Go and Do

Go and Do

Butler Family - December 2012
Butler Family - December 2012

“Time is the raw material of life.  Every day unwraps itself like a gift, bringing us the opportunity to spin a fabric of health, pleasure, and content and to evolve into something better than we are at its beginning.  Every passing instant is a juncture of many roads open to our choice.  Shall we do this or that?  Go this way or that?  We cannot stand still.  Choosing between alternatives in the use of time is evidence of one of the noblest of God’s gifts – freedom of choice.”
– Thomas S.  Monson

When we gifted the whole family with matching sweatshirts sporting “GO & DO” down the left sleeve, we talked briefly about making the most of our time and opportunities we encounter.  Some in the family are facing new opportunities in employment.  Others are making positive inroads in healthy lifestyles.  Grandchildren are focused on good friends and schoolwork.  And we’re all interested in making the most of our leisure time!

But my reality is that in spite of all that cheerleading,  I’ve had a hard time getting into a productive routine since we returned from our Christmas vacation.  The January slump has reared its ugly and lethargic head.  But no more!  The other day when I put on my Butler family “Go & Do” sweatshirt, I thought, “Yeah!  Just go and do – get a move on!”  After all that was the point of choosing that family theme. . .

And so here I record a portion of my seemingly inexhaustible, but very enticing, to-do list for this new year:
Not in any order of interest or importance
So many passions - not in any order of interest or importance
  • Exciting projects to complete – that headboard I thrifted a couple of years ago is just calling for some chalkboard paint in an awesome color
  • Childhood memories to record – do you realize that in the 1960s it wasn’t against any law to put down the back seats of the station wagon, spread out some quilts, and line all 6 children up to sleep while driving non-stop from Michigan to Utah?
  • Skills to learn – just beginning to crack the ins and outs of blog publishing with blurb using Grandpa Lou’s World War II stories
  • Books to read – I’ve got a list going, but feel free to send me your suggestions of must reads
  • Responsibilities to fulfill – Primary music time is so much fun with well planned activities and visual aids.  I’m compiling an arsenal of resources.  Music memory game, anybody?
  • Family history to share – 10 years worth of letters we wrote while living overseas are still languishing in binders on the bookshelves downstairs
  • Creativity to embrace – will this be the year I complete even a small quilting project?

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’m ready to use my raw material and freedom of choice to create full and happy days.

What are your plans?

It’s a girl!

It’s a girl!

Birth Announcement
Birth Announcement

The phone rang early on that Sunday morning in the Pratt home in Flint, Michigan with a long-distance call from Saginaw – about 40 miles away.  When Gram answered, Dad simply said, “Happy Mother’s Day”.  Her immediate response was, “What is it?”  “It” was a long, skinny baby girl with dark hair who was soon named Lynnette.

2 or three months old
two or three months old

At 9 pounds, 9 ounces and 21 1/2 inches long, I was big and healthy.  However, during my first months of life, I was plagued with digestion problems and couldn’t tolerate regular formula.  Following  the doctor’s orders, my parents fed me a smorgasbord of concoctions in an attempt to find something that my system could “stomach”.  In the mid 1950’s, commercially produced formula wasn’t widely available – even for babies without stomach problems.  So whatever they tried didn’t come in a can, but was mixed by my mother in her own kitchen and then poured into sterilized glass  bottles that she stored in the refrigerator. That must have been a chore for her.  I have vague memories of Mom mixing formula for my younger siblings using evaporated milk, water and some corn syrup.  Horrors!

On the bassinette - changing table
On the bathinet - changing table

Projectile vomiting was my routine after every feeding, and my parents soon learned to never burp me while I was facing them.  After weeks or maybe months of trial and error during which time my dad regularly carried my stool sample to the hospital for evaluation (talk about a father’s love!), I think they finally found some soy formula that I could handle. After following that regimen for several months, the doctor was still somewhat concerned when I weighed only 17 pounds at 1 year.  However, after a few more months of growth along with solid food I began to put on a little weight and before long was measuring in the “normal” range.  Oh, to be plagued with an inability to gain weight now!

Mom holding me
Mom and me in our classic 50's attire

I was the third child in the family.  David, born 20 September 1951, was not yet three and Yvonne, born 9 September, 1952, was not yet two.  In September of that year when I was about four months old, Dad returned to Michigan State at Lansing to finish his Master’s Degree.  So Mother was left alone (remember this house?) with three little children and no car during the week – Dad came home only on the weekends.

My mother was a strong woman.  Thanks for the great example!

Early Memories

Early Memories

My first childhood memories are connected with our home at 1117 Phelon Street in Saginaw.  In 1956 we moved to that home from our little country house and lived there until 1958.  For most of us, any memories from our preschool years are vague, but a few things have stayed in my long term storage – perhaps only because I’ve heard my parents tell those stories.

David in front of 1117 Phelon Street - about 1957
David in front of 1117 Phelon Street - about 1957

I have a fuzzy memory of the front porch of this house.  Did we play there?  Sleep there in the summer?  I can’t recall details, but it’s interesting that the porch is the only part of the house that I remember!  Our landlords were Bea and Murray Muellerweiss who lived around the corner from us, and with whom my parents remained friends for many years after we moved away.  I recall that they had a long, tall wooden stairway leading to the second story of their home.  Maybe they rented the upstairs to another family?

