Have You Ever Been Accused of Nagging?

I just have one question. Did you ever nag your wife? After you read my story, please leave a comment. I would love to hear your story.

My wife had a very subtle sense of humor, and she was very determined. However, you would not know anything until it was too late.

Early on in our marriage, when I would lose a button off my shirt, I would invariably ask her to sew it back on. Her response to me was, “you know how to sew,” and that was that. I hate to sew (yes I know how, and I still hate to sew) and so the shirt would just sit there, unrepaired.

A few days later, I would try again. “Honey would you please sew the button on my shirt?” Answer: “You know how to sew.”

A few days later, I would try again. Same results, only this time she would remind me that I was nagging.

I guess I was just a little dense, because a few days later I asked the same question. Obviously, I had crossed the invisible line of too much nagging. The next day my shirt was hanging up where it belonged and my first thought was that she had sewed the button on.

Yes, she had sewed the button on, and about another 50 buttons sewed on all over the shirt.

The moral of this story, do not nag your wife, especially if she has such a determined and subtle humor. You WILL regret it. By the way, it did take a couple more “incidents” of nagging too much before I finally got the message. But I’ll save those for another story time. LOL


My Memoirs

There are several definitions of the word “Memoir.”

“Autobiography” is one of those definitions for memoir. Usually when you hear someone wrote their autobiography, you might think that the person writing it was someone noteworthy, like a famous author, politician, scientist, etc. That brings us to the second definition for memoir—meaning “an account of something noteworthy.”

So who am I to write my “Memoir?” Well to tell the truth, my life has meaning, and purpose, and is therefore noteworthy. You do not have to be famous to write your memoir.

This year at my family Christmas gathering, my grandkids asked me to tell some of my “stories.” We had a ball. This was not the first request for me to tell my stories, and not just from my family. One former boss wanted me to tell a particular story at a party.

A treasured books of mine, is a collection of memories of my Great Grandfather Jerome Bonaparte Swisher. This collection of memories, submitted by many relatives, was put together by my cousin Emily Bogan Swisher, and called “A Time To Laugh, A Time To Cry.”

Realizing how much I enjoy reading about those memories of my relatives, and realizing that my grandkids really do want to hear my stories, I have decided to write “My Memoirs.” I will try to write them on a regular basis, so stay tuned. I think you will like some of my stories. I’m sure many of them will cause you to “LOL.”



What do I have on My Genealogy Shelves

Part of the “process” of getting back to the basics* is to determine what I actually have on my shelves. I watched a Legacy Tree Webinar presented by Shannon Combs-Bennett on January 11, 2017 titled “Tips and Tricks to Organizing Your Genealogy” and this was one of the Tips. So I decided to take it to heart and created a plan, based on her webinar, to begin my “back to the basics” organizational plan.

One of the first tips is to Take an Inventory. So here is what I did. I hope it helps you if you are going to organize you genealogy materials. This first question to consider is to determine “What do you have?” Here is my answer.

  • Documents—type and quantity

                 Over the years, I have moved so many times, where I had to box things up and then find a new place to place it. In doing that, my filing systems have collapsed, changed, and papers are lost in boxes where I still have no idea where they are.Included in that problem is the fact that I inherited a large quantity of boxes of genealogy material from my mother, which many boxes of I have just glanced at what was in it but not dealt with it in a productive way. The current goal is to find all genealogy material that I own (or inherited) and get it into a useful organization, that can be accessed at a moment’s notice.

  • Digital items—type

                Photos—I have thousands of photos on my hard drive. Quite a few are genealogy related and a lot not. The system I have is totally inadequate, and convoluted. In addition, for whatever reason many are duplicated several times, which is a waste of space. To find a particular photo, it sometimes take me 5 to 10 minutes to find one, and sometimes I give up and have to come back later to try again. My systems must be overhauled totally.

  • Heirlooms—don’t forget to record the provenance of those heirlooms.

                 I do not have a lot, but what I do have, I need to write up a paragraph or two about the provenance, how I came to have it, and what history there is about it, and who should get it when I pass away. This also includes any keepsakes I have accumulated, especially my own keepsakes from my childhood etc.

  • Books

                 I have three kinds of genealogy related books:

                #1. Reference books, about how to do genealogy; 

                #2. Collection of books written by others, about my ancestral history, as well as family trees published or unpublished;  

                #3. Books, pamphlets, DVD’s, etc. that I have written about my family history.

* See my previous post under Swisher Research to see how  I began to implement this inventory.

My Personal Perspective of 911 and the Oklahoma Federal Center Bombing


This Sunday is the 15th anniversary of 911. This to me, is the most defining moment in our United States history post WWII, and is comparable to Pearl Harbor leading up to WWII. Pearl Harbor is one of those defining events that I only can read about, as I was not born until the war was over. It is imperative to me that we never forget it.

