Thursday, July 31, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Replication

Replication is keeping your information in several different formats so that later, when you want to use it, the future technology is still able to access it.

Paper is really still best for making information last in this respect. Generally the different formats last:
  • Paper, fragile but will usually last @100 years
  • Microfilm @130 years
  • CD @20 years depending on quality. Like I said earlier, look for Mitsui Gold or Delkin e-Film Archival Gold
  • Audio Video @10-20 years
  • Floppy disks @3 years

Once you have digitized, if you do decide to put it back into prints, you have to be careful. If you print with the wrong ink and paper, your new copy may go bad faster than the original. Look for Pigment ink, DuraBrite inks, Ultrachrome inks and papers, Crystal Archive paper. Again, you get what you pay for. Cheap paper is usually not archival. Look for manufacturers that match paper and ink sets. At Generation Maps we have found canvas giclees to be a good base for printing for several reasons. First of all, the texture of the canvas is good for family history photos because the slightly bumpy surface tricks the eye and mitigates any graininess in an antique photo. But also, giclees are completely archival. You can actually even run them through the washing machine. So you can put the original away and still keep the image out where you can enjoy it.

When scanning images in, stay with the most common types of files so that they will be accessible later. Tiff files are biggest and contain the most information for the highest quality.—Jpeg (Jpg) files are smaller and do well inserting into documents or sending over the web. When you save to the most common file format, you have a better chance of being able to open the file in whatever kind of program you have. Less common files such as .png, .psp, and etc. may or may not be supported by future programs. Save each edit of the picture as a new file. Keep the original scan. And, save one of each type for different uses.

So many people think they are doing a great work scanning their photos, yet you can also make mistakes in the way you keep them. Do lots of backup like we talked about earlier.
  • Burn to high quality CDR or DVD-R
  • Keep on back up drive
  • Always keep more than one copy, more than one type of file, save at different scanning resolutions, and in different file formats.
  • Share, Share, Share
  • And of course keep originals

With text formats, you want it to be in a format that you are able to open later as well. .txt is a good common type of file that you can open in many different situations. But it doesn't have all the capabilities of other text programs and will strip out any special formatting or other information you have stored in the file. So be sure to save anything important in a couple of different file formats. Most text files—even from the same text program—are usually not usable more than a couple of versions back. I recently tried to help a neighbor send a file to her cousin. She hadn't updated her computer for a while, so her Word Perfect 2.0 wasn't going to jive with anything that her cousin had. Her data would have been useless if we hadn't been able to save it as a .txt file so that he could transfer it into the program he was using.


Previous Posts in this series:

Will your work survive the digital age--the Digital Dark Age.

Will your work survive the digital age?

Will your work survive the digital age--Dissemination

Will your work survive the digital age--Refreshing and Backup

Why I'm not getting any blogging done.

I sooooo love conferences. If you haven't been to one you need to. We love working with genealogists. They are the best people in the world. And we absolutely love the people we work with in the other genealogy companies. They are the best friends you could ever ask for.

Left to right, Kim Hovorka, Me (Generation Maps), Michael Booth, Gordon Booth, June Booth (RootsMagic), Cina Johnson, Diana Olsen(Family Insight), Leonard Plaizer (South Davis Family History Center They have a great conference, go look.), Luc Comeau (Legacy Family Tree.), Bruce Buzbee (RootsMagic). Laurie Buzbee was taking the picture. I'm glad she got a good one. I'm having trouble with my camera.

Since she is missing, here is a shot of Laurie and I. The triathalon girls.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Refreshing and Back Up

I have been working on my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age" lecture for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. The second of our five digital archiving solutions is: Refreshing and Back Up.

