Sunday, June 21, 2009

Visitors from the North

Yesterday was a great day for me. My college roomie and her brother came for the day. As with all great times there was a plan afoot. Linda is a genealogist and bon vivant and quite fun. A devoted mother and blogger and an extraordinary person. Her brother Ken is a kindred spirit. A teacher, musician and thinker he is great fun to be with and share conversation.

So they arrived before noon and took the requisite tour of the grounds and the WORKSHOP and met the three dogs. We headed off for lunch at Culp's cafe on the grounds of Carillon Park. Culps is named for an old Dayton eatery. The decor is very 50's and the menu is a salute to food popular in that era as well. We had a great conversation about Texas music and our annual barbecue. Ken loves Texas musicians so he scored many points for that alone.

The plan for the day was to see my former home in the historic Oregon District. While I lived there I shared space with Electra Collins Doren a local librarian and daughter of John Doren publisher of the Dayton Democrat. Well Electra died in 1927 so her spirit made her presence known on many occasions. After the Jackson street viewing we were to go to Woodland cemetery to investigate and locate the graves of relatives of Linda, Dayton luminaries and Electra and her family!

The home on Jackson street is for sale. Seeing us armed with cameras, the owner who was doing yard work and came over to greet us. I shared that I lived here for a number of years and she invited us in to see my former home. I was so touched by her generosity. I was amazed to see that she had retained many of the colors that I used to paint my home. She did say that the upstairs bath was a very dark grey and they changed that to make it lighter. I told her that was me and that I loved the color. I think she was worried she offended me but I assured her that she did not. Not much had changed with the exception of the kitchen. The kitchen which was originally a galley kitchen so narrow that if you fully opened the dishwasher door it would just clear the fridge on the opposite wall. Previous owners removed the wall adjoining the dining room and rotated the cabinets 90 degrees so the line of cabinets was perpendicular to the wall with the refrigerator. I so loved that cozy home but the stairs were and I can confirm this today a killer for these old knees.

I asked the owner if she ever felt that she was living with someone and she put her hands to her cheeks and said I don't want to think that. Then she proceeded to share an experience that attested to some of the strange goings on I experienced. What fun! Ken who has some psychic abilities said he didn't feel anything when he was there. I think Ms. Electra was waiting for me at Woodland Cemetery!

So we traveled to Woodland Cemetery. Woodland Cemetery is an important place in Dayton. It is home to the graves and memorials to Dayton's many inventors and notables. The mausoleum has a beautiful collection of stained glass windows. One window which is a major attraction is a stunning Tiffany window. Our interests were more to the actual cemetery. Our first stops were to locate Linda's relatives. Her husband has a great grandmother and great aunts and uncles interred here. After a walk up a steep hill we were only able to find one head stone and that of another person Linda wanted to see. She didn't get her "money" shot. Many of the grave stones were overturned or may have washed down the hill. Some stones were so worn by weather that the names were unrecognizable. She did get some pictures so she was happy about that. We also looked in the infant section of the cemetery to see if there were any folks there they were related to.

For me the highlight was spending time with Linda, Ken and Lee. Linda is passionate about genealogy and Ken is a devoted brother who not as passionate about genealogy applies his intellect and support to Linda's passion. Electra's grave is located in the same section where we found those of the Wright brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar. In addition so many names Shaffors, Schantz, Deeds, Mead and on. All founders of Dayton from the 1800's to early 1920's. After much trekking I found Electra, her dad, mom and siblings. All were buried in separate plots adjacent to a huge stone memorial with another family name. Clearly some work lies ahead to unravel these connections. I took many pictures of Doren graves and even had my picture taken on Electra's grave! I cannot describe to you how thrilling it was to find that grave and see more unfold. I am so thrilled to have owned the home of John Doren where his daughter Electra lived. I've felt such closeness to Electra. She was a noted librarian in Dayton and after the flood established the first mobile book "mobile" to outlying areas of Dayton. In her time this was a horse and cart. When I lived in North Dayton the book mobile was a refitted bus. I took my children to the bus where we chose reading material until the next visit. My mom was the person who really instilled the love of reading in us and nurtured my love of books. Thank you Mom for giving me one of life's greatest treasures. One of my fondest memories was Dad reading Treasure Island to us over the course of some weeks. It was heavenly to share that time and closeness with him.

On our way out of the cemetery we saw some memorials to other Daytonions. A statue of a boy and his dog - the boy drowned and his dog visited his grave daily for a long period of time and their connection is memorialized in that statue. There is a bench with two bowler hats placed on one end for the Wright brothers. I think the one that touched me deeply was Erma Bombeck's grave. For all of the words and laughter she brought to so many her grave is marked by a huge piece of stone from Arizona. After she left Dayton she retired to Arizona. Her marker is just that huge beautiful stone. To me it says I have said all there is for me to say the rest is up to your imagination.

After leaving Woodland we went to the memorial of yet another great Daytonian - Esther Price. This was Lee's part of the trip where she found $30 dollars worth of dark chocolate so she could remember Esther and her good works in Dayton. At home we had a very fun dinner together. I had guacamole for apps with wine and sangria and a blueberry spritzer for the celebrants. A meal of skirt steak rubbed with chipotle and spices and grilled was served with chinmichurri sauce, Lee's pinto beans, Mexican Fruit Plate and Mexican Chocolate Cake. A fine and memorable day was had by all.

Chimichurri Sauce adapted from the Joy of Cooking

1/2 C olive oil
1/2 C red wine vinegar
1 small onion minced
1/2 C parsley finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic grated finely
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mexican oregano dried
1 tsp dried cilantro

Mix together and let rest for at least 3 hours before serving. It keeps overnight in the fridge. Spoon the sauce over grilled meats.


  1. You are the bomb (that's a good thing, BTW)....a great blog and reconnecting with Sanderson!!! How ever do you do it???? Ken and I had a wonderful time with you and Lee. The entire weekend has enriched our lives and we will carry the memories with us forever....and of course, I have a few photos to joogle my memory as I get older. You will have to amend your blog, however, Ken DID feel something when he went upstairs in the Electra house. He told me today.

  2. all that good food and you can only share the recipe for the sauce. i guess the rest will be left to MY imagination.