I recall Mom telling something about how her parents, while they lived in the States, would go to different houses where the people would use the Ouija board and hold seances. Mom was rather spooked by things like seances, though I recall seeing a Ouija board at home for years, but I don’t remember anyone using it. In the days before TVs and VCRs I guess people became fairly inventive at finding their own entertainment. I also recall Uncle Virgel telling us ghost stories, I rather think he believed the stories, as they were not told for our exclusive benefit. My mind remains open about the possibility of ghosts and spirits, and I have a curiosity, but it is not very avid. It would be intriguing to see a ghost or converse with a spirit, but I can live quite well without those experiences.
Mom told me her Mother and she had made an agreement to try to reach the other when one of them should die. I asked her if her mother ever did try to contact her after her death in February, 1946 and she replied that she thought so. She did see or experience something. It was outside by the fence, and she became very apprehensive, so the apparition vanished and no further attempts were made. My curiosity must be greater than Mom’s because I was disappointed when she told me she had chickened out, but if the shoe were on the other foot, I am not sure how I would react. Now that Mom is gone, I miss her greatly and I would not fear her making contact from the other side, but I feel she has many important things to do, and shouldn’t be held back by what she has left behind. At any rate we made no such agreement.
Mom, Arletta and I enjoyed our time spent together doing research into the family in Michigan. We went to the cemetery where Joseph and Mary are buried, and because Mom was determined to have a headstone placed on her grandfather’s grave, but did not live to do it, we collected donations from his descendants who would like to help in order to have one erected for him in her memory. The beginning of this book tells much of what we learned, and at the end I will include a documentation of other relevant, and perhaps irrelevant, information we found. My sisters, Julie and Arletta, and I hoped to go again to Michigan to ferret out the rest of the information, as we ran out of time before, and there was much yet to be learned.
Mom was writing to her cousin Elizabeth Tester-Lowrey when they were girls, but time and life’s complications caused the correspondence to cease for years. Then one day, when she was in her seventies, Mom decided to reach out and see if she could reestablish the link. She succeeded and the cousins again began to write back and forth. One letter from Liz contained a shin plaster, which is a paper worth twenty-five cents used as currency long ago. When she was about fourteen years old, Liz had been given it by Mom’s Mother, Ettie Sklapsky, and Liz had kept it all those years. It is now in the safekeeping of Pearl’s oldest daughter, Linda, along with the tin type pictures of Joseph, Mary, and Frank alone. There is also a paper photo of Frank, with Anna and Jenny, and all of the old pictures Pearl had.
I have also pictures of the great grandparents, copies of which will be included in this book. I want to thank the members of the family who have so kindly provided pictures and copies of pictures to be included in this book for all the family members to share.
Liz Tester-Lowrey remembers several visits Grandpa Frank made back to Michigan after Grandma Sklapsky died, and on one visit he danced the jig for them. I wonder how many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren knew that Frank Sklapsky could and did dance the jig?
Mom taught my two daughters, Jolena and Danelle the names of fingers beginning with your thumb. I am not sure how these came down the years through the family line but they have done so. It begins Tommy Tut (rhymes with put) ‘Tommy Tut, Slack la Put, Long ga Mon, Yard la Gone, Little la Vin la Vika.” We would be really interested to learn the history of this little finger rhyme, if anyone can tell us.
Mother inadvertently taught us what I believe is the Czechoslovakian word for teeth when she called them “zoobies”. Uncle Fred got a kick out it as well, strengthening my suspicions that it is Czech. Aunt Bea recalled Frank and Ettie sitting around with others and speaking the Czech words they recalled. Aunt Bea was surprised Ettie knew so many, and when I agreed and told her that Ettie’s background had been English, she was even more surprised.
When my sister Arletta and I took Mom to Michigan to visit Liz, we spent time with her, and got to know this fun loving cousin, a member of a State’s basketball team, and later, a nurse. We also visited Auntie Bea, the second wife of Uncle Will, Grandpa Frank’s half brother. She is a remarkable woman, over 90 years old, blind since the age of eight, and an absolutely delightful human being. I now correspond with both of these fantastic ladies.
On our return trip to Michigan we hoped to fill a lot of gaps. We wanted to find out what happened to Fredrick, and learn more history of various members of the family. We planned to check out records at Lancing or Ithica since not all the births and deaths were registered in Saginaw. Liz agreed to take us to the town site of LaFayette, where Uncle Fred was born, and the cemetery there, where the infant John may be buried. We decided to take the time needed to look through archives in the Hoyte Library to see what else we could find out about the dates of immigration, and processing of immigrants. Liz Tester-Lowrey informed me the town of Ithaca would be a likely place to search for information as well and she said the Novaks still living there would like to talk with us. The name Thomaschek needed to be investigated. The information card on the Fredrick in the family plot, missing from the files, deepened the mystery, and the snoop in me was intrigued. We were very excited and enthused about returning to the home of our great grandparents to learn more of our history.