You could say a million things about refreshing your information and making sure it is backed up. Let me just say this: Think B drives, 4 and 1/4 inch disks--really not that long ago. Though you can still find machines with them, 3 1/2 inch floppys are now obsolete. They aren't on any new computers. Just keep those in mind while you are burning CDs CD’s are inexpensive but really don't hold much by today's standards. Re-writeable CD’s (CD-RW) deteriorate faster, but are easier when you need to recover lost data. Archival CD companies say they can last up to and beyond 20 years depending on quality. You get what you pay for. We have done well with Mitsui Gold or Delkin e-Film Archival Gold, but the inexpensive CDs we bought at the after-Thanksgiving sale lasted less than a year. If you are relying heavily on CDs to back up your data, make a plan to migrate everything on to new CDs once a year. And make several copies of the same CD so that you have another chance if one goes bad.

Travel (Flash, Jump) drives that use USB ports are all the rage with genealogists. They are easy, small, and can have lots of memory. But again, you haven't archived anything. USB has been the standard for about 8 years, will eventually go the way of serial and parallel ports. Blue Tooth and Wireless stand ready to make USB ports obsolete. A couple of years ago, I lost one in two feet of snow. We found it when the snow melted a couple of days later and it still worked but you can bet I didn't rely on it for anything. And I've seen several fall apart and stop working just from constant use. They are best for transfering files and temporary storage.

A better backup option for the regular genealogist is an External Hard Drive. They can come in various sizes and have USB ports that can share among several computers. You can just plug in a backup drive as another drive, or use it with backup software that will automatically evaluate what has been changed and make copies accordingly.—If you really want to go all out, Magnetic Tape Drives are also an option. They are more expensive, usually for businesses, where they are used often and stored in several off-site locations. (Library of Alexandria Rule.)

There are also several online Back Up services that can help. Like:
  • is a $50 per year service (any amount of data) that will back up and encript your data so that no one else will have access to your data
  • Many Photo Repositories: Smug Mug, PhotoMax, even Costco, Facebook, Blogs, Family Link, anywhere that will take your files.
  • Genealogy Databases, anywhere that will accept your files and keep them in a format where you can retrieve them.

With all of these options, there is one all-encompasing rule. Akin to the Library of Alexandria Rule. DON'T RELY ON ONLY ONE BACKUP SYSTEM. Choose a couple that are easy enough to you that it will get done.

Previous Posts in this series:

Will your work survive the digital age--the Digital Dark Age.

Will your work survive the digital age?

Will your work survive the digital age--Dissemination


Just call me Sheherezade. I know I'm in the middle of a series of posts about my lecture this Friday--Archiving in the Digital Age. But I have just had an idea for a new series. And I'm so excited about it, I just have to get the first post out. I promise I'll write the rest of the digital archiving posts today and get them set up to be published. It has been busy getting ready for the BYU conference this week. That slowed my blog down a bit. But now that we are at the conference, I'll find a few minutes here and there to work on those posts.

I'm going to call this new series Genealinspired. My Randy Seaveresque word's definition: 1) The act of being inspired by your family's history. 2) Applying the lessons and morals learned from your ancestors lives to your modern life. 3) Knowing you can be stronger, more courageous, or able to succeed because of an example set for you by one of your family members. I have talked about this previously here, here, here, here, and here. I have been talking about being genealinspired and didn't realize it.

My first Genealinspired story comes to us from Nicole, a good friend who shared this with me yesterday. Thanks Nicole.

Her mother-in-law was Slovakian. Because her father was an officer in the military, when Slovakia was invaded (I'm not sure if it was the Nazis or the Russians) her family had to go into hiding to avoid being arrested and killed. They fled to the forests near their home, taking with them their three young daughters, ages 5, 3 and an infant. I can't even imagine trying to hide in the forest with three small children.

Babies aren't quiet when they are wet and tired, so the invading army found them. The mother of the family implored the soldiers to kill her children first so that they wouldn't be scared when they saw their parents murdered. Her pleadings softened the hearts of the soldiers and they were spared. I just can't even imagine.

