Memories – Kid Shows and Poker with Grandma.

By Don Taylor

I’ll admit it. I grew up with television.  Every morning it was TV time.  During the summer, and other times when there
wasn’t school, it was TV for lunch (“Lunch with Casey” comes to mind), too. And, of course, after school was filled
with more kid programs.  It was the golden age
of television and kid programs of early 1960s were wonderful. 

House at 8316 Monroe still stands (Modern Picture)
Photo by Don Taylor
Probably my fondest memories of television were when we
lived in Spring Lake Park (A suburb of Minneapolis), Minnesota.  It was a tiny little one-bedroom house, about
780 square feet.  I didn’t have a bedroom;
rather, my bedroom was the “breezeway” between the house and the garage. In the
summer, it was glorious, but in the winter, the unheated room, without
insulation, which had louvered windows was a bit chilly. So, when I’d get up in
the morning it was quick into the main part of the house to warm up.
I was 11 or 12 years old – fifth and sixth grades – when we
lived there. I was an early riser.  Most
of the year, I’d have cold cereal, but in the winter my grandmother (Donna)
would make hot Purina or Cream of Wheat for me. Thinking about, it we were
pretty much a Ralston Purina household. 
We ate Chex, for the most part, when it wasn’t hot cereal. However,
mostly morning was getting ready for school, watching cartoons, and playing poker.
I was usually up by 6:30AM when “Siegfried and his Flying
Saucer” came on WCCO. Siegfried wasn’t really a cartoon; he was a drawing that
was put on screen.  No animation, just a
drawing. My memory is a bit fuzzy about if he even had a voice but his drawing
was better than the test pattern that was there before the show began. On Siegfried’s
there was also “Wallace the Weather Bear.” Wallace was also nothing but a
drawing on the screen, but he provided the expected high and low temperatures
for the day.  I think there were rain and
snow stickers they added to the drawing of Wallace when appropriate.
At 7AM came “Clancy the Cop.”  John Gallos was the host of the show and was just a nice guy.  I recall he was originally a Keystone Cop but metamorphed into “Clancy the Space Cop” and got a more up-to-date uniform. Fitting for the show that followed Siegfried.  In those days, cops were nice and were there to help people much more than to “protect” as they do now-a-days.  Anyway, he had help on the show from a nurse, Carmen the Nurse.
This early morning time was when my grandmother, Donna,
taught me poker.  We had a couple jars of
pennies, one for her and one for me and played penny poker every morning.  She taught me five-card stud, seven-card
stud, and five-card draw.  I think five’
stud was our favorite game. Years later
I was talking with my mother about my learning poker from “Grams” and she didn’t
recall it.  Maybe we didn’t begin until
after she left for work.  I don’t think
it was a secret, I think that it was just the way the morning were and poker
didn’t occur until I was ready to catch the bus to school.

School was a five-mile bus ride to the Twin Cities Army Ammunition
Plant (TCAAP), also known as the Twin Cities Arsenal.  Spring Lake Park didn’t have enough schools to
support the ballooning boomer generation. Rather than building new schools,
they rented some facilities and the Arsenal was one such place.  It was an odd place, even for its time.  I’m sure they couldn’t use such a place today
as, I recall, it still had bars on many of the windows left over from its World
War II factory days. Interestingly enough, I returned twenty-some years later
when I got a government job with the Defense Contract Administration Services
(DCAS) and inspected the Area Denial Anti-personnel Mine (ADAM) bomblets made
there.  Occasionally, I needed to go to
another building at the facility which was same building I went to for
elementary school twenty years earlier. They had taken the bars off the windows
by then.

Life in Spring Lake Park was great. Kid shows morning, noon,
and evening. Axel and his Dog broadcasting from his “tree house” on “Magic
Island” was the highlight of the afternoon. I think my sense of humor from his
closing poems which, continuing in the Robert Louis Stevenson tradition, always
began with:
“Birdie with a yellow bill, hopped upon my window sill,
cocked a shining eye and said:”
and finished with Axle’s punny endings such as:
“What is that in the road – A Head?”   
“What did you do in Saint Louis – Park?
“What did you do with the light bulb, socket? 
It was a memorable time with many pleasant memories.  Nevertheless, I think the fondest
recollection I have of the Spring Lake Park years was learning poker from “Grams.”

————- DISCLAIMER ————-

Census Fact vs. Residence Fact — Caroline M. A. Pankey Howell (1811-?)

