Category Archives: family

I Moves and Clicks the Mouse

In looking back on my posts, I see it’s been quite a while since I wrote anything about research. When I did, it was mostly in connection with books I was writing. Yes, books do require research, even if you’re writing about a contemporary topic, but certainly if the novel is set somewhere in the past, or if you’re writing non-fiction. In actual fact, however, I see that some of my recent posts included discussion of research, so I’ve gone back and edited their categories to include it.

My research of late, however, is of a different kind: genealogy. I finished research for Documenting America: Civil War Edition in June. Before that I had research for Preserve The Revelation, which I finished around April, while I was writing it. Both of those involved pleasant research—research that was fulfilling.

But I never completely give up on my genealogy research. I’m always looking for that elusive ancestor. Several posts ago I wrote something about this: how I never could get information about my maternal grandfather; about how I thought I had finally found him. I still haven’t gone the route of seeking confirmation through DNA testing. That’s something I will eventually do. Meanwhile, I’m 99.99% certain that the man I found is indeed my grandfather.

Found, not in the sense of him being alive, but in the sense of learning who he was, where he was, and confirming what little family lore I had. That has involved research. Since I’m not in a position of traveling, my research has been on the internet.

As I mentioned many years ago, research has tentacles. You research one thing and find it or learn it, but that only leads you to look at two other things. Then research and find those two things, and suddenly your research to-do list have five more things on them. Except, since it’s all a matter of looking for reliable sources on the internet, and steering away from unreliable sources, the research tends to go so fast you don’t even mess with a to-do list. You just move the mouse and click.

As I said, my current research has mostly to do with my grandfather. Born in 1882 (based on my research; some sources say 1881, some 1883; the most reliable say 1882), I’m finding tons about him. One of his sons, a half-brother to my mother, had written a family history based on interviews with his dad (my grandfather). One interesting item was that he had been in the militia in Canada before going on active duty in WW1. This family history, however, said that he was called up with the militia to take part in a peace-keeping action due to a violent strike, this taking place on Vancouver Island. The town he mentioned was Ladysmith.

Could this be true? If grandfather told it to his son, you’d think it would be true, end of story. Confirmation is nice, however, so I decided to look for history about this peace-keeping action. Who knows but that his name may show up in some official record. I usually start with Wikipedia. Much maligned, I find it is mostly reliable. Like any source, confirmation is always advisable. I looked for such things as “Ladysmith-strike” and “Canada strikes 1913”, and found nothing. I did find a page for Ladysmith, however, that included this entry:

Ladysmith has been notable in the history of the labour movement with significant unrest and violence during the major strikes of the 1913–1914 era. During this time militia were dispatched to put down unrest and protect property.

That’s sort of confirmation, but it was given in Wikipedia without any source citation. I decided to look for newspapers. Several large databases of digitized newspapers exist. They are all behind paywalls, and I have no access to them. I find, however, that some of the databases give a snippet of text with them. I hoped for that for a 1913 newspaper on Vancouver Island. I remembered I had already found one newspaper, the full edition as picture and text, at I found it while searching for grandfather’s third marriage, which I found in a newspaper out of Victoria BC. Might more of it be on-line?

I went to my browsing history, found the paper I’d already seen, and brought it up. Following links at, I discovered that many editions of the newspaper on-line, including all issues between 1912 and 1918. Bingo! I searched through 1913, and found the stories about the labor strike (International Mine Workers, representing the coal laborers), the violence associated with it, unsuccessful police attempts to quell it, and finally calling up the militia in early August 1913—exactly the time given in my uncle’s family history.

I have much more to read in these newspapers, including going back to 1911 for some items. This will take much more time than I have right now. Hopefully these newspapers will still be there when I retire.

But I had another success. I wanted to find out more about grandfather’s first wife, the one who divorced him before he married (maybe married, that is) my grandmother in St. Lucia during the war. After many mouse movement, many clicks, and following my intuition, I found information on her birth, found her in the census, found a marriage index for her and grandfather’s wedding, found evidence that they were indeed divorced during the war (just as grandmother told me), and even found a record of her death, in Taft, California, in 1938.

