Today, we have a ham in the crock pot (no oven is on in Texas in the summer) with habanero jelly, pineapple and real maple syrup along with spicy mustard jubilee and it is bubbling away in the kitchen. Naan yeast bread is rising and the house smells real good. Ham remind me of Kansas. While ham wasn’t something my mother loved to prepare, my crazy aunties on the Murrison clan (Scots) loved the stuff. Ham was on the menu at every Sunday lunch, every funeral dinner, every picnic, every birthday party with the Murrison sisters– all seven of them. Flora, Gertude, Katherine, Leo, Mary, Esther, and Effie. Which is why my mother was done with ham by the time I discovered it at my first Murrison gathering that I remember. I was in fourth grade, my grandpa had died, and the crazy aunties came to support their sister (the widow) and her offspring (my family). We had ham, biscuits, green beans, congealed salads of a variety, potatoes (scalloped) and pie. Lots of hot coffee and iced tea. This buffet heals all wounds both physical and emotional. But to eat this type of meal on a regular basis would require you to be a farmer, a ranch hand or an Olympic swimmer. Which I am not. So tonight’s meal will be ham with blueberry sauce, naan bread and a leafy green salad and no dessert but I do believe I am channeling my crazy aunties and their love of Ham I Am …may they rest in peace.
My fifth great-grandfather, George Christian Spangler was born in Prussia in 1728 and immigrated to the United States from Amsterdam, Holland, to Philadelphia around 1749 and settled in Brush Valley near Rebersburg, Pennsylvania with his sons and wife. He was of Lutheran faith but in 1806 he united with the Evangelical Association, in which he was a leader. He was a man with strong religious and political convictions. He donated the lumber from his timber tract to build the Evangelical Church in Rebersburg which is now the United Methodist church. His son, Christopher Spangler, was born in 1766 and died in 1855.
Christopher and his wife had 10 children, one child tragically died in a water trough at home, and built the Stone House associated with my family for generations – see picture above. The house was built in 1805 of lime stones quarried on the farm. At the time it was one of the best buildings in Brush Valley. In addition, to the house a fort was built for protection against “marauding bands of Indians, who at the time were mainly in western Pennsylvania.”
Christopher had a son named Jonathan Sr., in 1803 who lived until 1888, who with his wife Catharine Maize farmed the homestead and lived in the Stone House with their 10 children for many years.
This couple had a son, Jonathan Jr., born in 1842 who married Sarah Condo and they had six children born in the Stone House. He died in 1920. The house was finally deeded in 1938 to Alma Haines for a sum of $2,200 to clear the mortgage and has since been owned by several different families all trying to keep up with the extensive repairs needed.
Jonathan Jr.’s brother, Simon Mace Spangler, is my 2nd great-grandfather, ran away from the Stone House in 1861 to serve eventually as a Lieutenant Colonel n the 148th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Our girls were able to find monuments at Gettysburg in honor of the volunteer’s service during the Civil War. After the war he returned to Rebersbugh and married Mary Ann “Polly” Taylor and they had seven children. Simon owned a farm in Rebersburg for many years.
After years of family discord with some of his family, Simon brought his family west to Kansas leaving the Stone House and his farm behind, in 1878, with 50 families from Rebersburg area. In this group were Stovers, Rossman, Snavely, Miller, and Corman along with my ancestors who settled and started their live anew in Newton, Kansas. Simon led out his life as a farmer and community-minded citizen surrounded by his daughters and his sons in his last years.
My great-grandmother is Simon’s daughter, Mary “Almeda” Spangler, who married John Edward Hauck, which started the Hauck Family Limb of our Family Tree. A house is just a house unless there is love. Godspeed Stone House.
RM doesn’t sit still long enough to read very many novels and when he settles in for recreational reading (car and airplane rides), it’s usually nonfiction or a manual. We bought him the new book by David McCullough, The Wright Brothers, for Father’s Day. I recently took an informal poll of my male family members and friends and came up with a list of their favorite all time novels to share with you. Believe me, getting these guys to suggest favorite novels or “literature” was like pulling teeth. Here goes a list of their favorites in no particular order:
- Robinson Crusoe
- Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Count of Monte Cristo
- The Last of the Mohicans
- Slaughterhouse Five
- The Call of the Wild
- Lonesome Dove
- Master and Commander
- Treasure Island
- Mary (Mashenka in Russian)
If you are not familiar with #12, please check it out as it sounds like a top read for lovers of literature. Mashenka is written by Vladimir Nabokov, one of his earliest, set in Berlin in the 1920’s and accordingly to the reviewer, a “perfectly bittersweet story.” I can’t resist reading it just to go down memory lane again about our recent trip to Germany.
