Saturday, January 23, 2016

Photos Of A Historic Snowstorm

There will be no Saturday Serendipity this week in favor of memorializing in a few shots what we have experienced.  The first photo above is, believe it or not, our four vehicles.

It is still coming down here steadily and has been all day.

Sadly, our new Toro snowblower, refused to start yesterday so we could get on top of this winter gift. We are 50 miles west of DC and tucked up against the Blue Ridge Mountains, so we almost always get more snow than DC.

I have caught something that may or may not be norovirus.  I am too weak to lend anything but nominal assistance.  Molly did a path through the driveway yesterday as our Toro snowblower would not start using the handpull or the electric start, so we took the blower into the kitchen for over night to warm her up.  That did the trick this morning and Molly used her on the entire driveway.

And then there is this photo of the roof on our attached garage.  Good thing we had new roof put on just a couple of years ago!

And finally, here is El Toro resting in our kitchen to prepare for another clean up tomorrow. A bit of advice . . .  having a model with an electric start is well worth the relatively low additional cost. We could have lost if all we had was the mower-like handpull.

Amazingly, we have lost no power . . . yet.

Molly is a genuine hero!  ;-)

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All photos by the author.

Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Is This New England Cuisine Specialty Actually A Health Food? (January 12, 2016)

Growing up in New England there were many items of the regional cuisine that were known and appreciated mostly, if not exclusively, by residents of the various New England states: Johnnycakes and clam cakes in Rhode Island; grinders in Connecticut (otherwise known as a sub or hoagy); Boston baked beans, of course; frappes in much of New England were cabinets in Rhode Island (otherwise known as milkshakes); Moxie, the official gentian-flavored soft drink of Maine (although created in Lowell, MA); and many other food items such as lobster rolls, maple syrup and candy, Indian pudding, and New England clam "chowdah" to name just a few. 

And then there is the much loved, but much maligned "fluffernutter" sandwich! 

When I was in elementary school in New Hampshire in the early 1960s it would have been a very unusual lunch period indeed if several student lunch boxes did not contain a fluffernutter. The fluffernutter is so ingrained in New England food culture that the town of Somerville, Massachusetts (where Marshmallow Creme was invented in 1917), holds an annual "What the Fluff?" festival every September. In fact, the Fluffernutter is so embedded in New England culture that it had to eventually become the subject of political maneuvering and proposed legislation. 

In 2006 a Massachusetts State Senator decided that the guilty pleasure of the schoolhouse fluffernutter had to be curbed for the health and welfare of The Bay State children and he proposed legislation to limit the serving of the traditional sandwich by school cafeterias to once a week. Not to be outdone, the State Representative whose district was just south of Lynn, where the key ingredient to fluffernutters is created, introduced a bill to make the fluffernutter the official state sandwich. Both bills failed. And so it goes . . . the traditional and controversial fluffernutter lives on even if not clothed in the glory of being an official state sandwich in a New England state.

Now, for the uninitiated, the regionally famous and traditional fluffernutter was always made with white bread, peanut butter, and a marshmallow creme that was invented in Massachusetts in the early 20th Century. According to Wikipedia, marshmallow fluff was invented by one Archibald Query in Somerville, MA in 1917 and he called it Marshmallow Creme. The earliest published recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich was during World War I when a woman named Emma Curtis from Melrose, MA (who with her husband Amory invented what they called Snowflake Marshmallow Creme), explained how to make what she called a "Liberty Sandwich."  The Liberty Sandwich used oat or barley bread.

It was not until 1960, however, that an advertising agency came up with the actual term "Fluffernutter." Durkee-Mower Inc. hired a marketing agency to come up with a campaign to market the peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwich and thus sell more of their Marshmallow Fluff (originally called Toot Sweet Marshmallow Fluff). H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower bought the recipe of Archibald Query in 1920. In 1960, the agency came up with the name Fluffernutter and today the name is a registered trademark of Durkee-Mower.

As much loved as the New England-born Fluffernutter is, even with its rich history it is also the subject of ridicule and mockery to the point that the term is sometimes used to simply describe an insubstanital thing having little or no value. And as the aborted attempt to legislatively limit its consumption in Massachusetts schools demonstrates, the venerable Fluffernutter has even been attacked as a contributor to childhood obesity!

