June 8th is my Dad's birthday, so to celebrate I am posting a couple of photos from one of his childhood birthdays.
Today, May 30th, is my younger brother Mike's birthday. We are only 18 months apart in age, so Mike was my first friend and playmate. We played with Matchbox cars together, made pillow slides down the stairs, threw toys down the laundry chute, jumped on our parents' bed, rolled around in appliance boxes in the basement, and played video games together on our Atari 2600 and (later) the original Nintendo Entertainment System. We played checkers on this big blanket-sized checkerboard with checkers the size of our hands. We were also fans of board games like The Game of Life, Clue, and Midnight Party. We listened to Michael Jackson, The Cars, and Huey Lewis and the News cassette tapes on our mom's tape player that she kept in the kitchen.
Bill Bellan, 1983
Yesterday, I wrote a post about my Great-Grandpa Bellan because it was his birthday. Today, I'm sharing some photos of me with his son, Bill Bellan who was my mom's dad. He would have turned 99 years old today. He was born in Lorain, Ohio, but grew up on the east side of Cleveland, and graduated from East Technical High School in 1933 (see this post), and served in the Army during WWII (see this post). He worked as a printer with Penton Publishing Company for most of his career.
Grandpa Bellan passed away when I was about eleven years old, but I do have a lot of memories about him. He and my grandma watched my brother and I for a couple of years when my mom was working full-time. He would pick us up from school in his maroon Oldsmobile. He had one of those floating compass globes on his dashboard that we thought was so cool. He would bring us back to their house and Grandma would get us some food. We loved playing around by his workbench in the basement. He loved building things out of wood and there were tons of tools to look at. He would occasionally help us hammer nails into scrap pieces of wood. And he had a big metal vise that we used to just turn back and forth, opening and closing, opening and closing...
Grandpa also loved golf and he had one of those putting mats that would shoot the ball back at you if you got it in the hole, which, of course, we thought was the neatest thing ever. He also played darts with us in the basement. Yes, he let a 5 and 6 year old play with real darts. We never got hurt though, so we must have been properly supervised, right? (Guess this is probably not the best time to mention that he also frequently let us play with an old set of lawn darts a.k.a. Jarts.)
Here are some pics of me with Grandpa when I was a baby. I also included one of my brother and me in our sandbox, because Grandpa built it for us.
George Bellan, Sept 1947
On this date in 1873, my great-grandfather, George Bellan, was born in Croatia, then part of Austria-Hungary. All I really know about George is from information I have collected from old documents and newspaper clippings. He passed away when my mom and uncle were young children, so they don't remember him. I never got a chance to ask my grandfather about him (he passed away when I was eleven.).
George Bellan (nee Beljan) is my only great-grandparent for which I have been able to locate a birth and baptism record from the 'Old Country.' About two years ago, I ordered a microfilm from my local LDS Family History Library and spent a couple of hours going through it. I was able to find his record, along with his sister Veronika's birth record (who also came to the U.S.), and a brother named Francis, who, to my knowledge, stayed in Croatia. The records also list the names of their parents, Francis and Rosa Beljan, which I had not known to that point, so it was a big discovery for me. George's birth and baptismal record from Brod Moravice, Croatia is below. It states he was born on March 12, 1873 and baptized on March 14, 1873. Interestingly, his WWI draft card lists his date of birth as March 15, 1873 and his naturalization card lists it as April 15, 1874. I use this church record as his "official" birthday, so I'm happy to have found it.
According to the information he provided to the census taker in 1900, he immigrated to America in 1893, but I have not been able to find his ship manifest to confirm this date. I do have his wife Ursula's ship manifest; she arrived in 1898 and listed George as her contact person. She used his surname on the manifest, but I do not believe that they married until she arrived. She, too, was Croatian and was born in a town relatively close to where he was from but, honestly, they may not have even known each other prior to their 'betrothal.' I still need to search for a Cleveland, Ohio marriage record.
