Raymond Gardner, his family and friends WELCOME you!


Raymond Gardner turns 94 on March 23, 2020!


Here are Raymond and Margaret in the early 1980s. Earl and Dixie had just been married and they went to visit all of Earl's siblings (the Original Gang of Ten). The newly married Dixie took this snapshot of the Gardners.  

Uncle Raymond usually goes to the Senior Center in Reading, MA every week. He is a member of a World War II veterans group called "Scuttlebutt." In celebration of Veteran's Day on November 11th, WGBH's National Public Radio Station interviewed members of this group including Uncle Raymond. You can listen to the "live" version by clicking on the picture below. The printed version will be published in the Winter 2020 Gardner Newsletter.

Happy 2019 Valentine's Day from the Jenkins Family!

Katrina, Owen, Eva and Kyle Jenkins Owen and Eva Jenkins

Uncle Raymond with his great grandchildren - Christmas 2018

Eva Jenkins - Uncle Raymond - Owen Jenkins   Taylor Demand - Jordan Demand - Uncle Raymond

Merry Christmas 2017 from Kyle and Katrina Jenkins


Celebrate Megan Ludgate's 23rd Birthday!

Megan Ludgate, Uncle Raymond's granddaughter, celebrated her 23rd birthday by having a party at the "Blue House Restaurant" in Reading, MA. Guests started arriving at 3:00 p.m. on October 21st.

Click on Megan and her Mom's picture to see some scenes from that special event!

The apple cider press that Raylene brought from New York was a big hit with everyone, especially the kids.

Please be patient while the large PDF file downloads.



Raymond's granddaughter, Cailin O'Toole, shares the same birthday as your editor, Paul. This year their birthdays fell on Thanksgiving Day.

Here is a letter that Cailin wrote to Paul:

Happy Birthday to my birthday buddy!

How are things on your end of the country? It's relatively well over here in California. We're finally getting some rain. I'm doing the whole college application thing right now. It's super stressful! I kinda can't wait for this whole part to be over so I can just know where I'm going. I'm looking at quite a few colleges over on the East Coast, but I think it'll all come down to who will give me the most merit aid.

I'm trying to decide between majoring in political science and computer science and trying to figure out which colleges promote double majoring. It makes me sad that we can only pick one or two things to study. There's so much!

We didn't make it to Massachusetts last summer, but the next time I'm out there, I hope to see you! I just received your birthday card to me and thank you so much! I can assure you the money will be well spent. I'm just headed for the bookstore now to take advantage of a Black Friday sale. I hope you had a wonderful birthday and that your 2017 blows you away! ~ Cailin



More Great Grandkids for Uncle Raymond!
(Stay tuned for new pictures of latest great grandchild, "Taylor")

Here is an official "hello" from Grandpa's new (but not his newest} great grandchild.


Hugs from all of us,

Katrina, Kyle, Eva and Owen


Megan Ludgate Matriculates from Simmons College Summa Cum Laude on May 20, 2016

2016 Simmons College Graduate Megan Ludgate with her parents, Raylene and Mike Ludgate   Siblings Megan Ludgate and Bryan Ludgate    

The Ludgate Family

Simmons College Commencement 2016

Megan Ludgate

(Click on link below Megan's picture to see Megan walk down the aisle for her commencement ceremony from Simmons College)

Uncle Raymond turned 90 on March 23, 2016. You can learn all about the many celebrations by reading the Spring, 2016 issue

of the "Gardner Newsletter." You can read that issue by clicking here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Jenkins Family!










To see Megan's video of "Caring Across Generations," click HERE.



To see Megan's video of "Visiting My Great Aunt," click HERE.

















2nd Generation Gardner Cousin, Megan Ludgate

From Megan's "Linked-in" Profile

Megan Ludgate currently studies economics and mathematics at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. A strong student, Megan pursued the goal of graduating college debt free and is attending Simmons on the Deanís Scholarship. Driven by a strong belief in the value of responsibility and high ethics, Megan derives satisfaction by working with others on projects that have a clear meaningful purpose.

Megan grew up in a small rural town outside of Ithaca, New York. In the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes Region, Meganís parents fostered in her a love for the outdoors and a passion for exploring the world around her. From a young age, Megan inspired others with her thoughts about a better future for everyone.

Often complimented on her ability to relate to a wide range of people and her ability to adapt to a variety of challenging situations and dynamic workplace environments, Megan continues to actively reach for new challenges.

Megan is currently involved in many aspects of her college environment, improving the inclusivity of many college programs, including Orientation and Health Education. In other areas of her life, Megan shows a passion for helping connect others to nature in order to inspire them to conserve the natural world where possible.

In her spare time, Megan enjoys dancing and digital photography. She is also plays four instruments and spends much of her time backpacking in the woods. Megan is always looking for opportunities to make new connections, expand her skill set and contribute to something bigger than herself. She can be contacted at megan.ludgate@gmail.com.Megan Ludgate currently studies economics and mathematics at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. A strong student, Megan pursued the goal of graduating college debt free and is attending Simmons on the Deanís Scholarship. Driven by a strong belief in the value of responsibility and high ethics, Megan derives satisfaction by working with others on projects that have a clear meaningful purpose.

Megan grew up in a small rural town outside of Ithaca, New York. In the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes Region, Meganís parents fostered in her a love for the outdoors and a passion for exploring the world around her. From a young age, Megan inspired others with her thoughts about a better future for everyone.

Often complimented on her ability to relate to a wide range of people and her ability to adapt to a variety of challenging situations and dynamic workplace environments, Megan continues to actively reach for new challenges.

Megan is currently involved in many aspects of her college environment, improving the inclusivity of many college programs, including Orientation and Health Education. In other areas of her life, Megan shows a passion for helping connect others to nature in order to inspire them to conserve the natural world where possible.

In her spare time, Megan enjoys dancing and digital photography. She is also plays four instruments and spends much of her time backpacking in the woods. Megan is always looking for opportunities to make new connections, expand her skill set and contribute to something bigger than herself. She can be contacted at megan.ludgate@gmail.com.




FAR LEFT: Eva Mae Jenkins

LEFT: The O'Toole's Christmas 2013

Connor, Cheryl, Peter, Cailin and Lucky

Lessons From Our Mom

Raylene Ludgate

December 6th, 2013

Thank you all for coming today.  I am Raylene- Mom’s middle daughter. 

Years ago, when Mom was having trouble walking, she asked Dad not to sell her bike - and there it still sits.  That’s what makes Mom and Dad special.  I wanted to ride that bike here today for Mom, but the tires were pretty flat.

Mom’ bike is a nice place to start.  Back in the days of one car families, I would think the bike gave Mom some freedom, and she would often ride the 8 miles to her Mom’s house.

This is something that she gave to us, - the love of exercise.  Mom had us all riding bikes.  Money was tight, but she still found money for downhill ski lessons.  We all had skates and hiked together as a family.  Today we all still find fun in exercise, climbing mountains, skiing, and hiking.

I like to try and think about what life was like as a young mother in the 50’s.  Dad worked two jobs, -one that took him away day and night for a week at a time; and on his off week, he worked for my Mom’s bother, Ira.  Mom, with her six kids, had no preschool, no kindergarten; she held it together and gave us a loving start.

I never really appreciated what my Mom accomplished until I had my own kids.  I only had two kids and had trouble juggling, so it’s hard for me to imagine six young kids.  Mom didn’t use TV as a babysitter either.  We didn’t get TV until I was a teenager. 

Love of Adventure

We had freedom to play, to be creative - both inside and outside.  As kids, we built forts over the dining room table, buried jewelry in the back yard while playing pirates, made clover salad with mayonnaise in the bulkhead.  We got to run around the creek and woods.

