Thursday, October 1, 2015

Editor's Corner

October 2015

"“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that's what makes you strong.” --― Sarah Dessen 
Sometimes all we give October credit for is being the month with Halloween. Believe this: it is much more. It is the month that students in college for the first time begin to see the value of listening. That value is one that each of us should embrace, for with it we learn all there is that we can absorb. Reading is a great tool, but listening is what causes the lesson to groove into our brain, making a memory. If there were one thing this editor could wish for today, it would be having the poetry in this ezine through the years recorded in each author's own voice. Think about it.

The sole article for October is given over to the tribute to Mattison Jay Mansfield, aka FireEagle. His last poem sent to us just a few days before his passing, is in the tribute and also listed and shown with the poems: "Sob," a poem about recognition of limitation but the courage to be strong in every way that matters.

Bud Lemire, both poet and photographer, includes a self photo with "Netflix." His other five poems this issue are: "Alma's Photobook," "Sinus and Allergies," "Too Much Perfume," "Everybody Goes to Heaven," and "Discovering Every Day."

Phil Hennessy shares his poem, "Be Strong," and John I. Blair sent along two poems, "Another Dream of Her" and "Early Autumn." "Balancing Act" and "The Last Drop of Summer" comes in from Bruce Clifford.

"Armchair Genealogy" by Melinda (Carroll) Cohenour, includes tips for organizing your data. "Introspective" arrives from China authored by Thomas F. O'Neill, focusing on China's new push to separate State and Religion. "Irish Eyes" from author Mattie Lennon, discusses some famous stonecutters from Ireland who made their name in America. "Cooking with Rod" by Roderick Cohenour features his take on lasagna, explaining the steps to success with this dish.

Rebecca Morris' serial "The Adventures of Ollie Dare" continues with Chapter 6 "Ollie-Dare Has A Birthday Party" for this issue. Your reading youngsters should enjoy this one.

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at and also in the blog with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Tribute: Mattison Jay Mansfield aka FireEagle

MJ Mansfield

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” ― August Wilson
That quote illustrates the way Mattison Jay Mansfield lived. Jay was one to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. Many testimonies have been posted since his passing caused by a stroke, and complicated by having been diabetic since childhood. Type 1 diabetes is nothing to take lightly, and Jay fought valiantly to the end.

He would be the first to tell you he was not fighting for himself but for his beloved wife Nicki and his two sons. Through the years, he helped others through the chat medium on the web to fight their own demons, their disillusionment, their fears, but never spread around all that he was privy to, nor the advice he freely gave.

                                                     Jay and Nikki
My sister Jacquelyn (Carroll) MacGibbon, called him her "Red Warrior" because he would take on battles with anyone he felt was being unfair to someone else. Standing up for someone and giving them a pat on the back was daily activity for him. He, quite simply and without fanfare, made a difference in people's lives.

                                                         Jay and family
When the time came to be that his own family was beginning to appear, no one could have been more delighted. His poetry that was often exciting and filled with dangerous action, became poems of looking forward, of making a real future for his family. The welcoming of his first son was recorded in "Daddy," a poem that was also read at his last services.

Daddy thinks that you’re the world
Daddy thinks that it’s all you
Daddy thinks that you’re the world..
Here you are almost two now..
Daddy thinks it’s all you
With out you daddy’s got nothing to do..
With out you
I’m not me
It’s easy to see..

With out you
There’s no daddy…

Here you are….I waited all my life to see
Out by the road throwing sticks
You look so grown..
Here you are ..
Only six
Daddy’s not daddy with out you boy…

Daddy thinks that you’re the world….
Daddy thinks that you're the world
Daddy thinks that it’s all you
Daddy thinks that you’re the world..

With out you there’s no me…
It takes two for me to be complete…
Daddy’s boys….
Daddy’s boys…
I don’t know who’s growing older faster….
Oh lord how long will this last…
Watching you play..running faster and faster
I feel older day by day…watching time slip away…
I feel younger with you with me….
I see grown ups staring back at me…
Here you are almost two….
There you are….6 and almost grown….
Daddy thinks that you’re the world
Daddy thinks that it’s all you
Daddy thinks that you’re the world..
Daddy’s not daddy with out you boys…
Daddy thinks that you’re the world…

With out you
I’m not me
It’s easy to see..
With out you
There’s no daddy…

©4-25-08 MJMansfield

His encouragement of others was not only on the web, but on the playing fields where he liked coaching youngsters. He and wife Nicki both enjoyed being mentors to the kids that played on their teams.

