I’m Nancy Drew, Is How I Did It

Yesterday’s post has generated an interesting conversation on Facebook, so I’m going to write a little post here about how I did the research. [Also, for the record: I’m blurring a lot of stuff for now because some of these people are still alive, and just reasons. But I have the info, and I’m relatively confident in my assertions and will note when that’s not the case.]

Here’s the card I had to start with.

The information I had for sure was:

  • The author’s initials (H.E.)
  • The author resided in Stevens Point in 1922
  • The recipient’s address, at a rural route and box number in a township in Wisconsin about 90 miles away from Stevens Point
  • The recipient’s marital status and a very, very vague guess at her name (it looked like her first name started with E and her last with either R or K)

Things I concluded that were probably, but not definitely, facts:

  • H.E. was old enough to have married and moved out
  • H.E. grew up in the place her mother continued to live and therefore would have been on older census/other records
  • H.E. had a sister named Marie

I started out learning about the rural route, where it was, and if it had any other names (they often do). I like Historic Map Works as a source for old maps, but in this case they didn’t help all that much. So it was off to the 1920 and 1910 Census data I went. I love Steve Morse’s Enumeration District tools — he’s done the world an incredible favor with that page, and I’ve used it more than once to solve family mysteries. (His other research tools are impressive, too.) Basically, you use city/state data to figure out which pages of the census cover your areas. It’s still a lot of needle-in-haystack digging, but it takes it down to one haystack instead of a field full of them.

1910 Census for Family K.

So this was the long slog part of the research. I just started guessing. I worked through the relevant enumeration districts in the 1920 census, looking for families with last names starting with R or K, mothers’ names starting with E, and possibly daughters with initials H.E. or named Marie. I didn’t find any. So I started comparing families in the area in 1920 to families in the area in 1910, thinking that maybe H.E. and Marie had moved out before 1920.

Every time I found a potential family, I did a quick family tree research session for them to see what I could find. For example, if I found Leon Rutabaga and his wife Emily living on Highway 6 in 1910 with daughters Harriett and Marie, I then tried to find marriage records for a Harriett Rutabaga to a man who lived in Stevens Point by 1922. It’s a complicated back-and-forth between census records, city directories (Stevens Point — not their rural township!), and even newspaper records.

Finally, I found them. I got lucky, and they lived in the exact same place in both 1910 and 1920, so I could determine that Louis K. and his wife Emma had four kids in the 1910 census, and only two in 1920 — Helen and Mary had moved out by then.

So then I had a last name to work with, and things really sped up. I quickly found Helen K.’s obituary, which was extremely helpful. And from there it was just a downhill Ancestry.com project to fill out the whole family history. This town and this era has a lot online, so I was even able to find a picture of little Mildred Marie.

Interesting side note: this picture also includes my great-aunt Jeannette. So that’s two postcards off eBay that ended up tying into my own family!

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“Oh Ma you can’t guess”

This card is one of my favorites because I really had to wrestle with it. When I first read the back I thought it seemed so forlorn, but I hoped I could find a happy ending for its author, so I bought it off eBay. In the end it was really hard to “solve” because at some point someone had erased the addressee’s name, leaving behind only the vaguest scratches, and the writer only used her initials. So I knew this card was mailed to a married woman at a rural route postal box in Wisconsin in 1922, by a person with the initials H.E. who lived in a different city. I am proud of figuring this one out! Continue reading

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Parks & Rec 2-23: Blazing Chemistry

Plot: Leslie has to charm the local police into donating security for the fall festival. Ann is in love with Chris. Ben is in love with Leslie. And Ron, bless his pointy head, is in lust with his ex-wife Tammy 2.

Deep Thoughts: Seriously, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman have amazing chemistry. They’re one of the couples who will irrationally devastate me if they ever break up. Also, OMG, Nick Offerman really does woodcrafts and has a shop.

Your Related Link For The Day: Cops like pizza. They also like donuts. Here’s a tiny little history of the cop-donut relationship.

