Author Archives: wonderfulstoryphotos

John Andrew Bravin 1922-2011

When John Andrew Bravin “Uncle John” was born on March 1, 1922, in Meduno, Udine, Italy, his father, Anibale, was 31 and his mother, Lousa “Louise” Melosso, was 22.

In the 1930 US Census, Uncle John was only 8 years old. He was living with his family then at 924 E. 10th Street, Altoona, PA. The census indicates that both of his parents were born in Italy and that the family language in their home was Italian. In this same year, his younger brother Louis was 5 years old and his sister Madeline was 3 years old. Both Louis and Madeline were born Altoona, Pennsylvania.

Uncle John was a US veteran. He was in the US Marine Corp during WWII and served as a Sergeant.

He died on February 10, 2011, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, at the age of 88, and was buried there.

Here are a few photos from the Groshans family photo collection:

Uncle John Bravin holding his nephew Jack

Chauncey Commodore Hitt 1812-1874

Photo found on multiple websites including Ancestry and Family Search

Chauncey was the 3rd Great Grandfather of Eugene Norbert Wiesner.

Here is how they related:

When Chauncey Commodore Hitt was born on August 23, 1812, in Delaware, New York, his father, Isaac, was 27 and his mother, Anne Moore Hitt, was 25. He married Frances Elizabeth Walter in 1839. They had seven children in 15 years. He died on November 14, 1874, in Door, Wisconsin, at the age of 62, and was buried there.

Here is a photo of Chauncey’s wife Frances Elizabeth Walter Hitt that I found on Ancestry and Family Search web sites.

photo from multiple web sites including Ancestry

Stories of Chauncey’s life are told in a publication called: “History of Door County, Wisconsin: the county beautiful” Chauncey is listed as one of the first persons to buy land in Door County.

From some of my other research, it appears that just shortly before Chauncey’s death he bought a boarding house attached to a saw mill and turned it into a tavern and saloon to be run by his son Charles. I believe the property was named the “Eagle Hotel.”

These are very small print, and I only have dates and not the names of the newspapers:

9 October 1873
26 March 1874

I found these death notices:

From Find a Grave
28 November 1874 Green Bay Weekly Gazette, Wisconsin

This is a link to Find A Grave information: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/59413496

Bunny Paw Prints – a short story by Linda Claire

photo by Linda Claire

Years ago, on a summer morning, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my mother. She loved doughnuts and I had brought along a box of Tim Horton’s pastries for the visit.  I also had brought cups of black coffee that were aromatic and steaming hot. I felt so grateful for this fine morning and the company of my sweet mother. Afterall, I was sitting in the company of my mother who was also my best friend. 

Mom and I sat together. We didn’t talk much. We spent quite a bit of our time just looking out the large front kitchen window.  She didn’t get outside as much now, but she loved the nature views out her windows.  

“What kind of doughnut do you want?” I asked her as I opened the box to display our choices. 

She gave me her sweet cute coy smile and said, “Oh, you pick one out for me. I like them all. In fact, I might fancy a taste of each one!” 

I was happy. I got up to go over to the cupboards to collect plates, silverware and napkins. I looked over my shoulder and saw her peeking at the doughnuts just like a little girl excited for a special treat. This simple moment, a cup of coffee and a collection of doughnuts to share with my mother. This was a good day.  I clattered the plates a bit on purpose so that she would look over at me. No matter what I did, no matter how old I got, her gazes towards me were always admiring. I knew that I was very loved. 

“I just hope you don’t want a piece of the long john because that is the one, I picked out for myself” I kidded her. Oh, how we both loved to tease. 

“No, I don’t like that type,” she said while looking a dramatically disappointed. 

“Liar!” I said and then I cut her a big bite of the long john along with some other samples. We are both smiling because our little joke had amused us. 

As we began to eat our treat, we looked out her window. 

“Mom, look…look now.” I urged. 

Right there in the middle of the driveway was a bunny. The morning light was misty, the grass beside the drive was full of dew and a bunny had arrived for our entertainment. The bunny who was obliviously content to sit on the cement driveway of all places! 

