Friday, November 30, 2007

Murder Mystery, Part 3

Grandpa Adams and his engine

The man from the Skagit River Journal of History and Folklore who is helping me research my great grandfather's death sent me another bit of the puzzle. It came in the form of a photocopied clipping from the May 14, 1914, Mount Vernon (Washington) Argus.

Little Baby Snyder Laughs and Coos in Jail While Father Waits Trial on Murder Charge.

I went down to the jail last night to get the story of the killing of Ed Adams by Matt Snyder at the English Camp near Hamilton last Saturday night. And I walked in where the mother was nursing a six months old baby girl of the "killer" and the soft, sweet little angel put out her tiny hand and grasped me so I couldn't and I wouldn't get away. I didn't want the story of one who killed Adams; I didn't want the story of why Adams was killed; I wanted to take that pure sweet innocent baby out from the bars and bolts of jail and let her spread the sweet influence of infancy upon the whole lot of us sophisticaed men of affairs who are really respected.

There was a circus in Sedro-Woolley.

People came from miles around.

Saloons are operated in Sedro-Woolley by common consent of the best citizens.

Matt Snyder got drunk.

So did his friend, Ed Adams.

They went home to Hamilton together.

A trivial matter brought on a quarrel.

The quarrel brought on blows. From blows a killing resulted and a jury must say whether the "killer" was justified or must spend his life in a prison cell.

Let the verdict be what it will, there is still a little cooing babe close up against its mother's breast that loves every human being that comes within its touch and yet must bear the everlasting stigma of a drunken father's act.

He may be guilty.

His wife may have acted rashly in handing him the weapon.

The little blue eyed babe is still cooing in a cell in the Skagit county jail and the state or county or city that licensed the father to kill must answer to that baby if they can.

In addition to this florid bit of reporting (a temperance editorial?) , there was a short quote from a biography of Matt Snyder that his granddaughter wrote:

"During that time he got into a drunken argument and shot a man to death. There was a trial ad he was acquitted on the basis of self-defense. Matt was not a very big man, but Nam (grandma Anna, Matt's second wife) said in later years, that after the trial nobody ever fooled around with Matt Snider again."

Indeed. I wonder if my great grandmother kept clippings of the death of her first husband. I wonder if she felt vindicated in leaving him, sad, or perhaps a bit of each. I'm sure that the publicity must have been humiliating to the woman so proper she wouldn't be seen out in daylight while she was pregnant. I wonder if she ever missed him.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving at the Beach

I haven't posted here in a while because we decided to spend Thanksgiving away from home. Our parents are all gone and we have no children, so we booked a flight to Jamaica. We've been there before, but in the past our schedule was tied to my teaching. This time we were able to escape the most crowded days, and get off season prices.

We like the Grand Lido Braco resort. The last time we were there was in 2000, and we had nothing but happy memories of clean and pleasant rooms, friendly staff, delicious food and drink, and the beautiful blue Carribean. My husband loves to bake on the beach, and I like to find some shade and read and draw. At first I thought we had made a mistake returning on the off season. Monday through Wednesday were rainy and windy, making eating, drinking and playing Scrabble our most frequent passtimes. I did work out and get a manicure, but the wind on the beach made lounging there unappealing. To add to our displeasure, our room leaked. Water ran down the shaft of the fan, showering out on our bed. Water ran down the walls pooling on the tiled floors, making walking trecherous.

The resort had no control over the weather, but we hoped we'd get better accommodations. Sure enough, we were moved to a nicer room, perfectly dry. The same day the wind died down and the sun began to shine. We were able to swim and work on our tans, and we were thankful for the last little bit of warmth and sunshine before we had to return to wintery Wisconsin.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Poetry Sunday

Patty Sue, about 1956

This is my next youngest sister, probably about 1956. Mother always bundled us up within an inch of our lives; I imagine if the poor child fell in the leaves she'd have a real problem getting back up.

