Oh Happy Day!

November 27, 2010

George and Ruth Larson's wedding, November 27, 1929

George and Ruth Larson, November 27, 1929

On this day, 81 years ago, my grandparents George and Ruth Larson were married.

If you remember, back in February of that same year, Ruth started her job as a switchboard operator at C.A. Burnett Packing Company. Here she met George Larson, a handsome and meticulous bookkeeper for the same company.

My, what a whirlwind courtship theirs must have been! Nine months later, on Thanksgiving Eve of 1929, they were married.

God has blessed this day in, oh, so many ways!

As we celebrate George and Ruth’s anniversary, we also celebrate the many family weddings that followed. All because 81 years ago today, George and Ruth said “I do.”

Oh happy day!

Ruth Hooge engagement 1929

Carl & Sophia Larson, 1895

Carl & Sophia Larson, 1895

How’s this for tricky lighting?

These wedding portraits of George’s parents, Carl and Sophia, are showcased in antique frames with convex glass. Needless to say, they’re impossible to photograph without a reflection (at least with my limited skills). That’s my living room reflecting in the glass, where I’ve proudly displayed them for years.

Carl & Emma Hooge, September 1905

Carl & Emma Hooge, September 1905

Hooge Wedding table display
My Aunt Judy (Ruth’s daughter) displays Carl and Emma Hooge’s wedding portrait together with a table, lamp and chair that are all from the Hooge-Hornburg sides of the family. The beaded jewelry and lace doily are handiwork of my grandmother Ruth.

(George and Ruth’s daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,with their names listed first and their spouse’s second)
Carol & Duane, August 18, 1953

Carol & Duane, July 18, 1953

Judith & Art, August 10, 1957

Judith & Art, August 10, 1957

Diahann and Glen, February 17, 1979

Diahann and Glen, February 17, 1979

Phil & Kim, June 26, 1982

Phil & Kim, June 26, 1982

Rachel & Tom, May 21, 1983

Rachel & Tom, May 21, 1983

Ruth and Scott, June 22, 1991

Ruth and Scott, June 22, 1991

Jonathan and Jenny, June 13, 1997

Jonathan and Jenny, June 13, 1997

Bethany & Tom, December 17, 2205

Bethany & Tom, December 17, 2005

Does Bethany’s dress look familiar?
She wore her grandmother Carol’s dress (see Carol and Duane, above.)

Joshua & Katherine, July 28, 2007

Joshua & Katherine, July 28, 2007

Hey, family! Would you like to include your wedding picture? Send me yours and your wedding date. We’d love to share!

A Parent’s Pain

October 26, 2010

Jon Duane

Jon Duane

The summer before my fourth grade year my brother Jon was born with a congenital heart defect. It was devasting for my parents.

I remember during our family devotions we kids would pray “please fix the hole in Jonny’s heart.” My father always cried. One day, my older (and wiser) sister suggested we phrase our prayer differently.

When Jonny died on October 26, two months after he was born, I remember riding in the limousine with my family to the cemetery. I remember my father holding my hand and in his nervous emotion, he rubbed it so hard it began to hurt.

A parent’s pain can be so great.

Decades later, in the late 90s, my mother Carol became ill with ovarian cancer. It was devastating for her mother—my grandmother—Ruth.

For three years Ruth watched helplessly as her daughter fought a cancer that invaded her body all the while enduring treatments that stole her dignity and sapped her strength. At my mother’s funeral, I remember the painful anguish in my grandmother’s eyes.

“Children are not supposed to die before their parents,” my grandmother said. A parent’s pain can be so great.

In 2005, I watched my sister and her husband face the horror of losing their 20-yr-old son. They have struggled through days darker than anyone can imagine.

No, children are not supposed to die before their parents.

But sometimes they do. It has happened in families throughout all of history, including Ruth and George’s ancestral families.

We remember Olga, daughter of Carl and Sophia Larson (George’s parents). She died of a brain tumor when she was only 32.

