Living History: A Miniseries

I’m back!  I had a wonderful little break.  My father came home from his eighth hospital visit last week and my husband came home from an eight month deployment yesterday. It was a very special meeting because he got to meet his son for the first time.  It has been a pretty happy week around here.  Let’s get to it!

If anyone knows me, they know that I am a proficient list maker and I love the moment when I can mark things off my task list.  It started the other week when I published my top ten genealogist websites that I have used during my research.  So, here is another task to mark off the list; the introduction to my miniseries “Living History”.

During this series, we will explore members of my family history as individuals.  I will share photographs I have uncovered and stories I have learned as well as a few facts.  These photographs you will be able to find on instagram @mypastlifeblog.  These family members may be still living or a part of the past.  Not only do I want to share my family, but I want to share yours as well.  I believe the biggest part of doing a family history is also being able to share the information you discover with everyone.  I know that I get super excited when I find new information and want to share it.  I probably talk about ancestry the way my daughter talks about Minecraft.  The rush of finding a new fact is always exhilarating and I can’t wait to share my discovery with anyone who will listen.  It makes me proud to know interesting stories about my family’s past and I want to be able to have you, my readers, be able to share your stories too.

I am opening up a part of my life to share yours.  So, find a photograph and gather your story line and share it!  You can email the details to myself at .  Once I receive your submission, I can share on the blog page!  It’s as simple as that.  Not only do I want to post about the facts of your ancestors life, but also a story about them.  I’m looking for something that only has been passed down in the generations.  You know, one of those “We walked ten miles barefoot in the snow to get to school” stories.  Share their story, share their life and send in a photograph for publication.  Include yourself in the photo as a proud descendent.  Whatever you feel comfortable with.

To kick off this miniseries, I will be sharing the stories of my parents and how they met.

My father, Norman David Ferguson, Jr was born in Allegheny County in Pennsylvania on January 21, 1950 to Norman Ferguson and Doris Jean Lightener.   When he was just a baby, his family moved to Norfolk, Virginia.  My grandfather, who had been in the service was provided a job in Norfolk painting cars at Phillips Oldsmobile.  Later, my father would be joined by his brother, James, and two sisters, Lisa and Amy.

My father would tease his mother from time to time that every Friday night during his childhood she would make baked beans and biscuits and he would watch Annie Oakley while riding on his rocking horse.

My dad was the first at Azalea Garden High School to have a Beatles hair cut and he also drove a motorcycle.  Typical 1960s badass.


He enlisted in the Marines when he was only 19 years old and served during the Vietnam War on a ship named the Coral Sea.  He worked on the flight deck, replacing and repairing windshields on aircraft, an A6 Intruder I believe.  He told me that on the first day they shaved your heads at boot camp and on the second day everyone had to go for a three-mile run.  And no one had the nerve to drop out of that run.

Two days after his tour of duty in the Marines, my father became a police officer for the city of Virginia Beach.

On his first call as a police officer, he was riding around with an older cop.  They were called to the scene of a young man who was threatening suicide.   They parked a few streets over and went to the home of the young man.  He was yelling and stuck something out of the front door that looked as if it were a rifle.  Then, the man’s mother yelled out “it’s just a broom!” and they moved in.  My dad remembers that he was quite slippery when they went to arrest and drag him to the squad car because he had taken a razor blade to several spots on his arms.  My father had to pull his weapon on his first day of duty with the police force.  But, he said in the 31 years on the force he only ever had to draw his weapon three times and never had to shoot.

My mother, Elsie Delores Brenaman, was the youngest of many children.  She was as her parents said “the last drop in the bucket”.  In my opinion she is the best drop.  She was born at home to William Floyd Brenaman and Elsie Gertrude Castine on September 18, 1958 in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Her father passed when she was only five years old.  She doesn’t have many memories of him, but she does remember that he always came home from work with candy or gum just for her because she was the youngest.  He would take her into his arms and after he passed she would cry for him.

My mother’s family was not wealthy by any means.  Having been the youngest and my grandmother not having ever remarried, money could be tight for the family.  My Granny would take my mother every year on the bus to Norfolk.  There they would visit the school for beauticians in training and receive free haircuts.  My Granny used this service often and my mother was the poor guinea pig of terrible hairdos.  She told me once that they cut and curled and styled their hair exactly the same and she thought it was one of the worst haircuts she had ever had.

My mother also has fond memories of becoming a Sunbeam through her church and attending camp.  They would bunk in cabins and be eaten up by mosquitoes but they were some of the best memories from her childhood.  She also was very proud as a kid for helping campaign for the city council.  She was in 6th grade and around 11 years old.  They passed out flyers and got to go to dinner when their candidate won.  That was a big deal back then, taking that many children out to a restaurant!


To say I am not a spitting image of my mother would be a lie.  I have even asked my daughter who she thought this picture was of.  She said “You Mommy.”  And I couldn’t agree more.

She became a teacher in 1980 and taught at private schools.  Then , in 1995 she became a special education teacher with her main focus in preschool.  One of the best moments in her teaching career was when she was able to call a parent and tell them that their daughter, who was a selective mute, was talking.  And not only just one or two words, but sentences.  It made my mother very proud of the work she was doing.   She has only recently retired to spend more time with her husband and grandchildren.

My mother and father met in college.  They both attended Tidewater Community College.

My dad explains the meeting like this…

We were both in Science class together.  Your mother was the only girl in a class of about 50 students.  I wanted to ask her out.  We attended a morning class together, so I asked her out for breakfast.  We went to Hardees.  And on our first official date…she wore these black pants; Looked like she was poured into those pants.  But she won’t like it if I mention those.

And it was happily ever after.

So, there it is.  Just the first of hopefully what will be many to come.  I hope you enjoyed this post and that you will continue to follow this blog and also follow us on instagram @mypastlifeblog.  I can’t wait to see what this miniseries will bring and also get to know the readers a little more through their own family.

Thanks for reading


2 thoughts on “Living History: A Miniseries

  1. This one made me tear up a bit. It is so nice to record the little, often forgotten, parts of a family’s past.


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