Myrtle in the Hat in the Sun – Revealed

Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin circa 1950

When I was looking for something to write about this evening, I stumbled across this old, blurry, sunbaked photo of my grandmother Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin.  While it is not the best quality photo, I really liked the whimsical look and smile on her face.  Even though it shows a side of my grandmother I appreciate, I wasn’t sure the photo was in good enough shape to share.  But I thought I would give it a try.

This is one of those photos that I never know what the final result will be.  I’ve had better photos that I’ve edited and the results are awful.  Either I can’t get the features to look  right, or for some reason it doesn’t look like the person with the changes that are made.  I was worried that it would happen with this photo since there is contrasting darkness with sunlight and shadows.

I couldn’t even tell where her eyes were looking when I first started working on the photo.  The more I worked on it, the more I realized she was looking into the car that she is leaning against.  There are also lots of spots on the photo and a few places where the image surface had been torn off.  So I had to doctor it quite a bit.

When I went to run it through the sharpening program, it didn’t work.  It wasn’t able to recognize her face, probably because of the confusion of where her eyes were looking.  So I edited it some more to help to define her eyes.  That was all it took!  It sharpened up her face and it actually looked like my Grandma!  I still had to edit it some more to put more Myrtle back into the photo. 

Edited photo of my grandmother.

So here is the final result.  Look at that smile.  I think that’s the thing that drew me to the photo in the first place.  She looks like she’s having a jolly good time visiting with someone in the car.  I’m estimating the date of the photo based on how old she looks compared to other photos of her from around that time period.  Of course with the blurriness of the original photo, I could be off from the right date by a decade or so.

I am pleased with the result, otherwise you wouldn’t be seeing the revised version and you’d be reading about how I tried to improve that original old photo.  I would have still used that old photo by itself.  I was always charmed by it, but now even more so.  The photo was taken around 1950 when my grandmother was around 43 years old.  That was around the time that Betty Lou (Myrtle’s second daughter, my mother) was a senior in high school.  The oldest daughter Sylvia had gone off to college that year.  Alma would have been two years behind my mom, and Loris was two years after her.  The baby boy Austin was five years younger than Loris.

If I got the year close, it wouldn’t be long after this that she would become a grandmother.  She and my grandfather Fred Bucklin lived out in Hathaway, Louisiana, when most of us grandkids were growing up.  It was a fun place to visit.  They had a sock monkey that I always wanted to play with once I got there.  There were always puzzles to play with.  We had fun picking fruit in my grandfather’s nursery, making mudpies in the garden, and playing around out in the bamboo stand.  Their kitchen cabinets were backed with the same material as old chalkboards, so we could write and draw on them.

One of the things that I especially liked about my grandmother was her laugh.  She had a hearty, infectious laugh.   When I look at this picture, it reminds me of that.  I’m sure that this mirthful, expectant look was followed by rollicking laughter.  At least I like to think so.

Grandpa Phenice Working in the Yard

I had a hard time choosing the best title for this post.  When I refer to the man in the photo as “Grandpa Phenice,” some people may think that I’m referring to my mom’s grandfather who was Harry Clifton Phenice.  I myself did not have a grandfather that was a Phenice.  My maternal grandmother’s maiden name was Myrtle Phenice and she was married to Fred Bucklin, so she was usually just called Grandma.  Sometimes I do refer to her as “Grandma Bucklin” just to be a little clearer.  The man in the photo was Myrtle’s paternal grandfather Samuel Charles Phenice.

Samuel Charles Phenice fought in the Civil War out of Pennsylvania and was a witness to the Lincoln Assassination.  Shortly after those events he got married to Cathrine Jane Foster.  They had children and moved around (for more details of that, see my post HCP in 1938) and ended up in Nebraska.  During that time there were documents about homesteading and marriages.  Samuel Charles was called either “Samuel” or “Charles,” while Cathrine was usually called “Kate.”  So I could have called the post “Grandpa Charles Working in the Yard.”  I just didn’t like the sound of it. 

Samuel Charles Phenice in Precept, Nebraska, circa 1920s.