I discussed this with my half-sister, who seemed surprised that I had been able to find that much. I told her “I just moves and points the mouse and the magic happens.” Sometimes I think that’s true. To some extent, it might be my ability to reason things out, anticipate the most likely outcome, and focus on that till I find success.

For whatever the reason, I’m glad for it.

Unexpected Change in Plans

So, Dorothy, just who was your father?
So, Dorothy, just who was your father?

Yes, this last week I had an unexpected change in plans.

Is any change in plans expected? Maybe some are, but I suspect most aren’t. Some are bad; some are good. Some result in a little change; some in a major change. This one, that began last Monday and extended through the rest of the week, was a doozey. A major change in direction for my extra-curricular activities, so to speak.

On Monday I received an e-mail from 23andMe, the DNA company, saying that I had new DNA relatives posted. Great; I get that e-mail from them every month. As new people have their DNA checked, 23andMe figures out who’s related to who, aggregates them month by month, and notifies you when you have new ones. I have new ones almost every month, but few are close relatives. Most are distant cousins, and we share 0.05% or less of our DNA. No way to tell how we are related, and not really worth taking time to try to figure it out.

It was World War 1, after all. Wartime romances can, I'm told, be intense. For sure your dad never saw this nice photo of you.
It was World War 1, after all. Wartime romances can, I’m told, be intense. For sure your dad never saw this nice photo of you.

But this month I had a guy added with the last name Penson. That’s significant because I’m related to another man (and his daughter) on there in a significant way. He was predicted to be my third cousin, and he was related to me and my half-sister, but not to some other cousins who are related to my through my grandmother’s mother. That meant this guy and I had to be related either through my mother’s father or her paternal grandfather. If this man and I are third cousins, that means we share great-great-grandparents as common ancestors. That’s close enough to pursue, so I asked for sharing with them. His daughter gave me what information she had for his great-grandparents. She had all of them, eight names for me to pursue, none of them a family name I recognized.

I need to back up. I haven’t know for sure who my mother’s dad was. My grandmother told me his name, way back in 1977-ish, but with her it was always difficult to know if she was telling the truth. Sorry if that’s a terrible thing to say about a grandmother, but it was so. She said he was married before, but had divorced his wife, and they were married. However, the marriage was annulled when her husband was found to be a bigamist. She described it as an honest mistake, him thinking his divorce was final when it really wasn’t. That’s how things stood for 40 years. I knew his name, which included only a diminutive for his first name. When I started to seriously research genealogy around 1998, and in the years since then, I would from time to time spend a little time looking for him. I thought once I found him, but couldn’t place the man of the right name and age in St. Lucia in 1917, which I was pretty sure was where he had to be for him to have a relationship with my grandmother and for my mom to be conceived.

It would have been nice for you to have known your dad. Alas, such are life's circumstances.
It would have been nice for you to have known your dad. Alas, such are life’s circumstances.

Back now to 23andMe. So on Monday I’m notified I have new DNA relatives. Among them was this man named Penson, who was predicted to be my 3rd cousin. The significance was Penson was one of the names given to me as great-grandparents of the other man. That told me I should be looking for a connection between Penson and Foreman, the name my grandmother said was her husband’s name (though she had never taken his name). An internet search turned it up almost immediately. A man of the right diminutive and last name was in a family where his mother’s name was Penson. Bingo!

I believe it was Tuesday that I found that. As I searched more for this man, I discovered he was Canadian (as I was told he was), and that he served in the military during World War 1—also as I had been told.  I just needed to put him in St. Lucia during that war. Further searching showed that Canadian WW1 records are scanned and on-line. I searched, found the guy, and saw he was in St. Lucia from November 1915 to August 1918—exactly when he needed to be there.

From that point the week was filled with confirmations, finding genealogy website that showed him with families before and after the war, and trying to find people of those names on Facebook. From various websites I was able to confirm much information those websites had, and even expand greatly on them. By Friday I was pretty sure who some half-first cousins were, and made contact on them on Facebook. With two of them I’ve had some messaging conversations. At this point I don’t want to give any names, even of the long dead. That may come in another post.

