Saturday, June 10, 2017

THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD

THE SHOT HEARD AROUND THE WORLD 

Written to my descendants:

 Where were our direct ancestors when the single shot was fired that ignited the war of the American Colonies against England? April 18, 1775 someone fired a shot on the village green of Lexington, Massachusetts when there were 70 American Minutemen and hundreds of British troops lined up or milling around. I’m not sure anyone still knows how they were arranged, but the shot was fired, and from that point on, the Revolution that has changed the world had begun. After the skirmish, or riot, or demonstration was over eight Americans were dead, one British Redcoat was wounded, and forces were put into motion that created the United States of America.
Lexington Green - 18 April 1775

Most of our ancestors were somewhere in the American Colonies at that time. In this little book, I will show you where some of them were, and how they were involved in the war, and how you are related to them. I will only briefly touch on the history. For that you can listen in your American History Classes, and try to place your own ancestors in the scenes as you learn about them. Grandma Stark and I have relatives on both sides of this conflict, just as we do in the American Civil War.

 Our grandchildren will have other ancestors also involved in history at this time period from 1775, when the American Congress declared that there was a new independent nation, to 1783 when the peace treaty with England recognized the reality of the United States of America. These ancestors listed are not all of the ancestors who were soldiers in the Revolutionary War, but only those I have found and feel pretty sure are correct. I know there are more because I haven’t found where some were at that time.

 STARK 

There have been families with the name Stark on American soil for many years before the Revolution, and some of them were directly involved in the war.

Everyone recognizes General John Stark of New Hampshire, the General at Bunker Hill. He was a cousin, but not a direct ancestor. His cousin was also named John and lived in Stafford County, Virginia.

 This John of Stafford County had two wives, Hawson Porter and Hannah Eves. This John was probably too old to be much involved in the war and died before the peace treaty in 1881, when he was 64. (the colonial Starks named many of their sons John, which makes it difficult to identify the correct ones).

Our ancestor Thomas Stark (b. 1759) was a son of the Stafford County John and his second wife, Hannah Eves. Hanna had been hired by John Stark to take care of his first wife’s children. She was their governess, but when Hawson, the children’s mother, died John married Hanna, the governess.

Hannah and John Stark had from 10 to 14 children, but that is difficult to be certain of, because of their desire to use similar names in all of the Stark families of New England. (There were dozens of John Starks, Thomas Starks, William Starks and James Starks. )

Thomas was their second son. His brother James was two years older.

 James did participate in the war.  He  left home when he was fourteen and went to his uncle {or cousin}, General John Stark (the John Stark). James was made a captain in the Boston Tea Party of 1773 and participated in the Battle of Bennington, according to family members.

I cannot yet find any evidence that our ancestor Thomas Stark, the brother of James, was involved in the war, but he may have been, as he was 12 years old when the war began and 22 in 1883 when the war was over. 


So..... it looks to me like we do not have a documented ancestor with the name of Stark directly involved in the American Revolutionary War. 

However we do have an interesting story during the war.

On October 17, 1780 there was a double wedding in Stafford County, Virginia. James and Thomas Stark, the two brothers I have been talking about, married sisters, Jane and Sarah Fristoe. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Bear and the Cocker Spaniel

I wrote this on the date below after jogging with our dog Bear. He walked up to the house one day in 1990 and just stayed.

 

December 29, 1993


Bear, our dog, has character that a human should be proud to possess. He is part German Shepherd, I think, tall, yet skinny. 

This isn't Bear, but he looked similar.
Yesterday I went running at about 9 a.m. He went with me. We ran about three and one half miles, a loop that is almost one mile on each side. The block we live on. 

He usually goes with me. He likes to run up to fences where dogs are and bark at them, but he doesn't like to fight, and he doesn't like to hurt little dogs. He doesn't back down easily when big dogs come at him, but he avoids them if they are loose.

There are four legs (lengths of road) on this run we go on. We went East first, less than half a mile on Avenue 104, then south for about a mile on Old Stagecoach Road, then west for a mile on Avenue 96, and then north for the last mile on Road 264 back home.

On the second leg about a third of the distance there is a fenced yard with a giant dog and a little dog. Bear always runs the length of the fence at full speed barking, and the dogs bark back. They run at each other and bark like they want to tear each other apart. Even before the big dog was there bear would tear out after the little dog, but one day the little dog got out. Bear didn't even bite at him.

About another third of a mile down this road are two more little dogs. They came running out and barked at bear. The hair on his back lifted a little, but he ignored them and trotted next to me.

At the end of that second leg there is another fenced yard with some big dogs. Bear ran at them too, barking. On the third leg there are more dogs, medium size and little ones. Bear just trots along and lets them bark.

At the beginning of the last leg two dogs came out. They haven't been loose before. One was a small blonde cocker spaniel, and the second was a bigger dog, maybe a part Boston bulldog. The bull ran at bear and bit at him. Bear turned and fought. The bull backed off, and bear turned to trot by my side. The bull came at him again and bit bear on the behind. Bear turned and started chasing the bull and bit him sharply on the back, then let go and trotted with me. The Boston bull chased again, but when Bear turned to face him, he backed off and went home.

The cocker spaniel who had been barking all the time must have thought that he chased Bear off because he kept following, barking. Bear ignored him like he does all the little dogs, but the cocker got closer and nipped bear on the behind. Bear just speeded up and kept in front of him. The cocker believed that he had Bear on the run, I think, and ran up and tried to nip Bear again. Bear looked back and saw him coming and speeded up.

By now we were almost a quarter mile down this leg in front of the house with three whitish grey dogs that look like German Shepherds mixed with wolves. They look mean and Bear used to stay with me when we went by this house, but he decided it wasn't worth the bother because they always come out and fight, so he started running out into a field and then in a large loop to avoid the dogs.

There's one big one that always attacks Bear. If Bear stays and fights then the other three jump in and bite him too. There's a red Irish Setter who also comes out and jumps in when Bear is trying to fight off the big one. So bear usually takes off at
the corner about a quarter mile in front of that house and runs out into the field and makes a huge circle around the house, runs through an orange orchard and meets me on the road almost a quarter mile past the house. The dogs don't run up that far, because then they will be there one at a time and Bear can handle that.

Well, that little blonde cocker spaniel had made Bear forget about this house, and he was just trotting along beside me, looking back at the cocker keeping him a little behind him. The cocker was feeling like he just drove bear a quarter mile away from his corner house, I guess, because when he heard those big dogs start to bark he turned and ran at them like he was going to drive them away too.

By now Bear and I were about a hundred feet passed the house, free from the big dogs attacking Bear. The little cocker ran up to them, barking, and the big one turned him over and started biting. The other dogs ran up. 

It looked like they were going to kill him quickly, but Bear started back. I couldn't believe he would go back to help that little dog who had been annoying him for three or four minutes, and I was sure he wasn't going to help the big dogs. 

