The Journal of 1872 May 27

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 27thArrived at Denver at 8 oclock in the morning took the buss for the hotel had breakfast then started off again for Colorado Springs which was 100 miles from Denver went on a narrow gauge. Mr Thomas had the conductor put a flat car on the end of the train then got six chairs and lashed them together so we had an observation car of our own. The scenery was grand had a good view of the mountains also Pikes Peak all covered with snow and the sun shimmering on it made it look grand indeed. We passed one Mount which was called Castel Rock or Peaks It derived its name from there being some rocks on the top which resembled an old castle. About two oclock a man was seen waiving his hand and standing on the track the train stopped and he came up and said the bridge ahead was burned very badly so the train had to run back to a little town and get lumber and men went back to the bridge then they run(?) the train about one mile back and stopped then some of the Party got out and walked around. Meanwhile a very large and black cloud had been coming up and all of a sudden it commenced hailing it was a regular Rocky mountain hail storm the stones are as large as my fist. Mr Thomas and Eddie are out in all of it some of the men say that the embankment is washed away ahead of us I can tell you the prospects are rather dubious but nevertheless we are gay and full of fun. The engine had gone on ahead! Well here were are again the engine has returned and the rest of the party they brought some bread and butter which was very acceptable as were very hungry and no signs of getting anything else very soon. Well were on the move again but more(?) rather slow. This is the first passenger train that ever went over this road. We arrived at Colorado Springs about six oclock took buss from the Hotel got out rooms mine was no 14 Washed and dressed had supper then we walked arround didn’t go to bed until 10 oclock my bed was as hard as a board.


Welcome to Colorado!  The map below is one of my favorites (here is the original from the fabulous David Rumsey collection).


Nettie and her traveling companions would have gotten off the Union Pacific line and probably onto the Denver and Rio Grande Railway here.

They may have taken the Montezuma:

They definitely took this path on the “narrow gauge“, which was easier and cheaper to put down in the mountains,


They passed by Castle Rock and the station seen here only 2 years earlier:

After some initial problems on the tracks (Fire! and Hail!) they arrived at the newly built Colorado Springs Hotel. 1872 marked the first hotel in Colorado Springs.  It was called the Colorado Springs Hotel and built at the corner of Cascade and Pikes Peak.  It was billed as the “most elegant hostelry between Chicago and San Francisco”.  It had two stories , dormer windows and a porch across the entire front.

Here is the clipping from the Weekly Gazette that announces the entire party’s arrival:

Of course the elegance was trumpeted by the PR guy, William E. Pabor, publicist and secretary of the Colorado Springs Company…Nettie reported her bed to be “hard as a board”.  I guess both things could be true.




The Journal of 1872 May 25-26

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 25th We changed our car and took another one for Salt Lake City.  We started off in good spirits.  Eddie Thomas and I played checkers.  We crossed the Osage river and Followed the Missoury river for a great distance.  Had our dinner in the car passed through Jefferson City is situated very pleasantly indeed.  In the afternoon I went out on the back as it was quite warm pretty soon se stopped at a small station and the conductor told us we would have to wait some time as there was a car off the track ahead of us.  So we all got out for a walk  we found a board and made a Teater.  Had a nice time.  Pretty soon some of the men proposed shooting they got a mark and we all took a turn of shooting.  The conductor cries “All aboard” we were soon on our way.  Us young folks returned to our Post the back end of the car and remained there until after dark then Mr Middleton came and said that he had been Authorised to have us come in of course we obeyed we then proposed singing sand some then Mr Middleton says to the Porter Charlie these Ladies look as if they wanted some Lemonade so Charlie soon had some Lemonade made for us which was very nice indeed.  We then concluded to retire for the night.  Kate Sturges and I were to Occupy the end Stateroom she in the lower berth and I in the upper soon all was quiet save the noise of the cars.