So, my forty year quest to know who my grandfather was is now over. Well, not quite over. I’m hoping some first cousins will be willing to take DNA tests to confirm the relationship. All the pieces have fallen into place, confirming what my grandmother told me. But so long as there’s a scientific way to prove it, why not? That will be the next step.

So, this week, I hope to return to normal off-work activities, such as writing, reading, stock trading, upkeep around the house. The saga isn’t over, but may have to go on the back burner for a bit.

R.I.P. Faye I. Pohl

Faye Moler Pohl spent most of her life in Meade, Kansas, and was a member of the Church of the Nazarene there.
Faye Moler Pohl spent most of her life in Meade, Kansas, and was a member of the Church of the Nazarene there.

My wife’s aunt, Faye Irene (Moler) Pohl, passed away on July 18, 2017, in Wichita Kansas. She had gone there for surgery, an extensive surgery for one who was 90 years old. She didn’t survive this, passing away less than a week later.

I first met Faye in October, 1975. I was dating Lynda at the time, things were getting a bit serious between us, so I was obliged to make the trip to the hometown and meet the family. After a late arrival and a night’s sleep, we walked the two blocks from my (then future) mother-in-law’s house to Faye’s. Her husband was in the midst of remodeling a large home in Meade. I didn’t see a lot of Faye on that trip, as there was much to do and many people to see. But we ate Sunday dinner at her house, and I could clearly see she was a gracious hostess and a good cook.

Over the years, I’ve had many chances to be with and see Faye, always at family times. We made trips to Meade, she and her husband Leonard made trips to where we were, and I got to learn much about her. Her gifts as a hostess I saw demonstrated many times, in meals large and small. She always had a nicely set table, a balanced meal fixed, and desserts at the ready. She also always urged second or third helpings on me. Yet, I’m not going to blame my lingering though shrinking obesity on her. I did that all on my own.

Faye’s life was spent mostly in Meade County, Kansas. She was born in Meade, the county seat, but the family soon moved a few miles north of town to the silica mine, where her dad, Millard Moler, was the crane operator. Her first seven years of school were at the Artesian Valley School, a one-room, rural schoolhouse. The family moved back to Meade in time for Faye’s 7th grade year. She lived in Meade, or on a family farm south of Meade for most of the next two decades. Briefly the family moved to Colorado then Idaho, but was back in Meade by 1973, stayed there until the late 1990s, when Leonard retired and the moved to Hutchinson Kansas. After Leonard’s death in 2005, Faye moved back to Meade for the remainder of her live.

Faye is the one in the middle. This 1936 (or possibly 1937) photo includes her three sisters, and one other, unidentified girl.
Faye is the one in the middle. This 1936 (or possibly 1937) photo includes her three sisters, and one other, unidentified girl.

For those of you who don’t know the Kansas high plains, it’s bleak, dusty, and windy. Part of the so-called  “Great American Desert”, it’s devoid of trees except where the town folk plant and nurture them. It’s farming country, traditionally for winter wheat, though more recently for corn, always with other crops mixed in. If you aren’t a famer or farmer’s wife, you are working to somehow support agriculture. The land isn’t quite as flat as you might think. It’s gently rolling, with a fair amount of true flatland. Farmers have done some major earth moving and flattened miles and miles to make the land more suitable for easy farming. Despite the bleakness, I fell in love with the Kansas prairies a long time ago.

That was an aside to say that Faye learned to be prepared for weather on the prairies. I remember stopping at a cemetery in Spearville, Kansas, at Faye’s request. We were taking her from Meade to Hutchinson sometime after her husband died. She and Esther had an uncle buried there, who had died as a boy in an accident with some horses, before the family moved to Meade. She wanted to see his grave, which she hadn’t seen for a long time. We found the cemetery, on the prairie north of Spearville. The minute we got out of the car that wind hit us hard—not a storm; the wind just blows constantly. I noticed that Faye already had on a clear-plastic rain hat, to protect her hair from the wind. She must have pulled it from her purse and put it on before leaving the car. Yes, she was well prepared for what the prairie would throw at her, that time, and every time.

