This post is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:
Since my last post my family and I have experienced deaths of two or our loved ones.
First, I lost my husband and best friend, Kevin John Meehan on June 16. He was also a friend to many at church and through sailing, and he will be sorely missed.
Then, on June 23 I lost my father, Joe A. Becker, about whom my most recent posts have been focused. At 95, he had outlived many of his contemporaries, but the sailing community remembered him and came out for his funeral service earlier this week.
I have family and friends who were unable to attend the services of one or the other and who would like to have access to the recordings, which were made by Boston Avenue United Methodist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. To make the recordings available through this site, I have uploaded the two files, which are in .mp3 format.
Click here to listen to the recordings:
For Kevin John Thomas Meehan, 1957-2013.
For Joseph Aloysius “Joe” Becker, Jr., 1918-2013.
Memorials for each of them are currently available for viewing at ninde.com, the website of Ninde Funeral Service in Tulsa.]]>
My mother scanned some of these old sailing photos several years ago and I am glad to have them to share here.
The first is from 1976, with Joe Becker (skipper) and John Smart (crew) next to the 60-pound traveling trophy which was over five feet tall. The third member of the crew was Gerry Gavin of North Sails who had apparently returned to Wisconsin before this photo was taken. Joe and crew had finished first in the 1976 C22 Nationals in Seattle, Washington. John Smart continued to crew for Joe in local races, and when he crewed in Jackson, Mississippi for the 1977 C22 Nationals, I was the other crew member. The winner that year was Dick Durgin, a sailor from the local area. We finished second overall.
In 1985, Dr. Bill Hall was Joe’s crew. When Joe was unable to explain being passed by competitor after competitor, Bill dove in to the lake to discover the cause of Luff Affair’s poor performance, and found that a piece of carpet had been stuck to the leading edge of the boat’s keel. The explanation was simple: the carpet was stuck as a result of a last-minute paint touch-up before Joe had lowered the retractable keel down onto the trailer and onto the protective scrap of carpet placed between the keel and the trailer’s keel-guide.
I can’t recall the name of Bill’s wife at the time, but the other two pictured along with Joe and Bill were my mother, Gerry Becker seated at the left, and my aunt, Sara Becker Coleman of Canoga Park, California, which was ironically very close to Catalina Yachts in Woodland Hills, California.
For the results of the 2013 Catalina 22 Nationals, and for a history of the Catalina 22, visit http://www.catalina22.org.]]>
The 40th Annual Catalina 22 National Championship Regatta is being held this week in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. A trek to the various locations of this three or four day event was a standard summertime ritual for my father, Joe Becker, and for several of those years for my entire family as well.
In 1975 Joe selected a Catalina 22, sail number 4747, and travelled to Lake Ray Hubbard outside of Dallas, Texas, for the 3rd annual championship regatta. He won the championship that first year and then again the next year on Shilshole Bay in Seattle, Washington. This time, my mother and sisters and I made the trip, and along the way I sketched out a stylized “name” for the transom – “Luff Affair,” which was the creation of my mother, Gerry.
He didn’t win the event again after 1976, but he competed in about 24 of the regattas. With the help of the C22 National Sailing Association’s website and some of our family’s private archives of newspaper clippings and recorded race results, I have put together the beginnings of a record for Joe to see, and to share with any of his friends and supporters, especially any of the past crew that might want to see them.
The list begins like this:
1973 Long Beach, California – won by Tom Winans
1974 San Francisco, California – won by Gene Carapetyan
1975 Lake Ray Hubbard, Dallas, Texas – won by Joe Becker with John Cameron and two other crew
1976 Shilshole Bay, Seattle, Washington – won by Joe Becker with John Smart and Gerry Gavin as crew (and I was asked to crew for Tom Winans, who finished third)
1977 Jackson, Mississippi – won by Dick Durgin. Joe finished 2nd with John Smart and who else as crew?
1978 Eagle Mountain Lake, Ft. Worth, Texas – won by Bill Culp. Joe was possibly 5th.
1979 Lake Lanier, Atlanta, Georgia – won by Beattie Purcell. I need to find Joe’s finishing position, but I can tell you that Kevin and I were the crew.
