There is a chill in the air this time
of year. Of course, it isnít that chilly; we are in
Arizona after all. However, as the holidays descend on us,
I am reminded of all of the memories I have from growing
up. As time has gone on, it becomes a bit of a mish-mash,
as some Christmastimes blur into others. However, there
are certain moments and events that I can pinpoint about
things that happened with family that I remember pretty
clearly. What are your Christmas Memories? Here is one of
Christmas Memories:Motorized Mess
By Trevor Stasik
the cartoon Transformers was a hit and kids like myself
could not get enough of it. Every afternoon it blazed
across the television screens at 4pm with the heroic
Autobots firing their laser blasters at the evil
Decepticons. At age 7 and a half, every day I would brace
myself on the yellow school bus hoping that I would make
it home in time. Well, with every popular cartoon of the
1980s came a toy line, and Transformers was no exception.
I had a small handful of the toys but with Christmas
coming right around the corner, I knew that my hoard would
have the opportunity to grow.
Earlier that year, the Autobot Omega Supreme was released
by Hasbro. Omega Supreme was a massive walking, mechanized
transforming robot that changed into a space station and
motorized tank. When he first came out, the price tag was
something astounding like $50. Adjusted for inflation,
that robot would be a whopping $110 in 2014 prices. My
wish list for Santa Claus included a lot of Transformers
that year, but I donít remember ever putting Omega on my
list because he was just too big to believe I could get
Imagine my disbelief on Christmas morning when the
enormous box under the Christmas tree turned out to be
Cybertronís last line of defense, Omega Supreme. I was
absolutely thrilled to get it. I remember screaming and
yelling. I remember being in absolute awe at how the tank
rode around the tracks of the space base. My parents
seemed so happy. My Dad had a smile on his face. The steps
that the Omega Supreme robot took around the living room
that Christmas morning were spell-binding.
Those were the last steps that Omega
would take. My Fatherís smile would not last. I could be
mistaken, but that may have been the day when I found out
that Santa Claus was not real.
Following the time around the tree, I took my new toy up
to my room to play. Omega Supreme would rule all of the
other puny Transformers. Then I got curious; then I wanted
to know what made Omega Supreme work. I thought that if I
could figure out what made Omega walk that I might be able
to get my other Transformers to walk to. Just imagine it;
a whole army of walking robots! So I scurried down to the
garage and found my Dadís tool set. I fished out a few
Phillips head screwdrivers and ran back up to my room.
For the next hour, I purposely amputated, decapitated, and
dismantled poor Omega piece by piece. Every screw I could
find was removed. Then I reached the heart of the matter.
There was a little spool of bright copper wire that sat
deep within the chest of the robot. It was a little thing,
about the size of a large thumb. Being only 7 and a half,
I assumed that the wire was wrapped around the thing that
made Omega Supreme able to walk. If I could only get under
the copper to see the inside of the spool, I would finally
have the secret. Those screwdrivers were handy for digging
into the wires, helping me pull them out.
Funny thing is that I eventually became an Electrician in
the Navy in many years that passed since. During my
electrical training, I came to learn that electricity that
flows through a copper coil creates a magnetic flux. When
a rotating magnetic field is applied outside of that
copper coil, it will begin to spin and exert mechanical
energy. This is known as a motor. So, back in 1985, little
did I know it but I had just ruined the motor for Omega
Supreme. I destroyed the very thing that I was trying to
figure out. I was dismayed to learn that there was nothing
inside that spool of wire. I tired of this game and
decided to try to put the robot back together again. My
ingenuity and dexterity failed me as I could not figure
out how to re-coil the wire on the spool; let alone figure
out how to put the rest of the parts back together.
This is when I went to my Father for help. Maybe my Dad
could convince Santa to bring me a new robot that wasnít
broken. My Dad went through many emotions. Apparently
Santa was not directly responsible for putting toys under
the tree, my Dad was. He had worked many overtime shifts
to be able to afford a nice Christmas for his family. Once
the initial shock wore off, my Dad went into action. He
spanked my bottom; I donít think I was able to sit down
properly for days. Additionally, I had to keep that broken
Transformer until he finally got thrown away sometime in
My Dad managed to teach me the value of hard work that
Christmas of 1985; while I also
learned that you shouldnít take apart a robot without
first having a plan of how to put it back together again.
This is a Christmas memory that I will keep with me. In
closing, I hope that all of you are able to spend time
with the ones you love, and can create new memories with
your family this year.