The hair on his back stood up, and he ran full speed up to within ten feet and suddenly stopped, realizing what he was doing. He turned back away, and started back toward me, then turned back hearing the yelps of the little cocker. He hesitated for an instant, and then ran close around, trying to draw them off the little dog, but they didn't pay any attention. 
This isn't Bear either. He wandered up like Bear.

He made another pass and bit the big dog in the back of the neck. The big dog let go and ran after bear, but saw who it was and didn't chase. The little dog ran home as fast as he could, and Bear followed him a ways, looking back at the German Shepherds, warning them not to follow the little dog, then he made a big loop across the street, around the dogs, out into the field,  and caught up to me, walking proud as could be.

He didn't want to fight any of them. He loves to bark at dogs penned up, but doesn't like to fight. The little Boston bull dog bothered him, so he bit him and stopped him, but the little cocker was only an annoyance so he humored him, but when the little cocker was in trouble Bear ran to the rescue, hesitated, but went ahead knowing that he could get hurt by those big German Shepherds, but wanting to help the little dog. 


Aug 8, 2000


Bear was killed a couple of years ago while we were jogging. He ran into an orange orchard and came out full speed, chasing a rabbit across the street. He was hit by a car.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Arriving at Martin's Cove

   We got to Missionary Village on Ranch 66 on the first of May 2014. We were happy about our home. It is a two bedroom mobile home about the same as number 6 at our place in Terra Bella, Ca.

This is the rickshaw which we took on our first day of training.
   The next day, Friday, May 2, 2014 was a training session for trek leaders coming from their stakes. There were over two hundred youth leaders. That’s a requirement for any stake or ward. Before they can bring their youth on a trek here, they must send some leaders to participate in a training session. All of the newly arrived missionaries went on the trek also.

    I took a rickshaw in case Dorothy wouldn’t be able to walk the whole way. She wasn’t. I started pulling her up the hills. She was out of breath. We are at 6200 feet. Elder Jensen helped me pull her up the hills for the rest of the trek.

Totally, we went about 9 miles that day. Dorothy walked at least five, but we stopped from time to time, and the last year’s missionaries told stories because the stake leaders that were being trained needed to hear the stories. The stake leaders of their own youth are supposed to take charge of the trekkers. Our job is only to be there for assistance and tell stories if asked. Usually one missionary is in the front and one in the rear.

 The next day was also a training session, but we went to 6th Crossing about 60 miles from Martin’s Cove. It is another Handcart Site, further up the trail. It includes Rocky Ridge, the hardest part of the Mormon/Oregon/California/Pony Express trail, not because it is so steep, but because of the large rocks the wagons and handcarts have to be pulled over.

A handcart with Devil's Gate in the background.
 In 1856, the Willie and Martin Handcart companies landed in Boston and New York and took a train to Iowa City, Iowa. From Boston, the Willie Company arrived first in the Thornton, and were loaded into box cars with benches fastened to the floor. They thought that ride was uncomfortable, but the Martin Handcart company were put into cattle cars without any benches at all.. They had to sit on the floor on the ride from New York.

 Here is one of our first letters, written on the day we reported to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah, to our family about our mission to Martin’s Cove:

 "April 21, 2014, "Today we start our training at 10 a.m. 

"We have been studying about the hand cart treks. After Joseph Smith and Hyrum were killed in June 1844, the Saints (members of the church) in Nauvoo were getting attacked more and more by mobs. The mobs demanded that the Saints leave, so they did, straggled out over the plains for years. 

"Brigham Young wanted to help the poor Saints, so he developed the Perpetual Emigrating Fund (PEF). More wealthy Saints donated what they could, and it usually was not much because everyone had to leave their homes, businesses, furniture, and just get out, or leave the Church, or deny that Joseph Smith was a prophet. They wouldn't do that, so they just left their property. They donated their pennies to the PEF. 

 "After a while there was enough to make loans to families to buy wagons and food for the 1300 + mile trip to Salt Lake. Usually they donated in kind, grain, wagons, chickens, etc because the monetary system was not developed. 

 "The poor people promised to repay the PEF as soon as they got to the Valley and could do it. "It was dangerous anywhere in the United States to be a Mormon, so those who gained a testimony by praying and asking God if Joseph Smith really did see Him and His Son, Jesus Christ, and received their answer had no choice but to leave and go west or deny that God had spoken to them, too. Many gave up under the persecution, but thousands were faithful to their prayers and just packed up and left. Some packed their stuff in wheelbarrows and walked the 1000 miles. 

William Henry Jackson's painting of handcart pioneers crossing in front of Devil's Gate. Where the visitors' center now is.
 "Missionaries were sent all over the world, and the poor people wanted to "gather to Zion," but they could not because it cost at least the equivalent (2014) of about $12,000 to come to America. 

 "The PEF was extended to the Saints in England. Persecution increased there too. One person would join the Church in a family and the rest of the family would kick them out, but there wasn't, enough money in the PEF to bring everyone, so faithful families waited years or began to send only one child or one parent to Zion. 

"In 1855 there were crop failures in the Salt Lake Valley and people there hardly had enough food for themselves. Earlier, one missionary going east to start his mission met a man walking to the gold fields in California with all of his supplies in a wheelbarrow and wrote to Brigham Young about it. Brother Brigham figured out the hand cart concept. He said something like this:

Dorothy is pointing to the daily ration of food available.
"

'If the Gentiles (non Mormons) can walk across the plains and mountains for their God Gold, think what the Saints can do for the real God of Israel.'

" That's how the handcart system was started. In about 1854 there were 11,000 Saints in Utah, but 30,000 in England. Sometimes they would even get fired from their jobs there because they joined the Church, so they wanted to come, but the PEF was already in debt.

 "I'll tell you more later as I learn it. To write the story helps me remember it so I can tell it at the visitor centers. "Got to get ready to go to a meeting now. 

" Love, Dad, Grampa, Uncle, Stan, Elder Stark

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Mission to Martin's Cove: April 17, 2014 to October 10, 2014

We have been gone on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and since we returned we have been repairing, renovating and re-renting some of our income property, so there were no posts on this blog since May of 2014. Actually in that last post we were living in the Missionary Village in Muddy Gap, Wyoming and about a month into the mission.

Senior Missionaries have different rules than young missionaries, so I could have written, but just didn't have time, and I slept good every night. (So I didn't need to do something when I couldn't go back to sleep.)

Martin's Cove is between Casper, Wyoming in the north and Rawlins, Wyoming in the south, about an hour's drive from either. There is nothing in between but sage brush, mountains and wind.

Wind is blowing the flags horizontally, on a warm day
Wind is the one thing you first notice in Martin's Cove. It blows in the morning, in the afternoon, at night, when it's raining, when it's snowing, when it's sunny, when it's hot and when it's cold.

Sometimes it blows hard. Like the time it lifted the tents of a company of youth and carried them fifty yards. The young people were camping at Cherry Creek Campground a few miles from the Martin's Cove Visitors' Center.

Sometimes it blows softly, like on a hot summer day when we were out on the trail with twenty-five or more handcarts and over a hundred youth pulling them, reenacting the 1856 trek of the Mormon Pioneers from England who couldn't afford wagons and oxen.

