August 31, 1997.  Visiting friends the night before I left for college.

July 16, 1999.  Awakened by my mom who told me the news.

September 11, 2001.  Watching the Today Show in my mom's room.


Those are the days that I remember where I was.  Days that have been marked in history as significant days.  Important days.  Days to remember.

Days like November 22, 1963.

Like all days, they all started as just another date on the calendar.  Just an ordinary, run of the mill day to get through.

On November 22, 1963, my mom was 17 years old.  She was a senior at Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pennsylvania.  She was an innocent girl living an ordinary life.  But she was also so much more.  She was a girl on the cusp of new beginnings.  She was a girl with big dreams.  She was a girl with an unwritten future.

In many ways, I think she was a lot like the United States was on that day in 1963 - standing on the precipice of change.

But no one ever thinks about those things until time has moved on and it's time to look back.

On November 22, 1963, when Margaret Mary Schellhardt woke up in her room on Montgomery Avenue, it was a relatively ordinary day.  Except for one special event.  See, that day was Yearbook Photo Day.

After her graduation portrait was taken, she went to Religion class.  It was taught by a Mercy nun in the habit of wearing habits; her name was Sister Rosamond but Margaret Mary called her Peahead because "her head looked like a pea."  The November afternoon was unseasonably warm so the classroom windows were open.  The sounds of a car radio wafted up to the classrooms.  It sounded mournful, like "Taps" or a requiem.  Soon after, she would learn that indeed it was a requiem.  A requiem for the slain President.  They made the announcement over the loud speaker.  The President had been assassinated.   The students were dismissed early.  That evening's dance was canceled.  She went home.  Later that afternoon, she had to pick up her best friend - so distraught about the news, she missed her stop in Oreland  so Margaret had to drive over to Ardsley to get her.  "I was so scared."

Innocence shattered.  New beginnings ended.  Dreams dashed.  A future changed.

November 22, 1963 was an ordinary day that turned extraordinary.

It was a day that would be remembered.


Where were you on November 22, 1963?

(P.S.  I owe you a photograph from that day.  50 years on, yearbooks tend to get misplaced!)
I hemmed and I hawed.  I dillied and I dallied.  I was almost a no show but then I figured better late than never, right?  

I mean, that’s how #32 rolls. 

He’s always late.  He’s always been late.  He was due on May 3rd.  He was born on May 6th.  And they had to use forceps to get him out (Ed – there’s an idea to get him to work on time!)  They say our destiny is written before we’re even born…true ‘dat. 

I was born at lunch time.  I love lunch.  #32 was born at 7:30-ish in the A.M.  He doesn’t love mornings.  He's always marched to the beat of his own drummer. 

He’s been my big brother my entire life.  Just the two of us.   Like the Will Smith song. 

He’s always made life interesting – especially his senior year of high school.  He’s talented, brilliant, irritating, agitating, and sometimes throws rams.  Always with the rams. 

His first five years were quiet.  That has been a revelation for me as I go through many of these old pictures.  He probably never said “cheese” because he didn’t hear it.  I get sad about that.  But he will tell you that those were the most peaceful five years of his life.  Let’s face it – our mother is loud.

Happy Birthday Michael!  We’re so glad that you’re a part of our family!  And I’m so glad that you’re my big brother!   
#32 - Michael Joseph Henderson, 1 year old 1977
Big brother Michael holding little sister Denise ca. March 1979
$@!& Ed! I forgot to call in!
I’m hoping that my records are correct and today really is the birthday of one of the babies in this week’s featured photo.  If not, then I posted this on a random Friday and there's no context to the story whatsoever!    

Anyhoo, today may or may not be the birthday of Jean Schellhardt’s oldest daughter, Emily.  Why is this significant?    You see, Emily is the first great-grandchild who is younger than me.  Okay, maybe this weird little factoid is only significant to me.  But before Emily, everyone was older than me - including the seven great-grandchildren who were born before 1979, the year Emily and I were born.

There may only be six weeks separating us but I'd like to point out that I'm the older cousin!  (But at 34, it doesn't seem as important as it was when we were 10!) 

This photo was taken in 1980 when we were both around a year old!  
l-r: Denise and Emily ca. 1980
Happy Birthday Emily!  We’re so glad that you’re a part of our family!  
This weekend is pretty special – tomorrow is Max’s birthday and Sunday is my parents’ 40th anniversary.  Since I didn't plan a surprise anniversary party (surprise!), I wanted to make sure Featured Photo Friday was extra awesome this week - yep, you guessed it, you're getting two photos!  

Both photographs are from wedding days of Schellhardt daughters - Helen and Margaret.  Sadly, the father of the brides would not live long enough to see his youngest daughter, the flower girl in the first photo, marry.  But I’m sure he was there. 

This  first photograph is an example of why Schellhardt Generations exists.  See, my mom has only one photograph of just her and her father…and that was taken shortly before his death.  But a few weeks ago, Aunt Helen Knuttel sent me a photograph of her wedding – she and Uncle Bill were behind their wedding cake, flanked by Mr. and Mrs. Knuttel and Nanny and Max.  And leaning against Max, was a flower girl who was clearly exhausted.  It was a photograph that my mom had never seen before.  And that folks, is what this website is all about!