Mashenka/Mary is only $4 on Amazon.com -see link above.
Looking for a gift for a reader or foodie in your life? Check out these wooden book blocks and wooden salt boxes. These items will soon be featured on C1’s Of the Old School blog and vintage store: https://www.facebook.com/oldschool.dfw
Stay tuned for details about how to order.
Hope you find time for a good summer read.
My father, Harold Hauck, passed away in 2009 from a robust, world traveling man to one, only one year later, who succumbed to the ravages of a severe stroke and treatment for esophageal cancer. It was not a pretty ending to an outstanding life of love, service to others and just plain fun. Death and dying is so hard and in my opinion needs to be made easier but that is for another blog. After his death, we all gathered in Wichita, Kansas, for his service the day prior to the funeral. A spring storm kicked up over the prairie and over six inches of rain fell in a very short period of time washing out portions of I-35 between Topeka and Wichita and jeopardized if guests could arrive from the east. Mother nature was agreeing with our supreme sadness that day and for days to come.
The day of the service was one of those perfect spring days, after the gully washer, with the sky as blue as topaz and air fresh and cool on our necks and upper arms. My oldest brother, Mike, my niece, Katie, and nephew Chris and our oldest daughter, C1, spoke at his service. Each one did a yeoman’s job as for me the thought of speaking out loud about my love for my dad was just too much. It was great tribute to him and to our family but I remember one of my favorite stories was the one shared by my brother, Mike, about our dad.
HH was tall and had a good wing span. His favorite game to play with us Hauck kids was what he dubbed Iron Claw. He would sprawl out on the living room floor and extend his long arms as far as they could reach out onto the worn carpet in our rambling two-story home on Main Street. Hauck children, all four of us, would space ourselves out strategically around the floor around his lanky frame sitting just out of reach. Dad reclined on the floor with his eyes closed waiting for one of us to venture in to quickly tap his hand and then scoot back to safety. His job, as the iron claw, was to catch us in the claw (hand) and bring us into his lair. He was quick with the grasp and when caught you had to try to get away by prying his fingers off of your arm or leg, whichever appendage he had snagged. He would eventually release after much screaming and giggling. The game could go on for hours and it exhausted us all and kept us engaged in a “good activity” until dinner was ready or time for bath and bed.
So, today, love to all the father figures in your life and hope you make a memory today with your loved one because life, while sweet, is much too short. Peace. But look out for the Iron Claw!
RM and I are planning a trip to Florence, Alabama, over the 4th of July week-end. We fly into Huntsville and my brother, Mike, and his wife, Deb, will pick us up and take us to their home in Florence, near the Tennessee River. We are looking forward to exploring Alabama with them including a tour of the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, as well as other local favorites. The Rolling Stones, Dylan, Cher, Paul Simon and The Black Keys to name a few recorded songs in this famous recording studio.The studio is named for the area called the Shoals which is located in the northwest corner of Alabama near the Tennessee and Mississippi borders. Sitting on the banks of the Tennessee River, the Shoals consists of 4 adjacent cities; Florence, Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia.
Original studio on Jackson Highway
Florence is known as Alabama’s Renaissance City so this is a destination just meant for Renaissance Man and me.. Florence has the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Alabama. Florence was surveyed for the Cypress Land Company in 1818 by Italian surveyer Ferdinand Sannoner, who named it after Florence, the capital of the Tuscany region of Italy. RM and I had grand time visiting the original Florence several years ago and expect a patriotic week-end with lots of fireworks and fellowship with my oldest bro. Currently, there are about 40,000 people living in the Alabama sister city enough to support the University of Northern Alabama, Wilson Dam and several museums.
Rosenbaum House in Florence, Alabama
Before we travel we like to submerge ourselves in the culture of our next travel destination. My sister-in-law told me about the singing group Alabama Shakes that is popular in their region. I must have been living under a rock because this band has made it to the big leagues. Alabama Shakes is considered an American roots rock band that formed in Athens, Alabama, in 2009 and transitioned from singing in old folks’ homes to the big time.
