Today is My Blogiversary!

Today not only is the first day of 2017, but it is also the 6th Blogiversay of Claiming Kin! This year I’m celebrating this special milestone with a new and improved look for my favorite space in cyberspace. This new design represents how I plan and want to express myself and share my ancestors and family’s history with you this year and beyond!

Claiming Kin Ancestor Collage

Special thanks go to John S. (@kooldesignmaker), who has done lots of graphic work for me through the years, for transforming my old family photos into the awesome  – Claiming Kin Ancestor Collage – you see when you visit my Facebook profile page. This collage is a visual representation of ancestors and family members I celebrate and honor each day since I started this genealogical journey in 1989.

Sending virtual (((((hugs & best wishes)))) to all my family and genealogy friends who visit this blog and interact with me here regularly. THANK YOU so much! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, patience, and support very much. I wish you and yours a —

Happy New Year 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: My Original Texas Driver Education Certificate

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year; It was a very good year for [big city] girls . . . ” – sung by Frank Sinatra in D minor, 1966

When I found my original Texas Driver Education Certificate (Form DL-41A) last year, I smiled from ear to ear. It was so cool to find this document after all these years. Where was it? Tucked away in a box in my parents garage for many, many years. After looking at this document more closely, I found myself humming and singing the two opening stanzas of Frank Sinatra’s song above with a slight change in the lyrics (of course) to show that I was no small town girl. Still, why that song came to mind, I can’t say. But what I will say is 1977 “was a very good year” because it’s the year I learned to drive a car!

1977 Texas Driver Education Certificate

A closer look at this certificate reveals that 39 years ago yesterday, May 4, 1977, I completed 12 hours of simulator instruction, 3 hours of in-car instruction, and 3 hours of in-car observation at University of Houston. I have no memory of Marvin Reichle, the instructor who signed my certificate above. But, he must have been great because I do remember enjoying the simulator and in-car instruction part of the program very much!

When my classmates learned that I was taking drivers ed at the university twice a week, they all asked why didn’t my parents teach me how to drive themselves. I wondered about that too at first. But I soon realized they wanted me to learn best practices with regards to the laws of the road (i. e. how to deal with different driving conditions, how to react in emergencies, etc.). They also knew if I completed a driver and traffic safety education program approved by the Department of Public Safety, I would receive the SO-30 Driver Training Certificate for insurance purposes too.

This certificate automatically gave me a 10% discount on Bodily Injury, Property Damage, Medical Payments, Personal Injury Protection and Collision coverages when my parents added me to their auto insurance. Now that I had a learner’s license guess what make and model car I drove to practice driving? I did all of my practice driving in a 1976 or 1977 Dodge Monaco Brougham, very similar to the one featured below.

Yes, our family car was a BIG one. But despite its size, I LOVED driving that car! It was easy to handle and offered all its passengers a very smooth ride every time.

Do you remember when you learned to drive? What make and model car did you use for practice driving? Let me hear from you; feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section of this post below.

Earth, Wind & Fire and Me

MAURICE WHITE
1941 – 2016
“The light is he, shining on you and me.”

When I heard the news that Maurice White, the founding member of Earth Wind & Fire, had died peacefully in his sleep on my drive home from work last Thursday (2/4/2016), I was shocked. Like so many EW&F fans, I had no idea that Maurice was ill and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease. I never noticed that he stopped appearing in public despite the band’s sold-out concerts around the world. By the time I made it home, the news of his death had set in, and I felt somber that another musical genius in the music industry was gone!

One of the Most Successful US Bands of All Times

That's The Way of the World by Earth Wind & Fire, 1975

With some 90 million albums sold, I can say with certainty that Earth Wind & Fire is one of the GREATEST American bands of the 20th century! Their musical talents have spanned R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, pop, rock, Latin, and African musical genres. My love affair with them was the results of listening to my brother’s EW&F collection since the 1970’s. On the weekends, you would find me grooving to hits like “Energy by Earth, Wind, & Fire” (1971), “They Don’t See by Earth, Wind & Fire” (1972), “Keep Your Head to the Sky” (1973) and “Devotion by Earth, Wind & Fire” (1974) during my early teens.

