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, 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.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Photos from the 1970's Continue. Growing Up in Rapid City and the Black Hills.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
It is another beautiful fall afternoon here at the Fortress. In today's digital family gathering last week's theme continues with more photos of family and friends taken in the mid 1970's in Rapid City, South Dakota and the surrounding Black Hills.

Kevin's Basketball Team, 1972 / 73

 Kevin is on the far left of the front row, number 11.  This looks like the city rec Canyon Lake basketball team.  Kevin can supply the names.

Pictures from our hike to the top of Harney Peak.  1975

I'm already in the fire lookout tower looking down at the family as they arrive.  Charles Williamson leads them onward followed by Jilane, Lisa, Janice, and Luella holding Annette.

Luella, Lisa, Janice, and Jilane at the base of the fire looking tower at the top of Harney Peak.

Cary Gillies will with us that day.  A shot of him at the top of Harney Peak.  

Spearfish Park, 1975

This picture of Lisa has been floating around for years.  We're at the Williamson family reunion.  Lisa is either three or four years old and enjoying Spearfish Creek.

A Brothers Day Out.  The Black Hills.  1975

 One day Kevin, Jon, Brad Haugen, and I went on a road trip through the Black Hills.

 We played frisbee.  Kevin's going up for the catch.  Gotta love the 1970's short shorts for guys and white knee socks.

Brad Haugen, Kevin and Jon.

The Gillies Sisters Stop By.  1975

Janice with Allison Gillies in our driveway at 2214 38th Street, Rapid City.  Of course the beat up station wagon is ours.  What did you expect?  I think Janice is showing a bit too much leg for a girl of her age and religious persuasion.  It's trash pickup day.  Our can sits waiting at the curb.

Celeste Gillies and Lisa on the front lawn.  Lisa is on her wheeled inchworm.  Jon and Kevin's 10 speed bikes are in the driveway along with an old school skate board.  

 The Mormon Elders 

Our final picture shows Charles Williamson (second in from the left) standing with the other leaders of the Rapid City LDS District.  Dad was in the District / Stake presidency at the time.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Daily Life in Rapid City. 1974-1975

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove.

Hello All,
     Today we travel back to 1974 / 75 in our digital reunion and see a few snapshots of our life in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I'll do my best to remember names, and trust you'll send in the names of those I've forgotten.  My email address is spacecamputah@gmail.com

 This was taken on a late Wednesday afternoon in the late fall of 1974 I believe.  Our Mormon MIA group has crossed the street from the church and walked over to the park at Storybook Island for a game of co-ed football.  Rick Olmstead is on the far left in the hat.  Brad Bishop is in the BYU jersey.  I believe Loren Finn is the blurred figure.  I think that's Bonnie Story in far background.  That's the Sioux San water tower in the background.  

The gang.  From left to right as far as I remember:  Don Policky, ? , ?,  Brad Bishop, his brother Scott is "kissing" someone.  Rick Olmstead, Randy Weeks and the rest.

Our priest quorum on a campout to Pactola Lake 1975.  Rick Olmstead, Brad,  Carey Gilles, and Randy Weeks on a hike above the lake.

The group at the campsite.  I'm in the back with the glasses partially hidden.  Scott is picking on Rick. the boy in the v-neck sweater is a Middleton.  Carey is the one falling forward.  

Bro. Smith is on the far left.  Brad has his back to us.  Carey is on the left with Randy Weeks with the apple.

Unpacking for the campout.  

The girls walking near Sheridan Lake in 1974.  Lisa, Janice, an unknown friend, and Jilane.

Two weather extremes.  I took the picture above in 1974 from the front porch of our home at 2214 39th Street, Rapid City.  I believe it was the first good snow of the winter.  

Summer of 1974.  Gully washer rainfalls always brought a torrent of water down from the red cliffs uphill from our house at 2214 38th Street, Rapid City.  This is looking up Lilac Lane from our front lawn.  Notice the white hail on the lawn.  Our decrepit mailbox is in the steam.

Charles Williamson with Janice Williamson at a Daddy / Daughter Date in the Rapid City LDS cultural hall either in 1974 or 75.

And finally, one of the rare photos of me sitting outside the LDS chapel in Rapid City.  There was a bench by the chapel's double doors.  I took third place in the District public speaking festival.  You've got to love those shirts and ties and what hair :) 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Grandpa Walter Mattson's CCC photo Album. Pictures of Grandpa and Grandma Mattson.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
Grandpa Mattson (born 1912) served in the CCC in Montana as a young man in the mid 1930's.  The CCC stood for the Civilian Conservation Corps.  It was a place to work when work was hard to come by during the great depression.  He had a photo album during his time with the CCC.  I've taken his album and scanned the few photos of him, and young lady he had his eye on for possible matrimony.
Grandpa left the CCC in 1937 or 38, travelled to California to take a job on a ship heading to South America.  That didn't work out, so on his way back to Montana, he stopped to see his girlfriend Violet and the rest is history.  Violet (born 1918) and her family had moved to California from Montana while Walter was in the CCC.

First, the relationship chart.

Relationship Chart

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 in the United States for unemployed, unmarried men from relief families as part of the New Deal. Originally for young men ages 18–23, it was eventually expanded to young men ages 17-28. Robert Fechner was the head of the agency. It was a major part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal that provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. The CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the United States while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory. Maximum enrollment at any one time was 300,000; in nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
The American public made the CCC the most popular of all the New Deal programs. Principal benefits of an individual's enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability. Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.
During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.

A little fun during down time.  Notice the outhouse.  It was primitive in the CCC camp.  I believe Grandpa Mattson is seated wearing the dress???

Grandpa Mattson with a friend.

A picture of his sweetheart Violet, his future wife and our grandmother, with a friend in Grandpa's photo album.

Grandpa Walter Mattson.

Grandpa Mattson is holding the guitar in this group photo in front of their tents.

Another picture of his sweetheart, our Grandma Mattson, taken from his album.

Thanks for reading,