May 26th (Sunday) I woke up with a very hard head ache could hardly dress myself.  As soon as dressed I had to get a pillow and lean my head against the side of the car.  I looked out of the window and found were were passing through the great Prairies of Kansas.  There were a great many beautiful flowers there and the grass was green.  Mr Leisenring told us we would see Buffalows.  Antelopes and Prairie dogs about noon so from that time we commenced keeping a good lookout.  “All of sudden” Mr Middleton cried out “Buffalow” then there was a general rush to see them but come to look out there was a band of wild horses the Mr M. said sold(?) then we had a good laugh but pretty soon there were some Antelopes and soon after some Prairie dogs.  At noon we arrived at a small station and found a splendid dinner.  For instance Buffalow and Antelope meat and a great many things.  After Spending 30 minutes eating our dinner we started and when about a mile from the Station we saw a very large herd of Buffalow and a great many Antelopes and they were very near the cars so we could see them very good during the day we saw a great many then we witnessed a lovely sunset much prettier than the one in Illinois.  Soon after sunset we retired for the night as were were to get up early the next morning.


This is the Journal: Nature and Fun Edition.  In today’s 2 day episode, Nettie travels from St Louis to Denver roughly along this path (from an 1883 map):


Along the way, she and her traveling companions enjoy some shooting of guns, a makeshift teeter totter and  some lemonade.

They see antelope, prairie dogs,  a band of wild horses and eventually some of the much-anticipated buffalo (which they later ate).


Prairie Dog Pics



Closed by a beautiful sunset.



The Journal of 1872 May 23-24

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 23rd Started quite early for the depot.  All went in one buss has a gay old time for we were very crowded but never the less we arrived at our car all correct. Had a very pleasant time all day in the afternoon we was passing through Illanoise we witnessed the grandest sunset that we ever had heard of.  At eleven oclock we arrived East St Louis took a buss and crossed the ferry and went to the Southern Hotel.  Mamie Middleton and I roomed together  (room 129) we retired to our room and ordered supper to be brought to our room at one oclock we retired for the night  After we had got to bed some one came and rapped on our door we asked who’s there and Mr Middleton answered we have breakfast at 8 oclock be sure to be ready.

May 24th We was ready for breakfast after which we went to our rooms to get ready for a ride.  Road through the principal streets then went out to Shaw’s Garden. Got out of our carriages and walked through the garden. There was almost every kind of plants in the world we took about two hours walk them went to the house of Mr Shaw and spent about one half hour registered our names then visited his Museum had a great many species of birds and animals.  We returned to the Hotel went to the theater.


This is possibly my favorite part of the journal.  The tour group doesn’t do a lot in these two days but the writer does do something very significant (I’ll tell you in a bit).  The group travels in their train car from Cincinnati to East St Louis.  The Eads Bridge across the mighty Mississippi wouldn’t be complete for another 2 years and wouldn’t completely open until 1879.  Here it is in 1874:

Without a rail bridge, they had to take busses to the Blood Island ferry to get across to their lodgings at the Southern Hotel:


Built in 1866, the Southern Hotel was the premiere luxury hotel for business travelers and the well-to-do in post-war St. Louis, located at the corner of Walnut and Fourth streets. Our traveling party got to see the hotel exactly in the middle of its 11-year life, between the year it was finished and the year it burned down in 1877 (killing 21).

The next day they rode outside of the city limits to Shaw’s Garden (now the Missouri Botanical Garden).  Maps courtesy of David Rumsey’s amazing collection.



It was at Mr. Shaw’s house at the Gardens Nettie gave me the clue to who she was (her name is never mentioned in the Journal).  Little did she know that such a simple thing as signing a guestbook (and mentioning it her journal) could connect two places so clearly.  As soon as I read that passage, I called the Missouri Botanical Garden and (eventually) found their historian.  He had the books and could easily look up that exact date, and there she was nestled between Kate Leisenring and Mrs Thomas…


…along with many of her traveling companions…

Nettie Jacobs MBG 1872

If you are reading this, you may have some interest in family history, or history and if you do, you can imagine the  joy that comes from finding a little note, left by your ancestors.  In this case, it is one that likely no one has taken a second look at since the afternoon of May 24th 1872 when a young lady crossing the country happened to have a pleasant day in a garden and wrote down her name.