The “Working in the Yard” part was the easy part.  As you can see from this old photo circa 1920s, Samuel is working hard in his yard.  He’s cutting logs, possibly for firewood.  It gets cold in the winters in Nebraska and I’m sure he would have a fireplace or two burning in that house to keep warm.  I can see that he had at least two chimneys showing in his house. 

I’m thinking that this is his home in Precept, Nebraska.   That’s where he lived with Kate until she died in 1921.  He was 76 years old when she died and probably lived there by himself for a few years.  I know that in 1930 he was living with his daughter Emma Quillen in Richmond, which is in the same county (Furnas) as Precept.  So my guess is that the photo was taken between those dates.

I got the photo from my cousin Mona who is the granddaughter of Emma Quillen.  She was kind enough to share it with me almost four years ago.  She sent me several photos and I call it the Lincoln Collection.  I call it that because of Samuel being a witness to the Lincoln Assassination, but also because Mona’s father was born and died on Lincoln’s birthday and his middle name was Lincoln.  If you’ve looked at my blog posts, you’ve seen most of my copies in the Lincoln Collection.  I’m running low on new ones to share.  I’m hoping that there are possibly some more that could be added to my collection.

This photo is not the best image quality, but I still really treasure it.  Something about how he is busy about his work and it looks like he is not even aware that his photo was being taken.  He’s just going about the business of getting his chores done:  Grandpa Phenice working in the yard.

Animating Old Photos


A month or so ago I ran across something that I thought was fascinating, amazing, and a little bit disturbing.  It was a short clip in a genealogy group that showed an old photograph.  What was so different was that the person in the image blinked and turned their head slightly.  It was just a short little two- or three-second clip.  It looked like it was an ad for a website or for someone who had some type of software to create the short clips.  I wondered what it would be like to see some of my own images of my ancestors with animation.  Would it be eerie?  Would it show their personality in a way that a photograph can’t?  Would it help me connect with them by making them seem more real?  I really didn’t pursue it much, but when I looked at some of my photos, I wondered how they would look animated.  I even thought about looking to see what the cost of it might be.  It was intriguing.

Then last weekend there was a genealogy conference online and it was free.  How could I pass that up?  So I signed up and went looking to see what I might learn from other people who are obsessed with their family history.  I got distracted by a feature they had that showed you all of your relatives who had signed up for the programming.  I had cousins from all the lines in my family.  People who had Patureau, Phenice, Landry, Bucklin, Leveque, Hine, Keys, Stanbrough, McGrath, or other names in common with me.

As I was trying to get going with some of the programs available, I decided to look at my emails.  I had gotten several reminders for the event with suggestions of “must watch” videos.  Instead of finding that, I found a notice of a new feature on the website MyHeritage.  They were announcing that they had acquired a program for animating photos.  I had already paid for a year-long membership because of their feature for enhancing photos. (That and a deal of only paying 1/3 of the regular prices!)  I’ve mentioned that feature before, because I have posted photos that have been enhanced.   So now, in addition to enhancing (and/or coloring) photos, I can also animate them.  Who needs a conference?   I had some animating to do!

So that’s what I did all weekend.  I have a lot of old photos.  It’s really amazing to see some of those old photos come to life.  The people in them can look sweet, pensive, or concerned with just a blink of an eye or a slight turn of the head.  Like the first example I posted above.   That one is of my great great grandmother Cathrine Jane “Kate” Foster Phenice.  I grew up seeing one photo of her that my mother had.  In that photo Kate was an older woman and she always reminded me of Grandpa Munster.  I got this photo of Kate taken in 1890 from a cousin (thanks again, Mona!) a few years ago.  It’s one of the first photos that I used with the enhancement feature and I was amazed with the results.  It’s one of my favorites for the animation feature, too.  Now when I think of my great great grandmother, I think of that impish smile from this video.  I think that if I had known her, I would have been able to get her to grin like that.  This is much better than thinking of her as a Grandpa Munster lookalike!

But how realistic is it?  While I do find some really amazing looking animations, I go through so many more that I discard.  I posted some of the better ones last weekend on Facebook.  One of them was of me from the 2nd grade.  I had originally discarded the first results it showed.  It showed me looking up to the side and my eyes were badly crossed.  That’s not how I looked back then.  (Most of the time.  I didn’t cross them often because my mom warned me they could get stuck like that!)  When I found out that there were 10 options for each photo, I went back to my 2nd grade photo again and found an acceptable option.  Yet even with the best results, I still get comments about the animations being “creepy” or “freaky” or “robotic.”