This creative freedom in deciding what to do and when to do it, mostly outside, helped us all become independent responsible adults who love nature.  The adventuresome spirit was born in us from Mom.  Steve hiked the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.  Ellen biked across the country.  I took an outdoor wildlife job in the boonies of Minnesota.

Love of animals

Mom loved animals and shared this passion with us.  She especially liked dogs.  She had Derry and, more recently, a Chihuahua named Teddy, who was her companion after all of us left the house.  But we didn’t grow up in a traditional family of just dogs and cats.  Steve had his room full of fish tanks.  We had parakeets, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and more.  Gloria was allowed to have a skunk, which we had de-scented.  I fondly remember the baby raccoon we also had.  My Dad and sisters reminded me of the pet pig we had for a summer.  Now, all of us have shared our house with animals. 

Happy Attitude towards work and play

Our vacations were often up in Vermont at my uncle and aunt’s camp.  It was located in the woods by a pond.  Us kids loved it.  It was outside.  It was adventure.  We played among the mosses, swung in a hammock, fished all day, walked the ponds at night to see beavers, boated and swam.

My cousin, Teresa, pointed out to me that the camp was no vacation for Mom and Dad.  You had to walk in a ½ mile or so on narrow wet paths with all your food, clothes and gear.  Gear for six young kids.  There was no running water.  So we took trips to the spring for drinking water.  We hauled up buckets from the pond to flush toilets.  We had to heat all the hot water to wash dishes.  In the camp logbook, Mom wrote many entries in a flourishing style about the adventures, mishaps, and sickness- all with a positive bend. 

Love of Music and Dance

Mom somehow got us a big piano.  We didn’t have money for lessons, but Mom found us books to help us learn.  None of us six kids ever did much with music, but we made many opportunities for our own kids to take lessons and play instruments.  Mom and Dad square danced for ten years and two families, Sharon’s and mine, do contras, squares and other dancing.

As a token to remember Mom, I have a Tennessee Dancing Gourd for all of you.  Mom had her mental health issues, so friends and families helped our family over the years.

I remember Aunt Betty and Uncle Andrew hosting the baby shower for Cheryl’s birth, but found out about it just the day before.  They also took care of her for the first two weeks of her life.

Aunt Lois helped our family in a myriad of ways including babysitting and celebrations.

Aunt Austie helped us with the plumbing.  Uncle Homer and Aunt Elizabeth provided our vacation spot.  Christmas at Uncle Adelbert’s.

My cousin Paul has kept the entire Gardner family connected through 16 years of the Gardner newsletter and has supported my Dad in many ways.

And there are so many more that have helped us throughout the years.   

These gourds are a small token of our appreciation.  Just like Mom, they dance.   (Here Raylene spins the gourds.)

Mom also gave us the love of nature crafts and flower gardening.  She did tole painting on rocks, made hook rugs with nature scenes, and found time to maintain roses and a few gardens.  And all of us love gardening in various forms today. 

These gourds can be dried and then made into other things.  I’ve made a few into special ornaments.

The first goes to my Dad.  He’s my hero.  He kept his dedication to Mom through all the hard times of her mental illness.  And he did it with grace and humor.

I want to give one to thank my brother who visited Mom religiously every Sunday for years.



One for Sharon who has had her own health issues; and after dealing with them has been a regular visitor and helper to Mom. 

One goes to Ellen and one to Cheryl, who, like me, visit when we are in town and come as often as we can. 

And finally, one to my sister, Gloria, who has been the backbone of Mom’s care.  She was the one who brought Mom to her house for all the celebrations and holidays for ten years.  She visited Mom weekly, bought her clothes, did her nails, and more.  We are all so grateful to Gloria for her dedication to our Mom. 

I’m hoping that when you unpack your Christmas ornaments each year, these dancers remind you of Mom.  I love my Mom and wouldn’t trade her for any other.  Thanks. 




Cailin O'Toole turned 15 on November 24, 2013! Here's what she's been up to.

(If you scroll down almost to the bottom of the page, you can see a picture of Cailin at age 2.)

Dear Paul,

'Sup? I'm watching "Star Trek: Into the Darkness" right now. It's an awesome movie. At the end of the movie Spock is so cool! Khan is scary, though! Some other good movies are: "Thor," "Avengers," and "Thor The Dark World." Basically, any movie with Loki in it. He is amazing!

So, I'm in high school now. It's ... interesting. The classes and things are mostly the same, but other parts are really different. Math class is pretty much the same, - just more homework. English is boring, but in a relaxing way. Spanish still somehow manages to be both boring and difficult in excruciating tandem.


My engineering class is new, though. This year we're using a software called "Inventor," where you can create 3D models. Right now we're working on modeling a 3D train. I made mine "Loki colored" (black, green and gold). It's a really hard class because things don't really have an exact spelled out way. You just kind of have to guess and hope it looks right.

One different thing is the amount of people. I people-watch as I'm walking through the halls and I see new faces each day. Some people are interesting and I remember them. Like this one guy who is really tall, but has a baby face and a funny little beard that's a good inch or two long, but is all patchy. Or this girl with really close-together eyes. There's even a boy who wears a straight jacket almost every day. It's black with silver buckles and really long sleeves. He whips the sleeves around while he walks.


Another new thing is how .... hmmm... what's the word? Everything feels "grown up-ish." I'm in classes with people who have actual jobs and drive cars and everything. I'm friends with people who are planning their future and are really thinking about college. It's exciting, but also it's nerve wracking. I feel like all of a sudden I have so much to do.

I'm 15 now and it's quite a scary number. When I was 12, turning 13, I expected that it would feel so different because I was finally a teenager ... it didn't. Then, when I was turning 14 and didn't expect much ... it was like ... in 4 years I'll be 18! And now I'm 15!

I want to buy myself a laptop, so I'm sort of looking for a job. But no one wants to hire a 15 year old. They're all like "We hire at 16" - but I'm going to keep looking. I have to put together a resume (not that there's going to be much on it) and get a work permit from school. So, that's what's up with me. How about you?

Love, Cailin


Raymond's Granddaughters, Katrina and Robyn, make him a PROUD GREAT Granddad!

Raymond's family is hard at work producing a third generation of cousins.

Here is Uncle Raymond holding Eva Mae Jenkins - 4 days old. Eva was born on Monday, October 21, 2013 at 10:07 a.m. to Katrina and Kyle Jenkins.
Four generations are pictured here: Great Granddad, Raymond Gardner holding Jordan Joy Demand (who was born to Robyn and Frank on August 8, 2013). Robyn's mother, Gloria Parsons, is on Raymond's left, and the proud mother, Robyn, is on Raymond's right.

Happy 87th Birthday, Uncle Raymond!

Dinner at the "Blue House Restaurant" celebrating Uncle Raymond's 87th birthday - March 23, 2013.



This is a picture from "A Cinderella Comedy."  Cailin played the parts of the Queen (above - behind the apples) and a maid.  She was great - as was the whole play. Connor (pictured with his Dad, Peter) advanced to Cub Scout Webelos rank on May 22, 2011. Connor (pictured with his Mom, Cheryl) advanced to Cub Scout Webelos rank on May 22, 2011.
(Click on the image to see it full-size)

Happy 85th Birthday, Uncle Raymond!

Uncle Raymond blowing out his candles for his 85th birthday.

Uncle Raymond's birthday cake made in the shape of a chess knight baked by his granddaughter, Robyn.

Click on the images to see them full size.

