Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Dolls, Dolls, and more Dolls

I love dolls, mostly old dolls who've seen better days. Some would say dolls who've seen a lot of love, but I think my favorite dolls have seen a lot of neglect.

After I retired from my full time job I started frequenting a local auction house on Friday nights. At first I was cautious and conservative with my bidding and buying but then...oh, my. Some nights I'd get home at midnight and my car would be packed, front passenger seat, back seat, and trunk. It was great fun. Bob would wait up for me on those nights and help me unload my treasures. The plan was for me to sell those treasures on ebay and make a killing. Well, I certainly did sell a lot on ebay but when I entered my purchases and sales into an Excel worksheet I discovered that I was barely breaking even. But it was great entertainment and I believe those several years of auctions helped me make the transition from full time work to retirement...at least that's what I tell myself.

I bought and sold a lot of "stuff" and for years kept records and photographs but now I'd be hard-pressed
to recall even ten percent of those transactions. However, I remember the dolls. I started out buying old porcelain and bisque dolls about which I knew nothing so I spent hours online learning about them and figuring out how best to describe and sell them. This was back in the years 2000 to 2004 when ebay was more seller friendly. Collectibles sold quickly to people who had suddenly discovered the thrill of adding to their collections without having to traipse through flea markets or flit from garage sale to garage sale.
I added old composition dolls to my acquisitions and one night even bought a slew of Asian dolls from someone's personal collection. The "biggest" night I came home with several large boxes that filled my car with dolls that apparently came from the Goodwill or Salvation Army. That group had been picked over carefully and only the worst were sold at auction. I thought I could clean them up, find clothes, fix their hair....what was I thinking!

I sold the best, all the porcelain and bisque, all the old composition baby dolls and beautiful Asian dolls,and what I still have are all those boxes of end-of-the-line dolls. One day my husband had the bright idea to hang some of those worn out dolls from our old pear tree, sort of like Christmas ornaments in June.
Within a week or so we were visited by a local sheriff's deputy who requested we take them down as people driving by were offended, or at least one person driving by was offended enough to call the sheriff and suggest there was something not right about hanging dolls from trees. That was the end of that!
In the four or five years when I was most active on ebay I must have sold over a hundred dolls. I'm including in this blog photographs of a few of my favorites.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Duane Johnson 1942-2015

Just found out that Duane Johnson has died. He’s been failing for a long, long time. I hope he did not suffer in the end, but those with breathing problems, like Duane, often go down hard, suffocating slowly.

I first met Duane in 1971. My husband and I had recently separated and although he was moving back to Illinois he threatened to show up at our three-year-old son’s babysitter and whisk him away from me so I needed to hurriedly find a new sitter. Duane and his wife, Rosie, had an in-home childcare business and they were longtime friends of Bob Russell, my new boyfriend, so Rosie soon became our new daycare person. Rarely did I cross paths with Duane since he worked long days at Woodward Governor, hardly knew him.

Back in the early 70s Wellington celebrated the paving of Main Street with an annual festival, the Well-o-rama, and one of the popular events was a motorcycle race, not so much a race as a series of short races staged on the school’s football field. Duane entered the races along with his two sons, Vic and Vince, and I have fond memories of watching them compete in the wacky motorcycle events, such as holding a spoon in your mouth with a raw egg in it, then trying to be the first to the finish line with the egg in place and unbroken. Duane was a big guy and there was no mistaking him out on the field, slowly motoring through the events, competing with guys half his age riding faster, louder bikes, having fun and acting like a big kid. That’s the Duane I like to remember.

Years later Duane and Rosie moved out here in the country, just down the road from us. Rosie drove a school bus then, Duane still worked at Woodward, and they added two more children to their family, years after Vic and Vince. We waved when we saw them but didn’t socialize. Then we heard through the grapevine that they divorced, and after that the rumors were never happy ones; we knew that life was difficult for Duane. I saw him at the grocery store several times, saw he carried an oxygen bottle with him, leaned on the cart for support. I recognized a sad person in those eyes, but he was always friendly, always stopped to talk.

Bob first met Duane when they were in the seventh grade. The Russells had moved to Wellington in 1953 from Pierce, Colorado, over in Weld County, and the Johnsons arrived in the community about two years later, recently from the Wyoming oil fields, originally from Kansas. The two families became friends and Bob and Duane were thrown together at home as well as school and quickly became friends. They shared adventures the way farm boys do, hunting, fishing, and exploring the land. Duane had a younger brother, Maletus, usually it was the three of them out hunting and fishing and learning about life.