And they are right.  Here is an animation of Kate’s granddaughter Myrtle Phenice.  She was my maternal grandmother.  We all called her Grandma.  This was made from my favorite photo of Grandma.  I was able to get a good version of the photo because of the enhancement feature I talked about.  Yet, when I use the animation feature on it, I can’t get a good result.  I can get something better than this one, but I’m using this as an example.  It doesn’t leave me with a warm, fuzzy feeling like the first one.  It’s the same exact process, but the results are more on the disturbing side.

While it is easy to accept the sweet, impish grin of Kate and to reject the distorted face of Myrtle, neither one of them could actually represent what the person was really like.  While it may help you notice some features of someone that you might have overlooked, take it with a grain of salt.  But I still think that I could have gotten Grandma Kate to smile like she does in the animation!

Photo of Myrtle Phenice Bucklin taken circa 1930. This is the photo used for the animation above.

Harry Clifton Phenice in 1938

Grandpa HC in 1938 in Elton, Louisiana

Here is a nice old photo of my mom’s maternal grandfather Harry Clifton Phenice.  Mama always referred to him as Grandpa Phenice or Grandpa H. C.  I’m not sure if most people knew him as H. C. or as Harry.  I’m rather fond of the Grandpa HC moniker.  He always looks like a kind person.  Maybe I’m biased because my mom always had good things to say about the only grandfather that she knew.  Her Bucklin grandfather died before she was born.

HC was born on May 24, 1874, in Butler County, Pennsylvania.  His parents (Samuel Charles Phenice and Cathrine Jane “Kate” Foster) were also born in Pennsylvania.  Charles and Kate lived in Pennsylvania for a few years after their marriage in 1866.  Their first child Chauncey was born in 1868.  Later that year they moved to Tennessee, which is where Anna May was born in 1869.  They moved back to Pennsylvania in 1970, where they had three sons in succession – William Emory in 1871, James Edmund “Edd” in 1872, and HC in 1874.

I don’t know why they moved back to Pennsylvania.  Maybe it was to be with family.  Cathrine’s mother Anne Magdaleen Milliron Foster Richael died in 1873 (her father Morris Foster had died in 1852) in Mercer County, Pennsylvania. Charles’ parents were still alive, but that didn’t stop Charles and Kate from moving their family to Milford, Nebraska, to start homesteading that same year.   Charles’ mother Susan Jackson Phenice died in 1877 in Butler County.  That left Charles’s father Daniel Phenice as their only living parent.  He must have been willing to relocate, because he showed up in his son’s household in Nebraska in the 1880 Census. 

In Milford Charles and Kate had another daughter named Mollie in 1881, but she died as an infant.  Daniel Phenice died at some point before the 1885 Nebraska Census in Milford.  Then after 12 years of living in Milford, the family moved to Hitchcock County and applied for a homestead there in November of 1885.   That is where Lola was born in 1886 and Emma was born in 1889.  I don’t know what life was like as a family homesteading in Nebraska in the 1890s.  There was no electricity, no radio, no TV, and no cars or tractors.  It must have been a much quieter place than our modern world.  We were out of our comfort zone recently because of cold weather causing us to be without electricity for a few days.  They never had electricity and I’m sure the winters of Nebraska were colder than the ones down here in Louisiana!  But somehow they survived.  That’s probably why HC learned to play the fiddle.  The family needed entertainment during those long cold winters.

Those cold winters may have been the driving force in HC relocating to southern Louisiana when he was a young man.  Even though his family moved around when he was growing up, once HC got married to Daisy, they stayed in one place.  Well, not really.  They did stay in the Hathaway area, but they lived in several different houses through the years.  There’s a long list of places.  I think I’ve mentioned that before.  Since they did stay in the same area, my mom got to know her grandfather pretty well.  And like I said, she always had good things to say about him.

