Tag Archives: Vintage


Poor Fred. What's his story?

Poor Fred. What’s his story?

The river water was dirty.  To see the bottom would be impossible.  The enticing stone’s glistening blue hues was lost after  dropping it into the muddy water.  Those hues reminded me in some retrospective way to the eloquent characteristics we find in the people we surround ourselves with.  They are not the flaws, although they do exist.  Rather the parts in the human spirit we long for in someone we know dearly.  Some of our friends and family brighten up in ways that individually we can not attain. Maybe this is what attracts each of us to one another.

The water with all its mucky and slimy attributes can cover the bottom’s rich colors of what has been lost such as the brilliant blue stone.  The same  goes for life itself.   We find differing colors in others.  It is a good thing to separate the mucky waters from the jewels at times.  Such is the life of a story-teller.  Even the dirt can show humanity, but underneath this is a real human being.  We must sublimely tell the story.  Perhaps it is our own to tell,  of which the path can be dark, yet  slowly we can find our way.

Story tellers and their storytelling is a true art.  There are those that do it well.  My grandmother was such a person.  She took the good out of the bad situation and “forgot” the negative.   Is it correct to do so? Good question.  It depends.   The truth is not always pretty.   At times though,  if we tell the stories doesn’t it seem better to honor the good in someone than the bad? I am conflicted with this.  I then think perhaps my grandmother was onto something.  Maybe she was showing just a tiny glimpse by taking out the bad what awaits us in  heaven.  It is said there will be no more darkness like the murky river water, rather a Light will shine for our path.  That is the real story.

Dedicated to those who have died way too young. Go to my genealogy on the home page for topics about interesting story telling.

The Slow Reader

The art of slowing down reading and writing does not have to be a lost form.

The art of slowing down reading and writing does not have to be a lost form.

Do not let the title of this post deceive you. The slow reader is a good thing. It implys concentration, enjoyment, and contemplation to just name a few. When I was growing up in Alabama, I would read anything and everything. I just enjoyed reading in my youth. After college I literally stopped reading except for manuals and polices on the how to’s of my job. How utterly boring you might think. It was not at the time. Everything has a season.
In the mid 1970’s, my family lived across the street from a lovely lady named Vivian. Vivian was the quintessential southern homemaker and our established bible authority for our neighborhood. I adored her. She hired me as a teenager to clean, dust, and help her can preserves. Lord knows I did not really care for the work, but I loved listening to her converse. Later she introduced me to different authors as she had stacks of books she would be reading. She read everything she could get her hands on. She had a television, but I think it was only for watching Walter Cronkite for news.
After I grew up I began sharing books with her. She had a habit of keeping them forever. There was one particular book I wanted back so I went to her house to get it. I noticed a slip of paper about halfway through the book where she was taking meticulously detailed notes on what she was reading and I asked her, “Are you done with it?” She said, “No but it is ok if you want to take it. I have so many things I can read,” as she and I looked over at her rather large piles of books, newspapers, and magazines in the corner of the room. I took the book, but felt some reservation for taking it.
In later years when Vivian’s health was declining, I decided to go see her. We had a wonderful time. I admired her integrity and old-fashioned pleasures. She taught me how to read a book slow and savor every moment of it. To this day I can not forget what value she brought to my life.
I am aware that I am afforded the luxury of reading on Kindle and emails at my fingertips now, but Vivian showed me the way to study and allow time alone in a book to transform you. For that I forever grateful. There was no email between us after I moved away from Alabama. There was only the mail box. It could only be through letter writing we would keep in touch. The calming and beautiful way of orchestrating your life as she did will forever remind me of a vintage time. So when I get down on myself about how slow it is for me to read or write in my present time frame, I capture the memory in my mind sitting with Vivian on the veranda scoping through piles of books without a care in the world. I hear her whispering to me, “Let’s forget about the housework and go sit down a spell and have a cup of tea and read together.” Yes, Miss Vivian let us just go do that.

Death on the OHIO RIVER

If you are like me, when I think of steamboats I imagine slowly going down  the Ohio or Mississippi River listening to Mark Twain read to me from his classic book Tom Sawyer.  After all, Tom Sawyer was an adventurer and being on a steamboat fills my mind of  adventure.  As I am stepping out on the wide deck outside,  I smell  and hear the sounds of the water around me.  Seeing the riverbank while looking at  all the beautiful  trees growing along the shore mesmerizes me as well as the thick riverfront vegetation.

