Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - and he still leaves me speechless!

My handsome husband, Charles Dean Maitland, Sr.,
U.S. Air Force; his new Airman photo in 1973.

© 2012 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland

Thursday, December 20, 2012

History - My Journey of Love

My personal copy of "A Little Maid of Bunker
Hill," by Alice Turner Curtis;
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
New York, 1952
(A reprint of the original
1927 edition.)
I’ve often wondered over the years why I came to love history so much.  I’ve had many passions in my life (as you can probably tell if you’ve read my profile description), but the love of history has been with me on and off since I was a little girl.

My favorite books in early elementary school were the series of books written by Alice Turner Curtis called the “Little Maid” books. I would get lost in the history of each of those little girls and could completely imagine myself living during those times and experiencing what they did.  My all-time favorite was “A Little Maid of Bunker Hill” pictured on this page. As an adult, I’ve purchased a few of those books just to own them, re-read them and to remember how much joy they had brought me. I’m pretty sure that reading those books was the beginning of my love of history, but I’m also fairly convinced that it might have been a genetic thing; something that was inside me that I would not be able to escape.

We had wonderful teachers in elementary school, all of whom obviously brought to life that interest and love of history that was innately within me. I can also remember trips that our family would take within my state.  I would stare out of the car window wondering what it must have been like for those first settlers in our area to travel through the wilderness, crossing our long state from the mountainous regions in the east as they sought places to settle.  I could almost feel myself a part of those travels.  A vivid imagination I had, for sure!
I also remember affectionately the study of the ancient world in the 6th grade and even have distinct memories of the beautiful blue book that we used.  It had a photo of a bas relief sculpture at the front of the book, and I remember looking at that photo over and over and thinking about the people who carved it, wondering what they must have been like. 