He looks like a man with a pleasant disposition – like he would welcome any of his little grandchildren with open arms and a warm smile.  In the photo I also notice a few men sitting on a porch behind him.  It looks like they could be waiting for him.  It was traditional at their family get togethers to play a few games of dominoes.  This looks like a family gathering after Sunday church.  (Why else would he be wearing shoes?)  He was at his brother-in-law’s house in Elton, Louisiana.  So after posing for a few family photos, he may have been ready to shuffle a few dominoes. 

Myrtle Circa 1927 Colorized

This is going to be a short one today.  Short and sweet.  I went back to work today after being off for close to eight months.  I didn’t realize how long it was until I went to write this post!  I don’t have nearly as much time to write these posts as I have had during my time off.  Plus, I had to go to safety training this afternoon.  If you have never done such a thing, it is brutal.  You have to sit and listen to a recording of some man talking about safety concerns when going into a plant.  And you need to pay attention closely, because you get tested on it and have to make a certain score.  But you can’t worry about that, because you have to pay attention to what he is saying as you try to keep your eyes open and follow along.  It made it a long day with a real-l-l-ly long afternoon.  I’m living the dream!  And it’s a safe one!

My maternal grandmother was Myrtle Sylvia Phenice when this photo was taken circa 1927. She is the one on the left holding the purse. This photo has been colorized.

But this post has nothing to do with all of that.  Last weekend I shared a photo of my paternal grandfather that I had colorized.  I used that as an update to a previous post because I had shared the black and white photo originally in my Man In Black post.  This time I’m posting a brand new photo.  It’s an old photo, but it’s a new one to me.  It was shared with me by my mom’s first cousin Julie.  Thanks, Julie, for sharing a photo of my Grandma Myrtle that I had never seen before.

I just happened to get this photo when I was in the middle of experimenting with the colorization feature I’ve been using lately.  So I thought I would go ahead and try it on Myrtle and her friends.  I like the way it came out.  It still looks like an old timey photo, just with a bit of color added to it.  It gives it a bit more life.  Of course, I edited it a little to fix some things I didn’t like about it.  It wants to put purplish/pink on people and it almost looks like bruising.

I was tempted to put some ‘normal’ looking hair on the boy in the photo, but I refrained.  I’m not sure what’s going on with that.  But my grandmother must have been fond of him.  She is leaning on him in a decidedly friendly way.  I don’t know who the identity of the other girl standing next to the boy.  She doesn’t look familiar to me.  But I’m almost certain that the girl on the far right is Edna Bucklin.  Edna was the younger sister of Fred Bucklin who would later marry Myrtle in 1930.  It seems that the Bucklin and Phenice families were pretty friendly with each other through the years.  They were in the same small community, and both of them had relatively large families.  I’ve shared several photos with individuals from both families in them.

I’m sure there are more.  But that will have to be at a later date.  I hope you enjoy this one now.

Mitochondrial Sisters

Fred and Myrtle Phenice Bucklin family circa 1950 in Hathaway, Louisiana.  The children from left to right are Sylvia, Loris, Austin, Alma, and my mom Betty Lou.

This post is coming together from several things that I’ve been working on lately.  I’ve been editing a lot of old photos from different eras.  It’s also time to look at my mom’s side of the family.  I think I’ve neglected them a bit lately.  I did post this really nice edited photo of my mom’s childhood family recently just to give that side of my family a little bit of family history crumbs.  But it wasn’t a bona fide post.  I’m including it in this post to make it official!

The other thing that helped me to focus the theme for this week was a new DNA match at 23andMe.   He is a grandson of Aunt Marguerite, my grandmother Myrtle Phenice Bucklin’s younger sister.  Since he matches through his mother as I do, our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the same.  The mtDNA is passed on from mothers to their children without any changes most of the time.  From time to time there are mutations.  Since 23andMe only gives an estimate of the mtDNA and those estimates are slightly different,  I’ll just say that our designation is H1.  Some of the close relatives get an -n or an -h at the end, but we’re all basically in the very common group H1.

Grace Phenice Sowder, Myrtle Phenice Bucklin, and Marguerite Phenice Hill in their young adulthood.