Recently, it was with some degree of shock that I realized my wife and her sister (who grew up in New Jersey), were not really familiar with the traditional comfort food that is the Fluffernutter. AND I realized that I had not indulged in one in so long that I could not remember the last time I had one. Since these realizations hit while I was assisting my sister-in-law with her move to the Adirondacks, I added "Fluff" to our shopping list. It was no surprise to find that the grocery stores in the North Country of upstate New York (being contiguous to New England states) stocked Fluff in regular and huge sizes -- and so some Fluff was purchased and the Fluffernutter was introduced to a lifelong denizen of the Mid-Atlantic States. And it was good!

Now when I was growing up in New Hampshire and consuming Fluffernutters with some regularity, I never paused to consider what the Fluff in Fluffernutter was made of -- or the nutritional/caloric value of the sweet ingredient in the sandwich. But as an adult in snack food, nutrition-conscious, America I happened to glance at the Nutrition Facts label on the jar of Fluff while in the grocery store and I was delighted to discover that Fluff is actually a health food!  Who knew??

You are doubtful? Unbelieving? Derisive?  Well, look at the fact sheet on this marvelous combination of corn syrup, sugar, dried egg whites, and vanillin and judge for yourself.

The standard 2 tablespoon serving of Fluff has a mere 40 calories and none of them come from fat or trans fat. There is a minimal amount of sodium (5mg) compared to many foods we eat in great quantities today, and there are only 6 grams of sugar per serving in the total 10 grams of carbohydrates Moreover, Fluff is not a significant source of cholesterol. 

Compare Fluff to the other required ingredient in a Fluffernutter -- let's say the "natural" peanut butter of a national brand that, "Has to be good with a name like . . . "  The standard 2 tablespoon serving of this delicious peanut butter weighs in at 200 calories with 16 grams of total fat of which 2.5 grams is saturated fat. And, the peanut butter brings you 105 mg of sodium with 6 grams of total carbohydrates of which 1 gram is sugar.

If you match your 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with the popular strawberry jam from the same famous national brand to make yourself a PB&J instead of a Fluffernutter, what do you get? Well, even though you will get the same zero fat as Fluff, you will consume 100 calories and 26 grams of total carbohydrates -- of which 24 grams will be sugar.  The jam will not give you any significant sodium.

There you have it, a classic New England food specialty is actually a modern health food.  So make room for Fluff in the pantry, abandon your blind reliance on the good ol' PB&J, and branch out with introduction of the New England health alternative -- the one and only Fluffernutter!

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All photos of a jar of Marshmallow Fluff by the author.

See, for a link to the nutritional facts for Smucker's Natural Creamy Peanut Butter.

See, for a link to the nutritional information for Smucker's Strawberry Jam.

Fluffernutter is a registered trademark of Durkee-Mower Inc.
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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Saturday Serendipity (January 9, 2016)

Saturday Serendipity returns this week with my first post of 2016. Having been traveling for the holidays and now concentrating on the long, painful process of reorganizing over 29,000 genealogy photos and document images (see December 19, 2015 post), I have had to put aside my blogging to get on top of things. Now that I am back to some genealogy and history reading, here are just a few recommended reads for this weekend.

1. The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS highlighted a piece at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History blog that summarized the top ten most read of its blog posts in 2015. 

2.  Do you have any ancestors or relatives who lived in Barnstable, Massachusetts? Check out this article about the steps being taken to preserve record books and documents going back almost 400 years.  Once the material is restored and digitized, they will be available via computer; until then the documents are still available to the public as long as a town employee is present during handling.

3.  As genealogists, we are always open to locating new sources for potentially useful and informative data to better inform our genealogies. The rapidly moving era of digitization brings us new research sources almost daily. Rebecca Onion at The Vault posted two pieces about digital history projects that "dazzled" her this past year.  You can see the second of her two posts and you can get a link to her initial post here. As a teaser of what you can find, how about an online Reno, Nevada divorce history or a mapping of the occupation by the Army after Appomatox and during Reconstruction?

