Tributes to My Uncle

Here are some of the comments on my uncle’s (Burton Fromke) memorial page after his death. I was surprised to find these still online.

Faye Hensen of Fernley, Nevada wrote a little note. She’s a great lady, who I’ve met on a few occasions. Her sister lives in Brownsville, not far from where I live at the moment and where I grew up (Salem, Oregon). Her husband Adrian was such a nice guy. Sadly he passed away a few years ago. I am glad I got to know him and the rest of the bunch. Faye and her sister Cheryl are daughters of Hazel Goodell, sister of Velma and my grandmother Bernice.  

Dan Small Sr. of Britton, South Dakota wrote about their time making music together. (Rose is Burton’s widow.)

I knew Burton for many years and had the distinct pleasure of making music with him in a couple of different bands over the years. He was a kind and caring man, great musician and friend. Rose and family, please accept my sincere condolences and know that my thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.”

Jerald Messerschmidt of Watertown, South Dakota was an old schoolmate.

Sorry to hear about your loss. Burton and I went to high school together.”

Dorothy Cline of Sioux City, Iowa described some of her memories. (Grandma Goodell is Nora Frances Goodell, my great grandmother; Oscar and Bernice, my grandparents.)

Rose, I was sorry to hear of Burton’s passing and wanted to send my condolences to you and your family. Some of my best memories growing up were times spent in Watertown with Grandma Goodell, Uncle Oscar, Aunt Bernice, Burton and Audrey. When my Mom would say that we were going to visit I would be the first one in the car! Those years were filled with laughter, music and learning about our hertiage. It was a time of turning simple pleasures into memories that have lasted a lifetime. I remember Burton sitting up on the piano bench beside Grandma playing and she would encourage him to play the piano with her. In later years he would ask her to come and play the piano with him … Uncle Oscar joining along on the sax and people starting to sing … won’t Heaven be something with everyone joining in to sing? Precious memories. I know that Burton was not able to play the piano/organ in the last few years but I know that he still enjoyed hearing good music and sharing that with others. He will be missed.”

I had no idea my grandfather played the saxophone.



Indian Lake, Ohio

Map of Indian Lake, Ohio and vicinity
Map of Indian Lake, Ohio and vicinity.

Here’s some stuff on Indian Lake, Ohio. It is the source of the Great Miami River. Although the lake is a modern invention, the area has been home to the Hill clan since 1810. There’s a great map of the lake and venues at It is the site of a state park.

The region of Indian Lake was originally a cluster of natural lakes situated on the Miami River. As the continental glaciers left Ohio, chunks of ice broke free, melted, and formed water-filled depressions called kettle lakes. The . . . shallow, marshy, natural lakes in this region covered an area of 640 acres.  Among these were Old Indian Lake, Otter Lake, Blake Lake, Sheep Pen Lake and the Buck Wheat Patch.

Early American history tells of the Indian tribes who lived and hunted in this region. Because of its close proximity to the Miami River, Indian Lake became part of the Indian trade route linking the Ohio River to Lake Erie. Generations of native Americans followed this route and occupied villages in the vicinity. By the early 1800s, white settlers made their way here and the history books record many accounts of skirmishes and battles resulting from the conflict between the Indians and new settlers. The famous frontiersmen Daniel Boone and Simon Kenton were known to have traveled here.

. . . In the early 1800s, the primary means of commercial transportation was the canal system. Old Indian Lake was built in 1851 as a feeder lake for the Miami and Erie Canal to maintain the required four-foot water depth.

Following the passage of a resolution by the Ohio General Assembly in 1850 to use Indian Lake as a water supply for the canal, a bulkhead was built in Washington Township where the Great Miami River began and covered 1,000 acres. The work began in 1851 and was not completed until 1860. . . . Irish laborers performed the work with picks, shovels and carts. . . .

. . . Indian Lake became a popular resort area at the turn of the century due to its central location on the old Toledo and Ohio Central Steamline and the Ohio Electric Railway. At one time, Indian Lake was known as the “Midwest’s Million Dollar Playground.”

There was even an amusement park at Russell’s Point called San Juan Park for a few years.

Amusement park at Russell's Point, Indian Lake, Ohio
Amusement park at Russell's Point, Indian Lake, Ohio.

The local chamber of commerce has a good site with photos and news.

Photographer Sarah Hadley has an exhibition of her work at the Chicago Photography Center. It includes a photo of a campfire at the lake.

Photograph by Sarah Hadley of a log fire at Indian Lake, Ohio
Sarah Hadley's photograph of a log fire at Indian Lake, Ohio.

It is indisputably energizing to behold her bold representation of a blazing campfire at Indian Lake, Ohio.

An impressive bald eagle at Indian Lake, Ohio
An impressive-looking bald eagle at Indian Lake.

This photograph is only one in a series of ten by an amateur photographer from southwest Ohio.


Rush, Hutch & Elton John

Rush and Elton
Rush and Elton

So get this, I was thumbing through the photos on Facebook from Rush Limbaugh’s wedding. (It’s Rush’s official fan page.) And guess who were among the guests: The Hutch (Pastor Ken Hutcherson of Antioch Bible Church) and . . . Elton John. The crowd appeared very large. Snerdley (from the radio show staff) was there, too. It’s nice to see a photo of the guy.

My sister and brother-in-law attend Antioch, and I have visited many times. The Hutch is a great speaker and preacher. He is a natural storyteller and a man of passion.

What’s ironic is Hutch’s leadership of the movement against militant gay activism and special rights such as same-sex marriage. Hutch has been repeatedly attacked in the leftist media and has taken on Microsoft directly regarding benefits for unmarried partners.

I attended the Mayday for Marriage rally at Safeco Field a few years ago, organized in part by Hutch. There was a contingent of protestors outside, who my younger brother and I passed on our way inside. One sign I found hilarious. There was a large, poster-size photo of James Dobson wearing a turban and underneath was: “Osama bin Dobson.”

Elton has been active in the fight against HIV and AIDS. I don’t know his position on gay marriage, but I would guess he supports it. (For those of you leading very sheltered lives, Elton John is gay.) John is in a civil partnership with another man.

The Stranger has been reporting on Hutch and the movement for years. I first became aware if this alternative, radical outlet when I lived in Seattle for a few years. I was living in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which is a bastion of gays and leftists. I did not know any of this when I first moved there.

There was a lesbian couple with some kids in the house behind us, though I never met them. Later I learned that a nearby city park, home to the Seattle Asian Art Museum, was well-known as a place were gay men strolled about for casual hookups. Once, after work, I was walking around checking things out, and a man old enough to be my grandfather was there for that purpose. I had no idea. I was young, naïve, and didn’t have a clue about such things.

My roommates and I were the only registered Republicans in our precinct. I decided to become a precinct committee man (or person), whatever the term is. Thus I was able to attend the King County Republican Convention as a delegate.

Gay activist and Stranger columnist Dan Savage had registered as a Republican to infiltrate and report on the convention. I immediately recognized him because I had been reading The Stranger, and Savage was hitting the mainstream, appearing on television and writing books. He directly challenged some of the proceedings, but I think he gave up after awhile, realizing he wasn’t persuading anyone. His coverage was interesting to read.


On the Marne in 1918 — The Game

Some fellows in France have come up with a game based on the Second Battle of the Marne. It appears to be a quite complicated game, similar to a diplomacy game I played in high school during AP European History. That was based on the end of the Napoleonic wars and the Congress of Vienna. I think it was called Europe 1815 or Europe in 1815. It was complex.

I played the role of head of the Austrian delegation. In real life this was Prince von Metternich. Once I realized we had really screwed up the first round of negotiations, I became a hardass on Poland with the Russians. Things really got heated. Previosuly I had been advised to be somewhat amenable. My advisors were tweo or three fellow students.

Amanda Wyant was such a sweet, innocent girl how could anyone say no to her? I can’t recall the others, but one may have been Bryan Fearn.

I went round the group asking what they thought, and then quiet, polite Amanda was sitting there and wanted her input. She went with the conventional wisdom and I didn’t want to break up a consensus between my advisors, so I thought what the heck, We’ll go with the current compromise. However it was a huge mistake to play nice.

There’s a map used as the game board, which “covers a zone of operations from Compiègne to Reims, with Paris, the ultimate objective, in the left lower corner. It is the work of Thomas Pouchin, a highly qualified map drawer.”

I’ve talked to one of them via email, Christophe Gentil-Perret, in the hopes of getting an interview for my planned television show. I wanted it to have some quotes from him. Interviewing long distance is difficult, but I’ll check on some sort of video conferencing. Here’s what he did say at the time, in 2008. I have done some minor corrections and editing.

That seems really interesting. Do you have a link on Internet for this TV show? On which channel is it broadcasted ?

So far, I have never [been] interviewed, so there is [nothing] on [the] Internet. The two authors have already been interviewed, I have to find the  link. It’s in [the] French language, but I can have it translated if you wish.

I have a press kit, but [it too is] only in French language. Which information do you need?”

I’ll be writing to Christophe again to get more details on the background of this game and how it was developed.


German Research

While looking for a book in the Germans to America series at the Oregon State Library, which appear to have disappeared, perhaps sold off since the information is apparently online now, a librarian skimmed through the library’s holdings related to Germany and German-Americans. I wanted to search through the Germans to America volumes relating to 1886 for August Fromke (Framke, et al).

He mentioned a few periodicals in the stacks and I asked him to bring me a couple to look over. He subsequently brought copies of the Germanic Genealogist and another journal, the name of which unfortunately I did not jot down. What I did note was the republication of ‘A Piece of Europe in Dakota’ taken from an old Harper’s Weekly (July 11, 1896).

I’ve browsed Google in the hopes of finding it somewhere, but to no avail. So I will likely have to trod over to the Hatfield Library at Willamette to read a hard, original copy. Hatfield has volumes and volumes of Harper’s Weekly neatly bound together decades ago.

Germanic Genealogist is published by a group known as The Augustan Society. I don’t know much about the publication or the society, but since August and its various forms (Augusta, Auguste) are popular names along the German side of the family, I think I’ll take a closer look. It appears to be out-of-print, but some back issues are for sale and The Augustan Omnibus is available. It is printed quarterly.


Mark Froemke, Union Leader and Communist

A blog post at the ‘Official Site of the National Board of the Communist Party, USA (CPUSA)’ mentions a man named Froemke. I’ve read about him before, regarding his union activities, but did not know he was a communist. This all brings me back to Uncle Herman. Was Herman Fromke a communist as well?

In fact, we have a member of our National Committee, Mark Froemke, who is a big shot in the Grain Millers union and the AFL-CIO who sees to it that these workers get a nice hefty 3% raise every few years. For the big money these people make a little bad air isn’t going to hurt them.”

There is even a photo of him.

Mark Froemke
Mark Froemke

Mark Froemke, President of the Western Minnesota AFL-CIO working together with Shar Knutson. Froemke and Knutson combine to make the Minnesota AFL-CIO a winning team. Together they have won accolades for their work on behalf of Barack Obama’s wonderful health care reform package: H.R. 3962 which working people are thrilled about.”

He gave testimony before the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in 1999, which highlight some of his views and work.

I represent the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union, AFL-CIO. [These are the men and women who make Hostess treats. I used to stop by the Hostess discount store quite a bit, but have been trying to eat healthier food. The BCTGMU logo is on every package.] I spent 22 years in the sugarbeet industry in the factory in East Grant Forks, Minnesota. In fact, tonight at 12 o’clock I’ll be punching in to do my eight-hour shift. And what I want to do is talk about is put a put a little human face on these discussions. We represent in the Red River Valley about 1,500 grain millers that work in Crystal’s five plants from Drayton, North Dakota, to Moorhead, Minnesota. Counting the Renville, Minnesota, factory in Wahpeton, that puts it over 2,000 workers in these factories. Our towns that we live in are towns that in the main have lost population over the last 20 and 30 years. As agriculture has taken recession after recession, these towns have dropped in population. Stores have closed. And things — hospitals close and things have gotten much tougher on the people in our communities. The sugar industry has supplied a lasting job, a good job with good wages, good benefits and also it’s kept many family farmers on the land. The industry is a billion dollar industry in the Red River Valley and that money is spent locally. For us in the sugarbeet industry and as labor, AFL-CIO labor, we are not asking for anything special. What we’re asking for is to maintain a fair playing field. If we have a fair playing field in trade negotiations, our American farmer can compete with anybody, and I can guarantee U.S. labor of AFL-CIO, bring them on, we’ll take them on and we’ll beat them. But we can’t have a situation where trade agreements, in fact, not only hinder but can destroy industries and jobs. A lot of times in this country we have made errors in judgment and industries have been lost. We do not want to see this happen to our industry. We also have a deep commitment to our communities and these jobs, these farms keep those communities alive and well. We also feel that with the Philippines and with Mexico we have been in a sense deceived a bit. We in labor in AFL-CIO we did not like NAFTA. We said it straight and loud and clear. We had a side agreement in the sugar industry that — that it was supposed to protect the sugar industry and it was agreed upon by Mexico and the United States. We in labor still did not like that agreement, but the sugar industry thought it was best and we agreed to that. But today Mexico claims they know of no side agreement and now we are threatened with imports from Mexico. We also have very much concerns on labor laws. Mexico has stronger labor laws than the United States. It has stronger environmental laws than the United States, but these laws are not enforced. They’re not enforced at all and we cannot compete with countries that do not support and do not have decent labor laws or environmental laws. Mexico itself does not even allow free trade unionism. . . . These are things that are important for every American and everybody in this — in this world. We are also citizens of Minnesota, North Dakota, the United States, but we are citizens of the world. And it’s our job as representatives of our unions and you as representatives of our government to raise that standard to the highest point, not bring it to the lowest. We encourage you . . . to take our concerns, look at them and come back with [an] agreement that will be good, so I can look in the faces of my workers and say that you represented us to the best of your ability. And that you came home with the best agreement you could do that was fair for all American workers in this country and also for our communities.”


Happy Birthday Maureen O’Hara

Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara in a screenshot from the trailer for the film The Black Swan.
Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara in a screenshot from the trailer for the film The Black Swan.

The Irish press is full of stories celebrating Maureen O’Hara‘s 90th birthday. The paper in Cork, where she lives and where I first read about it, is restricting online access to articles until tomorrow, but the web has plenty of other tributes. Here’s a post from this year and one from last year.