell whether I change my system with a new computer, but I don't think I'll need to.

I have made one revision as far as my post on sorting by surname.  Nothing major.  I had previously placed a research log in each surname so I could just add information I needed that was relevant to that surname only.  I still really like this idea, but it's not practical for me.  I want to save paper and I don't want to be printing out a sheet for each of the many surnames I have.  When I research, I tend to be researching on a bunch of surnames at once.  So what to do?  I'm tempted to leave the logs in each surname folder and just update them from a master research log that I take with me when heading out to conduct research.  Hmmm.  I've got to think on that a bit more and see what works best.

Are you going to get better organized in 2012? 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Another Repaired Photo

Repaired Photo

Well, nearly wordless...I love this picture.  The lady in the middle is my grandmother, Mary Ann Brown nee Quirk.  My mother is the older daughter on the left and my Aunt Cathy is the youngest on the right.  The two elderly ladies sitting on either side of my grandmother are her aunts, Mary (far left) and Catherine (far right) Quirk (let me know if I got them mixed up, mom!).  They never married.  They helped raise Mary Ann and loved her and her children dearly.

I love this picture because when I look at my grandmother, I see my mom's face.  The repair isn't perfect, but I'm pleased with it.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Stitching Photos Together...I Cheated

Did I cheat?  I'll let you decide...

So most of you have seen me fix photos before on my blog.  I use Serif PhotoPlus X2 to do photo editing and have had some great successes with it.  I love it.  It was cheap and it's effective, but I really like being taught how to use things.  Sadly, there's no class to teach me how to use PhotoPlus. Just a lot of hard work, instruction book reading, and swearing....a lot of swearing.

I'm sure my program has a way to stitch together photos, but I haven't bothered checking it out because I've discovered a really neat trick.  Many of you probably know this trick already, but just in case you don't I'll let you know my little cheat...I use Power Point.

I took these two images below and lined them up on one Power Point slide until they matched flawlessly (or almost flawlessly). 

Then I selected both images at once, right-clicked, and selected "save as image".  Simple and done.

So what do you think?  Did I cheat by taking the easy way out?

Friday, January 6, 2012

My Top 10 of the Year

I saw some of my fellow geneabloggers doing this and thought it was pretty neat.  I then asked myself, "What were my top ten posts of the past year?"  Well since my blog is only a little over a year old (I'm still a small-time blogger here!), so I'll just list my "Top 10 of All Time" and here they are...

#10 - "Family Recipe Friday - Bunny Buns" -  Two food posts made it into the Top 10 here and this is an Easter favorite in our family.  My mom used to make them for us and I now make them for my family.  A nice bread with a hint of orange.

#9 - "Sentimental Sunday - A Senior Class Picture with No Yearbook to Call Home" - Hmmm...beware before reading this.  I let a 10 foot tall 500 lb skeleton fall out of my very own closet with this family tidbit.  You have been warned...and no laughing at my hair!

#8 - "Wordless Wednesday - My Aunt is So Going to Kill Me" - My aunt probably won't be cheering (or twirling flaming batons) that this post did so well.  It surprised me too, but what else can you expect with such a beauty!?!

#7 - "Treasure Chest Thursday - Another Reason I'm Lucky" - Oh a genealogical gold mine bestowed on me by my mother-in-law!  And I rescued it from it's slow demise stuck in a "magnetic" photo album.

#6 - "Remembering Veterans & Veterans Within My Family" - So good the first year, I reposted it the second year.  As a vet, I'm incredibly proud of all the veterans out there and those in my family that served.  I was delighted to be able to add on to that over the past year too!  Although I still need a picture of my aunt in uniform (ahem...hint, hint, Aunt Cathy!)

#5 - "Motivation Monday - Cherie's Got Her Groove Back" - How despite being pulled in all different directions by volunteerism, volunteering one hour to a friend gave me the motivation to refocus on my family and genealogical goals!

#4 - "Sunday Supper - Guinness Stew over Colcannon" - My desire to find and create Irish food that was actually good ended here with a new family favorite.  A creation of my own for Saint Patrick's Day and, well, I impressed myself with my own mad-skills.