However, it is just now sinking in to my brain, that there are a huge number of individuals who do not personally remember 911 at all. Those are the individuals who are less than 15 years old, as well as those too young to be cognizant of the event. This article is my perspective on the event, as well as the Oklahoma bombing on April 19, 1995. I am including the Oklahoma bombing because both of these events affected me profoundly and I feel that I need to share my thoughts and feelings.

As a preface, I am a confirmed history buff, especially the history of the United States. In my genealogical research, I love reading about my ancestors in the Revolutionary War, and the Civil War. My dad entered WWII in the D-Day invasion at Normandy. He rarely talked about his experiences, but I was able to learn a few of them. He was wounded on March 1, 1945 near Cappel, France as Patton was on his well-known march. Over the years, I have wanted to learn as much as possible about what he went through, and in turn wanted to know as much as possible about my ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. I purposely watch every documentary about these wars, and have read many books about them. However, none of those documentaries or books compares to the personal experience of the events on 911, 2001, and on April 19, 1995. Here is what I experienced.

First, the Oklahoma bombing in 1995: at that time I was working for the Internal Revenue Service at a regional service center in Kansas City, Missouri. I was on the job when all hell broke loose. I was fortunate to have a desk with a window view of the main entrance of the center, and the first thing that caught my attention was when a large number of police vehicles with flashing lights filled the main entrance drive. Shortly after, over the loud speaker, notification of what occurred in Oklahoma City was broadcast to us. Also we were told that the presence of the police was because no one knew for sure what was next, and if we also would be a target.

Several of my co-workers were now in tears, and fear was prevalent as many of the IRS employees/and relatives at the Kansas City Service Center, had just recently transferred to the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Obviously, everyone was trying to reach those individuals to see if they were safe or not. The intense fear was so, so palatable. Rumors were flying around like crazy, and for the first time in my life, I got physically sick because of what was occurring, and actually asked to leave for the day, which I did. I never wanted to feel like that ever again.

A few weeks later, as my wife and I were traveling back from a trip to Texas; we took the time to go to the site of the bombing in Oklahoma City. The building itself, had already been torn down and a fence around the area had been erected and filled with memorial memorabilia. That was impressive enough, but the worst was the massive destruction of the buildings for blocks around that were still standing just as the appeared after the bombing. You could stand on the street at the site of the Federal Building, and literally see completely through the surrounding buildings, as the blast blew out the windows and everything in between the windows on one side of the building, and all the way through to the other end of the building. There were many, many blocks of buildings this way. It really looked like a war zone. It was extremely hard for me, emotionally, to walk around and see the results of that horrendous bombing where so many children were killed in the preschool center in the Federal Building, as well as those family members of my co-workers in Kansas City.

Never again would something like this ever happen, right?  Wrong!! On September 11th, 911 occurred.

I was at work when news came on the TV that the twin towers in New York had been attacked. All of us began watching. Immediately the knots in my stomach, that had occurred when the Federal Building was bombed came back. I struggled to control my feelings. Since I was an administrator now (no longer with the IRS), I had an obligation to help others try to concentrate on work, which in my opinion was impossible, as I too did not want to miss any of the news that was being broadcast. I was torn between the feelings that this cannot be happening, and that it has happened again (referring to the OK bombing.) That ugly feeling in the pit of my stomach just would not go away. It made me sick to my stomach, figuratively and physically. At least this time I was able to keep it together and did not have to take off work and go home. For days on end, I continued to watch everything I could about the attack and related stories.

Later, on a trip to see my grown daughter in Philadelphia, we traveled to New York and I visited Ground Zero. At that time, the site was fenced in, and the “pit” that remained after the debris had been removed, was now at the very beginning point of reconstruction. There were bulldozers and other equipment, several stories down from street level, at the bottom of the pit, and that was all that was left of the towers.

Again, I looked around and saw that the surrounding buildings had that same war zone look that I remembered from Oklahoma. No matter how I try, the images of Oklahoma surface immediately every time 911 is mentioned. I recognize they are two entirely separate events, but in mind they are tied together like Siamese twins. They cannot be separated. Those same ugly emotional feelings I experienced at the Oklahoma bombing, surface with a vengeance at the mention of 911.

Just this last week I watched several documentaries, on MSNBC, about the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. I cringe as I watch the events. Fifteen years after the fact, I can watch without getting physically sick, but emotionally I struggle seeing the events unfold. I never want to forget, so I watch because first, it is my way of remembering, and second I am a history nut.

What strikes me today, is watching all of the first responders go into the towers, not knowing that they were going there to die. They are HEROES, and we should never forget to honor them. Likewise, those civilians on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania are HEROES as they confronted the hijackers, obviously preventing another major attack on our country. Never should we forget them, even though they do not get the press coverage they deserve.