“Mom, do you see that bunny?” 

“Yes,” she replied. “It comes here quite often about this time of day.” 

We both sipped our coffees and continued to watch the bunny who now appeared to be frozen in place at one spot in the very center of the driveway. Then, just like that, it hopped away. Gone. 

“Mom, look! It left little wet pawprints on the driveway. He must have been on the wet grass before hopping here.” I was so taken by the visual image of those little dew prints that the bunny had left behind. 

And then in just seconds, I said: “Mom, the pawprints are disappearing!” I felt disappointment for the end of that fleeting scene. 

“The doughnuts are disappearing too.” she coyly stated and smiled at our plates. 

“No Mom, not the doughnuts, the pawprints. They are almost gone they are disappearing so quickly!” I wanted to express how things can disappear, how special moments shared can end too quickly.

The sun was getting brighter and filtering light across the grass and the drive. The sun was erasing the little bunny pawprints. It had also started to dry the dew drops on the grass.  

“The sun erased the prints.” My mother said gently. She reached out to touch my arm and continued talking, “Prints don’t last long, the sun erases them.”  

I continued sipping my coffee as her words played in my mind. My mother was a wise woman. “The prints don’t last long; they are erased by the sun.” 

She is right. Prints don’t last long.

Even the prints in our lives that are our sad mishaps don’t last long. In fact, in the scheme of life, all the prints or moments are fleeting.  

I got up and squinted out the window looking again at the concrete which was now dry and full of dappled sun patterns. The day was turning out to be fine. The birds were starting a morning concert. Our coffee was gone.  

“I love you.” I said as I hugged her before leaving. “Want to have a picnic soon, we could ask everyone over?” I asked her, but I already knew that she would be thrilled.

I got into my Jeep to leave, and as I drove past her front door, I could see her standing there and waving at me. She always tried to make each moment together last.

On my drive home, I thought about how the sun had illuminated the day. I thought about how delicate those little paw prints looked and mostly I thought about how precious my aging mother was to me. 

Years have gone by since she passed away. Every day, she is in my heart and mind. Her gentle nature and joy for the little things and her unwavering love for family. She was and will always be my hero. 

Take A Hike…a short story by Linda Claire

Take a Hike

photo by Linda Claire

It was 1995 and an anti-depressant called Prozac was becoming a commonly used drug. I wanted some. My friends had it, and I needed it too. Afterall, the stress of my on-going divorce while also facing single parenting, handling my spiraling financial concerns, and knowing that I would need to return to the workplace, it was all too much. I was depressed and I wanted to take the pill that would make it go away. No problem, I just needed to go to my primary care doctor. Certainly, he would understand pain and give me some Prozac and maybe some Valium too. I needed my pain to go away. I wanted to stop thinking about losing my marriage, I wanted to stop thinking about my husband every minute. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to go on with life and clearly all those scientists in pharma laboratories had come up with a solution that I needed.

I arrived at Dr. T’s office on a Monday morning. I was guided to the exam room where a nurse took my blood pressure, weight and temperature and recorded the results. There was clearly no test for a broken heart, a failed marriage.

After a brief wait, there was a knock on the exam room door and Dr. T entered with a pleasant smile on his face.  Since I wanted to be convincing about needing the pills, I certainly could not smile back.  It all hurt, so I used a little bit of my drama training and my real pain and twisted my facial expression to one of horrible agony.

“So, what’s going on?” Dr T asked.

I guess my answer spanned several minutes. Afterall, I had been rehearsing this moment for a few days. My voice ended by saying, “So, I must have the pill that makes this all stop.”

“There”, I thought. And I waited for him to type up the pharmacy order. This would be the day that the pain would start to ease.

“Why is he still sitting there?” I asked myself. Dr. T. was reaching for my hand and patting it gently while he leaned forward on his stool.

The moments ticked away. “Come on, get on with it” I thought as I tried to will him to give me the cure.

Yes, “Dr., Dr., give me a cure, I have a bad case of lovin’ him”

Still nothing. The room was silent. I hurt, I really hurt and without using any drama I started to cry softly. The tears dripped down my face and I looked for something to wipe my nose. None of this was funny. My life was a wreck and I could not cope.

