Sunday, July 28, 2013

Connecting with Family

My dad's mother died when Dad was only 13 months old. Some time after that, his father left Dad in the care of his maternal grandparents and moved to Oklahoma. He remarried and started a new family in Oklahoma. Out of that marriage were born two sisters, Lena and Lola, half-sisters of my father.

Although she has always lived several states away from us, Lena has maintained a relationship with Dad and his family over the years. In the years since my father's death in 1986, Lena, who now lives in California, has come to visit Doug and me a few times, usually planning her trip around her genealogy work and the annual family reunion. The last time she was here was in 2008, when she was 85. She was to have hip surgery when she returned home from that visit, and we weren't sure she'd ever be able to make the trip again.

Well, she has. She's suffered some serious health issues this year, which have weakened her. So, this time, her son, Steve, accompanied her on the flight from California. They are here for only a few days this time and are staying in a motel near the small town where the reunion is held. It's more centrally located and allows more opportunities for contact with family members in that area.

Doug and I weren't going to make it to the reunion on Sunday, so we went out with Lena and Steve for lunch on Friday and had a wonderful visit. I'd never met my cousin, Steve, before; so that was an added bonus.

Aunt Lena, age 90, enjoying one of the rocking chairs at Cracker Barrel.

She's a very energetic senior citizen and stays active. This was the first time I'd known her to make the trip to Indiana without her laptop computer. She probably would have brought it this time, too, if Steve hadn't brought his.

Lena's son, my cousin, Steve

"What's with the closed eyes?" you're saying. Beats me. A good photographer would have spotted that and re-taken the shots...or would have shot additional photos to be sure the eyes were open in at least some of them.

Me, Aunt Lena, and Doug

Aunt Lena and Steve inside the restaurant.

Steve has retired from a career in nuclear weapons design and is now working with Phil Joy, a friend of his who is a professional house mover. (The two of them also race cars, but that's another story.) Anyway, Steve was telling us about some of the more interesting house-moving jobs they've done, and I thought you might enjoy seeing a video of one of them.

The first video is a news clip of less than two minutes in length, but in it you can hear a little more about the house that was being moved. The second clip is just over four minutes in length. It has no dialogue but includes photos and video of the house in its prime, in its decline, and during its move.

This move occurred in 2007. As I understand it, the goal was to turn the house into a bed and breakfast, but I haven't been able to find any current pictures to show it in its restored state.

Update:  Aunt Lena died on October 24, 2019, at the age of 96.


  1. first, your aunt is adorable. what a beauty! so glad your cousin came, too, and shared his stories with you.

    second, what an undertaking! holy smokes! 6,000 s.f. is huge, and to move it on trailer, then barge! the scene of the house going thru the bridge area with traffic stopped... just amazing!!! i sure hope it is restored and being fully enjoyed by someone!

  2. Wow---that's a HUGE house to move. Bet Steve does have some stories to tell... What an endeavor....

    Your Aunt Lena actually favors you... OR maybe I should say that you two look alike... She (like you) is a beautiful woman. GEE--hope I look that good when I'm 90.. Congrats to her!!!!

    Sorry you all couldn't make the reunion. I wish my family had MORE of them.


  3. Thank you for a marvelous post. Your aunt is charming, and I'm glad you got to visit with her. Both videos of the house move are fascinating. Moving that house was a huge undertaking, but I hope it has now been restored.

  4. I imagine that moving a house is a skill requiring much patience and experience. Great pictures. Glad you all had such a great time.

  5. I think it's beautiful that your aunt has stayed in touch all of these years. She's a beautiful lady. Closed eyes.. we'll have to blame the sun, not the photographer.

    That house.. holy smokes.. that's just amazing. I hope you eventually find photos of the finished work.

  6. I have to stop reading comments before I type. I think I'm coming up with my own words when in fact it's others' still echoing in my head. That's TexWisGirl's "holy smokes." ;)

  7. What a great time and active conversation, I love it! Hats off to Steve, it was a fun time for him to enjoy.

  8. Hi Just discovered your blog and joined. This post with family was a great ti together and your aunt at 90 looks fantastic. Hope I look that good!!! The video were great to watch, absolutely amazing moving the house. I see from previous post you are interested in nature, as I am so I look forward to see lots more from you.

  9. Seen you over at Tex's. I dont think your on my list. I will click it will tell me.

    What a nice you all had. Nice walking area.

  10. Your aunt Lena is a woman of great vigour, Linda, and in the shot of you, her and Doug I can see resemblance between you two. It's wonderful when someone arrives at such age still living actively, it's quite enviable. Hats off to her!

    The career in nuclear weapons design sounds very unusual to me, Steve's current life must be a lot different after joining his friend Phil Joy. The house moving is very interesting. In 1975, a church was moved in the Czech Republic, in North Bohemia, because of coal mining plans. The moving was even mentioned in Guinness Book of World Records as the heaviest building ever moved on wheels (12 700 t). Would you like to read more, here is a link:


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