Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Sixty years ago, a young man from Tulsa found himself in the USMC and deployed to Korea. He married his sweetheart shortly before deploying - they had 10 days together before he left. He would never return.

His unit was assigned to the attack at Inchon - which proved to be a difficult landing under enemy fire. Think D-Day on a smaller, but no less horrendous scale. PFC Albert Collins took a mortal wound to his chest while running with his machine gun to the position assigned him by his platoon leader. Despite this wound, Albert continued to crawl until he reached his position. Once there, he continued to fire his machine gun accurately into the enemy position until he was found by a medic.

In 1951, Albert's remains were returned to Tulsa where he was buried at Memorial Park. Albert was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). He was twenty years old when he gave his life in service to his country.

Today, the Tulsa Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, along with local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) gathered to honor PFC Collins. A proclamation honoring him from the Oklahoma State Legislature was read. Members of the Oklahoma State Marine Corp Veterans, Albert's class of 1949 Central High classmates, and other dignitaries paid tribute to this forgotten hero.

Some of Albert's classmates from the Central High School Class of 1949.

Albert was awarded a Purple Heart, the Navy Cross (which was awarded to his widow following the war on the steps of the Tulsa County Courthouse) and many other medals for his service. Today, he received a grave marker designating him as a member of the SAR, and a beautiful wreath depicting the Navy Cross was laid by the DAR.

The USMC JROTC of Sapulpa High school closed the ceremony with the 21 gun salute - 7 guns firing 3 volleys. Taps was played. PFC Albert Collins was remembered.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Little Bunny Phoo Phoo?

Did you or your kids ever sing that song? I remember learning it when my daughter was in Girl Scouts. It is the kind of semi-cruel song that kids just love. But, it also has a bit of a redemptive message.

I've been seeing a few wild bunnies around my neighborhood - which is rather amazing since I live smack-dab in the middle of a mid-size city - Tulsa, OK. This morning I looked out and there was one of them grazing on the front lawn. Granted this lawn is more weeds than grass, and maybe he finds some tender flowers on the weeds there!

I got my camera and took a few shots through the big front window - I feared if I went outside my presence would scare him away. He continued his grazing and hopping until he was a bit closer to me (yes, that was a human behind the curtain - lol).

I think Little Bunny Phoo Phoo looks a wee bit raggedy in this picture. I hope he isn't sick and is finding enough food to forage around the Turner Park neighborhood.

In a couple of minutes he decided that the grass might be greener on the other side of the street, so he hopped on down the Bunny Trail (sorry for all the puns - I just can't help myself).

So long, Little Bunny Phoo Phoo!! See you around the neighborhood.

Little bunny phoo phoo - author unknown

Little bunny phoo phoo, hopping through the forest
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!
Down came the Good Fairy and she said -
"Little Bunny Phoo Phoo, I don't want to see you
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!"

Little bunny phoo phoo, hopping through the forest
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!
Down came the Good Fairy and she said -
"Little Bunny Phoo Phoo, I don't want to see you
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!"
I'll give you TWO MORE CHANCES!

Little bunny phoo phoo, hopping through the forest
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!
Down came the Good Fairy and she said -
"Little Bunny Phoo Phoo, I don't want to see you
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!"
I'll give you ONE MORE CHANCE!

Little bunny phoo phoo, hopping through the forest
Picking up the field mice and bopping them on the head!
Down came the Good Fairy and she said -
"Little Bunny Phoo Phoo, I Gave you THREE CHANCES -
Poof, you're a field mouse"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My talented grandson

Well, that could be an ambiguous title, since I have THREE very talented grandsons. But in this case, I am speaking of Michael Edward Davis - age nine. Michael loves to dance. One of the first things he did when he could walk was make up his own little dance. It wasn't random steps - because he would do the same little series of steps over and over.

Michael is in the cast of the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival this year - in the dance troupe.

He tried out for the talent show at his elementary school and his "folk dancing to traditional Irish music" was selected. The talent show was today - two performances. I went to the 1pm show and he was so great. I had to sit through 32 other not so great performances (ha!!) to get to him - but it was worth it.

I have posted his dance on YouTube and here is a link for you to go watch it.