Through the years, many sailing friends served as Joe’s crew. I have some photos to share, but I need to find others. If you know of a former crew (or if you were one), please tell them about this little opportunity to reminiscence and share stories about our connections through the C22 sailing family.]]>
Old Sailors Never Die…They Just Get a Little Dinghy – that was one of my Dad’s favorites, back when those sayings were popular. He wasn’t really a jokester, but he enjoyed lots of little things, like telling stories and hearing stories told about him – mostly sailing stories. His memory doesn’t help him recall everything lately, but he’s been comfortable and happy.
Sometimes he is concerned because he would like to solve some problem out there, but there isn’t much he can do now. He tries to work out how to find someplace to stay, or how he could make some money. Today he said something about trying to improve the wheelchair. I asked him whether he wasn’t the one who designed the centerboard lift system that the members used at Sequoyah Yacht Club to store their boats above the water (instead of having to pull them out after the weekly races), but he said that he doesn’t remember.
He developed a mast carrier for the Catalina 22, and we used to sell them at Tulsa Sail-Craft. With one device, which had a pair of pintles to hook onto the C-22’s gudgeons, he could not only carry the mast, but could lift the mast high enough that he had a good start on raising it the rest of the way by standing on the cabin. He called it his “six-foot friend.”
He designed some other sailing solutions like a way to determine the depth of the water at the boat ramp, and even submitted some to a national sailing magazine (probably Sailing World), which published at least two. He designed a keel guide for helping to load the retractable-keel Catalina 22s onto their trailers, and he loved to design mast-raising systems for larger boats.
I remember staying up late one night at the old “boat yard,” as he built some sturdy, wooden steps so that potential buyers could step up alongside a soon-to-be-displayed boat on a trailer – probably a Catalina 22. The Boat Show would be the next day and so when it was about time to head for home, he started designing and building those steps. I would probably have been too young to drive, and had tagged along with my dad to work that day. I was an unofficial helper, and he probably asked me to hold this, or hand him that, which I did, and he did the hard part. We were in the very small building which housed the “office” and “shop,” at the boat yard on Latimer Court, behind Burkhart’s Marine. Burkhart’s owners, Art and Ruth Burkhart Obermire, sold marine hardware and rented us the space in the back.
Tulsa Sail-Craft would have two more locations after, and had occupied at least one rental space and our backyard before this one, where my dad sold boats in the early 1970’s. My grandfather (and my sisters probably) helped sometimes, and there were a few paid employees, too. Dwayne Nelson told me that he had worked for TSC when it was on Latimer. We visited after the memorial service for his dad, Charlie Nelson, who had taught our sailing school later.
Actually, I had been on the payroll earlier, as well. My sister and I would assemble the sail rigs for the Dolphins that would arrive at our house by the dozen or so, fastening the sails to the spars, and then the spars to the masts, and adding the main sheet and halyard to each rig and binding the long rig together by a chain of slip knots. The photo that shows a newly-arrived Catalina 22 loaded on the back of a pickup truck, also shows some of the Dolphins leaning against Burkhart’s.
If I ask my dad about all of this tomorrow, though, I’m not sure he’ll feel like discussing it. He was feeling very tired tonight.
While there may well be several stories and accomplishments I could describe about Joe Becker, most would not be complete without giving credit to my mother, Gerry Becker. While Joe was the personality and salesman, Gerry was the one who followed through. She spent many late nights in her office at our house, where I remembering stopping in to visit after being out with some kind of activity during high school, and she would postpone her work to give me her undivided attention. I hope that I didn’t cause her to stay up too much later. She was a good role model for my sisters and me, showing us the value of hard work and dedication to a job well done.
Married in 1954, Joe and Gerry moved to Tulsa in 1955, raised the three of us girls and eventually welcomed sons-in-law and six grandchildren into the family. And on 27 Feb 2013, they celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.