4.  The last issue of NGS Magazine for 2015 (Vol. 41, Number 4, Oct. -- Dec. 2015) was largely devoted to writing. As Editor Darcie Hind Posz put it, the goal of the issue was to "offer inspiration, practical tools, and new approaches to genealogical writing." The issue is worth the time it takes to read it.

5.  And speaking of NGS, UpFront With NGS blog had a recent post about the status and future of microfilm records.  You can read the brief post and get links to more extensive pieces here.

6.  And finally, here is an interesting video that only lasts 1 minute. It shows via a morphing map of the U.S. how our population grew and moved from the first census in 1790 through the most recent census in 2010.

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Copyright 2016, John D. Tew
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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (December 19, 2015)

Saturday Serendipity returns this week with a few recommended reads for this last weekend before Christmas.

1.  The Weekly Genealogist of NEHGS mentioned an article in the Chicago Tribune this week "Why cousins matter: Tapping these familial bonds fosters insight, fellowship" by Richard Asa.  You can read the article here, BUT be aware that apparently you have to at least register (for FREE) your email address and zip code in order to read the entire article. :(

2.  The Vault recently had a piece about an early 20th Century mapping project to depict the distribution of men of talent based on the 1901 edition of Who's Who in America. The highlighted 1904 article from Century magazine, titled "The Brain of the Nation," can be read about here and you can see the graphical depictions of state-by-state and major city comparisons.  [SPOILER ALERT: There was very good news for New England and Boston.]

3.   Another article at The Vault has particular resonance today as fear ramps up over the threat of international terrorism and some pandering politicians begin to look for targets on which to focus the mounting fear.  Read, "An Eloquent Baptist Protest Against Internment Camps During WWII" here.

4.  In an interesting "two-fer" about 19th Century women who asserted their rights and protected their interests by refusing to go along with land sales their husbands wanted to accomplish, I recommend two recent posts:  "Saying No" by Judy Russell at The Legal Genealogist; and "Working A trade . . . " by Diane L. Richard at UpFront With NGS.

5.  I recently invested almost four days of my time to recovering my photo files after having "upgraded" the operating system on my iMac to El Capitan from Yosemite -- and in the process lost iPhotos in favor of the new Photos -- (it's  a long story). Because of this awful experience that now requires me to go back and reorganize some 29,000 photos and document images, I found James Tanner's recent post "Crashing Computers, Dead Hard Drives and other Disasters" at Genealogy's Star blog to be of particular interest. 

6.  And finally, I admit to being behind the curve on the developing news and awareness that Family Tree Maker software will no longer be sold as of the end of this month and that support to current owners and users of the software will end on January 1, 2017. I believe this is another HUGE mistake by and my disappointment in this decision runs as deeply as my anger does. I recommend reading Heather Rojo's series of posts on this subject at Nutfield Genealogy blog if you are an FTM owner/user.  You can see her latest post here and get links to the earlier posts in the series to begin at the beginning. You can also gets links to posts by others on this FTM news, which Heather has helpfully provided.

On this subject, my greatest concern with the announced demise of FTM is that I love the sync feature. Syncing allows me to easily transfer my on-line research and data from Ancestry so it is captured and stored on my local hard drive. It is one of the methods I use for backing up and preserving all my research efforts. I am VERY concerned that Ancestry's next bad news will be that the syncing feature will disappear as part of the ending of FTM support come the end of 2016! I do not want to return to the days where my on-line research had to be manually saved and transferred to my FTM database and trees. As others have said, we have a year to come up with alternatives.  I just hope there will be real alternatives that will allow syncing Ancestry research to another user-owned,  local application. I am not very sanguine about the likelihood this will happen in the next year AND be reliable once in place if it happens.

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (November 21, 2015)

After another brief hiatus for a trip to the Adirondacks, Saturday Serendipity returns this week with a few recommended reads for this last weekend before the Thanksgiving rush.

1.  This week The Weekly Genealogist by NEHGS offered a link to a NYT article titled "America, the Not So Promised Land" about some realities and myths concerning migration to the United States. You can read the article here.

2. UpFront With NGS blog posted this morning the program for the 2016 Family History Conference to be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL from May 4 - 7. You can read more about the Conference and get links to the program here.