One thing I learned this week, watching the documentary about the attack on the Pentagon was how the military employees at the Pentagon reacted to the bombing. The Pentagon was a huge building and only one portion suffered a direct blow, resulting in a massive fire and potential collapse. The first fire fighters entered through the hole created by the plane, and shortly determined that the building was unsafe and issued the order that no one could enter it, even to search for survivors. In the documentary, some of those who had been trapped in the destruction did find a way to get out and immediately tried to go back in to rescue others. The fighters tried to stop them. Tension flared and at one point, according to the fire chief, he ordered is fire fighters to block all entrances to prevent anyone re-entering the building.

Why did they have to do that? Because, according to one Pentagon military employee who had escaped and was leading the effort to go back in, he stated that all branches of the military drilled into everyone that “you leave no one behind.” It’s time to honor our military as the best in the world, and their dedication to “leaving no one behind” makes those Pentagon employees HEROES in my mind, even as they were physically prevented from going back in to potentially their own death.

What a tremendous military we have. The fact that the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, held a news briefing approximately nine hours after the Pentagon was attacked, at the Pentagon, with the stated purpose of showing that our military was still open for business as usual, is in my opinion, one of the greatest statements that could be said after the attacks.

So, Sunday is the 15th anniversary of 911. Let us never forget it. I never will.

I solicit any of you reading this to post your feelings about 911, or the Oklahoma bombing. It is important that all of those too young to have experienced either of the events to hear from those of us who experienced them. History is known to repeat itself, and we must never allow the events to be forgotten less we aid in repeating these horrendous events.

Thank you for reading, and please, please post your comments about the events. I truly want to hear your experiences.



Why I Love Telling The Family Story

When I was in high school, I struggled with American History. I am not a poor student and when I enjoy a subject I usually am a straight “A” student. I was lucky to maintain a “D” average in history. Why? Because history, taught to me then, was a list of memorized facts and dates. Do not get me wrong, I have a very good capacity to remember significant data, when I am able to understand the context. By themselves, facts and dates were meaningless to me.

Fast forward a few years until the mid-1970’s, when the book “Roots” by Alex Haley came out. I read it with an intensity that I had not ever had before. I could not stop reading it. History came alive in that book and I have been hooked ever since. I am an avid reader and enjoy several genres, but the genre I enjoy the most is historical fiction.

My all-time favorite author is the late James A. Michener. You know, the one who wrote historical fiction at about 1,000 pages per book. The first of his books that I read was “Chesapeake” which of course is the history of the entire Chesapeake Bay area from before man set foot there, and up to and including Richard Nixon’s presidency. I found that book the most fascinating story I had ever read and I wished I could travel to the Bay area and see all the places that Michener told about.

The second of his books that I read was “Centennial,” which was the story of those individuals who traveled by covered wagon westward to Colorado, and how they settled Colorado and made it what it is today. I read it shortly after we had moved my family of six from Missouri to Colorado, lived there six months, and then moved back to Missouri. As I read “Centennial,” I kept finding myself saying “been there, done that” and that book came alive to me.

My foray into family history began after I read “Roots” and since I knew my mother was always collecting family history stories as well as doing genealogical research, I starting looking through her boxes and boxes of accumulated material and I have not stopped yet, nor do I want to. I love history, family history especially. Since the 1980s I have spent many hours on genealogy research, but always it took a back burner to my job and raising my family. After I retired, I have been able to devote the majority of my time to family history. My mother was always writing or compiling stories of the Swisher family and they were fascinating reading to me. I always wondered if I could write stories myself. One of the last requests that she asked of me, was to be sure to finish her “life story,” that she had been working on for years. I did that, and enjoyed it immensely, but still was not sure if I had what it took to write my own stories.

Then one day as I was digging through more of her accumulated family records, I came across an autographed copy of a book written in 1992, titled “Butter in the Well, A Scandinavian Woman’s Tale of Life on the Prairie” by Linda K. Hubalek, written in an historical diary format, set between 1868 and 1888. I read that book, which was describing an area in the middle of Kansas that sounded very familiar. The more I read, I starting commenting to myself, “I’ve been there.” She even included some township maps and as I studied them, I realized I had been to the places described in her book, even to the ancestral house she wrote about.

When I finished the book, I just could not let go of the fact that the places she mentioned were the places I had been as a teenager, so I called her up on the phone. Turns out, I had indeed been there. Her maiden name was Johnson, and her older brother was a good friend of mine from high school. Being in his home at various times, I remember seeing his little sister, although since she was just a little girl, I pretty much ignored her. That was Linda. She remembered my younger sister as they were closer in age than I was to her and attended high school together.

Knowing a real life author who wrote books in my favorite genre (she has several more books in the series by now) and realizing that I, too, have stories to tell as she did, has inspired me to act on my dream of writing.

Swisher Books In My Collection

Over the years I have collected several books about family history. Most are worth having and one is not worth the money, let alone of being of any use for genealogy research.