Duane and Maletus liked to fight with one another. It might start with a small disagreement, then progress to some shoving, but shortly punches were thrown, hard punches traded between brothers. If their father was within earshot he stormed in, grabbed them both, held one down with a knee while he flailed on the other, then traded kids. Bob remembers being in the middle of that scene more than once, shuffling out of the room to avoid the pandemonium.

Both the Johnson boys worked hard, a man’s work, from the time they were young teens, handing their wages over to their mother who controlled the family’s purse strings. She rewarded them with enough money to buy a car, every Wellington boy’s desire back then. Duane had a car, a girlfriend, and he was All Conference, All State Football offensive lineman in high school….life was good. He landed a much sought after job at Woodward Governor and worked there until he retired, over thirty years at the same job. Duane told Bob that when he retired there was a groove in the floor where he had stood in the same spot, doing the same work, for thirty-plus years.

Duane had four sisters, all younger than he and his brother. He is the first to depart this life and leaves behind a large family of nieces, nephews, grandchildren, all too young to have known the boy who liked to hunt with his friends, trade punches with his brother, play football with his team, and ride motorcycles in silly races. Duane Johnson was a good guy who had a hard life; I’m proud to have known him. Rest in peace, Duane, finally.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hot Sulphur Springs, A Sixty-Year-Old Memory

Thanks to the Atomic Bomb there was a uranium mining boom in Colorado in the 1950s. Until that time uranium had little value on the market, but after, was highly sought in postWWII United States, gearing up for the Cold War. All over the west there were mom and pop prospectors, lone miners hoping to strike a rich vein, and large mining companies whose exploration engineers used topo maps, Geiger counters, and skilled miners to find evidence of uranium deposits. My dad, Joe Uknavage, was one of those skilled miners, a southern Illinois coal miner who caught wind of good jobs to be had in western Colorado and made his big decision to go out west.

Sometime in 1954 he packed his seabag, kissed his pregnant wife and three little kids goodbye, and drove out to Colorado with fellow midwest coal miner, Joe Gieser. Hired on by Pete Loncar, superintendent of exploration for Newmont Mining, they set up camp in Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado. Outfitted with a small trailer for sleeping and a few tools for digging, they spent the winter together searching unsuccessfully for a sizeable uranium deposit.

Pete must have liked their work for he hired them for a job in Washington State, mining uranium on the Spokane Indian Reservation at Wellpinit. They drove back to Illinois in the spring of 1955 gathered up their families and moved to Wellpinit, Washington.

My dad was a great storyteller and to prepare us for the move he regaled us with stories of the wild west, cowboys and Indians, wild animals roaming the land. Somewhere included in those stories were tidbits about his winter just outside Hot Sulphur Springs. He told us it was the coldest winter he’d ever spent anywhere. He didn’t seem to be very fond of Joe Gieser, and their accommodations barely adequate, perhaps water carried from a nearby creek, hopefully propane to warm the trailer on the coldest nights….I don’t remember those details. My brother remembers talk of blasting so they must have done more than simply run a Geiger counter over the ground. Dad only brought two photographs back from that adventure,  one showed his clothes spread across shrubs, drying in the sun. The other captures him washing dishes in the small trailer kitchen.

It undoubtedly was an exciting time for Dad, away from the daily cares of a family, beneath the clear blue skies of Colorado, “batching” like the sailor he had been just eight years earlier. He stayed in touch with Pete Loncar the rest of his life, exchanging Christmas cards each year. After my dad died the summer of 1996 I contacted Pete and learned a little more about their working relationship and friendship. Only after Pete died April of 2014 did I learn of his long career with Newmont, and the focus of his work, exploration.

Out of the blue, sixty years after that cold, lonely winter, my cousin Lisa Rich invited me to a family reunion in Granby, Colorado for June of 2015. A check of the map showed Hot Sulphur Springs a mere ten miles further west. How excited I was to finally visit this area and fuel my imagination about this short, adventurous time in my father’s life. Happily, both my brother and sister attended the reunion and my sister and I found an hour or so to visit the local museum, talk with a curator about the history of mining there, and drive to a nearby site known to have been a place of mining activity in the mid 50s. (I don’t know for certain this is the area where they parked their trailer and searched for ore, but the name Troublesome Creek popped up in my online searches for uranium exploration in 1954 near Hot Sulphur Springs, and I found a sign for Troublesome Creek.)

