Friday, June 29, 2012

an excerpt from The Mulry Family History

The following is an excerpt from my work in progress, the Mulry Family History, which chronicles the descendants of the Irish immigrants to Indianapolis, John and Mary Ellen Raridan Mulry. This excerpt is the section on their son, my great-great grandfather, Lawrence Mulry (1882-1950). I love this section in particular, because it includes some wonderful memories of Lawrence and his wife, Nellie. (Shared memories are the best part of any family history!)

The information the first Mulry history has on Lawrence reads:

                   Born 1882. Switchman, Conductor, Yardmaster Big 4 Rwy. Married Nellie May Hitchcock 1902. They had six children. Died 1950 Dec. 28, buried Washington Park Cemetery East at the age of 68

          Of all of John and Mary’s children, Lawrence has by far the most descendants. In 1966 it was known that he and Nellie had 32 great-grandchildren. Who knows how many exist today? 

Lawrence and Nellie’s children were:
                   Lawrence A. Mulry, Jr. 1903-1993 (who wrote the history)
                   Raymond Charles Mulry 1904-1905 (pneumonia)
                   Louise M. Mulry 1906-1907 (malnutrition)
                   Mary Elizabeth Mulry 1913-1985
                   John Edward Francis Mulry 1914-1992
                   James William Mulry 1915-1975

           Many fond memories still exist of Lawrence and Nellie. Great-granddaughter Patty Mulry Shaffer has vivid memories, one of her favorites being the story Nellie told when asked how she met her husband. Apparently, she had been looking out her window when she saw him and said to herself, “I’m gonna get that man!” She succeeded!
          Other memories of Patty include her living with them for a time when she was young. She would always play Solitaire and cheat (a memory shared by great-grandson George Hayes as well) and shoo them away when they called her on it.
 Patty Mulry Higginbotham remembers “Mom Mulry” playing cards and Spoons with them, and also making “the best fudge.” Kathy Mulry Schmidt recalls: “[Grandpa] died when I was only 5 so I hardly knew him, but I was pretty close to Grandma. We used to play 500 Rum for hours and watch The Lone Ranger together on her 12 inch black and white TV.  She lived with us for awhile when I was about 11 and 12 and she would take my side when my mom yelled about something I had done.  Imagine that! What's a grandma for?”
The following memories are written by Patricia L. Mulry-Shaffer, who was cared for in many ways, by Nellie May (Hitchcock) Mulry and did spend a great deal of time with her while she was growing up until around 1957 then from the early part of 1960 or 1961 until she returned to Uncle John’s to live. “This is how the narrative of how Nellie May saw & won the affections of Lawrence A. Mulry, Sr. Nellie May was a card player, she played piano for ‘The Lodge’ women’s league (I think the Moose Lodge) and was saucy gal! While I was growing up she mostly lived with Great Uncle John & Aunt Elsie. She did live with me and daddy in the early sixties when my father bought a house in Southport and had custody of me. He needed the help of someone to care for me while he worked at night. By that time she was in her 80’s but still spunky and full of it. She finally went back to Uncle John & Aunt Elsie’s and remained there (I believe) until her longevity ended.
“Some of her antics and ways are well known to some of us older Mulry children and cousins. She could pound a piano’s keys with determination, mash potatoes with vigor & a cigarette hanging from her mouth (“don’t mind the ashes…. They look like pepper and won‘t hurt you!”….. Ha ha ha) and cheat at solitaire till “who tied it” as she would say.
“She had a sense of humor and a no nonsense way of doing things. She had been a very heavy woman at one time and had wattles under her arms…… when she talked she would use her hands and those wattles would swing back and forth. Look at the pictures of her and pop and you will see what I mean. She was short to Pop’s height but I don’t think she took any crap from anyone!
“Fat Grandma would tell me about when she had food on the table………… Pop would always say “more meat Ma” even when there was no more to give. Even working on the railroad for all those years, the depression did not let people afford much for their tables. Aside from that, I do not recall much more about my Great-Grandmother, Nellie May.”
               Mary Ann Fox, James’ future wife, wrote in her diary while she was dating him in 1935:  Went over to Jim’s home for supper and had a sweet time. Met a lot of his folks, all lovely. Mr. and Mrs. Mulry are grand. Played cards and made lemonade.

               Lawrence died in December of 1950. According to granddaughter Emma Mulry Prange, he and Nellie were living with their daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Ralph Bland, in Beech Grove at the time of his passing. Nellie passed several years later in 1966. They are both buried at Washington Park East Cemetery in Indianapolis.
            In conclusion, the first Mulry history tells of Lawrence: “The best story of all that I ever heard of all of them was the one about Grandma wanting to make a priest out of my father Lawrence. As you can plainly see, it is a good thing that she did not succeed because none of us would be here now as he was the only one to have any children to carry on the name.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

my passion for family history

Below is the foreword to my other work in progress - the Mulry family history book. This book will be published some time in the near future, with hopes that it will be a treasured keepsake for those in the Mulry family. The foreword includes my reasons for pursuing family history.

