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Tidbits Unearthed

It’s always so interesting to open up Ancestry.com on a Sunday morning and find some new record hint attached to an ancestor. I try to look at them all, daunting as it may seem — for you can never tell where the path may lead you.

This week, I noted that employee records of the Minnequa Works of Colorado Fuel & Iron Company in Pueblo, Colorado, were posted online. They had a listing for my grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Caldwell — employed with them from August 25 – September 15, 1919. I thought it was not the same person, as I was not aware that my grandparents had ever lived in Colorado. The record, however, clearly listed Sylvia Caldwell as his wife!

Studying the employment card carefully, I saw that he had previously worked in the Healdton Oil Fields (“two years until August 1, 1919”). The examination recorded by the card was date stamped August 23, and he started work just two days later. He and my grandmother lived at the Victoria Rooms (a small hotel – see photo below). His job title was “nail help” — it seems that the Minnequa Works was a wire mill that also made nails.

World War I had been over for about a year. It was the Gusher Age, where employment in all facets of oil exploration and production was booming. Setting the stage for life in Pueblo, Colorado, it was a rough-and-tumble environment. The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper carried stories of a big employee strike at the mill in 1919. Additionally, the last lynching in Colorado occurred on September 13 in Pueblo when a local mob pulled two Mexicans from the jail and took them to a bridge and hanged them.

My grandparents were newly weds and teenagers! Certainly the atmosphere of the town and workplace was frightening to them both. Two days after the lynching, Dow’s employment was terminated (I am surmising that he quit!) and shortly thereafter, they are back in the family fold in Carter County, Oklahoma.

So interesting that one little employment card could unfold a whole story that was heretofore unknown to us. Somewhere in the building pictured, my grandfather was examined and found fit for employment at the Minnequa Works. Age 19. Light brown hair and blue eyes. He was 5′-6″ tall and weighed a trim 131 pounds. I have the picture in my mind …

Postscript: Additional records from the Minnequa Iron Works show that Bart Caldwell (brother to Dow) was employed there June 12 – July 1, 1919, leaving because his “mother was sick in Wirt, Oklahoma”. Bart returned to employment there on the same date as Dow and his address was 119 W. Victoria St in Pueblo. From the image on Google, it appears that this could have been a small hotel — the same place where Dow and Sylvia were living.


A cup of coffee

I think I have a new friend. Our paths crossed as a result of a mutual client, and we elected to meet for coffee and get to know one another. Conversation flowed easily for much of a crispy fall morning … at Starbucks. Over coffee.

In the course of getting acquainted, Kristen told me that she’s set up a mini coffee bar in her bedroom. It’s so she can wake up ahead of her household and enjoy a quiet cup of java in bed. So luxurious, I thought with envy. So civilized. Such a lovely way to start the day. I vowed to go home and be a copyCat immediately.


The next morning, I awoke and imagined what it would be like if I were able to take a few steps over to the table in my bedroom and zap a button and minutes later tuck myself back into bed with a hot cup of coffee. Then Fiona jarred my daydreams by leaping across the bed to visually stalk that pesky squirrel who’s eating the birdfeeder dry. And two cats made a dive for a little felt mouse that had hidden under the quilt. With a sigh, I wandered down to the kitchen to start my coffee brewing.

Cousin John


As I pulled the stainless carafe out of the Cuisinart (I sometimes spell it queasy nart) coffee maker, I remembered: My cousin had fallen on hard times and came to Georgia to make a new start. He had the absolute perfect job for his personality — a barista at Starbucks! And one of his first purchases as an employee, was this magnificent coffee top for me. (OK, he used it, too.) It was a gift of such magnitude at the time and I was truly humbled to receive it. It’s worth noting that I originally encountered this distant McCleskey cousin while he was still in the Navy stationed in Hawaii.

Hawaii: No ka oi


Next, I open a pottery jar that’s stocked with my beloved coffee beans. They are Lion Coffee’s dark French Roast and I get them shipped from Honolulu monthly. As I breathe in the rich aroma of the beans, I am remembering Patrick Y.S. Tom, my adored friend and raquetball partner. He introduced me to Lion Coffee at their cafe in downtown Honolulu. We went there often after racquetball — enjoying steamy mugs of brew along with sandwiches: thick slices of multi-grain bread, homemade mayonnaise, Manoa lettuce, peanut butter, and thin slices of banana. The best sandwich in the universe. Patrick introduced me to an insiders view of Hawaii — pikake leis, potstickers, waffle hotdogs, Peter Moon, and chicken feet in black bean sauce.

