Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Family Entertainments of the Mid-1900s

Before TV made entertainment a passive thing, people used to sing and play musical instruments. My grandmother Evelyn Hauer Kerr, I'm told, was quite the piano player when friends gathered at her home in Detroit.

On my dad's side, my grandparents John and Gertie Krentz also had a piano in the living room at their farm in North Dakota. Although this photo is a little blurry, I can make out sheet music for Mockin' Bird Hill and something by Hank Snow.

I asked my cousin Mary, who grew up near my grandparents, what she remembered about that piano. "I used to play around on that piano on a Sunday afternoon," she said.  "I remember they had How Much is That Doggie in the Window? and The Tennessee Waltz."

Then she went on to tell me, "They had an old record player.  One of the songs on that was about a box that people opened and then tried to throw away.  You never learned what was in the box, that I remember.  Can't remember the name of it, but would sure recognize it if I heard it or heard the name.  Maybe it was called The Thing.  I used to play it over and over.  Probably drove everybody nuts as it was right inside the double doorway of the dining area."

Being the first-born grandchild, she probably got away with quite a bit. I think so anyway, because as it turns out, she's right about the title of the song, and I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide how many playings it would take to drive the whole family right over the edge into the abyss!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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