When Nicole asked her mother-in-law about how she survived being so scared for that period of her life, (she was the 5-year-old) her MIL replied that she wasn't the least bit scared. She said that her mother treated it as "high-adventure" and that she thought they were having a grand time.

A side note: I have heard similar stories about pioneer ancestors crossing the plains. I always think of that as such hard work and such a sacrifice. But, can you imagine being a teenage boy with that kind of adventure? I know once my ancestors were settled, the young men loved to be on the teamster teams that went out to meet new immigrants. No hard work there. They were going out to meet the new girls.

The point of the story is this though. Nicole has been watching the news too much. She has been extremely worried about the economy and she and her husband's jobs. Obsessively worried. She also has twin 5-year-olds. In our conversation, she expressed to me the amazement she had at her grandmother-in-law's ability to cope, and her ability to instill that joy and sense of adventure in her children. She said, "I could whine to my children--'oh, how awful that we can't have piano lessons anymore. Or, Mom may have to get a full-time job.' Oh, Please. Or I could see it as a new adventure, we'll spend our time differently." The story of her mother-in-law has inspired her to go through her current situation with a sense of a grand, exciting new experience.

Genealinspired. Do you have one?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blog post(s) of the week

Some interesting industry analysis

A great article about involving children:
because sharing it with the next generation makes everything more meaningful.

Some great humor this week on the blogging front. Thanks for the laughs you guys.

And Mark Tucker figured out Bruce Buzbee--on several levels. I'm impressed Mike. Such brilliance from a software architect. Great Job.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Photo Charts on Shades of the Departed Blog

My post on FootnoteMaven's blog has gone up.

There are several links from other blogs already. This blogger community is fast.

Randy Seaver said he's geneasmacked. I'm trying not to let it go to my head :-).

It was nice to get a chance to share some of the great charts we do. Thanks for the opportunity FootnoteMaven.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--Dissemination

I have been working on my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age" lecture for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I think it is coming together well. I'm going share it with you in the next week's posts. The first of our five digital archiving solutions is: Dissemination.

To fully discuss Dissemination I have to teach you my Library of Alexandria Rule for Genealogists.

At the time of Cleopatra the largest library in the world was in Alexandria, Egypt. It may have had hundreds of thousands of books, scrolls, codices and so on. It was a center for learning in the ancient world; scholars came from all over to study there, and many great discoveries were made. Discoveries such as:
  • Astronomy was documented enough to be able to sail by the stars
  • Longitude and Latitude
  • Calculating a year within 6 minutes of accuracy, establishment of a leap year.
  • Calculating the circumference of the earth within 1%.
  • The brain and nervous system work together
  • The heart pumps blood through the body
  • Archimedes screw, a handcranked device for lifting water
  • Foundations of Geometry and Trigonometry, the discovery of Pi. (Yeah, I personally could have lived without this last one :-)

According to legend, Caesar and PtolemyXII were fighting, and the people of Alexandria set fire to the ships in the harbor to break the blockade. The fire swept onto land and the library was burned. In modern times, we don’t know what was in that library and have nowhere near a hundred thousand volumes from that time period. All we have are the precious things, like religious texts, of which many copies were made.

So: The Library of Alexandria Rule for Genealogists is: THE MORE COPIES THERE IS OF SOMETHING THE MORE LIKELY IT IS TO SURVIVE.

So: against all your genealogist tendencies, you need to Share, Share, Share. Even if it isn't finished. Share with relatives, share with databases, share with libraries, historical societies. Then keep files in as many places as you can. Always have electronic and print copies. Never keep anything in only one format. And keep good notes of sources you have used and what you have done. These are road signs for the next generation.

Next: Refreshing/Back Up Systems, coming shortly...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age?

I am surprised when we travel to some of the conferences we do that novices are often all excited about digitizing their family history: scanning in pictures, letters, documents, indexing and typing everything into their computer. As a librarian and an archivist, it makes me nervous. Heaven forbid someone would think they don't really need the originals anymore.