Faye was active in her husband’s accounting business in Meade, as well as on the farm for the years they lived there. She was a life-long member of the Church of the Nazarene, teaching Sunday School, singing in the choir, and taking various positions of service within the church. Faye demonstrated the heart of a servant in all she did. Her ministries extended beyond the local church. She served as treasurer of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and was active in Country Gospel Music Association events, singing with other family members.

Faye will be missed much. She enriched the lives of those she met and interacted with. She lived her last twelve years as a widow, and survived cancer during that time. She’s now singing the old hymns and choruses in the celestial choir—with maybe a little country gospel mixed in.

A Long Vacation

Mel's Diner has singing wait staff. They were very good.
Mel’s Diner in Branson has singing wait staff. They were very good.

Every now and then I see something that says that Americans take shorter vacations than we did 40 years ago, or whatever timeframe yo want to pick. I suppose that’s true. Many people never take a week-long vacation these days, let alone two weeks. They opt for four and five day weekends. Which is better: the long vacation or the long weekend?

Lynda and I were just on a two-week vacation (almost) with our daughter and her family. They arrived from Oklahoma City late on June 19. The next morning we drove east, in two vehicles, to Indianapolis. Strange place to vacation, you ask? Not when it’s time for the Church of the Nazarene’s quadrennial meetings. Three general conventions of the missions, youth, and educational organizations, followed by the General Assembly, the governing body of the denomination. Richard, our son-in-law, was a delegate to the missions society General Convention. They asked us to go along to help with the kids, as they decided to make a family trip out of it.

Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children's Museum
Elise, posing as a Chines opera performer, at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Richard was tied up the 21st through 23rd with the convention. I took him to downtown, to the convention center, from the rental house we had three miles away. It was an older, three-story house that was nicely restored. The floors creaked, but the house functioned quite well. The Wi-Fi and coffee maker worked, as did the microwaves, and it had a nice front porch with chairs and table. What more could you ask for?

I won’t go into all the activities we did. Needless to say, with four children, and with me getting sick one day and Lynda not feeling well on a couple of days, we probably did less than we thought we could. On Friday we went to see the expo hall associated with the general conventions. The kids had a good time in the bouncy play place. Lynda stayed with them while I walked the exhibits. I bought one book, saw a couple of friends, and had a good time. We al

Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly
Worshipping with 25,000 others Sunday morning at Nazarene General Assembly

so went to the Sunday morning service, and met up with a friend from more than 40 years ago. It was all quite enjoyable.


Then, on Monday, June 26, we drove from Indianapolis to Branson Missouri for the second leg of the trip. Here we stayed in a condo we were able to book using points from our timeshare: same resort company, but different resort from where we own. So, we had no out-of-pocket expense for the accommodation. It was two story, with two large bedrooms (one up one down), and two pull-out couches. It is central to just about everything in Branson.

The week was interrupted, however, because we had a gap in having someone to watch Lynda’s mom. So on Tuesday afternoon I drove to our house, only two hours on back roads, and spent that night with her. Wednesday afternoon I drove back to Branson with her, and she was able to spend a little time with her great-grandchildren and eat dinner with us. I drove back late that evening, and left early the next morning for Branson. That was the day we planned to go to Silver Dollar City, so I was on the road by 7:30 a.m.

I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.
I was last in Marvel Cave in October 1974. The tour is now much longer and much improved.

For those reading the blog who don’t know about Silver Dollar City, it is truly amazing. It’s a theme park, with clusters or rides appropriate for all ages. It’s a crafters’ location, with such things as blacksmithing, candy making, glass blowing, and more. Of course, there are many, many opportunities to be separated from your money. If you avoid, those, and concentrate on the rides and crafts, it is really a lovely place. I was last there in October 2014, and have been there (I think) three other times in my life. There’s still much I haven’t seen. Lynda and I are thinking of going back sometime this fall, though we’ll see.

We played miniature golf twice. The first time we didn’t keep score, the second time we did, and I beat Richard by one stroke and Lynda by two. Sara was only a couple behind that. The three older kids enjoyed it a lot, though they were certainly rambunctious, and keeping them where they were supposed to be, and not bothering other players, was a constant battle.