The Impact of Earth, Wind & Fire on My Life

The day I became a die-hard EW&F fan was when my brother took me to see them in concert in 1975 when they released their sixth successful studio album – That’s the Way of the World! The dynamic sound of their horn section was so hypnotic that I stood mesmerized by them throughout the concert — LOL! Their energy and elaborate stage show were nothing I had ever experienced before. The interplay between Phillip Bailey’s falsetto and Maurice’s tenor voice had me and everyone there celebrating and singing right along with them. That song and album of the same name put them over the top, and they have never looked back. As a budding pianist, I just had to experience the title song for myself. So a few weeks after the concert, my mom took me to the music store and purchased this hit song for me to play on the piano.

Liv at the keyboard in 1975

In Memory of the Elements — Earth, Wind & Fire

It has been 41 years since my first Earth Wind & Fire Concert and since I sat and played that hit song on the piano. Even though I no longer play or even have a piano in my home (the family piano has been passed down to my grand-daughters), I still have the 1975 sheet music of That’s The Way Of The World that mom bought me in my personal music collection. Maybe one day I will enjoy hearing this timeless song played by one of my grandkids.

(Click below for lyrics & piano accompaniment)

That’s The Way Of The World. Saggiflame Music, 1975.

My 3 Words for 2016

Since 2013, I have chosen three words to kick off my genealogy endeavors for the New Year. I credit this “three word” exercise to Chris Brogan who has challenged business bloggers for the past ten years to “replace resolutions with something a bit more useful” and attainable. I’ve learned so much about myself as a genealogy hobbyist and about my family from a historical perspective because of the “three words” I’ve selected each year!

My 3 Words Over the Years

2013:  First. Proof. Publish.
2014:  Serendipity. Collaboration. DNA.
2015: Preserve. Stretch. Connection.

So without further adieu —

My 3 Words for 2016 are . . . 

Personal. 

One of the first steps we share in the genealogy process is — record everything about “yourself” and members of your immediate family. Even though I have dates and milestones about my life documented in my files, what’s missing are the personal stories I want future generations of my family to know about me when I’m an ancestor in the tree one day. Therefore, I plan to add personal stories about my life in my files and share some of them on this blog this year.

“Go-Over.”

Family and friends who follow this blog know that I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for the past two years. Why? Life! Yes, the daily grind of life and tending to the needs of an aging parent took priority over any free time I had for research blogging. As I turn my attention to blogging again, I find a “go-over” is a must! What exactly is a “go-over?” It involves a careful review of all research I’ve completed to date. Being away from my files for a couple of years gives me an opportunity to “go-over” everything step-by-step with a fresh pair of eyes. I will be looking for any inconsistencies and mistakes I may have made or missed. This will allow me to update my research with new information that may not have been available for various ancestors when I first worked on their branch of my tree.

Believe.

I believe in my research. And the best part of all is that my family believes in my research too! I have a few history buffs in my family. So when I’m stumped by research leads or information I’ve found, I’m so glad to have family members willing to help me put facts and turn of events in order so that I’m able to move my family research forward. Their knowledge of our ancestors and memories of the past have been the support I’ve depended on through these years!

Happy New Year, Claiming Kin Turns 5

Happy New Year Everyone!

I am so excited that this is the first day of 2016 because . . .
Claiming Kin turns 5 years old today!

That’s right, my blog here in cyberspace is growing up and I owe my growth to everyone who continues to support me. I’m so thankful to have a mom and brothers who get a big kick out of my passion for genealogy. As a result, I can call them any time of the day (or night) with questions and information about our family without them checking caller IDs to screen my calls — LOL!

I want to (((THANK))) Zachary Montz (Ph.D. student at University of Texas) and Thomas McWhorter (grad student at University of Houston), for contacting me to learn more about my dad and the class action law suit he and others filed against the discriminatory practices of the labor seniority system at Houston Armco Steel Corporation. Yes, I have an activist in the family that I will be blogging more about this year.

I also must (((THANK))) Amanda Fishel for contacting me last year when she discovered  my mtDNA GedMatch kits were a match to her great-great Aunt’s kit, to one of her cousin’s kits, and a small match to one of her own kits. Even though I was excited to have this DNA match, I was a little hesitant about responding to her at first. Why? I wasn’t sure how Amanda (who is not black) was going to feel about her connection to me and my African/African-American Ancestry. Well, it was a relief to know that she was not only cool with our connection, but willing to collaborate with me to find out how we’re related. I have a strong feeling this is the year we find that connection!

To all my genealogy friends who visit my blog and interact with me regularly via Twitter, Google+, and Facebook — THANK YOU! I appreciate your friendship, guidance, and your family’s history very much. I wish you and yours a — Happy New Year!