Katrina Joy Parsons married Kyle Mathews Jenkins in January, 2011.  Katrina is Cousin Gloria's daughter and granddaughter of Uncle Raymond and Aunt Margaret Gardner.  Click here to see a slide show of their reception which was held at the Bedford Village Inn in Manchester, NH.

HINT ABOUT THE SLIDE SHOW:  Hit the F11 key on your keyboard before viewing the slide show to see it full-size on your screen.  Hit the F11 key again after viewing to return to your default view.


(Click on the images to see them full-size.)

Congratulations to
Raymond and Margaret Gardner

Genealogy:  Stephen and Brenda Gardner are the parents of Kayla.  Dereck Turkshank and Kayla are the parents of Sarah.
Raymond and Margaret Gardner:  Celebrating 60 years of marriage! Margaret Gardner holding her Great Granddaughter, Sarah Mckenzie Turkshank.
Click HERE to see pictures of Raymond's and Margaret's 50th anniversary!


Here are Robyn and Frank Demand, along with Robyn's mother, Gloria Parsons, cavorting with dolphins on their recent cruise.

(Click on the image to see it full size.)






Happy Birthday, Uncle Raymond!

(Click on the picture to see it full-sized)





  Connor O'Toole at Raley Field  

   (Click on the pictures to see Connor O'Toole full -size.)



Happy Birthday to Cailin O'Toole, daughter of Peter and Cheryl O'Toole, who turned 10 on November 24, 2008!  Here is a letter, card and a picture that Cailin sent to Paul Gardner because they share same birth date. 


Front of card that Cailin made

Inside of card that Cailin made

Cailin O'Toole, age 10

Letter to Paul from Cailin


(Click on the image to see it full size.)


Cousin Gloria and Bob Parson's daughter, Robyn, was married April 15, 2008 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Here are the first pictures from that event.


Robyn and her father, Bob

Robyn and Frank Demand

The Groom, Frank Demand

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Demand

(Click on the image to see it full size.)





June, 2007

Dear Folks,

Thanks, Lois, for the chart of the RR journey.  It occurred to me that Ruth might not have Teresa's address.  So, Ruth, you should send your letter to:  Teresa, Vasko, 58 Fairway Lane, Lyndonville, VT  05851.

Teresa (by the way) will be late getting her copy of the letter.  Irene used to send it to her.  Now she will have to wait a spell.  Teresa, I think, is too busy right now anyway.  She is winding up her teaching career and planning a big wedding.  Cynthia is getting married on July 8th in California.  Bob and Gloria have become good friends with John and Teresa.  Gloria and Teresa, or course, are cousins.  So, Gloria, Bob, Katrina and Katrina's boyfriend, Kyle, will make the trip to California for the wedding.

We expect to see some of our family this summer, - Cheryl from California, Raylene from New York, and maybe perhaps Ellen from Utah, will be visiting in August.  Of course, Gloria, Sharon and Stephen live close by.  We might all end up at the "pool."

I have come down with a sore shoulder.  Arthritis.  At the Reading Senior Center they are having a course on how to cope with the disease.  There are over 100 different types of arthritis and no cure.  Exercise to strengthen the muscle around the joint might help.  Of course medicine might relieve the pain.  I have been making circles with my shoulders and it may have helped a little.  It bothers me when I first get up in the morning.  Enough of that.  My troubles are minor compared to many.

Margaret is doing pretty good, although she wants out.  Yesterday she said she was "going to give me to the Indians."  I told her the Indians wouldn't have me.  She said, "I don't blame them."  A couple of weeks ago Margaret and I were talking about grandchildren.  I think she was thinking "grandchildren," but she asked me, "How many children do we have?"  I said "six" and she said, "so far."  It is sad that she has to live in a nursing home; sad that she is losing her memory, but good to get a little humor.

As you know, I play chess with Clayton.  Now I play chess with granddaughter Megan too.  She is learning fast.  She also keeps me informed about her activities.  She goes horseback riding and uni-cycling.  She has been in a couple of parades riding her one-wheeler and playing her flute.  But not at the same time.  Bryan, on the other hand, being 16, thinks uni-cycling is not the "cool" thing to do.  Bryan likes four wheels and a motor.

I have 19 tomato plants blossoming in the garden.  Cucumbers, pumpkins and carrots take up the rest of the space.  If you figure my time, it probably would cost less in the grocery store.

Love, Margaret and Raymond


(Click on each image to see it full-size.  Please be patient while it downloads.)


Scene of the Clyde River and Ball Mountain.  Picture taken from porch on back of the Gardner homestead.

Willoughby Lake at Sunset.

Funny Incident:  When 2-hear old, Ciara, (my granddaughter) saw the lake, she said:  "Nice Pool!"



(Click on image to see it full-size)



From Our Home to Yours


The O'Tooles

Cailin (8)  Connor (5)

Peter & Cheryl


  The lost Round Robin returns home!




January 10, 2007

Dear RR Readers,

Well, now that the RR letters have been found, you can read all the old news that is in them.  As you may know, I send a copy of the letters to Paul to put on the Gardner News site at www.gardnernews.org.  I did that and then decided to write another one.  Adele has restarted the RR, and now maybe this one will catch up with that one.  Does that make sense?

Bad news this week.  Margaret's brother's wife died yesterday.  His name is Austin.  There will be a memorial service for her on Saturday in the Baptist Church in Medford, MA.

A sign of getting old - I went in to have a hearing test.  The doctor said that because one ear was worse than the other, there was a possibility of a tumor.  An MRI showed that everything was normal.  I think the doctor was just not taking any chances with a mis-diagnosis.  I did get a hearing aid which doesn't help as much as I had hoped.  Now my doctor recommends a colonoscopy, and that is no fun.  I'll probably go in for that next week.

Raylene and I made a trip to Winchester, VA.  She was in between treatments for her breast cancer.  I had wanted to visit the Railway Mail Museum in Boyce, VA for some time.  Some people don't even know that mail was sorted on trains for over 100 years.  I had 22 years on the trains.  The museum was a disappointment in many ways.  I knew it was a work in progress, but it was really just an accumulation of related stuff - just one man's hobby.   Some day he will get it organized.  Since retiring from the post office, I have been collecting railway post office postmarks.   Raylene and I visited a restored grist mill and a VA state gourd convention.  In the grist mill they served us a meal cooked on an open hearth.  It was supposed to be a meal that George Washington would have had.  Raylene enjoyed the gourd stuff more than I did, so we were both happy.

Clayton says I am good at sudoku.  I like to think I am too, but I don't get the right answer first time through very often.  There are different levels, and the top level can be very hard.  Several times I have not been able to solve it.  I play chess at the Woburn Senior Center on Thursday and at the Reading Senior Center on Friday.  Once, in Woburn, they were having a sudoku session the same day, so I went for a sudoku lesson.  The instructor said that if the problem is made right, there is only one answer.  Well, some of them are not made out right then!

 I received a book from Dan Whitney (Nancy's husband) which he wrote.  It is not my favorite subject, being full of magic and spells.  Sort of like Harry Potter books, I think.  I never read Harry Potter, but I did read and enjoyed Dan's book.  I was amazed that we had such a talented author in our family.  The story included a chess match between the good guys and the bad guys.  The winner of the match was to win the dispute.  The bad guys lost, but wouldn't accept the loss, so war ensued.

Very interesting letters, - Ruth's trip, Lois not getting any sympathy, Don and Beulah's garden, graduations, marriages, berry picking ($100.00 worth - wow!), sudoku, and medical issues!

Margaret is doing quite well, but would like to come home.  Sometimes other patients at the rest home get on her nerves.