That is when he started talking again. “Claire, you need to get out in nature.” He said and he looked compassionate.

“Buddy,” I thought to myself. My unspoken voice continued my response to him silently “I don’t need nature, I told you that I need pills.”

“Take a hike, cut the grass, garden and just be outside in nature.” He said.

My mouth dropped open, it was beginning to appear that the pain was going to continue and would probably last forever.

“I’m paying you”, I thought to myself. “Give me the darn pills. I hurt” I wanted to scream, but I kept quiet.  Did he tell me to take a hike? That was about the same verbiage my husband had used.

I left the appointment with nothing more than some half-baked idea that going out into nature would release me from my agony.

I guess it was a couple days later that I decided to weed a flower bed. I kneeled on the ground and I cried. I cried so loudly that my neighbor came running over. “Dear, what is the matter?” she asked.

“I don’t know which ones are the weeds. I don’t even know how to garden.”

“Oh, that is simple” she replied. “The weeds are any of those plants that you don’t like.”

Then softly, she continued talking to me and then asked me a question,  “Hey, I am going for a little hike around the block, want to come with me?”

I wiped my tears and pulled myself up. “Yeah, I would like that.” I said.

The healing had started…

On the shelf…a short story by Linda Claire

I met Mrs. Schoop only once and it happened 52 years ago. I was a young girl of 14 years old and it happened when I was on a vacation with my girlfriend Mary and her family. I had traveled to Mary’s cottage on Mullett Lake in Cheboygan, Michigan. The word cottage was a not really a good descriptor. For my house guest’s home was truly was a grand lake side home.  

At 14 years old, one of my earned titles was “Book Worm.” I felt pride in that. No hard feelings about the stereotype, just bring me more books.   

On the second day into our stay at the cottage, Mary’s family was gravely disappointed that it kept raining outside. But, because of that day of rain, I had two experiences that have made lifelong impacts on my life. 

The first of those was a found a basket of comic books I found in a window seat. When I earned the name “Book Worm”, it was certainly not because of reading comic books. I read novels, classics, and poetry. I had amazing parents, but they were not parents who allowed comic books in my library. I had seen the funny pages in the paper on occasion, but never a full comic book! While the rest of Mary’s family played the board game Clue, I made my myself comfortable on a soft pillow and grabbed a stack of those comic books. It was a story of true love. I particularly fell in love with Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead. I read the stack and then read it again and again. 

The other event that happened because of the rain that day was Mary’s mother suggesting we meet the woman in the cottage next door. All I knew before walking into her door was that she was a proper old lady who did not like nonsense. “Oh great, an old spinster” I thought.  Yes, words like spinster were very much in my vocabulary thanks to the books Nancy Drew and Anne of Green Gables.  

Mary’s mother wanted us to dress up a bit for the visit. It had been arranged that Mrs. Schoop would provide us with a full tea party at her home. Mary’s mom had us practice our manners, but I was comfortable in this subject, I even knew how to curl my little finger while drinking.  

As we approached Mrs. Shoop’s home, she stood guarding her back doorway. She perfectly fit the look that I had put together in my imagination. Tall, stately, white hair in a tight bun, a shawl around the shoulders and a cane. She did not smile but offered a little wave instead.  

“Oh swell” I thought, “this is going to be a horrible day.”  

But, once my foot passed over the threshold of her back door, I was in a new universe. One that I would model later in my adult life. I was ever so familiar with the phrase, “do not judge a book by its cover” and this was certainly the case now. Mrs. Shoop was much more than she appeared at the first glance. 

The tea party was set on a table with fancy frilled linen that was printed with a strawberry pattern. There were teacups, fancy china, creamers, and sugar bowls all shaped to look like fanciful strawberries. The wallpaper was a beautiful border of budding strawberries, the rugs were shaped like enormous strawberries and the chairs had a similar pattern on the fabric seats and backs. Of course, the tea party included fresh berries and large strawberry milk shakes. “This is so cool”, I thought to myself while remembering my manners and waiting for Mrs. Shoop to be seated before I sat and placed my strawberry linen napkin into my lap. We had our party. And then, Mrs. Shoop suggested that we might like to take a tour of her home.  