#3 - "The Peshtigo Fire - A Miracle From the Ashes" - The Peshtigo Fire occurred the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, but is only a footnote in history, but it's not a footnote in my family history.  After a week of posts about the fire (and the Chicago Fire paled in comparison), I ended on this positive note.

#2 - "Military Monday - Vietnam Virtual Wall Searching for Pictures" - I posted about my cousin, Michael Paul Brown, and ended up getting contacted by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.  An incredibly awesome project.  They are trying to get a picture to go with every name on the Vietnam Wall.  There's so much more to this post than I can briefly tell here.  I'm glad that this post ranked so high.  I hope it means that more pictures are being sent in!

And the #1 post of All Time.....

"Tech Tuesday - FilmScan35 I Negative/Slide Converter" - I was a bit stunned that this was my top post.  It hadn't been until recently.  I can only imagine that this post's popularity increased over the Holidays as all good genealogists got their very own negative converters from Santa.  I guess Santa reads very untechnologically sound reviews!

Well, that was a fun trip down memory lane.  I'll be excited to see what posts will be at the top next year!

Thanks for reading and have fun tending those roots!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

My Two Cents - Complain, complain, complain

And complain some more.  I've been stunned by posts and comments I've seen regarding "Who Do You Think You Are?" and even, more recently, for "Finding Your Roots".   Everyone certainly has the right to voice their opinions and to complain a bit.  We all do it at some point in our lives, but I guess I'm a bit disappointed in the actual complaints.  They don't make sense to me at all (am I complaining...sure...I suppose I am).  The complaining has been going on for quite some time.  It hasn't been all at once, but it was a recent complaint that made me say to myself that it's time for my two cents, so here goes (and I'll be brief).

The first, and most frequent, complaint that I noticed was that only celebrities are on the shows.  Well, to be blunt, I don't think NBC's ratings would be quite so good if they advertised, "Next time on WDYTYA?, the family tree of Cheryl Cayemberg..."  I just don't think it would have the audience pull.  Now, that's not to say our genealogies aren't interesting.  Of course, they are, but honestly if we want to continue to see this show broadcast, NBC needs to worry about ratings.  I do think that it would be quite a good idea if NBC held a WDYTYA? contest and the winner got to be one of the people they did a show on.  Would it work for every show?  Most likely not.  We're drawn to celebrities, but I do think that it could showcase that everyone's genealogy is interesting.

Another comment that drew my attention was that it should showcase the skills and techniques used to get the research done.  Even to show how much research costs.  Well, what a way to scare the living daylights out of a newcomer!  I know we'd all like to sharpen our skills, but this is why we join genealogy societies, go to webinars, take classes, etc.  Sure I'd like to see just a little more explanation as to a couple of techniques used, but honestly it can't go too in depth or you'll lose your audience.

I'm not saying that these shows can't improve.  Everything can do with a little sprucing up as time goes by, but right now I think they're on the right track.  I can't speak for "Finding Your Roots" since it hasn't aired yet, but I think WDYTYA? has been doing a pretty great job.  I'd like to see more episodes in a season, but I'll take what I can get, and you know what...these shows aren't just for those of us that are already into genealogy.  They're for the newbies too.  They're there to draw more people in to genealogy.  To increase interest.

My husband hears me ramble about genealogy and family history all the time.  He reads my blog and shows mild interest in my discoveries in most cases, but he wasn't overly excited to know that there would be a TV show on genealogy distracting me too!  Being the wonderful husband he is though, he dutifully sat there and watched it with me and he ended up getting pretty sucked into WDYTYA? too!  If my hubby enjoys it, they're doing something right!  Just be happy that we have these shows out there bringing such great publicity to what we all love to do!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Those Places Thursday - What Did I Get Myself Into?

Don't even THINK of smiling for this picture!  Yes, we were actually told that!