Then........ 1856,  the wind was a killer.

It and the cold, and exhaustion and starvation were the cause of the deaths of at least 139 members of the Martin Handcart Company, in and around Martin's Cove. That's why there is a visitors' center. That's why we were there on a mission: to tell the story of the Martin Handcart Company.






Saturday, May 31, 2014

Income Inequality

A recent idea in economic theory is the rise of Thomas Piketty and income inequality as explained in his best selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Basically, he says that the United States and European economies are moving back toward the time of the early 20th century, previous to the 1930's where most of the wealth was concentrated in the hands of very few people or the 1% as we have heard  before, especially during the 2012 presidential election.

The problem with his and most economists idea of wealth is that they count the money or property people own, not the way people live.

One thing that could be counted is the number of servants the person or family has.

In the early 20th century very few people, probably only the 1%,  had any servants at all, and the children of most of the 99% had to go to work to help support the family.

As late as the early 1930's most women washed their clothes on a washboard, cooked on a wood or coal fire,  walked wherever they went, and had their children work outside the home, in factories or for the wealthy.

Very few people went to a play, a concert, out to eat,  or traveled more than 25 miles from home. Movies were just beginning.

Looking at the United States and Europe now, instead of comparing dollars and property, compare how the people live.

Just what could the wealthy 1% do in the 1900's or even up to the 1930's that most people in these economies cannot do today?

The wealthy could go out to eat, but everyone in America can go out to eat today, that's one of the reasons the so called poor are overweight.

And servants? Everyone has more servants today than the wealthy 1% had in those olden times: washing machines, dishwashers, microwaves for instant cooking,

 We have cars. Few of them even had  horses.

Communications can't even be compared. Everyone can communicate to anyone they choose, anywhere.

 A ten year old child has all of the entertainers of the world at his fingertips in plays/movies and concerts/music, more than the wealthy 1% of the 1930's even could dream of.

No one in America will ever be as poor as our great grandparents of those times, and the wealthy of today cannot do anything more than most of the rest us can, today.

So even though the money may be concentrated, it can't do much for the wealthy that our science and social programs can't do for everyone else. Many of the poor don't even have to work as much as the wealthy 1% do today.

The whole idea is to make people think they are poor so they will support those who claim to be trying to redistribute the income of those who seem to have more. 








Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Some Not-So-Hot Facts About Global Warming Research--Global Cooling

Here is an amazing article by Keith Schaefer about Global Warming which I received in an email. This is used with permission and the original article can be found  here 

"Consider this:

"-In 2013, the UK had the coldest spring since 1963.

"-In March 2013, Northern Japan received record snowfall--up to 16 ft thick just south of Aomori.

"-In October 2013, the worst frost in more than 80 years hit Chile and damaged 50 million boxes of fruit for export—damages were over $1 billion.

"-And my personal favourite—an expedition vessel full of Climate Change scientists became trapped in Antarctic sea ice 10 feet thick on Christmas Day 2013.

"These true-life stories are examples of global cooling—from all over the globe.

"In Parts I and II of this series, I outlined the long term cycle of temperature changes on Earth, and how sunspots have had an eerily accurate correlation to earth's temperatures for centuries.  Data strongly suggests that solar cycles have a definite impact on the world's climate.

"And right now, the best data on sunspots also suggest the world is about to enter a time of global cooling.  This doesn't deny that mankind is influencing the world's climate; sunspots' very regular 11 year cycles can temporarily overwhelm a larger context of man-made (the scientific term is anthropogenic) influences.

"But even that becomes somewhat suspect.  Evidence either uncovered or chronicled by a Boston-based research firm, Unit Economics, suggests that government and their scientists, together and independently, have been manipulating data (and caught red handed!).

"The February 28, 2014 research paper by Unit Economics on global cooling goes into pages of detail on how some of the most important—and allegedly impartial—raw climate data has been regularly altered by private and public sector members of the scientific community.

"And that’s really too bad, because people working on questions around global temperature have very few datasets to choose from.

"One is the temperature anomaly dataset developed by NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).   The other is from the Met Office Hadley Centre in collaboration with the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England, which is known as the HadCRUT3 dataset.

"NOAA started developing its temperature database in the early 1990s. It was revised once in 1997, and then three times between mid-2011 and the end of 2012.

"NOAA says the revisions dealt with new observations methods, corrected coding errors, and removed unnatural influences from things like changes in how instruments were stationed.

"In short: lots of revisions, little specific explanation. Not surprisingly, people started accusing NOAA of data tampering (google NOAA data tampering)…and when Unit Economics compared the 2008 NOAA dataset with the most recent version, the changes looked like this:

 global cooling--NOAA revisions

"Overall, the man-made adjustments created an additional 2.48°F temperature change over the past 100 years – more than the 1.85°F of total warming the NOAA says has taken place since 1913!

"Sadly for the general reliability of science, the HadCRUT3 dataset is no better.

"CLIMATEGATE

"This HadCRUT3 dataset is the basis of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  The IPCC ‘s job is to create a “clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge on climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts”.  That’s a mouthful.

"The IPCC data did show increasing temperatures. Then, in October 2009, someone broke into a British office of the CRU, downloaded 160 MB of data and emails, and posted them online. The stolen CRU emails show prominent scientists discussing ‘adjusting’ data to reduce Medieval Warming Period and hiding very recent cooling trends, and making sure they all agree and aren't stepping on each others' toes. Many of these discussions ended with instructions to delete all records of the conversation.

"Eventually a U.S. Senate inquiry was set up under chairmanship of Edward Wegman, professor of mathematics and statistics, and their report ruled that Penn State Professor and IPCC lead author Michael Mann’s work was ‘statistically invalid’.

"But even all this couldn’t ‘adjust’ away the reality completely: the tampered HadCRUT3 data still shows global temperatures trending lower over the last 15 years.

 CRU

"And there are some basic facts question the thesis that manmade CO2 is causing global warming.  As I said in Part I,  temperatures actually fell during the peak expansion of manmade greenhouse gas levels from 1940-1970.

"Second, if CO2 emissions cause global warming the layer of the atmosphere 5 to 10 km above the earth where CO2 interacts with sunlight should be warming more quickly than the earth’s surface. In fact, temperatures at these levels have been unchanged since accurate balloon measurements became available 50 years ago.

"Third, CO2 levels have cycled significantly over the known history, which stretches back 400,000 years. Our planet has survived CO2 levels roughly half of current concentrations and nearly twenty times higher! That certainly makes the commonly quoted claim that a CO2 concentration above 350 ppm leads inexorably to warmer temperatures seem pretty weak.

"Fourth, atmospheric levels of CO2 increased from just under 300 ppm in 1900 to 397 ppm today, yet temperatures fell through much of that period and have increased by only 0.7°F overall – and that’s based on heavily manipulated datasets.