Love to all, Raymond




Reading, MA, March 15, 2006

Dear Folks,

I lost that left margin somehow.  Welcome to Adele!  We appreciate you writing for your mother.  In your letter you mention "Lilla's second grandchild."  You must mean second great grandchild.  I looked in my genealogy and I find 13 grandchildren.  I am not sure that I am up-to-date on that.

Dixie, thanks for the $1.00 I wasn't expecting that, but it brought up an idea to me.  If I put my story on the Internet and everyone who didn't have a flat tire sent me a $1.00 .........!!  You mention tornadoes in your letter.  Now this year's tornadoes are starting early.  Pictures of Missouri show a lot of destruction.  Hope it didn't hit Indiana like that.

Lois, I have a wood supplier too.  Stephen cut some trees down at his place.  He has been bringing me wood all winter.  I also had wood from the weeping willow tree.  Between them both I have had a fire going since November.   Last year in January, I was burning five gallons of oil a day; this year two gallons a day.  Of course, this year's January was milder than last year.

I have been visiting Margaret every other day, except this last week.  They had the flu in the place and would not let visitors in.  She is doing good, but does not like to be confined to Melrose Care Center all the time.  Gloria has taken her out for church and holidays, which is a big help.  Margaret would appreciate mail from anyone.  Her address:  Melrose Care Center, 40 Martin Street, Melrose, MA  02176.

Anyone for SUDOKU?  I have been doing at least one a day.  I take a game off the Internet.  I also have a hand-held thing with many games on it.  However, the screen is too small and the numbers are hard to read.  I have to make a copy, which I need anyway.  I keep notes beside my game to help solve it.  It is challenging, fun, and time consuming.  This PC would not accept sudoku as a word.  I get a kick out of teaching my PC something.

Grandchildren can be fun (children too).  Cailin sends an e-mail to a friend.  She tells how her mother told her that if she stayed up late she might get sick.  Cailin woke up with a fever and blames her mother for that.  I was kidding Stephen, Sharon's little boy.  I told him he had two legs, two arms, two eyes and two ears, - why didn't he have two noses?  He comes back with, "I have two nostrils."

How about the bird epidemic!?  There have often been plagues through the years.  It reminds me of a saying of Papa's.  He would use the expression, "Plague take it."  He might be talking about a weed.  I don't recall anyone else using that phrase.

Love to all, Raymond





Reading, MA, August 29, 2005

Dear RR,

All the letters have been received, read, and appreciated.

I have been to Vermont only twice this summer.  Do you think the price of gas has anything to do with that?  I timed one trip very good.  I arrived to visit Lois just an hour before Ruth, Geri and Greg arrived.  They took us out to dinner.  Very nice!  The other trip was to my high school reunion.

I tell the story about being second in my class.  That would be my 8th grade class.  You are supposed to ask, "How many are in the class?"  Of course there were only two in the class.  Somehow the story got twisted a little and it is told that that was my high school class.  Not so, as we had a big class at Brighton High School in 1944, - 12.

Margaret is doing good at the rest home.  She is getting used to the routine and is getting better care than I could give her.  Gloria took her to the Museum of Science on Saturday.  They had a butterfly scene on display.  Gloria likes her butterflies and Margaret had a good change for the day.

As I write this, Katrina is doing damage in Louisiana.  That is not my granddaughter, Katrina.  Maybe we will get some rain from this system, and we need the rain.  We are getting a good shower right now.

Lois, I am like you in that I sit in my chair and think about the things I should be doing.  It is so easy to put it off until tomorrow.  I bought myself a Lazyboy Chair, and I even fall asleep while watching baseball.

I go for a walk most every morning for one hour or more.  The other day I noticed a screw in the road ready to puncture someone's tire.  I picked the screw up, so prevented someone from getting a flat.  I saved this person money and inconvenience.  Wouldn't you think this person would send me a dollar?  But no, I don't even get a thank you!

I think we need Lilla to continue with the Round Robin.  She has always written an interesting letter.  Lilla, you could just read the letters, say "hi" and send them on.  Even a little delay would be OK.

I have a floater, which showed up in my right eye.  I guess that was because of the cataract operation I had some time ago.  When it first showed up, I tried to swat it like a fruit fly.  It just floated out there 10 inches in front of my nose.  No change in my other health concerns.

Clayton, by the way, had his back operation on August 16th.  On August 19th, he reports that he has a lot of back pain and not leg pain.  The pain is a lot better on August 23rd.  On the 26th of August, Clayton says that it is less and less uncomfortable to sleep; and if he's given another week, he will be looking for a marathon to run.  That is confidence!  Sorry, Clayton, I don't want to take all your letter-writing material away, but I am sure you can find more to write about.

All the children and grandchildren are doing well.  The grandchildren are back to school.  Where did the summer go?  Cheryl and family came east for three weeks.  Nice to see them. Cailin is doing well on the piano.  Connor mimics her playing.  Connor was hitting keys at random.  Cailin criticized that.  Connor comes back, saying he was playing in Spanish.  I think that is a sign of the times.

Love, Margaret and Raymond





April 27, 2005

Dear Family,

Beulah, you do good to be patient when Don is doing genealogy.  It is a little like being a genealogy widow.  It used to bother Margaret when I was busy in some library looking up things.  I guess she had a good reason to be irritated.  Sometimes I would get interested in the subject and forget the time.  After leaving such a place, one thinks of things that should have been checked.  There is no end to genealogy.  As you find an ancestor, there are two more to be checked out.  I did get Margaret interested in genealogy when checking her ancestry in Nova Scotia.

Did anyone see the movie "Fever Pitch?"  Katrina and her boyfriend took me to see it.  We had to sit through the credits after the show.  Sure enough, Katrina Parsons' name was in the credits.  Part of the picture was made in Toronto (less expensive) and part in Fenway Park, Boston.  Katrina had a pass to Fenway while the movie was being made.  One of Katrina's duties was to by $350.00 worth of flowers for Drew Barrymore.

Beulah asks if I have a pacemaker.  No.  The doctor said I might feel better with one, but I feel good most of the time.  I have not had the chest discomfort which I had when lifting Margaret.  The doctor said my problem was not serious and that it was an electrical problem.  My heart rate goes up as it should when I exert, but for some reason, sometimes it drops back as if I was resting.  If I am walking, I have to slow my pace.

Teresa sent some sayings, which I will repeat here.

"An old-timer is one who can remember a juvenile delinquent was a kid who owed eight cents on an overdue library book."  Leonard Louis Levinson

"The older a man gets, the farther he had to walk to school as a boy."  Unknown

"The bad part is that you have to grow old before somebody will tell you that you look young for your age."  Milton Berle

"They tell me that I'm looking good, but not that I'm good looking."  Homer C. Johnson

Lois, I remember making stilts when growing up.  It was fun, but I didn't dare to get very far off the ground.

Daylight Savings Time - there is an Indian saying that "daylight savings time was like cutting a piece off a blanket and sewing it on the other end."  I say - "If it is the longer evening you want, why not have daylight savings time in the winter?"

Irene, your story of the partridges reminds me of a story.  When Elinor and I were going to school with the horse and sleigh, we used to see partridges in the trees.  It wasn't as early in the morning as your walks, but on a cold day they would just sit there.  They would also be in the snow.  They would be covered with snow; and if aroused, would burst out and surprise you.  I think it was one of these days when we arrived in Island Pond, we found that it was too cold to have school.  We turned around and went back home.  That's my story of how far I had to go to school.

On a down note - both Sharon and Stephen are separated from their spouses.  Stephen is living with me, which gives me company and someone to shovel snow.

Thanks for sending Margaret cards.  She enjoys getting correspondence.  I don't think she will answer them.  She does a little word search, but can't seem to get very interested in it.  Gloria does a nice job having clothes available for her.  Also, Gloria has been taking her out for Easter, her birthday and other times.

