Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Just What is a Victrola?

Two weekends ago, we had a floor full of college students up to our little cabin at 49 Degrees North and we were talking about technology and the changes in technology. Imagine that! So somehow we got on the subject of downloading music and watching videos which then led to how easy it is to copy due to the evolution of technology and how portable technology is today.

I went on to tell them that they didn't invent the mixed CD because I was doing that in the 1970s with my little cassette player plugged into my radio or my stereo output jacks when I was in 7th grade. Not that I invented it either, but like most kids, I used to call Sunshine Shelly on KJRB, request a song and then record it when she played it on the radio. AM by the way! I went on to say that prior to tape players, it was much more difficult because people had record players and you couldn't really record from record to record. This led to my story I share with all of classes every semester about my oldest daughter, who was 12 at the time was asked to dust the victrola one Saturday morning. She replied, "What's the victrola?" I then pointed out her great grandfather's victrola in the corner of the living room which was passed down to her father. Of course she got the family history lesson as well. She then said, "Oh, I thought that was the big CD player."

The students listened to the story because what else are you going to do when you are trapped in a one bedroom cabin with an educator who truly feels the need to educate and who is giving you free room at board near a ski resort? Besides that, these are really polite young adults who still respect their elders. At the end of the story they too asked, "What is a victrola?" Fortunately, I have a smartphone and I could have Googled it to show them, but in the end all I had to do was explain to them that it was an old fashioned record player that you had to crank to play. After which I asked them, "Do you know what a record player is?"

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Finding Grandpa Thanks to Technology

Lately I have been spending a lot of my personal time exploring my family history. In 1919, my grandmother, Virginia Pearl HUGHES CANTRIL SPAIN was adopted into a rather well to do family. Shortly there after her new parents split up leaving her to live with her father. Her father died when she was a young girl which left her to grow up in a Catholic boarding school. Years later, after my grandmother married, she became the mother of an only child. That child was my mother who had two girls. Needless to say, we are a small family and my grandmother always wondered if she had any siblings.

My grandmother died almost 10 years ago. While she was living, I began trying to put her family puzzle together as she had been in an orphanage at 6 months old prior to being adopted. Between that, her family situation, and having been told by a family friend that she had a brother, she desperately wanted to know more about her "real" family. I probably began looking as soon as I had internet access in 1994. I know it was about that time because I run across discussion board posts on local community sites and Rootsweb I put up way back when. Unfortunately the internet was in its infancy and there wasn't much to search and I was busy raising my three girls so I didn't have the time or funds to travel.

It is amazing how times have changed. I am still searching for my great grandpa and grandma, but I seem to have moved closer to my goal. I have a name with the help of an old adoption record and a wonderful woman in Colorado. Our family now knows we are looking for Jerry SMALDINO and Theresa PICCONE Smaldino or maybe Teresa who we know lived in Denver. Thanks to new scans from the Denver Directory at Footnote, I know where they lived the year my grandmother was born and I know that Jerry was a laborer. After 1919, they disappear. Thanks to Google Maps, I can even see the actual street on which they lived. Thanks to Google Street View, I can see the actual house in which they lived with Teresa's family. Thanks to the Denver public records, I can tell it is the actual house because I found out that it was build before 1919. Thanks to progressing technology, I can do this from my big comfy green chair in my warm home.