I always wanted to be a Drill Sergeant.  OK, not always, but for the majority of my military career I did.  I joined the Army and wanted to become an officer (NCOs everywhere are making vomit-faces while reading that).  My aunt and uncle were both officers in the Army and my other uncle had been an officer in the Navy.  It just made sense.  That's what I'd do.  Funny how things don't always work out according to plan.  My basic training drill sergeants were awesome.  I went to the Defense Language Institute (DLI) the first time around (see blog post) and there were no drill sergeants. Just regular NCOs.  While some were outstanding, my platoon sergeant was a first class piece of trash.  She played favorites, her uniform looked like crap, and she couldn't physically keep up with the trainees (I enjoyed that a bit much).  Then I went on to complete my training after DLI and it was back with drill sergeants.  It doesn't have to make sense...the whole span of a year with no drill sergeants...it's just the way the Army worked back then, but what did matter was getting back with those drill sergeants, and, again, those drill sergeants were nothing short of awesome.

I dreaded leaving training and going to my first duty station.  Would the NCOs there be garbage like my DLI platoon sergeant?  Nope.  There were, naturally, bad NCOs there.  There are good and bad NCOs everywhere, but my NCOs were awesome.  They took care of me.  They trained me.  They made sure I was prepared.  My experiences to that point made me realize that NCOs really did make the difference in Soldiers' lives.  I had experienced great NCOs and I had experienced bad NCOs and I knew what affect both kinds had on Soldiers.  I realized that not only did I want to be an NCO, but I wanted to be a drill sergeant.  I was a bit concerned that my family would be disappointed, but as life would have it around the time I made my decision, my Aunt Cathy who lived in Hawaii was visiting San Antonio where I was stationed.  She stopped by for a visit and I asked her if she would be disappointed in me if I decided to be an NCO instead of an officer.  Of course the answer was that they would all be proud of me no matter what decision I made, but it was comforting to hear it all the same.

I didn't expect to see a camera when throwing this dummy-grenade!
So time passed and I was asked if I would be a drill sergeant at Goodfellow Air Force Base.  I ended up turning it down.  I had a baby by now and my husband and I were both in the military.  Goodfellow ran in shifts and there would be no guarantee that my husband and I would be on the same shift.  We could essentially go through my 2 or 3 years "on the trail" and almost never see each other.  I didn't want it that bad!  A year or two later I got a call from my branch manager.  He used to be my platoon sergeant in Hawaii (another completely awesome NCO) and he knew I wanted to be a drill sergeant.  He told me that military intelligence was in desperate need of female drill sergeants and that I could go back to DLI to be a drill sergeant.  Back to DLI?  Be a drill sergeant at DLI?  Holy cow, yes!  My husband was redeploying.  He had been deployed for a few months after September 11th and was on his way back.  I had to clear it with him first, but I was completely excited about the idea.   I picked my husband up from the airport in January 2002 and as he was driving us home I told him about the offer.  I believe "Hell, yes!" or something along those lines was his response.

Would you like to know how small a world it really is?  I had the mail sitting on my lap in the car and after my husband's response I opened a letter that I saw was from an old friend of both of ours.  It was from Jen and Andy Woods (yes, Jen Woods from Climbing My Family Tree, Jen Woods!).  Jen had written her yearly Christmas letter and in it she gave the news that Andy was going to Drill Sergeant School and then would be heading out to DLI.  Holy cow!  I immediately contacted Jen to let her know we'd be seeing her there!

So how does the title of my post fit into this?  Well, I would eventually have to head to Drill Sergeant School myself, and in October 2002 I left for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  I have to admit that I was scared.  Not scared of how I was going to be treated.  My fear was always a fear of failure.  That fear always drove me to succeed.  You wouldn't have known it on that first day of Drill Sergeant School though.  In fact, my Drill Sergeant Leaders (DSLs) probably wondered who the heck decided to send me there!  You see I spent the entire night before school started polishing my boots and pressing my uniform.  I wanted to look sharp on that first day of school.  I wanted the DSLs to be impressed.  They weren't...and the first day was a disaster.