When you have digitized something, you have:

  • Made it easier to share
  • Made it easier to disseminate
  • Made it easier to copy
  • Made it easier to restore
  • Made it easier to index

You have not:

  • Archived it.
  • Probably made it last for more than a couple of years.

Threats to digital data enclude:

  • Hard to retrieve—buried with useless information
  • Physical deterioration
  • Lapsed, Purposely Destroyed
  • Un-useable format, Digital Obsolescene

The solutions I propose in my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age?" Lecture are these:

  • Dissemination: Store many copies in many situations and places
  • Refreshing/Back Up: Make a new copy in the same format to avoid physical deterioration
  • Replication: Making many copies of the material in different format
  • Migration: Move to the new system, newest software, newest format
  • Naming, Tagging and Filing: Use descriptive keywords and keep files organized.

We'll discuss each of these shortly. More to come...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Blog of the week

I have been asked this week to be the guest blogger for the FootnoteMaven's series "Friday from the Collectors" on the Shades of the Departed Blog. I was thrilled to be invited until I went back through the previous entries looking more closely for how such an article was to be written. Warning--these posts are much more enjoyable when the pressure isn't on to join this high-caliber club. Go read them now before she invites you ;-). She asked me to write about photo genealogy charts. I can only hope that what has become commonplace in my daily work will still be interesting to those of you who don't get to see it as often. We have seen some remarkable ideas come to life in that respect. I'm looking forward to sharing some of them.

FootnoteMaven has five regular columns in her blog: Photo of the Week, Twice Told Tuesday, Web Wandering Wednesday, Many Things Thursday, and Friday from the Collectors. Well written and well organized. Shades is particularly centered around photography and the FootnoteMaven's extensive photo collection. She is also the host of the relatively new Smile for the Camera--Carnival of Images. The next edition (4th) of Smile for the Camera is "My Favorite Photograph" the one you couldn't live without. After much consideration, I have picked out my photo for the carnival, but you will have to wait a little longer to see it.

I come away from my recent review of this blog with alot of emotion pertaining to the fleeting nature of life, how photographs capture something that is never to be repeated. This afternoon, my son asked what time he had been born and we pulled out the 1998 family scrapbook to make sure. It seems like just yesterday. I couldn't believe how young Kim and I looked, and how the children have grown up so fast. (Luckily I looked like Jabba the Hutt having just had a baby, so I'm not missing that too much :-). But I look at how quickly life goes and it makes me a little melancholy. I would love to hold those little babies again; luckily the boys aren't to adverse to a hug now. I've always felt that way about Motherhood. After re-reading Shades of the Departed, I feel incredibly emotional about all those beautiful pictures and people who are no more. Especially the antique photos she and others have collected whose identity has been lost. Thanks FootnoteMaven for reminding me how important these family history treasures are, and how I need to savor each moment today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age--The Digital Dark Age

I have been working on my "Will Your Work Survive the Digital Age" lecture for the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I think it is coming together well. I'm going share it with you in the next week's posts. At some point I'll share with you parts of my other lectures as well.

The digital age has done many great things for genealogy. Historically, Family History has been the luxury of nobility and the very rich. Digitizing, especially the Internet has democratized genealogy, Family History is now available to all. Now everyone is important, the most humble servant, the slave, the indentured servant. But the only ancestors that can be found are those whose records have survived.

But according to the Library of Congress (Librarians would know :-) we are currently creating a digital dark age of mammoth proportions. According to, the Library of Congress' digital preservation site:
  • While the web began to be a major force in elections starting in 1994, starting only in 2000 and 2004 the Library of Congress captured and preserved candidate’s websites.
  • Candidate websites prior to 2000 are lost to history.
  • 44% of the internet sites in 1998 had disappeared one year later.
  • The average life of a Web site is between 44 and 100 days
  • The Library of Congress has preserved 66 terabytes of digital files selected for preservation – the text equivalent of approximately 66 million books, as of July 2007.