He loved the water and enjoyed being out on it, living on the North Carolina coastline was his ideal place. He once said if he could breathe water, he'd live in it.

When the diabetes claimed his limbs, he didn't give up. He proceeded to work with the therapists and only another amputee could fully understand the pain involved. Yet, he stayed courageous.

On September 3rd, he emailed me a poem for Pencilstubs titled "Sob." I was surprised by the name, but reading through the verses showed his bravery was intact, blooming even. I let him know but did not get a response that it would be in the October issue. There is no doubt who was in his heart and mind as he wrote it.

I was completely shocked and dismayed when I learned of his passing, but here is his poem.

Oh God, do I try
as I sit here and sob
how could they be so wrong
all these people who prop me up
I'm so far from strong
forgive me as I sit here and cry
first my body then my mind
one thing after another betrays me
often in my darkness I wonder why I try
again I sob,
my doubt recoils like a gun
hearing the sound of my boys
I hide my eyes
I am still daddy
suck it up buttercup
I am daddy
I have advice to give
and things to cheer about
occasionally coaching from the sidelines
this is why I live
if I can help them with my hard won knowledge
to give them all I can give
and I cry. God I love these kids
today,again, I don't quit
I'll endure any pain for any length
I may not feel like one but I show them how to live as winners
and I sit here and sob
god I love these kids
I shake it off and one more time I show them
daddy doesn't quit
in a world gone soft
here comes the next generation of winners and rulers

©9/02/2015 MJMansfield

Jay's bio and a clickable list of his poetry published by Pencilstubs can be found here.
Easter with Mansfield Family

Cooking with Rod

By now I think everybody knows I am a foodie! I am especially a fan of spicy foods. While my first love is Mexican food (New Mexican, of course), I also harbor a great love for Italian, spicy Chinese, Indian, and Thai foods as well. I thought you might be interested in my take on lasagna. I do love Italian food and this lasagna, while it takes a bit of patience, is well worth the effort.

Here’s how I do my imitation of Mario Batali (heh, heh!) Although Mario would make his sauces from scratch, I value the ability to use high quality, ready-made sauces where possible. Dried spices save time, as well. Remember dried spices are more potent than fresh so caution is recommended. You can always add more to a dish, but can never remove the excess.

Here’s another little hint: For you adventuresome types, a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper flakes can add even more zing to your lasagna. If you want the color of fresh herbs, by all means, cut up a few leaves of basil or add parsley to the sauce just before ladling into the casserole dish.

Delicious served with hot garlic bread, a crisp salad, and iced tea. For dessert, I suggest a lovely, light sherbet such as a lemon sorbet or lime or orange sherbet to cleanse the palate.

Bon appetit!

Lasagna by Rod

    • 1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • Garlic powder, to taste
    • Italian Seasoning, to taste
    • Sweet Basil, to taste
    • Oregano, to taste
    • 1 large jar good marinara sauce
    • 2 cans (large) spaghetti sauce (Spicy & Zesty and Garlic & Herb)
    • 1 lb. lasagna noodles
    • 6-8 qts. Salted water
    • 16 oz. container Ricotta cheese (small curd cottage cheese is a good substitute)
    • 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
    • Shredded parmesan cheese

      In large skillet or sauté pan (I use my electric skillet), brown Italian sausage and ground beef together, adding garlic powder, Italian seasoning, Sweet basil and Oregano (begin with 1 teaspoon of each, but guide by smell and personal preference). Drain well. (TIP: Put drippings aside to pour over your furbabies’ dry dog or cat food. They love it and it’s good for them. Use sparingly, though)

      To drained meat, add marinara and spaghetti sauces. Mix well and lower heat to simmer while lasagna noodles are cooking. This will permit the meat and sauce flavors to blend well with the seasonings. At this time, taste the sauce mixture to adjust seasonings to your preference.

      In 6-8 qt. pan, bring salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles one at a time, ensuring they do not stick together. Cook lasagna noodles to al dente stage. Drain and place drained noodles into bath of ice water to stop cooking process and keep moist.