When I began my journey into family history nearly ten years ago, I must have thought it would be a rather quick one; either that, or impossible. Little did I know that my family had been sitting on a gold mine of rich stories of people whose beliefs and experiences shaped what our family has become today. My grandparents’ house held family photo albums, Bibles and letters over one hundred years old – something I never knew. But as I took the time to sit down with them and listen to their stories, my respect for them grew, into something akin to awe. Perhaps what I found so fascinating was just how much we were alike. I’d always liked history, but seeing it come to life through the eyes of my ancestors was something entirely different. Family history makes you feel like you really are apart of this world, a thread in the fabric of humanity. Each of my lines means something special to me, but the Mulry line, for some reason, has remained a focus of my study. Perhaps it’s my interest in Ireland. Perhaps it’s because they were the first to come to Indianapolis, and here we remain. But whatever the reason, I think it is because I relate to them the most. And even through the years, our Mulry line has remained a tight knit family group. If you find a Mulry anywhere in the Indianapolis area, chances are they are a part of our family. This line has born politicians, teachers, railroad men, soldiers, projectionists and farmers. But no matter the profession, it has produced families, and it all started with a humble Irish blacksmith who set up shop in downtown Indianapolis and raised his family in the Fountain Square neighborhood. As I’ve never been able to trace his family any further back, I decided to compile a history of his descendants. After all, he did come to America looking for a better life, hoping for one for his children. Here I offer a humble analysis of how his descendants have fulfilled his hopes.

          I dedicate this history to the memory of my grandmother, Jacqueline Mulry Lutz, who was taken from us in a car accident when I was only seven. Everyone has always told me that she was the “family historian.” This history is also an attempt to pick up where she left off, if such a thing is possible, and to honor her and her family in doing so.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

a story of falling in love

I've been going back and forth on whether or not I should post this on my blog, but I've finally decided I want to share it because it's one of my favorite things that I've written (wrote it about 4 years ago). It's the story of how my husband and I fell in love.

          We came to a fork in the trail – “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” – and Ben and I took to the one less traveled by.

          Down the mountain from that glorious view we walked, and I should’ve known it then. I should’ve known what I came to realize while washing dishes months later that on his broad chest and in his strong arms and deep eyes was where I belonged. When we stomped down that trail and huddled together in the rain is when it should’ve hit me. Or in the back of the van, or in that McDonald’s or the Opryland Hotel, or even in the Projects, when I felt a gravitational pull to the hollow between his shoulders, a place where my body would fit perfectly. Or maybe when I saw him hold the children and all I wanted to do was climb over the back seat and underneath the blanket be held too.

          I should’ve known it when we walked the streets of Atlanta, or even sword fought in that restaurant, or when we talked about music and then sat together in understanding silence. I should’ve known it all along, and I think somewhere, I did. I think I knew it when he wrote me to say it was great to see me again, and when he said he’d be a little off after three days without speaking to me. Because I think I knew I would be just a little off too. I think I knew when he took a picture of that broken leaf, and when we sat in that Taco Bell and it was like we’d never been apart. I’m pretty sure I knew it when we watched that silly movie and all I could think about was how our shoulders lightly brushed and how I wished we’d touch some more.

          But I know I knew it when I sat in his lap and he told me we were made of the same things, and the same things that move him move me. And I’m sure I knew it when I wasn’t afraid to be the first one to say it: “I love you.”

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Interview with Laura Besley

 A big welcome to Laura Besley, writer and blogger!

Profile Picture
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm half English and half-Dutch and my younger sister and I spent our childhoods in England and Holland. I feel that I greatly benefited from living in two different countries as it gave me a different perspective on life. I also speak both languages and that has helped me learn more languages in the future. 
I have continued to travel in my adult life. I graduated from university in 2001 (with a BA Joint Honours in English Literature and Film Studies) and initially worked in business. I soon realised that I wanted to travel more and retrained as an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher and have been teaching ever since. I started in England teaching students from all over the world. I then taught Business English to Adults in Germany for 2 years and am now teaching (mainly) kids in Hong Kong. I love teaching as I can learn so much from my students. 
Living in Hong Kong is fantastic! Hong Kong is such an amazing city and offers a great combination of East & West. I think the more you travel, the more you realise that places can be different, but also the same and that's wonderful.
2. Tell us about what are you working on currently?
Currently I'm doing a flash fiction project. Flash Fiction is very short fiction (max. 500 words) and my aim is to write a piece of Flash Fiction every day for a year. I started on 4th May and so far I've managed to keep it up. On Fridays I post 'the best of the week' onto my blog. I'm hoping to put together a collection of some of the others in 2013.

