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Uncovering family history sparks interest

Also: Getting the specifics on a Venice remodel

December 26, 2009

Re "Stories for Life" (Dec. 19): How I wish I'd seen your article encouraging the interviewing of aging loved ones in 1975!

As a teenager growing up in the very remote Ozarks, I used to keep my elderly grandmother company while she hand-churned butter or made her own incredibly tasty cottage cheese while I watched. She casually would mention "that pinch-faced President Wilson" or admire that late, lovely young actress named Marilyn Monroe while I listened, utterly unaware of the deep wellspring of history sitting across from me.

If only I'd secured some of these many interesting retrospective observations on tape! How fleeting, and fast, the opportunity to open history's back door.

Kyle Kimbrell Playa del Rey


In 1860, my great-grandfather came from England to Canada. He married into the Kootenay tribe in British Columbia. He went to work for the Hudson Bay Fur Trading Co. My grandfather was half Indian. In the early '50s my mother and father went to California; I was born in Riverside and raised on the Mojave Desert. About five years ago I started to do research on my family.

I found out my great-grandfather was a descendant of British royalty. My mother never knew who her grandfather was, for reasons unknown to me. We were poor growing up, so you can imagine my surprise when I found out my ancestry. I have dukes, earls and barons for distant cousins.

I am not bragging about this. But my point is, maybe if I had known who my family was, I would not have grown up feeling like I was nothing, something I still struggle with today.

It has given me a sense of who I am. So family history can fill many needs for people, maybe some they never knew they had.

Cheryl McManus

East Wenatchee, Wash.

Venice remodel leaves them wanting more

I was interested in finding out the manufacturer of a fire pit that I saw in a story in the Dec. 12 Home section. The story was about a home renovation that modernized an existing bungalow home. I have attached the image of the fire pit [right] and am very interested in finding out where I can purchase this product. Please let me know what information you can find.

Donna Pungprechawat

Los Angeles


Thank you for the great article. I have one question about the bathroom [far right]: What is on the shower floor? Is it tile or a wood drain system?

John Kroon


Editor's note: David Ritch, owner and designer behind the update of the 1906 Venice cottage, said the fire bowl is actually a concrete pot from the Marina del Rey Garden Center. The bowls come in different sizes and finishes and have to be special-ordered. "The gas line fits nicely in the drain hole in bottom," Ritch said. "I drilled holes and bolted it into the deck to secure it." The fire ring can be found online or at barbecue and fireplace stores.

As for the shower floor: Ritch said those are wood planks laid flush to the bathroom tile floor. "The water drains between the planks, into a drain in the shower pan below."

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