Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

I am a big proponent of going green.  We have looked at things that could save energy for years.  We would love to be off the grid, but it all costs money folks, and some of it big money.

My dad’s family were thought to be Dutch German.  My nephew has found out they are Norwegian, but I am thinking that folks might have thought they were Dutch because of the popular belief that the Dutch were a frugal lot.  My dad’s family was definitely a frugal lot.

VanVleck family 1940s

My dad's family in the 40s

This was the usual group who we would visit with, twice a month when we drove to Kankakee, Illinois to visit my sister.  That is Granddad and Grandma to the left, then Uncle Clifford holding Richard and next to him Aunt Lucille with David Merle VanVleck in front of her.  Aunt Laura and her husband were behind and then, at the right side is my mother, Phyllis DeWitt and my dad (in uniform) Harold VanVleck.  In front of mom is my sister, Evelyn, and next to her is my brother David Merle VanVleck  (1942-1990).   I was not on the scene yet.

Yes, you read that right; cousins each named David Merle VanVleck.  It was not as common a name as John Doe.  One lived in Indiana and one in Illinois so no one thought there was a problem with it.  However,  when my brother got out of the Air Force, he ended up living in Kankakee, Illinois and boy did the problems arise then.    If you are going to be frugal with a name, and use it twice in a family, make sure that one of them isn’t a rather shady character.  My brother had to repeatedly prove that he did not owe the money or had not done the deed.

Anyway, I realized just how frugal my family was when I walked in Grandma’s kitchen, after one family gathering, and saw paper plates hanging on a clothesline drying.

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There are some things parents should not do; naming your child after beaches and spaceships may be yet two of those things.  But, definitely, do NOT name your child the exact same, albeit not common name of a relative.


My brother was named David Merle VanVleck.  Mom wanted to name him Allen.  She had loved the name Allen since she was a little girl, but since she also had a boyfriend named Allen-before she met Dad, he would not agree to name my brother Allen.  David was decided upon and Merle was picked by mom, because it was the name of the one cousin who treated mom nicely in Dad’s family.


It takes awhile to accept a new wife in some families.  Suddenly, everything the previous wife (who is deceased-which is even worse, especially for her) ever did is wonderful and besides, the new wife is a floozy. She must be; as she wears mascara, lipstick, nylons and high heels.  It was around 1940, after all and her new sister-in-law did not think too highly of her.


So, this baby boy comes along and they name him David Merle VanVleck, without ever once thinking about the fact that Dad’s brother and his wife also named their little boy, who might have been a year older or not, David Merle VanVleck.  This would have been fine if my brother had stayed in Indiana and not moved to Illinois and a neighboring city to his cousin.  But, he did.


Let me put a disclaimer here; as with all family posts, there must be a disclaimer.  Don’t sue me.  There, that’s it, ‘cause I’m going to tell the truth, as I remember it and I don’t have any assets worth suing over.  Unless you want that laptop with VISTA.


Unlike my brother, the other David Merle VanVleck; my cousin, David, had a mean look about him.  I didn’t like the way he would glare at me, when I was a young girl, and say mean things and then smile. That smile, I was convinced had a mass-murderer type of aspect to it and I avoided him when I could.  


When my cousin grew up, he made a lot of debts he did not pay, and then he stole money from his father and who knows what else.  I don’t because I still stayed away from him. He also left his wife, who is a beloved member of this family yet and loved him (and even cared for him at the end) until the day he died. His current wife did not show up for his funeral.


My brother, having moved to the nearby town in Illinois, would receive his cousin’s bills and collection notices, and all kinds of other troubles.


What brings me to this place is that even yet, eighteen years after his death, I think it may be haunting him still.  One of my search terms the other day was:

david van vleck sucks



Two people, actually searched those four words.  Now, my brother’s name gets a lot of searches for it.  I know there are other VanVleck’s out there and some may even “suck”, but I gotta tell you that both of my families, the good and the bad, David Merle VanVleck’s are deceased now. Both from the cancer that haunts both sides of my family and both were way too young when they died.


But, I will guarantee you that my brother was not the David Merle VanVleck, who “sucked.” David was an outdoors, camping, camera toting, phlebotomist, computer nerd, Boy Scout Leader, and listener of The Irish Rovers that we all loved.   And, I am stating we all loved my brother, David, and not the Irish Rovers.  Thank goodness for head phones.

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There is a certain quiet determination in Martinsville. This was my first trip to Martinsville since the flooding. Mom needed groceries, blood work and had a doctor’s appointment. The news was not what she wanted to hear, she wanted surgery to fix her valves, but she is a survivor and will fight on.


When I entered, on the north side of town, everything looked pretty much the same; other than the car dealership whose sign which read something like, “We have always been open. No flood cars on our lot.”


The fairground is the first inkling you have of the destruction. Driving around the back of the hospital, the first thing you notice is one vast pile of people’s lives. They have set aside an area in the fairgrounds to serve as a temporary truck dump. There are also areas for people to pick up items they might need; clothing, kitchen things, etc. 


It is when you pass Main street and the area past down town, to the east, that you see the affects of the flooding. Kroger’s parking lot is cordoned off, but to the side sits an air-conditioned pharmacy trailer to refill your prescriptions. Thank you Kroger. Store shelving and coolers are in another marked area.


That part of town is a hive of activity. A line of debris laden trucks exits one residential street. At the corner, laborers take their break on the yard next to a hose that is pumping water out of the basement and down to the gutter. Every third yard seems to have a table with items on it with signs that either read “YARD SALE” or “FREE”. Items such as spare breadmakers await a new home.


Tears come to my eyes, and yes, I cry easily. It’s a family trait on my dad’s side. But, the mound in the front yard of another home peaks tall than the house roof. I think of the lifetime of memories this pile represents: family photos and home movies, first shoes, wedding certificates, an uncle’s casket war flag, a favored doll, a first plate and cup, grandma’s wedding dress, dad’s christening dress, plus all the necessities of daily life. I feel for the family and want to give them a hug. I wish I could help.


Thankfully, our middle son shuts his door when he leaves the house. The water mark in his room is five inches above ground, with a small amount of water seeping into the youngest boy’s room. We are looking for a new bed for middle son (he probably needed it anyway; he’s too tall for his bed and has a bad back). I don’t know what else he has thrown out. Furniture is drying.


Their rooms are back to normal, as they ever get. Days were spent scraping glue off the floor, from the carpeting, scraping linoleum and glue from under that. We had salvaged, from a friend’s house flip, padding and carpeting and they are now in use on the concrete flooring. One boy complains he wants heavier curtains to block the light. The other is off, yet again, with his friends. We have barely been touched. Our life is back to normal.


For us, it was just a reminder that while it may be tough here many days, and that $5.00 bill I gave the attendant yesterday only gave me a bit over a gallon of gas, we are safe. We have each other and a roof over our heads. My thoughts are with you, residents of Northern Ireland (which also had flooding), China, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, and Wisconsin (the links are from Wikipedia).

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