It's fun sometimes to look in the background of these old pictures. Behind her is the old outhouse. When we moved into the farmhouse, and our grandparents built a new house at the end of our long gravel driveway, my parents had plumbing put into the house. Because it had formerly been a bedroom, our bathroom was larger than most. But even though we had indoor facilities, we kept the outhouse for years. When I was in college the youngest siblings donated it to a homecoming bonfire. I guess it wasn't that decorative anyway.

I like this little poem, even though the poet has an unfortunate name.

November Night
by Adelaide Crapsey

Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Current projects

I am thankful that I have so many old family photos. I enjoy looking at the faces of people who came before me, and trying to discover, or imagine, what their lives were like. One of the saddest things to me is going to antique stores or my favorite consignment shop and seeing unidentified family photos for sale. Who were these people? Who loved them? What were their lives like? One motivation I have for posting some old photos on this blog is to memorialize my family members, because people are not really gone until nobody remembers them any more.

With those thoughts in mind, I have been trying to find ways to use scanned my scanned photos and documentation in art projects. I've always confined myself to watercolor painting and graphite or pen and ink drawings, but lately I've been experimenting. The altered post card is one example. I like the old postage stamps, and the handwriting, so I try to leave some of that showing. The example here has a skeletonized oak leaf (a messy project), doily, some stamping done on foam plates, and a photo of my great grandmother and an unidentified friend. I'm playing with this format and finding it very interesting.

The other project I have been working on is a personal shrine. This is really a departure for me. I have never worked 3-D, except for an ill-fated carving project I did in college. I used the directions in a book entitled Crafting Personal Shrines: Using Photos, Mementos and Treasures to Create Artful Displays by Carol Owen. I did the simplest one, using foamboard and rice paper as a base. The decorating is the fun part. I wanted a shrine, a little house of memory, dedicated to my late mother. Her birthday is coming up December 8, and I wanted to remember her in a special way. I have all sorts of things in this box, sewing paraphanalia, love letters, postage, quotes, a paint brush, a memorial card. It isn't done. I still keep trying out new items to include, and it needs a roof and a base. But I'm happy that I started something new that incorporates my family into my art.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Murder Mystery, Continued

Great grandpa Eddie Adams is on the right

Edward Lemuel Adams, 1912?

I never know what surprises the day will bring. I received a package in the mail recently from one of my grandmother's cousins with another piece of the puzzle that is my great grandfather, Lemuel Edward Adams. I recently wrote about the difference between the story my grandmother told about her father's death in 1914, and the obituary clipping I found in a family reference book from Fairfield, Washington. I had written this kind cousin, a man who is a much more diligent researcher than I am, enquiring about what he knew of Len Adams' death. He sent some new to me photos and two interesting clippings.

The first is from the Spokane Spokesman Review from May, 1914.

"Logger Charged With Murder"
Mount Vernon, Wash., May 25.--
Matt Snyder, a logger, of Hamilton, is in the county jail here charged with killing Edward Adams, a fellow worker, late Saturday night.

The second is from the Aberdeen World, and it reveals a bit more. It also raises more questions.

"Logger Slays Comrad"
Quarrel Ends Fatally -- Wife Hands Husband Deadly Gun.
Mt. Vernon, Wash. May 25 --
Matt Snyder, a logger of Hamilton, is in the county jail here charged with killing Edward Adams, a fellow workman, last Saturday. Adams is said to have attacked Snyder with brass knuckles, and the latter shot his assailant with a revolver handed him by Mrs. Snyder.

Oh my. I can well imagine why my grandmother, who was ten years old, wasn't told all the details of her father's death. But I wonder, what really made Len bring brass knuckles to a fight? Why was he working at the logging camp and not as an engineer? What happened to Matt Snyder, who evidentally was defending himself?