We walked Fran’s dog along a side road, took photographs, looked around at the mountains and river, soaked up the nature of the place. 
That’s all I needed to satisfy my curiosity about the area and what that winter must have been like. Dad visited the site several times over the next forty years as he too was drawn to return to places from his past, a longing he passed to all his children.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Jasaitis Family of Alvitas

I've been waiting for three months now for genealogy documents I ordered from the Peoria Catholic Diocese about my Jasaitis family in Illinois. I know they have some of the documents I requested for I received a phone call from one of the nuns way back in April telling me of several she found in their archive, but she did warn me that it could take a couple of months to receive copies as they only do photocopying once a week and have a limited staff, but it's soooo hard to wait patiently.

Sister Mary told me she found several documents for Andrew Jasaitis of Westville and surprisingly his last name was spelled with a "J" instead of a "Y" in those documents, whereas in most records I've found for him his name is spelled Yasaitis. The Lithuanian pronunciation of the "J" sounds like our "Y"; there is no "Y" in the Lithuanian alphabet. Interestingly, his brothers all shortened their last name to Sites but he did not.

I just received a note from one of Andrew's descendants, a gr-granddaughter, interested in what I've learned about her Jasaitis family so rather than continue to wait for those documents about her gr-grandfather I will write what I know, or think I know, today.

I believe that at least eight Jasaitis siblings emigrated from Lithuania between 1872 and 1891, probably originally from the small town of Alvitas, Lithuania, (Polish spelling Olwita), in the county of Vilkaviskis along the western edge of Lithuania. At the time of their departure Alvitas was only about five miles from the German/Russian border. I say it that way, "at the time of their departure", for the borders of Lithuania have changed many times throughout history.

It has taken me years to piece together these relationships and there are probably errors still. I'm hoping the documents on Andrew Jasaitis will help confirm that these eight were siblings. Because their birth dates have a range of 29 years it's probable there were two mothers for these eight siblings. However, until I know for certain otherwise, I'm saying the father's name was Jacob Jasaitis and the mother's Agatha (maiden name unknown).

The oldest of the immigrants was Adam Sites, born about 1851 in Lithuania, arrived in the U.S. about 1873 and settled in Pittston, PA. There was already a man named Vicas Jasaitis in Pittston, one of the earliest Lithuanian settlers in the area. He may have been related to Adam and encouraged him to come to Pittston. I don't know that for a fact. In the 1880 federal census Adam's last name was spelled Scyte, then later Sites. He married Louisa Smith (originally Schmidt) from New York in 1878 and they had one child, William George Sites, born May 25, 1879 in Luzerne Co., PA. Adam died March 4, 1818 in Pittston.

Adam's younger brother, John Sites, was born April 5, 1858 in Alvitas, Lithuania, and came to this country in 1888 or 1889 and lived almost a decade in Luzerne Co., PA, near his brother Adam. Around 1898 he and his wife Agnes (Agota Stefonowicz or Steponaitis) Sites and three children, William Stanley, Joseph John, and Maggie, moved to Indian Territory in Oklahoma where John worked in the coal mines. In about 1906 a fourth child, Benjamin, was born in Oklahoma. Agnes died of the flu epidemic that swept the nation in 1918 and John stayed in Oklahoma with his children. He died November 21, 1929, and is buried at Westlawn Cemetery, Henryetta, Okmulgee Co., OK.

The next child of Jacob and Agatha was my own gr-grandmother, Petronella Jasaitis Uknavage (Juknevicius, Juknewicz), born June 11, 1860 in Lithuania, and immigrated in 1889 with her husband Joseph Juknevicius, changed to Uknavage in this country. They brought with them three children, Joe, Frank, and Petrona and settled in Pittston, PA. Two more children, Frances Cecile and William Joseph were born and baptized in the Catholic church in Pittston. By 1900 they lived in Westville, Illinois where Joe was a coal miner along with his two older sons. Apparently my gr-grandfather died shortly after the 1900 census and his widow lived on in Westville, raised her children there, and passed away March 6, 1938. It was her obituary printed in the local newspaper that gave me my first clue as to the names of her living siblings. Unfortunately, it didn't mention those who had preceded her in death, namely Adam, John, Andrew, and Frank. Those relationships were more difficult to establish.