For her birthday, my mom asked for a copy of the photo…with everyone cropped out so she could have one more photo of just her and her dad.  On this weekend, I think there’s no better photo to feature!
Max and Margaret Mary Schellhardt
Fast forward a few years to when the floewer girl was the bride!
Margaret and Joseph Henderson on their wedding day, April 14, 1973, with the Schellhardt family

By the way, with all the talk of South Philadelphia in yesterday's post, I wanted to let you know that I added some Phun Phillies Photos to the photo album section!  If you have any to contribute - even if it's just you wearing a Phillies shirt - please send them to  I'm working on blog post now but I tend to suffer post-traumatic stress whenever I think back to those days...
I had a hard time figuring out which photograph I should feature today.  I mean, a girl can only have so many favorites!  I thought about it and I thought about and then it hit me!  I’ve posted so many photographs of the senior generations of the family – now, it’s time to post some pictures from my generation.  And the next generation.  Because, like, I’m in between them.

In honor of the Eighties photo album that will be debuting on the website at some point this weekend, here are a few kids from the Eighties – #32 and #33 with #5, #8, and #13 (great-grandchildren edition).

Can you spot the difference between the two photos?
No, no, I probably shouldn’t write a post all about me.  I mean, that’s slightly egotistical, right?  Oh heck, it’s my blog and I’ll blog about myself if I want to!  Especially since today’s my BIRTHDAY!!!!! 

I’m not one of those people who likes to plaster pictures of herself all over.  I’m more of a records girl.  So here’s my name card from the hospital nursery! 
Oh heck, just one picture won't hurt right?!
Margaret Schellhardt Henderson with 33rd grandchild, Denise Henderson (that's me, y'all!)
We've come a long way, baby!  Happy Birthday to me!  I'm so glad to be a part of our family!
Today's little Margaret Mary's birthday!  She is the youngest of Max and Anna's six children and was definitely a bit of a surprise.  But she was a good surprise!  

Since she's my mom - and she likes it when people make a big deal out of her birthday - she gets a special post!  Happy Birthday Mom!  Hope you're special day is special!  We're so glad that you're a part of our family!    
Margaret Schellhardt celebrates her birthday
Aunt Anne, a precocious #33, and #32
Sure, I’m #33, probably known most of all for being Aunt (or Great-Aunt) Margaret’s daughter – you know, the one that you know you’re related to but you’re not exactly sure if I’m your niece, or your cousin, or whatever.  I know it’s confusing and believe me it’s led to some awkward situations – like the time when they tried to put my brother (#32) and me in the picture of Uncle Charles’ grandchildren only to realize whoops…we weren’t actually his grandchildren.  And people wonder why I have issues. 

I am Denise the Niece.  Unless I’m your cousin. Or in #32’s case, your sister.     

Maybe some of you remember when I was a little kid.  I was at times precocious, at times a bit shy, and at times a big cry-baby (I have a lot of memories of crying at parties when I was little…I’m hoping they’re just false memories!)  I’ve grown up a lot since then. 

So, who am I now?  And what’s that have to with this website? 

1.       I’m an archivist.  I have a professional obligation to preserve archival materials and ensure that they are accessible to the public.  Seriously.  I took an oath.  What’s that mean to you?  Well, I am responsible for preserving our family records and photographs – at least those in my custody –  but also, it’s my duty to make sure that you, the family, have access to them.  Why should I be the only who gets to see Max Schellhardt’s passport?  Maybe Susie-Q Schellhardt in Dubuque* wants to see it for a school project.  Now, I can’t exactly take the passport on a whistle stop tour through the country showing it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry Schellhardt because that much handling isn’t good for me or the passport.  What I can do though is scan it and put it on this website so everyone can see it.  See, I’m preserving the passport AND giving you access to it.  You know what that makes me folks?  One smart archivist cousin.   

2.       I’m a student of history.  Well, I was.  I mean, I got my degree in history.  What’s a girl with a history degree do?  She works at a supermarket, then a law firm, then an accounting firm, until finally she gets her act together and goes to grad school to become an archivist (see #1).  Anyway, as a student of history, I’m interested in the historical narrative, the trends, the perspectives, the whos and whats and whys.  It’s why I hung out at the adult table when I was a little girl – I was listening in to find out all that stuff.  

3.       I’m a writer who blogs.  Or a blogger who writes.  The chicken and the egg – I’m still trying to figure it out.  I’m a story teller and I like hearing and sharing stories.  That’s what I want to do here – come together and share our stories. 

4.       I’m sarcastic.  I’m getting help for it but it still comes through from time to time. 

5.       I’m obsessed with ensuring other people’s privacy.  My privacy?  Eh, not so much – I blog about my life.  Aside from photos of me in the 90s, I’m an open book.  Most of the pages in this website are password protected so no one makes off with our photographs.  I follow the same rules that the government does – the dead doesn’t have privacy protection.  So, basically, I didn’t ask for their permission to post their pictures.  The rest of you, I won’t post unless I ask or you send me something.  (I have to ask retroactively in a few cases!)   

6.       I’m not a genealogist.  Shocking.  Sure, I like family trees especially if it involves the Kennedys.  But I want to know how Max and Anna met, why they went to Germany in the early 1930s, who got the most presents at Christmas.  I don’t care too much about who Anna’s great-great-great-great grandmother was.  Luckily, we have a branch of the family that’s already figured all that out so we’ll have to rely on their expertise in this area.

7.       I’m not a techie/computer whiz/programmer.  This website is literally a drag and drop operation.  It took me three days to figure out how to make a sub-page.  Honestly, it’s probably not the best format for creating a family website – especially one where we want to share and upload photos from different people.  But I was all hyped up and paid for it before I realized there were better options out there.  We can reassess in a year…if we’re still around in a year.

8.       I have cats.  You just need to know that.      

That’s who I am.  Who are you?  

*For the record, there is no
Susie-Q Schellhardt in Dubuque...
that I know of!