Archive for the ‘Friends & Family’ Category

¡Viva Colombia!

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Bea and Andrew pose with the Colombian delegation at the Knoxville Hispanic Heritage Festival:

More pictures of the festival to come later. (Er, along with all the other
sets of photos I keep promising to post, like from our Denver trip, our visit with Adrienne, the baby shower, my second Denver trip, etc.)

My family’s “greatest generation”

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

[UPDATE: Welcome, InstaPundit readers! I published this post yesterday (Wednesday) evening. However, as noted below, the referenced episode of The War can be seen this Sunday, when the first five episodes will be aired back-to-back starting at 11:00 AM.]

*   *   *

Tonight at 8:00 PM, the fourth episode of Ken Burns‘s documentary on World War II, The War, will air on PBS.  (It’ll be rerun at 10:30 PM and 2:30 AM, and on Sunday at 5:30 PM.  The first five episodes will be aired consecutively on Sunday from 11:00 AM to 10:30 PM.)  The episode, titled
"Pride of Our Nation," details the events that occurred from June through August of 1944, including D-Day and the battles of Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian.

As I’ve mentioned before, my Grandpa Loomer was a Marine, and he fought in all three of those battles.  Here’s a photo of him — wearing the fatigue jacket that he would later give to me — sitting on a wrecked Japanese airplane along a captured airstrip in Tinian:

My mom, who has been watching The War with considerable interest these last two nights, e-mailed me yesterday to share some more details about our family history vis a vis World War II.  (My paternal grandfather was in his 30s by the time the war broke out, so he didn’t fight.  As a result, it was on my mother’s side that the war’s impact was most acutely felt.)  Ken Burns’s focus on the impact that the war had on ordinary people has gotten my mom thinking about how it affected her own family.  She wrote, in part:

We are from a
family wrapped around World War II.  Grandpa started going out with Grandma in the summer of ’42, while planning to enlist in the service as
a carpenter 4th class.  When he found out how much more officers
earned, he decided to do that [instead], [so] that he could support a wife, and
proposed to Grandma.  They were married in Fredericksburg VA, right
near Quantico VA [home of the Marine Officer Candidate School.  He was 26 years old, and she was 25.]  They
had to wait to have a wedding reception when he got 30 day’s leave, a
month later (and they had gotten married on a 3-day pass at Christmas). 

When he shipped out it was with the 2nd Marine Division, seeing combat
on Tarawa, then Saipan [and] Tinian … He and Grandma didn’t
know when they would be able to start a family, with all the danger Grandpa was in, so they were married from Dec. 1942 through 1944
putting it off.  It finally reached the point where they thought if
they waited any longer, they might have to wait ten years (which before
the bomb seemed likely).  So when he was sent back in California (as it
turned out for his last leave), in late 1944, he and Grandma stayed
together there for three months, and it was then that they decided they
shouldn’t wait any longer.  When Grandma saw him off and took the train
back home to Wisconsin, she was 1 month pregnant with Patty.  As a
result, Patty was born before the end of the war (4 days before Roosevelt died).  Grandpa got posted to Japan for the occupation and
didn’t get home until early 1946, when Patty was 8 months old.  (That
was the first time he saw her.)  But not knowing what lay ahead, their
going ahead as they did was pretty brave.  Patty’s best friend
in high school was raised by just her mother.  Her dad had died in the
war.  We knew of other families like that, young widows raising small
children alone. …

When we were
little kids, there were assorted things around the house that we never
thought were unusual — a (real) Japanese kimono for a small child (for Patty), a stuffy named Zealy that Grandpa had bought in New Zealand (also for Patty – it’s a rabbit).  We also had a ceremonial Japanese sword in the attic, Grandpa’s full-dress uniform, his rifle
and bayonet, the fatigue jacket he gave you, some really cool toy
military vehicles — scale models, very accurate and well-made.  He
also had a book of photographs that had been made and published for the
veterans of one of the above battles.  Lots of images like on the Ken Burns special, flame-throwers shooting into caves, burnt corpses of
Japanese soldiers, battle landscape, etc.  Grandpa had a rising sun
flag (red circle on white) with a lot of Japanese characters on it.  Much, much later, he decided to try to find the family of the soldier
it had belonged to.  He actually did locate them (with the help of
someone who could read Japanese, and a few other contacts) and sent
them the flag.  They were grateful — they had lost their son in the
war and it was something of him being returned.   