I won’t mention everything we did in Branson. We did quite a bit; not always the whole group of us, but everyday saw some activity. Then, on Saturday July 1, we made the two hour drive home. That afternoon, the kids rode bikes, Ephraim caught two snakes and several toads, the parents rested, and I took the kids blackberry picking. The boys grew tired of it and went back to the house, but Elise stuck it out. The next day was church at our home church, and an afternoon of more snakes, toads, play, and blackberry picking.

Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What's not to love?
Miniature golf, with four kids, three of whom are players. What’s not to love?

The OKC group drove back last night, through a rainstorm, and got home around 11 p.m. The Bella Vista three took the occasion to watch a movie, and just read. I kept thinking about those that left us, and they there is no quiet for them, at least not for another 18 years.

So, all the posts over the last two weeks were written ahead of time and scheduled to go live on my regular posting days. I’m back in real time now. Back to the daily grind on Wednesday, back to my writing “career” today.


I’m writing this post ahead of time, to go live Friday June 30. At that time, I’ll be on vacation with the family in Branson, Missouri, the day before ending our trip. The question is, will I be relaxing or not?

From June 20-25 we were in Indianapolis, where our son-in-law, Richard, was a delegate to some of our church quadrennial meetings. Since Richard and Sara decided to make a family trip out of it, Lynda and I are along mainly to help. I write this before we even left. Our preparations for the trip are stressful. I can only imagine what Richard and Sara are going through.

We leave (or left, as you’re reading this) for Branson on June 26. There’s plenty to do there. Silver Dollar City will be on the agenda, as will a show, and probably a movie. Maybe even relaxing by the pool. Possibly the grandkids will allow us time to get a little reading in.

But, will I be able to relax? It’s been a busy time at work and home. I certainly need to decompress a bit. I’m just not sure this vacation is going to do the trip.

I’m scheduling this to post on the 30th. Possibly I’ll find time to come back and edit in some things about the trip, and report on my being able to relax.

Unwinding From The Weekend

I’m at work, at my desk, trying to figure out how to be productive today. We spent the weekend in Oklahoma City, on a dual family event. Ezra’s birthday was March 1, and we celebrated this weekend. Elijah’s dedication was Sunday. So all four grandchildren have been dedicated to God’s care and service.

Since these were two family events, and since some people would be driving in for them but wouldn’t want to spend the night, both took place on Sunday: the dedication during the normal worship service; and the party right after at Incredible Pizza. This is 50,000 sq. ft. of mayhem. Noisy, crowded, chaos. The kids liked it, and that’s what matters. We were there a couple of years ago for Ephraim’s and Elise’s birthdays.

So today it’s back to the grind, at work and at home. I had my manuscript with me over the weekend, but only managed to look at 30 or so pages. That will be my main writing focus this week, that and re-publishing Doctor Luke’s Assistant. My proof copy should arrive this week. If it’s good, I’ll get the print and KDP and Smashwords editions republished this week.

Mourning—It Never Gets Easier

Snow is always beautiful, but not always enjoyable. It can be deadly with the right combination of circumstances.
Snow is always beautiful, but not always enjoyable. It can be deadly with the right combination of circumstances.

Feb 10, 1948.  A beautiful, Spring-like day in southwestern Kansas. That evening, three young people headed from Meade to Fowler, adjacent towns between Dodge City and Fowler in Meade County, to attend a dinner among friends. Alas, weather predictions being what they were in 1948, they didn’t know a massive blizzard was just over the horizon. It started snowing while they were eating dinner. Later, around 10 p,m., the three decided to drive the 10 miles back to Meade. They didn’t make it; all three perished in the blizzard.

Saturday just passed was the 69th anniversary of when the first of the bodies was found. I think. Records aren’t clear, memories of things that old are few and fading. Most likely the three died on the 11th, though their bodies might not have been found until the 12th or 13th.

Esther, almost 69 years later.
Esther, almost 69 years later.

Two of those who died are the younger sisters of my mother-in-law, Esther Barnes. I had heard bits and pieces of the story over the years. About 18 months ago I asked Esther if she would talk with me about it, and let me write the story for the Meade Historical Society website. She said yes, and I interviewed her in our house over a couple of days.  It took me a few months to complete and sent to the Historical Society for them to upload. You can read it here. If for some reason that link doesn’t work for you (looks funny to me), try this for the index and click through to the story.

