Saturday, June 18, 2011

In Honor of Father's Day: A Father and a Grandfather

He only lived long enough to know one grandchild; he died at age 65.  His father never lived long enough to see his children grow up:  he died at age 42.  They are my father and my grandfather.

Frank George Newhouse was born on October 3, 1906, in Pine Island, Minnesota, to Dr. Fritz and Elizabeth Newhouse, and died on April 10, 1972.  Fritz Valentine Newhouse was born on February 14, 1880, in Pine Island, Minnesota, to George and Miriam Newhouse, and died on February 13, 1923. 

They both went to college:  Frank was an attorney; Fritz was a dentist.  Neither lived long enough to see their children graduate from college and/or graduate school.

One registered for the WWI Draft; the other served during WWII. 

They both loved baseball.  Fritz played on the Pine Island baseball team.  Frank watched baseball on television and attended the Minnesota Twins baseball games as often as he could.  Frank’s passion was most likely instilled by his father as seen by the below photo, taken when Frank was barely a year old.

Though celebrated locally, Father’s Day did not become a national day of recognition until 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed a congressional resolution to honor fathers on the third day in June.  Neither my father nor my grandfather lived long enough to be honored on Father’s Day.

I can only assume that my grandfather had the same traits as my father:  kind, generous, a good sense of humor, one to turn to in times of trouble. So today, for Father’s Day weekend, I honor both my father and the grandfather.  

 Newhouse Family Portrait, 1909
Elizabeth holding Frederick, Frank, and Fritz

Newhouse Family Portrait, about 1952
Florence and Frank, Douglas and Linda

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cemetery Hopping

Today is my 30th wedding anniversary.  After having a nice breakfast buffet, we went cruising—at a very slow pace—through a local cemetery.  We went not for the scenery, but for a specific grave.  We did the same thing yesterday, in another place, looking for a specific grave.  What most people would assume seeing us walk up and down the cemetery rows is that we were looking for relatives.  Well, we were; but, not our relatives, someone else’s.

I recently added my name on Find A Grave website as a volunteer photographer of headstones.  People post requests for headstone photos because they are usually too far away to make the journey themselves.  So, we headed out to find people we did not know, to cemeteries we did not know, to try to find headstones somewhere in a cemetery.

The first stop was outside of Humbird, Wisconsin.  We were looking for Fairview Catholic Church, your typical small country church.  We wound around on one-lane roads that I would not want to traverse during the winter; yesterday was bad enough:  Even the car complained by creaking every once in a while.  I had a map, but we still managed to miss the church until we turned around and saw the spire in the distance. 

Fairview Catholic Church, Clark County, Wisconsin

The church is supposed to have been the first Catholic Church built in Clark County, Wisconsin.  Fortunately, the cemetery is not large, but the majority of headstones were in terrible condition:  covered with lichen which grows on and into the headstone.  After walking up and down the few rows and fighting off bugs, we found the headstones in question; of course, they were the last ones we found.  We were looking for three names.  We found the family of one, a three-year-old child, but there was no headstone for the child.  There was one headstone with a death date one year before the child’s death, probably the mother; and, it made me wonder if perhaps the child was buried in the mother’s grave.  The other two were a husband and wife whose headstone was not that old (1980s), but it was almost completely covered with lichen, and it did not photograph well.

Today, the second stop was a cemetery in Eau Claire.  We were specifically looking for the Scandinavian Cemetery.  It turned out that the cemetery was actually six cemeteries in one:  B’nai B’rith Jewish, Lutheran Scandinavian, St. John’s Lutheran, Norwegian Lutheran, St. Patrick’s, and Sacred Heart.  Where to start? We drove up and down, at a very slow pace on 14 roads, looking for a very common Scandinavian name.  We had no luck.  But since then, I have done some online research of this cemetery; and, I have narrowed where I am supposed to be looking:  the Norwegian Lutheran Cemetery.  So, sometime this week, when the weather is just right, we shall return to the hunt.