3. I have often wondered about the enumerators identified on the early U.S. Census reports we have all used at one time or another. How were they chosen? What did their commissions and work actually involve? How much were they paid? And so on and so forth. Well, this week Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings blog provided the transcription of an article from the May 24, 1900 San Diego Weekly Union that provides some interesting information and answers. You can read Randy's transcription here.

4. One of the unwritten "rules" about public on-line genealogy trees is the avoidance of showing living family members without their permission. I think this is an excellent rule and I try to follow it with respect to both my family trees and posts on this blog. But the always thoughtful James Tanner raises an interesting alternate view in his post at Genealogy's Star blog, "Live People and Online Family Trees -- What is the Reality Here?" Read his thought provoking piece here.

5.  Our favorite legal genealogist, Judy Russell, came across an old New York statute that surprised even her.  It dealt with divorce and the right to remarry in New York up until 1967. Previous to 1967 a divorce could only be granted on the basis of adultery by a spouse. But it was the repercussion of being found guilty of adultery that so surprised Judy.  Read why here at The Legal Genealogist blog. 

6.  And finally, I have to recommend "Old New England Pie Crust: Tough Recipes for Tough People" by Peter Muise at his New England Folklore blog. Peter's Thanksgiving menu reads almost exactly like the one I grew up with and still must have for it to feel like a real Thanksgiving. The holy trinity of Thanksgiving pies was, is, and always will be apple, mince meat, and pumpkin/squash. Turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing (not the highfalutin "dressing"), cranberry sauce, butternut squash, and small onions rounded out our holiday fare. Peter gives us a nice tutorial on early pie crust recipes and challenges in New England.  Read Peter's amusing and informative post here.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (November 7, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  Here is an interesting read about an archeology dig in Lexington, Massachusetts that recently unearthed some British regular and colonial musket balls. The dig is on what was the farm of Tabitha Nelson. Nelson's farm was in the line of the British retreat from Concord on what became the first day of the American Revolution.  

2.  NEHGS has a few items of note in The Weekly Genealogist newsletter this week: (1) The name index to the 1910 US Census has been added to NEHGS research database library; (2) A call has gone out to try to locate descendants of pre-famine Irish immigrants to Rhode Island (1825 - 1845) whose ancestors might have helped build Fort Adams (contact Jessica Neuwirth, exhibit developer at Providence Children's Museum, with any information by December 31, 2015 at or 401-273-5437, ext. 103.); and (3) An interesting database you can read about here that was compiled by NPR of American veterans secretly exposed to mustard gas in military experiments done during WWII (the database has more than 3,900 individuals in it).

4.  Vita Brevis, from NEHGS and American Ancestors, has an interesting piece by Zachary Garceau about the fluid nature of borders and how it can affect genealogical research.  Read the article here. There is also a piece by Alicia Crane Williams about the problem of citing internet sources that is well worth checking out (including the comments). You can find the posting here.

5.  Heard of the new site called DNA.Land?  According to a post at UpFront With NGS, the site is not connected to any DNA testing service and has the potential to develop into a useful and needed tool to aid in analyzing your DNA results. You can read more and get links here.

6.  And finally, from The Vault comes a gem of early 20th Century misogyny.  Have a look here at a compendium titled "Bachelor Bigotries." This little collection can be read like a daily horoscope (horrorscope?) to learn about all the evils of marriage and women so you can see the item for today -- November 7th -- as well as the entire month of November. Oh . . . and you should know that this little gem was compiled BY A WOMAN (Laura Brace Bates).

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Heather's Honor Roll Project -- Veterans Day 2015

Heather Wilkinson Rojo of Nutfield Genealogy started an Honor Roll Project in 2010. The goal of the project is to post photos of various war memorials and honor rolls along with the transcriptions of the names on the memorials/honor rolls in order to make the names available for search engines. In this way, people can search for family members, ancestors and friends. This is a VERY worthwhile project and I want to participate in even a small way to support Heather (my blogging mentor and, incidentally, a distant cousin).

To participate in Heather's project this coming Veterans Day, I offer a photograph and transcriptions of names from a memorial in Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun County, Virginia.  Leesburg is located about 35 miles northwest of Washington, DC.  In the center of historic downtown Leesburg sits the county courthouse "campus." This is where the county has erected memorials to those from Loudoun County who served in various wars -- many of whom gave their lives in service to their country. In past years, photos and name transcriptions of the memorials for World War I, World War II, and the Korean War have been posted here at The Prism as contributions to Heather's project.

