Janet's thread

A weblog, mostly about knitting but other topics appear

Vintage Golf July 25, 2017

Filed under: Golf,Social history — Janet @ 3:44 pm



Interested In Maine History? July 4, 2017

IMG_3646  Here’s the book for all history enthusiasts.  In a book store in Mystic Connecticut, I found this book about the history of Maine – titled The Lobster Coast, Rebels, Rusticators, and the Struggle for a Forgotten Frontier, by Colin Woodard.  As one would expect, there’s quite a bit of detail about fish and the fishing industry, particularly  lobsters.  But there is also a lot to make one think about the rights of Native Americans and the rights and relationships between the original settlers and the subsequent waves of  “newcomers”, right up to the present day transformations of land use and the questions of distribution of wealth.

In my genealogy research I have been able to trace most of my ancestors back many generations.  At present I am trying to concentrate/focus on the immigration experiences of these branches in my family tree.  These would be the 6th-9th great grandparents.  About 90% of these forebears came to New England.  I have one case of an abrupt end of the trail with my 3rd great grandparents Joseph Reed and Sarah Maddox.  They were each born in Maine in the late 1700’s.  Joseph died in Maine in 1850.  Their daughter Abigail was my great great grandmother.  She was born in Gloucester in 1804.  But I do not have any information re Joseph and Sarah’s forebears, my 4th great grandparents etc.  Did they come to Maine as immigrants?  What happened to them in this remote and harsh part of the American frontier.  Did they perish in an encounter with one of the many tribes of Native Americans who raided the settlers villages and isolated dwellings.   I wonder.


Essex Land Girls December 1, 2016

img_1862  Reading this very interesting book about the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in Essex England.during the First and Second World Wars.  And thinking of my ancestors who lived in this part of England centuries before these conflicts.


Tech Problems Solved – I Couldn’t Post Photos To My Blog – Now I Can Again September 16, 2016

img_1300  The path of the Winthrop Fleet across the Atlantic from England to New England in 1630

Illustration credit: The Winthrop Fleet of 1630 by Charles Edward Banks, 1930


Following The Pilgrims January 31, 2016

pilgrims image                  pilgrims_film_landing-date  What a marvelous program we saw last night.  One of the best.  It was a PBS DVD from the American Experience series.  Most of the broad outline was familiar but this film portrayed it so well that it is now more firmly fixed in my mind (I hope!)  And I learned a lot as well.  Furthermore it tied in well with my genealogy research.

?Did you know that one of the men on the Mayflower was swept overboard but miraculously was rescued and went on to survive the first harsh winter etc and father 10 children.  He had 88 grandchildren, more than 500 great grandchildren and his subsequent descendants number in the tens of thousands – including Humphrey Bogart, Bob Hope, and both Bush Presidents.  I wonder if I can find myself among the millions of descendants living today.  The search goes on.


Famous Pioneering Women December 1, 2015

Beryl Markham – aviator, horse trainer, writer

97803 circling the sun


A marvelous book.  I have read so much about Karen Blixen/Isak Dinesen. Elspeth Huxley, Beryl Matkham and others who made Kenya their home and played a special part in the history of this country.  I lived in Kenya for 2 years in the 1960’s.  This was well within the lifetime of Beryl Markham – but alas I never met her.

However I brushed history when I had tea at Karen Blixen’s home near the Ngong Hills.  This was long after Karen had sold her farm and left Kenya.  Her former home was temporarily being occupied by a Danish couple whom I knew through the University.  Little did I realize the role that house had played in the lives of the early settlers.

But when I lived in Kenya again in the early 1990’s, I did appreciate the history of the golf course I played on – Karen Country Club had once been Karen Blixen’s coffee plantation.




Picture Postcard, c. 1905, Wyoming Hotel, Orlando Florida March 14, 2011

Filed under: Family,Family history,Postcards,Social history — Janet @ 11:47 pm

  a friend of my sister sent her this “internet find” and she in turn sent it on to me.  It’s a reproduction of a postcard of the Hotel Wyoming in Orlando Florida. 

  the photo of the Hotel Wyoming, from this site

 This is sort of the Hotel Wyoming in Orlando as my 5 year old memory would have it.  I did visit my grandfather and great aunt there when I was around the age of 5.  I can remember a Mr. Jolly who could produce nickels from ears or some such benevolent magic trick.  In my mind the Hotel Wyoming had numerous rocking chairs and just a rather indolent or relaxed olde world atmosphere. 

As I was growing up, my grandfather and his sister (this would have been after my grandmother died in 1940) always went south to escape winter in New England.  Maybe not early on but as the years passed, one of the daughters (my mother or my aunts) would accompany them for the trip.  My early visit might have been in 1941 when I was closer to 4 than to 5.

I discover on the internet that the Hotel Wyoming was originally built in 1870 and was a private residence of a Nathaniel Poyntz.  It later became a hotel and was expanded over the years until it was torn down in 1959.

On another site I found this postcard of the Hotel Wyoming, date 1948.