By – Don Taylor
Census Fact vs. Residence Fact

I was recently reading the Genea Musings Blog by Randall J. Seaver where someone asked him why he uses “Census Fact” instead of other categories of Residence, Occupation, and other facts. His response got me to thinking. Why do I use Residence, Occupation, and Education facts instead of “Census Fact?” I came to the conclusion it was mostly because when creates a fact based upon a census record it automatically makes the fact a Residence Fact. Afterwards I typically add Occupation, Education, and other facts based upon what I think of as important for that particular person and their census data. I agree with Randall’s reasons for using Census Fact. It is a snapshot event, information told by one person to another person regarding a family at one given time. The data may, or may not, be accurate because it must be considered secondary information. Anyway, I like it and plan to use “Census Fact” for my future entries. That will then keep all the information together regarding the instant in time known as the Census. Thank you Randall Seaver for the suggestion.

Bio – Caroline M. A. Pankey Howell (1811-?)
Caroline must have been something of a surprise to her parents, Thomas A. and Martha (Cannon?) [Liggon] Pankey. In the 1810 Census Thomas is over 45 and it appears that his wife Martha is as well[1]. It appears that some of their children were in there 20s and possibly married when Caroline was born in 1811-12[2]. That would explain the household of at least eight other white people living there. They had to have been fairly well off financially as the family had four slaves.

Some researchers indicate that Caroline was also known as Margaret, some as Martha; however, all of the documents I have found indicate her name as Caroline. I concede that the “M” in her name probably stands for Margaret or Martha.

Marriage permission clearly written by one person and then signed by Thomas Pankey.
Thomas died about a week after signing this document.
Source: Cumberland County (Virginia) Marriage Bonds, 1822-1830,
Library of Virginia, Reel 42. 1829 – Peter M. Howell & Caroline M. A. Pankey

Nothing is known of Caroline’s childhood. The 1820 Census is very confusing. The Pankey’s appear to have three children living at home but the 8-9 year old Caroline doesn’t appear to be enumerated[3]. We do know that when she was “about 17” her sick father gave permission for her to marry Peter M. Howell[4]. On 11 June 1829, they were married in Cumberland County, Virginia. We also know that her father died about a week later[5]. If Caroline was the youngest of Thomas’ children, it would make a lot of sense that he wanted to assure that Caroline would be taken care of after he departed.

In 1830, Caroline is identified in a lawsuit. Those documents indicate that she had at least 6 siblings:[6]

Nancy B & 

In 1830, Caroline had the first of five known children. Her known children are:

Married Surname
(abt 1830)
Philip C
(abt 1836)
(unk if ever married)
Peter Fletcher
Lorenzo Dibrell
(abt 1845)
In The Life &
Travels of Peter Howell[7],
Howell describes his ministry as a itinerate preacher in detail. Although
Caroline is seldom mentioned, it is clear that during the 1840s she spent much
of the time with him gone on the road.  When
he was home, many times he only stayed there long enough to recover from
illness or injury then went back on the road preaching.  So, she must have had a difficult time
raising the children with Peter gone so much.  In addition, they moved frequently. 
 I am sure of the following moves.

1829 – They lived with Peter’s mother in Cumberland County,
1830 – Lived in Cumberland County near Farmville, Virginia.
1832 – Lived near Willis’ Mountain in Buckingham County,
1837 – Lived at “Deep Bottom” on Gideon Howell’s Land in
Buckingham County.
1844 – Moved back to Cumberland County and rented from Samuel
1848 – During the cold of January, 1848, they moved to Murfreesboro,
1848 – Then in December, 1848, he loaded up the family and
moved to Halifax, NC.
1850 – They relocated to New Bern, Craven County,
1850 – By the June 1st, they returned to Western
District, Halifax County, NC.[8],
where they appear to have settled down as they were also there in the 1860

I can find no evidence of Caroline nor her husband Peter in
the 1870 Census so I presume they must have died by then.   There is no known markers or death
information regarding Caroline or Peter either.
Further Actions:
·      Research Peter & Caroline’s children searching
for clues to their life.
·      Research Caroline’s siblings for clues to
Caroline’s life.
List of Greats
Fletcher Howell
2.    Caroline M.
A. Pankey
Thomas A.

