Thursday, March 30, 2017


In the College Park, Maryland Branch of the National Archives, in the State Department Decimal File 367.1161/11(1930-39) I found a letter sent to the State Department by M. K. Moorhead, American Consul General Istanbul.  He was enclosing a list of American citizen buried in the Protestant cemetery, Ferikoy-Istanbu and in the British cemetery at Uskudar nearby.  Here is part of this letter:
 "A rather interesting American buried in the British cemetery at Uskudar is Ransford D. Bucknam who brought the Turkish cruiser HAMIDIEH from Cramps shipyards in Philadelphia, where it was being refitted, to Istanbul.  It appears that the Sultan Abdul Hamid became very fond of Mr. Bucknam who was captain of the American Merchant Marine and gave him the honorary rank of Admiral in the Turkish navy and also created him a Pasha.  It is reported that Bucknam Pasha during the Turkish-Italian war did very good service for the Turkish navy in breaking through the Italian blockade and also during the Balkan war very often navigated vessels in raids in the Mediterranean and other waters.  He died in 1915 of heart failure."

When researching for my book "A Fine Place of Rest: Americans Buried in the Protestant Cemetery, Ferikoy-Istanbul, Turkey" I did not come across his name as being in Ferikoy, and I only put this little blurb in my book because I wanted the entire letter accompanying the burial list sent to the State Department in 1935 by M. K. Moorhead shown.  I have since learned that Bucknam was born in Nova Scotia - and have no idea why Moorhead would list him as an American buried at a British Cemetery in Uskudar.  To be an American he would have had to be naturalized, and since I am not researching him I will probably never know.

John McFarlane, director of The Nauticapedia Project, whose vision is to celebrate and highlight the maritime heritage of British Columbia, and I "met" via the internet and exchanged what information we had on this fellow.  It is amazing how someone who was a perfect candidate for my blog "An Immortal Nobody" could have turned out to be so interesting.  In fact, he is noted on several websites and there is much speculation about, for instance, the women in his life.  As genealogists know, facts and fiction comes from strange places sometimes..

Thanks to John McFarlane for permission to reprint these photographs.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Beginning in 9th grade I determined that until I knew for sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would focus on Journalism classes.  I was lucky enough to have some good teachers and I did well.  I also made some very good friends.

By the 11th grade I was the Page Two (of four) editor, with Marty Sklar being editor and my mentor. The following year I was elected Editor and one of my Page editors was Marty's younger brother, the fellow pictured above, Bob Sklar.  Bob was a year behind me in school and obviously on the path to being Editor in his Senior Year.

The kids in the Journalism class were a close knit bunch; most of us didn't bother with study halls because there was a paper to put together and we spent that time in either in the "High Life" office or in the print shop downstairs, where we helped put the next issue of the paper to bed.

Bob and I became good buddies and became one of my page editors, too.  He was probably the happiest person I had ever met. He wasn't a silly-funny person, he just found the happy side of everything.  When I had a decision to make, I always brought Bob into the debate; he was smart, sharp and - well, the laughter you see in the picture above is the way we always saw him.  It was always his working pose, too.  Such a personable kid; a good friend and a good buddy.

Bob and I said our goodbyes in June of 1953.  His little "farewell" to me is still sitting in my yearbook, a treasure I've kept all these years.  The next year he did, in fact, become Editor of The High Life, and I went off to college.  We never met up again.

He did well for himself, a full and rich life.  He graduated in 1958 from Princeton, received a doctorate from Harvard, and among other things, "was a professor of cinema studies at New York University's Tisch School of the arts for more than 30 years," according to William Grimes of the New York Times.

I would never have known this about my buddy, except that in July of 2011, I saw an announcement of his death in Barcelona from a brain injury sustained in a bicycle accident.  Damn! I thought, my buddy is gone.  All the years from 1953 to 2011 telescoped in my brain and it was as if he still was my buddy helping me put out a good high school newspaper -- and all those intervening years not have any feeling of separation from a really neat friendship.  I am so sorry he is gone, but so happy that he made such a life for himself and a mark on the academic community..

Sunday, March 19, 2017


1923 - 1957

Shirley Lappin  was born on July 11, 1923 to Ben and Belle Mark Lappin.  She was an only child. Belle's older sister had no children, and her youngest sister, Bertha, Mark Title gave birth to Jerry in 1929 and Judy in 1933.  These cousins were all born in Los Angeles and  raised in the southern California area.  They saw each other weekly, however, when the three families gathered at the family home in Boyle Heights every Sunday for dinner.