For someone who spends much of her life on facebook, my blog, and other people's blogs, not to mention my website and e-mail, what record is there of all of my time invested?

Then add to that the crisis that occurs when you lose data you thought you had preserved: you have a computer or backup meltdown like I did at Christmas. I thought the world had come to an end. You probably have never had that happen huh?

According to some estimates:

  • 45% of people don’t back up their files
  • 43% of computer users lose important information each year.
    Will you be in the 43% this year or next? reported that people said they had :
  • Lost data due to accidental deletion, disk or system failure, viruses, fire or another disaster 69%
  • Lost data two or more times in the last year 40%
  • At least moderate concerns about data loss 62%

Thus: DIGITAL MATERIALS ARE MUCH MORE FRAGILE THAN PHYSICAL MATERIALS. What record are you really leaving of your life?

--more to come.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

MidLife Crises-- But what age?

I mentioned earlier that I am doing a triathlon in August as a sort of midlife crisis. It comes the week after a milestone birthday. (Yeah I'm not telling you which one :-)

I took a look at my genealogy file today to see if I was really due for a midlife crisis. Thanks to the statistical reports, I can see that in 7 generations of direct ancestors I have lifespan data on 102 individuals. (Thanks Grandma--who was a great genealogist.) Of that 50 are men and 52 are women. The minimum age of death was 25.08 and the maximum age was 103.66 (My Patriarchal Great-Grandfather Joseph Hatten Carpenter). And the average age at death was --drum roll please--68.25. Aaaahhhh!!! I should have had a midlife crisis a while ago!!!

I asked my Mom the other day if she remembered anybody doing anything stupid for a midlife crisis. She said she didn't. Apparently I'm blazing new ground there. This morning, while biking (after swimming) I was looking down at my gears trying figure out why they were squeaking and I ran right into the back of a parked car. Laurie, Kristy and I started laughing so hysterically that we couldn't pedal for a while. So now I have a midlife crisis bruise. I am still laughing about it while I write.

I think I'll shoot for another midlife crisis at where Joseph Hatten Carpenter should have had one. 51.88. I think I'll go for the red convertible sports car that time. Much less painful. Isn't genealogy useful?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Blog Post of the Week

I have a couple for you this week.

The Practical Archivist had a great article on preventing mold on photographs. Hopefully you won't need it.

Carolyn L. Barkley wrote a great piece on stretching your research out beyond the genealogy section of the library. Well written.

And for a good laugh: Randy Seavers post on Funny Family Sayings. My family says a few of these too. And there are a few that I wouldn't mind picking up and passing down :-)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Finally--how to publish your blog into a book.

I talked to George Morgan and Steve Danko in Burbank about publishing your blog into a book. Getting electrons down on paper is really the best way to archive something. Blogs are prime real estate for losing information to the digital dark age. As I have invested in this blog, with so much more that will be invested too, I want a way to hold on to it and make sure it is available in the future (I'm a control freak that way.) Both of these have software you download to take the information from your blog and create a .pdf. Take a look: Blurb's software BookSmart was easy to use and brought my blog right in. You wouldn't want to be really picky about the formatting though. You don't have alot of control here. I had trouble downloading this software with Vista and then it wasn't terribly intuitive. Would work in a pinch, but I liked BookSmart better

I would love a place where I could just go type in the address and have the book arrive in the mail (like our charting service.) Unfortunately it looks like there have been some blog book companies like that go out of business. ( I haven't been able to find any easier solution. If you know of one--I would love to hear about it.

Now Kim knows what to get me every Christmas. A published account of my blog for the year.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Why I do genealogy web review

A couple of weeks ago I tried out my new lecture "Why you need Family History" at the BYU Family History Library. It went well. We are in a unique position in the industry that we see the end results of the research. Sometimes people want stories worked into genealogy charts, sometimes I just get to be the lucky listener. But through our own experiences, and through the research I have done I came up with this short list as to why people do Family History.