Swisher Books that I have in my personal collection (by date):

“The Swisher Family of Harrison and Lewis Counties West Virginia” by Robert Edward Swisher © 1974 [Robert Edward Swisher and Bob Swisher are the same individual.]

Early Swisher and Switzer Families in Virginia and West Virginia, by Bob Swisher © 1979.

“The Swisher Family Heritage Book” by Beatrice Bayley © 1980

[note: this book sounds like a good reference book for Swisher genealogy/history—not so. This is a very generic and inadequate synopsis of general history information, along with a lot of blank forms for you to fill in with your own genealogy research. The only thing that has anything to do with Swisher’s, is a computer printout of names and addresses taken from current public records, in 1980, available to anyone, throughout the United States. Even this printout is not comprehensive and not of use for the serious researcher. Basically, in my opinion, a waste of money.]

“Memories: John Benjamin and Mary Olive Swisher” compiled by Mrs. Richard (Loraine) Swisher, Mrs. Marion (Margaret) Shubert, and Mrs. Dale (Ethelene) Cook © 1987

“Military Memories of John Benjamin Swisher Descendants” compiled by Loraine M. Swisher © 1990.

“The Swisher Wigton Family Tree” compiled by Curt Swisher © 1998 (Christmas)

“A Time To Laugh, A Time To Cry!” by Emily Bogan Swisher © 1999

“A Swisher Family: Some Descendants of Mary and Peter Swisher, West Virginia Pioneers” by Robert Edward Swisher, with some sections by Albert Willis Swisher © 2011.

“ The Life Story of Loraine Maxine Donal Swisher”, written by Loraine Maxine Donal Swisher, March 25, 1990, compiled and edited by her son, Curt Swisher © 2013.

“The Jerome Bonaparte Swisher Family” DVD set, by Curt Swisher © 2014

I am constantly looking for Swisher history books, and would welcome learning about any you have that are not part of my collection. Please let me know if you have any.

I do have several other family history books, for other surnames that are connected to my own history, both Swisher and Donal lines but saw no need to list them here.


My initiation into the world of DNA

A few months ago, an individual approached me, asking if I had done my DNA. I indicated I wanted to but was not ready to put up the money needed. That individual, actually offered to pay for me to do so. (See my DNA guidelines about allowing others to pay for your DNA.) After negotiating with that individual, I agreed with the understanding that I would be fully in charge of my DNA results.

Six to eight weeks later on March 23, I received my Ancestry DNA results.

  1. Within days, I not only was able to answer the question that benefactor was looking for.
  2. Was able to make connection with previously unknown individuals in TWO different Swisher cousin lines.
  3. Reconnected with a cousin line that I had lost track of on my mother’s side.
  4. Found an individual that gives a connection to another cousin line on my mother’s side that leads me closer to breaking down a brick wall on that line.
  5. Was given nine DNA circles, the majority on lines I have been actively researching for information, to follow up with, which I am doing.

So I am extremely happy with my DNA results. In addition as stated in number 5 above, I have leads on many, many other potential relatives. I am following up on those through normal email changes. Stay tuned for the results that will come from those emails.

I also have been studying hard about how to use the DNA results to my advantage. I can tell you this, if you go to http://familytreewebinars.com/ you will be able to learn so much about DNA in general and specifically about Ancestry DNA Circles, which is what I am having so much luck with. Check it out.

Why did they leave Paradise?

I grew up in the middle of Kansas. It is often said that Kansas is flat as a pancake. Not so!

Western Kansas is flat as a pancake. That has been proven by a scientific survey, at least according to a TV show about food facts. In that survey they compared the surfaces of Kansas and those of pancakes; and their conclusion, Kansas is flatter than a pancake.

Where I grew up in the middle of Kansas, we had some rolling hills, not many, but they were there. You could still see for miles on end. My wife used to tease me about this when we visited my folks. She would say what good does it to do to have a huge picture window when all you can see is “nothing.”

Just a few miles west of where I grew up is Coronado Heights, where Coronado himself gave up his search for the gold and returned to Mexico. I could see Coronado Heights from my home, so you see the idea that there is nothing to see out the picture window is just not true. Most of the area surrounding Coronado Heights is rolling prairies where some of my ancestors settled. As the rivers meandered through them changing course over time, many canyons developed. Not as deep and gorgeous as the Grand Canyon out west, but take it from experience, you could get very lost in those canyons if you were not careful. I know, because I have done so.

Just a little farther east you have the flint hills. Now those are true hills, beautiful in their own right, but not as the hills back east, where my ancestors lived.