Unfortunately, I have no particularly good memories of history or social studies classes after that. 
My junior high social studies teachers made no impact on me whatsoever. I don’t even remember them.  How sad is that?  In high school, my World History teacher was a great guy who was also a coach, but the only good memories I have of his class were the times when we could get him ‘off topic.’ He would tell us stories about his days on a submarine during World War II, and that was genuinely fascinating.  He made the history of WWII real to me, and I believe to the whole class as well.  We really loved him. Obviously, we got him ‘off topic’ quite often!
During my senior year, I took American History. My teacher had a law degree (bless his heart) and was the head football coach.  He would come into class with a briefcase that contained his history book, his roll book, the class papers, and who knows what else.  We often speculated about that. After systematically calling the roll, he would then proceed to pull out the book and read it to us!  I could not make this up. Needless to say, I brought my art of note-passing to near perfection that year and made lots of great friends. Sorrowfully, I can also say that I didn’t “know much about history.” 
With that interest in history waning quickly, my love of French and music were growing much stronger.
Yes, I did say music, which may be a shock for any of you who know me personally.  Although you wouldn’t know it today, I had taken piano lessons for many years and had been first chair clarinet soloist in junior high school, as well as a majorette. I switched to choir in high school because the band at my high school was a concert band.  What?  No majorettes?  I wanted to perform, and I was most certainly able to do that in choir. Consequently, vocal music became my field of choice and one that I would pursue into my years in college.
College. A whole new world. I went to a college away from home during my freshman year and had the most wonderful French teacher ever. He made the class fascinating and engaged us completely in the learning process. I used to dream in French! I was also involved in the music department and was a member of the University Chorus and Glee Club. I was truly in my element with both subjects.
But history?  Dear Lord.  My Western Civilization teacher was a total horror.  The tradition at our university was that on the first day of class, you would go in and be told what books and materials you would need, be given a first assignment, and then be allowed to leave.  All of that would take about 15 to 20 minutes tops.  After giving us that information, this fellow (or I guess I should say ‘Doctor’ to be gracious about it) proceeded to say the following words, which I’ll never forget in my entire life: “My first lecture will be Pre-Literate Culture.”  Yikes! Everyone in the class started scrambling around, borrowing paper in order to have enough to begin taking notes for the entire hour.  It was a complete nightmare, and add to that the fact that he was deadly dull.  When I found out that I’d have to continue with the same teacher if I wanted to take the second semester of “Western Civ,” I chose to forgo the option and dropped it altogether after the first semester.  Good choice, as it turned out.
When I returned home the next year to my hometown university, I took the second semester of Western Civ and had the honor and pleasure to be taught by the head of the History Department.  I absolutely hung on his every word! My love of history was sparked again, and I will have to say that each and every history teacher I had at that university was awesome. I soaked in every word that they said and devoured every book that I could.  (Total geek…I know.)
In contrast, the French teacher I had was an old bat, to put it mildly, and I only took two more years of French, gaining a minor in the subject, but not cheerfully. Music, on the other hand, was still wonderful.  I was in theory classes, taking vocal music for credit on a private basis with a local ‘legend,’ and was a member of the University Chorus and the Girls Glee Club.  I just knew that music would be my major. As much as I loved history, music was still my life – I was sure that one day I would be a world-renowned singer or performer! (Or, at the very least, a music teacher.)
Funny how things change. It dawned on me one day at the beginning of my junior year that I was rushing out of the music building to go to a sorority meeting or some other social event and that everyone else was in the music department practice rooms.  I almost never spent any time in the practice rooms. Uh-oh. Not good. I realized then and there (and I truly remember that day and that “ah-ha” moment) that I might need to re-think my major – yet again.  And what would I do with a Liberal Arts degree anyway? 
I decided that I would use my knowledge of French to be an international airline stewardess, but who knew that you had to be at least 5 feet 6 inches tall?  I was only 5’ 3 ½”.  That half inch was very important to me, but it wasn’t enough to qualify me for my chosen profession!  (I’m not even 5’2” now, but we won’t go there…)  I also considered becoming a translator at the United Nations. How exciting that would be! New York City…maybe even a stint at the State Department in Washington, D.C.  What a thought, indeed.
But in the end, my love of history already had its hold on me. I managed somehow to pick up my teaching certification during my senior year.  I was determined to become a teacher who would inspire my students to love history, or at the very least, not hate it.  I wanted to be the teacher that my history teachers had not been.
I hope that I succeeded at least to some degree in accomplishing that goal. After changing my major so many times during college, I was pretty sure that teaching history would allow me to indulge in my love of the numerous other things that interested me. I could always work those topics into a history curriculum, and I would certainly be able to perform! Teachers, quite naturally, have the stage every day. Needless to say, I was one of those teachers who could get ‘off topic’ with the best of them. (We teachers call it ‘bird-walking.’  Don’t ask me why; probably the idea of hopping from topic to topic. Hmmm. Yep, that was me.) But I want to add right here and now that many of those times remain the best ‘teaching moments’ in my whole career.  I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t do so well in the classroom today, since teachers have rigid guidelines that must be met for the dreaded TEST.  Nope. I think the true joy of teaching has been taken away from teachers in today’s world, but that’s a “whole ‘nother story,” as they say.
Tracing family history was most certainly one of those things that I often worked into my history curriculum. I’ve been amazed at the number of my former students who’ve connected with me on Facebook and who have let me know that they, too, are tracing their family’s history.  Hallelujah!  True validation that there was some success.
Looking back over the years, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t had those wonderful teachers in my elementary school and those remarkable history professors at my hometown university. I had certainly not had many junior or senior high history teachers who had inspired me, and I could have easily followed another one of those many paths that interested me.  I’m so thankful, though, that my inherent love of history prevailed, and that I did have those many, many years of trying to instill my own love of history into younger generations.
My secret wish over the years has been to write history books for students on the middle school level based on the historical research I’ve done on my own family – basically a version of my own “Little Maid” books.  I just knew that I’d do that as soon as I retired. But the strange thing is that I seem to have that same problem with having way too many interests that I’ve had my whole life. I’ll start to write something, then find a book I really want to read; and then I’ll remember that I was working on a line to qualify for a lineage society and will return to that research.  Or maybe I’ll work on some friend’s ancestry for them - I have a few ‘private’ trees on for that purpose. Then I’ll find myself looking over the numerous antiques and collectibles books I have trying to decide what I should sell and for how much, or I’ll begin reading the two archaeological magazines to which I subscribe. Of course there are the genealogical, historical and lineage society meetings that I always seem to be rushing off to (sound familiar?), and the luncheons and dinners that I try to have with friends.  (Lately, try is the key word there.)
And finally, of course, there is that thing called Life. I just can’t seem to get my act together, and neither my husband’s health, nor my own, have been very cooperative. Maybe one day I’ll actually get around to writing that book. I have tons of ideas for it, naturally. But for now I’m just trying to keep up with this blog - and not doing a very good job of that.
Um…well, looking back, maybe I should have become an archaeologist. I can just see me climbing over rocks, trekking through the desert or some other god-forsaken region, digging into dirt-filled sites, and making that wonderful discovery.
Oh, sure. Never mind…and quit laughing!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thankful Thursday: In All Things Give Thanks...