The search continues.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Recent EDM Challenges

The Everyday Matters group I joined this year has been great for motivating me to draw more. I enjoy having an assignment that takes some of the mental fussing I do away. The other thing I think is good is sketching the ordinary objects that live with me in my house - some game pieces, a toothbrush, a novelty clock. My goal is to interpret each weekly challenge in a way I think will be different from other people, and also to experiment with ways to mix media. All three of these combine graphite and colored pencil; the hand with the Scrabble tiles also has a little acrylic ink. I have experimented with combining watercolor with colored pencil, but my current sketchbook has thin paper that doesn't accept anything too wet. However touches of black acrylic ink seem to make the intense darks I want without curling the paper too much. The other thing I tried was using sandpaper behind the background to make a little extra texture. I probably spend too much time on these challenges. I think the goal is not to obsess, but rather to be fresh, and to draw lots. But right now I'm in my detailed and picky mode, so I think I'll just run with it.

Friday, November 9, 2007

November 11, 1918

Howard Funk Tess, about 1913

One of the interesting things for me in rereading my grandmother’s story is being able to research the places she mentions on the internet. I’ve had great fun looking for old photos of places like the Blatz Hotel and Riverside High School (which opened in 1906), though I failed to find a photo of the celebration of the end of the war in downtown Milwaukee. In this part of her story she tells what the end of World War I was like for her. I couldn’t find any pictures of Grandma at this time, but I had one of her future husband, my grandfather, in his World War I uniform. He was an MP in France, though I never heard him say a word about his war experiences, other than the trip over made him very, very seasick.

“My school year was drawing to a close and there were changes ahead for all of us. Mother quit her job at the home for unwed mothers, and now was managing a rooming house on lower Broadway that catered to light housekeeping couples. I helped her at work and I baby-sat for Durell. Her was eighteen months and into everything. It was wonderful to be together again, but our style of living hit an all-time low. The old brick building was one in a block of row houses, with only a brick wall separating them. There were no windows except in the front and back walls. It was so dark that the rooms and halls had to be lit with gas lights, even on the brightest days. The place was furnished with an assortment of old and broken down pieces from a secondhand store. Our rooms were in back on the alley, a small kitchen and even smaller living room and a bedroom. I slept on the couch; Mother and Durell had the bedroom. There was only one bathroom in the whole house; six families shared it. . .

We saw more of father. He came for dinner every other Sunday. We ate in our kitchen that smelled of gas, even the food tasted of gas.

In the fall I entered Riverside High School (later called East Division High School), a long streetcar ride from our downtown Milwaukee address. I don’t know why they decided to send me there. As far as I was concerned, one school was just like another. . .

World War I had been going on through all our upheavals, but as I look back it had surprising little effect on our lives. Father went for a short time to a training camp at Great Lakes, but received a deferral and was back in school. We had no one close to us in the service, so we were wrapped up in our struggle to survive. Although the war seemed far away, it was a happy day on November 18, (1918) when we learned that the war was over. School let out at noon, and most of us headed for downtown Milwaukee, where everyone seemed to have gone crazy. Complete strangers were hugging and kissing. Sirens were shrilling and cars honking, a noisy tribute to victory. The air was full of confetti and balloons. Grand Avenue, now Wisconsin Avenue, was a seething shouting mass of humanity. No traffic could penetrate the river of bodies that stretched for blocks. All the stores were closed and most windows boarded up to prevent breakage or looting. My fun ended suddenly when someone threw a tin of talcum powder at me. Most of it went into my eyes. I was temporarily blinded and the pain was terrific. I was taken home where I lay for two days with compresses on my eyes. The swelling finally went down and I could see. That is my most vivid memory of the triumphant end of World War I.”

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Milwaukee, 1916

Bernice Ann Adams Smith

Grandma’s life in the West was at an end, and her family took the train east to Milwaukee, where her stepfather was enrolled at Marquette Medical School. She told me once that she was disappointed when she saw the Mississippi, because of how brown and muddy it looked.