"And there are some groups, such as the Carbon Modeling Consortium at Columbia University, that suggest human activities in United States may actually reduce atmospheric CO2 levels.  In an October 15 1998 issue of the Columbia University News, author Taro Takahashi, a senior research scientist wrote:

"'We know that we who reside in the United States emit about 6.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. As an air mass travels from west to east, it should receive carbon dioxide and the East Coast concentration of CO2 should be higher than on the West Coast. But observervations tell us otherwise.

"'The mean atmospheric CO2 concentration on the East Coast has been observed to be lower than that over the Pacific coast. This means that more CO2 is taken up by land ecosystems over the United States than is released by industrial activities
.'

"Other tidbits:

"-Sea levels are DOWN by .2 cm (0.08 inches) since 2006.
-The polar bear population is up all across the Arctic—as much as 66% in the last 50 years and 13% in the last 5 years.
-water vapor in the air has been declining—more vapor, higher temperatures.  Less vapor, lower temperatures.

"Again, the current global cooling could be taking place within a larger context of man-made climate change.  But even that becomes doubtful when the most basic, raw, original datasets are shown to be corrupted.  And there is enough serious scientific peer review to question the IPCC climate reports—thanks go to Canadian Ross McKitrick from the University of Guelph and German scientist (and former Global Warming advocate) Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, who wrote Die Kalte Sonne (the Cold Sun) in January 2012.

"There’s a great quote in Unit Economic’s report that puts this all into context:

"'If one accepts the notion that the sun, which provides over 95% of the heat energy to the surface of the earth, has the potential to impact temperatures, it would be logical to incorporate observations and predictions of solar activity in climate models and forecasts – something most meteorologists and virtually all global warming enthusiasts fail to take into account when modeling earth’s climate. We believe this is because solar cycles explain climate cycles on earth too well, leaving too little room for CO2 to influence their models.' Weiss and Naleski, Unit Economics’ 2014 Report on Global Cooling.

"The Real Inconvenient Truth is that there is enough flawed data to question just how serious Global Warming is, or if it's real at all in the short to medium term. Is the hysteria warranted?  Keep your mind open, despite the intense politically correct forces out there who make that a crime on this issue.
"
 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ANOTHER PHOTOGRAPH MYSTERY SOLVED!

Trying to figure out who is who in a photo sometimes takes years.

Here is another photograph I finally, just a few weeks ago (2014), deciphered which was in my Grandmother, Alta Bockhouse's things.

I had copied this picture from her photographs before she died,  some time in the early 1980's. She led me to believe it was her father, William Riley Hastain. Then somehow I lost the copy. And I have not found the negative.

In those days we did not have very good scanners anywhere. I had photographed it using a close-up lens on my camera. A real camera. You know one of those old things that uses film? It was a relatively good camera, with settings for light exposure and shutter speed, and the speed of the film.

When I began to study the life of William Riley Hastain, I began to believe that this could not have been him. This guy is in a civil war uniform, and I just wasn't sure. He seemed too young, born in 1850, and too far away, living in California. Grandma was sure though, but she had mixed up other people, so I questioned whether it was Riley, (that's what my father called him.)

"But who could it be?" I thought , "If not Riley."

Quite a while after  Grandma Bockhouse died, in 1988, my father and I went to visit my Aunt Florence, his sister, and Grandma Bockhouse's daughter, in Washington. I had the picture with me, and I asked her who it was.

"Isn't that the old man?" she said. I thought she meant William Riley Hastain, so I didn't think about it again for a long time.

Last year in June, I decided to write about our Civil War ancestors. I first wrote a little book titled, "Sheriff Shoemaker," about  Dorothy's  great great grandfather.

I got the pension file of Grandma Bockhouse's grandfather. It had a lot of interesting information, so I began writing about him,  Curtis Purinton. This is him with the violin, above. As I read the information in his military file and his pension file, I began to see that these two pictures must be of the same man, so I decided that the Civil War Soldier must be my grandmothers grandfather rather than her father.

I realized that Florence had called Curtis the "Old Man," earlier when she was talking about listening to him play the violin.

Sometimes you may have all the information to make an identification, but it just doesn't all fit together. That's because you are trying to put the pieces into the wrong puzzle. I had been trying to make sense of the picture fitting into William Riley Hastain's life who was my grandmother's father, but instead the picture fit into my grandmother's grandfather's life perfectly.

So that solved that problem, but now I had lost the photograph and this one was the only one I had. We turned the house upside down looking for the negative or the print but with no luck.

The only picture I could find was this bad scan of a print I had, but lost.

I sent a copy of the booklet to my sister in Oregon with the bad picture in it and begged her to scan another good copy for me. She was wonderful. She emailed me a copy, and then she sent one scanned at a store.

Thanks Pat









Monday, October 7, 2013

Shutdown Madness and Fake Articles

   I just had an unsettling episode. I somehow navigated on the internet to the Onion, a satire magazine on the web that prints nothing true. Everything is satire. Everything is fake. Everything is aimed at the gullible.

    I read a few articles, probably spent ten minutes total reading Onion articles. Then I went back to my usual news reading from Google News. I read an article from Bloomberg Business News, another from Reuters News Service, and a third from CBS News. Suddenly my mind is questioning every news source. I knew MSNBC often exaggerated things but now everything I read from every news source is questionable.

    "Is anyone telling the truth?" I ask myself, especially in articles about the Federal shutdown.

     In the past, I have checked on perpetual emails I receive about politics and other gripes people have and found that many of them are just not true, but now......  now... every article is questionable. Once I received a letter from a bank I use. I didn't believe it, so I checked with the bank. Sure enough it was fake. I only had those questioning, doubting episodes occasionally.

     But after reading the Onion I question everything on the internet. Only ten minutes of reading has convinced me that every article, every post, every email must be checked.

     Double check the source of everything you believe. If you've been believing all those chain emails you get, here's the antidote: Take ten minutes and read the Onion.
   

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Evidence for a Warming Earth Paradise


     The recent conclusion of a study by the Save the Redwoods League has the global warming disaster community wondering how to make warming and increasing carbon dioxide evil when the data says it is good.

 (http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_23854968/redwoods-giant-sequoias-growing-at-record-rates-despite)

      Redwood trees along the California coast have never done so well as in the last two decades when the earth was supposed to have been deteriorating because of too much carbon dioxide released by the burning of carbon fuels.

      As it turns out, the warmth and the carbon dioxide have actually caused the trees to grow more wood than they ever have before.

      As I said in an earlier post (Global Warming and the Mormons), an increase in carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere will increase the vegetation on the earth and will cause the hot and cold spots  to even out over time, creating more of a paradise than we have today.

      Instead of fighting the changes coming to the Earth we should embrace those changes and learn
how to adapt.

      The very people who claim to be protecting our environment are those who also try to promote universal and unintelligent evolution, yet when evolution appears to be going a different direction than they have postulated, they try to force rules, laws and regulations that will destroy our carbon based economies.

       Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase the lush green growth that they say they want, but they refuse to see the benefits even though all of us were taught in seventh grade science about the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle. The more carbon dioxide, the more plants and the more fresh, clean oxygen for us to breath.




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Death, Dying and What's Over There

   In February my wife's mother, Elizabeth, who had lived with us for the last year and a half, died at almost 96, so I have been thinking about death and dying for more than a month now.