I am wondering what everyone thinks about my article in the Gardner Newsletter about the origin of the name "Gardner." I spent the better part of three days researching that.  I went to two different libraries and spent time on the internet.  On the internet they all wanted to sell me a book.  I am too cheap for that.  I can go to the library for books.  It was fun anyway researching.  (You can read that article by following this link.)

 Gloria and I made a trip to visit Raylene last weekend.  On the way, we stopped at The New York Cultural Education Center in Albany.  I was hoping to do a little genealogy, but I didn't have any luck.  The New York archives are not set up as well as the Massachusetts archives.  They do have a beautiful building with library, museum, and archives.  Maybe if I spent more time, I could have found useful information.  It was fun going through the museum.  Raylene took us antiquing Friday and Saturday.  Gloria bought flowers, not antiques.  Raylene  bought a flail and a wooden scoop made in China.  Raylene will use them in a project she puts on in June for Cornell Plantations.  I bought some RPO postmarks.   The last Railway Post Office ran in 1977, and now there is quite a market for the postmarks.  It is fun to collect them and I now have over 150 different ones.  I especially like the RPOs that operated on trolley cars.  I have one from Boston, Cleveland, Brooklyn, WDC, Baltimore, and maybe Chicago.  If the Chicago one is what I think it is, one sold recently for $38.00.

I get e-mail from Clayton most every day.  We send chess moves back and forth.  It seems to me that he is winning more than his share.  I think I am ahead of him in the two games we have going now.  He is apt to change everything with one move.  I try to take advantage of his health problems, but his thinking is top rate.

I just got back from visiting Margaret.  I have been going there every other day.  She had just got a permanent.  Looked very good.  She has a $60.00 allowance for personal use.  Nice to have the job done on the premises.  They do have entertainment quite often - someone playing the piano and singing songs like "Bicycle Built for Two" - Irish songs for St. Patrick's Day, etc.

There is a scrabble game in the room where we visit.  I put seven letters in front of her, and she makes words.  She made the word "foot."  I put an "s" after that, and she said, "That is a funny word."  I asked Margaret what she would like to say in the RR letter.  She said, "Remember me to everyone."





Reading, MA - November 15, 2004

Dear Family,

Sharon tells me that I should write out "Massachusetts," as it is such a pretty name.  I have been told that Massachusetts is an Indian name for "Near the Great Hills."

We sure miss Nita and Nita's letter in this Round Robin letter.  We are lucky to have Irene to participate in this letter.  Thanks, Irene.

I lived with Lyndol and Nita one winter and spring.  I can testify to Nita's good cooking.  I was with them when Terry was born.  Rod was with his grandmother and Lyndol was at the hospital with Nita.  Lyndol had a dog that was getting old.  He had asked me to shoot the dog sometime.  While everyone was away, I did just that.  Lyndol's comment:  "We got a new member of the family, but also lost a member."  I didn't realize it at the time that a dog could mean so much to a family.  We never had a dog at home.  Father despised them.  I think it was because dogs used to chase the sheep.

How about those Red Sox?!  I especially liked them beating the Yankees four straight!  They they beat St. Louis four straight.  The last game with St. Louis was especially good because Katrina and Eddie came down to watch it with me.

Margaret is in a rest home.  The address is Melrose Care Center, 40 Martin Street, Melrose, MA  02176.  She would be glad to hear from anyone.  I hated to place her in a rest home, but don't know what else I could do.  When helping her from the chair to the bathroom or the car, I got this awful chest discomfort.  It would happen when I had to carry most of the weight.

When I described this to my doctor, he sent me to a cardiologist.  I had blood tests, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, stress tests, and a 24-hour heart monitor hung around my neck.  The cardiologist says it is not serious, but I might feel better with a pacemaker.  My trouble is electrical.  It seems my heart rate when I exercise increases as it should, but then falls back causing me to feel weak and out of breath.  I feel good now. so the doctor and I are watching.  I have another doctor's appointment on December 20th.

Margaret does not like the rest home very much, but I think she is getting used to it.  Gloria plans to have her come for Thanksgiving dinner.  She is getting forgetful.  She doesn't always know her grandchildren when they visit.  She came out with a gem the other day.  I asked her how many grandchildren we had (the answer being 17).  She couldn't come up with an answer.  So I asked her how many children we had (the answer being 6).  She thought for awhile then said, "Same as you."

Did you ever notice that if a person is tall or short, that their legs are just the right length so their feet are on the ground?  Of course there are exceptions.  Grandson Bryan has to have five foot stilts to reach the ground.  Bryan belongs to a group of stilt walkers who have performed at school, and at town and county affairs as well.

Love, Raymond and Margaret


Here is Ciara Lynn McCarthy, born on April 25, 2004, 9 lbs., 2 oz., 21 inches.

Proud Parents:  Ellen and Jim

In this picture, big brother, Devlin McCarthy, is admiring his new sister.

(Click on the image to see it full size.  Please be patient while it downloads.)





Reading, MA - April 21, 2004

Dear Family,

I did have a fun trip to Auburn, New York.  First, I went to Rochester, New York.  I had a nice visit with Dick and family.  I stayed overnight and was surprised by the growth of Dick's grandchildren.  The three boys are active, thriving children.  One of them gave me a good game of chess.  I did not stay long enough to get to know which one was which.  Chris and Lisa have a nice large home.  They have done a lot of work to get the place looking wonderful.  They have an amazing massive pipe organ built in the home.  It is not operating, but what a piece of work!

The chess meet was fun.  There was not many there.  The ones that were there could be classified as "experts" and "bums."  There didn't seem to be any average players.  I was one of the best of the "bums."

We had a very rainy first part of April.  At one point I had five inches of water in the basement.  I think it is time to put in a sump pump.  We have been here for almost 54 years and this is about the fifth time that I got water in the basement.

We had to do away with our little dog.  I didn't realize how much I would miss her.  Sixteen years she was with us, greeting us every morning and every time we came in the door.  It still brings a tear to my eyes when I think of her.

My last tank of gas cost $1.68 a gallon.  Now I see the next will cost $1.76 a gallon.  There is always the 9/10ths of a cent in there.  Do they think it sounds cheaper, saving 1/10th of a cent?

My book sales have fallen way off.  I guess I have sold all the "salable" ones.  I was selling them on www.half.com.  Now half.com has joined with e-bay.  I can't afford to pay a monthly fee, which I would have to do with e-bay.  The monthly fee would be more than the books I could sell.  Now I have a couple of hundred books to give away.

Will and Olive Gardner are an integral part of a good fire engine for the Town of Westmore, Vermont.  How is that?  Will and Olive had ten children, one of them being Raymond.  Raymond married Margaret Fraser and they had six children, one of them being Gloria.  Gloria married Parsons.  Gloria and Bob bought a place on Willoughby Lake.  Bob's cousin, Bryan, spent time there.  Bryan is a fireman for Nashua, New Hampshire.  He got to know the firemen in Westmore.  Result?  The City of Nashua gave a used fire engine to the Town of Westmore, Vermont.  Therefore, Will and Olive saved the people of Westmore money on their fire insurance premiums.

Here's a little tidbit which I have already told Clayton.  (So Clayton, don't read this.)  I have to help Margaret in and out of the bathroom.  The only way I can manage is to have her hug me.  Then we have to take small steps and I have to maintain balance for both of us.  It is very easy to step on each other's feet.  Margaret warns me, "Don't put your foot under mine."  Clayton tells me that is good advice.

I'll think of something else to say as soon as I close this.

