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.

Wedding Wednesday: Taylor-Chapple, 1949

Wedding Wednesday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to display and share old wedding photos, wedding invitations, and announcements!

My feature bride and groom today are my parents – John Taylor and Carrie Chapple. If my father was still alive, my parents would have celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary this month/year.

Bridal Party Photo by Willie Crosby

On Sunday the 3rd of April 1949 at 4 PM
John Willie Taylor and Carrie Chapple
Were married!

Their private ceremony was officiated by Rev. Jessie Glover, the Pastor of Canaan Missionary Baptist Church that was located at 2500 Altoona Street at the time. The ceremony and reception occurred in the home of my mom’s sister and brother-in-law — Edward and Ella Louise (Chapple) Marshall who lived at 1708 Chew Street in the Greater Fifth Ward, Houston, Texas community.

Special guests and members of the bridal party in the group photo above were (standing l to r):  Joseph Chapple (Father of the Bride),  the Best man, John Taylor (Groom), Carrie Taylor (Bride), Sue Wesley (Maid of Honor), Faye Short (Soloist), Ethel (Abram) Chapple (Step-Mother of the Bride). Guests not shown were Juanita Boykins (pianist) and Willie Crosby (photographer).

Bridal Dress Photo by Will Crosby

The groom wore a double-breasted black suit, white shirt, black tie and black shoes. The bride’s wedding gown, veil and opera length bridal gloves in white were purchased from Solo Serve, a popular discount retail chain in downtown Houston, for $25.00!!

Wedding Cake Photo by Willie Crosby

Their graduated tier wedding cake with white butter icing topped with a miniature bride and groom was made by her step-mother, Ethel (Abram) Chapple.

If I didn’t know this couple personally, I would have thought their wedding day wasn’t a happy one. Why? No one smiled! There were no smiles on the faces of the bride, the groom, members of the bridal party, or guests in any of these wedding photos! As I got older, I often teased my parents about these pictures. I even asked them, “were you two marrying under duress?! They would simply laugh and shake their heads at me in disbelief, not realizing that I was being serious with them.

Well, despite the solemn looks they had in their wedding photos 67 years ago . . .
they have been all smiles and looking good together ever since!

John & Carrie (Chapple) Taylor

First Annual Black Family History Day Event at TSLAC on Saturday, February 13th

Kudos to all my Austin, Texas genealogy friends who will be attending the Texas State Library and Archives Commission‘s first event devoted to black family history research Saturday, February 13, 2016, from 12 noon – 3 PM! This event is in collaboration with the Austin History Center and the Carver Genealogy Center

1st Annual Black Family History Day

Attendees will learn best practices and tips for starting their family research, as well as, learn about area resources, and have an opportunity to ask questions related to their research.

Sessions include:

Noon – 12:45 pm – Documenting Your History workshop led by LaToya Devezin, African-American Community Archivist at the Austin History Center.

1 pm – 1:45 pm – Resources for African-American [sic] at TSLAC presented by Tonia Woods, Senior Reference Archivist at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

2 pm – 2:45 pm – Genealogy Discussion forum moderated by Cynthia Evans, Genealogy Coordinator at the Carver Genealogy Center.

Seats are limited. Parking is available at the Capitol Visitors Garage and metered parking along San Jacinto Blvd. For more information or to reserve a space, email Ashley Stevens, Education and Outreach Coordinator at astevens@tsl.texas.gov or call at 512-463-9807.

I hate I won’t be able to attend this event this year. But trust and believe, if this is an annual event, I plan to be there next year!

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.