The first room upstairs was a train room. The room was complete with train tracks built around the walls, and little trains chugged past us overhead. The lamps, chairs and all the décor continued the train theme. 

I was beginning to understand that Mrs. Shoop might become one of my favorite people. The amount of creative talent expressed in her decorating had such appeal. It allowed her guests to be in an almost reverent awe of her creative expressions.  

What would the next rooms hold? As it turns out, I would then see a room of pigs…yes fancy porcelain pigs that were large and walking right across the center of the pig room floor. There were flying pigs moved by large fans on the ceiling. From room to room, we continued the tour of themes. 

Many years later, when I became a single woman again after my divorce, I had my own time and place to decorate as I saw fit. I started by making my living room fit for any sea captain. The walls had great nautical art and word art about the seas. A large shipping chest sat in the corner. A sextant with mermaids sat on my shelves. She was a beauty.  

Friends that I entertained, loved the feel of the room. They said that my house gave them the sense that they wanted to memorize and find each of the treasures. I expanded to a family room bedecked with Little Red Riding Hoods…antique illustrated books, cookie jars, all sorts of treasures. The Red Riding Hood art pieces on my walls were both contemporary and classic paintings. 

Eventually, I downsized, and all my theme rooms got packed up for the taking. I have ended up living in a tiny house. No longer in need of so many possessions sitting on shelves anymore. The creativity that I have still finds room for expression in writing, photography and art.  

That being said, ALL of my current artwork in my tiny house is of my favorite animal…Elephants. In fact, a large Vietnamese porcelain elephant is a corner piece in my living room and even my pillows are shaped like elephants.  

I don’t have shelves for display items anymore, but needless to say, if I did have a curio cabinet shelf, I expect you would see a very fancy and fun shelf of elephants on display. 

Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom – a direct ancestor from the Netherlands.

Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom was my 8th great grandfather. Here is how we relate:

When Hendrick Jansen Oosteroom was born in 1630 in Netherlands, his father, Jan, was 25 and his mother, Claudina Relyea, was 24. He married Tryntje Lubbertse VanBlarcom and they had five children together. He then married Geesje Jacobs on May 23, 1666. He died in 1670 in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the age of 40.

Here is a photo of records regarding his 2nd marriage:

His name later became Hendrick Jansen Ostrom. A comment made on Family Search.org reads: “The Dutch of New Amsterdam did not use surnames until 1664 when British took control & renamed New York. The surname “Oosteroom” as entered here has seven alternate spellings as seen on records of time frame – whoever could write spelled & wrote what was heard, not what was meant to be heard”

He was also called Hendrick Van Schalwyk which used the place of his birth as his name.

In 1654, there are records of him receiving a land grant for 25 mogens of land in Kill van Kull, the site of what would later be, Bergen New Jersey. Because of problems the settlers were having there with the Native Americans, it seems that Hendrick later took a lease for unsettled land in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, NY. which was a part of British Colonial America. From familysearch.org “He was apparently living in New Jersey when the Indians forced all white persons living west of the Hudson to retreat to New Amsterdam, where his second child was born in 1657.”

John Kepler 1743-1845 of Sweden and an American Revolutionary Soldier

John Keplar was the 4th great grandfather of my girlfriend Joan. Here is how she relates:

When John F. Keplar was born on January 1, 1743, in Stockholm, Sweden, his father, Johannes, was 33 and his mother, Barbara von Muhleck, was 23. He married Helen Catherine DeAvarie of Paris, France in 1780. They had two children during their marriage. He died having lived for more than 100 years. He died on December 12, 1845, in Winchester, Indiana, at the age of 102.

John came to America before the Revolutionary War and served in that war. He was a private in Capt. John Arndt’s company, 1st battalion Northhampton County, PA, militia.

John’s wife, Catherine DeAvarie, died either in childbirth or just days after her daughter Nancy Kepler was born. According to my research, John did not remarry and spent much of his life as a widower.