As I know I’ve told you, Grandpa never talked much about the war to
us.  I remember (idiot that I was) asking him how many Japs he had
killed, but I don’t remember whether he gave me an answer to that.  Once, when a relative of one of our Macomb neighbors visited who
happened to have been a soldier under Grandpa’s command, the two of
them sat out in the backyard for quite awhile one evening reminiscing.  That’s the only time I remember him talking about it.  Even the
fact that he got flashbacks when he was too close under fireworks, I
didn’t learn until you were a little kiddo and we were spending the 4th
of July in Arkansas with him and Grandma.

Grandpa was away at war when his mother died.  Of course a person can’t
come home for something like that in the middle of the war, but I think
he never got over that.  I told Grandma once [years later, after Grandpa died] that it seemed so unfair that she and Grandpa had had to sacrifice
so much as a couple — the first four years of their marriage, delay in
starting their family, getting married alone far from home, having the
fear of death always hanging over them for 4 years because of Grandpa’s
combat — and she just smiled and said that everybody was doing it.  I
found a letter she wrote to her mother when she and Grandpa were
traveling west as newlyweds to get him to San Diego, and she was
telling her how exciting it was to be starting off into the big world
with their whole lives before them.

Very interesting stuff, to me at least.  When I asked if it would be OK for me to blog what she had written, my mom replied, "Sure.  I think Grandma would be proud."  As well she should be, and Grandpa too.

Semper Fi.

Two years on

Monday, September 24th, 2007

I neglected to note that, a week ago Sunday, the second anniversary of Sarah LeFoll‘s death came and went. I think I subconsciously knew it, though: I’ve thought of Sarah several times in the last week or so, and until now I wasn’t sure what caused my mind to wander in her direction. But of course: it was this time of year in 2005 — the night after the Michigan State game, no less — that I got that awful call from Steve Kenny. I was getting ready to head out to Dmytro’s “3-0” party (reconstituted as a “2-1” party after the Irish’s overtime loss) when tragic news arrived via cell phone like a bolt out of the blue. Needless to say, I never made it to the party.

For Sarah’s immediate family and close friends, I imagine the grief is still acute and constant. For me, “closure,” whatever that means, has long since come. And yet: every now and then, I still think about her, and about what happened to her, and it makes me so sad. Death is so damn permanent. Sarah had much yet to offer this world when she died, and no trite turn of bloggy phrase can ever resurrect that potential, forever lost.

Rest in peace, Sarah. We still miss you.

I’m a 6th generation Irish-American

Friday, September 14th, 2007

My mom has been doing some genealogical research, and has apparently found the answer to a question I’ve long wondered about: just how many generations ago did the Irish side of my family (the McNamaras) emigrate from the old country and come to America? It seems the answer is six. My dad is a fifth-generation American on the McNamara side, and I’m sixth-generation.

According to my mom’s research, my great-great-great-grandfather, John McNamara, was born in Ireland in 1822.  His wife Mary, my great-great-great-grandmother, was also born in Ireland, in 1828.  I don’t know when they got married, but it seems they had their first child in 1855 or thereabouts, in Connecticut. Their fifth child, born in 1863 (also in Connecticut), was Daniel, a second-generation American and my great-great-grandfather. Dan McNamara begat Joe McNamara, who begat Helen McNamara Loy, my paternal grandmother. And the rest, as they say, is history. (Though as Nana Loy would point out, "What the hell do they know? They’re a bunch of horse’s asses anyway." Or words to that effect. :)

My understanding is that the McNamaras always claimed that they had come over before the Great Potato Famine, but we’ve never been sure if that claim was accurate. It has been speculated that certain proud members of the family might have wanted to separate themselves from the riffraff, if you will, by pretending they weren’t forced to come here because of starvation, as so many other "shanty Irish" were. Well, now we finally have some dates, and let’s see: if we assume that John and Mary were married in Ireland, and that she was at least 18 when they got hitched, that would mean they left Ireland sometime between 1846 and ~1855.

