Acts of Kindness a short story by Linda Claire

I was asked if I could write about acts of kindness.

Sure. Easy! After all my life was filled to overflowing with so many stories of the kindnesses that had been displayed to me throughout the years from child to senior citizen. Having experienced so many acts of kindness was a truly humbling thought. It took my breath away to realize this was an immeasurable number of kindness acts that had been intended for ME. Yes, I was the focus of those acts and it struck me with a reverent awe.

In fact, as I sat down with my writing journal, examples of kindness stories popped into my mind one after another until there was no way for me to sort them out properly to write about. It was frankly almost dizzying. I let the memories come and go through my mind as I sat in wonderment. But, I am a person who likes to get a job done, and I needed a logical way to approach and describe all of those many acts.

Well, remember the old rolodex holders? The ones that were BIG and round and you could use a side knob to flip from card to card. I decided to make a sort of rolodex in my head and just let the memories continue to stream into my consciousness. Each memory would simply be placed on one of the rolodex cards in my mind. I decided that I would pick just one card to write about. Otherwise, I had no way to express the life long examples of all these beautiful gifts that had come my way. Yes, one act of kindness, is a big story all on it’s own.

I stopped and pondered several of these memory cards and then settled on one to share. It was not the biggest kindness, or even one I had thought of in over a decade. But, it was a kindness that had surprised me. And with that introduction, let me begin the story of an act of kindness.

The year was 2010 and I had just finished a long work day. Even when you love your job, there is a form of intense life energy that work requires of you. So, there I was getting ready to face the rush hour traffic along Michigan Avenue. My car would make it’s way along with large trucks, gravel trains and a myriad of other drivers. The wait time at each light would be long. And, this being real life, there were several stops that I still had to make on my way home from work. I had to go to the Farm Supply store to buy the 50 lb. bags of dog food that my German short hairs liked and would be waiting for. I had to stop at the grocery for food that I liked.

It was almost 6:00pm. I would get home by 7:00pm and then I would still need to do food preparation and cook dinner. As I thought about the routine of my working person life, I saw the bright neon sign approaching along my path. McDonald’s. O.K., I am not proud that this was my option for that evening. But I was hungry, I was tired and I still had a lot to do once I arrived home. It was a choice and it was the choice that I made.

Like so many others, I joined a long line weaving to the microphone where I would place my order. I believe there were about 6 or 7 cars in front of me. Each car seemed to be held up at the food window for several minutes. I started doing math and I don’t even like doing math. 7 cars x 3 minutes per car = my being at the food window in 21 minutes.

I scolded myself. Now I had placed my order, I was in this ridiculous line and I still had so much to do. What a waste of money and time. I was getting ticked off at myself for this choice of “fast food”. If only I was a more organized perfect person, I would have found some better option.

I don’t know what look I had on my face. I don’t think my thoughts can show through to other strangers. Surely, I was the only person knowing how upset I was getting. And, not so upset by the wait, but by my lack of forethought.

Finally, the line of cars inched forward and after a long time my “fast food” was being handed to me out the window. “Thank you,” I said to the employee at the window. “Oh wait, I didn’t pay yet.” I said while grabbing my debit card to hand over to her.

“It is paid for.” she said.

“No” I corrected her. “I did not pay yet.”

“The car in front of you paid for your order.” she explained.

Wait, that old Toyota in front of me had paid for my order? What? Why?

“Why?” I asked the employee.

“They said to tell you that you just received a random act of kindness.”

It was so strange to me. I knew it was a Toyota in front of me. It wasn’t even a new model. Who would do this for a stranger? I actually had money to pay for my order, had I looked so troubled in my car? Had they planned this? Why me?

That McDonald’s dinner became a precious meal to me. A stranger did something just because it was kind. They actually truly extended themselves to be kind to me.

I drove off from McDonald’s to do my errands and then I drove home and hauled in the dog food. Mr. Misto and Lady Latte provided their happy dog excitement about seeing me.

“Pinch me” I thought. My free dinner was just the coolest thing. A random act of kindness had come my way and I became a better person for that.

Gottlieb Groshans 1847-1919

Gottlieb Groshans was the Great, Great Grandfather of my children. His son, Gottlieb Jack Groshans, was the Great Grandfather of my children.

When Gottlieb (or Gottfried) Groshans (or Grosshans) was born on November 25, 1847, his father, Jean Jacques “Jacob” Grosshans, was 39 and his mother, Marie Sigwalt Grosshans, was 30. He married Salome Lauffer in 1870. They had eight children in 17 years. He died on August 25, 1919, in Kankakee, Illinois, at the age of 71, and was buried in Streator, Illinois.

