Family Story

David Koontz

Alexandria, Virginia

November 2013

Title

Gomer the rabbit

 

Genre

Family story

 

Informant

David Koontz is fifty-three year old man who was born in the rural farming community of Bedford, Pennsylvania. As a young adult he joined the United States Air Force during which time he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then went to BYU and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in International Relations. He has served in the United States Air Force for over thirty years and earned the rank of Colonel. Currently he is stationed in Washington DC, but plans to retire next year and move to Mendon, Utah to live with his family. David enjoys Family History research, reading history books, doing yoga, and looks forward to the time when he can have his own colony of beehives. David is my father.

 

Context

David always tell stories about his pets, especially when I tell him something that my rabbits have done. Recently he Skyped and I asked him to tell me about Gomer so I could record it since David is very into recording things for future generations.

 

 

Text:

Gomer was my bunny, he was so cute. I don’t know exactly how it started; I suspect that they would get out sometimes. Gomer would get out, Gomer was a bit of a free spirit like Sparkle, and he would get out of his cage upstairs in the barn, and he would go downstairs. He’d be wandering around and eventually I think I got to the point where he got out and once he got out he had a place under the barn where he lived and he liked it down there. You know what else I think it was? When he first got out you didn’t really catch him because it was hard to catch him, so once he got out I just decided to rearrange the cages and I just put another bunny in his pen, because he was quite content to be under the barn. He had a little crawl space under there that he found. I knew where it was, I eventually found it. So Gomer would just live under the barn and so he’d just run around the barn. He lived under it like I said, but he’d run around the area, but he wouldn’t go too far because it was safety for him, because he knew where to hide and he had his other bunny friends up there that he would go upstairs and visit with. But, Gomer, many a morning, I’ll never forget it, especially in the spring when the grass was really turning green and coming up, many a morning your Grandmother would come up and say look out the window. I would go over and look out the window and there would be Gomer. He would come over into the yard like over by your Grandmother’s porch, and he’d be in the yard right there and just be out there eating grass, looking around the whole time and he would run across the road back under the barn, run around, and whatnot. It got to where I found out if I wanted to catch him what his weakness was. It was clover. He loved clover, especially the little balls. So if I ever wanted to catch him all I had to do was take the clover in the summer when the clover was up, I would go out up the road and pull, because the clover grew wild from everybody’s hay fields and I could just go up along the road and pull a bunch of clover stalks, with the heads especially. I would go up to the barn and he had a little crawlspace up there and all I had to do was take the clover and just put it at the edge and he couldn’t resist it. He would slowly come down and start to nibble at the clover and I would move a little, like a half inch out and he’d move a little closer and I’d keep sliding it back and he’d keep coming until finally he’d get close enough to where I could reach down and pick him up. Because he’d be sitting there eating it and he wouldn’t run away from me, he was a pet, so I’d pick him up and sit there and hold him and pet him, and feed him clover. He was a sucker for clover balls so I’ll never forget that, it was so cute. Gomer was out there for years ‘til he passed away, I mean like five years or something like that. I would leave food for him so he always had food. That’s where he lived, under the barn. He would be in the yard a lot during the spring and summer and just run around. He was my bunny. Oh and you know what was nice about him? He was a big buck and he had a lot of grays and browns in him, like a harlequin, as far as his color pattern. He had grays, light brown and a bit of white. He was cute, and a good bunny.  

 

 

Texture:

David told this story fondly and excitedly. It was as if he was right back there with Gomer. He was animated and used lots of hand gestures while telling the story. When speaking of clover he emphasized the word clover and said it slowly and drawn out slightly. His face was quite expressive and at times he spoke in a higher pitched voice when describing how cute he thought Gomer was. There were several times that he chuckled.

 

Meaning

This story has always meant so much to me. My dad is a tough military commander, but when it comes to animals and his daughters he gets all soft. He told this story to me so many times growing up and it made me want a rabbit that much more, since I always wanted one. Gomer showed me that rabbits are so much more than cute and cuddly critters; they have personality and can be best friends. When I got my first rabbit Sparkle it was so exciting and I wanted us to be like dad and Gomer which has been true for the last nine years.

Image

 

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Family Photo

Gemma Koontz

Myself

Mendon, UT

June 1999

 

Title

Daddy’s Little Helpers

 

Genre

Family Photo

 

Informant

Jan Koontz is a forty-nine year old woman. She grew up in Sunset, Utah and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the mother of three daughters and the proud wife of an Air Force Colonel. She lives in Mendon, Utah where she enjoys quilting, crafting in general, and playing with her young grandson.

