Monday, May 27, 2013

Thank you, Howard Albert Conner.

Memorial Day is to honor those who have died in war.  I’m lucky that many of my ancestors seem to have either missed serving or survived.  But in the past couple of years I have learned about my grandfather’s cousin, Howard Albert Conner, who died in World War II in a plane crash in Panama. 

Howard was born on August 23, 1918 in Huron County, South Dakota, just six months younger than my grandfather.  While he was in high school in Huron, South Dakota, he worked at the theater and in the shoe store. 

There is a write-up about Howard in the South Dakota World War II Memorial site.  The site is, “…dedicated to the tens of thousands of South Dakota men and women who contributed to the victory in World War II. Today, we know them as our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.”

It is my goal in this post to make sure that even though Howard has no descendents of his own to remember him, he has many of us, both in and out of the Conner family,  who remember and thank him.  He was and always will be important.

Front (left to right): Harriet Conner, Fern Conner (Grampa’s sisters)
Middle (left to right): Pierre Conner (GRAMPA!), Howard Conner
Back (left to right): Lucille Conner, Irene Conner (Howard’s sisters)

Left to right: Pierre Conner, Howard Conner

Left to right: William Conner (grandfather to Pierre Conner), Howard Conner, Lucille Conner, Hattie Price (grandmother to Pierre Conner)

In Memory of
2nd Lieutenant
Howard Albert Conner
Huron, South Dakota
Beadle County
August 23, 1918 – March 26, 1944
Killed in Plane Crash near Cape Pacora, Republic of Panama
Howard Albert Conner was born August 23, 1918 in Huron, South Dakota.  Howard was the third child of Albert and Mary Jane Conner.  Howard had two sisters, Mrs. Marvin R. Murphy and Mrs. Loran R. Blackford.  Howard grew up in Huron, South Dakota, attending Huron High School, graduating  in 1937.  While he was in school, he worked at the Huron theatre and as a clerk at Tunnell’s Shoe Store for one year.

He entered the Army in February 1941 taking his training at Fort Snelling, Minnesota and transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington and in August 1942 to Camp Gerber, Oklahoma.  He served with a tank destroyer battalion until January 1943 when he transferred to the Army Air Force.  On November 3, 1943, he graduated at Aloe Army Air Field, Victoria, Texas receiving a commission as a second lieutenant.  From there he went to Panama where he completed a transitional course at Sixth Air Force Fighter Command School.  He was assigned to a fighter squadron in the Caribbean area.

2nd Lieutenant Howard Conner perished in the Republic of Panama on March 26, 1944.  His plane crashed near Cape Pacora, Republic of Panama, which is in the Panama Canal Zone.  He is buried at the Riverside Cemetery, Huron, South Dakota.  His name is also inscribed on a granite obelisk in front of the Huron Public Library. This memorial remembers “those who served and those who died.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Brandi Levtzow, 9th Grade, Redfield High School, Redfield, South Dakota, May 17, 2002. Among the sources of information for this entry were an application for a SD veteran’s bonus payment and newspaper clippings.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Best Friends Lived in Books

Back when I was nine, we lived in the middle of nowhere.  I had only my classmates and my little brother for friends.  My class consisted of twelve students, grades 2 through 8.  Only one other student my grade and he was a boy.  My little brother had a triple-whammy of a friend strike in that he was not only a boy, but younger.  And my brother.  So the characters in my books became my friends.

Nancy Drew was my first book friend.  Although she was older, richer and ran in a difference crowd than I did, I came to adore Nancy, Bess and George.  Although George once caused a family argument.  After my second or third Nancy Drew book, I realized that I had no idea how to pronounce G-E-O-R-G-E.  I asked and an argument started when they didn’t believe me that George was a girl.  It was my first taste of not being believed, even though I was so sure. 

I was with Nancy on all her adventures. I read as often as possible.  Sometimes even more often than possible.  My parents would tell me to stop reading and go outside to play.   I’d go, but sneak my book with me.  I got tired of the wasted time biking somewhere so I rigged a book holder to my handlebars.  Then I could read while biking our dirt roads.  Our house had no electricity and thus a flashlight was brought to bed each night.  My parents would wonder why my batteries died faster than my brother’s.  It was because I often was up into the wee hours reading under the covers… only to rise early to get through the next chapter.