Grandma Elizabeth
   The first time I ever thought about death was when I was less than four. I didn't really think about it, I just started crying. My parents and I were at my Aunt Florence's home in Eureka, California, probably about 1944. My mother came up to me and said, "Daddy might go into the army."

   I started screaming and crying and yelling, probably what we call  "having a fit." I remember it clearly today. I didn't think about dying. I just started crying.

   "Don't you want to see Daddy in a uniform?" she said. I started screaming and crying again. I don't know what I was thinking, I just remember the crying.

   My father didn't go into the army, but he joined the California State Guard. The War ended the next year. He didn't have to fight.

   I cannot remember anyone who I knew when  I was that little that died in The War. Other than listening to the radio and going to movies with my parents. There was no T.V.  I don't know what could have triggered that crying fit.

                                   -----------------------------------------------

    The next episode in my dealing with dying was when my Great Grandmother Eunice Hanson died. We had gone to see her a few times. She sat in a rocking chair and seemed very old to me.  Now I would have written that I was seven or eight when she died, but I just looked it up and I was 14. I cannot explain why my .......memories ......felt .....so ......young.................. Now guess what..........?

My Great Grandmother Eunice Hanson Price
   That wasn't my Great Grandmother Eunice Hanson's death. I cannot remember when she died, but the time I'm thinking of just couldn't be her because when I was 14, I didn't live in the house where the memory is.

  The memory is of my mother getting dressed up, and crying. She was in the kitchen. I was in at least the third grade, but not in the sixth, because it was not just before we moved from that house, and we moved in the summer after my sixth grade year.

   I was between eight and ten. She told me she was going to a funeral, and I suppose she told me whose, and all these years until just now, when I tried to write about it, I thought it was my Great Grandmother, but it could not have been. So I guess that death didn't really affect me, but it affected my mother, and that caused me to be concerned about death, but I cannot even figure out who the person was. I don't have one person in my family history who was close to me who died in those years, so it was my mother's actions that caused me to think it must have been my Great Grandmother.

                                   -----------------------------------------------

   We get a lot of our emotions and attitudes about occurrences in life from our parents without any verbal communication at all. If we are a little child and our mother sees a spider in front of her and screams, we will probably be afraid of spiders. I'm glad my mother never screamed in front of me with a spider near.
 
   My father's brother  died when he was 16,  about two years before I was born, and my mother's brother died about eight years before I was born when he was only 14, and my mother's father died  only four months after  I was born, when he was 56. They were all young,  so my parents had to deal with death right before my first memories. I suppose I got my early attitudes about death from them.
 
                                   -----------------------------------------------
 
   Darrell Britt (we called him Tony) was a few months younger than me. We were in junior high and high school together for three or four years, in PE classes together, and he also worked with me delivering papers.

   Every morning we got up at 5 a.m. and rode our bikes down to the Greyhound bus depot and loaded the San Francisco Examiner bundles into Fred Whitmire's old grey Dodge car. He drove them to the "paper office," a little empty warehouse, where we folded them, loaded them onto our bikes and took off on our routes.

   Tony was late often. Sometimes he didn't show up. I called him. I even went to his house early, knocked on the door and tried to wake him, so he would get his route done. We often had to wait for the papers, so we'd talk, or we threw old papers at each other, or we'd wrestle. One time when we were wrestling we fell out the window, and I broke my collar bone.


   He liked to fish, and hunt ducks. He had a boat and rowed it in Humboldt Bay, hunting or fishing. When he did that, his Brother Russell took his route. Sometimes Russel would come instead of Tony for two or three days. I got to be friends with Russell who was a couple of years younger than Tony.

   Usually one or the other would finally arrive. When they were late, we rolled their papers for them and stacked them, so all they would have to do was load them on their bike.

Robby and Theresa 1963
   One morning neither Russell nor Tony showed up. I called the house, but there was no answer. I guess Fred Whitmire finally delivered the papers. That day there was talk at school that Tony had died, drowned in the bay while fishing or hunting ducks. The next morning it was in the newspaper.


   Tony drowned December 19, 1956.

  I didn't know how to deal with that, so I did what  I thought my mother and father did. I didn't think about it.

    I didn't know what to say to Russell when he came to work, ....... so I stayed away from him.

                   
Betty & Cindy March 1963
         -----------------------------------------
          


   A little over a year later, Dorothy and I were married. We had three children, and then Cindy was born in August of 1962. She only lived a year and died in September of 1963. That was when I began to learn better ways about  dealing with death.......


 

 I will tell you about it in the next edition.
  
    

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Don't Forget the Old People

   When taking pictures, don't forget the old people! I've been looking at collections of photographs and finally realized that most of us forget to take pictures of the older generations when they are with us, with their children.

 Larry Shoemaker with his three daughters, Dorothy, Edna, Betty and Frances at  Elk River on an ancient redwood stump.
   I have a collection of my grandmother's, Alta Bockhouse, and her pictures are mostly of scenery, mountains, and places they visited. I only have one picture of her mother. Grandma Bockhouse was taking pictures in the 1940's, but there are no pictures of her mother or step father. Her mother died in 1945.

   The picture above is a good example of what we should do, a parent with the children. Taken about 1947.

   In the box of my Grandma Moody's pictures, also in the 1940's,   I only found a few pictures of her mother or father, or her husband,  or his mother though she did not die until 1955.

   In my mother's pictures there was only one picture of her father, though I have found many since then from her sisters' collections, but usually only one or two from each collection.

   It's as if we only think of taking pictures of children. We have hundreds of pictures of our children.

   We lived in Arcata, California for only two years and have many, many pictures of our children there. My parents lived only a few miles away, but I don't remember any pictures of them in Arcata. We did make it a point one day when they were visiting to have my father talk into a tape recorder and tell his childhood stories. But I can't find any pictures.

Angelina Hamilton 1829-1915
   I have looked through our Arcata pictures many times and never saw any of Dorothy's parents, or her father's sisters, or her father's mother, yet her father's sisters were there, near by. We did visit them. Finally, in looking through Dorothy's mother's pictures we found some that her father Larry Shoemaker took in Arcata, so now we know that they came to visit us there, but we have none of them in our pictures at that time. Grandpa Shoemaker took pictures of our children and our house, but none of them or us (at least that I have found yet).

   We forgot the old people.

   Sometimes we remember to take pictures when our elders get really old and hardly look like they did before. So when you are taking pictures of your children, take pictures of the older people too.
Rufus Moody 1851-?

   This picture, above,  is of my great great grandmother who died in 1915.  In those days the pictures were quite expensive, so people treasured them more.

   Since I wrote those few lines above, I have had some second thoughts, so I have to "walk back" as the politicians say, some of what I said. Dorothy and I have certainly not taken enough pictures of the "Old People," but there may have been other factors involved in why I haven't been able to find pictures of the "Old People."