Connectedness/You aren't alone
Inspiring Descendants
Finding Yourself
Healing (Physical and Spiritual)
Working With Nice People

You'll have to catch my lecture sometime--it is filled with lots of great stories that I have gathered from the web and in print. In the meantime, take a look at these places on the web where people have expressed their views on why family history feels good:

Monday, July 7, 2008

New Legacy7 chart printing up and running

(Generation Maps does not endorse any genealogy software. We just like to tell you about them.)

We are excited to have the chart ordering feature in Legacy7 genealogy software up and running as of today. They have an excellent charting tool in their version 7 release. While in the software, a user only needs to click on the "order chart" button to bring up the option of printing with Generation Maps. The software dynamically calculates your cost by size, and quantity and paper type. Then you just order your chart right through the software. Their programmers have been innovative and worked hard to make large format printing easier for their users. They have definitely succeeded.

The full write up was in their newsletter today. You can see the article here: If you already have version 7 you will need to download the latest update for the chart ordering to work.

We had lots of orders today already. We are looking forward to making it easier for their users to print their own charts. While the standard order time has been published at 2 weeks to give ample time in case of any glitches, the charts will usually ship in a day or two. We are glad to be able to work with Millennia Corp to make chart printing easier for their users. We'll be working hard to meet and exceed their expectations.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Blog Post of the week

Dear Myrtle had a great post this week with resources about how to get children involved in Family History this summer. I'm going to review the ideas with my kids and choose some summer activites. Who could you inspire with family history?

New RootsMagic blog

(Generation Maps does not endorse any genealogy software. We just like to tell you how great they are.)

There is a new blog in town. Check out Bruce Buzbee has promised to give us insights into what is coming in RootsMagic 4 through his blog. I'm sure it will be seasoned with his sense of humor too. A real treat.

I have been privileged to see some of what he is working on in RootsMagic 4 and it is characteristically forward thinking. I love what he is doing with the New FamilySearch database interface. He is making it so that I might actually want to tackle my "burned over district" lines. He is continuing to make family history easier. The RootsMagic blog promises to teach you how to use the software before it even comes out.

And he is a nice guy too. One of the first things I was impressed with about Bruce is what good friends he was with everyone, even his competitors. He has been a great help to us, a fabulous mentor, and I go to him for advice on all sorts of things. I always love talking to him. I'm glad I can count him as a good friend.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Just received this from Holly Hanson at My Ancestors Found.

"We are having an Inventory Reduction Sale on a few select Rootstamps. The prices area amazing and we would like to get the word out to our friends who love bargains. I wanted to let you know so that you could stock up on stamps that you may be interested in while the price is below wholesale. Just go to and look at the stamps we have on sale today. Take advantage of this tremendous sale, this is as good as it gets."

The stamps are really wonderful--some cute, some pretty, some funny. Lots of uses. I have several myself. Go take a look.

And if you haven't signed up for their Confererence in Mesa in November, do it while you are there.

Official Certification from New FamilySearch.

Received this from Gordon Clarke today:

Dear Certified Affiliate,

Please save this email as an official record of your product feature certification.Effective July 1, 2008, the below applications are now certified for the designated features.

Generation Maps (WEB) - Access, Print

Please use the FamilySearch and Certified logos as defined by the legal agreement......

We are now officially certified to print straight from the New FamilySearch database. One of the first companies to get certified.

We have had our printing capabilites for New FamilySearch up and running for almost 6 months now but buried in the website so they were not obviously accessible. We'll move them up to the front now. As soon as you have a login for that database, let us know and we'll print you out a chart of what your family looks like in the data.
Gordon says that will link to certified products in the next 30-60 days. And then New FamilySearch will be integrated into towards the end of the year.
Chocolates and flowers of congratulations are being accepted. :-)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I just got back from swimming with Laurie and Kristy Buzbee. (Wife and daughter of Bruce Buzbee, creator of RootsMagic). We are doing a triathlon in August. It comes a week after a milestone birthday for me, so I'm celebrating by being a tough triathlete. I did 400 meters or so this morning. They did 800 or so. It is really sick. They make me look like I am standing still.