Recently, I have discovered that Gottlieb’s name was actually was Theophile Grosshans. As you can see by time of the 1919 death notices below, he must have changed his name and was using the name Gottlieb Groshans.

27 Aug 1919 The Times Streator, IL

26 Aug 1919 The Times, Streator IL death of G. Groshans

26 Aug 1919 The Times, Streator IL 

In 1847, Alsace (birthplace of Gottlieb) was in France. I found out that the name Theophile was translated into Gottlieb (or Gottfried).

Many of my sources use different variations of his name.

Here are the children that I have found in my research:

children

THE 1900 US CENSUS (note that Salome is not listed in this census as she was deceased)

In the 1900 US census, he is listed as Gottliebes G*Shous.  (Please remember that the census takers did not worry about writing what they “heard.”) In the 1900 census, we learn this information: He is the head of household with a birth date listed as October 1849. So, the there is a birth date conflict as he was actually born in 1847. Did he want to appear younger in the census or was there a poor note-taker? He states his occupation as Farm Laborer. He owns a home and it looks like it was on 6th Street in LaSalle, Streator, IL. He states that his birth place was France and that this was also the birth place of his parents. Gottlieb states that he immigrated to the USA in 1886.

In this 1900 census, Gottlieb is living with his son Louis who is employed as a coal miner. Louis’ birth date is listed as October 1872. The census states that Louis was born in France.

In this 1900 census, Gottlieb is also living with his daughter Zetmar. Her birth date is listed as May of 1877 in France. Her occupation is as a garment worker. (My other research shows she may have used the name Sarah and that her birth date may not match this census???)

In this 1900 census, Gottlieb is also living with his daughter Annie. Her birth date is listed as May 1881. She was born in Illinois. Her occupation is also listed as a garment worker.

In this 1900 census, Gottlieb is also living with his daughter Louisa who was born in July of 1884 in Illinois. The census shows that Louisa was 15 years old and still in school.

MY NOTES:

The Family Search # for Gottlieb is LVDW-RB1.

The Find a Grave link is :https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79547191/gottlieb-groshans

I wrote a blog that is related:https://tellinglifestories.org/2017/02/01/salome-a-k-a-selma-laufer-groshans/

Sibling of Gottlieb:

Gottlieb had a brother named Henry Grosshans. Henry married Salome Hartweg on November 5, 1873. They had nine children in 17 years. He died on May 13, 1930.

Here is a news clipping about Henry:

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15 May 1930 The Times Streator, IL 

 

 

Gretchen Ream and Robert Hess – 1945

FEBRUARY 1945

Robert and Gretchen wedding announcement Feb. 1945

On 14 Feb 1945, Robert Hess proposed to Gretchen Ream. Gretchen was 19 years old. Robert was 20 years old. As the article above states, Robert was a V-12 trainee in the University of Michigan Engineering School. The date of Robert’s entry into active service had been 1 July 1943. Gretchen and Robert had met in 1943, so they actually waited to become engaged. In 1943, Robert’s residence was at 426 Hamilton Place, Ann Arbor, MI and Gretchen lived with her mother at 520 N. Main Street, Ann Arbor.

At the time of their engagement, our country was still involved in WWII which we had entered the war in December 1941 after Pearl Harbor. In 1945, Gretchen was a secretary for Economy Baler Co.

APRIL 1945

On 1 April 1945, Easter Sunday, the photo below was taken of Gretchen and Robert having fun with a bike and a wagon. It was one of Robert’s favorite photographs.

with text Gretchen and Bob Wagon Easter Parade 1945

On 10 April 1945, Gretchen’s brother Robert Ream received a Purple Heart after his leg injury.

On 13 Apr 1945, Gretchen and Robert attended the Slide Rule Ball at the Michigan Union. She saved her dance card, autographed by the entertainer Louis Prima and his band.

Senior Ball 1945 Robert and Gretchen Hess (1)

On 21 April 1945, Robert and his brother George Hess graduate from the University of Michigan with honors.

1945 Engineering

MAY 1945

10 May 1945 – this article is about Gretchen’s brother, Robert Ream who was receiving the Oak Cluster.

Robert Ream news article wounded twice

 

On 2 November 1945, Robert Hess was appointed an Ensign in the US Navy.

Midshipman Graduation

Robert Hess served as Junior Division officer, main engines division, on a heavy cruiser at sea and later as auxiliary Division officer on a pair of light escort carriers.