Drill Sergeant School has all these "modules" that you had to memorize.  What's a module?  Well, drill sergeants have to be able to instruct Drill and Ceremony, and the Army wants it done the same everywhere, so each drill and ceremony action had a module that a drill sergeant candidate had to memorize.  A module was "pitched" (recited word for word) and those words instructed the Soldiers on how to complete the action.  You can see an example of a relatively easy module at the end of the blog post, but my point here is that I went to school knowing that we would have to memorize these modules.  I figured that if other people had done it, then I could too. What I didn't know, what no one had bothered to tell me before going off to Drill Sergeant School, was that I was expected to know the first 3 when I arrived...or at least be remotely familiar with them.  Yeah...I didn't even know the first LINE of ANY module when I fell into formation that day.  Not good.

A sea of scary people.  Can you see me?
I was in the front row of the formation.  I was about the fourth or fifth candidate in so it didn't take long before they got to me.  I thought I was being smart.  I heard the others start to recite the module for the "Position of Attention" and I thought if I could get the first few lines down before they got to me then they'd cut me off and move on to the next person.  I would amaze them with my knowledge and how sharp my uniform looked.  Nope.  When they got to me I barely got off the first line and then ran out of what I knew.  DOH! I got a "Minus 2, sergeant...minus 2!"  We had demerit cards at drill sergeant school.  If you did something wrong it was a minus 2, 3, 4, etc and you had to put it on your demerit card.  On the weekend they needed extra manual labor and they would pick the people that had the most demerits to perform this duty.  If you did something right you could earn pluses, but they didn't happen often.

Anyway, I got a minus 2 within the first 10 seconds that a DSL was standing in front of me.  Then it got worse.  The DSL looked at my boots, "Those boots aren't shined on the sides, sergeant."...and I opened my mouth, "They're jungle boots, drill sergeant.  They aren't supposed to be."..."Minus 2, sergeant...minus 2." As I've mentioned once or twice before, one of my biggest problems in life had been my inability to just shut up.  My mouth failed me again...and again.  For such a smart girl I wasn't prepared for what the goal of that first day was and the pain continued..."Your hair is touching your ears, sergeant."...me, "I'm a female, drill sergeant, it's allowed to touch my ears."..."Minus 2, sergeant...minus 2."  Basically, by the time this DSL got done with me I had over 10 demerits and school just started!  I was known to the other DSLs as well.  Later that week we were marching to class and one of the other DSLs started talking to me. He looked at the name on my uniform and said, "Oh, it's YOU! Don't you have a ton of demerits?!?"  "Yes, drill sergeant," I said embarrassed.  Needless to say, I pulled duty that weekend.

What I failed to realize going into Drill Sergeant School (and boy do I wish someone had told me this), was that they were there to find flaws in us that first day, just like we would be finding flaws when inspecting our Soldiers later on (although not intentionally with our Soldiers).  The point wasn't to be perfect.  They would find flaws with you or they would make them up, just so your would get demerits.  A way of knocking everyone down a notch.  My brain just wasn't working that way and I couldn't understand why this drill sergeant was wrong!  How could he not know that you physically couldn't polish the side of a jungle boot...it was made of fabric!?!?  How could he not know the hair standards for female Soldiers?!?!?  Well, he did, but I just wasn't getting knocked down a notch so he kept going.  I can look back at it and laugh now, but I was horrified at the time.

Things got better.  Drill Sergeant School was a "gentleman's course" now.  No more "smoking" the candidates with push ups or sit ups.  As I said, they used demerits.  Drills that went to the school previously might think that this was a "softening" of the course or standards, but not so.  The demerits did their job and the philosophy as it was explained to us by our DSLs was that we were all NCOs and deserved to be treated like NCOs.  Made sense to me.

There I am.  I'm happier than I look!
We did lots of interesting things at school.  We had to stand across a parking lot from our "buddy" and give commands.  Our buddy had to execute the drill and ceremony command we gave or it was a hit on us.  The point was to make sure we projected our voice well enough to be heard.  Good reason...but the entire class of drill sergeants was in that parking lot yelling to their buddies, so you had to also yell over everyone else. Luckily, I had no problems in that department!  I was always too loud for my own good although one of my DSLs did tell me when I was marching our squad one afternoon that I wasn't loud enough.  I got a good giggle out of that one.  I think anyone that ever knew me would disagree with him too.