The famine was from 1845 to 1849. Ahem. You do the math.

So my ancestors, it seems, were quite likely refugees of the Great Potato Famine. Interesting.

UPDATE: Belatedly, it occurs to me that my logic vis a vis the timetable may not be entirely airtight. All we know, I think, is that John and Mary were both born in Ireland; we don’t actually know that they emigrated together, as adults, as opposed to emigrating separately, as children, and then meeting and marrying in America. The latter is also possible, and it would not be at all surprising if two first-generation immigrants met in this country and married each other; immigrant communities were very tight-knit in those days. If that were the case, it would mean the McNamaras did indeed come over here before the famine.

Of course, the other thing that’s odd about this whole train of thought is that, although I talk about these great-great-great-grandparents as "the McNamaras" because they are the ones who carried the name McNamara, the reality is I’m really only talking about a small sliver of the Irish ancestry from the "McNamara side" of my grandparentage (i.e., from my Nana Loy). One-eighth of it, to be exact. John and Mary McNamara were Nana Loy’s great-grandparents; they represent a mere 12.5% of her bloodline. Yet she was 100% Irish. That means seven-eighths of Nana’s (and my) Irishness came from other ancestors, who may have emigrated at other times, under other circumstances.

Regardless, I find this sort of stuff fascinating. I wish I knew more about my ancestors; I’d love to read their life stories, if they were written down anywhere. Even little snippets of information, though, make me feel more connected to these long-ago ages past. For my Immigration Law class at Notre Dame last fall, we had to write a brief paper about our own "immigration history," and in the course of researching it (again mostly via my mom), I learned all sorts of stuff I’d never known before, like how the Loomers (my maternal grandfather’s side) are really a very old family in this country, dating back to the mid-1600s, as I recall. They didn’t come over on the Mayflower, but they weren’t that far removed from it either. … Alas, very very little is known about the Loys. We don’t even really know where they came from, or what the origin of the name is.


Monday, September 10th, 2007

My fellow Nutmegger and lifelong friend Diane Krause, formerly Diane Huffman (she got married over the summer), will be in New York City tomorrow for a taping of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — and she’s asked me to be one of her phone-a-friends! I guess they don’t do the “fastest finger” thing anymore, so Diane will definitely be on the “hot seat” at some point between 11:00 AM and 7:30 PM tomorrow. From my perspective, the only question is whether she’ll call me or one of her other two phone-a-friends. It’ll depend on the topic of the question. Anyway, the show will air sometime in January.

Oh, and speaking of Millionaire, NDLS 1L Jaclyn Sexton will be on it this Friday and next Monday. (Hat tip: Lee Ann McGinnis.)

In other NDLS-related news, the late Ryan Rudd gets a mention in this article about an American Cancer Society benefit concert, Cure-A-Palooza.

Baby’s first Mighty

Saturday, September 1st, 2007


More Logan pics after the jump.


An eventful August

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

Man, we’ve had quite a eventful month in terms of visiting friends, haven’t we? Last week, Adrienne came to town, and then we met up with Brian Merrell (a.k.a. Briandot) for dinner — the fourth "blog friend" we’ve met in person after becoming acquainted through the Loy-o-sphere. Cue the photos:

Now we’re en route to Buffalo — again! — to hang out with friends and family, and to be showered with gifts and attention on Saturday. (Well, really it’ll be Becky who’ll be showered. My job is to sit there and oooh and ahhh. I know my place in the world. :)

An audio time capsule from my 3-year-old self

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

I’ve blogged a lot about Tommy Makem since his death two weeks ago, including a lengthy post explaining what he meant to me. But they say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and in this case, an audio clip is worth about a million of ’em. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Brendan Loy, at 3 years old, singing about moonshine:

source file

The song is “The Hills of Connemara,” and I know it’s probably bad form to call myself “cute,” but good lord, is there anything more adorable than hearing a 3-year-old sing, “Run like the devil from the excise man”? :) I had no idea what any of it meant, of course; I just thought it was a fun song. But there you go: if you thought maybe I was exaggerating when I told those stories about singing rowdy Irish songs in my early childhood, now you know I wasn’t. (And if you ever wondered why I took such a liking to “Rocky Top,” maybe that question too is answered: apparently I just like songs about concealing illegal alcohol from the authorities!)