When I interviewed Esther it was 67 years after the event. I knew it would be painful for her, and it was. But she gave me the details she knew about, most of which she heard from someone. She lived in Fowler at the time, newly married and with a 9 month old son. They had no phone, so she only heard about it days later as the news got around.

Two of her three sisters are gone, but she has her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Two of her three sisters are gone, but she has her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Saturday was the 69th anniversary of that event. At the supper table, Esther said, “I still think about the girls,” by which she meant the sisters. Several times during our meal she teared up. 69 years, and still the mourning goes on.

I understand this. It’s been 51 years since my mother’s death, and I still think of her most days, and wonder what life would have been like if she hadn’t had the terrible illnesses and died from them at age 46. It certainly would have been different. Yes, the years have deadened the mourning some, but it’s still there.

I’m not sure there’s really a point to this post. It’s just something that I want to share.

Oh, if you get to the Meade Historical Society site, you’ll notice the article is listed at the “Buzzard of 1948”. I just notice that, and will ask them to fix it. If you read the article there, you’ll find a number of typos and an some awkward formatting. I remember fixing those, so I must have sent them the wrong file, because I remember fixing those items. Just suffer through them. I’ll find the right file and send it for re-uploading.

Wisdom from Dad: Track Your Finances

Post #2 in my Wisdom from Dad series

About 1934
About 1934

My dad was strongly shaped by the Great Depression. Born in 1916, he went to school only through 8th grade. If he entered school at the normal age we think of today, and progressed on schedule, that would mean he “graduated” about 1930. The worst of times was yet to come, but it was pretty bad that year, with no hope for relief in sight.

At some point Dad went to work for “Old Man Angel”, on his farm in East Providence, probably in the Riverside area. Dad said he earned “a dollar a day plus my dinner.” I’m not clear, so long after Dad told me that, whether this was the job he got after he left school, or if perhaps this was a summer job while he was still in school. I don’t know if that matters. He worked five full days a week, plus a half day on Saturday. What did he do with his $5.00? Took it home, gave $4.50 to his mother for support of the family (he had four younger siblings), then went to Labby’s store. There he took his 50 cents and bought his treat with it. He alternated between as many grapes as 50 cents would buy, or as much ice cream as it would buy. He sat outside the store and ate the grapes or ice cream.

This is the story Dad told, more than once. I believe him. Dad didn’t stay out of school. He soon entered trade school to learn the trade of linotype operator. Hot lead machines that set the type for newspapers or magazines. I’m not sure how many years this school might have been. Dad learned his trade and learned it well. As soon as he graduated from trade school, he went to work at

At his linotype machine in Europe, between 1943 and 1945
At his linotype machine in Europe, between 1943 and 1945

the Delmo Press in Pascoag, R.I., working there until he went in the army for World War 2, and for a brief time after the war till he went to work for the Providence Journal.


My guess is Dad probably graduated from trade school around 1933 or 1934. This was now some of the darkest days of the Depression. No doubt Dad felt himself fortunate to have a job, and to keep it. They say the Depression shaped the Greatest Generation into being a frugal lot. My dad was an extreme case of this. The young man of 1936 would not have sat outside Labby’s store and eaten 50 cents of anything in one sitting. He would have denied himself any treat and put the 50 cents in the bank. He was that way until he died in 1997. After Mom died and we kids were out of the house, he lived cheap.

How cheap? I could write post after post of how he lived. I’ll give two examples. He did the coupon thing at the grocery store. I imagine he’d love the couponing shows we have now. But, not only did he use many coupons, he tracked his savings, writing down how much he saved and keeping a running total each calendar year.  On our phone calls he would often say what his current amount saved for the year was. In true frugalness, he didn’t keep this on a pad of paper. Pads were something you bought new. Dad would never be so extravagant as to do that. No, he took envelopes he received in the mail—bills or junk mail—slit them open, and used the inside and back of the envelope to keep his tally.