So these modules that I mentioned.  They had to be memorized word for word.  Not a single "a", "an" or "the" missing.  Some modules were a page long and some were much longer.  The longest was FOUR pages!  We would be assigned them in groups.  Here's your next group of modules.  You need to know them by this time.  When we would get "free" time during school you would see candidates with their noses to walls or light posts mumbling to themselves.  I had heard of this but didn't understand why.  As it turns out what it was is candidates finding a quiet corner to recite the modules to themselves without disturbing the others.   Silly, but it worked.

Anyway, you only had to say one from each group/assignment, but you never knew which one you'd have to do.  They'd roll the dice and tell you which one you got and then you'd recite it.  I never missed a single word and after the hell I received that first day, I was delighted!

By the time Drill Sergeant School ended, I was no longer the demerit queen.  I graduated with an "exceeds course standards" (no more than 20% could get this, and there were other stipulations as well), I was the Commandant's Inspection Awardee (finally recognized for having a kick-butt uniform), and I earned my Army Physical Fitness Award patch, by getting over a 90% on each event on my record APFT.  In fact the DSL grading my sit-ups was rather excited at my score.  He yelled to the DSL next to us after I finished, "Hey she just did 98 sit-ups! (in 2 minutes)"  I was hurting during that APFT too.  I had gotten sick and was actually drinking cough syrup to stop my body-shaking coughs during the night.  My suite-mate threatened to have me sent to sick call because my cough sounded so scary.  If you went to sick call you essentially went home.  You couldn't miss more than a couple hours of class, and sick call always exceeded this time.  After I finished my 2 mile run on that APFT I collapsed and proceeded to cough my brains out, but I was done!

Drill Sergeant School was quite the experience, but it was a good one too.  I learned a lot and I felt somewhat prepared to take on the responsibilities that came with being a Drill Sergeant.  When I graduated I was thrilled.  Not just because I had "done it", but because despite starting out rough, and wondering "What did I get myself into?",  I did a pretty good job!

The Drill Sergeant Badge

The Position of Attention (module)

1. First and Second Squad FALL OUT, U-Formation, FALL IN. RELAX. LET ME HAVE YOUR ATTENTION. The next position, which I will name, explain, have demonstrated, and which you will conduct practical work on, is the position of attention.
2. The position of attention is the key position for all stationary, facing, and marching movements.
3. The commands for this position are FALL IN and ATTENTION. FALL IN is a combined command. ATTENTION is a two-part command when preceded by a preparatory command, such as Squad, Platoon, or Demonstrator. I will use Demonstrator as the preparatory command and ATTENTION is the command of execution.
5. When given, these commands are as follows: FALL IN. Demonstrator, ATTENTION.

6. Demonstrator, POST. I will use the talk-through method of instruction.
7. On the command FALL IN or on the command of execution ATTENTION of Demonstrator, ATTENTION.
8. Bring the heels together sharply on line, with the toes pointing out equally, forming an angle of 45-degrees. Rest the weight of the body evenly on the heels and balls of both feet. Keep the legs straight without locking the knees. Hold the body erect with the hips level, chest lifted and arched, and the shoulders square.
9. Keep the head erect and face straight to the front with the chin drawn in so that the alignment of the head and neck is vertical.
10. Let the arms hang straight without stiffness. Curl the fingers so that the tips of the thumbs are alongside and touching the first joint of the forefingers. Keep the thumbs straight along the seams of the trouser leg with the first joint of the fingers touching the trousers.
11. Remain silent and do not move unless otherwise directed. RELAX.
12. At normal cadence, this position would look as follows: FALL IN. RELAX. Demonstrator, ATTENTION. RELAX.
13. What are your questions pertaining to this position when executed at normal cadence or using the talk-through method of instruction?
14. Demonstrator, ATTENTION. You will now become my assistant instructor. FALL OUT.

16. I will use the talk-through method of instruction.