We also remember Carl, son of Rudolph and Eliza Hooge. He was Ruth’s father and died when he was only 36.

Here’s something I didn’t know— Rudolph and Eliza lost other children as well.

When they settled in Chicago in 1886, Rudolph and Eliza had four children; Otto,10; Emma, 8; Carl, 5; and Hermann, 2. By 1900, according to the U.S. census, Eliza was the mother of six children, but only three of them were still living—Otto, Emma and Carl. Little Hermann died in December 1886, the same year they came to America. A daughter, Johanna, was born in 1888, and died of appendicitis when she was only nine years old. Their third loss, a child whose records I’m unable to find, may have been born and died in Germany or in the United States between 1886 and 1900 (there are no 1890 census records due to a fire).

When I look at my family today—my parents, my grandmother, and my sister, whose children have died before them—there is no way I can understand their pain. Yet, I share the same faith they have, a faith in God’s loving grace.

Our children are God’s children and he assigned us to be their caretakers. Some of us for our lifetimes. Some of us only for theirs.

Family Secrets

June 24, 2010

“Every family has secrets. It’s what we do with them that counts.”
—Kay Elizabeth, Editor/Owner, The Cuckleburr Times

A few months ago I read an intriguing, at times heartbreaking, book called Annie’s Ghost, by Steve Luxenberg. It’s the story of his mother and how she hid the existence of her disabled sister throughout most of their lives.

The story initially caught my attention because it takes place in Detroit. My attention then grew to fascination because Luxenberg comes through with this ace investigative journalism—as well he should since he’s an associate editor at The Washington Post.

Luxenberg’s methodical research into his family’s secret interests me because we too have a family secret—unanswered questions that I would love to further investigate.

And like Luxenberg, who at times questioned revealing his mother’s secret, I too have been unsure of what to do with information many of my family members already know, but others do not.

Here’s a quote from Luxenberg’s blog. It’s the comment a reader made to him, and I’m taking it as my cue.

“I was talking about your book at a family gathering, and it led to a conversation about some family secrets that we had always avoided discussing. Thanks for making it safe for us to talk about things that we needed to bring out.”

—Comment made to Steve Luxenberg from reader of Annie’s Ghost

So here goes…

Years ago, there was an afternoon when three generations of my maternal family sat reflecting on the past—my grandmother Ruth, my mother Carol and I. We talked about things we remembered, some of them funny, some of them not so much. Naturally, I was intrigued by the story of Ruth’s father, Carl Hooge, who was a Chicago policeman and shot in the line of duty.

After our time together, my mom was upset. In private, she told me Ruth’s father was indeed shot in the line of duty, but there were rumors he wasn’t shot by someone else. He shot himself.

Does Grandma know this, I wondered?

My mother didn’t think so, and she wanted it to stay that way. She was insistent that Ruth be allowed to keep the noble image she’d always had of her father.

Well, it’s been more than 15 years since that afternoon together. My dear mother Carol died in 1999. And Ruth died seven years later at the wondrous age of 97. As far as we know, Ruth always believed her father was shot in the line of duty.

So what of those rumors? Are they true?

After reading Annie’s Ghost, I emailed Steve Luxenberg. He emailed me back. He even called. What a super guy!

Steve offered many helpful suggestions on how to research Carl Hooge’s death. He also did a little looking himself—apparently the reporter in him couldn’t resist. He sent me a Chicago Daily Tribune article, dated June 13, 1917, which reads:

Policeman Carl Hooge of Deering Street Station, 36 years old, 5340 South Wood Street, shot himself in the head while on duty at the South Halsted Street bridge yesterday. He died at the People’s hospital. A sealed letter to his wife will be opened at the inquest today.

Policeman Martin McFadden, who went to relieve him at 6 o’clock in the evening, found him in the bridge shanty shot. Hooge’s revolver lay beside him.

“So long, old pal,” Hooge murmured as he sank into unconsciousness.