My wife grew up in southeast Kansas. Mining country, strip-mining that is, but again, not like the hills back east. More like flat to slightly hilly. To be fair, there are plenty of hills following the routes of the rivers, but my take on southeast Kansas is that it is still relatively flat. A large portion of the hills in that area is man-made, left over from the strip mining activity. When they are raw, they are ugly. Left alone, over the years, nature has a way of retaking the land and healing it. Then you have beautiful lakes (where the mining pits were) with tree-covered hills lining them created from the remains dug out of the pits. As college students, we used to go swimming in the “strip pits.” Some are gorgeous and some very secluded. Now many of them were converted into a state park.

Over the years my wife and I have lived in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado, and Illinois.

Kansas and Illinois have large sections of “flat,” but also have quite a bit of “hills” to offset the plains. There are some rather unique places hidden away in both states that defy the word “flat,” like waterfalls etc., but you have to search for them, which we loved to do. One of my grown daughters used to comment that the only hills in Illinois are the hills created by the interstate when they made overpasses over other roads. That idea may be a little extreme, but Illinois does have some flat areas to rival Kansas.

Missouri has the “Ozark Mountains,” which are true mountains, worn down over time. Very rugged, rocky, and amazingly beautiful. My wife and I loved roaming around in the Ozarks.

Colorado is a state of contrasts. You have the flat desserts on the eastern side, the gorgeous “Rockies” in the middle, and the plateaus and mesas on the western side. We lived in Colorado for six months and my job took us all over Colorado. Even when I was off duty, we traveled as far as possible up in the mountains and along the eastern edge of the mountains from north to south. We loved that area. So much to see, and beautiful, but for me living in a suburb on the eastern sided of Denver, there was something that was just not right in my opinion. I had a hard time figuring out what it was until we moved back to Missouri. Then I knew. Everything on the eastern side of Denver was dessert and all the “greenery” in the highway medians and the city parkways etc. was totally artificial, highly manicured, and maintained by irrigation. In Missouri, all the undergrowth and brush along the sides of the roads, as well as the large variety of trees and vines is what I was missing. I’ll take the ruggedness of Missouri  any day over the artificialness of Colorado.

So back to my title, “Why did they leave Paradise?”

My wife and I had the opportunity to travel back east when we took our daughter to western New York for college. On one of our trips, we scheduled extra time to research out where my ancestors lived, which was at Catawba, West Virginia. We also spend some time researching the area where her ancestors lived, which was just north of Butler, Pennsylvania. In both cases, we fell in love with the areas. As we traveled the areas, and in both cases walked the actual land where they lived, we both came away with a sense of awe about the majesty of the land they lived on. It was my wife who made the statement “Why did they leave Paradise?”

Now I know that there were many factors that caused them to leave. Economic factors for one. The promise of good productive land for another, since the more people that were populating the area, meant there was less land for a family to call their own. And of course there were those who felt that if you could see the smoke from your neighbors chimney, then it was time to move on as the neighbors were much to close. Probably the biggest motivation to move west was the homestead act that allowed many to actually own land out west, and the lure of striking out on your own and making a “new” life for you and your family. There is no way for me to ever know the reasons that finally sent our ancestors west, but I am sure that on their journey westward, there were probably many times  that they asked themselves the question “Why did we leave Paradise?”

Looking today at the Facebook postings showing all the snow in the yards of my West Virginia cousins really did remind me of the “Paradise” my ancestors had back in West Virginia. So I would move there in a heartbeat—no not really, as I have come to like the Paradise I live in. However, I still can dream of the Paradise that my ancestors left. For those who still live in Paradise, enjoy what you have. It is gorgeous.



Farming on the Kansas Prairie is Hard Work in the 1880’s

I have heard tall tales in my life. Many of which involve the big fish that got away. But for those farmers out there, I think the following article tops them all. I found this in “The Salina Journal”, dated May 10, 1883, in a section about “Gypsum Creek Gleanings”. Gypsum Creek being the creek that flows through the town of Gypsum where most of my Swisher ancestors homesteaded.

The story goes like this:

“Fine weather for corn and small grain.

“The farmers are not done planting corn yet.

“Grass seems to make slow progress this spring from some cause of other.

“Mr. A. N. Jackson has fenced in 160 acres of pasture and wants 50 colts to pasture this summer. There is plenty of water and shade in the pasture. Mr. James Tolle has also fenced in a pasture. There is more wire fence being put up this spring that ever before, it is hard work digging post-holes on upland farms and I would advise the upland farmers to go to Nebraska for post-holes. The badgers dig holes in the sand, the wind blows the sand away and leaves the holes sticking up into the air from ten to thirty feet, you can chop them down and saw them up to any desired length, drive them into the ground and have post-holes that will last for years. Some people use them for stove pipes.”

Can any one top that tall tale?