The Journal of 1872 May 20-22

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 20th About five oclock all the party which consisted of twenty two all met at the hotel and took supper together at nine oclock we took a buss for the depot there we found our car waiting for us on the side track. At Eleven oclock we started on our journey. There was Mr & Mrs Leisenring and Daughter Mr & Mrs Thomas & Daughter and son Mr & Mrs Douglas Mr & Mrs Salkeld Mrs Fitsg??? And Daughter Mrs Early and Kate Sturges Mr & Mrs Atlee and myself.

May 21st Didnt rest good and felt sick in the morning. We couldn’t get our breakfast until ten oclock so we took a cup of tea in the car We all seemed to feel better and began our Journey in good spirits. We passed through some beautiful country and all enjoyed it very much In the evening we took our supper in the cars. We took provision for ourselves. We concluded to retire at nine oclock as we would get up early the next morning so the porter commenced makeing up the beds. We had quite a time getting to bed and after we had got quiet Mr Middleton cried out “Five dollars fine for any lady that snores and ten dollars fine for any Jentleman who snores” Where the Joke came in was that he and his wife were the worst ones to snore in the party so the next day he had to stand a treat for the party.

May 22nd The Porter called us at six oclock and at seven we got into Cincincinatia took carriage for the Burnett House soon got our rooms and had breakfast We concluded to take carriages and ride around the city. We rode through the principal streets and of course we had to go and see the fountain which a grand sight. We then went out o___ the hills back of the city had a Splendid view of the city saw some beautiful mansions and also drove through some of them. We returned had our dinner wrote some letters home in the evening went to the theater.



Now the trip begins!  In this installment, Nettie and the rest of the group take a bus to the depot and find their car.  I have to assume that this is a Pullman car (the one below is likely a few years older than the one they rode.  There were 22 guests in the car attended to by some number of porters.  Very luxurious.

We also get a little bit of color here as Mr Middleton is identified as the jokester of the party, a loud snorer, and the willing punchline who had to buy everyone a treat.  Cincinnati gives a us glimpse of the the pace.  They stop there for the night taking rooms in a hotel and riding carriages around the city.  This is definitely a sightseeing trip for the 22 giving them a chance to see a bit of the country that not many at the time got to see.

Nettie spells Cincinnati as “Cincincinatia”.  I wonder if that is because people from the area pronounce it “Cincinnatuh”.  They visit the spectacular and now-famous fountain in Fountain Square, dedicated the year before.

The “beautiful mansions” would have looked (and may have actually been) something like this one, completed in 1864:


Next time, we head for St Louis and a discovery that I think is amazing!



The Journal of 1872 May 9-19

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 9th Got up and got ready for breakfast. After which Mr Leisenring showed me arround his grounds We first visited his hot houses which are very beautiful indeed some had plants others vegetables which were quite a curiosity to me.  He has a beautiful lawn in front of his house and very choice trees in his yard.  His house if pleasant he has a very nice cabinet of specimens.

May 10th After breakfast Mrs Leisenring and Kate and myself went and took a ride went out to place where they raise trout that was a very pleasing sight had a very pleasant ride indeed.  Wrote some letters in the afternoon.  Spent a pleasant evening.

May 11th (Sunday) didn’t feel well enough to go to church wrote some letters home took a walk around the yard read some we visited in the evening.

May 12th Was Sick didn’t doo much of anything but sit around.

May 13th It was very warm.  Sewed a little.  In the afternoon took a ride to “Upper Mauch-chunk” had a very nice time dindn’t get back until after dark.

