About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Thanksgiving, Part 2

Last week I suggested songs that expressed gratitude in the lyrics. This week, let's consider songs about things for which you are thankful. There are many things in our lives for which we are grateful (I've been reading about such things on Facebook throughout this month and have been moved by many of the things that evoke feelings of gratitude in people).

I can think of a multitude of songs that deal with elements (ethereal and concrete) for which I am thankful. But probably the things that is a blessing constantly are the freedom and liberty we enjoy in America. It hasn't always been that way in our country and still is not in other countries. But even today we hear about people who have been brought to America as slaves - human trafficking. It seems inconceivable that such behaviors are back on these shores. It reminds me of a song from the Civil Rights movement but dating back to pre-Civil War days of slavery. I used this song as an example back in July, but will suggest a different YouTube version this time:

Alfred Street Baptist Church, Male Chorus, singing "Oh, Freedom."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - 23 November 2010 - Bayhnum Brooks Wilcox

Bayhnum Brooks Wilcox, wife of my granduncle, Roy Edward Wilcox. Buried in Oakland Cemetery, Dallas, Texas.
Bayhnum was born 9 June 1886 and died 21 November 1978 (32 years ago Sunday). I never met her or her husband, though my grandfather idolized his older brother and was heartsick when he died (in 1965). They had no children. My father was named for Roy, who is buried next to his wife.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Thanksgiving, Part 1

We are entering Thanksgiving week so I want to use that as the theme inspiration for this week and next. To start with, how about a song that expresses gratitude?

In 1968, I wrote a song for my friend, Pernell Roberts, which I was honored to sing for him twice in his life (once in 1969 and again in 2008). It expresses what his influence in my life did for me. I did record this on a CD a number of years ago (it is no longer available) and am planning to record it again in the coming year. Meanwhile, here are the words:


For you, for always being there; for you, because you always care;

For you, you always understand; you are, to me, a special man;

chorus) Thank you for just being you; no one else could ever do,
What you've done for me; can't you see? Because of you, I'm a better me.

When I'm alone I see your smiles, I hear your voice across the miles;
I haven't seen you for a long, long time, but the mem'ry keeps me feelin' fine (chorus)

For you, every night I pray; I think about you ev'ry day;
You are to me a special friend; I know some day I will see you again (chorus)

copyright 1968, Jean M. Wilcox

Your turn. Share a song; lyrics (some or all, as applicable); a link to an MP3 file or YouTube video or the printed words. Let start the Thanksgiving week with a musical reminder!
(Next week: songs about things for which you are thankful.)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Songs to make us feel better

This week has been one of organizing and cleaning for us. Putting things in order can be a somewhat therapeutic activity for me. And while I was doing much of the work, I was playing music (not personally, I mean on the player). It occurred to me that perhaps I didn't needed to clean up to make me feel better . . . all I needed was to play some music. Of course, my office would still be a mess!

So, what songs make you feel better? There are so many songs that fit that description for me, but I can only choose one, so I'll select "Golden Slippers." I love the topic, but also the upbeat manner in which most people perform it. I found this version on YouTube that reflects these elements.

Is there a song or a tune that makes you feel better? Share some lyrics, a link to a YouTube or MP3, or just tell us the title - what song will help bring you up when you are feeling down? Or just keep a good mood going?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday - Veteran's Day Thanks and Remembrances

My great-grandfather's GAR medal. He served in the Civil War from 1862-1865.

Thanks to all who served and are serving.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - The 5 Senses - Taste/Smell

For this week's singalong, I thought I'd put two senses together: taste and smell (they often occur together, anyway). The sense of smell is the one most connected to our memory, so songs about smell are likely to have to do with remembering something.

At this time of year, when smells and tastes are so connected to the holidays, I thought it might be fun to see if folks would like to stretch their minds to see if they can identify songs dealing with these 2 senses. It took me a while, so I won't be surprised if the offerings here are limited.

Our friend Mark Witman, wrote a song - "Seven Thousand Feet" - dealing with the seasonal memories, including these lines:

"But here inside the house the smell of cinnamon and clove
Drifts from the apple cider out there steaming on the stove.
And the ponderosa kindling is just a-nibbling at the oak,
Flavoring the valley with the smoke." (c) 1991, Mark C. Witman

The imagery is perfect for a cold winter day.

