Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Unofficial Wedding Snapshots: Kim Williamson and JD DelGrosso. 1978.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Today I'm posting the snapshots taken at Kim and JD DelGrosso's wedding in 1978.  I missed the event. I was working as an LDS missionary in England at the time.

Dad (Charles) leading his eldest daughter down the aisle.  Kim was, and still is, the family's flower child.  She has never lost her free spirit and love of nature.

The ceremony. The gentleman in white officiated. You'll notice the official photographer, so rest at ease. The grainy snapshots posted here are not the official wedding photos.   

The event was sealed by a kiss.  Annette and Lisa Williamson are in this photo. Grandma Mattson is on the far right in blue.  

Annette intently examining her oldest sister

L to R: Jon, Kevin, Charles, JD, Kim, Luella, Janice, Jilane.  The kids L to R: Brandon, Forest, Annette, and Lisa.

JD and Kim with Kim's grandparents. Grandma Mattson (Luella's mother) on the left then Grandma Elda and Grandpa Leissman. (Charles' mother and step-dad).

Luella Williamson, JD, Kim, and Charles Williamson.  Grandpa Liessman is on the couch.

Kim and JD with both sets of parents.

JD's parents.

JD's family.

Officiator, Best Man, and bridesmaids.

JD's family.

The Toast.

Aunt Annette and Nephew Forest dancing at the reception.

JD's grandpa holding Annette and Lisa.

Kim and JD.

 Annette hogging the show.

 And finally, the last shot on the roll of film. Janice in the car. The blue tape vinyl repair above Janice's head is typical Williamson!  It was the South Dakota Hillbilly's comin to town fer the wedding.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Memories from the Late 1970's. Rapid City. Kim and her Boys. Jon's Curly Head of Hair and Ukrainian Lisa.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
I was in England from 1977 to 1979 serving an LDS mission. I missed those two Christmases.  Thankfully, Mom sent a few pictures to take the edge off the homesicknesses.  In today's digital family album I give those pictures back, plus one I took from the Christmas of 1976. 

     Christmas Eve 1976 at 2214 38th Street, Rapid City, South Dakota.  I'm behind the camera of course then comes from left to right, Luella (Mom), Grandma Mattson (Mom's mom), Janice, Grandpa Leissman (Dad's stepdad), Jilane, Jon, Lisa, Grandma Leissman (Dad's mom), and finally Charles (Dad) with 9 month old Annette on his lap. Absent from the picture are Kim and Kevin. Kim was married; and Kevin, most likely hogging the one and only furnace vent in the living room to the right of the TV.  The tree looked pretty good when compared to the Charlie Brown trees we normally had delivered by the Boy Scouts (their Christmas time fund raiser).  And yes, who can forget the Santa Claus overlooking the happy event from his perch atop the tree.  That Santa was as much a part of the family as any of us. It topped our tree as far back as I can remember - and looked the part when inspected up close.  
     Christmas was the happiest time in the Williamson house. The presents were modest by today's standards.  I believe we each had a $50 limit in the late 1970's.  We spent many a long, dark winter's evening leading up to Christmas examining the store catalogs page by page looking for the best gift or gifts we could squeeze out of Santa's limit.  
     Taking the presents out of the calculation, I would say having our grandmas together was the second best thing about the holiday.  Only a blizzard closing the roads out of North Dakota would stop Grandma and Grandpa Leissman from coming.  Grandma Mattson lived in Rapid City. We got to see her all the time, but having them together was the best! 
     Grandma Mattson was fun to tease.  She took it well and gave it right back.  Grandma Leissman, on the other hand, lit the room with her stories.  A prompt from one of us was all it took to get her going. Sure, we all knew the stories from multiple tellings over the years. It wasn't the story, it was the telling of the story that lit up the room. We'd listen as she'd start the story and take great delight when she'd pause to laugh long and hard as she relived the event in her mind.  Sometimes the laughing was so hard, Grandma had to quickly make a dash for the bathroom.  
     Christmas was the best time of the year for us. Dad wasn't much of a fan of the holiday. Large family gatherings unnerved him, but he'd soldier through without too much complaining (except when we'd all leave him alone in the living room with Grandpa Leissman and retreat to the safety of the kitchen.  Saying Grandpa Leissman was long winded was an understatement).  

Christmas 1977.  Kim was by herself, a single mother of two and only twenty years old.  Forest is on the left and Brandon is on her lap.  You see what I meant about our Charlie Brown Christmas Trees?
This was one of the two Christmases I missed.  Forest was three and Brandon was two.  You gotta love Brandon's little boots!  What a chubby little guy when compared to that adorable, yet scrawny Forest :)

 Christmas 1977. Ice skating was the event of the day.  Look at Jon's curly hair!  Jon had a perm at the time.  Not sure why a 14 year old boy would subject himself to that, but that's what he did. Twelve year old Jilane is with him.    