What did George do for a living? Census data in this case is not very descriptive, as his occupation/trade is listed as 'laborer' in the steel mills, which pretty much describes the job of every blue collar worker in Cleveland at that time. City directories have been a big help in providing a little more detail. From 1915-1919, he is listed as a 'molder,' and then in 1921, 1923, and 1934 he is a 'cement finisher.' My favorite record, however, is a directory from 1904, which lists his occupation as simply 'saloon.' Unfortunately, it must not have done very well, because this is the only mention of it. :-(
George and his wife Ursula had eight children, but unfortunately three of them passed away as young adults. George was active in his local Croatian Fraternal Union Lodge, and in 1945 he was honored for being a 50-year member.
George passed away in October of 1954 after living as a widower for eight years. He was 81 years old and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio.
Today is my Mom's birthday, so I thought I would share some photos of her childhood birthdays:
And here is one of the birth announcements that my grandparents sent out when she was born:
Adele Parazzini Licciardi was born on this day in 1895. She was born in Milan, Italy and immigrated to the U.S. in 1921. I write about her life and my memories of her in this blog post. Today, I'm sharing photos of her and her family members from her 90th birthday party in January 1985.
For those of you who haven't yet figured it out, quite often my blog posts are inspired by current events, holidays (mainstream or obscure), and famous people's birthdays or deaths. Well, today is McKayla Maroney's 17th birthday. If you don't remember, McKayla Maroney competed for the U.S. women's gymnastics team in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She is probably the BEST vaulter ever to have come out of the American gymnastics program, but she fell on her bottom during the vaulting finals and ended up receiving the silver medal. This photo of her on the medal stand went viral and prompted countless memes with the caption "McKayla Maroney is not impressed."
I say, BIG DEAL! I was making faces like that ten years before McKayla was even born. Here is a pic of one of my favorite 'I'm not impressed' moments. This photo was taken in the summer of 1985; I was six and a half years old. I don't know where we were, but I was either hot, bored, disgusted by the food, or (most likely) a combination of all three.
Do you have a photo of yourself or other family member with an 'I'm not impressed!' expression? Share it with me!
©2012, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
On this date five years ago, Mr. Bub was born. Many parents probably look at the age of five as sort of a turning point from being a toddler/preschooler to a real kid. I think that a lot of parents would agree with me that celebrating a 5th birthday can be emotional for them. I think it is a little more so for me and my husband. If you would have told me during Mr. Bub's pregnancy that we would be celebrating his 5th birthday today, I would have either punched you in the face (in the belief that you were lying to me), or hugged you tighter than I've ever hugged anyone before (if I had thought you were telling the truth).
My pregnancy was complicated by a non-cancerous tumor in the umbilical cord, which the doctors and nurses referred to as an angiomyxoma. Over a course of several ultrasounds, they saw that it was growing as each week went by. The doctors feared that it could obstruct blood flow in the umbilical cord, so I was ordered to have ultrasounds three times a week starting at about 24 weeks. Thank goodness my Aunt Sharon lived nearby; she came with me to just about every ultrasound, which ended up being at least 40 by the end of the pregnancy. And with every one, I would have to prepare myself for the possibility of the doctors telling me that I'd have to be admitted to the hospital OR even worse news than that, which is hard for me to write about. :-( I did actually spend about ten days in the hospital when I "failed" a non-stress test at about 32 weeks. I got to go home for a few more weeks, but then after I "failed" another ultrasound, my doctor scheduled me for a c-section. Because of a vascular disease I have, I had to have a c-section under general anesthesia in the hospital's main operating room. So, unfortunately, neither me nor my husband was able to see Bub come into the world, but after everything we had gone through, we just wanted him out. He was small, a little jaundiced, and we had trouble getting him to eat that first week, but at least he was here and otherwise healthy. So, today we give thanks to God and his angels for protecting Mr. Bub during a rough pregnancy. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bub!
©2012, copyright Emily Kowalski Schroeder
Emily Kowalski Schroeder