On 30 November 1945 and 8 December 1945, Helen Mayer (Gretchen’s Aunt) hosted bridal showers.

Bridal Shower

On 15 December 1945, Gretchen and Robert were wed.

Invitation to wedding of Robert and Gretchen 12.15.1945

Robert and Gretchen Hess Dec 1945 wedding cake

On 16 Dec 1945, Robert and Gretchen began their honeymoon. I am fairly sure that their residence was 719 Oakland Ave., Ann Arbor, MI (see 1947 Ann Arbor Directory below- note that in 1947 George and Ruth Hess lived at 1107 Oakland Ave.)

719 Oakland

 

Picking a word – a memory by Linda Claire Groshans

Hess family in the woods

(The photo above is one of my favorite photos of my childhood family.)

After I got home from the book study group on a mid-winter January eve in 2014, my mind started to go into deep thought about a word. What word? Well, that was the question at the time.

The woman’s book group always gathered in one of the member’s homes where all of us drank coffee, tea, and enjoyed a dessert treat. We laughed and told our personal stories and then delved into the evening’s book topic. The book group’s main facilitator at that time was a woman named Penny. Penny always had brilliant insights and ideas. Everyone adored her creative mind and fun humor. On this 2014 evening, Penny posed a word challenge to the group. “You select a word,” she said and then continued, “your word will assist you through this new year with meditations and insight for your personal journey and growth.”

“Why should we do this?” asked Nancy whose logical mind was simply curious now.

“The word should embody what you want to be or what you want to work on during this New Year. It can be used instead of a New Year’s resolution. Your word will be a way to apply change into your life, a sort of guiding light.”

You could hear only silence as all of us started to think and then willingly accept the invitation to spend the next week in the selection of our word.

“You will need to spend time in deep contemplation, meditation and prayer.” Penny explained. “Your word will be a powerful aid to you in the coming year, and one that will guide you to a better self understanding.” Then, Penny told us, “I already picked my word”.

We all leaned forward in anticipation. “My word is BEGIN,” she said.

I loved Penny, but that word seemed an odd choice. Really, “begin?” Too simple? Or was it? Hmm, I would have to think about that later.

“Wow” I thought, “there is a lot at stake here.”

I am fascinated with words and I also possess the less than admirable trait of needing to be competitive. If I had to choose a word and go back to the next group meeting, I wanted my word to be the best, the most powerful. Certainly, I could do better than “begin.” My word would have to rock-and-roll the book group. I needed to win.

Over the next few days, I found myself saying various words out loud and waiting for a sign from the Universe. “Adventure, unconditional, boldness, ” I said testing those words. But, an annoying word begin to continue to come to me. I squelched it. It was not the grandiose word that I wanted. While at work, I listened carefully to conversations hoping to find that word that would impress. “Authentic and connection” seemed like good choices. But there it was again, that word creeping into my mind and becoming only the more powerful. I felt now, like the word was some sort of gift from the Universe but it was such an odd choice. Why would I even think this word? It wasn’t even a very pretty word. It wasn’t going to give me a winning edge.

Well, by now, you will want me to get on with it. The word that came to me in a repetitive way was “PRESERVE.”

I laughed at my chance to be a “word winner.” After all, doesn’t the word preserve make you think of pickles or jam?

In great humility to the Universe, I accepted this was my gift. My gift was the word “preserve” and I would just have to go with it. I was unsure of how to support the word, so at the next book study when we all shared our words, I was under no illusion that my word would wow the group. My word was the type of word that would only garner a few sweet smiles from friends who would then be announcing their profound choices.

I was right. My word underwhelmed everyone there.

But, it did not take long for my word to begin to work in my life. “Preserve” I would say to myself in the morning as I sipped my coffee while looking at some family photos.

PRESERVE…I stopped in my tracks. My word was perfect. These photos needed to be preserved in a way that they could be archived, indexed and shared. The actual original photos were only in my possession and could not be shared easily with other family. From that day forward, I began digitally preserving and sharing thousands of photographs all in indexed and searchable data cloud based websites. These photos have been viewed countless times by family, cousins, genealogists, historians, and others.

PRESERVE…my father was 90 years old at the time I made this word selection. His life, his memories, his stories needed to be preserved. I started the mission of documenting his life story. This was a man who had done remarkable things and was also the father who told whimsical talking stories about his dog Rover and his childhood adventures in the 1920’s. His WWII stories were stand outs. His work as the scientific advisor to the US Army was a story of genius. I started to research and write. I engaged myself in many conversations with my father and I promised him that I would continue to share his legacy and his stories. As I continued in this pursuit, I also realized that his story was the human story and I started to blog about so many others.