I also had edited photos of both Marguerite and their other sister Grace.  I recently got a blog comment from Grace’s nephew by her husband Ray Sowder.  He commented about how Grace seemed to be out of his uncle’s league as far as looks are concerned.  I have to admit, those Phenice sisters were attractive young women.  I was thinking of sharing those photo edits, as well as a photo of my own sisters that I had completed recently.  It made me realize that there are several generations along this maternal line with three or more sisters.  So I decided to make this post about all of those mitochondrial sisters.

Alma Bucklin Waldorf, Marguerite Phenice Hill, Betty Lou Bucklin Landry (my mom), Myrtle Phenice Bucklin (my grandmother), Loris Bucklin Woolley, and Sylvia Bucklin Pilcher at Grandma’s house on Alice Street in Jennings, Louisiana, on January 22, 1984.

I found several photos of my mom with one or two of her sisters, but none of just the four sisters by themselves.  I also wanted one of them as adults.  The one I decided on was this photo of Grandma with her sister Marguerite and her four daughters after the funeral of Grandpa in 1984.  It’s a good photo of all of these H1 carriers.  It includes two of the generations that are the focus of this post.  Too bad they didn’t think to include some of the granddaughters in this photo, but that wasn’t the focus on that day.  This was one of the most difficult times in my Grandma’s life and it’s nice to see her surrounded by those she cared about the most.

There are two generations before and after these two and I keep changing my mind about which two I will talk about next.  I suppose I will go with the previous generation since I’ve shared those photos before.  I’ll save the new photos (in all living color!) for the end.

Rosetta Ruth Keys Bryan, Daisy Keys Phenice, Mabel Keys Miller in 1894.

So that brings us to the Keys sisters Daisy, Ruth, and Mabel.  I’ve posted about them previously.  They all immigrated to Louisiana from England with their mother and brothers in July 1887.  Ruth lived in Jennings, Daisy lived in Hathaway, and Mabel lived in Kinder.  They stayed pretty close to where they originally settled after arriving in the United States.

Those lovely girls were the daughters of Martha Cook Keys, the brave woman that brought her five children to America after her husband had passed away.  She was a dressmaker and shop owner in London at a time when a revolution in clothing manufacturing was taking place.  I always took it for granted that she made her clothes with a sewing machine – a machine that seems so common.  But it was a newfangled thing back then.  Before that, people went through the painstankling process of sewing everything by hand.  She was part of a revolution.  I found this out from a TV program I saw when I took a break from writing this post to take a lunch break.  I have a bit more respect for old Martha now.

Martha Cook Keys and Henrietta Cook Keys were from Great Wigsborough, Essex, England. They were married to Keys brothers.

I only have one photo for both of Martha and her sister.  I think the one of Martha is a photo of a painting.  At least we have something!  She was born in 1836 in Great Wigsborough, Essex.  She was the first child of Job Cook and Ruth Horsnell. Henrietta was born in 1839 and she was the last child of Job and Ruth.  That’s because Job died the following year at the age of 38 from “phrenitis.”  Otherwise I’m sure there would have been at least one more daughter.  All the other generations that we know of had three or more daughters.  Henrietta passed that H1 down to the present also.  I have a DNA match that came directly down from her through a line of daughters.

Ruth (1816-1880) was the daughter of William Horsnell and his wife Ann (1774-1859).  We don’t know Ann’s last name.  Since I don’t know her last name, and she is the originator of the H1 DNA for all of these women, I think I may put her last name as H1.  Somehow that seems appropriate.  Ruth had two sisters, so Ann started the trend of having three or more daughters along this line.  It could have been started earlier, but we don’t know that history.

Jamie, Jodie, and Karen in 1978

Jamie Landry Perry, Jodie Landry Rhodes, and Karen Landry Fontenot on Christmas Eve 1978 in Jennings, Louisiana.

Let’s get back to the more modern era.  I had three sisters.  My two older sisters have died.  My sister Karen died this year, so that was another reason I wanted to write this post about sisters.  This photo was a photo that my parents had on a small table in their living room for many years.  It’s from 1978 and it’s a good photo of all three of my sisters.  I can see why Mama wanted it where she could see it frequently.

