Musical Keys and Phenice Family News

I’ve had some exciting news about the Keys and Phenice family lately.  Sometimes I look for things and can’t find them, which can be frustrating.  Other times I find hints about them and have to track them down for a while.  Sometimes I give up altogether and go searching for something else.  Occasionally something that I’ve given up on will fall right into my lap.  That’s what happened in the first part of this blog.

Clockwise from top left: Irma Hetzel Phenice, Daisy Keys Phenice, Marguerite Phenice, and Sylvia Bucklin. This photo was taken around 1932 in Hathaway, Louisiana.

Before I tell you that story, I thought I’d share a related photo.  I’ve been thinking of sharing this one for a while.  There is an old timey charm about it.  I took a photo of a photo at the Keys Family Reunion in 2017.  I can’t remember who shared it with me, but I do appreciate it.   The older woman on the right is my great grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice.  She was my mom’s maternal grandmother. 

The younger woman on the left is her future daughter-in-law Irma Hetzel.  She would marry Daisy’s son Henry in 1934.  The dark-haired girl in the photo (her face can’t be seen) is Daisy’s youngest child Marguerite.  Marguerite would marry Thomas Hill in 1943.  The youngest person in the photo is my aunt Sylvia Bucklin.  She was oldest daughter of Myrtle Phenice Bucklin, who was the middle daughter of Daisy.

I’m not sure what they are doing in the photo, but it looks like they could be listening to music.  This brings us back to the story I was wanting to tell.  Many years ago, about 1972, my mom somehow got a collection of old records from her Uncle Sylvan.  He was a son of Daisy and he was big into sound systems and recordings.   He had a company for many years called Sylvan’s Sound Service and one of the things he did was put intercom systems in the schools of Calcasieu and surrounding Parishes back in the day.

So if you are from that area and are old enough, you probably heard your morning news at school through the sound system of old Uncle Sylvan.  But the recordings that my mom got were even more special than that.  He had some old recordings of family conversations and singalongs from back in the 1940s or so.  I’ve shared some of those before.  I shared my grandmother Myrtle singing a few songs and my mom’s paternal grandmother Addie telling a story.  It’s nice to hear those old voices from the past.

I had some of the recordings, but not all of them.  I heard somewhere along the way that there was a recording of my great grandparents Daisy and Harry singing “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built For Two)” together.  There was also a recording of Harry playing a song on the fiddle.  Supposedly, a recording was given to my dad and he was going to digitize it for them.  So when we were clearing out my parents’ home, I was on the lookout for it.  That’s when I found the recordings of Myrtle singing and Addie telling her story.   I couldn’t find the recordings of Harry and Daisy.  I even went through the archives at my sister and brother-in-law’s house, but it was nowhere to be found.  I gave them up for lost.  I didn’t tell you all about that, because I don’t like to tell sad stories.  (Ha!)

I’m telling you now, because it’s a happy story!  One of my mom’s cousins sent me a note that said that she has the recording of Daisy and Harry singing, as well as the recording of Harry playing the fiddle!  Whoo hoo!  She said the recordings were in bad shape and needed some help.  I offered to help.  Even if I didn’t know how to do any editing, I would have offered.  I would have learned just so I could hear those old wonderful recordings that I had thought were lost forever.  Don’t get too excited, because I don’t have them yet.  I think they are near and I hope to get them soon.  Then I will share them with everyone.  Remember, patience is a virtue.

The other news I have is a bit more rewarding.  While the other is a preview of something in the future, this is a realized view of something from the past.  A couple of years ago when I was looking at the Phenice side of the family, I came across some information about Grandma Myrtle’s first cousin.  Her name was Doris Enola Phenice and she lived in Colorado.  Like my grandmother she was a schoolteacher for many years.  When she was an elderly single woman, she befriended a couple who ended up caring for her at the end of her life.  They also put together a book about her life and her family that included photos and such.  There was some contact information, so I wrote them a note and said that I’d be interested in seeing that book.

So I waited patiently.  I didn’t hear anything back from that first message I sent.  I mentioned it to a distant Phenice cousin and she tried contacting them the same way and got a response.  She shared the phone number of the couple who put together the book.  I tried writing an email again…  And waited again.   Sometimes I think I confuse forgetfulness with patience. 

Anna Armina Stockton Phenice and Chauncey Phenice in Victor, Colorado, in 1900.

Then one day recently I was looking for some information about a DNA match.  This person was a descendant of Chauncey Phenice.  Chauncey was the oldest brother of my great grandfather Harry Phenice and he was the father of Doris Enola.  I found the phone number of that couple and decided to call.  The woman is still alive, but sadly she recently became a widow.  She was very friendly and said that she would be glad to send me a copy of the book that they put together.

She followed through and now I have the book!  I found out a few more interesting things about the Phenice family, but the thing I was most excited about was finding a photo of Chauncey.  I have several photos of Harry’s sisters and his brother Edd, but I didn’t have any of his brothers Chauncey or William Emory.  Now I just need to find one of William Emory!

The picture of him is when he and his wife were living in Victor, Colorado.  They went there with Will (William Emory) for a short time to try their hand at gold mining.  One of my favorite photos of my great grandfather Harry is one of him in a gold mine.  I didn’t realize that gold mining was a family tradition.  You can see from the photo that includes Harry and Edd that there is a family resemblance in the three brothers that are in the photos.

1906 in Nebraska. Top row: Daisy Keys Phenice (wife of Harry), Lola Myrtle Phenice, Emma Orra Phenice. Bottom row: Harry Clifton Phenice and James Edmund “Edd” Phenice.

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