Not only is Michael a very talented dancer - he is also a wonderful artist. Here is a picture he made in art class at school which was selected to be submitted to the Tulsa School District competition. I think it is really cool (well, duh).

Getting back to dancing - as part of the dance troupe at Faire, he is required to ask patrons to join him in the dances - AND - teach them the dances. Some adults have demurred and commented, he's just a kid! Well, not only can he do the dances, he also has led many other people as his partner.

I wasn't at the Masqued Ball, but apparently he danced a number of ladies around the ball doing a fine waltz! Boy, is he going to be a popular prom date - LOL!!

That's the end of this Mima bragfest.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Florida and....back to Texas

Well, as you know if you've been reading this thread, my mother was born in Texas and moved to Florida in the mid-1930's. The story I heard was they first went to Belle Glade and at some point ended up in Gainesville. I have to say a BIG Thank You to divine providence, fate, because that allowed me to claim heritage from two fantastic places and - best of all - to be a FLORIDA GATOR!

Here's a picture of Nana around the time she moved to Florida with my mother, Gladys and my Uncle Joe.

My Nana met my Grandaddy (Furman Lee Stokes) and they were married in 1938. He was in a grocery business - back when there were still such things as neighborhood grocery stores. He had been born and raised around Worthington Springs - which is near Lake Butler, if you know north-central Florida.

Here are a couple of picture of Nana and Granddaddy from the old days.

My mother and uncle attended Gainesville High School in the 1940's. Grandaddy was a good man who never had any children of his own. He "adopted" my mother and uncle and they changed their names from Camp to Stokes. I have found during my genealogy research that the "adoption" probably never took place, or certainly was not legal. In spite of the fact that Nana married Grandaddy, and there are court records to prove it, in 1938 - she was not divorced from her first husband until 1952. Oh - the plot thickens then, does it not? Granddaddy Stokes was a wonderful man and a loving father and grandfather until his death in 1987. I could not have asked for sweeter man to be my grandfather.

I recently made contact with one of my relatives on the Camp side over in east Texas when I was searching for what ever had happened to my biological grandfather, Jim Camp. The story told in Florida was that he abandoned his wife and children and was never heard from again. I have now heard from the "other side" that he told everyone that "Margie took the kids and moved to California". Since all parties are deceased at this time, I don't supposed I'll ever know the actual facts. But I suspect the truth lies somewhere between the two opposite stories. Here is a picture of my grandfather Jim Camp with his brothers a long time ago.

I am sorry I never got to know Jim Camp. I hope to meet his niece, and my mother's first cousin, Christine, in the near future and get to know that side of my family tree better. It turns out to be a very old limb in American history.

Well, of course, my mother met my dad right after World War II, they got married, I was born into the huge and wonderful Benton clan, and I grew up knowing that family was the most important thing, surrounded by loving uncles, aunts and cousins. I graduated from Gainesville High in 1965 and from Santa Fe CC in 1967. I married Chuck Davis in 1967 and our first child - Katherine Anne - was born at Alachua General on June 21 1970. You don't have to be very good at math to know that means she is going to be 40 soon - HOLY COW!

Son Jeffrey came along - another Alachua General baby - in 1974, and here is a picture of our little family that Christmas.

Unfortunately - we had to leave Florida because my "ex" had lost his job and we ended up - of course - in Texas in 1977. So, that was a little bit of a full-circle for my life. I spent the next 18 years in Texas and after a brief time in Nashville, another few years in Dallas. I think that I feel very much a part of both states. I was fortunate to always know my Texas heritage - Nana and Mother brought me to big family reunions around East Texas every two years from the time I was a toddler until I was about to graduate from high school. So - while I definitely will always bleed ORANGE AND BLUE - the sight of Texas bluebonnets waving in a breeze can bring me to tears. I really can't think of two greater heritages to have than to be a Florida Cracker and a Texas Pioneer. I am twice blessed.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Texas to Florida and back....