Jodie did not continue the tradition of three daughters.  She had two children and they were both boys.  Karen did a little better.  She started out with a son, but then did better by having two daughters.  (Just kidding, James!)  Then Jamie decided that she had to keep the tradition alive.  She had three daughters.  She really did have three daughters, but you surely know I’m joking about her trying to keep up a tradition.  It’s just a trend that happened through the years.  Mostly it was the result of large families and the law of averages.  If you have lots of children, about half of them will be female.

Sarah, Beth, and Jill Perry

Sarah, Beth, and Jill Perry in November 2020 in League City, Texas.

Here is a very recent photo of Jamie’s three Perry girls.  This was taken last month at the wedding of her youngest daughter Beth.  Weddings and funerals are usually such big family events for us, but this was the year of Covid.  Karen’s funeral had very limited attendance due to precautions for the virus.  The high point was that the cousins in Lake Charles gathered around in the distance at the graveyard to show their love and support.

Beth and Glen’s wedding was postponed from the spring because of the pandemic.  I was looking forward to the family getting together for their wedding in early November.  But Covid struck again and Allen (the father of the bride) came down with a positive test.  So we had to have a virtual attendance to the event.  It’s not as good as being there in person, but it’s much better than missing the whole thing!

Now that she’s married, she can start thinking about carrying on that tradition!  I know, I know.  It’s not really a tradition, but we can’t let that stop her.  Jill already has one daughter.  They could make it fun – like it’s a contest or game.  Our family likes games.

Let the H1 continue!

Grandma Phenice and Her Chickens

I’ve been thinking of writing about this for a while.  I’ve thought about the subject when I wrote other posts about my great grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice (mother of my maternal grandmother Myrtle Phenice Bucklin), but inevitably the posts ran longer than I wanted and there was no room for this topic.  I try to make these posts short and sweet, despite what you may think when you see all the words I sometimes write.

My great grandmother Daisy Keys Phenice with her granddaughter Marilyn Phenice in 1938 in Elton, Louisiana.

So I decided to write about Great Grandma Phenice and her expertise with chickens.  Then I went looking for a photo to go along with it.  This is the photo I first thought of and I think it works, even thought it’s not a photo of her with a chicken.  That’s actually her young granddaughter Marilyn Phenice, my mom’s first cousin.  The photo was taken at a Keys family get together.  I posted a photo of the whole group two years ago.

According to Aunt Marguerite in some of her writings (Marge’s Memories), Daisy knew and loved her chickens.  Living out in the country in southern Louisiana in the early 1900s, raising chickens was a necessity.  I doubt that Daisy learned that as a young girl growing up in the city around London, England.  She was busy learning sewing and making things associated with her mother’s dress shop.  But when her mom (Martha Cook Keys) brought the family to Louisiana when Daisy was 11 years old, Daisy and the other children had to learn some new skills.

So as an adult, Daisy had become an expert with her chickens.  She knew when they were ready to set or lay eggs that could be hatched for a new group of chickens.  They wouldn’t set unless they were ready, and Daisy could tell when that was.  Maybe that had to do with the fact that when the family first moved to Louisiana, they had to live in a chicken coop until their house was built!  She was a chicken whisperer.  When she would see a storm coming, she immediately thought about her chickens.  She would run out into the storm to help the chickens into safety at her own risk.

The chickens produced lots of eggs, of course.  They were able to barter the surplus for other staples at the local Piggly Wiggly.  The family ate the eggs and the meat as well.  Like I said, Daisy loved her chickens!  When she was ready to fry some chicken, she gathered up some feed in her apron and went out in the yard.  I remember my mom telling me when I was a kid that her grandmother was the best at wringing a chicken’s neck.  Just a quick turn of the wrist was all it took.  She was quick about it, too.  From the idea of cooking some fried chicken to the point of serving it to the family only took a couple of hours.  Not exactly fast food, but that wasn’t available back then.

Mom’s Memories page 12

According to my mom, her Grandma Phenice’s fried chicken was especially tasty.  It was worth a mention in her memory book that she kept when she was getting older.  So it made it into Marge’s Memories and Mom’s Memories.  That must have been some fried chicken.