What Were They Reading Then, cont. January 29, 2011

Filed under: Authors,Books,Social history,U. S. History — Janet @ 2:02 am

Still thinking about the books that my grandparents might have read, I have come across an author whose work my grandmothers probably read, and my mother and aunts would have read her novels, and also my sisters and I.  She spanned 3 generations of readers.  Edna Ferber.  That name rang a bell.  Born in 1885, a novelist, short story writer, and  playwright, died in April 1968, 2 months after my marriage in February 1968 (not that that bears any relevance to her achievements – just places her and myself in a certain time frame)

 Edna Ferber, a feminist in her time.  The female characters in her novels are strong protagonists.   A journalist who covered the political conventions of 1920.  Yet another activist from the Middle West.  Born in Michigan, grew up in Wisconsin.  A spokeswoman for social justice.


Ireland and the Emergency June 10, 2010

I love reading social history type books and this is a good one, so far.  That Neutral Island, A History of Ireland During the Second World War, by Clair Wills.

I was just a youngster during the War Years and was only aware of what was happening in my more immediate world of family and neighbourhood friends.  In the suburbs of Boston we were not affected by the War in the same way as countries on the other side of the Atlantic.  Now living in Ireland for so many years I have been very curious about what life was like here during those crucial years and  I love hearing my contemporaries tell what their experiences were during this time.  One friend, slightly older than I am, tells me that she was at boarding school during that time – a boarder at Wesley College, located on Stephen’s Green.  She was hardly affected.  And when she went home it was to a farm in County Kildare.  No shortage of essential food there.  But curiously, and what a number of people have said, is that she never knew what a banana was until after the War.  This is one of the things that seems to stand out in people’s minds when they remember the War years.  Only it was not War as such – it was called the Emergency.

One of my memories of the Second World War is of the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor – it was my fifth birthday.  The terrible news came through on the radio.  I was sitting at the desk in our living room and for some reason had a fountain pen in my hand – I accidentally spattered the wall with blue ink.  As the War progressed I was aware of not being able to get butter and we had Oleo margarine as a distasteful substitute.  We saved fat and took the tins to the local butcher.  Spam was frequently on the menu.  Gasoline was rationed so trips in the family car were few and far between.  You could hardly say we suffered.

My brother graduated from high school the following year in June 1942 when he turned 18 a month later, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  We were very proud of him in his uniform.  Our thoughts and letters followed him around the U.S. as he went from one training station to another, Lake Forest Illinois, San Diego California, Fitchburg Massachusetts, Pensacola Florida.  I became more aware of the geography of the U.S.  Occasionally he came home on leave and how happy we were.  Much to my father’s relief my brother was not sent overseas and eventually he was honourably discharged when the War was over.

My older sister graduated from high school in 1943 and enrolled for nurses’ training in Mt. Auburn Hospital in Cambridge so she continued to live at home.  And my other sister graduated from high school in 1944.  She went down to Washington to do secretarial work in one of the war departments.

Ireland was a part of the world I scarcely heard of.  The headlines during those years were all about the War in the Pacific and not so much about Europe, and more particularly not about Ireland.  I was certainly not aware of the thorny issue of Partition and Ireland’s troubled history.  I might possibly have had an awareness of Ireland through the medium of Irish fairy tales.  Modern Library books were popular in our house and I see that a volume of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales was an early publication in the Modern Library Series. 

As the years went by I became a stamp collector, and I still have some of the Irish stamps which I first collected in the 1940’s.     The following images and information are from wikipedia.

  lst stamp issued in 1922 by the Irish Free State

first definitive series, low values, issued 1922-23.  The designs were: Sword of Light, Map of Ireland, Celtic Cross, Arms of the Four Provinces and St. Patrick.


Hong Kong Reading May 29, 2010

Filed under: Books,Reading,Social history,U.S. Civil War — Janet @ 9:12 am

A week ago I started reading Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

My plan was to get it started before I left Dublin and then to be immersed in it for the long journey.  Things didn’t quite work out that way.  I read very little on the plane but have been reading intensively here in Hong Kong, in between shopping trips etc.  This morning I reached p. 1010, The End.  What a wonderful book.  The last chapter just drew all the strands together of this majestic novel.  An historical romance – with attitude!  Yes, it was a soap opera but I don’t mean that in a derogatory way.  I think it is a splendid book with the characters beautifully drawn and skillfully developed.

As I read that book this week I couldn’t put it aside and read something about Hong Kong instead.  However I have acquired some books more appropriate to the history and setting of Hong Kong and will get to them in due course.  That should be now, but no, one of my new books is Alfred & Emily, by Doris Lessing – a book published in 2008 but it had escaped my notice.  Doris Lessing is one of my favourite authors of all time so a new book by her is my next choice.      

The time scape of this Doris Lessing book is appropriate to my interests in recent history.  Alfred & Emily is about Doris Lessing’s parents who lived in the early years of the 20th century, a generation or two after the characters in Gone With the Wind and in a different part of the world.  But the theme of war and its destructive consequences runs parallel.