No cause for the suicide is known to his comrades of the Deering Street station, where he had served four years.

—Chicago Daily Tribune (1872-1922); Jun 13, 1917;
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Chicago Tribune (1849 – 1986) pg. 17

A copy of Carl’s death certificate verifies this same thing and states that the officiating undertaker was Edward Hornburg, Carl’s brother-in-law.

Not too long ago, I called Edward Hornburg’s grandson. Mr. Hornburg is, at the least, a third generation mortician for the Hornburg & Sons Funeral Homes. He’s recently retired and has closed the doors of his family’s business.

Imagine the stories that come with three generations of working with people in their greatest time of need. Perhaps Mr. Hornburg knew something of ours? After all, we are distantly related and stories do get passed along.

Mr. Hornburg, however, said he knew nothing.

I asked if it was possible for Carl’s death to be publicized in the newspaper, yet facts kept so quiet that Ruth never learned of them, even later in life?

“Yes,” he said, in the nicest of ways. “In those days if something seemed disgraceful, they would have just kept it under wraps. They didn’t want to bring shame to themselves, they thought it was a reflection on their family.”

Here’s where the questions start to arise, some of them hypothetical and some of them ethical.

First and foremost, did Carl really shoot himself?

Could it have been a murder and cover-up?

Was it right or wrong for an 8-year-old girl to be safeguarded from the truth? To be allowed to grow up with the confidence that develops when a daughter can idolize her father?

Did Ruth ever know the truth? Did she choose to ignore it? Hide it?

And finally, there’s the question of transparency. Transparency—what a cliché word this is nowadays. We’ve become such an open society and we talk about everything, including family secrets.

Should we talk about ours? Here’s why I think we should.

Of the many possibilities concerning his death, one is that Carl could have suffered from depression. Knowing what we know today of this merciless disease—that it’s a medical condition no different than diabetes or heart disease—it’s important we be aware of our family’s full medical history. Our possible medical history.

Talking about Carl’s death also compels us to think with compassion. We wonder about his life, his work, his agonies. We sympathize with his wife Emma and the decisions forced upon her. Our hearts ache for his children, his daughter—our grandmother.

And finally, Carl’s death is part of Ruth’s story. It’s who she is. It’s what made her to be. It’s our story, as well.

Certainly, there’s no shame in that.

What do you think?

A Sad and Fearful Week

June 17, 2010

Back in 1917, this must have been a sad and fearful week for an 8-year-old girl. This was the week that little Ruth Hooge heard the awful news her father was dead. This was the week she saw him laid out in a casket in their home and then taken by procession to a cemetery.

Ruth’s father was Carl Hooge, a 36-year-old Chicago policeman, and, according to a Chicago Daily Tribune article dated June 13, 1917, he had been on duty at the South Halsted Street bridge. He died later at the People’s Hospital.

“He was shot in the line of duty,” Ruth always said of her father, when speaking of him decades later to her children and grandchildren, of whom I’m one.

In a 1990 family video, Ruth talks of this week that happened so long ago. Initially, she says she doesn’t remember much. But like the obscure things that embed themselves into a child’s mind, there are some details that stayed with my grandmother throughout her life.

“In those days, you were laid out at home,” says Ruth. “My father was laid out at home in his uniform. I remember we lived upstairs in this 2-flat and he was in the casket in front of the front windows. Right next to that was a bedroom with front windows and Aunt Bert (Hornburg Reimer) took me to that window. A police band was out in front and they played ‘Nearer My God to Thee.’ That song has upset me ever since.”

In the video, Ruth remembers the police band played and marched in front of the hearse all the way from their house to Bethania Cemetery where her father was buried. She says the police department paid for her father’s funeral and gravestone.

“My father — I have the funeral bill, and it was just under $500 — has a big, black marble stone, with gold printing and etching,” recalls Ruth. “My mother and father’s grave is now one of the first ones as you come into this big cemetery. It’s a Lutheran cemetery.”