“We took most of our food with us on the train as we couldn’t afford to eat in the diner. We had sandwiches and fruit, and when they ran out we’d buy more at train stops. Mother was nursing DuRell, so that was no problem. He was nine months old.

When we reached Milwaukee we went directly to the Blatz Hotel, where we stayed until Mother could find a job and a place for me to stay and go to school. Father stayed at the YMCA, where he had a part-time job that paid for his room. In a short time Mother and I also found places. Mother was a housekeeper at a home for unwed girls. It was ideal for her because she had her own room and she could keep Durell with her. So many babies were crying all the time that if Durell cried, nobody noticed. I went to a family in Wauwatosa, a mother, father, two children in grades school and a grandma. Their name was Walker. I had my chores. I was to rise early, get breakfast, and do dishes before I left for school. I came home for lunch and did dishes once more. After school I ran errands and helped prepare the evening meal. After dinner dishes were washed I helped the boy and girl with their homework and then I did mine.

Saturdays were spent spot of dust was overlooked. Grandma Walker was an invalid who spent most of her time in bed and ate her meals on a tray. She was nice to me and I liked to go to her room to talk. I felt that she was the only friend I had in the house. It was made very clear from the beginning that i was not to be considered part of the family; the children called me their hired girl. There was a wonderful library that I wanted very much to read, but there was no time for frivolous things.

On Sundays after the noon meal I was allowed to visit Mother and Durell. That was a treat; I loved all the new babies and their young mothers, and I desperately missed Mother and DuRell.

My social life at school was a disaster. I was given quite a “rush” when I first entered school. After all, I was the new girl and everyone was curious. Mrs. Walker’s schedule however left no time for afternoon dances in the gym, or football games on the weekends. I turned down all requests for dates so the boys decided I was stuck up and didn’t ask anymore. My pride prevented me from making girlfriends. I didn’t want to bring them home to the Walkers and that I was too proud to admit that I was working for room and board and had no time to socialize. I did make an exception at the end of the school year and it was a disaster.

It was prom time and the school was in a fever of excitement. I was asked to the dance by one of the nicest boys in school. He was captain of the football team and a date with him was an honor. I accepted with misgivings: I was thirteen and never had a real date before. I didn’t even realize that I was expected to wear a formal. I did worry about my skimpy wardrobe, but I thought I had solved the problem with a borrowed pink blouse and a dark blue skirt. My date arrived with a lovely corsage. If he was shocked by my inappropriate outfit he was too much of a gentleman to show it. As we entered the auditorium I prayed for the floor to open up and drop me out of sight. Every girl was dressed in a lovely floating formal. I have never before or since felt like such an outcast. I pleaded with my date to take me home, but Bob was determined to stay. I’ll never forget his words. “You may not have the prettiest outfit here, but you are the prettiest girl and I’m proud to have you as my date.” I stuck it out to the end. Bob was, still is, my idea of the perfect gentleman.”

Tomorrow - the end of the Great War.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Grandma's Story, 1916

House on Diamond Ave, Hillyard (now Spokane), which served as a Smith undertaking parlor

DuRell Smith and sister Bernice Adams Smith

Halloween is over and Veteran’s Day, formerly Armistice Day is coming up, so thought I’d share a bit more of my grandmother’s autobiography. After her biological father died, her mother married Mr. L.D. Smith, son of a wealthy ranch owning family. After the Washington ranch was sold, grandma was sent away to a Catholic boarding school for a bit, then brought back to Hillyard, where Smith and Company owned a funeral home. This is where the story resumes.

“That fall we moved back to Hillyard, where Smith and Co. had an undertaking parlor, with living quarters attached. It was good to be back. The McClain girls still lived there and our friendship picked up where it left off. They were impressed with our big colonial house with its tall white pillars and hanging baskets. Living there had drawbacks for me, however. I hated the embalming room, the casket room and the funeral services, often held in our living room. I never got over having bodies in our house, and I hated sleeping next to the casket room.