Joseph Sites was listed in Petronella's obituary as a brother living in Columbus, Ohio. I found him in the census records, learned that he was a tailor, married to Catherine Rose Keelty, with three children, Joseph Francis, Agatha Mary, and Constance C. Sites. Joseph is the gr-grandfather of Tom Shaw, our Florida cousin who has done so much to bring us all together on facebook. Constance Sites Kraft had a daughter Carol who provided me with important family information about her grandfather's brother Frank and her grandfather's sister Frances. I don't know why Frances was not mentioned in Petronella Uknavage's obituary for she was very much alive in 1938 and living in Grand Rapids, Michigan...but then, I'm getting ahead of myself. We'll come back to Frances. Joseph Sites died April 2, 1945 and is buried in Ohio.

The next child of Jacob and Agatha was Andrew Jasaitis/Yasaitis, born December 23, 1866 in Lithuania. He emigrated about 1885 and married Anna Dailidie (or Dalida or some other spelling in Lithuanian) October 30, 1899 in Vermilion County, Illinois. They had five children, Andrew W., Anna Agatha, Petronella, Frances, and Joseph. The 1910 federal census says they had eight children but only five were alive by then. It also tells us Andrew was the proprietor of a saloon in 1910. Frances Yasaitis married William Pinkney Delancey, a beloved baseball pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and their daughters and grandchildren are now our facebook friends. Andrew died April 21, 1927 after suffering burns and smoke inhalation months earlier in a house fire that also claimed the life of their daughter Petronella. As soon as I receive the additional information I've ordered from the Catholic archive in Peoria I will post that information online for Andrew's family to see.

Frank A. Jasaitis Sites is next in the birth order, having been born October 2, 1870 in Lithuania. He came to the U.S. in about 1890. He may be the "Vinc. Jeschaitis" shown on the ship's passenger list with my gr-grandparents who were aboard the Lahn, which departed from Bemen and arrived in New York in June 1889. Frank moved to Columbus, Ohio where he lived near his older brother Joseph and also made his living as a tailor. He married a local girl just as his brother Joseph did. His wife was Tina A. Leopoldine Petru, and they had two children, Anna A. and Charles F. Sites. A female relative of Tina Petru is one of our facebook friends! Frank died December 24, 1922 and is buried in Columbus, OH.

The seventh child was William J. Sites whose name was Vincent Yasaitis in the 1900 census in Westville, Illinois. He was born in January of 1872 in Lithuania and arrived in our country via Hamburg, Germany April 12, 1891. In about 1895 he married Teofilia Dereskevicius (aka Tillie Derenge) in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne Co., PA. She was also Lithuanian. They had eight children, Frances H., Vincent Geddes, Joseph J., Anton Alvin, Aldona M., and Cecilia. William was a naturalized citizen, spoke English, and worked at various jobs such as hotel clerk, jobs other than coal miner. William died April 10, 1944 in Wilkes-Barre.

Last but not least was Frances C. Jasaitis, born October 4, 1880 in Lithuania. She came to this country as a child in about 1884, lived in Pittston for years but I don't know who she lived with. On August 14, 1899 she married Charles P. Gillis, another Lithuanian immigrant, and they had four children, Lenore Julia, Agatha S., Grace Carol, and Ernest Reymond (or Raynold) Gillis. Frances and Charles along with their children lived most of their lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city with a large Lithuanian immigrant population. Frances died November 4, 1966 - born last and died last, of the eight siblings.

I want to restate that some of my information may be incorrect. Those of you who study genealogy know that records for any one person vary considerably from census to census, from birth certificate, to marriage certificate, to death certificate. I am always seeking clarification, correction, and addition to my family information and welcome any comments or criticisms you may have.

I would dearly love to write the story of our Jasaitis family as it really unfolded from the time they left the old country until their deaths in America but I don't have any firsthand information. However, I believe the story would be sad, full of tragedy and pain. I think I can read between the lines enough to know that some of the siblings stayed in touch while others were estranged. Some of the parents held their children close, got them educated and then lost some of them to early deaths. Other parents, like my gr-grandmother, Petronella, had children leave the nest and never return or stay in touch. I told you about Andrew dying after suffering for months the effects of a house fire on his lungs and the psychological pain of losing his young daughter in that fire despite his best efforts to save her. I know one of the Jasaitis brothers died a painful death from syphilis. We all want and need our privacy, our skeletons in the closet that never see the light of day, so I am reluctant to write of the more sensitive or even shameful aspects of our immigrant families' lives. Even though times have changed and children born out of wedlock are "no big deal" to many in our society, in the early 1900s that was a big deal. What is to be gained by telling those details? So, I try to strike a balance and tell enough to bring these long gone relatives alive in our minds without vilifying them. That is one of the reasons I've not posted my genealogy database to ancestry.com...it contains some facts that I want to keep within our own family.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Ollie Ozias, Midwife in Early Fort Collins

