Time travel as close as your local cemetery.

Weekend Genealogy Fun!

February 21, 2014 / by davidwalton

One of my favorite weekend pastimes is reading genealogy blogs. They give me an entirely new perspective on tracing my family’s roots, not to mention ideas for postings on my own blog site! Take, for example, Jana Last. I absolutely love her award-winning blog (click here), especially the “My Ancestors’ Signatures” and “The Traveling Dentist” tabs.

I recently read with great interest one of her postings on RootsTech 2014, a conference for genealogists held annually in Salt Lake City. But more specifically, the keynote address given by lecturer and certified genealogist Judy Russell.

Russell gave a very convincing speech and demonstrated about how family stories are lost within three generations. That’s why it’s important to record them so they can be passed onto later generations. San Diego genealogist Randall Seaver (www.geneamusings.com) took Russell’s presentation a step further.

Rather than trying to answer questions about our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, Seaver put out the challenge to share some of our own childhood memories by answering Russell’s six questions. He calls it, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Great idea!

Here are the questions:
1.     What was your first illness as a child?
2.     What was the first funeral you attended?
3.     What was your favorite book as a child?
4.     What was your favorite class in elementary school?
5.     What was your favorite toy as a child?
6.     Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?

My answers to these questions:

1.     I was fortunate; I never got sick as a kid. I was more injury-prone than anything because I like to play rough.

Lucky for me, I never got sick as a kid. Here I'm pictured with my Aunt Sharyl and Uncle Larry from California.

Lucky for me, I never got sick as a kid. Here I’m pictured with my aunt and uncle from California.

My mom was constantly driving me to the doctor’s office for stitches.

2.     I attended a Catholic grade school where the nuns were strict, the curriculum very regimented and appearance was taken seriously. Failure to wear navy blue slacks and a white collared shirt, both neatly pressed, and a tie would get you sent home. The school prepared students quite early for death. I attended my first funeral with my entire second grade class; it was for an elderly parishioner. And how could I ever forget that day. One of my classmates (Jeannie Luther) had a seizure right in the middle of the funeral service. At the time, I thought it was way cooler than seeing a dead person for the first time.

"The Mouse and the Motorcycle" was one of my favorite books as a child.

“The Mouse and the Motorcycle” was one of my favorite books as a child.

3.     My favorite book as a child was “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” which I still have a copy of. But once I discovered The Hardy Boys, the Motorcycle-riding mouse became a thing of the past. I have a wonderful mom who always took me to the library.

4.     Since I excelled in all subjects, I really didn’t have a so-called favorite subject or class. After my parents yanked me from Catholic elementary school, the principal at my new school hand-picked six students to form a harmonica group. I happened to be one of the chosen ones; it was pretty darn cool.

Standing back left, I was part of a harmonica group at my new elementary school.

Standing back left, I was part of a harmonica group at my new elementary school.

5.     Material things never appealed to me as a child so I never really had a favorite toy per se. We had more fun creating our own games. For example, I would have my friends sit at our kitchen counter while I would pull out grocery products. Whoever came closest to the real price won. But my all-time favorite was the “The Note Game.” It works something like this: you write down clues on small pieces of paper and hide them throughout the house (i.e. under a sofa cushion, inside the microwave, under a bed). Well, you get the picture. Participants start off with one note that leads them to the other hidden notes one by one. Sometimes there may be a prize waiting for you at the end; or someone might be waiting to scare you if the last clue leads you to a closet or dark room!

Swimming was always a top priority during the summer months. And being that my three older sisters were lifeguards, I never had a problem finding a pool!

6.     Yes, I can swim and to this day it amazes me the number of adults who can’t. Fortunately, my older sisters worked as lifeguards and I had several friends with swimming pools. I never took formal swimming lessons. Instead, I pretty much taught myself how to swim similar to the way I taught myself to drive a car with a manual transmission. They both were something I was certain I could do — and I was right! I was actually a pretty darn good swimmer. One of my favorite things to do with friends was dive into the deep end at the public pool and see who could tread water the longest. I always won! In high school I dove on the swim team, earned my lifesaving and for three summers worked as a lifeguard, and was a member of an intramural swim team. Water and swimming have always been a big part of my life.

I realize most of you don’t have blog sites so I encourage you to share your answers to these six questions right here on my site, I would love to hear your childhood memories.

Oh, and I encourage you to check out Randall’s blog (click here) to see how others answered these same questions. They are fun!!

Until next time…

6 thoughts on “Weekend Genealogy Fun!

  1. Dawn says:

    Let’s see… My first real illness probably was chicken pox when I was nine. I remember I missed just about that many days of school! I didn’t go to a funeral until I was 18. It was my great aunt and it was 1983. I think my parents were shielding my brother and I from death. My favorite childhood book was “A Brown Puppy and the Falling Star.” I still have my copy too. I then loved mysteries and scary stories reading alot of John Saul. There was a Nancy Drew knock off called Trixie Beldon that I loved. Favorite elementary class was math and whenever we watched “film strips.” I took swimming lessons at Southern High School pool when I was around 12. It has since been filled in. It was mandatory to graduate by jumping off the high dive. I got up there and froze. The swim “coach” snuck up the ladder as pushed me off!

  2. davidwalton says:

    Thanks Dawn. These are great! Wish I could have been there to see you getting pushed off the high dive. Haha!

  3. ~ Tonya ~ says:

    1. What was your first illness as a child?
    I had double pneumonia when I was 8. I was hospitalized for a week and it was quite serious from what I have been told.

    2. What was the first funeral you attended?
    My great Uncle Herb. I was about six years old so I don’t remember much but there was a family scandal with his death and his new wife. On his death record it is listed as a heart attack. He was the last direct male Ryker descendant. Now my son carries on his last name in his middle name.

    3. What was your favorite book as a child?
    Alice in Wonderland is my favorite book ever but I also really enjoyed those Sweet Pickles children books series.

    4. What was your favorite class in elementary school? Spelling because I was really good at it and could beat everyone during the Spelling Bees.

    5. What was your favorite toy as a child?
    Barbie Dolls all the way.

    6. Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn? Not technically, but I can stay afloat and make it from one side of the pool to the other but don’t ask for more of that or I’ll have an asthma attack.

  4. davidwalton says:

    Sweet Pickles, Alice in Wonderland and Barbie… Who would have ever thought? And now I know why you’re such a good speller, Tonya!

  5. Jana Last says:


    Thank you so much for mentioning my blog in your post! I really appreciate it!

    I’m glad you participated in Randy’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun about Childhood Memories. Your list of memories is awesome!

    Looks like you created your own “The Price is Right” game when you were a kid. How creative is that?!

    And wow! I can’t believe your whole second grade class was taken to a funeral!

    By the way, if you haven’t added a link to this post in the comments of Randy’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun about childhood memories, I think you should. =)

  6. davidwalton says:

    Thanks Jana. I took your advice and included a link to Randy’s blog both above in my post and below so my followers could read how others answered these fun, entertaining questions!


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