David Koontz is fifty-three year old man who was born in the rural farming community of Bedford, Pennsylvania. As a young adult he joined the United States Air Force during which time he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then went to BYU and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in International Relations. He has served in the United States Air Force for over thirty years and earned the rank of Colonel. Currently he is stationed in Washington DC, but plans to retire next year and move to Mendon, Utah to live with his family. David enjoys Family History research, reading history books, doing yoga, and looks forward to the time when he can have his own colony of beehives

Context

This photo was taken in 1999 at my dad’s office on Howard Air Force Base in Panama. My mom took the photo of all of us girls helping dad with his work. Recently my dad was looking through the numberless envelopes of pictures in order to find some for his retirement presentation. In one of those envelopes he found this picture which is one of his favorites.

Text

 Image

 Texture

The photo speaks of childhood. As a child one wants to help their parents get their work do so they can spend more time with them. All of us are clustered around our father making him the center of attention because we are trying to help him. The love we have for each other is evident in our expressions, physical closeness, and our trying to accomplish work related tasks.

Meaning

Growing up Dad worked a lot and much of the time we hardly ever saw him. It was not unusual for us to go a week without seeing him, only hearing that he came in late at night to give us a kiss. In order to see him we would frequent his office. His office was a place of wonder, so many papers, equipment, dry erase boards, and snack machines. Usually Mom would ask us if we wanted to surprise Dad so we would show up at his office unexpected. Sneaking up we would all pounce on him, laughter ensuing. These visits invariably cheered Dad up and we were so pleased with ourselves for making his day better. We tried to do whatever we could to help out, as this photo displays. On several occasions Dad jokingly said that we would probably do a better job than those he had hired. Even as we grew older we still visited the myriad of offices Dad occupied over the years, each time hoping to catch a special moment with him and making a bright spot in his typically stressful day.

Family Tradition

Gemma Koontz

Myself

Mendon, UT

Christmases 1984 through present

Title

Koontz Family Christmas Tree

 

Genre

Tradition

 

Informant

Jan Koontz is a forty-nine year old woman. She grew up in Sunset, Utah and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the mother of three daughters and the proud wife of an Air Force Colonel. She lives in Mendon, Utah where she enjoys quilting, crafting in general, and playing with her young grandson.Jan is my mom.

David Koontz is fifty-three year old man who was born in the rural farming community of Bedford, Pennsylvania. As a young adult he joined the United States Air Force during which time he converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then went to BYU and earned Bachelors and Masters degrees in International Relations. He has served in the United States Air Force for over thirty years and earned the rank of Colonel. Currently he is stationed in Washington DC, but plans to retire next year and move to Mendon, Utah to live with his family. David enjoys Family History research, reading history books, doing yoga, and looks forward to the time when he can have his own colony of beehives. David is my father.

 

Context

I recently visited with my parents and asked them about the different traditions we have as a family. While there were many to choose from, the one that I remember and cherish the most is that of the Christmas tree.

 

Text

Every Christmas since I can remember and going back to when my parents were first married, we like so many others put up our tree. For almost all of this time it has been an artificial tree since being in the military sometimes makes it difficult to find a real tree as well as the fact that my mom, for good reasons, is paranoid that the tree will catch fire. The tree usually goes up the Sunday after my birthday which is December seventh. We drag out the bins in which the disassembled branches reside. The bins are newer as the tree used to dwell in the large box it came in, but after many years and moves it finally disintegrated, hence the bins. When we were younger my sisters and I would play in the box and often times for some strange reason it usually ended up being a coffin. After dragging the boxes in we take the many individual branches out and separate them into their respective piles as indicated by the alphabetic character tag at the base of the metal prong that connects the branch to the tree. Layer by layer in accordance to size, the branches are attached to the center support pole. Fluffing of the wired smaller branches on the branch then follows. It is the least favorite task as it takes forever and the artificial needles are itchy. Lights are added, of which flashing ones are a necessity. Finally we decorate the tree with a vast assortment of ornaments that only expands in size with each passing year. Every Christmas we purchase at least one new ornament that represents something that occurred that year in our family. One year while in Alabama, we purchased an armadillo ornament as my dad almost tripped over one while he was out running. Another year we bought a golden retriever with a hat, scarf, and mittens to mark the passing of our beloved dog of thirteen years. Along with the ornaments that we purchase my paternal grandmother makes ornaments for us. These ornaments are typically plastic needle board with yarn depicting the image of my grandmother’s choice. On the back are her initials and the year in which they were made. This year the ornaments were cute little mice. After the ornaments are put on the tree, it is time to put the topper on. For a long while the topper was Mickey Mouse dressed as Santa with lantern in hand. When plugged in the lantern lit up and that arm moved up and down and his head side to side. However, the last two year we have opted for an angel since Mickey has “arthritis” and his joints squeak incessantly. At last the center of Christmas is finished and ready for Santa to arrive.