Shirley married Sid Priegel shortly before he went into the military service during World War II.  It was while he was overseas that Shirley was diagnosed with scleroderma, which at that time was an almost unheard of disease, and except in a few cases was almost always fatal.  Scleroderma was so rare that many physicians had never seen a case of it, and Shirley allowed herself to be examined by many physicians just so they could know what scleroderma looked like.  Her case was also written up in the prestigious JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association.)   

According to family history, she was treated at Cedars of Lebanon (now Cedars Sinai) Hospital in Los Angeles and because she and her mother had agreed to let her act as a “guinea pig,” Shirley was never charged a penny for the many, many times she was hospitalized.  During the years she lived after her diagnosis, her internal organs as well as her skin slowly hardened.  All the skin on her body became taut, which drastically changed her appearance.  It was, and is, a nasty disease.

She lived for 12 years after she was diagnosed, dying on  November 12, 1957 at the age of 34. 

She was my husband Jerry's cousin. 

Monday, March 6, 2017


January 14, 1839 - November 28, 1917

OBITUARY (Newspaper and publishing date unknown).

Mrs. Olivia Gillespie [Corel] McGee

Mrs. Olivia Gillespie McGee was born in Virginia in 1838 and came to Kansas City, Mo. in 1849 via the boat line to what was then Westport Landing.  She lived around that vicinity until 1854, in which year she came to Lawrence in a vehicle drawn by an ox team and settled on the claim on which is now embraced Oak Hill Cemetery, which her family afterwards sold to the City of Lawrence for a cemetery.

She was married to John Jacob McGee in 1860, who wooed, won and married her on the present site of Oak Hill Cemetery, where she was buried.

Mrs. McGee lived in Lawrence continually with the exception of the last few years when she made her home with her sons in Kansas City, of whom there are six, and one daughter, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., her husband, W. J. Vann, being chief engineer of the Ward Line Steamship plying between New York and Cuba, West Indian and Mexican ports.

Mrs. McGee's oldest daughter, Virdilla, was married on the old home place east of Lawrence to George T. Gaumer in 1881, removed to Yucatan a year or two later and resided there until the breaking out of the Mexican reolution, when they removed to the City of Mexico, where Dr. Gaumer was engaged in biological work by the Madero regime.  She died and is buried in the City of Mexico.  Her family still reside in Yucatan with the exception of John D. Gaumer, a son, who is attending a school of electrical engineering in Milwaukee, Wis.  His son visited his relatives last summer in Lawrence and Kansas City.

Mrs. McGee was living east of Lawrence during all of the stirring border war scenes, and entered Lawrence within an hour after the Quantrill gang burned and sacked the city.  Her husband was enrolled in the Kansas militia and was in the battle of Westport, and aided to drive Price away.

One of General Lane's children was taken ill during those stirring times, removed to her home at Oak Hill, and died there.

She came from Missouri, and one of General Lane's men arrived at her home and made away with some of their horses, while she looked on perfectly helpless to prevent the robbery.  However, it is needless to state that Jack McGee got those horses back into his possession at the point of a Colt's revolver in West Lawrence.

A brother of the deceased, and the only surviving member of the family, J. P. Corel, is still enjoying good health at eight-six years of age.  He has lived here continuously since settling in Lawrence in 1854, and still resides with his son, James H. Corel, on the claim he pre-empted from the government.

Mrs. McGee's youngest son, Thos. S. McGee, is captain of a Missouri battery in the 129th Field Artillery, stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  He attended her funeral.  A large number of relatives from Kansas City and Lawrence also attended the funeral.

Mrs. McGee is survived by a daughter, Mrs. William J. Vann, Brooklyn, N.Y., and six sons, Oliver C. McGee, John J. McGee, Richard O. McGee, Kansas City, Mo.; Albert McGee, Kansas City, Kansas; Solon N. McGee, Pascoe, Washington; and Captain Thomas S. McGee, One Hundred and Twenty-Ninth Field Artillery, Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Saturday, February 25, 2017


I lost track of "Aunt Mary" after an unexpected divorce took her out of my life.  She really was the aunt of my kid's dad, and during the time he and I were married, we often had wonderful Sunday visits with her and her kids, Mary Ann, Carolyn and Sandy in Santa Monica, who of course were my ex-husband's cousins.  All the Kirkpatrick relatives had houses that were overflowing with warm southern hospitality and big Sunday dinners.  Aunt Mary often hosted them, and a great hostess she was.  I liked Aunt Mary a lot.

I suppose in the aftermath of our divorce my husband took our kids on occasion to visit with Aunt Mary et al, but I never saw her after 1971.

