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June 2000


Not much genealogy is going to get done between now and August. My Lions Club was chosen to be responsible for a Missouri state license office in the city of Ferguson. My assigned duties are treasurer of the board for the fee office and responsible for the computer hardware and software.

The computer applications are simple DOS programs so a modern computer or operating system is not needed or wanted. We are gathering all the old computers people are using as door stops and paper weights, because they are exactly what we need. I am spending considerable time checking these old computers out.

The Ferguson fee office was closed in February when the employees were caught stealing state money. We asked the State of Missouri to be assigned this office, because our main charity fund raiser, bingo, had gone sour and we had to quit. We feel that bingo had turned non profitable because of the many casinos and gambling boats that have opened in the area.

This is one of several projects that we fund our many Ferguson Lions Club charities. Others include a food and beer booth at the Ferguson 4th of July picnic and a beer booth at the City of St. Louis' Strassenfest held the first weekend in August.

The money earned goes 100% to charity, mostly sight and some hearing related: Missouri eye bank, eye research, eye glasses for young students, ambyopia (lazy eye) screening, used eye glasses for emerging countries, free Leader Dogs for the Blind, and many similar charities. We are a very active Lions Club.


I scan several mail lists and message boards daily looking for possible Held family items. Today a message was posted on the Genforum by a Ricky Held looking for information on his grandfather, John David Held. This particular John David Held (there are several in our family, including my grandfather) is the son of Jacob Held and grandson of Johann David and Christina Held of Mönsheim. I tried several ways to get in contact with cousin Ricky. After looking at the family tree I noticed he is the half brother to (Ethel) Lorraine Held that graduated with me from Leechburg High School in western Pennsylvania.


Today June and I leave on a 2 week concert tour with the University of Missouri - St. Louis Community Chorus. We will fly to Lisbon, Portugal and do 4 concerts before finishing the tour in Paris on 4 July. June and I are again extending the tour for family research in the area. This time we are staying 16 days longer. We will spend 4 days in the Saarland-Lorraine area looking for Dreistadts and Hirthlers. We will then move to the Mönsheim area so I can get copies of some church records that are hardly readable from the microfilm copies. We will also visit several cousins and friends we have met on the internet. We are scheduled to be home on 20 July.


The concert tour started badly, because June had some kind of a bad throat infection before we left. Then I got laryngitis and could not sing well. June never did get over her problem. I was able to sing part of my range finally. Many others on the tour had similar health problems. June's friend from Texas that went with us, Louise Dorang, also got very ill with some kind of a respiratory illness as did June's sister, Lois. Louise got pretty bad, requiring penicillin and strong cough medicine.

We started the tour in Lisbon where we did one concert in the Lisbon Cathedral. Because of a misunderstanding in schedule times June and I almost missed the concert. June's sister was even later and Louise never did make it. The concert went reasonably well, but would have been better if we would have had a piano instead of an organ. Gospel and Afro-American Spirituals should be accompanied by a piano.

We then bussed to Seville. It was a long trip (but not near as long as some to come). In Seville we did a concert in the Cathedral called the Macarena (no kidding). We then went to Cordoba and on to Toledo. From Toledo we went to Madrid.

Dinners are usually very late in Spain, 9, 10, or even 11 at night. June and I both have a problem with this because we cannot go to bed with food in our stomach. On the night of our concert in Madrid we had dinner after the concert, which put it well after 10PM, since the concert did not start until 9PM.

That was bad, but what was even worse was we found out the local bus drivers were going on strike at midnight. We hurried to the bus after dinner at 11:15 and some of the local drivers tried to stop the bus. We were able to get back to the hotel and the bus driver left town with the bus. We were scheduled to leave Madrid the next morning. By a stroke of luck our hotel was directly across the street from the train station. The tour company got us tickets on the train. The bus driver had taken the bus and gone about 200KM toward Barcelona where we met him at a small town and we boarded the bus to continue our trip. The trip to Barcelona was even longer than to Seville.

The concert in Barcelona was great. It was a large cathedral, and was filled with many people who were interested in the 3-week workshop on Gospel music that our leader, Robert Ray, was going to give following our tour. It was also very hot.

The final leg of the tour was a 14-hour bus ride from Barcelona to Paris. What a long day. The hotel in Paris was just a couple blocks up the street from Pigalle and the Moulin Rouge. For those that don't know it, that is the red light district of Paris. It rained most of the time we were in Paris and we did not get all of the promised tour items, such as the trip up the Eiffel Tower. The bus trip around Paris was also very disappointing.

The UM-SL tour group left Paris on 4 July on a 10:30AM flight directly to St. Louis. June's sister, Lois' flight was at 12 noon to New York JFK. We saw both off and then we picked up our car at the Paris airport.

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Copyright 2000 by Fred H. Held