The audio clip comes from an old cassette tape, recently dug up by my mom, of my parents and I performing Irish music in our living room for my Grandma and Grandpa Loomer and my Papa Loy — all now deceased — and my Uncle Robert, sometime in 1985. You can hear a lot of Grandpa in that clip; he’s the one who played an “A” for my mom before the song, who commented “the show’s getting better, Robert,” and who cheered loudly at the end. In this later clip from the same concert, of “Place in the Choir,” you can hear Grandpa again at the end, and also Papa Loy saying “This is good, I want to hear the rest of it” when I abruptly interrupted the song to comment on our previous performance. (Hey, what do you want, I was three!) Entirely aside from the nostalgia of the music, and of hearing myself as a little kid, it’s also really cool to hear my grandfathers’ voices again. :) Anyway…

source file

Judging by my parents’ comments, it seems that that was the first time I ever sang along with them on “Place in the Choir.” Which is pretty funny, because it soon became one of my all-time favorites, and has always remained so — to the point where, when my mom busted out the guitar last week in the Adirondacks so we could sing a few songs in Makem’s honor, it was one of the first songs I suggested. We had some trouble remembering the verses, but here it is: the same song, by the same singers, 22 years later…


P.S. It’s possible I was 4 years old, not 3. The tape is labeled “1985,” so I’m assuming I was 3, since I didn’t turn 4 until October 30 of that year. But it could have been late 1985, in which case I would have been 4. It’s also possible the label is wrong. But in any event, I was really young.

44 hours without Internet… oh the Hugh Manatee!

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

Doesn’t it look… pleasant?

Jay noted yesterday that I’ve been having too much fun hanging out with the family to blog the last couple of days. But it isn’t just the amount of fun that’s been keeping me offline — it’s the location. There is absolutely no cell-phone service, not even analog roam, at the Floomer cabin on Pleasant Lake, so I haven’t had the opportunity to blog (or look at the blog, or read comments, or check e-mail, etc.) since we arrived Thursday afternoon. I thought I might get a signal when we were in Dolgeville for awhile yesterday, in which case I could have at least moblogged, but alas, no. So until we returned to civilization (a.k.a. the interstate highway system) this morning, I was Internet-less for about 44 hours. I managed to avoid suffering any major withdrawal symptoms, though I did get a little bit twitchy around 9:30 PM last night. ;)

In all seriousness, we had a fantastic couple of days at the cabin, and the lack of Internet was probably a good thing on balance, as it kept me focused on enjoying our wonderfully laid-back family time rather than immediately blogging about it. :) One of the many fun memories I made in the last 48 hours is of sitting out last night under the stars, making smores and then watching for Perseids, of which I saw three — one of them a fireball! — or maybe four. (The possible fourth meteor was a bright flash that didn’t seem to move, so at first I thought it was an Iridium flare, but apparently it wasn’t, so now I’m guessing maybe it was a meteor heading directly toward me, such that I couldn’t see its movement through the sky.) I also saw what I think was the Envisat satellite; it looked like the Space Station or Shuttle, but those weren’t scheduled to pass overhead at the relevant times, whereas Envisat was. Alexis saw it, too. [UPDATE: Upon closer inspection of the star charts, I think it must have been the Meteor 1-31 Rocket, not Envisat, that Alexis and I saw. The 1-31 crossed the Big Dipper, which the object we saw definitely did, whereas Envisat did not.]

I didn’t get any pictures of the star-(and meteor- and satellite-)gazing, but I did take a bunch of other pictures, some of which I’ll post later (along with more Buffalo pics). For now, here are a couple of shots of me and Becky posing in front of the lake this morning, first with my parents and then with my cousin Alexis:

Also coming later: some video from our tribute to Tommy Makem on Thursday night. As promised, my mom brought her guitar, my dad brought his tin whistles, and we sang some songs in Makem’s honor. ‘Twas a good time.