May 14th We concluded to go up to the “Switch-back” railroad. We started after breakfast took a carriage and rode up a very steep hill there we found a little car waiting for us we were soon in it and we were ___taken?__ to the top of a very steep mount.  We were then started and down we almost flew (Just imagine your self riding in a car without any engine it seems rather strange).  After we reached the bottom of the first incline plane we passed through a valley to the food of another mount  We were again drawn to the top by the same means as before  We started out again and came to the food of the third and last mount We assended that and started off and after riding some time we came back to the same place from where we started making a circular trip of twenty five miles which was a very pleasant one.  Got back in time for dinner didn’t do any thing but read in the afternoon.

May 15th Had some sewing to do.  Wrote letters home went to bed early.

May 16th Went into the library and look at the cabinet all the forenoon In the afternoon we went riding had a nice time  Went down town in the evening and got Ice-cream

May 17th Mr Leisenring and wife Kate and I started for Philadelphia arrived at the Continental about five oclock had dinner.  In the evening Kate and I went to the Theater.

May 18th (Sunday) didn’t go to church in the morning.  In the afternoon we took a carriage and went out to Fairmount Park.  I think if? it will be much pleasanter than Central Park in New York had a grand view of the city from St. Georges Hill.  Saw the Monument of Lincoln which is very nice indeed.

May 19th Went shopping some in (erased)


Here is a 10-day stretch of rest for Nettie, as they ramp up for the big trip.  Not a lot happens but we do get a sense of her hosts.  The Leisenrings have the large, historic property one would expect for a contemporary and sometimes business associate of Andrew Carnegie.  The pace of their life is leisurely with theater, grounds tours and a ride on their railroad (see below) for their guest.

Nettie isn’t so accustomed to the lifestyle that she seems to throw money around or shop or expect anything but what is put in front of her.  She seems educated and gracious from the words on her pages.  I know she was born in Oregon, but appears to have spent the last few years in school (I am guessing) in Ohio.  Her father comes from NY and her mother from Michigan.  I don’t know a lot about Hiram Jacobs yet, but Nancy Ann Olds Jacobs traveled across the country in 1852 (when she was only a couple years older than Nettie is in 1872) on a wagon train.  The trip took 8 months.  From a family of farmers, Nancy married a wagon maker, who made some money with a patent (#40004) for a wagonwheel-building device.  He turned that money into several business dealings and relationships that made this trip possible for young Nettie.  I’m still working on what happened to him after that…

Back to Nettie:

The few details she had in this stretch were about the switchback railroad, more briefly, Fairmount Park (and the Lincoln monument).

On the railroad:

From the Cultured Carbon County blog: From 1845 to 1872, coal was hauled during the day and dare-devil tourists rode at night with speeds that could exceed 60 miles per hour. In 1855 Asa Packer’s “Lehigh Valley Railroad” was completed. This line ran from Easton to Mauch Chunk and eventually serviced Sayre, PA and Buffalo, New York. It ran on the east side of the river. It is the line operated today by Norfolk-Southern. In 1872 the “Hauto Tunnel” was driven, allowing rail service directly to the mines which marginalized the Switchback as a coal hauler. From 1872 until its demise in the Great Depression, the Switchback was the second most visited tourist site in the nation (Niagra Falls was #1.).

Fairmount Park:

The monument:

Next time, we start the trip across and hopefully, learn a little about her travel companions.

The Journal of 1872 May 6-8

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 6th Got up early eat my breakfast and Mr Dodges son went with us to the city (N.Y) we met Mortie and he went with me to Jersey City then I took the cars for Phil. Had a pleasant ride and arrived in “West Philadelphia” at five oclock took the ferry crossed the river took the St car to “9th St” then walked to the Hotel which was one block found Mr Leisenring without any trouble was introduced to Kate Leisenring and Gertie Thomas got ready and went to dinner in the evening two young men Mr Middleton and Pratt called and wanted us to go to the theater went and had a nice time.

May 7th After breakfast we went shopping saw a great deal of the city there is some beautiful buildings in the evening went to the parlor and stayed there until ten oclock then retired.