The other example was how he would look for dropped change on the ground, usually when he walked his dog. He knew where to look. At the gas station he looked around the air pump and vacuum machine. “Especially after the snow melts,” he told me. Around the newspaper box was another place. It always surprised him how people could drop money and not be bothered to bend down, search for it, and pick it up. But other people’s carelessness was his gain. And, he tracked how much money he found on the ground—and wrote it and added it, you guessed it, on the back of an envelope.

That was all introduction. With us kids, our allowance started when we were 8 years old (I think he started my younger brother a little younger, with a smaller amount). At 8 we received 25 cents a week. It wasn’t a gift. We did chores for that. It doubled every two years, so that at 10 we received 50 cents, at 12 a dollar, at 14 two dollars, and at 16 the whopping sum of $4.00 a week. It stayed there so long as we were in school, even if we had a job. As soon as we left school, the allowance stopped.

As soon as we received the allowance, we had to keep track of our money. Dad made each of us three kids matching banks, just different enough that we could tell which one was ours. Each Thursday, which was his payday, we had to present our “accounts,” and, if the total in our little notebook didn’t add up to the amount of money in the bank, we would not receive our allowance.

You think I’m joking? Not one bit. Week by week, year by year, for eight years, we kept our accounts, and Dad checked them. If we had a discrepancy, we made sure to find it first, figure out if we had bought something we’d forgotten to write down, and wrote it. Each entry had to have a date. Now, before you think Dad was hard on us, I think he often relented when our money didn’t add up. He would help us to remember where it went. Or, if we lost money, he would allow us to write “lost” and an amount, recalculate, and give us our allowance, with a promise to do better next time.

When we reached 16, and our allowance went to $4.00 a week, we no longer had to account for our funds to get our allowance. Dad wrote in our books, something like Your 16 now. If you haven’t learned how to handle your money by this time, I can’t help you any more. And, he added encouragement to be frugal, responsible, and disciplined in our approach to money.

I can’t tell you how happy I am that Dad put us through this discipline. I won’t say I’ve done it as rigorously now as I did when the every-Thursday reckoning came around. But I still track my funds. I still balance my checkbook. If the amount is off by even a penny, I search until I find the mistake. I keep a spreadsheet of every non-cash purchase, but including cash withdrawn, and put them into categories, add them up. If they don’t match the total in the checkbook, savings, and H.S.A. account, I have to find the discrepancy. I kind of wish I had saved my account notebooks (they were small—the kind that fit in a shirt pocket—and my bank. They would be nice keepsakes now.

I wonder if my biggest failure as a parent was that I didn’t keep this discipline with my children. Of course, for a time their accounts would have been in dinars and fils, rather than dollars and cents, but, hey, it’s still money. Maybe, even without this, I transferred some sense of the right way to be disciplined with money. I hope so.

Writer Interview: A.D. Vick

Al VickEvery family probably has a writer or two in it. Previously I’ve interviewed a first cousin who is a writer and who’s published her books. Today is an interview with another cousin, in this case a second cousin, A.D. Vick. A.D.’s dad and my dad were first cousins. They spent a lot of time together growing up, and were in touch regularly as adults. It helped that our two families attended the same church, the Vicks sitting right behind the Todds on the first and second pews, left side.

A.D. is the oldest of three children, and three years ahead of me in school. We saw a lot of each other before college years, even at the shore in summers. I remember visiting his grandfather (my great-uncle) a number of times while his family was there also.

A.D. was from Providence, Rhode Island. In the late 1970s he moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, and has lived there ever since. I got to northwest Arkansas in 1991, but didn’t know he was 30 miles down the road from me, something I learned in 1997. It wasn’t until May 2016 that we saw each other, though through the miracle of Facebook we had reconnected earlier than that.

At some point I learned A.D. was a writer. His tales could be considered part of the goth subculture, that…well, I think it’s best now to let this be in his own words.

You state you are part of the Goth Culture. But many people don’t really know what that is, or they think of it as a teenage phase. Can you give us a quick summary of what it means to be Goth?