Check out their latest release with the link above, Hold On. Brittany Howard can jam!
I love to read novels ahead of time that are set in the area we are visiting. So far, I have read three books all written by Alabama writers. The good reads are:
- A Walk through Fire by William Cobb written in 1992 but set ironically in 1961 (the year I was born) in the fictional town of Hammond, Alabama. It explores segregation in the south, the Klan and the civil rights movement.
- Train Whistle Guitar by Albert Murray and written in 1974. Set in 1920’s Gasoline Point, Alabama, a fictitious town based on author Albert Murray’s hometown of Magazine Point, Train Whistle Guitar is a coming of age story of Scooter, a young black boy. Murray captures the feel of African-American kinship within a small town in the South.
- Leaving Gee’s Bend by Irene Latham published in 2010 starring a young heroine, Ludelphia, who stole my heart and she will steal yours too.
Books I recommend and have already read set in Alabama are:
- Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
- Boy’s Life by Robert R. McCammon
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Forrest Gump by Winston Groom
Still to read before we travel:
Crazy in Alabama by Mark Childress
All Over But the Shoutin’ by Rick Bragg (nonfiction)
Need an inspiration for an anniversary gift? We are the lucky neighbors to a couple who are celebrating their 5th Anniversary this week in the Fort and their last few days living on Ashland. We learned that the theme for the 5th wedding anniversary is wood. Of course, they both came to RM for ideas of what to give each other. They have lived through the noise of RM’s tools roaring away both early in the morning and late at night so they know he lives to design items from wood of any kind. Give him a challenge to make anything from wood and he is your man.
The bride requested a map of the world to hang in her husband’s office. They plan to insert pins to mark the places they have traveled to together as a couple. RM made the wall map out of reclaimed wood and engraved the image of the world map onto the wood with his laser engraving machine. It turned out pretty awesome – see picture above. He also turned a salad bowl and engraved the date and year on the bottom to make a lasting memory for their family dinner table setting.
We will miss the Harris Family very much but we hope to continue to enjoy seeing their family grow and have them back on Ashland for our special outings (once a resident of Ashland, always a resident of Ashland) but just not right next door. Sigh. Happy Anniversary Matt and Molly and blessings on your new home.
RM and I are traveling to Vermont in late September. Superfluously for the beauty of the autumnal leaves but for me the ultimate destination is King Arthur’s Vermont campus in Norwich, VT. If you love to bake, you have heard of King Arthur Flour. I plan to take a class at the Baking Education Center and check out the shop and cafe as well. All King Arthur flours are non-GMO, and are made to the highest standards in the industry. You don’t have to go to Vermont to get their products, they have an extensive online store at kingarthurflour.com or you will find their products locally here in the Fort at Target, Central Market, Fiesta and Tom Thumb.
King Arthur Flour Baker’s Store
Here is a link to a basic sandwich bread (never fail).
My tip is to use an instant read thermometer for the water as it should be at 105 degrees for the perfect temperature for activating the yeast.
Another reason to love King Arthur Flour is that their wheat comes from Kansas — my home state. Check out this beautiful video about Kansas families and their homesteads of fifth generation farmers growing wheat for our consumption. There is a reason this area is referred to as the bread basket.
Growing up in Kansas, my neighbor, Mrs. Newsom, who lived next door to us to the north on Main Street in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, produced in her home a radio show called The Market Basket. Her husband, Trice, drove the school bus in his retirement years and they were both good friends with our family. Whenever my mother and I would stop in for a visit, she offered hot coffee and a platter of cookies and I could eat as many as I could sneak by my mother. They had a wonderful swing set in their back yard that they let me use whenever I wanted. The swing was situated under a tall, shady tree and offered me respite when my house became overrun by rambunctious boys. Mrs. Newsom’s radio hour included updates on the weather, the impact to crops, the market prices for the day, local church news and events, and interviews. One time my Brownie Troop was part of the program and we sang patriotic songs on the 4th of July. We packed into her studio (a bedroom off the living area) and sang our hearts out to our Barber County listeners.
So when we head to Vermont this fall, to King Arthur’s flagship store, we will remember the wheat and where it is grown. In the heartland by generations of Kansans.