In June of 1986 I received in the mail from my ex-husband a copy of a Chattanooga, Tennessee article that spoke of the death of Aunt Mary:


South Pittsburg, Tenn. - Mrs. Mary Corder Kirkpatrick, 73, a former resident of South Pittsburg, was one of those killed last week in Walker, California aboard a tour bus.

The bus, carrying residents of a Santa Monica retirement home back from an outing to Reno, Nevada, ran off a mountain road at a reported high rate of speed and plunged into a river.

Mrs. Kirkpatrick was raised in South Pittsburg, but had not lived there for several years, according to officials with Rogers Funeral Home, who made the announcement. 

She was the daughter of the late Will and Nomey Tice Corder and the widow of Jere Kirkpatrick.

Survivors include a son, Sandy Kirkpatrick; two daughters, Mary Ann Langford and Carolyn Erickson, all of Santa Monica; sister, Mable Bruce, Decatur, Ala.; six grandsons; one granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews.

Services will be held Friday in California.  Graveside services will be held at 3:30 p.m., CDT Saturday in Cumberland View Cemetery, Kimball, Tenn., with the Rev. Ray Chism officiating.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


August 1869 - December 1882

Today's ImmortalNobody comes from England and is shared with permission from the Hastings Observer newspaper.

"A photographer who stumbled across an unusual headstone in St. Leonards' woodland is attempting to find out more about its origins.  Sid Saunders, from Hollington, was walking through the woods when he made a bizarre discovery in the undergrowth - a 134-year-old headstone for a rabbit.

Sid explains: "I lost my wife three-and-a-half years ago, so I started doing my old hobbies - a lot of walking and photography.  "On this particular day two years ago, walking in Marline Wood, just off Queensway, I noticed a bit of concrete just poking out of the undergrowth.  I pushed my foot against it and it would not move, so I moved the undergrowth and released was a little headstone."  

The stone was filthy and overgrown with moss, so the following day Sid returned to Marline Wood to clean it up.

He said: "It says on there 'In memory of the little Duchie' which tells me it's part of the Dutch rabbit family.  "It's obvious the family had money to buy a headstone.  "It must have been part of the estate there."  The headstone includes an image of a rabbit and the inscription shows that 'Duchie' was born in August 1869 and died in December 1882.  Although 13 years does sound like a remarkably long time for a rabbit to survive, experts say well cared for rabbits who live indoors can live into their teens.  Sid returned to the site recently to once again clean up the tiny headstone.  He said: "It's something for this 73-year old man to keep his brain active."  This year Sid says he wants to do some research in a bid to find out more about the family who left this tiny headstone behind.  The Marline Valley Local Nature Reserve, which includes Marline Wood, is owned by Hastings Borough Council and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust. *Pictures taken by Sarah Lawler.

Reproduced by permission of the Hastings Observer  Picture by Sid Saunders.

Friday, January 13, 2017


February 18, 1927 - January 2, 2017

In 1959 my husband and I bought our first house.  It was in Westminster, California, and on our street most of the husbands were former GI's and qualified to buy a home on a VA loan.  As I recall, the buyer had to have a monthly income of $350, and we barely qualified.  Our little family at that time included a 3 year old son, and two daughters aged 18 month and 2 months.  In 1961 our final daughter was born.  The house was small - only 1100 square feet, but it was a mansion to us compared to the apartment we had been living in.

Everyone on the block, it seemed, had little kids, and the first thing we looked for was a good doctor who would take good care of our children.  

Now in 1955, Dr. Melville Singer settled in Garden Grove, right next door to Westminster, and it wasn't long before the word went around that Dr. Singer - and later also his partner Dr. Kegel, were accepting patients ....and before long, every child on our street was placed in their care.  There were children from the Brown family, the Ritchie family, the Umnesses, the Zepedas, the family of the Zachers, the Beckstroms, the Dews and the Dominskis.  Oh, and there were more...but you can see that the word was out......and advice given was always:  "You'd better take him/her to Singer and Kegel."  

These children were part of the Shirley Street 'gang" -- all getting a good start under the good doctors.
It was comforting to know they were there for us.  

Dr. Singer was the first pediatric cardiologist in Orange County, and he joined the staff of Children's Hospital of Orange County in 1964.  His career spanned 60 years; he did good all over the world.

I was sad when I saw an obituary with his name.  Although my "baby" at the time was 56 year old, I couldn't help but remember how it seemed just yesterday when I cradled her in my arms and took her in with a high fever.  It was a good memory, not of her sickness but of Dr. Singer's legendary care.

Learning how to be a mom has to be credited in good part to listening to what doctors tell us to do for our little ones.  Thanks, Dr. Singer, for being there when we needed you.