Recently I came across an interview recording I made in 1988 of "The Baxter Girls", the four daughters of Larimer County, Colorado pioneer Frank Eugene Baxter (1852-1937). I reviewed the video in preparation for having it transferred to DVD to share with their relatives and came across a most interesting story, one I had forgotten.

In response to the question "Were any of you ladies born at home," Leone Baxter Thayer seemed a bit surprised by the question and then told me "We were all born at home!" She went on to explain that their mother was attended by a midwife, a woman named Ollie Ozias (she first said Annie Ozias), who, I was told, birthed many babies in the communities of LaPorte and Fort Collins in the early days of those towns. I was intrigued by Leone's description of this spunky little lady whose entire focus was on the baby "and you'd better not get in her way." Leone's memory of Ollie Ozias was so good because Leone was eleven years old when Ollie attended the birth of Leone's youngest sister, Veda in 1916. In fact, Ollie was there when Leone's older sister, Norma Baxter Salisbury, gave birth to her first child, some twenty years after she was born in 1902. When I heard that I commented that Ollie must have seemed like one of the family by then and Leone's thoughtful comment was, no, she was not special to us that way for she birthed all the babies in our area.

Leone described Ollie as a small, intense woman who wore her long, dark hair pile high on her head and moved quickly and with purpose as she attended the mother and newborn baby. About Ollie's personality, she said she knew Ollie had been married for she had a young son but she couldn't imagine a man putting up with Ollie's assertive ways. She thought the very traits that made Ollie a great midwife would make her a difficult wife.

I searched the local Fort Collins and Larimer County historical archives for information about Ollie Ozias and only found her name and Fort Collins address in the old city directories but never any reference to her occupation, midwife. Finally, there was an entry that told me Ollie Ozias was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Veneman. Searching ancestry.com for Veneman I found Ollie, born Mary Olive Veneman in March 1861 in Ohio, the fifth child of Andrew Veneman and Ellen Martin Veneman. She married Joseph W. Ozias about 1879 and gave birth to her only child, Carlton in 1881. She and Joseph Ozias divorced but I don't know what year. By 1900 she was living in Fort Collins with her son, Carlton, and Joseph Ozias lived out his life at the National Military Home in Leavenworth, Kansas.

Thanks to a young woman on ancestry.com whose user name is evenemon I have these family photos of the Veneman family to include here. I still have not found any record of Ollie Veneman Ozias as the venerated midwife in early Fort Collins and LaPorte. There must be many families who owe this woman a thank you and perhaps some will see my post and validate her importance to the history of our area. I would like to make sure she is not forgotten by including details of her career in the historical documents of the local archive.

Ollie Ozias died December 27, 1942 and is buried at Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins. She was 81. God only knows how many babies first felt Ollie's sure hands on their little bodies.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

♫ Diggin' Up Bones ♪

On October 31, 1972, Halloween, we moved out here in the country to our little piece of heaven on earth, a small acreage with an old farm house that had most recently been a migrant workers' shack, a barn, silo, granary, and chicken house. My in-laws helped us buy the place from the nearby landowner, F. G. Martinez and his wife, Gertrude, who lived east of us at the Martinez Corner, a ninety-degree-turn on the highway that has been the site of many car accidents over the years. Bob and I were both working full time so we built on our house evenings and weekends. With limited time, energy, and money the construction of our home became a lifestyle, a long, drawn out affair that allowed us to keep the costs down but sometimes drove us a bit crazy.

We've long been interested in the history of our place and thanks to the land abstract we received from Mr. Martinez we can track the change of ownership over the years but have yet to identify the builder of the house and barn or the year they went up. We were fortunate to hear from a couple of people who lived here around 1918-1925, renters who farmed the land for awhile and moved on. The house itself revealed a few of its secrets including an old photograph that Bob found inside a bedroom wall when he was tearing out the plaster and laths upstairs. On the back of the photo someone wrote "Billy and Jack Schwartz". I've included the photo here.