 

Texture

While talking to my parents or my sisters, as well as reminiscing myself, we all remember the tree with fondness. Every year we look forward to putting the tree up and it is always sad when it is time to take it down and put it away for another year. Usually the tree ends up staying out for longer because of this.

 

 

Meaning

Growing up in the military where so much changes, we always followed our traditions especially with regards to the tree. Nothing changes, don’t mess with Christmas! The tree is also a way for us to spend time together as a family. Dad was always busy with work so when we were younger it was a time we got to spend with him. Now that we are older and my sisters have married and with my dad still busy with work but this time while in Washington DC while the rest of us are in Utah and Idaho, it is still a time to gather. The tree is also a scrapbook and mirror of our lives. Every ornament has a story and just as our lives have been ones of many experiences so it is with the decorations. While lots of people have “matchy matchy” decorations, we have all kinds. Just as others have lived in one place and match themselves to that, we have lived all over and our decorations match that.

 

Family Recipe

Gemma Koontz

Jan Koontz

Mendon, UT

January 28, 2014

 

Title

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Genre

Recipe

 

Informant

Jan Koontz is a forty-nine year old woman. She grew up in Sunset, Utah and is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the mother of three daughters and the proud wife of an Air Force Colonel. She lives in Mendon, Utah where she enjoys quilting, crafting in general, and playing with her young grandson. Jan is my mother.

 

Context

The recipe is kept in the front of Mom’s go-to recipe book as it is used frequently. Previously it was left out, put as it is a single sheet of paper it was very easy to lose, making for sad children. Mom pulled it out recently to make cookies and I asked her about it. She said that she just pulled it from the cookbook and it was easy and delicious, making it a keeper.

Text

The recipe is on thick, waxy paper pulled from a Betty Crocker cookbook. The holes punched on the side to keep it in the three ring binder of the cookbook have long since disintegrated and the edges are folded and ragged. A tight crease runs horizontally across the middle. Small bits of crystalized sugar dot the page. Some of the recipe’s text has been torn off. Pink ink is written on the right-hand side of the typed text. 

Texture

The cookies are made by creaming the first six ingredients together creating a moist base, followed by stirring in the “dry ingredients to form the dough. More flour can be added to make the cookies more cakey, and less to make them crunchy.The chips, preferable mini as they distribute evenly throughout, are then added then added. Tasting a spoonful of the dough is required by Mom to ensure its quality. Using a scoop, the dough balls are placed symmetrically on the sheet four per column, three across. They are then cooked for about eleven minutes and removed when the cookies still appear doughy, as they will continue to cook when removed. If they are left in they will be harder than a rock by the time one wants to eat them, that is no Bueno. Removal to a cooling rack enables the pan to be freed up for the next batch. Eating one, especially when warm, is a delicious experience as the cookie is ooey-gooey, just cakey enough, and the chocolate is melty.

Meaning

Quite simply this recipe means love. Growing up if we were sad or it was raining Mom would make these cookies to cheer us up. Helping Mom make the cookies made us feel big and important as we took turns adding the ingredients we were responsible for. Even though we are now grown up, the meaning is still the same although the roles have somewhat reversed. Now I or my sister are usually the ones to make the cookies as Mom says that we make them better. It is a small favor we can do in return for all that she has, and continues to do for me and my sisters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Definitions of Family

Definition #1:             “A family is a group of people who consider themselves related through kinship. In North American English, the term may include both “close” and “distant “relatives. All members of a family do not necessarily live together or have strong bonds with one another. But they are still a “family.”

Miller, Barbara D. “Households and Domestic Life.” Cultural Anthropology in a Globalizing        World. Third ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2011. 130. Print.

Definition #2:             “I define family as someone that loves you and someone who is there for you no matter what. Sometimes you may not get along with them but hey families fight and disagree on many things. But they are your family and you would be nothing without them. And I love my family. They are the best.”

Belkin, Lisa. “Defining a Family.” Motherlode Defining a Family Comments. N.p., 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 11 Jan. 2014.

 

I chose these definitions because I wanted two definitions from divergent sources. The first one is an academic definition from a textbook. The second one is from a blog post, providing a general more encompassing definition as to what family means to others. I feel that family is such an everyday term, yet it encompasses so much and means so many different things to each person making it one of the hardest terms to define.