So, I am a 5th generation Floridian - on my daddy's side. On my mother's side, I am a Texan. Times were very hard in the 1930's. At some point, my maternal grandmother, Margie Carter Camp (Nana), decided that Florida was the land of opportunity. She and two of her three children (my mother, Gladys and my uncle Joe) headed that way for a better life. Her oldest son, James Earl Camp, decided he'd rather stay on her parents' farm with his grandmother Lilian, who had mostly raised him for a few years. I believe he was around 13 or 14 years old at the time.

Here is a picture of my mother, Gladys Lorraine Camp (Stokes) Benton and her two brothers in the early 1930's. My grandmother and her parents lived just outside Jefferson, Texas which is in far northeast Texas.

I am not sure of all the details on how or why Nana's ancestors moved into Texas. Most likely, they were in search of a better opportunity - is there a theme here? After the War between the States, many people from the south went west in search of new land and new chances. Nana's father was born in Georgia and her mother in Alabama. Charlie T. Carter was born around Doraville, GA in 1871. His father dies in Cass County, TX in 1875. Charlie (my great-grandfather) married Lilian Fason and together they raised nine children on a 400 acre cotton farm.

Here is a picture of Charlie with his youngest daughter, Lillie Mae Carter. It was taken some time before he died in 1931.

On Lilian's side, her father (William Duffy Fason)was born in Georgia and lived around Ashland County, Alabama for a few years. Sometime between the 1880 census and the 1900 census, they arrive in northeast Texas. His occupation on census records is listed as farmer. Lilian lived until 1942, and from my mother's accounts, was a wonderful grandmother and person. I did get to meet her brother, Travis, when I was a child, and he was a fun, eccentric fellow.

My uncle who stayed behind, James Earl Camp, passed away suddenly when he was only sixteen years old. Nana never quite got over that - having left him in Texas. Apparently he had a congenital heart defect and then he came down with pneumonia. It's hard to imagine, but in the 1930's they did not know penicillin would cure pneumonia! Here is a picture of my mother and Uncle Joe on the trip back to Texas for Earl's funeral. I found a letter he had written to mother and Uncle Joe among old pictures of Nana's when she died. It was such a sweet letter, and Earl talked about going to church. So, I'm looking forward to meeting him in Heaven one day.

Another find among Nana's old pictures were two very old photos of people I did not know. When I removed them from being glued to the page of an old album, I discovered one was of "Mr. Jim". That would be my mother's father, James Daniel Camp. The story I was told was that he had abandoned Nana and his children at some point, and they did not know what happened to him. I don't know the circumstances of the family separating, but I have recently learned more about what happened to him.

Through I made a connection with Christine who is my mother's first cousin on the Camp side. She was always told that "Margie took the children to California". Grandfather Jim remarried, had two more children, James Leland Camp and Elizabeth Camp. He died in Shreveport, LA in 1963. James Leland is still alive and I may get to meet him this summer at the Camp Family reunion, which I have been invited to attend. I sure hope I get to meet him - my long-lost uncle! And, there sure were two sides to the story of my grandfather.

Here is a picture of James Daniel Camp with his brother Frank (Christine's father).

I've learned some interesting things through Christine and her husband. They've sent me records of Jim's grandfather, Daniel W. Johnston's service in the 2nd Mississipi Cavalry during the Civil War. I just love family history.

I think that's all the room I have for this time.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lots of Old Memories!

And, there are some I don't have memories of - because I wasn't born
yet. I have been busy using my new toy - an Epson Perfection V30
scanner. For a long time, I've wanted to scan many old family pictures
so I could be sure they would not be lost, and so I could use them
electronically - like for this posting.

First of all, I grew up in a huge extended family of Bentons. For
those who were in that bunch, you know what I mean. My daddy,
Samuel Edward Benton, was one of seven children. So, in my
generation of first cousins, there were 14 of us. And we were
thick as thieves growing up. So, not only did I have the blessing
of family, but several of my cousins were also my best friends.

The Nathan and Ethel Benton Clan - 1958.

L to R: Harvey, Marian, Rosetta, Cecil, Edward, Kathleen, Grandpa, Grandma, and Buck

The matriarch and patriarch of this clan were Nathan Benton and
Ethel Martin. Nathan was born in South Carolina, and grew up in
what is now regarded as N. Myrtle Beach. Lucky guy! His parents where
William George Benton and Katherine Graham. He must have learned some
good coastal cooking there, because he made the best stuffed crab
I have ever had. He grew his own hot peppers which he did NOT use
sparingly! I love this picture - it is how I remember him.