Ann is Finally Having Character Development: But it’s not great. She’s subsuming her own personality (such as it is?) in Chris’s. Even though I know where this is heading because I’ve already watched the series, you can tell where this is heading. Continue reading

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“Me Too” and Once Again

Off the cuff, I’m gonna once again go with “let’s stop censoring each other.”

Two (and a half) major issues here. The second is the more important and the one I’d like to hash out a bit more, but since I know how much we all like nitpicky stipulations, I’ll start with #1.

1) Should this conversation be about all harassment/assault, or just those events directed at female-presenting persons? I shared me thoughts on that yesterday. I think they’re both valid and important conversations. I think one of them is more pressing because of sheer numbers. I think the meme we’re seeing today was created to address the latter. I think co-opting it to address the former is another example of a bigger problem. I’d like to see that stop.

1(b)) The wording of the meme. Yes, I concede this point entirely. We’re trying to normalize the concept of a gender spectrum, and “women” is too simple right now. My cousin used “women, femme, and trans/feminine-persons” and I like that. Other suggestions welcome, with the constraints implied by point 1.

2) Is saying “me too” helpful? For me, this evokes the same feelings I have when I watch the reactions to liberal white awakenings among nonwhite friends. Is it super obnoxious when white people discover that racism exists? I can’t even imagine how much. Is it a massive, possibly unwieldy burden to be asked to educate white people? ditto.

Should men already know how many of us are “me too”? Hell yes. But do they? Apparently not. Really, truly, apparently not.

And while it shouldn’t be on us, the fact remains that there are so many men who don’t know, and I believe that among them there are potential allies and supporters who could be useful in the kinds of microchanges that build into bigger systemic change.

It’s obnoxious. And possibly an impossible ask for any individual person. And that’s why I have started to think of it like this: It is not okay to ask any one individual person in a minority/subordinate power position to educate ignorant beneficiaries of privilege, in general or in any specific situation. We don’t know where burdens are heaviest and we should not shame each other for any particular failure to act or speak up.

But neither should we shame each other for actions that feel useful. If I have the energy and resources to take the time to educate someone, let me. This meme isn’t harmful. Saying “me too” may even feel really important and constructive to some women who haven’t said it out loud before. I have not yet seen a single compelling argument about how this hurts.

Because “there are other issues” isn’t a valid response — and neither, in my humble opinion, is “I don’t like the way you’ve chosen to address this issue.” Both statements may be true, and both are unhelpful.

So stop it, y’all.

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Parks and Rec 03-02: Lots of barfing (but in a good way)

Okay so I watched a number of episodes without you, Imaginary Reader. I’ll summarize.

0223 – The Master Plan – April turns 21 but Andy seems a little too fond of Ann at her birthday party. Jean-Ralphio is still gross. Ann can’t remember whom she kissed (it was Chris). Leslie spins her wheels as the city cuts back. That guy Ann used to be dating is kind of stalkery and takes it out inappropriately on Shauna Malwae-Tweep and God I’m glad he’s leaving.

No, wait, let me re-summarize that episode. EEEEEEEEEEEE BEN EEEEEEEEEE.


0224 – Freddy Spaghetti – The city shuts down. Tom has a girlfriend. Leslie marshals her crew to throw a kids’ event even without a budget. Ben saves the day even though he doesn’t want to. Foreshadowing of Andy’s future career in entertainment. Oh, and Ann kisses Andy, and of course April sees it, because this show couldn’t be COMPLETELY devoid of stupid romantic plot twists.

0301 – Go Big Or Go Home – The city’s back in business. Ron’s dating Tom’s ex, and everybody else is positioning themselves for Great Loves: April’s mad at Andy, Leslie’s mad at Ben, Ann’s declining Chris’s advances. 20/20 hindsight makes this all adorable. Also, Andy is adorable as a basketball coach who just wants his kids to have fun.

And now for the main event!