Now we’re en route back to Knoxville, and after another week away (and 17 of the last 22 days away), we’re definitely looking forward to seeing our cats, our dog and (especially) our bed again. That said, it will probably be a two-day drive home, with a stop tonight somewhere around Roanoke. Google Maps says it’s a 14-hour drive, and we’re planning to make it a little longer by getting off I-81 for a brief stretch this afternoon or evening so we can take the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. So I’m guessing we’ll end up getting home tomorrow afternoon. You never know, though: if we get close enough to Knoxville before, say, 10:00 PM, Becky will probably want to press on and get home tonight, even if it means arriving in the wee small hours of the morning. She loves our bed. :)

Makem funeral today

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

Tommy Makem’s funeral is later today in Dover, New Hampshire. A large crowd of mourners is expected.

Rumor has it that my mom was planning to bring her guitar to the cabin in the Adirondacks where we’re meeting up tomorrow. If that happens, I suspect we may sing a few songs in Tommy’s honor.

P.S. Here is the Irish Echo article about Makem’s passing.

Last day in Buffalo

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

Becky, Shannon, Logan and I met up with Mike Wiser at Starbucks this afternoon, as he was visiting the Buffalo area as well. Naturally, because if there’s no picture it didn’t happen, we took a photo of Mike with Logan and me:

Later in the day, we put Logan in the adorable outfit that Kristy bought him in Denver:

Never fear, Kristy: there will be more pictures to come. We took a lot. :) Oh, and speaking of outfits, Shannon and PJ gave us our first baby clothes for little Zucchini Loy. The one on the left says “instructions not included.” The one on the right will be especially appropriate if the baby is born on its due date:


Tomorrow, we head east to the Adirondacks, where we’ll meet up with my parents and my uncle & aunt at the latter’s cabin on Pleasant Lake (not to be confused with Lake Pleasant).

A new Makem & Clancy fan in training?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2007

Just wait till I have one of my own to indoctrinate… :)

Speaking of which, Becky is 19 weeks pregnant as of yesterday, which means that little Baby Loy now “measures 6 inches, head to bottom — about the length of a small zucchini.” From A(vocado) to Z(ucchini) in just three weeks! And if all goes well with the ultrasound next Monday, hopefully we’ll find out whether he’s a male zucchini or a female zucchini!

A glimpse of the future

Monday, August 6th, 2007

I can't believe we're going to have one of these in a few months… :)


Monday, August 6th, 2007

Formats available: Quicktime (.mov)

Shuffling off to Buffalo

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

After oversleeping a bit this morning (we’re going with “the baby was sleepy” as our excuse, though I think 3am blog debates may have had more to do with it), we’re finally en route to Buffalo, where we’ll visit Shannon, PJ and Logan for a few days before heading to my uncle & aunt’s cabin in the Adirondacks at the end of the week to visit them and my parents, who are driving up from Connecticut.

I guess I never really updated y’all on our summer travel plans, did I? (I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats, waiting for the update.) Well, after asking for travel suggestions for this period of post-bar-exam freedom, and briefly dreaming about elaborate vacations to Banff, Iceland, New Zealand, etc., we realized we really just couldn’t afford such an expenditure, what with a baby on the way and all. We flirted with the idea of a weekend in Vegas, but we ultimately decided that a week-and-a-half with our friends in Denver, plus a week with friends and family in New York state, was enough of a vacation for now. And then maybe when we have more money someday, we’ll take our kid(s) to Iceland. :)

Anyway… as I mentioned yesterday, Becky’s car will hit 100,000 miles today. Looks like it’ll happen on I-71, somewhere on the northeastern suburbs of Cincinnati. This will actually be the second time I’ve been in a car that’s crossed the 100,000-mile barrier in Ohio: my parents’ old Dodge Aries hit 100,000 on I-40 in New Paris, OH, en route back from a family vacation to Illinois in 1992. (Yes, I’m bizarrely obsessed with arbitrary milestones like odometers rolling over to 100,000.)