PRESERVE…friendships, associations, memories, ancestry, documents, our planet.

PRESERVE…I needed to start thinking about preserving my health. I began the habit of a morning walk that continues throughout these past 5 years. And, often these walks begin with my whispering the word that did become a guiding light.

Yes, my word, was and still is…”PRESERVE.”

Amelia and Grover Ream lived in California for approx. 3 years.

Grover and Amelia Ream 1915

My maternal grandmother was Amelia Grayer Ream and my maternal grandfather was Grover Cleveland Ream.

I was aware that my maternal grandparents had “visited” California, but it is only  recently that I realized my grandparents actually lived there for a period of time that was approx. 3 years long.

This blog showcases the materials that I have collected to show this “California” time frame of my grandparents life.

Grover and Amelia were married on 26 Sept 1912 in Ann Arbor, MI. The photo below indicates that after a honeymoon, they resided at 554 Elizabeth Street, Ann Arbor, MI.

Grayer Ream Wedding in AA news Sept. 27, 1912

It seems that they only stayed in Ann Arbor for a short while after their wedding.

The article below is from 11 November of 1913. It appeared in the Ann Arbor News as an announcement of the birth of twin boys. Our family was told the boys were named Richard and Robert.

The article reads: Twin boys were born November 7 to Mr. and Mrs. Grover Ream of Santa Clara, Cal. Mrs. Ream was formerly Miss Amelia Grayer of this city.

 

1913 Nov 11 Twin Boys Ann Arbor News page 3

The article below was published in the Ann Arbor News on 19 August 1915. As you can see, Grover and Amelia have left California and on their way home to Ann Arbor because Amelia’s father is dying.

19 Aug 1915 Ann Arbor News page 3

My mother told me that the picture below was taken in California. It is a photo of her parents with an unknown man on the left side of the photo.

Amelia and Grover ream with unknown man in California

This timeline of facts suggests that Grover and Amelia moved to California shortly after their 1912 marriage and returned to Ann Arbor, MI in 1915.

26 Sep 1912 marriage in Ann Arbor MI

7 Nov 1913 birth of twin boys in Santa Clara, CA

3 Nov 1914 Voter registration records for Grover C. Ream in Santa Clara, CA

19 Aug 1915 Grover and Amelia return to Ann Arbor because her father is dying.

 

Other:

In this link from January of 1915, carpenters are told that things are looking brighter for jobs in Ann Arbor https://books.google.com/books?id=fxo2AQAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PA26&lpg=RA2-PA26&dq=carpenters+union+512+of+ann+arbor,+mi&source=bl&ots=LTUsQheyDM&sig=Ha9RxOkg2jVOSnmOnG86tmOGsac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij84nlvevLAhUHmoMKHSlGC2sQ6AEINDAG#v=onepage&q=carpenters%20union%20512%20of%20ann%20arbor%2C%20mi&f=false

 

Sharing a work cubicle (a short story) by L. Claire Groshans

Sharing a Work Cubicle

She arrived at their shared cubicle before him. It was often a relief for her to come to work. Home was complicated. Linda sat in her swivel office chair so she could take off her walking shoes and replace them with the low heels that were “business professional”. On her tidy desk, there was a photo of her with her husband. They had been happy the day that photo had been taken, but that was no longer the case. She kept her marital problems a secret while at work. She was not ready to tell anyone that her personal life was crumbling in spite of her daily efforts to think of any way possible to make her depressed husband happy and engaged again.

“Top o’ the Morning” her boss announced before even making the turn into their cubicle. Linda looked up just in time to see her boss’ broad boyish smile. He was wearing a tailored overcoat. As he took his coat off, he also set his quality leather brief case on top of his desk.

Each morning as he entered the front office doors, Neil carried that briefcase with obvious intention so the statisticians, writers and managers would see him looking very professional, important and hard at work. But, the brief case contained a secret. He had shared that secret with Linda nearly 6 months ago when she had started as his assistant. The secret was that the briefcase contained only a Tupperware container of trail mix. “Top Secret” he had told her when he first showed her these contents. She laughed out loud. And after that one loud office laughter episode, Neil had Linda practice with him to learn a “silent” laugh. Because their cubicle was so closely situated and sandwiched between the more serious work-a-day co-workers, they pledged to do their best to laugh without drawing attention to the fact that they were having fun.