The courthouse "campus" in downtown Leesburg, Virginia

The lower courthouse "campus" looking up at the memorial monoliths in the right side of the photograph.

For Heather's Honor Roll Project and Veterans Day 2015, the Loudoun County, Virginia memorial to those who served in the Vietnam War is presented below.

Twelve residents of Loudoun County, Virginia made the ultimate sacrifice during the war in Vietnam. The names of the fallen are . . .

               Welby H. Grayson, III
               Richard B. Grigsby
               Jack Harris, Jr.
               David F. Helms
               Leonard W. Kidd
               Francis E. Manuel
               Weyland F. McCauley, Jr.
               Ralph W. Melbourne
               Richard S. Pohl
               Gregory M. Howard
               David A. Russell
               Charles E. Peters
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Veterans Day 2015 image from , the website of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs -- National Cemetery Administration. 

Photos of the memorial and the County Courthouse campus in Leesburg, Virginia by the author.

Name transcriptions by the author.
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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Saturday Serendipity (October 31, 2015)

The following are a few recommendations for inclusion on your reading list this weekend. 

1.  With DNA becoming an increasingly important part of genealogy, there is a fascinating piece in the Washington Post today.  Read about how a couple apparently had a child fathered genetically by the unborn twin of the husband. Read more about how this was possible and learn about "chimerism" here.

2.  From UpFront With NGS blog comes a couple items of interest this week . . . An index of 1.5 million National Railroad Pension Records is being made available for FREE through the Midwest Genealogy Center. If you have ancestors or relatives who you know or think worked on the railroads and retired from that employment, you should check out the info and links here. Also, have you heard that 23andMe is now apparently "the first and only genetic service" that can include "reports that meet FDA standards?" This means that 23andMe can now make available reports that include health related information and show "carrier status, wellness, trait and ancestry reports." Read more about this development and get links here.            

3.  Part 5 of James Tanner's series on how to work with large online genealogy programs was posted yesterday on his Genealogy's Star blog. I found this series to be thoughtful and useful. Read Part 5 and get links to the earlier posts here.      

4.  Heather Rojo's post this week at Nutfield Genealogy blog was a reminder to me that her Honor Roll project comes around again for Veteran's Day. If you are not familiar with Heather's inspired project, you really must go here to read about it. Her project aims to collect blog posts of photos of war memorials and honor roles WITH transcriptions of the names on the monuments so that a searchable database can be created. I have contributed in the past and this is a reminder that I need to get transcribing and posting to make Heather's Veteran's Day (November 11th) post of contributing bloggers.  This great project has been ongoing since Heather's first post in 2010 and it grows with each passing Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Search your photos to see what you already have and can transcribe OR take a trip this weekend to your local monuments and memorials, take a photo, and do a transcription to post in time to add to Heather's November 11th compilation post of all contributions!    

5.  Most of us are familiar with the often heard saying used to mark the start of the autumnal season . . .  "when the frost is on the pumpkin." But did you know this is the opening line of a poem by James Whitcomb Riley?  Bill West of West in New England blog reminds us once again of Riley's two most famous poems.  Read "When the Frost is on the Punkin" here and then go to yesterday's "Little Orphant Annie" here.  

6.  How many different kinds of genealogists are there . . . and which one describes you or your family genealogist best? Read here the post by Lorine McGinnis Schulz at the Legacy News blog to find out.    

7.  OK. I have to admit that I am a complete newbie to DNA testing and its use in genealogy.  I have had both my parents and a fairly close cousin of my father's sampled and tested, but I have not yet spent the time to delve into the interpretation and synthesis of the results for purposes of contributing to my family trees.  It is on my ever-growing "to do" list now that my retirement has begun and theoretically is supposed to give me more time for my genealogy pursuits. So it is with this background (or lack thereof) that I found Diane Maclean Boumenot's series "DNA and Me" informative and inspiring.  Part III of Diane's series (with links) can be read here on her One Rhode Island Family blog.     

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Copyright 2015, John D. Tew
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