The siblings taking a breather.  Janice, Lisa, Jilane, and Shirley Temple Jon.

And finally, to top off tonight's album, a snapshot taken in our LDS meeting house's gym on Canyon Lake Drive.  Lisa is standing next to the ADHD boy in the red shirt.  She's looking all Ukrainian with the skirt and scarf.  The only other people I recognize in this photo are Dan Weyland standing next to the woman with the long strands of limp spaghetti drooped over her head, and the Nally girl next to the pink dressed Swiss Miss.  Lisa will have to fill us in on this photo.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Bold Fashion Statement. My First Car. A Trip to North Dakota. and John and Don's Birthday.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Today's digital reunion takes us back to our life in Rapid City, South Dakota in the mid 1970's.  I must warn you that what you're about to see may be upsetting to those with sensitive fashion tastes.  I also feel compelled to warn epileptics that the following photo contains visual stimulus which may induce a seizure.  Proceed at your own risk.     

     Did I not warn you?  That sports jacket is embarrassingly checkered, strangely colored, and matched with a tie only someone like me would ever think went together.  Funnily enough, I still have that jacket hanging in my living room closet.  I'll be happy to rent it out to anyone attending a 1970's fancy dress party.  Its a one of a kind so be prepared to pay a hefty premium. 
     Take a moment and stop staring at my jacket long enough to see what Cary Gillies is wearing.  I'll give you the jacket and pants.  They work.  The white tie and biologically patterned shirt go together but fashionably date the photo just as blatantly as my jacket.
     I had a thick forest of hair back then and let it grow as was the fashion.  The glasses are the best my budget would allow.  I was making $3.25 an hour in those days at our friendly neighborhood McDonalds, just enough to keep me in gas, insurance, clothes, school, and the occasional movie, with just enough left over for my mission and college saving account. Designer glasses were a luxury.    
     To our credit, we are seen above home teaching Sister Aish.  We were pretty good home teachers considering we were both priests at the time. We visited Sister Aish nearly every Sunday afternoon between Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting. In those days, Sunday School ended at Noon and Sacrament Meeting started around 4 or 5 P.M.  
     Sister Aish was a wonderful person with a head full of memories from the early 1900's and up.  Her husband was the stock broker to first floated Piggly Wiggly's stock.  She remembered the stock market crash of 1929.  Her husband lost everything.  Several of their acquaintances were left destitute.  Some committed suicide.   
     Sister Aish passed away while I was on my mission.  I think of her from time to time even today.  

Mabel, My First Car

     That 1965 Rambler Station Wagon was my first car.  It was the family's car until Dad bought the 1968 Ambassador Station Wagon.  Dad gave it to me under the condition that I maintain it, pay for all repairs, gas and insurance, and take all responsibility for killing myself and anyone who may be riding with me if I ever got into an accident. 
     I called it Mabel to match its personality.  It was over ten years old when I got it. In Rambler to human years, the car was equivalent to an 80 year old person.  And that is exactly how it ran - like an 80 year old.  
     The car had no guts.  The engine was seriously on its last leg with I got the car.  I had to add a bottle of Geritol for every 15 gallons of gas just to get it started and running in the morning.  I couldn't drive to school the way everyone else in my neighbor drove to school because of the steep hill.  I drove to school the long, back way.  The route with the longer, yet more gradual incline.  Even then I had to get a running start to get up the West Junior High Hill.  I'd come down Canyon Lake Drive to the junior high road, and instead of turning left up the hill, I'd turn right, drive to the baseball fields, turn around and floor it to get a run up the hill.  If I could get to 40 miles per hour at the bottom of the hill, then I'd be cresting the hill at around 10 miles per hour (five miles per hour if I was carrying passengers).  
     Yes the car was a real pain, but Mabel was my own car and that meant freedom.  On the bright side, the back end came in handy for drive-in movies. 
     By the way, I wonder what that stick shift bike of Jon's would be worth today?

The Christensens      

     I met the Christensens when I got back from my mission in 1979.  Brother Christensen worked for LDS Social Services if I remember correctly.  Don and John were twins.  I saw them every morning in my early morning seminary class. Jennifer was their older sister. 
     This picture was taken on the twin's birthday, December 26, 1980.   

The Family Trip to North Dakota.  1973

Below are a two snapshots of the family vacation to North Dakota in 1973.  Kim and I didn't go and I don't know why.    