Jump forward to our current times, I learn of the many deadly accidents that occurred due to these beautiful steamers.  It was so bad that at times 1000’s of folks died from the dangers of steamboats. In due time, the government began to regulate the steamboat business.  This helped , but there were still many accidents and deaths.  In fact, I imagine that steamboat I am on and Mark Twain is reading to me and suddenly a fire starts onboard near the engines.  In front of my eyes, Mark Twain takes off his reading glasses and author’s hat to put on a different sort of hat.  It was a riverboat captain’s hat.  Mr. Twain was the captain that needed to put that fire out and save us.

Now to the facts.  Yes, Mark Twain actually was a steamboat captain. No, he never read to me his story Tom Sawyer.  But one thing you might not know is that Mark Twain watched his brother Henry die from a riverboat accident. Today’s installment relives through the newsclippings of The Gleaner in Henderson, Kentucky the death of one of my ancestors in 1917 due to a steamer called the Enterprise made in Louisville, Kentucky.

This story’s details did not come easy to myself.  I had been working with Nancy Towns a family researcher on common lines of interest.  The line of interest that had captivated both of us was my ancestor Laura Jenkins’s husband who was Robert W. Nichols. He was a victim of a steamboat drowning accident.  The body was never recovered.

After months of wondering about if we would ever get to the truth, it became apparent that this was a road block that we may not be able to overcome.  Out of faith, I shared with Nancy that I thought we would one day get to the truth of this story. That one day arrived in the form of an email from my brother Donnie Jenkins. He had information about other researchers in the family.  One of those contacts was a cousin named Judy Jenkins.  Judy and I began discussing our common family lines and I found out she was just as interested in this story as Nancy and myself.  Nancy in particular was doing the study for  her brother-in-law Jim Nichols who as of late has been ill.  Jim is  a great, great grandson of Robert Nichols.  Judy offered to get closure for Jim on his long lost ancestor.  Today we can say we know what happened to Jim’s ancestor Robert Nichols, Laura Jenkins’s husband and we thank Judy Jenkins for helping in this matter.  These news clippings are sobering, yet the legend can now be validated with the truth in these articles.  May Robert Nichols and all the others who died in the vast rivers of America rest in peace:

Death on the OHIO RIVER

Descriptive News Clipping of Drownings

Bodies never found!

As you read through these news writeups of the incident, you understand how important the newspaper was in those days.  It was the only form of communication the townspeople had unless it was by word of mouth.  Below I want to share a photo of Robert Nichol’s descendant and his family. This is Jim Nichols taken over 40 years ago.  He now knows what happened to his great, great grandfather in 1917.  The sorrow he knows that his great, great grandmother  Laura Jenkins Nichols had to suffer is indescribable.

Jim Nichols with his grandparents and three of his daughters.

This next photo is my friend Nancy who inspires me with her own genealogy work:

Nancy Towns with her family.

What better way to finish off this story as we learn the truth of our ancestors by a quote from Mark Twain: ” Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Have Ship Will Travel

Coasting along an ocean and going away to a place far away.  This has got to be one of the wildest rides a person could ever experience.  Yet that is exactly what so many folks did when they emigrated to the United States.  While America was yet in its infancy, we had open ports bringing  people that would make this the greatest nation on earth. I have a photography collection of some of those ships that came into our harbors and brought with it my ancestors.  I thought you might  like to go for a ride with me and enjoy my photos.  I collected the pictures because they made me imagine what it must have been like to have been on one of them. I was able to feel my ancestors’ stories as I gazed at these ship photos.  It was like the TITANTIC movie in my mind, but my ancestors were on these various ships and their stories came alive within the imagination of my mind:






I hope you could imagine  those  sailing away and going out to sea as you looked upon these photos. Until my next installment I guess I will say BON VOYAGE! Please make sure you take a moment also and go see my Facebook Page on my ancestors.  I named it in honor of one of my gramps!  Consider liking the page so you can get my posts in your facebook newsfeeds:  https://www.facebook.com/DescendantsOfWhitnellJenkins