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.
     Natasha knew very little about Kevin's identity, but with a little internet searching, and with help from this family history blog, Natasha was able to track our family down.
     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 ;)