May 8th Went out shopping again until noon took a carriage for the depot took the cars for Mauch Chunk.  The country through which we passed was beautiful Arrived at Mauch-chunk at five oclock was introduced to Mrs Leisenring found her very agreeable minded had supper retired early.


As we leave the Dodge family, I should say that I heard from a few of the Dodge family genealogy geeks and we figured out a few things.  First, Chuck Dodge pointed out that Mortie and Mr Dodge are probably two different people.  Mr Dodge being Miles B Dodge.  Mortie is his son Mortimer Moore (17) and one of the other 3 sons went with them to the city that last day.

The journal writer

With a birth year around 1855 and some association with Clyde Ohio, I think I know who our writer is: Jeanette “Nettie” Jacobs, my great great grandmother.   Nettie was born in Oregon in 1855, making her a true Oregon Pioneer baby.  Nettie is now (in the journal) 17 and starting out on some travels significant enough to make her start a journal to record them.  It is interesting this is the beginning of the book.  She probably didn’t keep a journal before and may not have kept one after.  Fortunately, she learned to write well both legibly and grammatically.  It is interesting also that she is traveling alone.  I will be researching her family as I go, but it occurred to me that she may have been sent to Ohio for school, as Oregon in 1860s and 1870s would have been a difficult place for a young girl.  The family must have had means (and had friends with means) based on the ease of travel and social life Nettie is experiencing in NY and Philadelphia.

Mr Leisenring

When Nettie goes to Mauch Chunk (now called Jim Thorpe, PA), it is pretty easy to figure out who she is with through a little Ancestry sleuthing (a “Mr Leisenring” in Mauch Chunk with a daughter named Kate).  The Honorable John Leisenring was a highly regarded citizen who made a lot of money in the local coal and iron businesses.


Having studied civil engineering, had managed a division of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company locating and surveying railroad.  in 1871, he had been elected to the office of associate judge and in 1872 he was named to the board of a start up railroad in Utah with Netties father, Hiram S Jacobs.  I’ll get to more of that later.  For now, it enough to say he was a wealthy man in Mauch Chunk (below) with a family (Caroline, Edward B, Mary D, Kate B and John)  that seems quite “pleasant” and “agreeable” in the words of Nettie.
I am looking forward to starting the trip.

The Journal of 1872 May 2-5

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25) continued…

May 2nd Woke up feeling very sick didn’t get up very early.  In the afternoon I felt better.  Mortie asked me if I didn’t feel like walking I told him I did.  We took a very pleasant walk on “Clinton Avenue” which is the “Fifth Avenue” of Brooklyn.  Spent a very pleasant evening.

May 3rd I thought I would go to Flushing so Mortie went out and found which way to go and we started about nine oclock.  Took the car on “Myrtle Avenue” and rode to Green Point took another car for Hunters Point.  Mortie took a boat (34 St Ferry) for N. Y. city and I took the steam cars for Flushing.  It was eleven oclock when I got there went in at Main Street walked up to Mr Corwin found them well and very much surprised to see me.  Mamie and I took a walk.  In the evening Emory Bridge.  Al Romer and Bennie Cox came up and Mamie went over after Bill Roe and we had a pleasant time.

May 4th (Sunday) We didn’t go to church in the morning I wrote letters home.  In the afternoon Mr Corwin got a horse and carriage and we went and took a ride.  Flushing has improved very much a great many new buildings also a new Main St depot In the evening we went to the Methodist Church saw a great many old Friend.

May 5th Mamie and I took a walk in the forenoon at three oclock I took the cars for “Hunters Point” then took the street car for “Green Point” from there to “Adelphia Street” (Brooklyn).  Arrived at Mr Dodges all safe found a telegram from Mr Leisenring requesting me to come on to Philadelphia and call for him at the Continental Hotel.  So I packed my trunk had everything ready for to start the next morning went to bed early.