Grandma Ethel was born around Trenton, FL to Evaline Faircloth and
Samuel A. Martin. Samuel's mother was Carolina Townsend, and the
Townsend family was very prominent around the area where the Santa
Fe and Suwanee rivers join. The Townsend brothers settled in that
area in the mid-1800's. This branch of the Townsend also has roots
in South Carolina in what was Craven County, and on the shores of the
Pee Dee river. Samuel's grandfather, John "Jack" Townsend, was
accidentally drowned in the Suwanee river in 1847.

Love this old picture of Grandma - she's holding my daddy, Edward, when
he was about one year old. This picture is from about 1922.

And 50 years later, in this picture, she looks like we remember her. My daughter, Kate, is the little blondie with her great-grandmother. This is from 1972.

I wish I would have talked to my grandparents more about their "history" when they were alive. I did sit down with Grandma in about 1982 and jotted down her memory of names and dates. It was very helpful when I began my obsession with genealogy.

Finally, here's a couple of pictures of my daddy, Samuel Edward Benton. He was born in Jacksonville when Grandpa and Grandma lived there - Grandpa worked for the railroad. They relocated to Archer when Daddy was very small. Most of his siblings were born in Archer. He played three sports in high school and was named to the all-district teams in all (baseball, football and basketball). He loved the outdoors.

In World War II, he served in the famous 1st Seabee Battalion in the Pacific theater and was involved in the Battle of the Coral Sea. After the war, he returned to Archer, and stated he "never wanted to leave again".

He rarely left north central Florida the rest of his life. He was devoted to his parents and siblings. Always ready to give a helping hand, he was remembered by the citizens of Archer after his death in 1978 by a headstone erected to honor him.

Daddy's grave in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Archer Florida. My granddaughter Mathilda visiting his memorial.

The inscription reads: "A Faithful Servant to His Community - He was Loved and a Friend to All". Now, that's a life well-lived.

Next time - My Texas Connection!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tra-La, it's May

And, in NE Oklahoma that means it is time for the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival (OKRF)in Muskogee. I have loved Ren Faires since I first attended the Texas Faire just north of Houston back around 1978. That became an annual event for as long as I lived in Houston, and I think I've been back there once since.

Last year, my son Jeffrey and his partner Amie were invited to participate in the OKRF. I took Michael (his son) out every weekend so he could enjoy all the fun. Michael loved it so much he wanted to be in the "cast" this year, and he was selected to be on the dance team. He has learned all the steps to all the many authentic folk dances the team does, and he's a good dancer.

Amie and Jeffrey's very good friend Jeremy is one of the main characters at OKRF. He plays Will Somers, King Henry VIII's fool. Will Somers is an actual historic figure and was, in fact, more of a friend of Henry's than a fool. "Master Somers" is also in charge of the dancing and parades, and the center of the festival grounds are named for him "Somers Field".

The Castle in Muskogee is a wonderful place, that can transport you back in time. I enjoy dressing in period costumes and being a "playtron" (what they call someone who isn't in the cast, but likes to play along).

Here are my Gypsy men: Rikkirik (Jeffrey) and Lil' Rikki (Michael). To make the family complete, Amie is Lucynda and goes by Lucy (get it??).

Here I am with Master Somers, who has a different gorgeous costume for every day of the Festival (that is at least eight). Amie has helped him make several of them.

And, here I am with Lucy (Amie).

Finally, here I am with Rikki.

Last year at a different fair in Missouri, I was privileged to get to assist in the "Birds of Prey" show by catching a beautiful red-tailed hawk named Lady Valkyrie. This group also comes to OKRF and I was able to get a new picture of Lady Val (she's the one on the arm of the other Lady (ha!)).

Finally, here is just a very cute picture of my grandson, Lil' Rikki (aka Michael Edward Davis). Dancing works up a mighty big thirst!

I have tons of other pictures and if you wish to see them, go find my facebook page and look for the new album OKRF 2010.