Even before they were married, Joe had Gerry crewing for him. They had met through church, and he used to tell us that he married her for her TV. He was involved in Snipe Fleet 1 at the White Rock Sailing Club in Dallas, where they would his Snipe, #8645. When they relocated to Tulsa, they brought the Snipe with them, making news in the Tulsa paper when using a hoist to launch the boat at its new home – Lake Yahola and Sequoyah Yacht Club (I’ll have to find which newspaper and which issue, and let you know, but the photo I am posting here appears to have been a scan of the original print, not the printed newspaper article).
While Joe was on the road for business, Gerry gradually made friends in Tulsa, being involved in gardening club and creating a beautiful yard with Joe’s help. They had sailing friends, of course, and friends at the newly-formed New Haven Methodist Church. She also taught Spanish before school at nearby Carnegie Elementary School and when my sisters and I became involved in Camp Fire Girls there, she served as a leader and eventually was given responsibility for the entire Camp Fire program at Carnegie.
But, she had a good understanding of business and was the person who “did the books, first for Becker Sales Co., the oilfield supply business, which was the incentive for their move from Dallas when Joe’s father, Jack Becker, invited Joe to partner with him; and then for Tulsa Sail-Craft, the “sailboat business” that Joe and Gerry decided to start in 1966. She would type just about every invoice, sales ticket, letter, and envelope as well as tallying income and expenses, and determining that the sailboat business was going to last. Joe must have typed some, too – letters, probably – because I remember getting in trouble with him for leaving the caps lock on when playing with the typewriter while it wasn’t in use.
And when Joe decided to host a national regatta here in the Tulsa area (which he did more than once), Gerry was the one who pulled everything together behind-the-scenes.
She had attended business school along with studying Spanish and French at the University of Texas at Arlington, and had always lived in Texas. She didn’t initially think much of the idea of moving to Oklahoma and probably secretly wished that they would one day return to Dallas, her home town. But when Tulsa Sail-Craft closed its doors in 1998, after 32 years, they had made Tulsa their home.
Although they no longer sail or run a business, Gerry stays pretty busy keeping Joe in line and making sure that he has good care. She is a happy resident of the independent living center where she now lives, not far from all three of her daughters, and she is still gardening and keeping the books. She has also developed an interest in genealogy, which she tells people is because she felt that I would have enough to do trying to learn about my dad’s side and she wanted to take on the responsibility of her side of the family.
We had a nice visit with my dad and mom today, where we reminisced a little about Snipe #8645 and the newspaper covering the launching at Lake Yahola, along with the latest news of the grandchildren.
Happy Mother’s Day to my mother, Gerry Becker!]]>
For years, I have been gathering information about my dad that I have been planning to compile in some way and share with my family. Sharing the resulting story with him was always a part of the plan, but since we never want to consider that we may lose our family, I have always found it hard to get started, even when my dad is in his nineties.
Because of my being a genealogist and family historian, and because of my fascination with technology and my always wanting to “kill two birds with one stone,” I have decided that blogging about my dad, while he is still able to read and understand what I’m writing, will be the best way for me to begin.
Being so close to him now, and being somewhat of a timid writer, I don’t know that I will be able to adequately articulate all that should be said about my dad, who is known to many people in the Tulsa area – especially the sailors. But I think that if I can at least get started I will be successful in some way, and my dad will be able to read and see the photos, which should bring back some happy memories.
He introduced lots of people to sailing, helping to match them to the right boat, and in many cases to the right sailing club or marina. He was well known to the sailing community, even after we closed the family sailboat dealership, Tulsa Sail-Craft, in 1998. Although he lost his “equilibrium” several years ago, limiting his ability to get around and forever tearing him away from sailing, my dad will always identify himself as a sailor. I hope he knows that his impact on the local sailing community will not soon be forgotten.
I have created a page on this blog for comments, to serve as a modified guest book. See the link at the top left for “Joe Becker – My Dad.” Please comment with well wishes, or stories you’d like to share, or sailing or family news. I will be sure to pass them along.]]>
Later today I will be presenting two additional lectures. Here are the live-link handouts for those two lectures:
My lectures at this conference are being recorded and will be available for sale. I’ll need to get the details and get back with you.]]>
I am working toward presentation of a lecture at the upcoming, 2012 Federation of Genealogical Societies’ Conference in Birmingham, Alabama, “Indians, Squatter, Settlers, and Soldiers in the ‘Old Southwest,’” to be held August 29-September 1. My lecture, “Information Overload: Organizing Your Genealogy Records,” is scheduled for the afternoon of Thursday, August 30, and is intended for the beginner level genealogist. Download the Conference Brochure here: fgs_2012registrationbooklettopress.