When I Was Young

1. Do you (or your parents) have any memorabilia from when you were a baby? (ie. baby book, lock of hair, first shoes etc.)
1. My mother had a baby book, called the “Log-of-Life” for both my sister and me, one of those commercial ones with the padded cover that has my baby footprints and hand prints in it. It also had a “birth Certificate” issued by the hospital, and signed by the doctor who delivered me. It even has a page signed by the attending RN that lists ALL of my measurements, not just height and weight, but includes 16 different measurements, like circumference of my ankle, etc. And yes it does have a lock of my hair.
2. Do you know if you were named after anyone?
1. I was named after a neighbor farmer who my folks thought a lot of and lived and farmed across the road from us. His name was Kurtiss, Forsberg but my folks felt that it would be better if they spelled my name differently since we lived so close to them in a small community and didn’t want the confusion, so my name is spelled Curtis.
3. And do you know of any other names your parents might have named you?
1. I think I remember my mother saying if I had been a girl I would have been named Barbara.
4. What is your earliest memory?
1. My earliest memory is about when I knocked myself out sawing a board. See question #13 for the explanation of that memory. Most of my early memories are not my memories but the stories my mother told me about what I had done.
5. Did your parent/s (or older siblings) read, sing or tell stories to you? Do you remember any of these?
1. I know my mother read stories to me, but the only one I really remember was “The Gingerbread Man”. I think that was probably because of an incident when I was three years old. I had gone to the hen house with my mother to gather eggs. Apparently, according to my mother I took off and she didn’t notice for awhile. When she discovered that I was gone, she went to get my dad in the milk barn and he started after me in our pickup. By that time, according to my mom, I was over a half mile away with my pet dog, and she could only see my stocking hat over the wheat in the field. She says that when my dad caught up, I just stepped out of the way of the pickup so it could keep going, and I kept running myself. When my dad actually caught me and got me in the pickup, I apparently asked him to take me to the riverbed. When I got home, I got a thorough spanking and since I loved the story of the Gingerbread Man, they told me that the fox who ate the Gingerbread Man lived in the riverbed and I never ran away again.
6. When you were young, do you remember what it was that you wanted to grow up to be?
1. I wanted to build things, like roads and bridges etc. as a Civil Engineer.
7. Did you have a favourite teacher at school?
1. My music teacher in grade school, 5th – 7th grade was Lucille Forsberg. When I was a child I was about as tone deaf as possible. My teacher could never get me to recognize any particular tone. She was always very patient with me, even scheduling special tutoring sessions after school with me. She never got me to recognize or hum any tone. I just couldn’t do it, but she never gave up on me and always encouraged me to keep trying. That encouragement was what makes me call her my favorite teacher. Throughout grade school, I joined in every singing group I could because I did love music but for the most part I was always totally off key.
2. When I was in high school I sang in the chorus and also started playing the baritone. It was a B-flat baritone and as my instructor worked with us to tune the baritone each day I began to “feel” the tonal vibrations in my mouth and throat, and that is when I began to be able to hum various tones as I then could mimic the vibrations I felt and learned to recognize when the vibrations felt the same as my baritone.
3. I never gave up singing and as an adult I sang in the church choirs as often as I could. For years I always had to either be sitting next to a strong baritone/base singer, or close to the piano, so I could feel the vibrations and match them.
4. The reason I am telling this longer story is because years later when I attended my parents 50th wedding anniversary celebration, my sister and her children, who were excellent singers, sang several songs. I had specifically asked them to let me sing with them also, which I did. My favorite teacher, Mrs. Forsberg was in attendance, and afterwards made a special point to congratulate me for sticking with singing all those years and it made me so happy that I was able to validate her efforts as she had worked with me back in my tone deaf years.
8. How did you get to school?
1. When I was in the 1st, 2nd grades, I walked from our farm about 1 1/2 mile to school. In the 3rd and 4th grade, we had moved to a different town a few miles away and I either walked to school or rode my bicycle. Then we moved back to the farm and I again walked, or rode my bicycle those same 1 1/2 miles. When I was in the 8th grade, our school consolidated with another school and I started riding a school bus. I did that though out high school except sometimes I drove once I had a drivers license.
9. What games did playtime involve?
1. Growing up on a farm I rarely played any games as we were too busy working. However, one year we did get a badminton set and I tried to play some with my sister (two years younger than me) but she hated the game so we never really played it more than once or twice. We did have some board games, but as a child I had a very jealous relationship with my sister and we never got along playing any games so playing games didn’t happen very often.
10. Did you have a cubby house?
1. When I was living in town for my 3rd and 4th grade years, one of my good friends had a clubhouse in the loft of their family garage, and we a “club” their which included a couple of my cousins and a couple of close friends.
11. What was something you remember from an early family holiday?
1. Until I was in the 5th grade, my Swisher aunts and uncles always got together for Christmas and each of us drew names and exchanged presents. Those were fun events. In the summer before my 5th grade, there was a family argument and we never had Christmas together again.