I get the sense that the author has lived in New York in past few years.  I have not been able to definitively say who Mortie is, but he may well be Morton H Dodge who is listed on the “Gentlemens List” of people with a letter waiting for them at the postoffice on July 30th 1869.  There are a number Dodges living on Adelphi Street around this time but the age doesn’t really fit.  The one Mortimer would have been about 15 years old.  Others were named Miles and lived at 259 and then 315 Adelphi Street.  The Dodges don’t continue with our story, so I will leave them alone now.

Brooklyn at the time looks like this:

The Brooklyn Bridge is under construction but a decade away from opening.  Steam cars and ferries are the way to get around.  The distance is about 10-11 miles but with several steam car changes, it probably takes a few hours to get from A to D


In Flushing, the author visits her friends the Corwins “Mr” and “Mamie”.  They walk down Main Street:

It is very improved with it’s new buildings and new depot (this is where it sounds like she has been here before).

In the evening, they attend the Methodist Church (and see lots of friends):

Finally, the visit to the Corwins ends by way of the reverse route back to Adelphi, where a telegram waits beckoning her to Philadelphia.  This isn’t unexpected and she isn’t telling herself (and us) anything about the trip ahead.  We have been heading to Philadelphia all along.

May 6-8

The Journal of 1872 April 30-May 1

Just a quick background. These pages come from a thin black book.  The book is not full, only about 45 pages have writing and that writing is starting to fade.  I scanned them all in and bumped up the contrast for legibility.  The handwriting is very readable but I can’t read a word here and there.  I have tried to stay true to the writing, which doesn’t have a lot of punctuation and capital letters appear in the middle of sentences (but they did that a lot in the 19th century). The names are difficult but I am looking things up along the way to see if I can find common spellings (or maybe the actual people).

Here we go…

Journal of 1872 (April 30th to Oct 25)

April 30th Left Clyde at four o’clock in the morning for New York City. Arrived at Cleveland on time took breakfast. Was soon on the move again it was very dusty and ________ at two oclock arrived at Buffalow took dinner stayed a short time. In the afternoon it was very dull. About Seven in the evening arrived at Syracuse had supper then had my bed made and retired.

May 1st Was called at six o’clock got into New York at seven had no trouble finding My Friend Mortie Dodge we then took a buss for Fulton St Ferry which crosses over to Brooklyn then took the car to Adelphia Street walked a few Steps to Mr Dodges House found Mrs Dodge very pleasant we then had breakfast. Felt very tired and retired very early.



The author appears to be traveling alone at this point, based on the verbs she uses.  She also seems very casual about train travel, as if she done enough to lack the wonder of travel.  She is 11 years before the Brooklyn Bridge, so they have to take the Ferry. I’m interested to find out who this Mortie Dodge fellow is but they must be friends from a long time ago, as the writer had not yet met his wife.  When they take a “buss”, she must mean a steam bus.

May 2-5

Time Travel with Family Treasures

With Jenn in China and a weekend in front of me with no help to be hired, I told the kids I would take them to the State Fair in Sacramento…all 105 degrees of it, as it turned out. I also thought it would also be a great chance to visit Aunt Sally and Uncle Larry (and their pool). Aunt Sally is my mom’s younger sister and she collects things.

On Sally’s shelf, among the family photos, were some personalized things that I had never seen before that appeared have been my grandfather’s. First, she explained that this shaving mug and hymnal belonged not to my grandfather Jos. D. Smullin but Jos. D Smullin, my GREAT grandfather. THEN she gave them to me. I almost fell over.

I get such a charge out of holding old things and visiting places that I know my family visited long ago. To have the mug that Joseph D Smullin (Senior) held every day as he shaved with a straight razor is (to me) like time travel.



And the hymnal contained this inscription…

IMG 5090

So not only did JD Smullin hold this book in his hands every Sunday, but it was held (and given to him) by his mother (Frances La Nissa Carrier Smullin) on the first month of the new century.  Double cool.


But Sally wasn’t done yet….

