Author Archives: Allie OConnor

Everybody has a story

Genealogy has been a keen interest of mine since elementary school. Most of us who participate in this hobby were introduced to the fascinating pastime of discovering stories about your forebearers by a relative; in my case it was a spinster schoolteacher who was one of my maternal great-great aunts. May is Personal History Awareness month, and a prime time to consider preserving your family heritage. Everybody has a story: juicy, mundane, illegal, shocking. Even if the thought of writing your family history makes you gulp, you can begin gathering facts for others to enlarge on. Or, check with your cousins to see if any of them are working on this never-ending project and how you can help.

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Retribution at San Jacinto

Southeast of the sprawling city of Houston, “The Monument” stands. This obelisk is visible for miles on the flatland between Houston and the Gulf of Mexico, and is now surrounded by oil derricks and electric power towers. It was erected during the Great Depression to mark the centennial of the turning point in the history of Texas. A summary of the early years of the area is carved on all four sides of the pedestal, and an elevator is available to take those interested to the top to get a better view. But a monument to what?

It is a monument to the events before, during, and after the Battle of San Jacinto, and the men who fought it.


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Ultimate Underdogs – Defenders of the Alamo

There are many legendary Texans. For those of us who were not born in Texas and have never lived there, it may be hard to accept some of the yarns that circulate. One fact that has many legends surrounding it is that in the winter of 1836, less than 200 individuals gathered in the ruins of a former Franciscan mission to protest they had a right to decide how they were governed and were besieged by at least five times their number. They held their ground from 23 February until 6 March, when the Mexican Army breached the inner courtyard. The morning of March 6, the final assault was made after the Deguello, a Spanish bugle call that meant no quarter would be given was blown. How did this come about? What did the sacrifice that the 180+ men made mean?

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“The Public” DVD Review

Public libraries give the homeless population a place to be warm, dry, and drop their defenses temporarily. Inside, they are welcome to read newspapers, books, or bulletin board messages, research on computers, and sit around with others or isolate themselves in corners. During the cold and rainy seasons, they line up outside before the building opens, and are reluctant to leave at closing time.

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Hanukkah: the Jewish Festival of Lights

Each year, beginning on the 25th of Kislev on the Jewish calendar, believers celebrate the 8-day Festival of Lights. Kislev usually is in either November or December, and this year Hanukkah begins at sundown on December 22. The origin of this holy celebration is in Jerusalem of 164 B.C.

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Covering a Service Member’s Back: Military Family Appreciation Month

Each United States active duty individual has a network of civilians that make it possible for the service member to concentrate on the job at hand. If they are single, family members or friends keep up a verbal, visual, or written correspondence to keep spirits up and encourage them during bad times. If they are married  and able to come home to the family most nights, spouses provide a sounding board to discuss the foibles of troublesome subordinates or superiors, and domestic concerns that the service member needs to know. When the active duty individual is deployed to a location where the spouse and families are not allowed (an unaccompanied tour in military jargon), the term “military family” adds another layer.

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Scenic Overload – International Postcard Week

For 50 years, I have collected postcards. It is an inexpensive hobby; they are easy to transport, most of them have vibrant colors, and a single glance years later can transport you to a time and place that you found to be breathtaking.

In 1974, most of Dad’s extended family met for a reunion in Grand Lake, Colorado for a memorable week. My cousin Kelly was in Grand Lake all that July doing summer stock with the repertory company that has been there for decades. We didn’t see much of her outside the theater, but just looking at the Grand Lake postcard reminds me that I saw her portray Eliza in “My Fair Lady” and be one of the stage managers (as well as part of the chorus) of “West Side Story”.

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