Janice, Kevin, Lisa, an unknown park ranger and Janice at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Kevin, Lisa with her bottle (the only way to keep her quiet), Jilane, Jon, and Janice.

I wish I had more to say about this trip, but having not gone, anything said would be pure speculation so we'll leave it at that.  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Williamson's of 38th Street Continues. Lisa, Annette, and Shocking Discoveries. Janice, We're On to You!

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
In today's digital family gathering we step back once again to the late 1970's and very early 1980's to see the Williamson's of 38th Street doing their best to eke out a middle class living on a shoestring budget in Rapid City, South Dakota.  These photos are taken fresh off the photo album vine, scanned and posted as is without regard to date, time or sequence.  As I've said before, I'll leave the organization of this family history to a yet unknown family member, who at some point in the future, will take my work in this blog and organize it into a sequential chaptered read for all to enjoy. Whoever you are, I'm thanking you from the past for finishing what I started.

The Williamsons of 38th Street Continued......  1970's to Early 1980's.

     This is Lisa Williamson taking the sun in our front yard at 2214 38th Street.  Judging by the condition of the lawn, I'd say this photo was taken in the fall or spring of the late 1970's.  Come to think of it, our lawn usually looked this ill even in the middle of summer, so who knows exactly when she sat for this portrait.  The chain fastened to the tree was either attached to Frosty, our dog with matted hair, or baby Annette - to keep her from trying to informally resign from the Williamson clan by darting into the street in front of a passing car.

     We didn't have a lot of money in those days so Christmas was reserved for the older siblings who had the mental capacity and holiday awareness to recognize and differentiate between a 'good' and 'bad' Christmas present.  As you can see from her expression in the photo above, Baby Annette was completely clueless regarding her plight due to her young age and overall cheery demeanor.
    To what am I inferring you ask?  Notice Baby Annette is holding her Christmas present for that year.  Who else but Annette would be so happy with a salt shaker?  Bless her heart, thanks to Annette's naivety, we all had a better Christmas.
     You're a sweetheart Annette - and don't even think of guilting our aging parents into making amends this upcoming Christmas by showering you with gifts of Christmas's past.  We all had our salt shaker time just like you.  It was all part of growing up a Williamson, so live with it :)    

     This is Jon Williamson's high school graduation photo (1980).  Jon was the sibling we kept locked up in the basement most of the time he was growing up.  You'll notice his gaunt appearance and 13 inch waist reflect his care.  Ma and Pa would let him out from time to time as long as one of us took responsibility and made sure he was found and secured before day's end.

     This is Janice Williamson's official 1980 Homecoming photo with her date for the evening, Don Christiansen.  Don is in the blue suit; Janice in the blue and white.  Janice claims she spent her entire high school years dateless, a premature spinster without prospects.  The photo above disproves her claim.  In fact, I'm sure that if I do a bit more digging, I may come up with a long list of broken hearts trailing in her wake from her time at Stevens High School. Perhaps her stories of spending weekends sorting socks while her friends partied are all fabrications to illicit sympathy. Perhaps it is Janice, not Kim, who holds the record of most successful basement window escapes from our home on 38th Street. 
     Janice, we're on to you, you little minx.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Welcome to a Newly Found Williamson. A Family is Complete. A Long Search Finally Over.