   My Grandmother Moody knew I was interested in family history, so she made a special effort to make sure I had copies of some of the "Old People." She had the picture of Angelina Hamilton above made and also made sure I got a copy, She also had copied  pictures of my Great Grandfather Rufus Moody and made sure I got one, and some other pictures, too.  But....

   Most of the boxes of pictures I have received have been "picked over." I received them through a cousin, or other relative after they probably took everything they wanted, so I  didn't get a copy. The pictures I received were those that were left. The "Old People" that were known had their pictures removed from the box.

   Other reasons pictures were not recorded of the "Old People" were family feuds, divorce, and distance. We have only two pictures of Rufus Moody. He lived on the east coast, and he was divorced from my Great Grandmother Eunice Hanson.

   We have  a picture of her (on the left), which seems to have been taken at the same time and in the same place as her mother's (Angelina Hamilton), but the other pictures of her are when she was much older. Grandma Moody made sure I got this one, but others I got  from my aunts' and uncles' collections were when she was so old I don't think my relatives who had the boxes of pictures knew who she was.

   She came to California after she married her second husband, so the divorce and the distance kept the family from having other pictures of Rufus who was on the east coast. The family didn't even know when he died.

   Then there are the family feuds!

   Dorothy and I are now going through boxes and boxes of things from her mother's home. Dorothy's mother just died less than a month ago, and I had to revise my reasons why we couldn't find many pictures of the "Old People." Dorothy and I just forgot. We forgot to take pictures of the "Old People," but others may have neglected the "Old People" because of family feuds.

Gene Blake, Edith and Larry Gene Blake at Elk River
   We are discovering that Dorothy's father, Lawrence Shoemaker, has a wonderful set of pictures of everyone during most of the time he was taking pictures. He remembered to take pictures of the "Old People" most of those years. We have not yet gone through all the pictures, but we have seen that he has taken pictures of everyone.

   Most of the time....

   I am counting the "Old People" as  any that are significantly older than us.

   I noticed that the pictures of Gene and Edith Blake, Dorothy's aunt and uncle, seemed to disappear from Larry Shoemaker's pictures. Edith was his sister, but at a certain point in time, which I have not yet determined exactly, pictures of her stop appearing.  It may have been the distance because Larry moved away, but I remember hearing rumors of some kind of feud at about the same time. Sometimes people deliberately do not go and see relatives when they are in the area.

   The Shoemakers came to visit us and we found pictures of our family in Arcata, California those two years we were there, but I didn't see any pictures of Larry's sister, Edith, or mother who lived not far from us with those pictures of our children.

   It may have been the feud. 

   I also remember rumors of a feud between my Grandmother Bockhouse and her mother who we only have one picture of.

   Pride and anger are terribly destructive  to families.

   When the "Old People" are gone and we are sitting looking at some of the wonderful old pictures, and the memories of the good times come back, we will probably regret those useless family feuds.

   As my Uncle Harry said at one family reunion years ago, "The old people are us now."

  


  

  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Global Warming and the Mormons


It seems that there are only two positions on Global Warming: those who believe in it as intensely as a new religion, and those who don't believe in it at all.

The first group are those who will do almost anything to promote the idea that the Earth is warming up as a result of human activity, specifically that the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from organic material long buried in the earth, such as coal, oil, and natural gas will cause cataclysms of Biblical proportions and destroy the Earth.

The more carbon dioxide, the faster and better trees grow.
Many of these people have based businesses, politics and, their  entire lives on trying to stop the release of carbon dioxide at any cost, no matter whether it destroys our economies or costs us our freedoms. According to them the world is on the verge of disaster and any methods or activities are justified in stopping the production of carbon dioxide. Many articles have even called the gas poisonous.

On the other side are those who think Global Warming is all a ruse to gain political control by one conspiracy group or the other, or to destroy our culture, or to take over the country or manipulate the masses, or some other conspiracy idea.

Both of these views remind me of the religious wars of the middle ages.  One religion would swoop down and try to force people into their camp, only to be driven away by another. Both sides committed lies, fraud and atrocities. Both were blind to the truth.

Today both sides of the Global Warming controversy have their media specialists and political advocates quoting one fact after the other. For every warming fact there seems to be an anti-warming fact. At the present the Global Warming promoters have lost some ground, and the anti-warming forces push every detail they can get.

So where do the Mormons stand in all this?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints takes no sides in any political discussion, including this one.

But where do individual members of the Church stand? From my point of view most of them are with the rest of the population. Those who think the Earth is warming are with the liberal group, its an evil that must be stopped.

The others are with the conservatives who think  all Global Warming talk fake. Most Mormons I know are in this second camp.

Personally, I don't know either way what is happening, but I do know something about the teachings, history and doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this knowledge has led me to arrive at some conclusions that I have never heard anywhere else. And  these are different from both the Global Warming community and also different from the anti-warming groups, whether Mormon or non-Mormon.

In 1846, when the first Mormon Pioneers were on their way west, Brigham Young told Jim Bridger, a mountain trapper, they were thinking of settling in the Great Salt Lake Basin. Bridger said they couldn't grow crops there and even wagered that no corn would ever grow because it was too cold.

Brigham Young countered that the Lord would temper the elements for the sake of the Church members. Or in other words that God would warm it up.

Here, it would seem, that Mormons should be in favor of Global Warming.

It's a good thing.

Then we have the liberal, tree hugging, Green, anti-carbon dioxide  bunch, probably very few Mormons, in this group. They love trees, sitting in them so they can't be cut, and even driving spikes into trees in logging areas so a lumberjack with a chainsaw could be killed by a flying shard of steel.

They protest that the  rain forests are being leveled and oppose clear cutting regardless of the regrowth nature of the trees and replanting activities of the lumber companies. I have bought over a thousand redwood seedlings, and the only places that grow them in any large quantity are the timber companies' nurseries. (You'd think that people from the Green Movement would grow tree seedlings.)

But the Green movement's anti-carbon dioxide position is the most wondrous stretch of the truth I have ever heard. They call carbon dioxide a nursery gas, which it is, but then they speak of it in terms of poisons.

Above, an Advertisement to induce nurserymen to buy carbon dioxide generators.
Actually, nurserymen pump carbon dioxide into their nurseries to accelerate the green growth of plants. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen which all animals need. The more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of plants, the more and faster they grow, and the more oxygen they produce.

Here it would seem that the Green Movement should be in favor of more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more green growing things.

It's a good thing.

And then there's the Tenth Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which says "We believe.... that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory," which means to me that the earth will warm up and  the growth of vegetation will increase which will keep the Earth from getting too warm, and after a few years of change, the Earth will balance out the hotter places with the colder places, and it will become a paradise.

So if you really love trees, and you really enjoy green vegetation, and if you really believe that the Earth will again become a paradise, then  enjoy the warm weather and the blind controversy of the uninformed or under-informed, and the Earth will warm whether it's because we are using the fossil fuels and re-releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,  or whether the sun is releasing more energy and warming the Earth, or whether God is doing it in some magical way.
 
It's a good thing.











Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mitt Romney, AP Writers and the 47 Percent

   The Associated Press news service is supposed to send real news stories to local newspapers, but on September 18, AP reporters Ken Thomas and Jim Kuhnhenn took it upon themselves to actually change Mitt Romney's words so that it appears that he is not concerned with poorer people, or the 47 percent that do not pay income tax in the United States. This was an actual lie.


   The  AP article says: "...he doesn't worry about the 47 percent of the country that pays no income taxes," implying that Romney is not concerned about their ability  to make enough money that requires them to pay income tax or meet their financial needs. Other news reporters on TV, internet and print picked up their story and probably didn't even read the transcript, but it is right there in the transcript what he was really talking about.

   Mitt Romney was speaking about votes, not people's finances. Here is the complete portion where Romney talks about the 47 percent:

   "Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people - I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

   Romney was talking to donors in May who were interested in his plan for getting votes, not what his policy was toward poor people.

   Mitt Romney himself, from his own income, has given more money to the poor than most people actually earn in their entire lives.

   He donated his entire salary as Governor of Michigan, and his salary from the Olympics to charities. He pays a ten percent tithe to his church, which alone for one year is over two hundred thousand dollars.

   At this point any reporter who would actually believe that Romney doesn't care about the poor, just hasn't been listening, so they must be just intentionally lying.

   AP news stories are supposed to be unbiased.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mitt Romney, Tax Returns, and Deceit

Stan Stark--
Deceit is an interesting phenomenon.

- It can appear that one person is deceitful, when actually the person exclaiming the deceit is  the deceiver.

In the 1980's I was a school district superintendent. It became necessary that a certain teacher be dismissed because he committed worker's compensation fraud. I put the teacher on administrative leave without pay and took the information to the governing board. Eventually the governing board decided to pay the teacher, but refused to allow him to return to work in the district.

During the period between the action of dismissing the teacher from working and his receiving his pay,  he wrote letters to all of the newspapers in the area claiming I had committed a crime. He then went to the local sheriff's office and filed a complaint.

A reporter from one of the newspapers called and asked for an interview. I agreed, but said that we would meet in my attorney's office. We met, made small talk, and waited for the reporter to ask about the alleged crime. She didn't ever ask about the accusation. I suppose because I was well known in the area, and she was waiting for some kind of permission to talk about the crime. We did not make any acknowledgements, and no article was ever printed accusing me of anything. The papers didn't even publish any of his letters.

A few weeks later I was in a neighboring town about 60 miles away. I saw the now former teacher from a distance, walking toward me, and he saw me. He turned and went into a store. I continued down the street.

I few minutes later I felt an urgent impression to go to the local police department, about five blocks away, and ask if that former teacher had filed any complaints about me.

I walked into the office, and asked the clerk. She said, "What's your name again?" I told her and she said wait here a minute. A few minutes later a policeman came in to talk to me. He looked grave.

"You are Mr. Stark?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered. He asked for my I.D.

"I have a man on the phone who says you are about six blocks away from here committing a serious crime at this very instant. He's still on the line."

"I'm right here. He has done this before." I said.

The policeman and the clerk looked at each other. The officer said, "We'll take care of this. You can go."

A few months  later the school district secretary brought me a newspaper clipping from one of the local papers about this same former teacher being arrested in a distant city over a thousand miles away. He had been arrested for the exact same crime he had accused me of.

So we see that  an accuser is often the offender. He knows and understands the offense and can make a good case for his accusation.

In the case of Mitt Romney and his tax returns, it is probably the same kind of situation. By now, after four years of Barack Obama in charge, if Romney had not filed his tax returns correctly the Internal Revenue Service would have charged him with tax evasion.

With the administration and the Department of Justice being so aggressive in their  pursuits, they have most certainly  had attorneys, accountants, and tax experts pour over Romney's tax returns, looking for some reason to force the Internal Revenue Service into calling for an audit. In fact, Romney has said that he has already been audited. The IRS has not called for any further investigation.

Spiro Agnew, Vice President of Richard Nixon, was convicted of tax evasion while in office. If there were any evidence of tax evasion it would easily be found.

So we have the same classic example of the real deceiver making accusations with no documentation and no witnesses.

That's why the sixth amendment to the constitution says that "the accused ... has the right to be ...confronted with the witnesses against him..."

The Democrats were in complete control of the entire U.S. Government, both houses of congress and the presidency. They could have changed the tax laws if they thought wealthy people should have paid more taxes. 

Keep your tax returns, Mitt..... Don't release any more. Releasing them will only confuse everyone because most people don't even understand their own tax returns which are only a few pages long. So how could any lay person, especially reporters, understand hundreds of pages? It just gives more fodder for deception, and the twisting and corruption of truth.




Friday, July 20, 2012

Old Cars, Mitt Romney and Bain



I have a son who likes to buy old cars and fix them up.

He usually  can make an old wreck into a vehicle that people admire and desire.

Democrats just don't understand that. Their complaints about Mitt Romney's leading of Bain Capital to great profits is like the little old lady who always complains about the eyesore in the lot across the street. It's an old rusting car. She wants it gone, but then she will complain about the "junk man" who picked it up.

This is a 1953-1960 Triumph Standard and it is sitting in my yard.
A mechanic like my son drives by and sees the car. He checks it out and it runs a little, so he finds the owner and gives him $200 and drives it home. When he gets it home he begins working on it, buying parts, painting, repairing and sprucing it up.

Then he drives it around town and takes it to car shows. Finally he sells it for $6000.

But sometimes he finds something so wrong with the car that he realizes he will not be able to   get  it repaired, so he takes it apart piece by piece and lists the parts on Craig's list or Ebay. When he gets all the parts sold that anyone will buy, he sells the rest for scrap metal, and ends up making $1000, still an okay profit.

Usually the mechanic uses his credit cards to buy parts. That's called leveraging. He'd have to buy the car and let it set until he had spare money, but with the credit card he can work on it immediately and then pay the bills when he sells it.
One of these days my son may fix it up.

Mitt Romney did the same thing with companies.

He'd find a company that was barely getting by, losing money. The owners wanted out because they were being drained and were just tired of fighting with the unions, regulations and tax collectors. They were about to tell all the employees they would close the company, lay off the workers, and sell the real estate and machinery.

Mitt's company, Bain Capital, would leverage the buyout by obtaining loans to buy the company. Just like the mechanic, they would go in, look around and see if it could be repaired.

If it could be repaired, the unproductive workers would either be taught new techniques or fired, just like the mechanic would do: bad parts would be replaced. New workers will be hired, new buildings built in new branches and production will be increased. Everyone makes more money except those workers that wouldn't change. They'll be gone.

It may look like this and be worth $6000 or more.
If the company could not be reconditioned, the company, like the car, would be parted out, and workers laid off. They got a few more months work than if the original owners kept the company. Sometimes failing companies don't even pay their workers their last checks because there just is no money left.

The company was failing, maybe it was because of the workers or their union, maybe it was changing times, and competition, but it was already failing, so no jobs were lost because of Bain Capital or Mitt Romney.

What the Democrats want is for the Old Lady to call the government to remove the car and take it to the dump where nobody makes anything from the failure. Sometimes you even have to pay to have a car towed away.