One night Evelyn McClain was spending the night with us. We had just turned out the light and settled down to sleep when a horrible moaning started coming from the casket room. We dived under the covers but nothing shut out the unearthly sounds, getting louder. We screamed at the tops of our lungs, and my folks came running to see what was going on. They opened the door of the casket room and found Agnes McClain in one of our best caskets, howling her head off. She sang a different tune by the time Mother finished with her. My folks weren’t upset about Evelyn and me being scared half to death, but they were very upset about the damage Agnes did to the white satin casket lining. She still had on her shoes.

My life had settled down to a fairly normal routine. I went to school, enrolled in Sunday School. I was in eighth grade that fall. Mother was pregnant by then and being a proper Victorian lady didn’t want to be seen in public. We took long walks at night down the darkest streets, and if we met people we knew we pretended not to know them. All this seems unbelievable now, but Mother was an uptight lady. Durell was born just before Christmas, December 16, 1916. I fell in love with him which surprised me very much. I had never been around babies and I didn’t expect to be impressed. I enjoyed taking care of him and soon learned to bathe and diaper him. . .

My stepfather had a job with Smith and Co. as long as he wished, but it wasn’t a job he intended to keep. After Durell was born my stepfather became more unhappy with his work. He dreamed of becoming a doctor, but it took a tremendous amount of money. His pride wouldn’t let him ask his folks for help. After all they had paid his way through two colleges and two professions he never used. He had a degree in marine architecture, and I don’t know what the other was. Applications were sent out to several medical schools and Marquette Medical School in Milwaukee was the one he chose.

A family conference was called that his realization of being a doctor would only be possible if we all made sacrifices. He could find enough extra work for himself, but we would be more or less on our own financially. Mother could go back to work in practical nursing and housekeeping, and I would stay at various homes where I would work for room and board. It sounded to me like Mother and I were going back to the days after we left my father, only now we had a baby to care for. I was twelve years old. I thirteenth birthday would be that next October, after enrolling in high school.

We left for Milwaukee at the end of August. I was not happy to be leaving Hillyard. I had not liked the undertaking parlor, but for the first time since Mother left Father I was living a normal life. We had a lovely house with a bathroom, running water and electricity. These conveniences were like miracles to me after living on the ranch. I liked going to Sunday School and spending eighth grade with more than one student in my class. I had made friends and gotten to know and love Father’s relatives in Fairfield. I was afraid I’d never see them again. I was afraid what the future held, and as it turned out, I had a right to be.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Poetry Sunday

I have always loved cats. Looking back through the family album I see cats everywhere. On the farm they were necessary to keep mice, gophers, and rats in check. In fact when the dairy herd was sold and most of the cats given away, we were suddenly overrun with rats. An exterminator was required to rid the farm of them, since they found plentiful amounts of leftover grain in the buildings, and no cats were there to kill the pests. These days having a cat is just a pleasure, especially these cool days when she keeps my lap warm and I return the favor.

The cat’s song
by Marge Piercy

Mine, says the cat, putting out his paw of darkness.
My lover, my friend, my slave, my toy, says
the cat making on your chest his gesture of drawing
milk from his mother’s forgotten breasts.

Let us walk in the woods, says the cat.
I’ll teach you to read the tabloid of scents,
to fade into shadow, wait like a trap, to hunt.
Now I lay this plump warm mouse on your mat.

You feed me, I try to feed you, we are friends,
says the cat, although I am more equal than you.
Can you leap twenty times the height of your body?
Can you run up and down trees? Jump between roofs?

Let us rub our bodies together and talk of touch.
My emotions are pure as salt crystals and as hard.
My lusts glow like my eyes. I sing to you in the mornings
walking round and round your bed and into your face.