I've been keeping notes about the place since 1973 but made little progress in reconstructing the history of our place until recently with the advent of the internet and the use of ancestry.com. Now I know who Billy and Jack Schwartz were and have learned much more about the August Gross family who lived here in 1920. My hope is to gather enough information to write a history of our place and flesh it out with the names of the various owners and renters. I'd like to know who planted the old apple trees and the seckel pear tree that is about 100 years old now and barely hanging on.

In about 1974 we disassembled and discarded the chicken house whose construction was much inferior to the other buildings here. We had the silo torn down for it was crumbling at its base and presented a hazard to our horses. The old barn is on its last legs too, temporarily propped up by wood poles wedged in place along the east side. The combination of strong west winds and cribbing horses took it's toll.  In 2011 we had a new roof put on the granary and braced the building on the east as it was starting to lean that way, just like the barn.

In addition to the dome we built a new pole barn on the place and an enclosed garden surrounded by cedar fencing. Aside from that the most obvious improvement to the place is the addition of trees, lots of trees. It's been almost 100 years since Billy and Jack Schwartz lived here and we've been here for forty-three. We love our home and would like to think we gave new life to this hard luck farm and made it a place of good memories for many, the Russell Place.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

I'm a Ham!

With the encouragement and support of my husband whose amateur radio call sign is W0UDT, I passed my tests for the Technician and General licenses on January 17, 2015, and on the 22nd of that month my name and call sign appeared in the FCC database giving me the right to talk on the radio! I studied for about six weeks using the booklets published by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and took the test at the hamfest held at The Ranch near Loveland, Colorado. The hamfest is similar to a gunshow or flea market in that vendors set up tables to display their wares and interested buyers and  lookee loos walk along the rows of radios, antennas, and various related items shopping for bargains. I bought a small quilt from a woman who sat on a folding chair knitting and scowling. Traditionally, the hamfest offers the opportunity for non-hams to take the FCC tests in a room set aside for that purpose and on January 17 there was a good turnout of 27 test takers.

With the onset of the internet and cell phone ham radio operators were dying out until the FCC relaxed the rules in 2003 and declared it no longer necessary to pass a five-word-per-minute Morse Code (continuous wave or CW to hams) examination to get an amateur radio license. That part of the test was difficult for many and after the rule change the numbers of hams increased. Now the popularity of the "prepper movement" has increased the interest in ham radio even more. I decided to become a ham after a conversation with my husband, one of those conversations that couples who've been married almost fifty years sometimes have..."What will I do if I outlive you?" conversations. I told him that if I outlive him I'll want to stay right here and live alone but I might be scared and have to get a dog or a gun. He stared a me a long minute, then nodded, but didn't say a word. The next day he asked, "How about ham radio?" That sounded practical to me since he has erected several large antennas in the yard and has a hamshack with multiple radios, and I'm not good with dogs or guns.

My first call sign was given to me by the FCC...they assign them in alphabetical order with a number in the middle that denotes the calling area in which the new ham lives. I got KE0CSY, or Kilo Echo Zero Charlie Sierra Yankee, in phonetic alphabet lingo. I decided right away that I would apply for a vanity license and chose W0UKE, partly because of its similarity to Bob's W0UDT and our friend Bill's W0WST, and partly because the UKE was my dad's nickname, and that of his brother too, as in Joe Uke and Bill Uke. I know they would be proud of me being a ham and I shared their difficult Lithuanian last name that was shortened to Uke.

So here I am, almost a month since I got my license, and I've only talked on the handheld Baofeng radio, on the 70 cm band, to my husband and to a fellow who is a regular on that band here locally. His call is KF0CB, nicknamed Charlie Brown. He is a WWII veteran who encourages us all, is always willing to talk, and serves as our base station of sorts.

There are many ways to enjoy ham radio and I'm just getting started. The basic use for amateur radio is emergency communication during times of disaster. It is also used for communication at events like bicycle races in the mountains. Some people are into contesting, such as contacting another ham in every state (WAS for Worked All States), or the highly competitive contacting as many radio stations as possible in a given time period. Others like to communicate with the Space Station and use satellites to get their signals around the world. I hope to learn Morse Code and use that format to communicate other CW users in foreign countries. That will take some study and practice. The thing I like the most about being a ham is sharing a hobby with my husband, a semi-technical hobby that allows each of us some individuality in our hobby.