I think triathalons are my sport. I'm just ADD enough to need a change every few minutes. I know I can do the biking and running. And I've got good endurance (anything less than an hour and a half is just warming up.) But I've got to get to work more on my swimming. Anybody with good hints on how to be a faster swimmer?

If you had told me I was going to start doing triathalons at this age, I would have thought you were crazy. But you know, they are alot like genealogy. Try something, keep trying, try something new, keep trying, and hang in there.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

We can re-write your family history :-)

One of the questions I am always asked at conferences is: can you take out or add people, divorces, step-children and etc. The answer is yes. We can re-arrange, add, take out, whatever you want. Or we can leave it the way it really was. Most charting programs will only show direct relations, not step-children and etc. But you can send your genealogy file to us, and just like with any other chart, we will make it look like exactly what you see in your head. No problem.

After answering that question several times last weekend, I thought you might like to know.

Nama, my independent spirit.

(Warning: Long. She was quite a character and I loved her. I promise future COG posts will be shorter.)
Having been in Santa Monica this last weekend, I have to write about Nama, my great-grandmother for my first Carnival of Genealogy post. Viola Schwendiman Romney Talbot Thomas (1901-1997) is my mother's mother's mother. She definitely fits the independent spirit theme. And I have alot of her in me.

L to R Grandma (Eila), Me (in yellow), Nama (Viola) and Mom (Pat.)

Viola grew up a daughter of Swiss immigrants in Teton and Sugar City, Idaho. The Schwendimans settled in Teton because the mountains reminded them of home. She was the only daughter in the middle of four boys and all six members of the family spoiled the little redhead with big blue eyes--even her younger brothers. Her father went into the hardware business and did extremely well. She said she never washed out a pair of hose because she would just go to the store and charge another pair. Anything she needed or wanted, dresses, candy, etc., she just charged at the store.

Her family had the first car in Sugar City--a Dixie Flyer. After her dad barely managed to drive it home from Pocatello it was the talk of the town for a long time. When they arrived in Sugar City, her parents came to the schoolhouse, parked outside and honked the horn. When the teacher saw her parents, Viola was allowed to leave school early and go for a ride. Later, at age thirteen, her father decided she should learn to drive the car. They had to put pillows behind her so she could reach the pedals. After a little practice, her Uncle needed a drive downtown and father volunteered Viola. She couldn't make the brakes work because they were stiff and she was so little, so she ended up running right through the front window of the drugstore. Dad must not have been too mad because he bought her a car of her own when she was only 14.

After High School Graduation in 1919, she went to Ricks College in Rexburg Idaho. She had lots of boyfriends, at home and at school. She became good friends with the College President's son, Marion G. Romney. When Marion's cousin showed up from Los Angeles to go to school, every girl on campus was a twitter about the new football star. But Douglas Romney (uncle to Mitt) fell madly in love with Viola and wouldn't let her see any of her old boyfriends anymore. She thought he was wonderful too but didn't understand why she couldn't be with her friends. When Doug disappeared to Logan Utah, leaving a note that he couldn't stay at school when the girl who he loved wasn't interested in him, she talked him into coming back and they both tried to be more understanding of each other.

Douglas Romney and Viola Schwendiman were married June 9th 1920 after Viola turned down three other diamond rings. She made her friend stay with her in the hotel room on their wedding night because she was too scared to stay with Doug. But they worked everything out and they had a blissful life even though they were very poor. After my grandmother Eila was born, a business partner absconded with the Romney family's business in Idaho and so the whole family packed up and moved to Salt Lake City. There, Doug and Viola built two Rootbeer stands which they sold when Viola's second child Douglas arrived. They used the money to pay off their home and buy a new car.