Ruth also remembers the months after her father died.

“Aunt Bert and her son, my cousin Russell, lived with us for a year or so,” says Ruth. “My mother was getting $75 a month from the police department for our care.”

In the video, I’m still curious about the day her father died. I ask if perhaps a random street person shot him? Or a gangster?

“It was in the line of duty,” Ruth reiterates. “Grandma (Emma Hooge, her mother) never talked about it. She just wouldn’t talk about it.

“But I remember her sending me to a friend of hers — you’ve heard us talk of Marie Milke — and she sent me over there to tell her. They lived in a 2-flat upstairs and was I was in the front hall. She came down the stairs and I told her and she started to cry. The woman in the downstairs flat came out and she (Marie) told her what happened. This woman says, ‘Oh, you poor little orphan!’

“I said, ‘I’m not an orphan! I’ve got a mother!’

“I was eight years old,” says my grandmother.

Carl and Emma Hooge’s gravestone is in Chicago’s
Bethania Cemetery. When you drive in the front entrance off Archer Avenue, the stone is located just to the right.

Pictured here is Ruth’s husband George, probably decades later, tending to Carl’s grave. The handwriting is Ruth’s and is taken from the back of the photo.

Purses and Impressions

June 3, 2010


Aren’t the impressions we have of things as kids funny? And later, when we learn how off we were, isn’t that funny too?

For example, when my son was little he thought his great-uncle Ken was Watertown’s claim-to-fame astronaut Dan Brandenstein. He thought this because Uncle Ken had emphysema and toted a portable oxygen tank.

Or, when I was little, I often heard my grandmother Ruth speak of her brother Carl and his wife Maybelle. Because Carl and Maybelle lived in Chicago, I never remember meeting them. But being a young, impressionable Michigan girl, I assumed Maybelle was Mabel, from Black Label Beer commercials.

(By the way, this week, would have been Carl’s birthday. He was born June 6, 1906.)

Perhaps my most profound, yet disappointing, misconception was of my grandmother’s sister Charlotte. Before I can ever remember meeting her, Aunt Charlotte sent my sisters and me glamorous gifts such as party dresses, umbrellas and little white gloves. She also regularly attended the Ice Capades and afterwards would send us the program filled with pictures of beautiful skaters wearing flowing taffeta gowns.

Now, I wasn’t much of a girly-girl back then so the flowing gowns weren’t that important. But I did have this sense of Aunt Charlotte being an Ice Capade. When I finally got to meet her, I remember feeling greatly disappointed because she was just like every other old lady. I may have even thrown a temper tantrum about it, which supposedly was common for me at the time.

In retrospect, when I first met Aunt Charlotte, she couldn’t have been old at all. She was was born May 21, 1921, and was twelve years younger than my grandmother.

Unlike Carl, who was never part of our lives, Aunt Charlotte involved herself very much with the younger generations. She had no children of her own, but she had money and time to spend. She adorned us with the most impractical and delightful fluff. That’s where the previously mentioned little white purses come in, also the purse pictured above.

In Aunt Charlotte’s view, the little white purse was as much a needed fashion item as the little black dress. I could easily supply a boutique had I saved all the purses she sent during my childhood and young adult years (before she gave up on my sense of style). Obviously, my disregard for their value was another of my off impressions.

How about you?

Do you still have your purses?

What funny ideas did you have as a kid?

I had always thought this was a picture of Carl Hooge (Ruth’s brother). However, now that I know more of history and dates, I’m not so sure. This looks like a military uniform, doesn’t it? Yet his age doesn’t coincide for either World War I or II.

Ruth also had an uncle named Carl Hornburg. Perhaps it’s him?

This picture was taken during the “Charlotte-is-not-an-Ice Capade” visit, circa early 1960s.

Seated from l-r, Charlotte (Arendt) Matz Prischman, Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arendt (Charlotte and Ruth’s mother) and Ruth (Hooge) Larson (my grandmother).