Come I will teach you to dance as naturally
as falling asleep and waking and stretching long, long.
I speak greed with my paws and fear with my whiskers.
Envy lashes my tail. Love speaks me entire, a word

of fur. I will teach you to be still as an egg
and to slip like the ghost of wind through the grass.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Time for Tuna Vegetable Pie

Gosh, it's a beautiful morning! The light shining through the Maple trees is golden, and the lack of any wind allows the leaves to float gently down. Pure magic. One of the best things about being retired is that I can enjoy mornings, not only my coffee and the newspaper, which is fine enough, but leisure to really look at the season changing.

Last night my husband, the cook of the house, made one of my favorites, Tuna Vegetable Pie. He is careful not to repeat meals too often, though I could cheerfully eat this pie every week, especially now that it's cool enough to wear a sweater, and turn on the furnace in the morning. We were supposed to eat it for supper last night, but friends called and tempted us with an invitation to eat out. Who could turn down a chance to see friends? Besides, one of the beauties of this recipe is that it reheats so well. I think we cut the recipe out of Better Homes and Gardens, ages ago judging by the yellowed tape on the card. We were playing the "What would you save in a fire?" game the other day, and I said I'd save the cat. My husband said he'd save the recipe box. What a guy!

Tuna-Vegetable Pie

Pastry forr a 2-crust pie
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
salt, pepper, crushed rosemary, dried thyme to taste
1/3 cup milk
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced
1 can tuna, drained and flaked

Line a 9 inch pie plate with half the pastry; set aside. In a skillet heat the oil, then add cabbage, onions, mushrooms, and seasonings. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for ten minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Remove from heat. Add the milk to the cream cheese, then stir in the cabbage mixure. Set aside. Arrange the sliced eggs on the bottom pie crust, top with tuna, then spoon on the cabbage mixture. Adjust the top crust; seal and flute edges. Cut slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake at 375 degree for 45-50 minutes. Makes six slices.

Friday, November 2, 2007

My Studio

I belong to an online art group called Everyday Matters, a group that has encouraged me to paint or draw every day. I have been inspired and challenged by this group of people, and have on occasion seen photos and read descriptions of where they do their work. Many of them work outside on site, but so far I find that I don't do very well working outside. I don't enjoy being watched. I'm a whiner and a wimp about heat, cold, damp and flying insects. I like to have my materials at hand when I work. You get the idea.

My studio (AKA the cabin) is a little room with two gable windows and a funky slanted ceiling. The previous owners of our house used it as the children's play room. For a decade we used it as a guest bedroom for one, since only a twin bed fits in the narrow space. Anyway, once I started really trying to do some art I decided I needed a place to store my materials and do my drawing and painting. The first try at making a studio was downstairs in an enclosed porch. That had good light and enough space. But in the winter it was so cold my hands shook, and the work table tended to accumulate odds and ends intended to be carried to the car, or the garage. So I took down my table and reconsidered.

My decision to take down the guest bed was difficult. I don't have many overnight visitors, but I like having a place for friends to stay in comfort. Cold reality is that my guests only come once or twice a year, and I do art most every day. So, the bed is stored in a deep closet, and the work table went upstairs in its place. There are problems with the space. I risk beaning myself on the slanting ceiling if I don't watch my head. The small gable windows don't admit much natural light, though I have added an Ott light, a tabletop task light, and an overhead florescent shop light. Storage space is limited, but I have two plastic sets of shelves and a small dresser (seen in my baby picture with the pumpkin in a recent post) for materials and books. I have a little gizmo that has speakers and recharges my iPod. Paper is stored flat under my bed. Other odds and ends go in crates under the table. Down the hall I have access to the bathroom sink, so I don't have to run the stairs for water. Not shown in the photos is a comfy chair, a small television. and a doll cabinet I inherited from my mother.

It isn't a palace, and it has its faults, but for now my studio is a place I can go to make art, read, listen to music, and sometimes indulge in some guilty pleasure television. Being retired has its advantages. I'd love to see other people's studios, so if you want to share, please email me with a link to a photo.