The next morning, she was fired up and searching for another book, one that she had just seen recently that was handwritten. After much looking and nearly giving up, she came up with this…

IMG 5091

A journal dated 1872 (April through October). Wow. Talk about time travel.

I have spent the last few days scanning the fading pages (with my archival gloves on) and making the scans readable so I can preserve the book, transcribe the entries and find out who the author is (as far as I have read, it appears to be a young woman but she never says her own name). My plan is to put all the pages into blog posts and add some color along with her journey.

I love a good trip that includes a mystery.

First Post, Dedicated to George Myron Topliff

I’ve been talking to myself about this blog for years. Probably about the time I started writing one for Grace (and then Hazel), which would make it 5 and half years ago. I think I even started once, but I never really caught momentum. I have thought of many reasons to start and many + 1 reasons not to.

The blog was always going to be about my trek through family history. Having a unique name like Topliff made a quick hobby out of genealogy because it turns out to be relatively (pardon the pun) easy to trace. I’ll expand this story later, but I found “Topliff” on a list on the pre-graphic Interwebs back in 1991 and was instantly connected to a line of Topliffs that came to America in 1637 (we were Puritans!).

My reason for getting off the virtual couch today is Father’s Day. It is my first Father’s Day without the guy who gave me the Topliff moniker, which is interesting. I wrote “interesting”, but the first word that occurred to me was “hard” which doesn’t seem quite right. Of course it is hard but not in the I-miss-you-every-minute-of-every-day kind of way. When he was alive I didn’t think of him every minute of every day. I loved my dad…when I thought about him (even when he bugged me). I still love him. Now that he’s gone, I probably think of him more. Funny how that works.


I decided to kick it off today because I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately, which makes me introspective. Sometimes it works the other way around.

Besides actually putting the events together that created me, my dad did things for me, I know he was proud of me (mostly through intuition) and he gave me things.

4 things my dad gave me (legally, through genetics, over 43 years of a relationship or all three)

  1. A name that is difficult to spell over the phone
  2. A dry sense of humor
  3. Conflict avoidance
  4. A tendency to swear under my breath (see #3)

Number 1 is the inspiration for the name of this blog. If I had a nickel in my pocket for every time I had to say “F…as in Frank, F…as in Frank” over the phone in my life to avoid getting mail addressed to “Brad Topliss”, my pants would fall down.

I’m not sure how much a sense of humor is transferred but he had it, I have it…there you go. I’ll give mom some credit there too.

Number 3 is the topic of a lot of conversation and thought for me right now. Writing my dad’s obituary was both the hardest and most inspiring writing assignment I have ever had. Everything was fresh after he died, but we needed to get something into the paper. A deadline is a deadline. Dad liked puns too.

One of the things I decided to do was to call some of the older friends in his life, the ones who knew him before Mom did. I really knew very little about Dad from the time he left home to the time he met my mother. There is a big gap there. Part of it was the Army and the Korean War, but from ages 25-30 I really didn’t know much.

I called a few of his friends, who connected me with other friends. I had to inform them of his passing first, and then try to do some interviewing. It took me a couple tries and I think I freaked out a woman he dated 60 years ago, but I started to form a picture or more specifically, a word—”unflappable”. Several old friends and colleagues independently said that exact word, that and he could make (and drink) a mean martini or three.

Unflappable…nothing bothered him. They rarely (if ever) saw him angry. I think that is about right. I mean I saw him angry, but I was the one teenage boy that he had to deal with regularly. He had to spend time with me, so I saw him angry. He could be flapped, but it wasn’t his nature. Another way to say that is that he was very good at avoiding conflict. In a house with 3 strong-willed women, there was conflict to be had, dad just didn’t want any of it.

I am starting to see the blessing and curse of unflappability. And it is that obituary assignment that really made me look a lot closer at it.

So it is here that I break the virtual champagne bottle over this blog.

Thank you, George, for all you gave me and all you continue to give me. Thanks for sharing the family history interest. I think you would have liked to read these posts.

Happy Father’s Day!