I just spent a month viewing the posts of many of my friends on Facebook as they posted daily everything for which they were thankful.  I was truly touched and definitely amazed at their ability to write something each day.  I ‘opted out’ of doing that because I knew I would either never keep up (heck, I can’t even keep up with this blog!), or I would most assuredly repeat myself, since my brain seems to have ‘left my building’ a couple of years ago.
This morning, however, I was truly touched by the post of one of my distant cousin's.  She put a photo of her son as her profile photo and mentioned how much she missed him.  She went on to add that she knew that she would see him and his sister one day soon, and how thankful she was that she had been their Mother.
I broke down in tears. I cry still.  My heart is broken.
It goes without saying that most of us learned as we grew up to be thankful for everything and in all things give thanks.  However, I’m not sure I would have my cousin’s strength. Her faith is strong, and I know that gives her the ability to write those words.  I can only believe that my faith would give me that strength as well – eventually.
Her words prompted me to write this ‘Thankful Thursday’ post, since I didn’t do that during the month of November. I have so very much to be thankful for, and I’m a little ashamed that I didn’t participate in that enjoyable activity on Facebook.  I’m making up for it now, so here goes…
I am, quite naturally, thankful for all of my family – my beloved husband, my amazing three sons, my wonderful three grandchildren, and my beautiful new great grandson!  I’m also thankful for my remarkable daughter-in-law, my delightful nieces and nephews, my precious sisters-in-law (both current and ‘former!’), and even my brothers-in-law – and if you knew them, you’d know that’s a hard one to say! (Just kidding, of course. Maybe. Okay. Kidding. Really! I love them all.)
I'm also very thankful for my parents, grandparents and all of those who have 'gone on before me.' One of the joys of my life is that I chose to research my family's history and have come to know my ancestors so well. What wonderful people they were, even those few 'questionable characters' sprinkled about in the ol' family tree.
I’m thankful for all of my cousins, and that includes the ones I’ve known all my life and the many, many ‘new’ cousins I’ve ‘found’ and connected with during my years of family history research.  It’s funny how close you can become to people you never knew before, and never even knew existed, but there really must be something to that ‘genetics’ thing! J
I’m thankful for the countless friends that I have. I’ve been blessed over the years to have such good friends.  I think that the one thing that I’ve always really liked about Facebook is that it’s allowed me to ‘reconnect’ with friends that I thought I’d ‘lost’ over the years.
I would be remiss not to add that I’m thankful for the many new friends I’ve made through social media sites and through the heritage, genealogical and lineage societies that I’ve joined. So many wonderful people.
I’m also extremely thankful for the fact that I chose to be a teacher those forty-plus years ago. I know that teaching has become much more difficult in recent days than when I was in the classroom, but I’m thankful that so many young people are choosing that profession.  There is nothing in the world more wonderful than to have a former student tell you how much you meant to them and what an impact you had on their lives.  Maybe I could have made more money in another profession, but I would have never had the ‘riches’ of those grateful former students. I would also never have had the wealth of memories: mostly uplifting, positive, funny and heart-warming; others heart-breaking and depressing; and luckily only a few frustrating and infuriating; a treasure of memories, nonetheless.
I am even thankful for my health.  For those of you who really know me, you may be questioning my sanity right about now. But when everything is put in perspective, I can still walk, talk, stand, and function fairly well, and for that I’m very thankful!  And I can certainly still write – which I need to do more often.
Finally, I’m thankful to you if you read this.  I’ll repeat what I said before, that I’m writing this because of my cousin’s strength and ability to carry on in the face of such tragedy. I know that her children knew that she loved them and was especially thankful for them. 
I want my family and friends to know that as well.
 “In every thing give thanks….”  (The Bible; 1st Thessalonians 5:18)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Wonderful Wordless 'Wallace Wednesday!'

Photo of my grandfather, Baxter H. Wallace, holding my Mother, Evelyne Frances Wallace
ca. 1919 (SOURCE: My Grandmother's photo album)
Tombstone of Susan Smiley Wallace, wife of Samuel Wallace, my 2nd great grandparents.
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Posey Co., IN
(SOURCE:; photo added by Linda Saltzman McCall)
King Family Cemetery; Burial site of my 4th great grandmother, Rebekah Wallace (wife of William)
(SOURCE:; photo added by Danny Richards)
Marriage Papers for my 3rd great grandparents, Archibald Wallace & Henrietta "Ritty" McReynolds
Photo of the grave marker for my great grandparents, Rev. William Pierce Wallace & Mary Marvel Wallace
Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Posey Co., IN
 (SOURCE:; photo added by Linda Saltzman McCall)