12. What is a memory from one of your childhood birthday’s or Christmas?
1. One of the few memories I have of my Grandma Swisher was when we had our family Christmas gathering in the early years. I remember her laughing and enjoying everyone. She died when I was four, so that is also one of my earliest memories.
13. What childhood injuries do you remember?
1. As a young child I loved to build things. As a farmer my dad was always building things and I loved to help. However, I would love to build things by myself and when I was approximately four or five years old, I went out to my dad’s work shop and put a board in the vise. I climbed up on the work bench and sat down on the board and proceeded to saw the end of the board off. However I sawed the board off between me and the vise. When the board separated, I fell backwards to the concrete floor and knocked myself out. When I came to, I went into the house and my mother wanted to know why I looked so pale. I never forgot that lesson.
2. When I was in the 3rd grade I was playing on a merry-go-round with iron bars that you could stand up and hold onto. Since you could get real dizzy doing so, it was not uncommon to lose ones balance and fall on the merry-go-round. In fact that is what happened one day and I fell directly onto one of those bars and split my tongue very badly. Blood was gushing from my mouth (I’m sure I thought I was losing a lot more blood than I really was) and my teacher told me the best thing I could do was keep my mouth shut and to not talk and it would be OK. Later when I arrived home after school, my mother became concerned when I wouldn’t tell her how my day went. She tried several times to get me to talk, but I just kept shaking my head and refused to talk. Eventually she got me talk, and of course by then, my tongue and mouth were fine, but I’m not sure how close my mother came to a heart attack because I was not known for being a quite child.
14. What was your first pet?
1. My pet dog was named Boots. He went everywhere with me. I still remember when he died and I remember the spot under a tree where we buried him. We moved away at the end of my second grade, so that was sometime before then. He was the dog who went with me at the age of three when I ran away to the river bed.
15. Did your grandparents, or older relatives tell you stories of “when I was young ..?”
1. Most of the stories I remember them telling me was not of what I did, but what my dad did. My aunt Vergie, told me that when my dad was suppose to start school in the first grade, that he didn’t want to go so when he got to school (a one room county school), one of the first things he did was lock the teacher in the coal shed, and then ran home, and refused to go back to school that year. She says it wasn’t until the next year that he started school, and then he never missed a day and got an award at 8th grade graduation for perfect attendance through all eight grades. I heard that story many times. My dad has always been known for being stubborn.
16. What was entertainment when you were young?
1. My early entertainment was exploring the farm on my own, and building things. My folks were too busy farming to spend time playing games etc. I do know that we had a TV that they watched but I don’t remember watching it until I was in the 5th grade.
17. Do you remember what it was it like when your family got a new fangled invention? (ie. telephone, TV, VCR, microwave, computer?)
1. I remember in one of the sheds next to our farm house, there were a whole bunch of large objects (later I learned they were big dry cell batteries) with all kinds of wires going from one to another. I always wondered what they were and my folks later told me that they were backup power for the electricity for our house. That would have been somewhere between 1947 and 1955. Apparently ours was one of the first houses in the area to get electricity. I don’t think they were still in use then, but I remember being intrigued by what they were.
18. Did your family have a TV? Was it b&w or colour? And how many channels did you get?
1. I know we had a TV in our first farm home, and in the 2nd city home. But what I remember the most is the TV we had in our 3rd home which we moved into when I was in the 5th grade. It was a black and white, and I remember my aunt Marjorie (my mom’s sister) and Uncle Harold coming over and “installing” the multi-colored cellophane sheet on top of the TV screen, therefore colorizing the TV. It was like a several bands of pastel colors covering the screen from top to bottom. You had blue at the top, green somewhere below, and red farther down, or some combination of colors, I don’t remember what order they were in. How in the world did we ever think that was “color TV”! As for the programs, the only one that I remember that we watched was Gunsmoke, as that was my dad’s favorite show.
19. Did your family move house when you were young? Do you remember it?
1. My folks owned a hundred acre farm and my dad also worked full time in civil service, so they were very busy doing the chores, raising cattle, hogs, chickens, and milking cows, as well as farming the ground, so my dad decided he wanted to quit doing everything but farming the ground. So he sold the 17 acres of the part of the farm that had all of the buildings and we moved to town, about 10 miles away, which is where most of my Swisher relatives lived.
2. After two years in town, my dad was miserable and he decided he wanted to go back to the farm and raise more animals. So in the summer between my 4th grade and 5th grade years, we built our first new home. I remember helping the hired carpenters as they built it. The electrician took me under his wing and taught me how to wire electrical plugs and switches. Later on in life I put that training to good use, as I spent over eighteen years as an electrician.
3. After we built that first home, my folks proceeded to build more buildings to raise animals in. I was actively involved in those building projects and by the time I graduated from high school, we had built over thirteen buildings. I always did want to build things and you can say I got my way.
20. Was your family involved in any natural disasters happening during your childhood (ie.fire, flood, cyclone, earthquake etc)