Vick: Modern goth culture grew out of the post-punk movement during the early 1980s in Great Britain. The music that came to be called goth rock and dark wave had a darker feel to it than the better-known new wave that enjoyed a lot of popularity at the time. If the goth culture has a theme song, it would have to be Bela Lugosi’s Dead, by Bauhaus.

Goths in general, see beauty in darkness and accept darkness as a part of life. Yes, many enjoy the macabre, like to spend time in cemeteries (as do I) and enjoy dark fashion, which exists in great diversity. We are a harmless lot however, and would rather spend time reading, watching horror movies, drinking tea in graveyards, or writing poetry than causing any trouble.

Contrary to belief, there is no age limit to goth. While there’s little doubt that for some teenagers, goth is just a phase, many embrace the culture for a life time. It’s who they are.

Al Vick book thumbnailYou have a book out, Tales of Dark Romance and Horror. Tell us a little about it. How did you come to write it?

Vick: I see Tales of Dark Romance and Horror as sort of a documentary on my writing style. The book contains 12 short stories and one novella. I’m a romantic at heart and most of the material in the book reflects that. Still, I can look at the work contained within its pages as a reflection of my evolution as a writer.

My greatest literary inspiration is Edgar Allan Poe. I can vividly remember being stretched out on my bed reading his fiction as a child, and I firmly believe that it was he who inspired me to stay firmly in the realm of the short story. Other inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft, Anne Rice, and Charles de Lint.

I can still remember being taken somewhere with my parents as a child and at times, sitting and writing fiction to amuse myself. I always enjoyed writing and have indulged myself in many different aspects of that craft over the years. Still, I really like using grammar and punctuation creatively, which is something you simply cannot do if you’re doing technical writing, for example. So, between my love of fiction, my enjoyment of the macabre, and my love for romance and the creative use of language, I decided to write the book.

Are the stories stand-alone, or are they part of a series?

Vick: Some is part of a series and some is stand-alone. Three stories comprise my Raven series. Raven is a dead woman who comes back to this reality from the land of the dead to meet with her love, who still lives in the flesh, and to play violin in a metal band. Then, there’s my Sea Haven series, which I place on North Carolina’s outer banks. These two stories center around a couple of goth women who are best friends and the last of what was once a thriving culture in their locale. There are two other stories contained in the book that belong to my A Fall From Grace series. This is vampire fiction.

Even though the other stories are stand-alone, there are ways in which some of them intersect. For example, both my Raven series and the novella Rosalie center around a fictitious town I call Fox Grove, which I place in Newton County, Arkansas. The characters differ but I like using that locale.

Give us an idea of a typical plot. Take one story and walk us through it.

Vick: My style seems to be evolving and I’m not sure that there is a typical plot. The one constant, however, is that most of my material involves a mix of both romance and horror. So, I would like to use Night of the Harvestmen, which made me the 2014 Writer’s Workshop winner at Horror Addicts Dot Net.

The story, which is told in the first person, opens with the protagonist shouting with glee as he watches his house burning down. After the opening scene, the plot flashes back to a seemingly chance encounter he has with a young woman on a street in North Charleston, South Carolina. The lady has an incredible effect upon him and it takes days for him to get over her; this, even though nothing of significance took place between them.

Our hero returns to his rural home to find that he must deal with an infestation of harvestmen (daddy long legs), which seem to be gaining control of his house. After a week or two of battling with them, his abode is finally free of them. A friend reminds him that there is a goth music festival coming up on the weekend; and after battling the harvestmen for so long, he’s excited about attending. Upon his arrival, he spots the same lady he’d briefly encountered in North Charleston. They hit it off and she goes home with him. Our hero has found the love of his life and is in bliss until something goes terribly wrong.

What’s in store next? Are you working on more stories, or another book?

Vick: I’m currently working on a story called The Arrival of Narkissa Laveau. This is to be the last story I’ll  write for a new book. This new publication will be smaller than the first and will contain seven stories. Still, I feel that it would be advantageous to get a second book published. While I haven’t settled on a title for this upcoming publication, I’ve arranged for someone to do a bit more art work for it and I have a picture that I believe will serve as an excellent cover photo. I hope to publish by the end of winter or early spring.

Al’s book can be found at

Tales of Dark Romance and Horror [at Amazon]