[1], 1810 United States Federal Census
(Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010),, Year: 1810; Census Place:
Cumberland, Cumberland, Virginia; Roll: 68; Page: 143; Image: 00282; Family
History Library Film: 0181428. Record for Thomas Pankey.
[2] Peter Howell, The
Life and Travels of Peter Howell
Which will be seen some Marvelous Instances of the Gracious Providence of God

(Newbern, N.C.,:  W. H. Mayhew, 1849),
Page 14. Archive.ORG.
[3] 1820 United States
Federal Census,, 1820 U S Census; Census Place:
Cumberland, Virginia; Page: 106; NARA Roll: M33_130; Image: 204.
[4] Cumberland County
(Virginia) Marriage Bonds, 1822-1830, Library of Virginia, Reel 42. 1829 –
Peter M. Howell & Caroline M. A. Pankey
[5] Peter Howell, The
Life and Travels of Peter Howell
Which will be seen some Marvelous Instances of the Gracious Providence of God

(Newbern, N.C.,:  W. H. Mayhew, 1849),
320 pages. Archive.ORG.
[6] Enquirer Article,
Genealogy Bank, 12 Mar 1830 – Pg 4. Pankey   
[7] Peter Howell, The
Life and Travels of Peter Howell
Which will be seen some Marvelous Instances of the Gracious Providence of God

(Newbern, N.C.,:  W. H. Mayhew, 1849),
320 pages. Archive.ORG.
[8] 1850 Census,, 1850; Census Place: Halifax,
North Carolina; Roll: M432_633; Page: 37B; Image: 80.
[9] 1860 Census,
1860; Census Place: Western District, Halifax, North Carolina; Roll:
M653_899; Page: 471; Image: 323; Family History Library
Film: 803899.

The house of Swentko: the name-changers

by Jenne M. (guest blogger)

There is an old family picture of my great-grandmother Victoria Swentko. In high boots and a long dress, she sits under the fronds of a willow-like tree in Eastern Europe. Her face is sharp, set off by her nearly black hair. Her eyes stare at the viewer, dark and intelligent – my mother’s eyes.

Born in 1899 to immigrant parents, Victoria was a lifelong resident of Perth Amboy, although she apparently visited her parents’ homeland at some point or another. She died in 1970, two years before her husband; they only had the twins, rather than the large families typical of the day. She humorously referred to my dark-haired mother as “Blackie,” ironic considering that she had been quite dark herself.

She was the daughter of John and Rozalija Svjontko, or Sviontko, or Swenko, or Swanko. John was one of three brothers, and each took a different variant of their surname when they reached the shores of Perth Amboy. A picture shows one of his brothers in the 1910s – a smart suit, a slight and balding man – in the City of Elmira, not far from where I live now and once the home of Mark Twain. Interestingly, one of Marie Kocun Bazsika’s earliest memories concerned a train trip to Elmira when she was four years old – likely to visit one of her Swenko uncles who lived there.

I don’t know where John and Rozalija come from, or even the true variant of their name – but I caught tantalizing hints on their tombstone in Perth Amboy. John long outlived his wife, dying at the age of 87 while she died three decades earlier. Their joint tombstone, paid for by a friend, bears inscriptions in the Slovak tongue and the name Svjontko.

The name “Sviatko” seems to be more common in Slovak-speaking nations these days, and could be related – or not – to this family’s surname. “Ko” is a diminutive suffix. Part of me wonders whether the name essentially means “Little Sven,” after some Germanic ancestor. Interestingly, the word svenko means “holiday” in the Rom language.

Could the family have both Rom and Slovak origins? It certainly is possible, considering that the Rom dwelt extensively in Eastern Europe, including Slovak-speaking areas. And I turn again to that picture of Victoria Swentko, with her black hair and clever face. Where did a Slav come across such dark hair? The name may be the hidden indication: Romany roots. Or it may not; there’s no way of knowing.

Road Trip & [Clifford] Dick Brown in Corozal, Canal Zone, Panama.