When my husband was thirteen, his mother telephoned the township chairman about the poor state of affairs in the Union Cemetery. Her concern was for a small, country plot of land up the road from their farm that had long served as a historical record of the surrounding neighborhood.

As a result, that summer my father-in-law became sexton for the Union Cemetery of Jefferson Co., Wis. (a poetically old-fashioned name befitting the caretaker of gravestones dating back to the 1850s).

For his work he received an ever-so-slight compensation, which he passed on to his 13-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter for diligently pushing their lawnmowers up to the cemetery, mowing and trimming, and then pushing them back home again.

Little did my mother-in-law know this would become a perpetual position. In fact, here it is forty years later—my father-in-law still serves as sexton and three generations of our family have taken turns at mowing, general maintenance, a periodic grave fill by hand and the annual Memorial Day cemetery board meeting.

I know, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Ruth? Or beaded bells?

Well, in a paradoxical way, maybe it does.

This weekend, as we celebrate Memorial Day, we’ll head up to the cemetery for that annual board meeting. With the exception of my husband and me (because we, of course, never age:-), its a gathering of ever-aging members whose loved ones are buried there under the trees. They come with the pretense of discussing cemetery business, however, in truth I know they come to reflect. They walk through the rows examining gravestones. They tell stories and connect the family names. They bring reverence to this hilly sanctuary of lives worth remembering.

As I watch and listen to the board members, I’m reminded of Ruth. I think of all the family names connected to her, none of who rest in the Union Cemetery. Instead they’re in Chicago’s Bethania and Oak Woods Cemeteries. Or Oak Hill Cemetery in Owosso, Mich. Or a country cemetery outside Imlay City, Mich.

I hope someone is taking care of those grounds as well as my husband’s family has taken care of these.

George and Ruth Larson’s stone in Oak Hill Cemetery, Owosso, Mich.

The state of Wisconsin has an ongoing genealogy project called the U.S. GenWeb Archives Project. Volunteers have photographed thousands of tombstones and submitted them for an online database. Does your state have anything like this?

And lastly, the end of May brings an end to the heavy duty family tree stuff. By now, I’m sure you’re thoroughly confused. If so, but you still want a basic record, I’m including two charts here, taken from ancestry.com. They’re somewhat abbreviated so I eventually hope to add pages with full names and such.

Click below and enjoy now. Check back again later for updates.

The Hooge Family Tree

The Larson Family Tree

Age is a Relative Thing

April 24, 2010

So here we are, still celebrating birthdays. You know how each family has a month that’s just lambasted with birthdays? Well, years ago April was that month for our family. And because Easter often was in April as well, my mother would combine all the birthdays with Easter for a big family gathering.

Here’s a bulleted list of birthdays for you. I do this because, as a graphic designer, I’m skillfully aware that a vertical list of many items is visually more pleasing to the eye than a horizontal (how’s that for a shameless business plug?)

  • April 3:     Rebecca (my sister)
  • April 4:     Harriet Amos (my paternal step-grandmother)
  • April 10:   Diahann (me)
  • April 24:   Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arendt (Ruth’s mother, my great-grandmother)
  • April 27:   Gladys (Gulick) Amos Klotz (my paternal grandmother)

April 24. That’s today.

And today was my great-grandmother Emma’s birthday. So today we’re talking about her.

As you know, Emma was born in 1884 to Charles and Wilhelmina Hornburg. As a young woman, she married Carl Hooge, a Chicago policeman, and together they had two children, Carl and Ruth. In 1917 Emma’s husband died, leaving her the single mother of an 11 and 8-year-old.

A year later, Emma married Rudolph Arendt and together they had a daughter, Charlotte. They were married 37 years before Rudolph died in 1955. Emma lived another 23 years, many of them residing with her daughter, Ruth, and her final years with her daughter, Charlotte.

Emma died in 1973 when she was 89 years old.

