My mother, mom and opera singer

Jane Elder Hough 1923-1995

Jane Ruth Elder, my mother, grew up in Tacoma, Washington, during the Depression in the family of a teacher. In those days, teachers were paid little. It became apparent that her parents could not afford music lessons for her, even though that is what she wanted more than anything. How could she become a musician […]

My father, engineer

Eldred W. Hough 1916-1990

This slide rule belonged to my dad, the engineer. Eldred W. Hough, although he was the oldest son, wasn’t named for his father, Thomas C. Hough. Instead, his younger brother got the name Thomas Hough. So, why did the younger one get the father’s name? That’s kind of odd. Dad’s names came from his mother’s […]

Thomas Hough, immigrant and entrepreneur

626 Church St., Carrollton

Thomas Hough, an enterprising young man, was born in 1844 into a lower-class family in Yorkshire, England, and didn’t like his prospects. His education stopped at the sixth grade, and his dad was a wagon driver. He got a job at the local  cotton mill as a lift operator, but whenever there was a pay […]

Granny Jennie’s mother, stuck on the prairie

Switzerland?

This is about Granny Jennie’s mother Mary Jane, who dominated the Illinois prairie around her in the late 1800s but may have longed for a trip to … Switzerland? My great-grandmother, Mary Jane Robertson, always wanted to go to Switzerland, or so I imagine. So she painted this fantastic landscape with a crooked chalet and […]

Granny Jennie, a genteel lady

Phyllis Wheeler's family heirlooms

My Granny Jennie, born in 1885, hand-painted this pitcher in an art class in college. She had a college degree, rare for her generation, especially for women. I remember her the best of all my grandparents, because she traveled south to live with us in the winters when I was small. She spent plenty of […]

My grandfather, a surveyor

surveyor_instrument_TCHough

I am sorting stuff from the attic and basement. I ran across my grandfather’s precision surveying instrument. Later on I knew his wife Granny Jennie — she was as mild-mannered as they come. But I never knew Grandpa Tom. He died before I was born. I’ve heard that Grandpa Tom could be hard to get […]

The tale of Granny’s punch bowl: where next?

punchbowl2

When I was a kid, Granny had a punch bowl in the middle of her dining room table. She was an old lady, with feet in the Victorian era. So the punch bowl is flowery and Victorian. It probably had belonged to her  mother, a high-society lady for the small town of Carrollton, Illinois, wife […]