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Pat's Prompts - December 2022

Most of us know how precious photos of our ancestors are to us. Pat’s Prompt for December urges us to recall our own memories and preserve them.  

“Choose a favorite photo of one or two persons, of an object, or a location.”  

Write several sentences describing the photo. Not only tell who, what, why or where the photo was taken, also add relevant details that show. 

Below, you will find Pat’s fascinating example and some further prompts to get you going. As always, we hope this prompt will help you in recording your own family history. 

The year is 1976 and the place is Fairbanks, Alaska. The picture is of me with my two sons aboard a passenger car of the Alaska Railroad. We’re on a Pre-School Train trip from Fairbanks to the nearby village of Nenana. The drive on the Parks Highway is 55 minutes, but this round trip by train will take four hours, plus! Long before we boarded, four year old Casey had dibbed the window seat. David, nearly 3, who had never been seen in public without a hat, is riding shotgun when a photographer from the local paper, The Fairbanks News Miner, came down the aisle. The photo he snapped was published in the next day’s paper. Life in a very small town has very big reward.

Here is Andy Hoskins’ response to the November prompt: “What sound do you treasure from your childhood? Do you wish you could replicate the sound?”

“I came into this world on a foggy November morning at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco. The foghorns were calling out from the Golden Gate Bridge as my mother and grandmother hurried to the hospital, so I guess the sounds of the foghorns have been with me even before I arrived. At the time of my birth, my parents were living with my maternal grandmother in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood, just west of the bridge, above the Golden Gate (the strait that connects the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, and where the bridge got its name). While there were numerous other foghorns around the Bay, it’s the horns on that famous bridge that I hear in my memory.

 As a child, I loved the sound. It was a comforting, reassuring sound somehow. I remember sitting with my grandmother on the window seat in her upstairs bedroom looking out at the fog and listening to the horns. “The sounds help the ships’ captains guide their ships safely under the bridge, in spite of the fog” my grandmother explained.

Later, I learned that there were air horns on the bridge’s southern-most pier as well as on the center pier. Incoming ships would navigate between the two piers while outbound ships would go to the north of the central pier. Given that the Golden Gate averaged more than 770 hours of fog in a year, the fog horns played a critical role in helping ships avoid colliding with the bridge and each other.

Over the years, when I no longer lived with my grandmother, but visited often, I came to think of the foghorns as part of the romantic nature of my favorite city – the bay, the hills, the bridges, the fog. Now I live on Bainbridge Island, and when I hear the ships’ horns call out on a foggy morning on Puget Sound, for just an instant I am taken back to my city by the bay!”

 This link will let you hear the older foghorns of the Golden Gate Bridge, now replaced with modern technology:


DNA Ditties

Y Chromosome – Male Inheritance

Y-DNA is inherited only by sons from their fathers. This chromosome mutates very slowly, allowing the tracing of a male line back many generations. Theoretically, all men can trace their Y-DNA to one man, known as Y-Adam. In genealogy, Y-DNA is useful in identifying other men who share the same haplogroup. Learning about their families through contact or research can help us find our male ancestors. According to Diahan Southard, the only genealogically valuable tester is FamilyTreeDNA. However, Y-DNA testing is also available at 23andMe and LivingDNA, among others.

Make It Quick!

Finding Help – Cyndi’s List

Cyndi’s List began online in 1996 when Cyndi Ingle published her personal web page and included her personal list of categorized genealogy bookmarks, over 1,025. Today there are nearly 317,000 unique links! Cyndi’s List is not a database, is meant to be like a giant card catalog of what is available online and of interest to genealogists. As it says on her homepage, it is “genealogical research portal onto the Internet.” Below is a small sample, very small, of what type of information you can find on Cyndi’s List. The numbers in parentheses represent the number of links in the category. Be sure to check it out.