1. Our farm was in the middle of Kansas where you could see for miles, so tornadoes were a common occurrence. However from the time we moved to our new farm home when I was in the 5th grade, every time a storm came up I had terrible nightmares in which I would see a tornado bearing down on our home and I would be desperately clawing my way across the floor as the floor was tipping upward. Shades of the Wizard of Oz. Those nightmares came so often and were so severe that I finally had to find a way to stop them. So when I was in the eighth grade I asked my mother if I had ever seen a tornado up close. She then told me about a time when we were visiting my Grandma Swisher in the middle of the summer. The evening was one of those very hot and sultry evenings and we had the front door to grandma’s house open with only the screen door in place. I was standing in front of the screen door looking out and my mother says I turned ghostly pale. At the same time they heard what sounded like the train going by. Just a few minutes later the neighbors came seeking shelter as a tornado had just torn their house down. I must have seen it happen. After hearing that story, I never had another nightmare about tornadoes, ever.
2. We did have several close calls with tornadoes on our farm. One tornado actually lifted one of our granary off its foundation and moved it a little ways.
21. Is there any particular music that when you hear it, sparks a childhood memory?
1. “The Field Artillery Song” by John Phillip Sousa in 1917, which was originally called the “Caisson Song” written in 1908. That song was one of the first songs I played on my baritone when I started band as a freshman in high school. I loved being in band and marching in parades. I still love hearing that song.
22. What is something that an older family member taught you to do?
1. My uncle Harold was a long haul trucker. We moved my grandmother Donal into a house near us one year and I watched my uncle put thirteen straight back chairs in a Rambler station wagon. I was amazed then and to this day I still have a hard time believing how he got them all in that station wagon. As I helped him move my grandmother he taught me how to pack and I have put it to good use as throughout my adult life, my wife and I have moved twenty times.
23. What are brands that you remember from when you were a kid?
1. Quaker Oats. We always had hot cereal and it was always Quaker Oats.
24. Did you used to collect anything? (ie. rocks, shells, stickers … etc.)
1. My Lady minister taught me about stamp collecting when I was in the 5th grade and I collected stamps for several years.
25. Share your favourite childhood memory.
1. This one leads into the next question. I raised a hog and won reserve grand champion at the local county fair, which then was sold for a huge amount of money as local business men bid on the champion animals like at a livestock auction, but had much higher price bids than market prices. I still remember that I could not believe how much I got for that hog, but I don’t remember now what the total was that I got.
2. Also I was in a tractor driving contest at the fair, with about eight or ten other kids. We had a written test, then a troubleshooting test, and a driving test where we had to pull a two wheel trailer through a course, then back it into a stall. We also had to do the same with a four wheel trailer. Myself and one other kid were so far ahead of the others that it was no contest against them. However the other kid, Loren Johnson, a good friend of mine from school, were neck and neck throughout the contest. In the end, he beat me by one point. I still feel real good about that contest, because he went on to place 4th in the national competition.
26. Clubs I belong to as a child.
1. One of my friends invited me to a scout meeting once, and also invited me to join with him in a baseball league. I only went one time to each, and since my dad was not much for sports or scouting, I had no transportation and so never went again. However, everyone around us who farmed were involved in 4-H and we were no exception. Even my dad supported it. I was in 4-H from the 5th grade until I graduated from high school. Back then there was a real effort to instill parliamentary procedure in us, and the ability to lead a meeting. Our club was one of the better ones and I remember our club winning several contests in how to run a meeting Those contests were called “Model Meeting”. I’m not sure that kids these days are taught how to run a meeting a t that kind of level. Of course I had many various projects in 4-H such as gardening, hogs, woodworking, and tractor maintenance among others. I won many championship awards. 4-H taught me a lot about leadership that I still use today.
27. Schools I attended.
1. My first school was Mentor Grade School which I attended my 1st and 2nd grades. We had two different classes, 1st through 4th in one classroom and 5th through 8th in the other. My class had four kids in it.
2. When we moved to Gypsum my class size for the 3rd and 4th grade jumped up to about 25 or so kids.
3. We moved back to Mentor where I attended 5th through 7th grade, with the class size again a total of 4 kids.
4. Mentor Grade School consolidated with Assaria Grade School and I attended Assaria in the 8th grade. That class had 27 kids in it. I continued all four years of high school at Assaria High School.
5. The year after I graduated from high school, I went to a brand new vo-tech school called Salina Area Vo-Tech School and I studied Farm Machinery Repair and Maintenance and graduated with a diploma from there. As it was a brand new school, I was elected to be on the first student council and was instrumental in helping sit the student policies for the school and plan all school events, like the first annual school dance. That to me was quite an honor.
6. After I graduated from Vo-Tech school, I went on to Kansas State College of Pittsburg (now University of Pittsburg) and graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree.
7. Five years later I started work on a Masters degree at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, and earned a Master of Religious Education degree in 1980.