      Using large rectangular casserole or baking dish, put down a layer of the meat sauce. Then, place a layer of the lasagna noodles, covering the entire pan. Dab on ricotta at half-inch intervals. Cover with mozzarella, sprinkle with Parmesan. Add more meat sauce, more noodles, and more cheese. Continue this process until all noodles and sauce are layered in the pan. Be sure to retain enough sauce, then cheese to top the casserole.

      Bake in a preheated oven at 350º for approximately 45 minutes. Remember all ingredients have been cooked, but you want the sauce and cheeses to have an opportunity to flavor the noodles. When top is slightly crusted and golden brown, bubbling, remove from oven. Let stand for at least ten minutes before serving to permit the casserole to set.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Armchair Genealogy

Genealogy is all about Organization

      When my sisters, MomMay and I first started building our digital family tree, we were so excited to be able to utilize the software MomMay had just purchased that we did not even test the water, we just dived right in! We entered the data we had available from the photocopied or handwritten tree information that had been handed down without a thought to preserving the source document reference. Oops!

      After some twenty years or so of confirming (or refuting) the data from those original sources, I faced the same issue so many beginning family historians do – Where, oh where did I find that information? To my credit (patting self on back) I did go back and attempt to create source references where possible and have since attempted to be truly diligent in keeping track of my sources.

      My primary tree application now is as is true for so many of today’s genealogy buffs. The ease of locating obscure documents, the ability to view the scanned originals from hundreds of years past, the ready ability to document your source provides an incredible benefit for us. So, too, does the ready access to other researchers’ work.

      One of my personal dislikes is finding my own, personal research couched in my own words reflected in some other person’s tree without accreditation to me. Wow. That is simply one of the basic No-No’s in research in any theatre of activity. Please always be sure to show your source, be it the family tree you located via a search engine, a story told to you by a family member or other person, a picture shared by social media, or similar finds. It only takes a minute to highlight and copy/paste the internet source from your browser and enter it at the foot of your notes or “Story” by typing in SOURCE: or to indicate: SOURCE: email from … or documents provided by…

      Many times, however, you may spend hours or days seeking information and locating many bits of information that are potentially related to your own family. For these myriad pieces of information it is equally as critical that you copy or scan as found, identify your source location for your own references and possible publication purposes, and ORGANIZE the data so that you may find it later and add to the proper profile of a relative. My own computer files contain a general folder entitled Genealogy, within which are many individual folders bearing the surname of the branch, such as “Joslin” or “Carroll”. Within these folders I maintain subfolders bearing the full name and, hopefully, indicator of life span (example: folder JOSLIN, subfolder WILLIAM HENRY – 1837-1921; or subfolder Charlemagne – Joslin Lineage Research.)

      In some cases the surname may be one you just located and with which you are unfamiliar. It most likely came into your realm of knowledge through finding a marriage for one of your female ancestors. Many folks like to just keep the bloodline profiles in their trees. As mentioned before, I enjoy the hunt and the facts and stories located about my ancestors help to bring that person’s lifestyle, vocation, peculiarities, successes and heartbreaks to the forefront. This is how I get to know those ancestors. For my own purposes, I generally maintain a subfolder within the familiar surname folder that identifies the original link to that new surname. (Example: JOSLIN, subfolder Hetty and Samuel Pope Maloy.) This provides me the initial link to the new surname folder that I will then create, for the example here MALOY. In this new Surname folder, I can then begin to build the files for Hetty Joslin and husband Samuel Pope Maloy’s children and grandchildren.

      The surname folders also provide a space to hold the materials provided by other researchers that may enrich your own knowledge. Again, my JOSLIN folder contains a subfolder for Carol Treadway – Edith Wessler JOSLIN Research.

      Similarly, it is important to organize your photographs. I usually drop the pictures into the subfolders being careful to identify as fully as possible Full Name, d. (date) and b. (date), etc.. Along with these photographs are scans of original documents to which I’ve fallen heir or those scans others have provided to me. If provided by another researcher, be sure to give them a nod when you use those scans. Show their name and when and how they provided the information. That will assist you in going back to verify your own information, it shows the proper respect to your partners in research and it permits other researchers to independently test the data to determine its applicability to their own family members’ profiles.