The process is much the same for this as any
other Genealogy work. The difference comes from the
application of the 21 Century technology of GPS or
Global Positioning System. With GPS the fieldwork gets a
whole lot easer. The volume of work is not much smaller
but is easier.
Over the last 25 or so years we have been working on our
family history and documenting our roots. Much of the
research has been done at genealogical libraries while
more comes from family legacy data. More yet was gained
from the Internet and three trips to Salt Lake City,
All of that did not fill in the full picture and much
more was needed. After pulling together the sum of the
data into Genealogy software, we documented the "dead
From the database and the presentation by the software
we were able to define the probable locations of the
ancestors gravesites. In addition, we know of at least
40 communities in the state of Arizona that no longer
exist, such as Octave and Fairbanks. We have found the
same in other states. Three of the towns of my ancestry
are prime candidates for extinction. If your Uncle
Whiskers was buried in one of these towns you may not be
able to find the town let alone the graveyard.
We have an answer to the problem. We are using software
and hardware to develop a solution. Taking data from the
legacy files, letters, photos, and the family oral
histories we were able to find the area of interest. We
loaded up the DeLorme 3-D TopoQuad software/database.
After locating the area and putting the curser over the
location, (indicated by a dished line forming a
rectangle with a cross in the middle), we recorded the
Lat/Lon with the name, if one existed.
Once in the field, we loaded the next graveyard Lat/Lon
into the GPS unit and punched the "Go To" button and the
GPS display shows "6.5 miles that way". As we
start off in that direction, we follow the arrow that is
Several of the areas of interest were areas that neither
of us had ever seen before. As we moved along the road,
the GPS continued to show the way and we now need a
right turn. At the next traffic light, we turned to the
right and the GPS now indicated a left turn was needed.
At the next intersection we turned left and looked 1-Ĺ
blocks ahead of us and there was the cemetery we were
looking for right in the middle of a residential area.
This happened several times during the 3-week trip
across the mid-west US. The savings in time and costs
have been significant. The process was refined during
the 6,000 mile, 9 week trip in 2002.
Once we found the area we were looking for, we started
the search for the gravesites. My wife would take one of
our personal communication devices and the data sheet
and would walk the grave area looking for the stone.
Once found I park the vehicle as close to her as I
could, then grab the digital camera with some disks for
it, hand held GPS, and a note book. I then walked to the
spot she had found. We get a photo of the stone, the GPS
value, and a transcription of the text of the stone. In
some cases we note special features such as photos,
inscriptions, nearby notable items, and etc.
Memoriam to the Wright Brothers in Dayton, Ohio
Our work is closely watched to insure we do it
right. Each stone is inspected and analyzed.
Some of the non-relative items that catch the eye and
warrant noting can pull on the heart strings with
surprising power. Pause at the next photo from the
Dayton, Ohio Cemetery.
This tells it's own story that we shall not
IN SUMMER OF 2002 (N39į 37' 54.2" W97į
The home church built by my G4Grandfather in Cloud
County, Kansas. This location is west-north-west of the
city of Concordia. He was the first pastor and founder
of the congregation.
The Nelson's home place is east about 3 or 4 miles from
the church. The local people have made the original home
place into a fishing camp due to it being on the
Republican River. To the west some 20 steps is the
foundation to the Sorghum molasses mill they operated.
Both places are subject to vanishing, the mill more than
the home place due to usage.
Nelson home place
N39¬į 37' 45.4" W097į 46' 43.4"
Rev. Nels Nelson
Discovery---Louis & Catherine Leitner are
I set the GPS unit on or next to the gravestone and took
photos of the stones and noted the GPS value. We
completed a set of questions for each stone. Back in the
motel room or our travel trailer, we completed the
Note the GPS unit at the edge of the stone.
Ask Carole about the Famous Simon Kenton. This is
actually the grandson buried in Maysville, KY. The
Indian fighter is buried in OH. We plan on going back to
OH to get Simon Kenton the first.
As an end product, we came home with over 2400 digital
images, pages of notes, and the satisfaction of a job
well done. As a result, we have released the first of 8
books of our genealogy with a copy to the LDS Family
History Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Our next step is to locate each site on a GIS map and
show the movement of that person from birth to the final
resting place. Sometimes we can show how, and more
importantly why, the movement occurred. It may have been
as simple as the brother moved there first or as complex
as to defy understanding.
Someday, when someone else is looking for the family
members, we hope that the use of GPS will help resolve
issues. It is clear that the information would have
helped us a lot.