Love, Ray





Reading, MA - September 26, 2003

Dear Folks,

What's new?  The ramp is new!  I had to have a ramp built, as I couldn't carry Margaret up and down the six stairs.  I reversed the stairs and extended the ramp 20 feet into the back yard. I created a small 4x8 turnaround, and then 20 feet back to the driveway.  The turnaround makes a good deck for sitting out on good days.  How quick our dog, a long-haired chihuahua, learned to use the ramp.  She is 15 years old and has arthritis.  Out cat is 21 years old and still will jump the 42 inches to avoid the ramp or stairs.

Margaret still goes to daycare five days a week.  Mass Health pays for having a lady come in five days a week to help get Margaret dressed in the morning.  They also pay for two hours of housework a week.  It's nice to have the bathroom, dining room, living room, and kitchen cleaned twice a week.  One of the ladies who comes in sings while she works.  That's an extra bonus.

Did you ever notice that ........

Did you hear this one?  An old man was wondering if his wife had a hearing problem.  Sitting in back of her he said, "Honey, can you hear me?"  He heard no response, so he moved nearer.  Then he repeated the question.  Still no response.  So he moved just in back of her and repeated the question.  She replied, "Yes, - for the third time!"

I found some jokes on the Internet.  A couple of samples are enclosed.

I plan to go to a chess get-together in Auburn, New York in October.  Margaret will stay in a rest home for a week - a vacation for both of us.  I have told Margaret this, but wonder if she understands.

Love, Ray


Giving for giving's sake

Habitat for Humanity mission inspires college student

Reprinted from the

North Reading Transcript, August 7, 2003

By  Maureen G. Doherty

What would you "give up" to give back to society?  What if giving back meant discovering you had never really given up anything, but that you had really gained more in return?

Such was the case for a group of students from Endicott College in Beverly who "gave up" their spring break in order to donate their week off from school by helping out Habitat for Humanity.

While the clients served by this Habitat chapter came closer to realizing their dream of owning a home of their own at the end of the students' week of service, the students gained a greater perspective on the human condition and how their actions can produce a positive influence on the world around them.

Among these students was Katrina Parsons, a 2000 graduate of North Reading High School and the daughter of Gloria and Robert Parsons of Salem Street.  She and a group of enthusiastic classmates, assisted by Endicott's Americorps volunteer, Andy Cahill, spent a week living in a homeless shelter working alongside the future beneficiaries of their handiwork, the working poor of Immokalee, Florida.

"There's something about manual labor that builds this unfaltering camaraderie that just doesn't go away," Katrina explains.  "We all slept in one room in the homeless shelter together (and) had to pick up our cots before going off to work at the Habitat site because the shelter needed the room.  We helped with dinner at the shelter every night and ate with the clients there," she said.  These shared experiences helped this random group of students to "really bond and wish we didn't have to leave," she added.

Appropriately named the Immokalee Friendship House, Katrina explained this homeless shelter serves the community as a resource for those who are working or looking for work, as well as their families.

"We met a lot of families.  We lived with a few of them at the shelter and watched their struggles and wished we could help more," she said, adding, "This was just a place for them to live while they tried to get back on their feet."

She learned that simple acts such as offering to babysit an infant at the shelter while his mother ran an errand at a local thrift store at the end of a long day helped alleviate some of those struggles.

The Immokalee Habitat for Humanity program is one of the largest Habitat chapters in the country.  The combination of the need experienced by the residents, the year-round building season, and the availability of many senior citizen retirees who live nearby and "want to do something meaningful with their time" all contribute to the success of this chapter, she said.

The students did not simply help to build one house for one family.  Katrina explained that volunteering for Habitat often means doing "whatever work needs to be don."  But the students also knew in advance that they wanted to do more than just paint.

"We all really wanted to dig in and learn some new stuff because that's also part of the reason you go -- to learn new skills and try your hand at as many tasks as you can," she said.  "The week was really amazing.  actually, it went far better than any of us expected," Katrina said.

Residents add 'sweat equity'

Since Immokalee is also home to many units of federal HUD housing, there was plenty of work to be done.  This Habitat chapter has an arrangement in which assistance is also given to the residents of the nearby HUD homes, and these residents were also very eager to add their own "sweat equity" alongside the students.  The residents of the HUD neighborhood and some property owned by Habitat abut and the children play together in the same playground.

"We painted almost a whole block of stucco HUD homes; these were one story houses, mostly.  We also did roofing, laid some tile, hung dry wall, put up shelving units, painted a playground set, and other miscellaneous tasks on the Habitat houses that were being build," Katrina recalled.

Everyone was appreciative of their efforts, whether HUD residents or Habitat recipients.  While painting the HUD homes, she saw "a lot of little faces peeking at us from the windows.  One little boy asked us if we were finished 'coloring his house.'  Another little girl gave us a note that said 'thank you for painting my house' with a cute drawing.  Another woman was pregnant with twins putting in her sweat equity, out painting with us in 9-degree heat.  These people were all amazing," Katrina said.

"Another woman gave us Gatorade because she thought we were working too hard and her son, Tony, loved to interrupt our work, and have us play with him," she said, adding, "Not that we ever protested."

A little golden colored puppy also followed them around everywhere and they dubbed him "Habbit."  He was full of fleas and obviously homeless, but so cute.  Somebody put it in perspective for us when we were said about our little pup and said they'd rather have these people care for their kids and their immediate problems than devote their hard-earned money and precious time to an animal.  hey also said that the Florida pounds get so many strays that they would probably put him to sleep if he wasn't adopted in a few days, so we really couldn't do anything for him," she said.

 Making time for fun

Although there was plenty of work to be found, the students made it as enjoyable as possible.  "We had a lot of paint fights and saw a lot of 'gators and just had a lot of fun," she said.  After dinner at the shelter, they often went out for ice cream.

Many of the long-term volunteers gave the students a sense of why they stay involved with this housing initiative.  "A nice old couple who let us use their beachside home on Friday, our  only day off, has been mentoring families who will get a Habitat home for years.  They say the most rewarding thing is what it does for the next generation.  It creates stability for the kids and makes their lives 100 percent better.  It also gives the families something to be proud of and to take care of," Katrina said.

The experience was such a positive one that Katrina already plans to devote her last spring break as a college student to the Habitat initiative.

"The most satisfying thing about the whole week was that we had control over our world," she said, noting they arrived in Florida the same week that the United States invaded Iraq.

"It's so easy to feel like you can't do anything about all that stuff.  But, down in Florida, living in a shelter, we hardly saw or heard the news, and we were doing something every day that felt like it mattered.  We could actually look up and see the roof we put on and then look through the windows of the houses we'd painted and see the little faces that were going to benefit from our work, "Katrina said.

She concluded, "Dong this is self-indulgent, really.  People don't realize how much you get back, how good it makes you feel.  it's not just for the people who will get these homes or who already lived in them.  It's for me too.  I would definitely recommend other students participate.

A repeat Habitat volunteer

Katrina is no stranger to the Habitat for Humanity cause.  She had previously donated time to a Habitat house as a high school sophomore with her church, the Union Congregational Church in North Reading.

"We spent a week in Altoona, Pennsylvania, and lived in a renovated house while working on other buildings," she recalled.  Closer to home, she and her roommates assisted the Cape Ann Habitat chapter by working on a home in Ipswich prior to their spring break experience.

When Cahill, the Americorps volunteer, came to Endicott last year in an effort to engage the college campus in more community service, Katrina and her friends suggested the idea of a "Habitat break" and he helped them to follow through with it.

Town helps raise $500

Each student raised his or her own expenses and Katrina is thankful to the town of North Reading for supporting her efforts to reach her goal of $500.