      Since so many family members find their eternal rest in a common cemetery, I’ve found it most expeditious to have a single folder for CEMETERIES, with photos that I utilize in the family tree identified by name of cemetery and location, such as: Greenlawn Cemetery - Bakersfield, Kern County, California and Greenlawn Cemetery or South Side Cemetery - Drumright, Creek County, OK. The actual headstone photographs I drop into the appropriate subfolder identified for the family member. Here it is critical to remind you that those headstones may not actually be accurate. The spellings of the names, dates of birth and death, although carved in stone, may not be right. Be sure to corroborate the data through other sources if at all possible.

      That brings up another valuable source of information: those subfolders! Don’t forget to check back from time to time to see exactly what you’ve got stored away in those little computer files. Your greatest source may be – YOU. I have a huge section of file storage devoted to my genealogy research and I like to check back to see what tidbits I’ve stored away. I may have streams of shared data that appeared in RootsWeb, for instance, where researchers have shared their own findings and discussed the pros and cons of accepting the data as information. Remember, data is merely an accumulation of raw facts, dates, names and so forth. Information is that data after it is verified, organized and assimilated.

      Finally, I like to print out certain pieces of found research and use the printed page as a mark-up to add leaves to my branches on my family tree. I keep hard copy folders similar to my digital file folders with such printed copies filed by Surname and then by Individual Given Name. This is an important step for critical pieces of information. More than once, my computer has crashed during these twenty or more years of digital research. All my tree data was not lost because I had saved on disk from time to time a backup copy and was able to restore a large portion of my original work. Thankfully, I also had those hard copy printouts to work from. I had also printed and begun filing a three-ring binder of my tree organized by surname, and family groups then individual profile pages with accompanying stories, photos, etc. From these hard copy sources I was able to bring my tree back up to near original status. Undoubtedly, some of the information may have been lost because I failed to backup routinely. That is an essential element of organization – multiple copies of your hard-earned tree information.

      Genealogy has enriched my life. I know far more about history than I ever learned in school. Having the dates of historic events etched into my mind by virtue of having linked an ancestor to the war, the battle, the plague or memorable act of sacrifice or success helps me to sort of relive that portion of history. So many times I’ve discovered parallels never suspected or imagined where different branches of my family happened to fight side by side in historic battles or traveled the same migratory route via separate wagon trains only to find their descendants met and joined the paternal and maternal lines in yet another unexpected way.

      That is my next challenge: how to create a proper timeline that tracks my ancestors’ paths and show the dates and places where they shared that place in time. So far, I’ve experimented with Excel but found it rather overwhelming with more than 11,700 individuals now existing on my tree. Thus far those links are melded in my mind as a name, an historic place or event that brings to mind a similar link to another ancestor. In this case, I attempt to document as carefully as possible through a written document, carefully documenting all sources that contribute to the accuracy of my assumptions.

      The research into the descendants of our bloodline ancestors’ siblings is termed Descendant Genealogic Research. Some perform this research in a highly organized fashion, taking one brother or sister of their GGG-Grandfather and documenting first their marriage or each of their multiple marriages and then adding each child born to them with that spouse. A truly organized researcher will systemically take each person, adding every fact to be found about them before moving on to the next child, then grandchild and so forth. I do not have the luxury of time to do this in every case nor is it my preferred method. I am led more by my heart and that indescribable psychic link I believe is formed when we reach back in time to “meet” our ancestors. I follow my heart and that “voice” that tells me “Here is a story!” By dabbling into sibling research other sources are made available to me. Their offspring may have photos, stories, documents that were handed down only to that brother or sister and remain in the hands of their descendants. Here again, each piece of data is stored with the source carefully documented for future reference.

      It is my hope that these tips on organization can be of assistance to you in your own research and that your research will help you to learn more about yourself by learning about your ancestors, building a picture in your mind of how they looked, what obstacles they surmounted, certain aspects of their personality or attitudes that may have been handed down through the genes to you or your children. Most of all, I hope you are inspired to try your hand at becoming your family’s historian. Enjoy!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.