As my mom wrote, “It kept us a little warmer on the way home on cold nites.”  I think little Betty Lou loved Daisy’s chickens, too!


Betty Lou Visits Arkansas in 1938

Christmastime in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in 1938.

I wonder if my mom would have remembered this event if she didn’t have the photos to remind her of it for the rest of her life?  It’s amazing what photos do to enhance your memories through the years.  I doubt that I’d remember what I looked like as a little kid if I didn’t have the photos to refer back to.  A picture tells a story – it’s like a thousand words or something.

You may think this photo looks familiar – or not.  Four years ago I posted another photo from the same day.  That photo only had my mom and the other little girl and the two dolls.  That post was about Girls and Their Dolls.  This one is not.  I’m not sure what it’s going to be about, but it’s not about girls and their dolls.  Or maybe it is.  That was the only thing my mom thought about when she talked about the photos from her visit to Fayetteville, Arkansas during the Christmas of 1938.

My mom is the little blonde girl on the left.  She is looking off to the side.  She never mentioned what she might have been looking at.  Like I said, she only talked about the dolls.  Her name was Betty Lou Bucklin and she was born May 20, 1933, in Hathaway, Louisiana.  She lived most of her life not far from there.  Her mother’s name was Myrtle Sylvia Phenice Bucklin.   Myrtle’s older sister Grace was married to a man named Ray Sowder.  Grace and Ray must have decided to take little Betty Lou with them to visit Ray’s family during the Christmastime of 1938, because the rest of the kids in the photo are Sowder relatives.

The two boys in the photo are the sons of Ray’s sister Alice and her husband Raymond Keith.  The little boy next to my mom is 2 1/2-year-old Donnie Keith.  He seems to be distracted by the same thing as my mom.  The other little boy is 4-year-old Paul Keith.  The other little girl is Kara Lee Sowder.  She was the daughter of Ray’s brother Hugh and his wife Bonnie.  But more importantly, she was “The Girl With the Two Dolls.”

And they weren’t just any old dolls.  They were store-bought dolls.  That was significant, because little Betty Lou didn’t have a store-bought doll.  So it was a really big deal to her that she got to play with a real doll and have her photo taken with it.  She cherished those photos for the rest of her life.

Come to think of it, she probably would have remembered that doll even if she didn’t have the photos to show it.  But since she did have those photos, now everyone reading this post can share that joyous experience she had in Arkansas back in 1938.

The Swimming Pool Part 2

My maternal grandparents Fred Bucklin and Myrtle Phenice out on the beach with family in southern Louisiana circa 1929.

I’m excited about this photo.  It’s not an enhanced photo and it’s not a photo that I’ve shared before.  I’ve shared another photo from the same day before.  That was the original The Swimming Pool post from over four years ago.

I got this photo from my cousin Carla last year.  I’ve shared a few others that she shared with me and there are more to come in the future.  I was excited to get this one and a few others that were taken on the same day as the original photo I posted.  I wasn’t expecting that.  But it wasn’t until today when I was looking for something to post, that I realized that my grandmother (Myrtle Phenice Bucklin, mother of my mom Betty Lou Bucklin Landry) is in the photo. 

In the other photo it looked like the Bucklin brothers were fighting over a girl.  The girl was in the middle of that photo and she is in the middle of this one also.  She’s facing the camera.  I think she could be Grandma Myrtle’s older sister Grace.  Myrtle was in that original photo too, but she was off to the side looking a bit dejected.  But not in this one.

You can see her in front to the left.  She is facing away from the camera.  I recognized her because of her feminine shoulders and the straps of her swimsuit.  Even from this side view, you can recognize her strong high cheekbones.  Her hair matches the other photo as well.  Maybe she had it pinned up.  And even though you can’t see her face, it seems to me that she is having a better time. 

Did I hear someone say, “Hogwash!”  Well I’ll explain why I say that.  She is reclining on the beach between the cute Bucklin twins (Fred Bucklin was my grandfather and Clarence was the father of cousin Carla).  It looks like she may be sharing a secret behind a large hat with one of them, while the other one is behind her and reaching for her playfully.  I still can’t tell them apart in photos.  That happens when the photo is almost 100 years old and the two that I’m talking about were identical twins.