In anticipation of my need to organize (”reign in”) the myriad of ideas and techniques that I have assembled on the topic, I scheduled a preliminary presentation for the Tulsa City-County Library’s Family History Month, organized by Kathy Huber, MLS, the genealogy librarian, for Saturday, July 7 – last Saturday. The turnout was overwhelming. There were 150 attendees for this afternoon session of a Saturday for which two other programs were also presented – all were appropriate for all levels, but helpful for even those who had been researching their families for decades. I saw faces of some that I know are not new to genealogy, but from a show of hands there were probably at least 30 there who were newcomers. Frossard Auditorium at Hardesty Library was packed – making for the kind of venue where, instead of having an empty chair between you and the stranger next to you, there is hardly an empty seat. This was, I think, indicative of a desire of many to get started, especially with the current attraction and potential effectiveness of online searching – something that was certainly not a part of my own beginning interested in my family’s history. Of course the cool library (take that either way) was the place to be on such a hot, Oklahoma day, and it accounted for some attendance, but so did the scores of area residents, as well as those who made the drive from outside Tulsa, because they had experienced TCCL’s successful programming during its Family History Month in previous years. Download a PDF guide to July’s Family History Month programming here.
Because of the crowds, not everyone present received the handout, and so Liz Walker of the Genealogy Center has made a PDF version available on the Genealogy Center’s section of the TCCL website. To download the file, click on the link to Information Overload. You’ll have the option to print it out, or read and save it on your computer or mobile device – just as you often will have with your genealogy records going forward.
During the presentation, which is in definite need of improvement before the FGS Conference, I mentioned a plan to post some links here on my blog. I had been developing a list using my account on Evernote.com, posting the links and a brief description into a “note” in Evernote as I encountered them as I followed various leads online. Here is the list:
I hope to write again soon with tips on organization of your genealogy records. To sign up to receive an email of future blog posts, enter your email address in the second box on the left (Feed My Inbox will be sending the emails).]]>
I have my calendar marked for April 2, 2012. Do you?
I plan to be ready by that day to search the 1940 census online for free at the National Archives website, www.archives.gov. Since the U.S. Federal Census cannot be seen by the public until it is released 72 years after the 1940 enumeration date, no one will be able to begin indexing the entries until April 2, 2012. Visit the 1940 Census Records page of the National Archives site for ideas about how to do some sleuthing in advance to narrow down a search to only the pages covering your ancestor’s (or your) neighborhood. While there, you will also find just about everything you ever wanted to know and everything you will ever need to know about the 1940 census.
Constance Potter, of the National Archives gave a detailed introduction to the 1940 census at the Federation of Genealogical Societies National Conference in September 2011, and it was very interesting to hear the about what questions were asked back in 1940. Kathy Huber, the Tulsa City-County Library’s genealogy librarian introduced it last July in Tulsa as well (download her handout from the TCCL Genealogy website).
While in each of the censuses 1880-1930, the census taker asked for not only the place of birth of each person on the census, he (or she) also asked for the place of birth of the parents. That information won’t appear on the 1940 census except for one person out of every 20. The U. S. Census Bureau was more interested in 1940 to study the workforce, so the census taker asked questions about what kind of work, how many weeks unemployed, etc. One question that intrigues me is where each person was living on 1 April 1935. The answer could be “Same House,” “Same Place” (if the same town but a different house), or the town, county, and state or country where the person lived.
To get an idea of the nature of the instructions to the enumerators, or just to get a glimpse back to 72 years ago, watch the training film now on YouTube or at the National Archives website. The mock interview of a housewife by a census taker will help to put the census taker’s job perspective, and you can hear about some of the more tricky census questions in anticipation of your look at the census when it is released.
Thanks to Dick Eastman for blogging about this today.]]>