I have never been on a genealogical research trip.  Certainly, I’ve had a desire to go to the
Family History Center in Salt Lake City, the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and the
National Archives in Washington DC, but until now, I’ve never had a compelling reason for such a
It all started with a photo.  When my great aunt passed away, my 1st
cousin, once removed, (Beverly) received a large number of photos that my great
grandmother had. Within that set of photos was one of my grandfather as a young
man, part of a basketball team.  A photo I had never seen, nor had my cousin until she received the package.
1928 Corozal (Panama Canal Zone) Basketball Champions
Source: Family photos from either Dick Brown or Mary Manning Brown.  
It is clearly a military basketball team and Grandpa Dick was part of that team — The Corozal 1928 Champions. That begged the question where was Corozal.  A Google search found several Corozals;
however, the one in the Canal Zone, Panama was the obvious location.  First of all, there was an Army post there and
second, family history and other research indicated that my grandparents, Donna
& Dick, had met in Panama City, Panama.  I’ve always wondered if Dick and Donna got together after his military service or if Donna took another trip to Panama that I don’t know of. (She is known to have been in Panama in 1930 but my mother was conceived in 1931.)
I tried to find Dick’s military records before and
learned they were, apparently, lost in the disastrous 1973 fire at the National
Personnel Records Center. Legends about my grandfather Dick abound regarding
him possibly being in Military Intelligence, about his changing his name while
in the service because of his being some kind of spy and that his surname of
Durand came from that time. There are also stories that his first name change came from his military service, but I don’t believe that to be the case.  In either event, I thought
that without his service record we’d probably never know the truth.
It looks like I may be wrong.  The National Archives has “RECORDS OF U.S.
1915-40” and 49 linear feet of those
records.  Now I expect that the vast majority
of the records are General correspondence, Reports, bulletins, circulars, and
information about the Canal, however, there is one part of the records that
contains General correspondence and orders of Corozal, 1917-39.  Maybe I’ll learn what years Dick was in Panama. 
Wow!  I now know my
grandfather was in Panama in 1928 and in 1931 and that he was, at least, in
Corozal in 1928 and probably there for the entire three years and there are
many records regarding orders and information about the command. I just need to
get to the National Archives to fill in lots of the details of his life there.
Photo of the National Archives II, College Park, MD, By National Archives and Records Administration (The National Archives at College Park, Maryland) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
National Archives, College Park, MD
The National Archives in College Park, MD appears to be the
repository for 1,188 still pictures. Maybe there are photos of his basketball team
from other years.  I know my grandfather
played baseball in later years and was, or so they say, really good.  Maybe there are team photos of him as well.
I’m excited. I just can’t believe there won’t be something in the over 3,500
cubic feet of information at the Archives (Washington & College Park) that
will shed light upon this time in his life and upon his military service. 
I’m excited to plan a trip. 
I can go to the National Archives I can spend the day, maybe two or three (taking the shuttle to College Park one of those days) and my
wife can spend her time at the National Gallery only a block away.  

Donna in Logansport, IN, at the Nelson Theatre – February 19, 1920

I haven’t discovered where the “Chin Chin” cast were immediately before they arrived at the Nelson Theatre in Logansport, Indiana on February 19th. We know they were in Madison, WI for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th, but are still unsure where they were from the 15th through the 18th, immediately before the one night show in Logansport.


February 11th was the first announcement for the show in the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. It was a very lengthy article, “Chin Chin’ Is Coming To the Nelson Theater.” Another article appeared on the 12th.

The trials and tribulations of a show on the road is evidenced by the Logansport Pharos-Tribune on February 13th. Apparently, back on February 8th, the Barnett Hotel caught fire and was destroyed. With the “Chin Chin” cast coming to town there were not enough hotel rooms available for the cast of 55 members. Because of that, the cast would use sleeper cars during their stay[i].

Logansport Pharos-Tribune – Feb 13, 1920 · Page 2


Logansport’s loss in hotel accommodations, occasioned by the fire that destroyed the Barnett hotel last Sunday afternoon, made itself conspicuous yesterday when Jack Goettler, advance agent for “Chin Chin,” the Charles Dillingham production to be staged at the Nelson next Thursday, was unable to secure hotel accommodations for the company that will present the attraction here.

There are 55 members in the company, and Goettler sought all the local hostelries in his efforts to make reservations for the members. Before leaving the city last night, the advance agent said the company would come to Logansport in sleepers which would be used to house the people during their stay here. 

Donna is probably the 2nd from Left
Source: Logansport Pharos-Tribune
February 14, 1920, Page 5
Via Newspapers.Com

Also on the 14th was a picture of “The Four Leading Ladies of Chin Chin” Although the quality of the photo isn’t very good, it appears that Donna is the woman 2nd from left.

Additionally there was a short article about the show focusing mostly upon it being a Charles Dillingham Production and that it includes an Ivan Caryll score.

News on the 15th focused upon the show being an extravaganza and included photos of the bareback riders in the show which we have seen before.

An article on the 17th was really interesting as it explained something of the unknown previously [ii].

Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Indiana) · Tue, Feb 17, 1920 · Page 5

Salaries Are Higher
In “Chin Chin”

“Handsome is as handsome does,” is not applicable in the selection of the chorus of the present day musical comedy. The demand for a beauty chorus has increased the salaries of the fair young girls more than 100 per cent in the past ten years. In 190? the average salary was $15.00 per week. Today the lowest salary of a “Chin Chin” girl is $30, and range from that figure to $50.00 for the “first row girls.”

The American chorus girl recognized as the best in the world, receives many times the amount paid to the “flappers” of London or the “ensemble” of Paris. In London two pound is the average, while in Paris 132 francs is the highest salary paid.

In “Chin Chin” which comes to the Nelson theatre Thursday night, there are thirty girls, the average salary is #35.00 and the season last 40 weeks, bring the total charged to $42,000

In 1900 a company in a musical comedy usually had twenty-four girls with the salary of $15.00 the total paid was 0 the total paid was $12,499. So today the manager charges $29,600 to the “high cost of beauty.”
We know Donna was a “front row girl” so we can assume she earned $50.00 per week.

On the 18th, there is an article which mentions that “Chin Chin” will be greeted by a Full House and there was an unusual demand for tickets. There is also mention of an article in the Memphis Tenn. News Scimstar that the show played at the New Lyric apparently the Sunday night proceeding. [Possibly the 15th.]

1920-02-14 – Logansport Pharos-Tribune

On show day, February 19th, 1920 there is a very interesting photo of two of the cast members. There are errors between the header & footer. It shows Aladdin and the American Girl but it mentions that it is playing at the Colonial Theater for three days. A definite mistake but the costumes clearly appear to be “Chin Chin.” There is also a photo of the 16 “Chin Chinners” (women staring in the show, a short article, and the regular “Chin Chin” advertising.

The day after the show, an after show review ran in the paper as well. In it Donna is mentioned.

Miss Montran as the Goddess of the Lamp, was delightfully charming, and her rich, musical voice captivated the audience with her first solo, “Violet” and gained her more favor when she sane “The Gray Dove.”

The Nelson Theater
The Nelson theatre opened in 1908[iii]. It was renovated in 1917 and reopened to the public on 6 November, 1917, as the Majestic Theatre.[iv] Sometime between then and 1920 it must have changed its name back as it was called the Nelson Theater when Donna and Chin Chin played there on 19 Feb 1920. According to Cinema Treasures it was renamed the Luna Theatre in 1921. This is confirmed by the 1922 Supplement to the Julius Cahn Gus Hill Theatrical Guide, which lists the theater as the Luna. Interestingly enough the manager in the 1922 supplement, H. R. Byerly must be the same person as the Harlow Byerly who announced the “Chin Chin” show coming to the Nelson in 1920[v].  Apparently there wasn’t a management change between the Nelson and the Luna theatres as is typical when theaters are renamed or change hands. The 1922 Guide also indicates that the theater capacity didn’t change between during the 1917 renovation and 1922. The theater held 1190 people, 422 on the floor level, 320 in the balcony, 400 in the gallery, and 48 in the boxes[vi].

According to Cinema Treasures, the theater was renamed the Roxy Theatre in November 1934 and operated into at least the early 1950s. It was closed in the late 1950s and stood unused into the 1970s[vii].

I have been unable to find a photo of the Nelson Theater that may be used on this site. There is an excellent photo on Flickr at which shows the Barnett Hotel and the Nelson Theater were next door to each other. I’ll bet you could smell the Barnett during the show at the Nelson only 11 days after the fire.

Further Research
Look for “Chin Chin” playing at the New Lyric in Memphis, TN, possibly the 15th of February. Check the News Scimstar for articles.

     [Update: I have been unable to find any Memphis newspapers from February 1920 on line.  Also, the Logansport paper mist named the Memphis paper. It should have been the News Scimitar.  The Library of Congress indicates that

Tennessee State Libr & Arch, Nashville, TN
Univ of Memphis, Memphis, TN

are both holding, however, neither have February 1920 issues. The Tennessee State Library & Archive indicates that they may have the issues in question.  I will put a visit there on my wish list.]


[i] Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport,
Indiana) · Fri, Feb 13, 1920 · Page 2 via Newspapers.Com
[ii] Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport,
Indiana) · Tue, Feb 17, 1920 · Page 5 via Newspapers.Com
Cinema Treasures – Roxy Theatre.
[v] Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Logansport,
Indiana) · Sat, Feb 14, 1920 · Page 5 via Newspapers.Com
Cinema Treasures – Roxy Theatre

————- DISCLAIMER ————-