I’m still not exactly sure what is going on in this photo.  But now that I realize that my grandmother Myrtle is in it, I’m liking it much more.  It looks like they’re having a relaxing and fun time on the beach.

Crop of photo

Myrtle’s Childhood

Myrtle Sylvia Phenice circa 1930.

A couple of weeks ago I gave everyone a teaser about this photo.  I was so pleased with the look of this photo that I thought it deserved a bit of expectancy.  Now that the time has come, I hope that the photo has lived up to my hype and your expectation.  Or maybe you didn’t know about it and had no expectation at all. 

This is a photo of my maternal grandmother from about 1930.  My mom had this photo in a small frame on her piano for as long as I can remember.  The frame actually held two photos.  One of my grandmother Myrtle Sylvia Phenice and the other of her husband, my grandfather Fred D. Bucklin.  I always thought the photos were from before they were married.  Like they were engagement photos. 

Photos of my grandparents that were on my mom’s piano when I was growing up.

This is what they looked like.  They were small photos and they were a little blurry.  I always hoped that I would find a larger copy of the photo of my grandmother, because I could tell it was a nice photo.  But then I got access to this photo software that enhances and enlarges the photo scans that I have.  Problem solved.  And I love it.

Since it is a photo from before she was married, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about her childhood.  She was born in Hathaway, Louisiana, to Harry Clifton Phenice and Daisy Henrietta Martha Keys on December 19, 1906.  She was their third child and second daughter.  Nine months before she was born, her parents went to Nebraska to celebrate the marriage of Harry Clifton’s (HC) younger sister Myrtle.  It was a productive celebration and my grandmother was named after her recently married aunt.

My great grandmother Daisy had immigrated to the United States from England when she was 11 years old.  I suppose she must have had somewhat of an English accent.  Her mother had been a seamstress and she learned to sew at a young age.  She was also thrifty and made a lot of clothes from feed sacks and such.  These skills have been passed down through the generations.  Why just this week I heard about one of her granddaughters making outfits for her own grandchildren out of bedsheets.

Besides learning to sew at a young age, my grandmother also learned how to sing and play the piano.  Her father HC played the fiddle and the family liked to entertain themselves by playing and singing songs in the evenings. He would also play for the community dances along with other friends and neighbors on the fiddle and banjo.  There would be square dancing and just good old clean fun.  They would have these events a couple of times a month.

June 23, 1916 clipping from the Rice Belt Journal in Welsh, Louisiana

Daisy was a member of the temperance group of the Methodist Church – The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (W.C.T.U.)  Daisy would work at their regular meetings and the children got involved, too.  In this 1916 clipping you can see that Myrtle competed in the singing contest and her older sister Grace competed in the recitation.  They were both winners!  Myrtle was 9 years old and sang “My Temperance Dolly.”

Myrtle’s certification of winning the WCTU contest. This had a very big impact on her life. It inspired her to continue singing, which she did for the rest of her life. This is evidenced by her saving this little memento of her victory and it was mentioned on her memorial at her funeral service.

Myrtle would have started school by this point.  She and her friend Emily Brown would ride the horse and buggy to school some mornings and her brothers would accompany them on horseback.  It was a different time.  They went to school in the Hathaway area.  Many days Myrtle would pack a lunch of an egg sandwich.  And of course it was homemade bread with eggs from the chickens they raised.

When she got home from school, her mom would have a treat for her and her siblings.  Sometimes it was roasted peanuts and other times popcorn or cookies.  On special occasions it would be popcorn balls or bread baked with jelly inside of it.

Grandma went to high school in Hathaway her first two years.  At the beginning of her third year, she went to school in Kinder.  But during the second half of the year, she started attending Jennings High School.  That is where she graduated on May 29, 1925.

After high school she went to Southwestern Louisiana Institute (S.L.I.) to study education.  After two years of study she received her teaching certificate which was good for life.  She taught for two years in the Calcasieu Parish school system.  It was during the end of this time that her relationship with Fred Bucklin became serious.  She decided to quit teaching in the public school system and get married.

So she went to a photographer to document that moment in time.  And that’s what we’re looking at today.

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