But tragedy struck when Doug's appendix burst on a business trip to Denver. Viola flew to his side, but only ended up bringing his body back home after he died. At that point Viola's world fell apart. She enrolled in Business College, and fought the family to keep her children--something a woman didn't do in the 20's. A friend moved his whole family to Utah to come take care of her and wanted to divorce his wife and marry her and wouldn't leave her alone. Then one day after school she returned to her apartment to find everything gone, her Step-Mother-In-Law had had everything put in storage and was commandeering her children. So when a friend set her up with Gifford Talbot who was visiting from California, she really needed the relaxation. After dating three weeks, he wouldn't return to California without her, and seeing how wonderful he was with her children, she married him. They called her family to let them know on the train ride back to California. When they met Gifford later they adored him. He took incredible care of Viola's children.
Gifford went to work for the Bus industry in California. At the time, buses were a major form of transportation, with sleeping arrangements and food served, etc. Viola wanted to help support her children so she ended up doing the books and banking for several Greyhound Bus depots. After Gifford died on 8 Feb 1946, Greyhound put her in charge of their Bus Depot in Santa Monica, California. They did lots of business there in the 50's with Hollywood tours and Airline tickets. She worked 18 hour days, 7 days a week and the business grew quickly. When they needed more space, Viola gathered her savings and sold her car and furniture and bought a 50 foot lot on 5th street, three blocks up from the Santa Monica Pier. She pestered the bank until they would loan her enough money to build a building--again something a woman couldn't do. Gradually, over the years, she bought more land and another depot, and built office buildings and etc. She ended up living in Mandeville Canyon with neighbors like Danny Kaye and Esther Williams.

I only knew Viola as Nama, everyone I knew called her that. Apparently my mother gave her that name as a toddler. She taught my mother to make a wish, lick her thumb and stamp her hand with it every time she saw a white pony. And she was always taking her grandchildren to drive in restaurants just like on Happy Days--roller skates and trays on the window. On their drives down the coast she always asked Eila in piglatin whether they could stop and get an ice cream cone.

In 1959, Ralph Thomas, the Vice President of Greyhound convinced Viola that he should become her third husband so he could take care of her and she wouldn't have to work so hard. They ran away to Acapulco and were married there. She traveled with him all over North America for work, working on her Santa Monica books in the back of the limo. They finally settled in Palm Springs, and enjoyed the Hollywood scene there. "Tommy" was president of the Palm Springs Shriners club and they traveled all over the world, throwing lavish parties, dining out with Debbie Reynolds and etc.

Nama didn't particularly like it when I came along. She absolutely did not like to be old enough to be a Great-Grandmother. Then I even made her a Great-Great Grandmother before she died. When younger, she always tried to pass herself off as Eila's sister when they went out. When her grandchildren came along, she would go out with them as their mother--not Nama. And when the Driver's License bureau mistook her 1 for a 7 in her birthdate, she left it at 1907 the rest of her life, even though it should have been 1901. That worked to her disadvantage in the end, because when she had her last heart attack, the hospital revived her and she lived a couple more weeks. They said they wouldn't have revived her if they had known she was 96 and not 90. My mother and I had been in California with her when she died and after making arrangements for a few days, headed home on the plane. Nama's body was scheduled to be brought to Salt Lake the next day to be buried next to her beloved Douglas. When the plane touched the ground, I turned to my mother and said, "It feels like Nama is home." She said she felt the same thing. Later we found out that her body had actually been on the same plane with us.

As you read the history she wrote, you can tell that she was dramatic and I think that some of the stories may be suspect. She remembered her life the same as she lived it--with a passion. But then, she created her life dramatically. So maybe it was actually as exciting as she described it. Maybe that is why she loved the Hollywood scene so much.