I think that's what happened to some of the companies Barack Obama tried to help, so it's pretty clear to me how Mitt Romney became a millionaire, but what I can't figure out is how Barack Obama became a millionaire.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Real Estate Crash, Part 4

This is the car I drove to the ghost town, my first.
I always thought real estate was not like other investments. I thought it always went up, but there were some quirks in my thoughts. There was a little town near where I grew up that was a ghost town.

I drove out there a few times just after I got my driver's license. It was four or five miles past the covered bridge turn off to Dorothy's parents home in Elk River. When I first got my car I used to explore areas that I had never been.  I wanted to see where Elk River Road  went, so I decided to drive to the end of it.

As I drove, the pavement got narrower and narrower, and blackberry bushes came out from the sides over the pavement, so that it seemed to be a narrow one way road. Finally the paved road was blocked by  an old wooden gate, and it didn't look like any one had driven down that road for a long, long time. I turned my car around, climbed over the gate and started walking.

The paved road was still there, under my feet, but berry bushes almost completely over grew it. In some places it was so narrow that bushes from one side reached all the way across, and I had to duck or crawl through.

This is the brown house on the hill. From Gates: Falk's Claim
Then, down the road, I could see houses. A lot of them. It was a town, and it looked neat and trim.  There were sheep that kept the grass trimmed, so it looked like it was mowed. Everything was still and empty, no people. The sun was shining and it was warm and quiet. A town out of a fairy tale.

I came up to a rather large brown house on a hill. I walked up to the porch. A bee was buzzing in the white Himalaya blackberry flowers. It was warm and spring. The door was open a little. I pushed it open and walked in.

There was a table with dishes and a few magazines with 1950's and 1940's dates. It looked like the people just walked out and left things. I went in all the rooms then back out on the porch. This house was up a hill, so I could see from the porch the other houses below, and some large buildings, a warehouse or something. I decided to go see what they were.

The largest  building was a lumber mill. The giant saws, used to cut huge redwood logs were still there, and all the machinery, rusting now, but looking to me like it could be started up by just flipping an electrical switch. All abandoned.
My wife Dorothy (middle) at Elk River School. 1947
This was the town of Falk. Once a booming lumber town. It even had a railroad, store, post office and gas station. When my wife, Dorothy, was a girl, the train loaded with redwood logs, would come by as she walked home from school, down in Elk River, but now even the rails had been removed. 

Jon Humboldt Gates, a friend of my sister Jacque, eight years younger than me, published a little book about Falk in 1983, Falk's Claim. In it he says  that in 1944, "Access to the townsite was blocked and the whole area was declared off limits to sight-seers and souvenir hunters. The general store was boarded up. But many homes, as well as the post office, the dance hall, the hotel cookhouse, the gas station, the mill, the logging camps, were all just left opened and abandoned."

Gates says that "two or three of the old timers continued their hand to mouth existence" at the town with the last one leaving in 1961. I was there in spring of 1957, and it was probably one of these old timers who I finally heard coming toward me,  where I was exploring. I hurried out of the building and ran back to my car and left, but Falk has always been in my mind. I wondered, "Why did people just walk out of those nice old homes?"

On a massive scale, the real estate crash of today is just the same as those old logging and mining ghost towns of earlier California and the west. The economics made it impossible for the people to remain. Falk was a company town, and the trees were all cut, the company moved on, so the people left.

Today, March 2012, on a road only one half mile from my house that is only one mile long,  there are ten homes, three of them are abandoned, because of the real estate crash, waiting for a buyer.  I have read that there are entire neighborhoods in parts of Nevada that are empty, essentially modern ghost towns.

So real estate is not any different than any other commodity. The price goes up, and it comes down, sometimes so rapidly that owners cannot get out without loosing large sums of money. I was just beginning to realize that in 2005 and 2006 when I was trying to sell my little house on Laurel Street.

Our little house with an inflated price.
My real estate agent was encouraging me to let the lender pay closing fees above the selling price of the home. She was still trying to further inflate the cost, raising her commission.

We got another offer (you might want to review Part 2  of these blogs) a few days after the first one fell through because the buyer could not get a loan. The country was at the peak of the real estate boom at this time in January, 2006.

Had lending not began to tighten up, we would have sold our little house for close to $170,000, but that sale fell through, and my real estate agent tried to get me to return her $1000 deposit. I said, "No!"

The second offer was for $146,500. We signed the papers immediately and it went into escrow. The new loan charges of $4000 were paid from our side of the ledger. That means that the buyer put no money down and we paid his bank fees. That's the way the real estate agents and banks kept raising the prices on real estate. The buyer would make an offer, and the banks would allow all banking fees for new loans be added to the price to raise the apparent value of the home. That new price became the sale value that taxes were levied on, and the value as listed on the sales reports of real estate firms.

In the old days, and again now, the buyer must put those fees up as a down payment plus at least 20% of the purchase price. In this case the buyer should have put up at least $29,000 down payment.

He didn't, and the property was listed in the newspaper within the next couple of  years as in default. The buyer could not really afford the home, yet everyone was pushing for that price, that buyer, and that loan. If he would have had to put up the $29,000 down he couldn't have and wouldn't have purchased the home.

This is the price, $59,300 that the property has fallen to today, March, 2012
We actually had the same kind of situation all over the United States that existed in boom lumbering and mining towns. The ore, or timber ran out. Only this time the "ore, or timber," were the regulations that allowed and even encouraged lending intitutions to make dumb loans. It became apparent that buyers everywhere were in over their heads. No one would lend at the same price again. Prices began dropping until they will eventually reach a level that old fashioned bankers will approve.

I do not think they have reached that level yet. Zestiment thinks this property is now worth $59,500, but keeping a tenant at $800 per month in this home in this area is almost impossible, so the rents have to drop until they reach a level where people can afford to pay the rent.

The town of Falk when it was a productive lumber town.
Instead of having a complete ghost town, we have pockets of towns where the houses cannot be sold, but it is essentially the same. We have completely livable homes that no one will live in, just like in the lumbering ghost town of Falk.

Here is a note that Edna Shoemaker Augustine, my wife's sister sent me about Falk:

Edna, when she visited Falk.
Stan, that is so fascinating!!  I can't remember for sure what year it was (1955, '56, or '57), but I also visited the ghost town of Falk.  I didn't drive then, but a fellow student named Don Short came out to our house and it seems like Dorothy was with us too, and we went down to explore the place.  I remember seeing in one house a piano and, in what must have been the General Store, we saw rows of shoes and boots on shelves, glassware, etc., and a typewriter.  Many times over the years, I've wished I had been able to take a camera along--but, of course, we didn't have a camera back then, though I think Daddy had a movie camera--however, us kids would never have asked to use it.  I have to admit, I have also thought/wished that we would have "absconded" with some of those treasures for keepsakes.  However, we touched nothing and took nothing.  Years later, Augie and I drove down there to see what we could see but it was gated off with many "No Trespassing" signs everywhere.  Good memories!  Love to you, A&E