Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gene to Tinker

One day a few years ago, in a statement of independence, I took apart my broken iron, thinking I would somehow figure out the problem and have it back together in no time. Having no knowledge of irons or anything electric, I am not sure why I thought I could fix it, but I decided to try. Unfortunately, I had no clue what to do with it once I got it apart, consequently, when my husband got home from work, he discovered the iron on the kitchen counter, surrounded by all of its insides. After a few more failed attempts at repairing things, I realized that I definitely did not inherit the gene to fix and repair anything.

Back in the 1940's when gas was well under 20 cents a gallon and it was possible to buy a car for under $1,000.00, my Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus worked as an auto mechanic at the Chevrolet Garage in LaJara, Colorado. 


This is where Grandpa Ganus worked as an auto mechanic in LaJara, Colorado 
This photo taken on our visit several years ago shows it is not in great shape and is for sale.



Mechanics in those days often relied on experience as their teacher, and for many, that experience came from working on farm equipment. Prior to being a mechanic, Grandpa worked on a farm in Colorado and then on various projects with Heiselt Construction. Perhaps those jobs helped prepare him for work as a mechanic.

There were no diagnostic machines with codes to help mechanics determine the problem with a vehicle, so it was up to the mechanic to figure out on his own and then repair it. Mechanics had to be creative with the repairs, especially in remote areas because car parts were not readily available nor easy to find, so they made do with the tools they had and made parts from other cars.

The 1940 census confirms that my Grandpa, Heber Monroe Ganus was working as a mechanic in 1940.

1940 US Federal Census, Sanford, Conejos, Colorado 
A few years later when Grandpa registered for WWII in 1942, he indicated that he was working at the Phillips Chevrolet Co. 




Grandpa continued to work as a mechanic until health issues forced him to quit. 


Grandma recorded the following in her life history:
"It was while Heber was working in La Jara, as a mechanic in one of the garages that he became ill and found he could not work at this kind of a job. His brother, Ernest had come from Oklahoma on a visit. He talked Heber into going back with him in hopes he would feel better. This was in 1954, in the spring. 
 "In the following summer when school was out after graduating from Adams State, Lena, Sally and boys and myself drove to Oklahoma to Okmulgee where Heber was staying with his brother Ernest. We found him feeling better and he returned home with us, but he was put in the hospital the next day, in Alamosa. Doctor Stong who was his doctor told him never to come back to Colorado, as it was too high here for him." 
And so, Grandpa Ganus moved to Oklahoma to live with his brother Ernest. The following year Grandma taught school in Colorado and when school was over for the summer, she joined Grandpa in Oklahoma. The following school year, Grandma taught school in Oklahoma, but Grandpa never worked again. He may have tinkered with their car some, but his days as an auto mechanic were over. 


mechanic, Heber Monroe Ganus, Ganus, Okmulgee, ancestry, family history, health
Heber Monroe Ganus
Oklahoma

Just as vehicles have changed dramatically over the years, so have gas stations and the way vehicles are worked on and repaired. I may not have inherited the ability to repair much of anything, but I did inherit the love of family and a drive to know more.  

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Monday, September 10, 2018

Fireflies and Grandpa Ganus

 Sapulpa Oklahoma family history ancestry genealogy Ganus
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
The memory exists in my mind much like a magical dream.

We were visiting my grandparents in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and my parents had gone out for the evening.

It was getting dark and my Grandpa Ganus and I went into the backyard of their small rented home to see the coi in the little fish pond. As a young child, I was fascinated by the orange fish and loved watching them dart in and out of the green plants and vines. Grandpa and I watched them for a bit, while it grew steadily darker outside. When it became too dark to see anymore, we started to go back in the house when I saw the small flicker and flash of tiny little lights that would glow momentarily and then disappear. My grandpa explained that they were fireflies or lightning bugs. Growing up in California, I had never seen fireflies before. Grandpa went into the house for a minute and when he came back out, he had a mason jar for me to catch a few of the magical little creatures in so I could see them up close.

For the next little bit of time, Grandpa and I caught fireflies. Whether real or imagined, in my mind's eye I can see us laughing while chasing and catching the fairy-like bugs. But that is all that I remember of that night. I don't remember what we did after that or anything else that we did on that visit to my Grandparents.

Grandpa died a few years later and living several states apart,  I really never got to spend much time with him or to get to know him very well.

I do know that we had time together a few other times though because there are a few photos that catch those times.

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Heber Monroe Ganus, Colorado, genealogy, ancestry
Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus and
Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
along with my brother, myself and a cousin

grandparents, Heber Monroe Ganus, genealogy, family history, memories, hospital
My parents, Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus and
Grandma Hazel Ganus, my father's sister, my
cousin and myself (sitting on Grandpa's lap) 
  
A couple of years ago my husband was in a store and found a little mason jar that had little glowing fireflies in it and so he bought it for me. The fireflies are powered by a battery in the lid and they glow off and on much like the real thing.  I love to have it sitting on my desk as a reminder of a very special memory that happened so many years ago. Do you have things that trigger memories of grandparents? 

memories, fireflies, ancestry, family history, genealogy


Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pull up a chair and Sit a Spell

Hazel Mickelsen Ganus, Stella Mae Montgomery, Heber Monroe Ganus, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, genealogy, ancestry, family history
Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus, Stella May (Montgomery) Ganus
and Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus
Long before we could drive down the street at night and see the glow of the TV screen in the windows of many if not most homes, and long before people turned to Facebook for updates on people's lives, people dropped by to visit each other.

In pleasant weather, people sat on the porch and talked, catching up on the events of the day. Often sipping on a cold drink, they tried to cool off while they talked about the weather, about family and about the ongoings in town. My how times have changed. 

These photos taken in September of 1955 show my grandparents, Heber and Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus and Sally (Ganus) Mortensen, along with a couple of Sally's children, sitting on the porch with Heber's aunt, Stella May (Montgomery) Ganus in Oklahoma. Most likely Grandpa and Grandma had moved to Oklahoma by that time and Sally and her kids had made the 700 miles trip to visit them. 


Sally (Ganus) Mortensen, Stella May (Montgomery) Ganus
and Grandpa Heber Monroe Ganus

Other than the few years when Grandpa worked in Utah and California, Grandma and Grandpa Ganus lived most of their lives in Colorado, but as grandpa aged, his health declined and they eventually moved to Oklahoma for the lower altitude. During those years Grandpa was able to live among other Ganus relatives. In particular, Grandpa loved his Aunt Stella and I love knowing that she was important to him and that he was able to spend time with her.  



Grandma Hazel (Mickelsen) Ganus, Stella May (Montgomey) Ganus
and Heber Monroe Ganus 

That September of 1955, temperatures soared around 100 degrees and the humidity hovered around 70% (1) In the sticky Oklahoma heat, the porch was the best place to sit and visit. Lightweight, short sleeve dresses were the order of the day for the ladies and a short sleeved t-shirt helped keep Grandpa Ganus cool. 



With the heat extending into the evening hours, families often moved out onto the porch where it was a little cooler. For them, there was nothing much better than spending a little time on the porch, sitting and talking. 

1. Wolfram Alpha app provided the temperature for Oklmulgee, Oklahoma for September 1955

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2018, All rights reserved