Natasha, Kirk and Kids

 From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
     Today is a special post introducing you to a new member of our Williamson family.  A month or so ago I got a phone call at school.  On the other end of the line was my brother Kevin and several of my sisters (there are so many of them I forget who was on and who wasn't).
     "Are you at your computer?" Kevin asked.  I answered that I was.
     "Go to Facebook and do a search for Natasha Hess."  They waited while I pulled up her profile.
I expected to see something funny, an internet sensation of sorts.  The profile pictures of the woman were all normal.  I didn't understand why I was looking at a total stranger on the computer while at the same time talking to my brother and several sisters on a conference call.  "Who does she look like?" Kevin asked.
     I looked closely at her face and saw a slight resemblance to my sisters Annette and Jilane, but nothing to mention.  "I can't tell," I answered.
     "Don't you think she looks like a Williamson?" he continued to prod.
     I looked more closely. "I suppose.  Why?"
     "BECAUSE SHE'S MY DAUGHTER!" Kevin shouted into the phone.
     There are only a few times in the average person's life when they find themselves speechless.  I sat at my desk unable to form a coherent sentence.  My siblings laughing and shouting on the other end of the phone made up for my silence.  The reality of what he had just said finally anchored, allowing me the opportunity to form and ask questions. To make a long story short, Natasha was Kevin's daughter.  The DNA tests confirmed the fact.  Kevin had no idea he had a daughter. In a matter of a few days, Kevin went from being childless to the father of one daughter and the grandfather of her three children.
     To make a long story even shorter, the circumstances of her birth involve Jon and Kevin's 1980's hard rock band Sibling Rivalry.  Kevin was the band's manager and met Natasha's mother, I'm guessing, after a performance.  I'll leave it to your common sense to fill in the rest of the story.
     Natasha's mother choose not to inform Kevin of Natasha's existence.  Natasha knew she had a different dad than her siblings but couldn't persuade her mother to give her information on who he was.  She spent most of her life wondering and hoping for the day she would find and meet him. The band moved on and so did Natasha's mother.  After years of keeping what she knew private, Natasha's mom finally decided to tell Natasha about the band and its manager.  She didn't remember Kevin's name. She only remembered that he was the manager of a rock group known as Sibling Rivalry.  With a little internet searching, and with help from this family history blog, Natasha was able to track us down through that band connection.
     Natasha made contact with Jilane first through Facebook.  That led to several messages and phone calls - which eventually put Kevin in touch with Natasha.  Roses were sent, tears were shed and a new family bond was formed.  Both Kevin and Natasha couldn't be happier!
     Kevin is now known as "Granddude" and Kevin's long time partner Kristin is "Glamma" (Glam is short for Glamorous, and anyone who knows Kristin knows that to be true!).
     Much has happened since their meeting at the beginning of October.  Natasha and her family moved from Pocatello, Idaho to Heber, Utah so Kirk, her husband, can work in Park City and attend school at UVU with the ultimate goal of dental school.  Natasha wants her children to grow up close to her family.  She wants to be near her wild and crazy aunts and cousins.
     Welcome to our family Natasha, Kirk, and children.  As the blog title says,

We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.   


Natasha with her new family.  Left to Right:  Aunt Kim, Aunt Jilane, Uncle Victor, Natasha, Kevin, Aunt Annette, and Kristin.

With her cousins at the family gathering the first weekend of October. L to R:  Brandon, Autumn, Ashley, Avery, Natasha, Amber, Afton, Abrea, Forrest. 

Natasha, Kirk, kids with Kevin, Kristin, and new Grandparents Charles and Luella.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

March 1977. Annette Williamson's First Birthday. Flattering Shots of Me at McDonalds.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
     Today's selections from my yellowing photo albums takes us back to Rapid City, South Dakota circa 1977 to revisit Annette Williamson's first birthday party.  You get a special treat today, flattering pictures taken of me in my full McDonald's uniform TAKEN while wearing my red MANAGER hat.  They are the only photos proving my time spent learning the fast food trade - something I believe all teenagers should experience before leaving high school and moving on to life's other challenges.

Happy 1st Birthday Annette!

      This photo is of Annette taken just before her 1st birthday.  She's walking, which was a good sign.
I think that's a salt shaker in her hand.  The photo was taken in our living room at 2214 Street, Rapid City.  Two things give that away:  1.  Annette is standing on one of the five or six plastic carpet protectors we used to try to preserve our heavily worn carpet.  Imagine nine people living in a very small house (Kim had moved out by then) with a postage stamp sized living room.  Of course the carpet is going to have noticeable dark pathways running from the front door to the kitchen and from the living room to the bathroom and two bedrooms.  Of course Charles and Luella are going to do everything possible to preserve the carpet because buying a new carpet every five years or so was out of the question, that is if we still wanted to eat and put gas in the car.
     Vacuuming was a real treat in that house on 38th Street.  First, you'd have to roll up all five of the runners, then do the actual vacuuming with our 1960's Kirby vacuum cleaner.  You hoped the bag would do a better than average job keeping the dirt and dust in and not evenly distribute it back onto the carpet with every pass.  You see, nobody wanted to empty the dust bag.  It was a messy job done outside over the metal garbage can.  In any breeze, no matter how small, half the gray dirt, bobby pins, string and hair would end up back on you before getting into the can.  Now you understand why the bag let as much dirt out as it took in because it was always full to overflowing.
     The table behind Annette was a piece of old furniture from the Mattson Montana ranch Luella had doctored up using her paints and various antiquing techniques.  The fancy Channel Master 8 Track stereo was mine - a high school graduation present to myself from the previous June.  I kept the family in good music, and I mean GOOD music:  Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, not to mention the soundtracks to such hits as The Sound of Music and 1776.  Occasionally I'd let the siblings play some of their stuff if I was in a good mood or at work.
     The red books under the desktop are still a mystery to this day.  They sat in our house the whole time I was growing up.  Nobody ever touched them.  They just sat there making us look like we were a family of readers to anyone who paid a visit.    