My most significant memory of this house and neighborhood still has an impact on me today.  One day while outside with my mom, a large – maybe German Shepherd – dog came bounding towards me. He was not vicious, just happy, friendly, and looking for a playmate. Because of  his substantial size, my skinny little body was no match for his energy, and he knocked me to the ground in his excitement.  His enthusiasm to play was obvious as he licked my face all the while jumping around and wagging his tail!  I can only imagine my shrieks of terror, but Mother has described them as loud, long, and impressive.  When she was finally able to get to my rescue, in probably only a matter of seconds, she pulled me to safety and assured me that I was fine.  I suffered no cuts, bruises or scrapes – just a little dog slobber on my face!  But to this day I have a “healthy respect” for large dogs and avoid them whenever possible!

As a child in the 1950’s, I spent many  hours playing outside.  Because of my naturally darker skin tone (and the lack of sunscreen), the summer sun tanned my skin to a deep shade of brown.  My elbows and knees were particularly dark, and no amount of scrubbing with Comet cleanser would clean them up!  Mother had to resign herself to the fact that I just looked a little unkempt during the summer.  However, in the mid 1950’s segregation was still an issue, and one of the neighbor girls refused to play with me, because she didn’t want to play with “that little colored girl.”

1117 Phelon Street - Saginaw, Michigan
1117 Phelon Street - Saginaw, Michigan

August, 2010
August, 2010

This house now sits in a run-down and somewhat questionable neighborhood, but after 50+ years I guess that’s to be expected.

A tragic ending

A tragic ending

Remember those lovely letters requesting and granting her hand in marriage?
My continued sorting uncovered the sad news of a very short marriage.

The Northern Budget (newspaper)
Troy, Rensselaer, New York
23 September 1850

DIED
In this city [on 22 September], of the congestion of the lungs, Mrs. Caroline W. Pratt, wife of B.P. Pratt age 23 years.  Her funeral will take place at 11 o’clock tomorrow the 24th from the residence of B.P. Pratt – 69 N. 2nd Street.  Friends and acquaintances are invited to attend.

From this marriage came my great-great grandfather, Lansing Taylor Pratt,
born 21 June 1850 -just three months before his mother died. 

Family Friend

Family Friend

susan_b_anthony

When my mom turned 50 years old, we had a family party to celebrate the major milestone.  One of the gifts we gave her was 50 shiny, new Anthony dollars.  These coins had just been released in July of that year, and not only were they the first dollar coin to be released in a long time, but Susan B. Anthony was the first women to be honored by having her “picture” on a US coin.

Susan Brownell Anthony was an influential American civil rights leader who played a crucial role in the women’s rights movement in the 1800’s.  She was arrested in 1872 for voting illegally, but her influence eventually led to the adoption of the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution which gives women the right to vote.

However, in spite of all Miss Anthony’s accomplishments, the dollar was very unpopular because of its similarity to a quarter in both size and weight.  In spite of the government’s best efforts in promoting the coin, it never really became mainstream and eventually was replaced with the golden dollar coin – so you probably haven’t see very many of them.

Interesting, but what does this have to do with me or you?

This past week while continuing my genealogy organizing project, I came across a piece of paper that caught my eye.  My mother had in her files a letter from the Fort Edward, New York Historical Association which was a response to her request for information about the marriage of Benoni Pratt and Caroline Taylor – my 3rd great grandparents.  Mr. Paul McCarty, director of that organization, wrote that he had been unable to find any information about the marriage, but did have some additional information on the Taylor family.

Susan B. Anthony - really?
Susan B. Anthony - really?

“However, I do wish to convey to you some additional information on the Taylors.  Lansing Taylor built a large home on the corner of what is today US Route #4 and Patterson Road at Moseskill, which is very near Fort Miller.  The house has since been destroyed by fire and the location is today occupied by another house.

“Susan B. Anthony was employed by Lansing B. Taylor for a period of two years after 1839, most likely Caroline was one of her students.  Miss Anthony’s  family lived in nearby Greenwich, New York.”

A little searching on the internet produced this information from Wikipedia:

“In 1837, Anthony was sent to Deborah Moulson’s Female Seminary, a Quaker boarding school in Philadelphia. She was not happy at Moulson’s, but she did not have to stay there long. She was forced to end her formal studies because her family, like many others, was financially ruined during the Panic of 1837. Their losses were so great that they attempted to sell everything in an auction, even their most personal belongings, which were saved at the last minute when Susan’s uncle, Joshua Read, stepped up and bid for them in order to restore them to the family.

“In 1839, the family moved to Hardscrabble, New York, in the wake of the panic and economic depression that followed. That same year, Anthony left home to teach and pay off her father’s debts.”

And that would have taken her to my great-great-great grandmother’s home!

Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony

February 15, 1820 – March 13, 1906

An old fashioned engagement

An old fashioned engagement

My 3rd great grandfather, Benoni Preston Pratt, asking Lansing Gaylor Taylor for the hand of his daughter,
Caroline Wing Taylor, in marriage.

They were married 30 August 1849.

May I please marry your daughter?
May I please marry your daughter?

(On) July 14th 1849

L.G. Taylor Esq

Dear Sir

I have the consent of the hand of your Daughter Caroline should it meet the approbation of the parents.  Will they favor me with an early reply.

I await their pleasure

very Respectfully

B.P. Pratt

the parents cheerfully consent
the parents cheerfully consent

Fort Miller 14 July 1849

Mr. B.P. Pratt

Dear Sir

Your note dated 14 July came to hand this day and in reply to the matters set forth in the same I would say that the parents of Caroline cheerfully consent and hope that the arrangement may prove ( ?) happiness to all the parties concerned it it.

Yours

Truly

L.G. Taylor