All of this seems rather factual and impersonal, doesn’t it? But the truth is, I remember very little of my great-grandmother. From my childhood, the only image I have of Emma is her sitting in a chair by the window. She lived with my grandmother at the time and whenever we visited, there she was sitting in her chair.

She sat. And sat. And sat. Besides needlework, I wonder if she did anything else?

You know, age and time are funny things.

As a young child in the 1960s, I thought Emma was a very old and ancient woman. Yet 25-30 years later, when I was an adult and Ruth had reached that same old age, somehow Ruth didn’t seem ancient at all. She certainly didn’t sit around in a chair all day.

I guess age is a relative thing. Children naturally think everyone is old. And for each generation, the average life expectancy and quality of life exceeds the one before it.

Ruth (Hooge) Larson, 1909-2006

Pretty in pink, here’s Ruth standing by her granddaughter, Cheryl’s, car. It’s 1997 and Ruth’s 88-years-old. Don’t let the cane fool you—she did pretty good getting to wherever she wanted to go!

Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arendt, 1884-1973

Flashback to 1968. Here’s Emma (Ruth’s mother) sitting in her chair. She’s 84 in this picture. This is the same spot she was sitting nine years earlier…

Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arendt, 1884-1973

…in 1959 at age 75.

Wilhemina (Behrendt) Hornburg, 1854-1939

Going back even further to 1934. Here’s Emma’s mother (Ruth’s grandmother). She’s 80-years-old in this picture—this is the woman who had 12 kids!

So, of course, there’s more to Emma than her just sitting in a chair. What memories do you have of her? Can anyone fill us in? Please do!

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it,
You’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”
— Irving Berlin

The title and verse are somewhat tongue-in-cheek because I have no fashion sense whatsoever. But my mother and my grandmother did, and they brought it out in full bloom at Easter.

This is a fashion fête in memory of them—four years (out of many, I’m sure) of delightful Easter bonnet adornment.

1959

My grandparents, George and Ruth Larson, with my sister Terri. Note the jaunty feather in Ruth’s hat (not to mention those cool glasses).

1959

My mother Carol (George and Ruth’s daughter) and my sister, Terri. There’s Terri, standing all cute and coy with her trendy sailer cap and purse. Little does she know her idyllic, only-child world is soon coming to an end.

1960

Obviously, hat fashionistas go back many generations in our family. Eyeglassware, as well. Here is my great-grandmother (Ruth’s mother), Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arndt.

Note the lace doily in the background. Certainly it was crocheted by someone in our family.

1961

Here’s Ruth with her grandchildren; David (my brother), Diahann (me, without the hat—by now my mother has probably sensed I’m going to be a fashion-challenged child) and Terri.

I think I’m about to burst forth with a smart comment about my grandmother’s, well, “unique” hat.

1962

Can you find a truer picture of late 1950s-early 60s Americana than this? I think not. Note the classic ranch homes set in a perfectly aligned subdivision. Today they’re back in architectural vogue and we call them “Atomic Ranches.”

Speaking of en vogue, here is my mother Carol with her Jacqueline Kennedy Pillbox hat. And isn’t Dave adorable with his double-breasted peacoat and cap? While he wasn’t able to escape my mother’s stylish standards, he certainly got off easier than Terri and I. That pretty dress poking through my coat was bouffanted by a scratchy, starchy underslip.

1962

Just wanted to give you the full affect (no, that’s not wind billowing those dresses). And check out our purses. There’s a story to them…stay tuned in the months ahead.

1966

Here we are, four years later; Dave, Cheryl, Diahann and Terri. And no Easter hats. Possibly sans sombrero is now the fashion, but most likely the chaos of getting four children ready for Easter Sunday necessitated simplicity.

Happy Easter everyone! May you have a blessed day as you celebrate our Savior’s love and resurrection.

 

Ruth Hooge’s Confirmation, 1923

March was always a big month for Ruth, with her birthday and all. But in 1923, it was especially momentous. That year Ruth turned 14, and on Sunday, March 25, she was confirmed.

Confirmation is a Christian’s public profession of faith. Churches traditionally hold Confirmation on Palm Sunday, a week before Easter, and that year Ruth’s church, the English Ev. Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, did the same.

Confirmation is another tradition Ruth’s descendants have upheld. I’m trying to round up pictures of four generations of us women on our Confirmation Sundays: my grandmother Ruth, my mother Carol, me, and my daughter Jenny. Stay tuned for those. And send me yours!

Nowadays, we use Confirmation to get the families all together for a celebration. I wonder if Ruth’s family did this as well? Do you think all the relatives came? By then those 12 aunts and uncles from her mother’s side were married and had children. This is where Lola, Minnie, Nuttie, Hattie, Daveeda and Russell come inthey were just a few of my grandmother’s many cousins.

Those must have been some family gatherings!

Ruth E. Hooge, 1923

My grandmother, Ruth (Hooge) Larson

Carol R. Larson, 1947

My mother Carol (Ruth’s daughter)

Diahann, 1973

Yep, that’s me.
Two things stand out in my memory about Confirmation. One is my sling-back shoes, which I thought were very stylish. The other is the ring my paternal grandmother, Gladys (Gulick) Amos Klotz gave me. Initially, I didn’t understand the significance of the gift—her diamond engagement ring, which also happens to be my April birthstone. I remember feeling a moment of secret disappointment because I had been drooling over a black onyx ring in the Sears catalog for $29.99.

Thankfully, I grew wiser with time.

Jennifer, 1993

My daughter Jenny.

Jenny is wearing the ruby ring her grandmother (Ruth’s daughter Carol) gave to her as a Confirmation gift. George and Ruth had originally given it to Carol for her Confirmation.

Four generations: 1993

Ruth, 84, with (counterclockwise) her daughter Carol, great-granddaughter Jenny and granddaughter Diahann. Jenny was confirmed 70 years after Ruth and now has Ruth’s certificate hanging on her bedroom wall.

One hundred and one years ago today, baby Ruth Esther Eliza Bertha Hooge had a very special day.

On this day, she was baptized and became a child of God.

Of all the things Ruth’s parents did for her, her baptism was certainly the greatest. This small splash of water on her head and the few spoken words were testament of God’s promise: he washed away her sin and chose her as his own. Because of this, throughout her 97 years of life, Ruth had the confidence of knowing she was beloved and special.

Isn’t that awesome?!

What’s also awesome is that generations later baptism is still a tradition in our family. We still gather together and baptize our newborn babies. We still teach them they are saved children of God. It’s tradition. It’s our heavenly heritage.

Recently, my niece, Ruth Baur, talked about this with the first and second grade children she teaches at Beautiful Savior Lutheran School in Grove City, OH. Not only does Ruth share my grandmother’s name, but she also has her baptismal certificate, which now is a very old and cherished document.

“I brought it to school to show my kids a couple weeks ago for show-and-tell day during our Christian Education week,” Ruth emailed. “I told them how her (Ruth Hooge’s) parents had her baptised and taught her God’s Word. When she grew up she did the same for my grandma, who did the same for my mom, who did the same for me. We’d been talking about the concept of passing our faith down to the next generation in connection with our Old Testament Bible stories. My students thought it was cool.”

Yep, that is cool. That makes us special too, just like Ruth.

My grandmother, Ruth, knit and crocheted blankets for each of my four children’s baptisms.

She knit the tiniest, little sweaters for my twin sons when they were born two months premature.

When my mother (Ruth’s daughter, Carol) gave me her cedar hope chest, these two baptismal gowns were inside. One was mine, and I think my mother may have sewn it—she was an excellent seamstress. I’m unsure of the history of the tea-colored gown.

Aren’t these just the cutest things! The photo doesn’t convey how tiny they are.

So, tell me. What special things have you done for baptisms in your family? Got pictures? I’d love to post them!