Archive for the ‘My Family’ Category

Our 2022 Christmas

Mother, Ruth all with smiles

Our 2022 Christmas had me facing mixed emotions. My mother, Ruth, now at 93 years of age is dealing with dementia-like symptoms, and this proves to be difficult for me at times. My stepfather, Bob Miller has been dealing with cancer for three years. Both are losing weight. So, I can’t help wondering how many Christmas get-togethers we all will have.

Anyway, we had a nice day together opening gifts, including our dog, Trixie. She loves to rip apart gift packaging and chasing red laser lights. Her antics brought many smiles. Sister, Ruthie sported a nice set of antlers. We had plenty to eat, as well!

Mother and Laurie. Laurie hates getting her photo taken.

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Covered bridge at McConnell’s Mill

October 10 was looking like a great day to get out and about. The leaves were turning into their autumn colors and the skies were blue and the temperatures perfect for hiking. Laurie and I asked her mother, Anne to go and she happily agreed for the day trip. Anne is eighty-four years old but does very well with hiking. The place to visit was, McConnell’s Mill State Park.

We stopped at Moraine Park for a brief time hoping to observe a Bald eagle or Osprey.

Looking from the old mill onto the falls of Slippery Rock

The McConnell’s Mill site was originally owned by the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (1946) and handed over to the Commonwealth pf Pennsylvania in 1957. The lands are located in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania in the western part of the state. The park features the beautiful rock laden Slippery Rock Creek. Steep slopes are visible on both sides of the gorge. Huge rocks are viewed all about the parks land.

A couple of man-made features are located along and over the creek. The actual mill was built in 1852 and after being destroyed by fire was rebuilt in 1868. The mill was closed in 1928.

One additional feature is the one lane covered bridge. Few of these structures exist and this one is a beauty. The bright red colors contrast nicely among the foliage or snow in winter.

We visited another area of the park for I knew the trail would not be very difficult and that was the Hell’s Hollow site A watercourse flows down the hollow. It is called Hell Run. A couple of features of this trail are the Hell’s Run Falls and an old remnant of a limekiln. The kiln is barricaded off so one cannot get into the center anymore.

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In recent days I completed my seventh CD entitled, ” COUNTRY CLASSICS FOR BOB.” I began planning for this venture last summer, I believe.

Bob Miller is my stepfather. He has had some bad issues to deal with in recent years. In December of 2018, he was within inches of being killed in a freak woodland incident. A tree fell grazing hm and breaking his ankle. He still has hardware in his leg from that time.

The following spring in 2019 another issue came to be and by early summer it was confirmed he had cancer. We were told the cancer was terminal. However, here it is in early 2022, and Bob is still with us. He has been taking chemo seems like forever. The treatment makes Bob weak and frail, but he is able to still keep functioning.

Bob has always loved country music, so I decided to do classic country music as a form of dedication. He loves the music and sings along with it.

Bob’s first fall gobbler. I was honored to have called the bird in to range.

The song selection features country songs performed by the likes of: Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash; Ray price; Charley Pride; Eddy Arnold; Mel Tillis and others.

All the instruments involved in this CD along with vocals and harmony vocals were completed by myself. You’ll hear the sounds of acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, mandolins, keyboards, strings, drums, trumpets and piano. The songs have anywhere from eight to twelve individual tracks combined into one song, so it is easily to see a lot of time is involved with the making of a CD.

Those interested with obtaining a CD can get one with a ten-dollar donation to pick up. Add another five dollars if to mail. My address is: 481 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201.

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Banner Is Up!

A friend living in Kittanning sent me a message stating my father’s veteran banner was up near his home. I searched this morning and found the display.

I was honored, humbled and proud to see this tribute on a street in Kittanning, PA..

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Henry Blystone

Henry Blystone

I don’t know much about one of my ancestor of the name of Henry Blystone. This is a sad reality of history. henry was one son out of a family of His family lived about a mile, or so, south of the Cherry Run intersection at 422. henry was born in 1830 and he would die in 1912.

Henry Blystone holding baby

Henry served in the Civil War beginning in 1863 and discharged in July 0f 1865. He served in Co I, 46th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers. He served under General Sherman and was with him throughout the war traveling to the sea. It has been said he loved his commanding officer so well, he named his one son, Sherman. Seven brothers in this family served in the Civil war with three dying during the conflict, although there seems to be some discrepancy with the one. he died with typhoid, but death dates vary. One son named, John was only in the service for less than a month. No details are known for this brief time.

Henry Blystone in front row with crutch second from the left.

Henry is buried in the marker shown below. He was interned at the Beulah Church cemetery, not far from both Apollo and Edmon, Pennsylvania. His grave is along the woodland area with a couple of other burials. I can only speculate as to why.


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A Banner for My Father

Communities’ all around have been honoring our veterans in various ways. One increasingly common method of honor are the placements of banners within community poles.

My mother saw this potential in the paper for Kittanning, Pennsylvania. She kept the article until the community was prepared to begin the process of gathering names and photos of veterans. Of course she wanted to honor her husband and my father with such a banner. His name is Allen Kenneth Smail. The banner is shown above.

The paperwork was completed and the borough of Kittanning will be placing my father’s banner prior to memorial day of 2021.I am very proud and looking with anticipation when this banner is displayed. Thank you dad.

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Those who know me understand how proud I was of my father. (Allen K. Smail 1923-1999) Last week I obtained some papers from his school days and his military time in Europe. The above paper is his discharge document. He traveled over a lot of the war areas including being part in the Battle of the Bulge. I wish I would have written down some of the stories. I wish I would have asked more for I do not have a lot information from those years against the Germans. I know he was watching, as part of the military police (MP) a gasoline depot in Belgium with orders to blow it up in the case of the Germans getting through. He said he could hear the war sounds in the distance. He only had a 45 automatic with seven rounds at that time. I can’t imagine the fear one would have in such a situation. His uniform and MP arm band are currently at the Armstrong County Historical Museum in Kittanning, Pennsylvania.