Angel Gabriel


The beans go into my grinder and I flip the button. The sound of beans going in a fast circle is loud and jarring early in the morning … but while I am holding the noisy grinder, I look out the kitchen window to the little pet cemetery where there are tiny headstones for so many of my departed furry black kittyFriends. Among them, Gabriel — a cat that I adopted at Christmas time. He was an indoor/outdoor guy, coming and going thru pet doors at his own will. Early mornings were his time for hunting in the woods near the house. However, when he heard the sound of beans going in a circle, he would stretch into the longest lion-like run to get to the kitchen pronto. As soon as the coffee process was underway, Gabe always got fed. So did Max, Harley, Peter, Smitty, and so many others. I wonder if I had/have the only cats in the world who come at the sound of a coffee bean grinder?

The Tallgrass Prairie, Montreal and Judge Roy Bean


While the coffee is brewing and the cats are crunching away at their breakfast, I take a trip down memory lane. Which mug to use today? There’s one from the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve where someone and I watched herds of buffalo grazing while we listened to music from “Dances with Wolves” playing on the car stereo. A lovely pottery mug from Belvedere Plantation, sent by a kind and generous client. One mug has a watercolour-like image of a street scene in Montreal. In my mug drawer, I can revisit memories of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Big Bend, small towns in Montana, Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, County Wexford in Ireland, and Judge Roy Bean’s saloon in Langtry, Texas. 

Poetry in the morning


Wrapping my hands around a warm mug of coffee, lightened just so with thick cream — I can wander out to the screened porch, recently built for me by my adored friend, Ibraheem. The woods come right up to the path outside the porch. Never a morning goes by that I don’t think: “Whose woods these are, I think I know …”  Truly, I am home. With my little family of four-legged friends and some magical memories. And the sun is barely risen over the trees!

No. I guess I don’t need a coffee bar in my bedroom after all.
I think I’ll opt for going down to the kitchen where my memories are.


It’s a mouthful and definitely a fascinating story — or two, or three. Let’s begin with a forgotten seamstress …

The Forgotten Seamstress | Liz Trenow

seamstressbookA synopsis of this book (published in 2014) by the author: 
“London, 1910: Maria Romano, a remarkable young seamstress, is noticed by Queen Mary, patron of the London Needlework Guild, who gives her a job in the royal household.

A century later, when turning out her mother’s loft, Caroline discovers an old patchwork quilt left to her by her grandmother, and becomes intrigued by the curious verse embroidered into its lining. When her best friend, a fabric conservator, notices that some of the fabrics are almost certainly unique and rare royal wedding silks (called May Silks), Caroline becomes determined to discover more about the quilt and its mysterious origins.

Through the fading memories of her mother, some family letters and photographs, some old cassette tapes and the help of a local journalist, she uncovers an extraordinary story involving a royal affair, a life of incarceration, an illegal adoption and two women whose lives collided with devastating consequences. Finally, Caroline comes to understand what her Granny wanted her to know – the truth about herself and how she wants to live her own life.”

Maria Romano is called to the suites of young David (later Prince Edward III) just prior to his investiture as Prince of Wales. They form an attraction, a liaison which results in a child. What happens to the child and Maria is best read in the context of Trenow’s story. [continue reading…]

Deep Thoughts

A friend (not a pal, but a friend) recently related to me that his men’s group had been discussing what the criteria might be for a good President. Given that this issue is filling our news these days, I began to ponder the topic. So far, I have collected these thoughts following …

“Trust and Obey”
Faith. Reverence.

Onward Christian Soldiers.
Service in the military or firsthand knowledge of soldier (father/son).

Patience of Job. Humility of George Washington.
Honest and trustworthy.

Required reading: Common Sense, The Federalist Papers, Democracy in America.
History of the United States.
The Roosevelts. John Q. Adams.
Declaration of Independence. The Constitution.
Student of western civilization studies.

Will be able to earn respect by being respectful of women, other nationalities and cultures, all religious traditions, the opinions of adversaries. Will honor family and the institution of marriage.


Ham and Joy

How can one little furry bundle bring so much joy into my life!? This is a chronicle of not even two years of fun watching Olly Hameed grow to be the most unusual and loving cat.


From shredding toilet tissues and paper towels to tracking hair snakes … and all in between. He is a constant companion at my desk during the day, leaving from time to time to bird-watch through the window. Curls with Fiona and I for movie time in the evenings. Spreads out in the smack middle of my bed for the night!

His antics have been recorded as “The Daily Ham” on my Facebook page! See his life in photos …

[continue reading…]