In school, my book reports were all Nancy Drew books.  We made a book as a school project and I made mine Nancy Drew related.  The public library was two hours away and we visited only twice a month.  I would check out the maximum number of books (five) and they’d all be Nancy Drew.  One trip, I stayed home and gave my parents strict instructions to get five Nancy Drew books and a chart of which ones I had not yet read.  They came home with one Nancy Drew book and The Yearling, requesting that I broaden my reading knowledge.  I still can’t even talk about that dreadful day and I still have not read The Yearling, nor can I speak its title without making a face.

Once I went through the whole Nancy Drew series, I ventured to another section of the library series shelves and noticed books that looked like Nancy Drew.  Cherry Ames.  Cherry was a nurse.  In every book, she was a different kind of nurse.  Student Nurse, Army Nurse, Cruise Nurse.  I of course read two and then wanted to be a nurse. My freshman year of high school I even was in a club for future medical professionals.  That’s when I found out nurses give shots and clean up poop.  And that was the end of my Cherry Ames nursing career.  The Cherry Ames books were hard to find, though, so I read only four or five of the series.

For my eleventh birthday, I received a $20 check from my grandfather.  Mom took me to K-Mart in Milpitas, California to pick something out and I chose the first four Trixie Belden books.  I remember Mom questioning me.  “Are you sure you want books?  Not toys or a game or clothes?  Books?  Really?” and I really did.  I read those first four books, Secret of the Mansion, Red Trailer Mystery, Gatehouse Mystery and Mysterious Visitor, over and over again.

Trixie and Honey and Jim and Brian and Mart and Bobby and all the others traveled with me on the move to Minnesota.  And the move back a few months later.  I had only four books, but I made good use of them, over and over again.  Our libraries didn’t have Trixie Belden books, so after moving back to California, I started earning money babysitting.  I’d take that money to Stacey’s bookstore at Stanford Shopping Center and spend it collecting the series.  I even re-purchased Secret of the Mansion, as I’d loaned it out never to be seen again.

Every bit of the Trixie Belden series is imbedded in my mind.  I can close my eyes right now, over 30 years later, and picture Trixie’s home, Honey’s mansion, and the trailer they had a number of adventures in.  I can picture Nancy Drew’s house, her father’s briefcase, her car.  I can close my eyes and see Lex admiring Cherry’s nurse uniform and the hopeful faces of her injured and sick patients watching her approach.

The feeling I get though when I close my eyes and imagine the time I spent with all these friends makes me glow.  Real friends are great.  But real friends who you can share books with?  Priceless.

P.S.  Earlier this year, I got tired of my ten-year-old daughter only reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  I assigned her the first Trixie book, Secret of the Mansion, to read for school.  Now she can’t say Trixie Belden without making a face and I do believe that she will never pick another up again.  Or any of my other suggestions.  Sorry about The Yearling, Mom.  Now I know how you felt.  

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Google Plus (and Other Social Media)

I had a Lunch 'n' Learn awhile back with my local genealogical society (Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society) and we talked about many different social media avenues online.  As I spoke, I thought about those that I use and realized that I have a huge advantage in that I do not need to use all of them.  I am not in this genealogy “thing” as a business.  So I can pick and choose.  Try and delete.

Facebook I use for family and friends.  I have a few genealogists on my list that I like to read.  And a few genealogists that have crossed into friends and I’d keep them even if genealogy died.  Twitter was once fun, but I find it difficult to keep on top of.  So many posts are made that even if you are offline while at work, you miss so much that you feel like you are lost in the dark.

One that I tried only for a bit and didn’t like, I’d stopped using entirely.  Google+.   I found it boring and useless.  Then they created Communities.  Now I find it one of the most useful of my morning genealogy endeavors.  I can scroll through and read great items directly interesting me.  If you aren't already there, I suggest going to Google+ and joining theses communities: