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Happy Birthday Walt Disney

5 Dec

There on the wall was the earliest known drawing of Mickey Mouse.

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In the showcase was a one of a kind Oscar with Seven Dwarf Oscars.


There were early pictures of Walt Disney at work

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The past summer we toured The Walt Disney Family Museum located in the Presidio near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

On display are the Oscars went to Walt Disney the innovator and Producer, not to the Disney Corporation.

So more than a dozen Oscars are displayed in his family’s museum, not in the corporate headquarters.

The Disney Family Museum is more personal, is not corporate, it showcases his vision,

his innovations, the stories and dreams he brought to life.

There are lots of early works

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There are original cells and sketches from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


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Images of work on Bambi

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice/Fantasia



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Peter Pan

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And many more.  I liked how Walt often jumped into the action

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The original sketches and favorite filmed scenes were a joy.

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On a TV Screen I could see the Wonderful World of Disney of my childhood come to life. I could see the original models for Disney World. I could feel the magic.

It is well worth at least a half a day or it can be a full day destination visit. It was one of the highlights of our trip to San Francisco.

Happy Birthday Walt, and thank you.

Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian with Summoose Tales,

Geese in a row

16 Jan

Today we went for a walk with a friend around Burke Lake Park in Northern Virginia. Driving in I commented that there was a gaggle of geese guarding the west end of the lake.


Later I got some great photos on the gaggle on patrol.

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We have continued to have a mild winter so Burke Lake is free of ice and the gaggle seemed very content to congregate and guard their western border.

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Later, as we hiked around the northern boundary of the lake we saw an even more interesting group of geese.


These geese seemingly we practicing some type of goose oriented military drill.


They were sitting perfectly in line jutting out into the water in a southerly direction.


Occasionally, one of the geese would float out line and then look back at his or her colleagues to see if they were still in proper array. Then this goose would ease on back and rejoin the rest of the military gaggle.



It was a great day for a walk. I hope everyone is have a great start to 2016. When you get a chance, I hope you can take some time, and take a walk.  Maybe you too will get to see geese in a line in a lake.


Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian with Summoose Tales,

See also

When and Where: Interesting places to visit in the Washington, DC Area

What does Thanksgiving mean?

24 Nov


  • Over the river and through the woods
  • Or staying home
  • A time to record a new chapter of family stories



Recording a new chapter for Thanksgiving? Hmm…








Being there…

  • Wake up early
  • Help in the kitchen
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  • Record a new chapter of stories – interview a loved one or a friend
  • The annual family chore
  • Polishing… the wood, the silver, and the plates
  • Favorite dishes
  • Setting the table
  • Share what you are thankful for… more stories

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Active Listening…

  • Share a story… what’s new, what do you remember…
  • Listen to a story…
  • Ask a question… what was Thanksgiving like…; did you ever attend the Macy’s parade in New York…?
  • Be prepared to…Turn on the voice recorder
  • Record a new chapter…
  • Follow-up during quiet time after the meal or the next day… Ask another question… take a photo…
  • Explore what’s in the basement… Where did you get that…?

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  • Family
  • Something new
  • Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade… did you watch it when you were little…?
  • Hospitality… say thank you… take a picture or a video…
  • Record a new chapter?

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Whether you are celebrating old traditions, doing something new and different, far from home, or with friends and family, I hope you will take the time to record a new chapter, a few new stories, or a few old stories. You will be glad you did.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Bruce Summers, Personal History, Summoose Tales,

Board Member Association of Personal Historians, Director of Regions and Chapters

New Freedom Carnival Memories

28 Jun


The annual New Freedom Lions Club Carnival starts June 29, in New Freedom, Pennsylvania of course. While we no longer go every year, the vivid memories linger.

New Freedom Carnival Poster 2015

The carnival was after school was out, usually it was held during the first week of July, the week that included the 4th of July. It was something to look forward to in our small town of perhaps 1,200 people. My three brothers and I, and perhaps everyone else in town, counted down the days until carnival each year.

As it got closer, it was harder to wait. Anticipation mounted. Just a couple days to go. Everyone in town, well especially the children, and I suspect many adults, consciously or subconsciously turned their gaze towards the New Freedom Playground.

We knew magic was about to happen. The broad expanse of green grass of the playground was going to transform. We were looking for the first truck. The truck transporting the first of the carnival rides. My brothers and I competed for bragging rights. Who would be the first to spot the trucks pulling into the grass to set up a dozen or two dozen rides?

20150607_123450 New Freedom Playground and former site of the Boy Scout building

The trucks arrived either late Saturday or on Sunday to set up the carnival rides and various carnival games in time for the opening at 7 PM on Monday. Sometimes we would spot them if we were out late Saturday night, but more likely we would spot them while we were driving to or from Trinity United Methodist Church in the morning. The trucks meant our town was soon going to explode with activity. Hundreds and thousands of visitors were about to descend on New Freedom for the seven nights of carnival.

Carnival meant flashing bright lights, rides, music, games, lots of good food and bingo.  My dad was the head of bingo at the carnival for decades.  Weeks ahead of the carnival he would get out his spreadsheet and pad from the prior year and start making his calls from our black rotary phone in the breakfast room.  He was calling the regulars to get them scheduled into shifts to collect coins at the bingo tables.  A handful of the regulars were lined to alternate about every 15 minutes as the bingo callers.

Dad also had to check the catalogues and call in the order for bingo prizes.  Every game had either a single winner or two or more 1/2 game winners. You could accumulate your wins all week long. Sometimes you might borrow a win or two from another family member so you could get that special prize you had your eye on all week.

The players gathered on the white wooden benches placed on pebbles and attached to long white wooden tables about hip high.  They sorted through the stacks of well-loved 1/8 inch thick bingo cards looking for 2 or 3 cards with their lucky numbers. One or two women in town were suspected of buying and memorizing books on how to win at bingo.  Everyone always cast an eye their way when they shouted out bingo.  Did they really know secrets? Did they really win more than the rest of us?

Every night hundreds of cards were spread out on the table and gallons of dried field corn kernels were spread out in strategic piles the length of each table.  Corn kernels were used to mark the called numbers on your card. We all had our own bingo strategy.  My birthday was on the 11th so I was pretty sure my lucky card(s) had to include B-11.  The card(s) would be especially lucky if B-11 was in one of the corners. Some of us came earlier in the evening, when there were less players.  Logically this meant our odds of winning were better than when the tables were crowded.  Some of us stayed for those last 5 or 10 games when everyone started to leave.

The best of times was when my Dad was calling bingo, which happened 3 or 4 times each night. No, no, he did not send me a secret signal so that I had an advantage.  It was the best of times because that was my dad’s voice, announcing the numbers at a practiced cadence… “Under the B-7, N-42, I-19, N-40. Under the G-60, O-67, B-4, I-30.”  I moved my corn kernels onto the card to cover each number I had, looking for patterns to emerge. Two in a row, three in a row counting the free space in the middle, and drating the numbers that were close but not quite one of mine.

As time went on I knew we were getting close to someone calling it out, calling BINGO. Dad calls my lucky number… “Under the B-11,” now I had 4 in a row going at a diagonal, just one more. This could be a really lucky card, especially since I included my dad’s special number in the other diagonal corner. “Under the O-69, G-55, O-62.”  Now the anxiety level was really high. Most times someone else would get their special number and shout BINGO or perhaps there would be multiple Bingos. But sometimes, magic happened and my dad called “O-Skixty-skix” and I would holler BINGO so the whole tent could hear me. O-Skixty-skix was Dad’s signature call.

Dad would call out, “Hold your cards”, perhaps my cousin Carol or my friend Scott would be working my row, collecting coins. One of them would hurry down the row and shout out my four winning numbers.  Dad would respond via the microphone, “That’s a winner, anyone else?” We’d all look around, this time I was really lucky, I was the only winner. Dad would close out the game, “Single winner.” Then we would hear the bingo number ping-pong balls drop back into the machine, the coin collector would drop off my “1 Win” card and head back down the row collecting coins for the next game.

I would play a few more games to see if I was on a hot streak. Then I would gather up my win card(s) and my coins and head out to explore the rest of the carnival knowing that I’d be back either to play, or to work my shift at collecting coins, or sometimes, knowing that I was going to be a bingo caller for the late shift when I could call out “O-Skixty-skix.”


Bruce Summers is a Personal Historian for Summoose Tales, he is a Board Member for the Association of Personal Historians and serves as their Regions/Chapters Director. To learn more about preserving your life stories contact Bruce at


Metro on my mind

30 Apr

I first rode on Metro when it was almost new in July of 1976. I grew up in New Freedom, PA a small town of perhaps 1,200 people. Washington, DC was a big city, though perhaps smaller than Baltimore at the time.

Our town had a dual set of train tracks, part of the Northern Central Line. U.S. Presidents used to ride on those tracks on their way between Baltimore and Harrisburg, PA, and then on to points East and West.

Our town used to have passenger service, but not in my lifetime up to that point in 1976. The tracks were not in use because Hurricane Agnes had taken out the bridges in 1972, while I was taking Aquatics Counselor training, of all things, at a Boy Scout Camp. It is interesting sleeping outside in a tent during a hurricane to say the least. But that is a different story.

New Freedom did not have a traffic light in 1976, we did have a phone booth at the Main Street railroad crossing. So it was a big deal to ride on the brand new subway, to ride on the Metro from Falls Church to Washington, DC and back. It was a treat and a bit of a lark. At the time the whole country was caught up in patriotic spirit as we were celebrating the 200th anniversary of the signing of our Declaration of Independence.

I continued to enjoy a ride on the Metro every now and then for the next 21 years, with a three year break while I was serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Barbados.  My future wife lived in the Washington, DC area, I looked for possible career and graduate school opportunities in the area before and after my Peace Corps Service.  I liked the Metro.

Later I transferred to the Washington, DC area to work for the Boy Scouts of America. I rode the Metro occasionally into and around Washington.  Later, I worked for the Smithsonian, the American Red Cross, and the World Bank Group. The Metro became part of my regular daily commute.  For the most part they provide a great service, though the price per ride and the price for parking in the suburbs continues to escalate. Most days it is a predictable and reliable mass transit system.

My wife and I were car pooling the day of 9/11.  The traffic stopped in front of my Red Cross building as I walked out the door to meet my wife. It did not move for two more hours.  The Metro service stopped, I ran down the street four blocks and luckily caught my wife in her car before she got caught in grid lock.

The next morning I rode the Metro in early. I was heading to my work at the American Red Cross.  I walked along the yellow police tape that roped off most of Red Cross Square since it is near the White House.  I worked welcoming thousands of volunteer blood donors who swept into Red Cross Square to do their bit. President Bush asked us to collect as much blood as we could since we did not know what shoe would drop next.  About 11 PM that night I walked back up 18th street to the Metro.  My wife asked me if I would be safe.  I said yes, knowing that there was a Humvee with armed soldiers at every intersection on my walk to the Metro.  I would be safe.

Knock on wood, the Metro has been reasonably safe since 9/11.  I learned not to touch the moving hand rails on the escalators, since they could be laced with some type of nefarious germ warfare agent.  As directed I look for bags that have been abandoned and if I saw one I would ask the stranger, “Is that your bag.”  For a couple of years I thought I had spotted the secret plainclothes watchers who seemed to always be waiting on my platform looking back towards the station, this regardless of how many minutes early or late I arrived.  Metro made many investments to make me safe as I took my regular commute in and out of town.

There have been accidents, there have been delays. I have been off-loaded due to faulty equipment, I have ridden the shuttle-buses between stations when there was a broken down train.  A few people have been killed, but mostly the Metro continues to be fun. I read the free paper on my ride in, perhaps take a nap standing up, and I read a book on my ride out. Occasionally I even get a seat now that the Silver Line splits up the volume of west bound evening rush riders.

I really have just one big gripe. Every evening when I approach Farragut West at the 18th Street station I see two escalators coming up with perhaps a total of five people riding and a very full escalator going down.  It does not seem to matter if I get to the station at 5 PM, 7 PM or 9 PM these same three escalators are running, two up mostly empty, one down relatively full.  If only Metro could take a minute to turn off that middle up escalator at 5 PM, I wonder… perhaps over the next 39 years they could keep the fare increases down and save a bit on their escalator maintenance budget.  I know I would be happy.  Thank you Metro for thousands of safe trips for me and my family.

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales

When and Where: Interesting places to visit in the Washington, DC Area

26 Jan

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales
Board Member, Association of Personal Historians

January – Hemlock Overlook Regional Park provides access to some great hiking trails with rolling wooded hills. It connects to the 18 mile long Bull Run Occoquan Trail, it was fun to walk along the river and “runs.”  We even got in a bit of train spotting.

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It is also a great time to spend a day indoors exploring the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – a part of the National Air and Space Museum out near Dulles Airport.  We visited the recent open house and saw a lot of behind the scenes sections of the restoration center and archives. It was also a treat to see a large model of the Star Trek – Starship Enterprise.  Even when there is not an open house there are hundreds of exhibits, displays, planes, jets, rockets, space capsules, the Concorde and of course the Space Shuttle Discovery  to see.

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March – Spring is the prettiest time to be in the Washington, DC area. The trees start to bloom, the light green leaf buds emerge and spring flowers erupt. Many visitors make a special trip down to see the Cherry Blossoms, but I find the suburban neighborhoods around Washington, DC equally beautiful in the spring.

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July – A rooftop or balcony with a view of the Washington Monument on the 4th of July provides a perfect view of the spectacular national fireworks display on the National Mall. We enjoyed a beautiful 4th of July night with colleagues watching from the balconies of a federal building. The sunset made the rooftops of Washington, the U.S. Capitol, the Jefferson Memorial, and the monuments glow with rose colored hue and the fireworks display was amazing.

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OctoberWas a great time to stop by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, it is all outdoors with lots of water features and memorable quotes. Nearby you can take in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial or catch a few ultimate frisbee teams scrimmaging across the street.

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DecemberThe Hirshhorn Museum and the National Gallery of Art on a cool but not so cold winter day is a great escape. The exhibits in the Hirschhorn are a bit more avant-garde, they often provide novel ways to look at art. The National Gallery of Art provides a more historical view of masterful art. The two museums provide an interesting contrast. The nice thing about winter is that around closing time you get to see the sun setting over some of the grand spaces and buildings on the Washington Mall.

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Best wishes for an intriguing 2015

30 Dec



Mary and Bruce at Mt. Rainier National Park

By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales,

I was a bit delayed getting out my holiday season message — 2014 was a busy and event filled year.

Holiday Photo at Phipps Conservatory by Bryce Summers 2014

2014 Holiday photo by Bryce Summers

The first half of 2014 was filled with expectations as my youngest child waited for college acceptance letters – yea or nay, with mostly yeas from good schools. I think I suffered more from the parent version of “senioritus” than she did from the high school senior version.


Marching band trophies

My focus was on the last “this” – last District Band Concert, the last “that” – my last high school volunteering gig – helping out at her All Night Grad party, and the last time I had to wake up at 6 am to get one of my children up for school:)

As a Personal Historian and as a father I focused on capturing photos of her senior year – putting over a hundred photos together featuring many highlights of the year in a PowerPoint with captions. Perhaps one day this will be a photo book that she can share with her grandchildren.

The middle of the year focused on Graduation, my kids transitioning home, and then they were off again to work on the other side of the country or on an overseas service trip. We spent enjoyable days at Bethany Beach, DE, with my ever-present digital voice recorder capturing a few more family stories from my parents. I never tire of re-hearing fresh versions of old stories and I love hearing newly remembered stories they have not talked about for decades or perhaps ever.

I introduced adult “Show and Tell” at my Family Reunion with great results. Lots of family members brought objects or pictures to show and of course lots of family lore to tell.

My mother talked about her grandfather carving walking sticks and making fans. She and her cousins talked about the quilts their grandmother made for each of them. My first cousins all reacted with a “no way!” when told that their mother had been a baton twirler in high school. We learned that one of my aunts stole her cousin’s boy-friend during a sleigh ride. We heard that my great-aunt met her future husband because he threw a penny, with a note wrapped around it, out of a train window on his way to ship overseas for service in World War I.

20140713_182737 Richard Chichester handcrafted caneShow and Tell for Family Reunion

My great-grandfather Chichester carved walking sticks and made wooden fans

This was just the tip of the family story iceberg; 90-year-old photo albums came out which we cross-referenced. We figured out who great-great uncle William was, the one who aunt Margaret (as a child) saw laid out on the pool table during her visit to her grandmother. He had died, cutting her visit short. We pondered why my grandmother was born at a summer camp, and then we saw pictures of the annual New York Life Insurance summer camp for families, hmm… may that is the connection.

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Was my grandmother born during New York Life Insurance summer camp at this park?

Later in the summer we had a great family trip to Mexico and explored the ancient Mayan city of Coba where we climbed pyramids and explored the gaming courts. If this city was fully recovered from the surrounding jungle it would be the second largest city in the world (geographically). This all was very exciting since I dreamed of being an archaeologist in my youth.


We climbed the Nohoch Mul pyramid at the Mayan ruins in Coba

Then my wife and I celebrated a wonderful 25th Wedding Anniversary to Washington State with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a great time hiking and exploring “Paradise” at Mount Rainier National Park and then toured Washington Wine Country in the Yakima and Columbia River Valleys. This brought back great memories of our own Summers family agribusiness that lasted for over 100 years.


Sunrise at Mount Rainier was spectacular

During the Fall we had great trips to visit our children at college whilst seeing plays and watching marching bands perform. We visited Fallingwater and Monticello.

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Frank Lloyd’s Wright’s “Fallingwater” is spectacular

At Thanksgiving we all participated in Thanksgiving Show and Tell again by showing objects and photos and sharing family stories and laughs.

To wrap up the year as the kids returned from college we did several activities. There was the extended family viewing of the third part of the Hobbit. We went on excursions to the Mall and other stores in order to buy, return, window shop, exchange and return gifts. There were trips to and from Union Station and the airport to pick up or drop off our children. We attended and hosted holiday celebrations. We visited my hometown to spend Christmas with my parents.

It has been busy and bustling year with just enough time for my son to successfully assemble the new Christmas deer that lights up our front lawn and for us to watch It’s a Wonderful Life and other memorable movies. We also spent time organizing and supporting a service and outreach project at our church where we assembled over 700 snack-packs for local charities.

It has been a good year to be a personal historian. I was elected to serve on the international board of directors for the Association of Personal Historians where I will be focusing on Regional Operations. I completed interviews and transcripts for one client. I continue to work on two books for another client. I have the forty digital voice recordings from Show and Tell at the Family Reunion, a few dozen more recordings of my parent’s and other family members’ stories and I am starting interviews to capture early stories for the 60th Anniversary of my church.

I hope you and your family are having a joyous holiday season. I hope you take some time to snap a few personal and family photos, schedule time to do a family show and tell or to record a few stories. If you need help contact me or one of my colleagues in the Association of Personal Historians.

I wish you an intriguing and memorable 2015.


May you life be inspired by sunrises and sunsets


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