"I put an ad in the Transcript and held a Middle School dance at my church.  The kids were great.  One of my friends DJ'd and a bunch of my friends chaperoned.  I hat canvassing for money, so this was the perfect solution," Katrina said.  "Then, as a group, we raised a little more money at school to push us to our desired budget, and off we went."

Katrina is currently fulfilling the full-time semester-long senior internship required by Endicott College working in San Francisco, California.

A communications major with a focus on production, she has been a member of the Endicott Honors Society since her freshman year, which requires a g.p.a. of at least 3.5, as well as a member of the communications honor society, Lambda Pi Eta.

"I helped bring Mortar Board to school as well," she said.  Endicott believes this honor society better reflects the standards of education the college aspires to achieve.  She served as President of the school's Film Society last year and has also performed in every drama production Endicott has produced since her freshman year, continuing a tradition begun with the Masquers Club at NRHS.

She'll return home for Christmas, and will complete her final semester an Endicott prior to graduating next May.

AT THE IMMOKALEE FRIENDSHIP HOUSE, a shelter for the working poor, Katrina Parsons comfort an infant while his mother, a shelter resident, runs an errand.  Parsons and a group of classmates form Endicott College spent their spring break living in the shelter as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity in Florida.

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY volunteers Katrina Parsons (right), of North Reading, and Tasha Foster, take a break after installing shelving units on Habitat houses under construction in Immokalee, Florida.





Reading, MA - January 27, 2003

Dear RR,

My book sales have slowed down considerably.  I sold one book last week, Mother India, for $10.  I sold a textbook that Robyn used in her studies, Community Matters, for $20.00 this morning.  I probably should have asked for more, as it was snapped up in one day.  Robyn also gave me three other books to sell for her.  One book, Algebra & Trigonometry, Robyn paid $102.25 for.  I see them on sale for $60.00, so I probably can't get more than that.

I am proud of one sale.  I had bought a Bobby Fisher chess book 20 years ago for $3.00.  I found it on sale for $90.00.  I put my book on sale for $75.00.  It sold in about two weeks.  I have now sold $595.00 worth of books.  It takes a little time, but I think it is good for mostly books that were given to me.  A side benefit is the exercise I get by walking up to the post office.

I will put a transcription of Grandmother Ruth French's diary in the RR.  It will take a little more postage, and Dixie has volunteered (stamps enclosed) to pay the extra postage.  Dixie didn't have to do that, but many thanks.  I would be glad to send anyone a copy that they could keep.  Lilla can keep this copy, as I don't want it back.  I like to read the thing.  It gives one a little idea of life 127 years ago.  I like comments like when she says, "It is not good wheeling or slaying."  (Mud season.)  She also mentions learning to sew straw.  In a Sudbury book of the time period, it tells of girls weaving straw.  They got paid one half cent for a yard.  Sometimes they would barter their woven straw for extra frills on their wedding dress.  Another interesting item, the Seymours had their Christmas tree and New Years Eve at the Wayside Inn.  Ruth's brother, Horace, was caretaker of the Wayside Inn after that.

Clayton, I think Nic has a powerful golf swing, maybe another Arnold Palmer!

Another sign of growing old, Matthew and Tyler in the Air Force.  When did they grow up?

Lilla, you talk of zero weather for a number of days.  We have had 12 days without getting to 32 degrees.  I think that is the difference between northern Vermont and eastern Massachusetts.  We compare the weather with the freezing point, while you use zero.  The ocean moderates our temperature.

Margaret is anemic.  Dr. King says she was on the lower end of the scale, so no medication.  I guess once you start the medication, that it has to continue.  However, Margaret fainted at day care.  She was sent to the hospital for tests and monitoring.  They could not find the cause.  We we went back to Dr. King, she put Margaret on procrit.  Procrit is supposed to increase red blood cells and strength.

We bought a new silver colored 2003 Intrepid.  Nice.  The old car needed repair, and I didn't want to put any more money in it.  Less than 200 miles on the new car and I already have a scratch.  While in a parking lot, someone scraped it.

Love, Raymond & Margaret




Happy New Year  2003!


Pictured:  Connor, Casey, and Cailin O'Toole


Love, Peter and Cheryl O'Toole








July 11, 2002

Dear Folks,

No great grandchildren here.  I saw my third oldest grandchild (Robyn) graduate from high school.  That makes me feel old.  The three of them (Katrina, Deanna, Robyn) will be in college next fall.  I guess nowadays everyone needs a college education to get along.

I enjoyed visiting with many at Nita's in May.  Clayton and I had a chance to play a couple games of chess.  I won one game.  We had a session of rummy one evening.  Clayton kidded Nita and Gerry of making up the rules as the games progressed.

I have been selling books on www.half.com.  Bob and Gloria moved their vacuum cleaner store into an old house.  They gave me about 200 books from the house, which I try to sell.  Then Ellen's in-laws were moving to Florida and they gave me another bunch of books.  Cheryl and Peter will be moving to California next month, so they gave me more books.  I have sold nearly 50 books, but it is a losing battle.  Of course the $200.00 I have taken in helps.  If you figure my time, I might make $1.00 an hour.  I have had some complaints.  I have to grade the books, and it is only natural that the seller grades them higher than the buyer.  Also, I have found out that if it says "first edition" it is not always first edition.  Book of the Month Club reissued some books without altering a thing.  It is fund and educational, however.  I have read quite a few of the books before selling them.

Dixie, you mentioned diaries.  Well, I never wrote a diary, but my grandmother did in 1875.  Nita has the original diary, but I will put a transcribed version in this RR.  Hope it is worth the extra postage.

We plan to be in Westmore the first weekend in August.  Brighton High School's reunion is August 3rd.  After that we may spend some time in Tom's and Sharon's place in Maine.  WE spend July 4 with Raylene in Ithaca, NY.  Sharon and Tom gave me a Father's Day present - tickets for a Red Sox game July 6th.  Eddie and I went to the game.  Saw Pedro beat the Detroit Tigers.  It was good to get to a game.  I think it has been 15 years at least since I went to Fenway Park.

Love, Margaret and Ray




Thanks, Cheryl O'Toole for this GREAT picture of Cailin, and her new born brother, Connor! (Connor is Raymond and Margaret Gardner's 16th grandchild.)



"I would like to report that Connor is growing and doing great and his big sister Cailin is such a big help.  Here is a picture of the two of them."

Cheryl, Peter, Cailin, and Connor









November 3, 2001

Dear Family,

    The news here is the birth of our 16th grandchild.  Connor Joseph O'Toole was born October 17, 2001.  Seven pounds even.  He is a cute little fellow.  Cheryl and Peter are a little concerned as Connor has not gained any weight, but I think that will come OK.

    I flew to Portland, Oregon October 2nd for a chess meet.  We had a lot of fun, although I didn't win much chess.  We had a day of sight seeing.  Drove up the Columbia River 70 miles, - a pretty ride.  Did you ever hear the expression, "What in Sam Hill are you doing?"  Will Sam Hill was a wealth eccentric.  He had great ideas about building a city on the Washington side of the river.  It never did amount to much.  Now there is a museum there named after his wife, - the Mary Hill Art Museum.  Besides art they have many Indian tools, etc.  They also have about 50 different chess sets, every kind you could want to look at.  There is also a replica of Stonehenge in memory of the soldiers of the county who served in World War I.

    I didn't find airport security much different when I took off from Boston.  In Portland, Oregon it took me an hour and a half to get through the ticketing process.  I think that was because of reduction in planes flying.  The plane I was to take out of Portland was late getting in.  If I took that plane, I would miss my connections in Chicago.  Instead of Chicago, I went through Denver.  I was two hours late getting into Boston.