“Do you remember what we are doing today?” he asked as he sat down at his desk. They were facing each other now, but when the work day officially began they would swivel their office chairs towards their desks, so their backs would then be towards one another.

“I remember” she said and then continued, “but first I have to tell you that the custodian is going to rat you out. He left a note.”

“Cripes” he looked at her in a mock horror. “Don’t tell me I spilled some pumpkin seeds out of my trail mix.”

“Living dangerously” she replied and then did the quiet “laugh thing” they had nearly perfected.

“Well, should we get on with it?” he asked. Today was her first employee review with the firm. The Human Resource Department had a deadline and she was actually hoping for a nice raise. Her work was good. Neil was the editor of the business professional periodical they worked on. Linda’s clever use of vocabulary and her artistic eye helped with layouts for the magazine.

“Yes” Linda said.

“Great” he replied. “Grab a legal pad and a pen.”

“Why?” she asked?

He waited while she retrieved a yellow legal pad and a pen. They now faced each other and he made an attempt to look quite seriously at her. “Let’s have fun and play a game.” he said.

“Another game?” she asked. Linda knew her review had already been prepared and was ready for submission to H.R. After all, she had proof-read it herself before typing it up. She liked the games though that he suggested almost daily. She had fun and that was something that was happening at home less and less.

“OK” he said. ” I have been wondering how many phrases we can come up with that describe being inebriated.”

“What the heck?” she said. This was odd, but Neil was odd . “OK,” she replied “Games on.” And at that moment they both twisted their chairs back to face their desks and they began the assignment. Neil set a timer to give them a full 3 minutes each.

The timer made a small ding. “OK, he said, time to read our results and whoever thought of the most original phrases will be the clear champion of the day.”

“Stink faced” she said. He did the quiet laugh while making a face that caused her to laugh too.

“Three sheets to the wind” he retorted quickly while trying to look extremely serious about the assignment.

“Snockered” she said.

“Tipsy” he said using a dainty voice.

“Blotto” she was proud of that one. What a funny word.

“Drunk” he said.

“You can’t use that. That is too basic.”

“OK, how about this one. “Cheers”

Then, he used his hands to make a halt sign and to stop her from continuing the game. “Well, that was what I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell you Cheers and good work. I am so glad I have such an efficient admin working for me. You make me look good Linda, so Cheers, and thanks!”

She smiled. “Speaking of looking good, should we do some actual work today?”

“Not yet. Let’s go to the lake first.”

The Lake was in fact their name for another office game they had created. Some time ago, Neil’s wife had picked out an oil painting of a lake that he had hung on the back empty wall of their cubicle. The game that Linda and Neil had concocted was to “go to the lake” by facing both of their chairs side by side looking out at the never changing view of the painting. Neil had told her that when they played the game, they should imagine themselves years into the future as old folk, sitting on the front porch of the retirement home. “You have to always pretend to be old” he said. “That part is important.”

“Nice day” Linda said with a little feeble voice while staring out over the serene painting.

“Yep” he said. “But these days, the lake is starting to look the same to me every day.”

“Well, that’s because you missed the flock of geese that just went by.”

“Did they honk?” he asked.

Then they both started the silent laugh,

Neil turned ever so slightly in Linda’s direction. She could tell he was serious now. Then quietly he said, “I’m glad I get to see the lake with you. Maybe we can see a real lake together when we are old and in the same retirement home. What do you think?”

“Maybe” she said. But her heart thought, “I hope so.” Then they were both quiet for several minutes before turning back to their desks.

John Towns Annis 1791-1871

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John Towns Annis was born on October 13, 1791, in Londonderry, New Hampshire, the son of Mary and Isaac. He married Delilah Coburn in 1820 (he was 28 years old and she was 22 years old) and they had 13 children together. Delilah died in 1853 (she was 56 years old at the time of her death) and he then married Elizabeth Gage “Betsy” Coburn on November 2, 1854, in Londonderry, New Hampshire. {Note: he DID marry sisters.}

John died on April 21, 1871, in his hometown, having lived a long life of 79 years, and was buried there.

John Towns Annis was the 3rd great grandfather of Heidi Thornbladh.  His daughter Miriam Page Annis Watts was Heidi’s 2nd great grandmother.

This is one of the sources used for information:

Genealogy of David Annis of Hopkinton and Bath, New Hampshire : his ancestors and descendants – the book is available online. https://archive.org/details/genealogyofdavid00curr/page/n4

John Annis died

John Annis military records