My grandfather’s postcard collection dates from 1906-1910, a wonderful glimpse into the life of small, turn-of-the-century boy. But Donald C. Minor’s cards also offer the simple pleasure of Christmas artwork, which I never tire of admiring.
Two red-breasted songsters perch on a sprig of holly, which is decorated with a sprig of mistletoe and a golden horseshoe. This brightly colored card is meant to bring the recipient great cheer, that is for certain. Published by the New York-based Samuel Langdorf and Company*, number 841 was one of several designs the company printed in Saxony, Germany in 1910.
Donald C. Minor received this card from Ralph on December 20, 1910.
“Hello Donal. How are you? What do you want Santa to bring you? I want a gun but mama says i can not have it so I will haft (sic) to take what ever I get. Your friend, Ralph”
There are other postcards from Ralph and his younger brother, Blair, in my grandfather’s postcard collection. Using the search engine of Ancestry.com I entered Ralph as living in South Connellsville, PA in 1910 with a sibling, Blair. The return included a interesting match: Ralph Younkin, 10, son of Milton R and May Waychoff Younkin, living with Blair, 8, and grandmother, Jennie Waychoff, in Connellsville, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. I have researched the Minor family fairly well, and the Younkin surname is unfamiliar. However, recently collected cousin memories suggest that Donald’s parents were friends with the Waychoff family; perhaps May Stephenson Minor and May Waychoff Younkin were exchanging Christmas cards, too!
Interesting how a fascination with Christmas postcards intertwines with a family history. Merry Christmas, indeed!
*The winged orb on the back of the card is identified by the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City as the trademark for Samuel Langford and Company, publishers from 1906-1918. Accessed on December 16, 2011.
No Mud. No Lotus.
ON a cloudy September Sunday, I attended a Day of Mindfulness, led by the incredible teacher, Thich Nhat Hahn. His dharma talk examined the nature of suffering, that most human experience that grounds us all. By focusing on the present moment, he said, we provide the space in which we can focus on our suffering, to cradle it as we would a small baby. By paying attention to what pains us, we can transform that suffering, into compassion – for ourselves. This compassion is the foundation of happiness, joy; a base for healthy communication and compassion for others. Without this mud – this suffering – there can be no flower – joy, happiness, and compassion.
This last year has been very, very muddy, and I am looking for flowers, for trees, in fact, with root systems to stop the erosion of this rainy life season….And I keep smacking into the words of Thich Nhat Hahn.
The suffering inside us contains the suffering of our ancestors, who may not have been able to transform their suffering…and transmitted their unresolved suffering to us. If we are able to understand that suffering and thereby transform it we are healing our parents, our ancestors, as well as, ourselves.
The Art of Communicating
I have found the mindfulness exercises to be moments of peace and comfort. I focus on my breathing and in that space acknowledge my sorrow. I don’t always feel better, or happy, right then. But I can tolerate the pain, and see a path forward, and with relief know that I will heal, and joy will come.
This Thanksgiving day I am grateful to have experienced human compassion, a listening ear, a tight squeeze of love. I am grateful, too, for the opportunity to offer that compassion to others, and to my ancestors, as well. Their suffering is the dirt of my family’s trees, and with mindful genealogy perhaps I can transform their suffering into understanding and compassion – for my grandparents, my parents, for me, for my present companions.
The year was 1934, and though a great depression set boundaries on aspirations and dreams, folks still found occasion to bring out the good dishes and light the candelabras.
Aunt Alice Stansbury was celebrating, as was her niece, Katie Bradford. Little Marilyn was coming! The toddler, Katie’s only grandchild, arrived midday at Alice’s home in Coshocton, Ohio. After the long car ride from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, the adults lingered in the back yard, soaking up the spring sun. Marilyn busied herself in the grass, sharing her pickings with her Grammy Bradford, Grandmother Minor, Aunt Alice, and Coshocton friend, Earnest Bachert. Young Uncle Carlos Bradford hung back, laughing at the scene.
Eventually, the party moved indoors, where Aunt Alice could keep tabs on the simmering pots and roasting meats. Donald and Kerma Bradford Minor coaxed their little botanist to wash up, preparing to take her place as honored guest at Aunt Alice’s festive table.