Archive for October, 2015

Just back from a trip to Michigan, Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.

Now I know hubby and I are getting older because we tried to find his “roots” in Queens in NYC. We tracked down his school, P.S. 83, which was part of the Ravenswood area of what he thinks of as Astoria and what appears on some documents as Long Island City (they are adjacent). The old brown brick school, which was built in 1902, has been demolished and replaced by a new building.

The old school looked like this:

The new building (photo thanks to Google maps) looks like this:

From brown brick to . . . brown brick. According to Google, a residential treatment center called Phoenix House has its main location here, but I can’t confirm this for sure. The address numbers are quite confusing.

Rainey Park is next to the property. Hubby doesn’t remember the park, but rather a big playground. I wonder what it looked like when he went there. Today it is clearly a park. I looked up the history, and the park was acquired and named by the city in 1912! Maybe it seemed to extend the playground? Or maybe they used it as a playground?

I took this pic of the park looking out of the car window.

According to Google, as you look across the park you are looking across the East River to Roosevelt Island and beyond to Manhattan.

Hubby first attended school at PS 83 in 1960 and was only there a few years before his family moved to Michigan.

The more he saw places and thought about his childhood, the more my husband remembered. I started to wonder if it’s easier to remember your childhood if you lived in the same town for your whole childhood than if you experienced one or more dramatic moves. Or the other way around.

Hubby always said he grew up in a project, which was not something I saw growing up in Kalamazoo, so he wanted to see where the buildings were located. Lo and behold, they are still there–and people still live in the buildings.

There are 31 buildings of 6 and 7 stories. From here, hubby used to walk to school at PS 83 with the “big kids.” They stopped for candy on the way home at a little store.

If anybody knows anything about the history of the area, Ravenswood Houses, or P.S. 83, I would love to hear about it!


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Looking through my computer files (such a mess!), I found an old Word document I thought I’d share with you.

When my daughter was 10 she wanted to be a paperdoll centerfold for American Girl magazine. One of the requirements was to interview female living relatives about their childhoods. Her oldest female relative that we knew of (my daughter was adopted) was her great-grandmother, Lucille Edna Mulder (Zuidweg), who was born April 17, 1912. She passed away in 2000, just two years after my daughter interviewed her.

Here are the interview results.

Edna Mulder never wanted to be called Lucille, especially by her older sister, Dorothy, or her younger sister, Alvena.  They were called Dot and Vena, so she wanted to be called Edna.   Edna also had two younger brothers, Peter and Charles.  Her parents owned a farm in Caledonia, Michigan.  Her father came from a Dutch-American family and her mother from a German-American family.


Edna, Clara (holding Pete), Vena, Charles, and Dot

The farmhouse had a big dining room in the middle of the first floor.  The kitchen was out in back and had a coal-burning stove/oven.  The front room was tiny, with barely enough room for the big wood-burning stove and her father’s rocking chair.  He sat and smoked his pipes and cigars in the evening.  He played cribbage with a friend with a small chair pulled up to the fire.  All the downstairs had linoleum laid on it after Edna grew up and moved away from home; while she was home, it was a wooden floor.  The upstairs was two rooms:  a bedroom for her parents and one big bedroom for the five children.  They slept five to one bed, with the boys sleeping across the width at the girls’ feet.  It was COLD up there in the Michigan winters–with no heat.  Edna’s father had built the house; most of the furniture was handmade, too, some of it quite old.

Edna’s farm had a big family of cats, but they weren’t house pets.  They were kept to kill the mice in the barn.  Edna’s job was to put food and water out on the back porch for them.  The farm had lots of corn fields, cows, pigs, and an apple orchard.  It even had a small stream for fishing, but you had to drive the wagon down there, it was so far away.

But Edna and her siblings were used to long walks.  The three girls walked three miles to school everyday and three miles back home.  They kept each other warm by cuddling together as they walked.  Once in a great while, during the worst weather, Edna’s mother drove all the children to school in a tiny black Amish buggy.

Sometimes the girls were naughty.  For instance, they knew their parents had a store charge at the grocery store in Caledonia.  A couple of times the girls couldn’t resist and charged a giant candy bar or a banana.  (Fruit was a big treat; Edna only saw oranges at Christmastime).  When their parents found out later, they would “get bawled out.”

Edna’s family didn’t have much money, except for owning the farm, but her father collected a few hundred books.  He had several series of books for children which offered moral and religious instruction, as well as some adventure books.  Edna had plenty to read while she was growing up.  But she didn’t have a lot of time to read because she always had a lot of chores.  Farms need a lot of care!  Edna learned to cook basic meat, potato, and vegetable dishes while she lived at home with her family.  She also became a good baker, making delicious cookies, pies, and cakes.  She wanted to be a teacher or a writer when she grew up, but she also wanted to have a home and a family and to take good care of them.


I’ve posted photos of the farm where Edna grew up before:

Final note: This turned out to be a great project for my daughter and for me because it was about our shared knowledge–some of what my grandmother taught my mother was taught to me and taught, in turn, to my daughter–and we both learned about history through the life of an ordinary girl. And, yes, my daughter did get to be an American Girl paperdoll. You can read the story and see the photos here: An American Girl’s Family Tree


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In a post called “Who Was Hank Waruf, Kalamazoo Gunsmith?” I wrote about the husband of my great-great-grandmother’s sister, Carrie (Paak) Waruf. The couple owned the resort Ramona Palace and Ramona Park, as well as many cottages and their own home, at Long Lake in Portage, Michigan.

In my files I found the brochure for Henry Waruf’s (Walraven) funeral.


Henry Waruf’s wife Carrie and my GGGrandmother Alice Paak DeKorn had a sister named Mary. One of Mary’s daughters was Genevieve. She was married to Frank Tazalaar. Here are Henry and Frank together (with a little dog).


I get the impression from some of our photos that Hank Waruf was a man other men wanted to hang around .

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