So, as you start planning the smells and flavors for your holiday meals, see if you can remember a song that talks of such things. Then share it here (the lyrics or all or part of the song, a link to them or to an MP3 or YouTube video).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Response to Poetry/Song Challenge of Bill West

My blogger friend Bill West, whose music and family stories tastes seem to run right along with mine, has challenged his readers to find poetry or song lyrics that are ancestrally related. Here are his rules and my responses to them:

1. Find a poem by a local poet, famous or obscure, from the region one of your ancestors lived in. It can be about an historical event, a legend, a person, or even about some place (like a river)or a local animal.Or if you prefer, post the lyrics of a song or a link to a video of someone performing the song.

I love the option of "obscure," because that is exactly what this poet was. She was my grandmother and, even during the time I knew her (my early childhood) I think "obscure" would have been the perfect label. Her poetry usually was religious, but she often wrote poems to honor a friend, family member, or well known person. However, she had a humorous side to her and that would come out in odd ways in her poetry. Because this challenge is asking that the poem be about an event, person, or place, etc., I think that this particular piece (though not stated as being autobiographical, obviously was) fits perfectly.

2. Post the poem or song to your blog (remembering to cite the source where you found it.)

The poet, about four years before she penned this piece

Among my grandmother's effects were all of her writings. I took on the chore of transcribing all of her English works (I have yet to tackle the many written in German). So the citation is as follows:

Author: Pauline Elizabeth Miller
Title: "Going Home at Night"
Date: November 13, 1899
Location: Chicago, Cook, Illinois
Source: Papers of Pauline Elizabeth Miller Wilcox in possession of Jean Wilcox Hibben, Riverside County, California

Oh, how many aching feet
Can be found at night,
When the street car is so full
And we're packed so tight.

Don't you talk about a seat,
Such a thing is rare,
As there's hardly standing-room
For the people there.

Some of them have stood all day,
And their feet do ache,
But to stand and hold a strap
That just takes the cake.

And the straps are up so high
That it is no snap
For a girl who's naturally short
To hang on a strap.

But the worst of all is this:
If some heavy form
Comes along and plants his foot
Right upon your corn.

Oh, what dreadful agony
We do have to bear.
But we're just compelled to pay
The same five cent fare.

3.Tell us how the subject of the poem or song relates to your ancestor's home or life.

Pauline Elizabeth Miller met my grandfather about ten years after writing this poem. Prior to their meeting at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois, my grandmother lived in Chicago and had to take the street car to get to work (she was a stenographer). Her reliance on public transportation obviously was not always enjoyed, but her sense of humor, plus the need for her income to augment what little the family had, surely saw her through the worst of it.

During her adult, single life, she cared for her mother and helped to put her younger brother through school. She was a devout Baptist, besides attending Moody, in later years she worked for Paul Rader at the famous Chicago Tabernacle, doing secretarial work for him, still commuting by street car and, later, buses.

Pauline Miller Wilcox, in the early 1900s, Chicago, Illinois

Pauline was a short woman who had suffered from whooping cough as a young child. For some reason, her doctor had her wear a body cast and then the physician just disappeared (he may have died; no one is certain), leaving her body in the cast for many months, causing an unusual spine curvature which resulted in her small stature that probably would not have been her lot had the cast been removed in a timely matter.

Pauline (on the left) with her older sister Ottillie (they were only two years
apart in age and Pauline was about four in this photo, being after she
was out of the cast, but the damage was done).
Photo ca. 1883, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Throughout her unmarried adult life, Pauline wore shoes that were fashionable, in spite of the pain they caused her feet. As a result, she was plagued with foot problems so severe that, in later life, the podiatrist would make house calls. She always told me to "wear shoes for comfort, not fashion," and I have followed her advice throughout my life. These various details of her life are all expressed in this poem, making me believe that it is autobiographical.

Lee Alfred Wilcox, my grandfather, and Pauline, 1955, Wilmette, Cook, Illinois
(notice Pauline's stature)

4.Submit your post's link here to me by November 18th and I'll publish all the entries on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th!