Plot: Errrbody has the flu, even Chris, whose body is a finely tuned machine. April makes Ann’s life hell as a patient. Ron adopts Andy as a mentee and replacement admin. Leslie’s super-sick but manages to pull out an amazing presentation anyway. Ben is suitably impressed.

Continue reading

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Parks & Rec 2-22: Up! All Night

Plot: Leslie’s in charge of the overnight portion of the diabetes fundraiser, and of course hijinks ensue. That guy is going to propose to Ann, who is going to break up with him because even she cannot remember who he is. April and Andy just need to get married already. And Tom realizes for the very first time that professional athletes are popular.

Deep Thoughts: Nope. It’s Friday.

Your Related Link For The Day: Perd Hapley does the worm. Who knew that the worm originated in the 1920s?

Ann is Mean: Once again we are treated to implications of Ann and Leslie’s intimacy without actually seeing them build intimacy. Also, Ann is over that guy she’s dating, and he thinks they’re proposal-bound. Communication issues much? Continue reading

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Parks and Rec 2-16: All About The Love

Plot: It’s Galentine’s Day and Justin decides to track down Leslie’s mom’s old boyfriend. April and Andy are a thing that is happening, but not fast enough. Tom and Wendy are not a thing. Ann and that person Ann’s dating are a gross and boring thing. But the best thing of all is Leslie and Ron, who are a thing of beauty.

Your Related Link For The Day: So there’s a lot of salacious garbage out there about “work spouses,” like ZOMG you’re going to accidentally cheat on your real spouse if you have one. But there are real studies indicating that work “marriages” are good for you. And here are some cute profiles if you want to feel jealous.

Ann Is Mean: Okay, Ann’s not mean in this episode, but there is an odd Ann interview moment in which she says Continue reading

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Parks and Rec 2-14: Appearance of impropriety

Plot: Leslie wants to impress new boyfriend Justin with a scintillating dinner party and accidentally ends up abusing her position by using all the Parks continuing ed teachers.

Deep Thoughts: I’ve actually thought after the last couple of episodes, or at least after writing about them, “Why am I so in love with this show again?” But this episode is back on track. I wonder if the lack of subplots — or, more accurately, the way the substories fit into the main plot (the party) without distracting from it — makes it better writing? There’s no gratuitous misogyny, lots of relationship-building, great one-liners, true-to-character writing, and Ron eats a plateload of deviled eggs. Thumbs up.

ONE small nitpick/question: Justin takes Leslie to a restaurant of some sort at which the owner thanks him for helping him emigrate. Continue reading

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Parks and Rec 2-13: GOB has the Vision

Okay, before we even get to anything, can we just take a minute about Chris Pratt and Anna Faris? I’m very sorry they’re going through whatever they’re going through. That said, can we start some sort of petition to get Chris Pratt to marry Aubrey Plaza? I would ship that so hard.

Plot: Leslie decides she’s ready to date again, and is interested in Ann’s backup guy. That guy Ann’s dating isn’t happy about this. Ron has to do actual work and isn’t happy about that. The writers apparently went on vacation and left other writers behind to handle Jerry’s character for a week.

Deep Thoughts: This episode is a little yucky in spots. That is, it has some of the flaws characteristic of this show at its weakest. Tom is about as gross as Tom gets, and the episode introduces us to Jean-Ralphio for the first time. Jean-Ralphio really does end up having his place in the series (unlike his utterly useless sister, but we’ll get to her), but… Continue reading

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Parks and Rec 2-12: When two women stand close to each other

Plot: Leslie finds herself embroiled in a sex scandal with a local politician. Officer Sanderson asks Leslie to move to San Diego with him. Two couples explore the nature of good gifts.

Deep Thoughts: At the end, Leslie lights the holiday tree, and everybody cheers and embraces. Mark and Ann hug. They HUG. Saying they have zero chemistry gives too much weight to the number zero.

Your Related Link For The Day: I was busy getting ready for a trip last fall when this all went down, so perhaps I missed this and nobody else did. But did y’all know that Charles Taylor made a pass at Naomi Campbell and Continue reading

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