3. Tell us about your blog, and your favorite kinds of books.
I set up my blog, Living Loving and Writing, in January 2012 and love it! I'm totally addicted! I usually post entries three times per week. 
Monday - general musings on life, living abroad. 
Wednesday - mid-week book review
Friday - Friday Flash Fiction. 
I love reading books written recently as I like things to be fast-paced. I get impatient with older novels that were written for an audience living in slower times. I like reading about different cultures and peoples as well. 
4. What book(s) have inspired your writing?
That's quite a difficult question to answer as I've read so many books.

5. What do you do when you experience writer's block?
Leave my desk! Don't keep persevering when it's just not going to happen. Sometimes I read, or watch a film, or go out for a walk. There's nothing worse than staring at a blank page.

6. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I think I found the first few pieces reviewed the most difficult. It's never easy showing someone else your work, but to improve you have to. And the advice you're given from others is invaluable. Any compliment is wonderful - comments I get on my blog, or if people read something I've written and say kind things I'm always really pleased. 
7. What advice do you have to aspiring writers?
Practise, practise, practise! And develop a thick skin!

Check out her blog:

Thanks for joining me, Laura!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Going over Home: video trailer

Now don't go gettin' too excited, because the book isn't available for purchase YET, but here's the video trailer. I couldn't resist sharing. :)

dang thing won't embed. here's the link:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Lovable Grandmas

Me with my grandma Jackie Mulry Lutz  - she made me both of the white blankets we're holding onto. Lost her in a car accident when I was only seven, but she sure loved her Katie :) I do miss her

My grandma Mary Holsclaw Andrews with her two grandmothers - Zella Wagner Holsclaw and Lottie Ash Oder c. 1920

My grandma Mary with her great-grandmother, Almira King Holsclaw with her chickens!

William and Kenny Potter with their great-grandmother, Margaret Ploughe Cross. Love her grin!
Check out my story, Going over Home, where my character, Maddie, meets her long-lost grandma, Eleanor Maddox, who is based loosely on my own great-great-great grandmother Almira King Holsclaw.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Magic in the New Year's Tree

Today fellow writer, Larisa Walk, joins me for a guest post.

Officially speaking, Christmas was not celebrated in the Soviet Union.  It didn't disappear altogether, just became converted into the New Year's celebration.  The decorated tree, the presents, and the holiday table, set with the rather utilitarian dishes of Soviet cuisine, became the new tradition while Christmas went underground.  Still, the holiday retained some of its magic, although in the tiny apartment where I grew up in the midst of the Siberian tundra the magic was mostly of the tacky kind. 

Because our artificial New Year's tree looked more like a used bottle brush, we over-decorated it to cover up the scruffy branches.  We hung shiny glass ornaments and tinsel; tossed little white puffs of cotton that pretended to be snow on the branches; and strung colored lights that reflected in the tinsel and the ornaments.  We also hung tinsel from the ceiling.  It made the living room, which doubled as my parents' bedroom, look like a place where silver rain fell continuously, never touching the scuffed floor.

If you switched off the ceiling light and left only the tree lights on, and if you squinted, the living room-bedroom with its pink wallpaper, worn red carpet, and a gurgling radiator under the iced window, disappeared.  What you saw were twinkling fairy lights, which did make the place appear magical.

After the traditional meal of potato salad, fried chicken, pickles, and beet salad that didn't taste all that different from the potato salad, my parents would go out to celebrate with their friends.  Alone in the apartment, I would sit quietly with the ceiling light off.  The room would be illuminated only by the New Year's tree lights and the glow that seeped through the window ice.

I would squint and stare at the decorated tree and wait for something magical to happen.  Perhaps a beautiful spirit would step out of the glow and take me with it, away from the dilapidated apartment where the radiators gurgled and the air faintly smelled like potato salad.  I would wind up someplace with trees and flowers, someplace where true magic lived.

Of course it never happened and I never told anyone about my New Year's Eve vigils, because both my parents and my classmates would've made fun of me.  Fantasies and deep feelings were acceptable in fairytales but not in real life in the Soviet Union.  You could hardly even find any fantasy books in book stores, though science fiction was more common.  Perhaps Soviet citizens were supposed to live firmly in the socialist present and dream of the future when communist paradise would become reality.

I didn't know it then, but my love for writing fantasy was born during my New Year's Eve vigils.  I think Yaroslava, the heroine of my novel, A HANDFUL OF EARTH, had her beginnings there, too, because she knows about forbidden magic and loneliness and how to hide her feelings from people that wouldn't understand.

Check out Larisa's blog and her novel, A Handful of Earth, here:

"More than a singular piece of historical fiction, it’s a saga of what it means to be female, a leader, and how deals with the devil are contemplated in the course of a struggle for freedom."
"It’s a saga replete with psychological tension and struggle, and is a top recommendation."

Thanks for joining me, Larisa! Best wishes :)