    I hear from Clayton most every day.  Now he is having trouble with his knee.  He has a torn meniscus, which surgery might help.  He has taken a stress echo test to see if he will survive going under anesthesia.

    I am enclosing excerpts from Melissa Lang's 1858 diary.  The Vermont Leadership Center lent me the diary and I get a kick reading the thing.  Maybe the best part is that it coincides with what I already have.  Did you know Andrew had three brothers and two sisters?  Did you know that Bert Lang had a brother and two sisters?  They died young, the oldest being 7 when she passed away.  Did you know Andrew and two of his brothers were neighbors in Charleston?  Did you know that Nita has a picture of Melissa's sister, Janett (Andrew's wife) and Mrs. Cargill?

    Elizabeth, Papa, and I were looking through pictures one time and Papa told us a story.  Elizabeth wrote the story on the back of the picture.  It goes like this.  Janett was hard to get along with.  Mrs. Cargill told Amy Lang, "I wish Janett was in heaven.  That isn't a bad wish, is it?"







July 24, 2001

Dear Family,

This seems to be the time to talk "garden."  I have a small 6 ft. by 16 ft. garden.  I'll challenge anyone to have fewer weeds in my garden than in theirs.  As far as produce, I will fall way behind.  I have had a couple messes of rhubarb and four cucumbers from the garden so far.  Tomatoes are on their way.  I mix all the fall leaves with grass clippings and previous compost.  Then I use this for mulch.  I also bury the leaves and compost where the garden is to be.  Very expensive tomatoes and cucumbers if I charge for my time!  I get a lot of exercise and enjoy the work.  There is something about fresh vegetables out of your own garden!

I had a cataract removed on Friday the 13th of July.  I can see much better.  On Saturday, Katrina and Robyn made me a strawberry-rhubarb pie.  They figured that after my operation I wouldn't be able to see good, so they brought the uncooked pie down here so I could smell it cooking.  Very delicious pie; almost makes me want another eye operation!

Paul and Jean made the rounds while Jean was East.  One Saturday afternoon they drove us all over their old stomping grounds, - Sudbury, Maynard, Hudson, etc.  We had to visit some of Earl's old ice cream spots.  We also visited Fred Christiansen's old farm.  It is all developed now; no resemblance to a farm.  Of course, this is the spot where Earl died.  Jean enjoyed the canopy of shade streets in Sudbury.  She would often remark how beautiful they were after the open spaces on California.  After the ride they took us out for a steak.  I had never had as long a talk with Jean and Paul as that Saturday.  I never realized how thankful they were to have the privilege of living with Ma and Pa.  It certainly changed their lives!

As you know, Paul wrote a piece about Mother's childhood in the last Gardner Newsletter.  He would like to write more in tribute to Mother.  I was wondering if there wasn't a good story about Mother and her piano.  It seems as if there were some facts about how Mother obtained the piano.  There surely weren't many pianos in Charleston at the time.  I know she gave lessons to Elinor and Beulah, - to anyone else?  Maybe if everyone wrote to Paul a little bit about the subject , he could write an interesting article.

Nita, I don't have much history of the old homestead.  I do find on an 1887 map that a W. Sawyer was living on the farm.  I assume he was the owner at that time.  At one time, when Papa was a boy, no one lived there.  Papa tells a story about the cellar door always being open when he went to do chores there (haunted house).  Papa stood and watched the wind playing with the door.  Seems the latch kept working its way up until the door opened.

Love, Margaret and Raymond









April 29, 2001

 Reading, MA


Dear Family,

    Nice to hear from everyone.  I am typing this on WordPerfect.  WordPerfect is very critical of my work.  It picks up every little thing.  Even two spaces between words.  Spelling.  All I can hope to do is spell it near enough so the computer recognizes my intention.  It does not recognize words such as "angioplasty," "stent," and "anaphylaxis."  Well, I am wrong.  It does say that anaphylaxis is spelled right.  I have found that it is a good idea to have a medical dictionary handy when reading these letters.

    Ruth, you call yourself and Henry old "coots."  I looked up "coot" in the dictionary.  Two descriptions:  (1) A duck like bird; (2) A stupid fellow, simpleton.  Neither one fits you and Henry.  Lois, does Henry and Ruth look like the coot you talk about?

    Lois,  I have not heard anything about Brooks' children.  I can't even remember their names - Pam and Mark maybe?  There must be grandchildren too.  Mark, if that is his name, graduated with Stephen from Reading High School in 1969, I think.  He was a bit of a hippie at the time.  What are they doing now?  The Canadian gees are year-round residents in Massachusetts.  They foul up and parks and golf courses.  Somehow the golf course problem doesn't bother me.  One year I had a mother goose and several little goslings cross my yard heading for a small stream.

    Dixie, you always write a nice letter.  In your previous letter you mentioned Laura's new boy friend.  How is that working out?

    Cheryl, Peter and Cailin are home from London after spending over a year there.  Cailin is so cute and she's at the cute age of 2 1/2.  Good to see them home.  They had shipped their furniture overseas and are now waiting for its return.

    Stephen's oldest girl, Deanna, is graduating from high school this spring.  She hopes to attend a pharmacy college in Boston next fall.  She has always been on the high honor roll in high school.  Stephen's second daughter, Kayla, is also on the high honor roll as a freshman in high school.  Stephen's third daughter will be making a trip to Colorado.  A science team from her school won the right to represent Massachusetts in a national competition.

Love, Margaret and Raymond





Cailin O'Toole, 2, living in England with her parents, Cheryl and Peter, dressed in her Halloween costume - 2000.






September 19, 2000

 Reading, MA

Dear Family,

                My computer went south, so to speak.  The hard disk had many bad clusters.  It gave me clusterphobia.  This program says there is no such thing as clusterphobia, I know different. In trying to fix things I lost everything I had on it.  The hard disk was under guarantee, so no $ damage.  With Sharonís help the new disk is installed, and I am on way.  I missed the darn thing, didnít have it for a month.  I am use to word perfect, now using Microsoft word, a little different.  I have the same trouble Clayton mentioned.  I hit the wrong key because I think ahead.

                Praise for Paulís newsletter as it should be. But those that have computers can also enjoy his web page.  Jean wrote an interesting journal about her trip to Spain.  It looks to me that the Spanish can always find something to celebrate thus having an excuse to wine and dine. 

                As you know the children gave Margaret & I a nice 50th.  They picked a good day in June, and there wasnít many good days in June.   I guess you would have to say Margaret picked that good day 50 years ago, very good planning.  Each grandchild made a stepping stone.  I have them in the back yard, lined up by age.  I can do genealogy with them.  Stephen has four children, Gloria three, Raylene two, Sharon four, Ellen & Cheryl one each

                I had some good tomatoes this year, but not as many as other years.  I take tomatoes to my dentist, as I seem to have an appointment when the tomatoes are ready.  The girls in the office go crazy over them.

                Cherylís rings- I went through boxes, clothes, purses, pockets, both here at home and at their shed. I finally found them the second time I went through the purse.  Cheryl has been home twice, once to the 50th.  She has also been to Dublin, Nice, France, Copenhagen, Denmark, & Italy. 

                I am going to Orlando this Sunday the 24th.  A chess club get together.  Will be gone a week, should have a lot of fun.       

Love, Raymond and Margaret








Apple apple red and green

You are as sweet as my Mother

You are juicier than grape juice

And you feel crispy in my mouth

I hear your vrunchy sound

When I eat you I think of crackers

I'd rather eat apple than color.

Bryan Ludgate  age 9




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What Price, Liberty!?

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