Irish Eyes


“Stone is lasting: all life ends in death, but stone lives on.”--Michael McLaverty.
In My father’s time . . .(I’m beginning to sound like the late Eamon Kelly . . . if only.) anyway, in the early days of the last century there was a Cullen man, in Ballinastocken, who was known as “LaaBaa .” I’ve no idea what the nickname means or where it came from. I once asked an old schoolmaster in Lacken, who was into numerology, and he told me that the life path number of LAABAA is 9. The Destiny Number 9 in numerology stands for the ubiquity of the immortal soul and therefore the nine is always surrounded by an aura of mystery and mysticism. Those born with this number will have much success in life. What I do know is that the soubriquet adhered so persistently to Mr Cullen that only those of his own age or older knew what his real first-name was.
He is remembered mainly for rhyming-off the names of his four brothers who went to America in the 1890s, “Lar an’ Matt an’ Dan an’ Pat.” Three of them were stonecutters who learned their trade in Ballyknockan. I was recently contacted by Marge Campbell, in Illinois, a granddaughter of Matt, who is very proud of her Irish ancestry.
Laurence Cullen emigrated first and settled in Chicago where he was joined by Matthew and Patrick both of whom worked at Stearns Quarry. In 1901 the both left, for Superior, Wisconsin, and joined the William Penn Stone Company. Both brothers married in 1901 at Christ the King Cathedral, Superior.
Patrick worked in Vancouver from 1907 to 1911 when he went to Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mathew also went to Minnesota where he became President of the Minneapolis Stonecutters Union. I wonder did he cut his trade-union teeth before he crossed the Atlantic? There was a prolonged strike in the Ballyknockan quarries in 1901. When it was settled Archbishop Walsh (the “Billy Walsh” who featured in Joyce’s Gas From a Burner) had a pamphlet distributed congratulating the quarry-owners and the workers on the settlement. Matthew died from typhoid on 16th August 1914 aged 40. His wife had died on 29th January 1914 twenty days after giving birth to twin girls one of whom, Helen, was Marge Campbell’s mother. Matthew’s brother Dan became guardian of seven orphans. Dan, who was a steamfitter, had his first child with his second wife when he was age 69 and his wife was 46. He died in 1956.

Patrick Cullen, who worked on many prestigious projects, including the entrance to Chicago's Shedd Aquarium that can be viewed today, passed his skills on to sons Myles and Bernard. Myles Cullen also carved a statue of the Virgin Mary (See pic at bottom of page.) which is still on display on top of one of the Mayo Clinic buildings in Rochester, Minnesota. Patrick lived until 1947 and his last job was the dog which lies on top of the money box on the F&M Bank.

Myles Cullen in his studio in front of some plaster Models at the Veneer Stone Company

In the 1930s Bernard Cullen carved many well-known faces, included Stalin and Mortimer Snerd, as gargoyles on All Saints Church. He said, “We didn’t have pictures of the gargoyles so we were told , ‘carve any face you like and have fun’ .” Surprisingly, for a man with a Wicklow father, Bernard Cullen didn’t like granite. He said he preferred to work in , “ . . . any good Minnesota limestone.” He carved a piece of the Rock of Gibraltar for the lobby of the Prudential Insurance Company and described the Monolithic limestone as “An oddball to carve.” Obviously he wouldn’t agree with the character in Seamus Murphy’s Stone Mad who referred to the Ballyknockan granite as being “like oatmeal “ and commented on how easily carved it was.

The Cullen brothers worked on the 20 ton replica of the Great seal of Minneapolis which was hoisted on to the wall of the Minneapolis Auditorium in the 1960s. The Minneapolis Tribune of 17th February 1967 had a picture of Myles Cullen dwarfed by the seal, which was 26 feet in diameter.
His brother Bernard said, “ The Great seal was so big we had to hire a ballroom so that we could lay it out.” Myles Cullen’s sons say their father’s work felt normal and common to them when they were young. Every Saturday they would help clean stone dust from a workshop their father and uncle bought, and be rewarded with a soda pop. Today, they say, they are amazed by their father’s work.
Laurence Cullen’s sons, Patrick and Laurence, were also stonecutters. Patrick was Recording Secretary for Chicago Stonecutters Union. It is no surprise that the men from Ballinastockan passed their crafts on to the next generations. In Ballyknockan, a Wicklow Stonecutters’ Village By Seamas O Maitiu and Barry O’ Reilly, we are told that, “ Stone cutting is a craft that does not just spring up out of the ground on the discovery of a promising seam of rock. It is passed on from generation to generation and stone cutters have always been willing to follow their trade.”
It has been said that if you want something to last forever you should either write a song about it or carve it in stone. Well, the Cullens have left many “poems-in-stone” in the USA. And wouldn’t LaaBaa be proud of his brothers and nephews knowing that it all started with the departure of “Lar an’ Matt an’ Dan an’ Pat.”

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.