     This is where Annette spent most of her time when her older siblings were left to babysit.  What better place than the driveway in her ironclad playpen?  They played while she took care of herself.  She's got the handle to one of those push popper toys.  What good that does in a playpen defies logic, but anything to keep her occupied and quiet. That's our old Rambler Ambassador station wagon behind her.  


     March 15, 1977 was mild for a winter day if we are to believe our eyes and the photo above.  This is our backyard.  Mom and the nextdoor neighbor are throwing the party of a lifetime! There's swinging and plenty of exploration time.  Notice Annette on the ground  wondering what all the fuss was while the Holtz boys, Lisa, and Janice enjoy the cake.  Luella was 38 years old in this picture.

     Annette showing off her two presents, a Smile Maker and an inflatable bunny.  Compare that to what today's parents dole out for their kid's birthdays.  Annette is perfectly happy with her presents and her St. Patrick's Day outfit.  David and Glenn Holtz are there with Lisa.  Lisa was left holding the cake.

     Annette again with her bunny.  She was picture friendly - easy to draw out a smile at just the right moment.
     Lisa's eyeing that cake with evil intentions.  Most likely jealous of the attention her younger rival was getting.  One quick movement of a knee and the cake would be on the dirty front steps.  A birthday ruined by accident.  I could be misreading this photo, but ............

 My Days at McDonalds

     I started at McDonalds in June 1974.  These pictures were taken during my senior year in highschool - 1976.  Rapid City had three McDonalds at the time.  I worked at the one next to Bacon Park.  I started making shakes, then moved to the french fry station and eventually landed and settled on the grill where my true talents could shine.  I could roll 60 hamburgers at once on the grill - a marketable skill when a bus full of hungry high school students would roll in.  I was made "Crew Supervisor" at 17 and therefore permitted to wear the Manager hat.  

     The first step to edible McDonald's hamburgers is to get the meat on the grill.  While the patties fry, you prep the buns.  I laid them out twelve at a time on the tray and then into the toaster.  While they toast, you turn your burgers, onion your burgers and dress the buns with mustard, ketchup and two pickles.  

     The dressed buns are positioned such on the grill.  You see me making double cheeseburgers.  Notice the concentration evident by the partial exposure of the tongue.  

     The final touch before presenting them over the counter to the waiting cashiers to wrap and put in the warming bin.  The quarter pounder grill is on the left side of the photo.  
     I really enjoyed the years I spent at McDonalds.  I made good friends and learned to work hard.
I was the best, there was no doubt about that and well liked by my co-workers - except for those occasional pranks played on the new cashier rookies.  Take a quarter from the till.  Put it on the grill for several minutes until it is red hot, then toss it on the floor in front of a cash register.  The cashier sees the quarter and...... you know ;)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

More from Our Lives in Rapid City. The Boys go Out Shooting. 1977(ish)

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

     This week takes us to another photo album and more pictures from the late 1970's taken in and around Rapid City, South Dakota.  The randomness of these historical posts throughout the blog is intentional.  I haven't the time or interest in organizing my hundreds and hundreds of slides and photos in chronological order.  As I stated in this blog's first post, I wouldn't have done this family history blog if I felt I had to.  I'll leave the organizing of this blog to someone else in this family at some future time.  My duty is to get the information out there, get the pictures posted, get the stories told and leave it at that.  So, here's hoping you understand, and here's hoping someone someday will organize it all into a flowing, time driven story of a simple South Dakota family living through interesting times.
     The memories of my youth seem to be slipping away with each new wrinkle.  Take the three pictures below.  I think I remember taking them.  I think I remember this outing into the hills to shoot - but can't be sure.  The photographic evidence is here so we did it.  Perhaps Kevin and Jon can provide more information.  

     Charles Williamson (my dad), Emerson Leissman (my dad's step father) Brad Haugen, and Kevin Williamson are pictured above.  Brad is shooting my dad's pistol.  Kevin shoulders Brad's rifle.  He looks a bit uncomfortable holding the rifle.  We were NOT a shooting family by any stretch of the imagination.  Dad kept his pistol on hand for safety reasons only.  I remember Dad liked to shoot, but bullets cost money and shooting took time - both of which we had little of.

Jon Williamson joins us in the photo above holding another of Brad's rifles.  Kevin is looking a bit more relaxed.  Jon's smile is disconcerting.  I wonder what plot was forming in his little head with that rifle at his disposal.

Dad is helping Jon with something while Grandpa Leissman and Brad Haugen shoot.  Brad was a good friend of Kevin's.