Allen K. Smail -Uniform

My dad had a German Shepherd named Wolf as his companion. Notice in the document where he was a dog trainer.

The document below is of interest to me. My dad had perfect attendance at the Elderton High School. He was awarded this document and a small gold colored trophy for his efforts. He graduated in 1941 as valedictorian. His son didn’t fare as well. I did well in school, actually in my junior year with an average leading to third place. I even made the Honor Society. Who would have “thunked” it! My senior year I slipped.

My father’s son liked to hunt and fish a lot during my school years. Ha Ha

Eleven years of perfect attendance.

My father’s 1941 valedictorian speech from Elderton High SChool

The above photo shows my father’s valedictorian Speech from 1941. The speech has unbelievably words of a prophetic nature, both, in reality and in Biblical prophecy. Yes, I am proud to be his son.

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Family Photos

The people in this photo. Front row left to right are: Uncle Harold Yount, Mary Yount (My grandmother) James “Ed” Yount (My grandfather) Back Row left to right: Aunt Vera; Aunt Ethel, Aunt Helen, and my mother, Ruth.

My grandparents.

My Grandparents while dating. Grandma was 17 and my Grandfather was 22.

My Uncle Russell Smail sometime near to 1934.

A photo of my father, Allen Kenneth Smail during World War ll.

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I was on the move early for I wanted to be somewhere along Keystone Lake to watch the sun rise. (Keystone Lake is in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.) I parked and walked along a narrow, old fishermen trail to get down to the water’s edge.  Fog was over much of the lake, but not heavy enough to cancel out seeing the water. I began to take photos wherever I could do so. Vegetation was dense and to the shoreline in many places. I was surprised as to how high the trees had become at many places.

I visited other places that held dear memories for me and my father, Allen K. Smail. We had fished these waters much in years past catching Largemouth Bass, Bluegills, Walleyes and such. There was a time when we caught bass as big as eighteen inches. Those were the days. The years seemed to have reduced such size and I gradually had forgotten about the lake for fishing.

  I remember my dad taking my cousins and I fishing on the first day of bass seasons in the past. We always had a good time. One extremely foggy  morning we were situated along the grassy shoreline. I could hear something before seeing my line grow taut causing  a sharp pull only to hear voices. I then saw the reason for the noise. A small trolling boat had come close to shore and the fisherman’s line caught onto mine. As hard as I tugged I would have yanked the rod and reel out of his hands. However, he had the pole locked onto the boat’s side.

I remember fishing for bass and Bluegills with a fly rod. That proved to be quite a fight!

A sad memory flooded my thoughts as I visited the lake. In early November in 1976, we received a call after dark about someone very close to me being missing. My brother-in-law, Bob Hudson, my dad and I took off to look. We checked an area known as Reefer’s Cove for my uncle liked to hunt waterfowl back in this area. I remember hollering, but his car was not in the area. We circled around and came up the eastern side of the lake only to look across the lake and see lots of lights. We hurried to the site.

I didn’t realize what was happening at first, but quickly put the events together as I saw people carrying a man covered with a white sheet. I could see my uncle’s black hair only. I lost myself and walked away and up the township road. Carl E. Smail had died with a massive heart attack while hunting waterfowl. He was quite a man and uncle. He was a taxidermist, and a deputy game warden. I enjoyed our times together hunting and fishing. I helped him skin wildlife to mount and make artificial molds for the mounts. He had a wildlife menagerie in his back yard featuring bear, bobcat, elk, deer, wolverines, turkeys and so many other species. He gave me a Brittany Spaniel named Smokey. I could add many more points of interest.

   That memory was one I wished had not happened to me this day, but it was vivid.

Wildlife was plentiful this morning. I saw deer, a doe and her new fawn, several flocks of turkeys, and a Great Blue Heron.

Sensitive Fern

Great Blue Heron

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Twenty-Five Years

Laurie among Trilliums

Twenty-five years ago on April 22, 1995, a milestone occurred. Lauranne (Laurie) and myself were married. This wedding happened in my back-yard gazebo. It is difficult to believe that many years have drifted along.

Last summer I began planning to go on a cruise for this silver anniversary. Laurie enjoys cruises and I thought doing such an event would be a great way to celebrate our twenty-five years.

Blue Phlox

Unfortunately, things happened in our lives . My step-father developed cancer which he is still struggling with. My mother turned ninety last December and recently suffered a mini-stroke. My sister went through difficult times leading to a divorce. Doctor appointments became quite prevalent over these months.

Laurie and I discussed the cruise plans and we decided to not plan for such a trip not knowing how Bob would be in the coming months. The trip was scheduled in mid-March. What, also, happened around this time? A virus began disrupting just about everything. We would have been on that trip when all this “hell” broke out to disrupt our lives. So, I guess our decision was a god one considering all that has happened.

Wednesday was the anniversary and no special plans occurred between us. No flowers, no jewelry, no trip, no fancy restaurant. However, we made other plans

Huge rock

that were satisfactory  for both of us. We decided to go on a hike and Laurie wanted to make a meal and dessert. We hiked the Rock Furnace Trail in southern Armstrong County and, later went for a drive over back roads to see whatever we could see.

The trail moves along Roaring Run. We enjoyed our time together. Trilliums were in bloom everywhere. The stream is beauty to behold.


On the way home we stopped to view an ancestor’s gravesite. His name was henry Blystone. He was my great-grandfather’s brother and fought under General Sherman during the Civil War.




Roaring Run


Trying to figure out her phone.


White Trillium






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