My Papa served as a Marine aboard the USS Cabot during WWII. This is a commendation he received for his service while they were under attack.

U.S.S. Cabot
c/o Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California,
5 December 1944.


From: The Commanding Officer
To: THORNTON, Alphonso James, Jr. (871916) Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Subject: Commendation

1. You are hereby commended for service as set forth in the following


, while
“For outstanding service and meritorious conduct as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. CABOT on 25 November 1944, off the west coast of the Philippines while this vessel was under attack by Japanese aircraft. During and after a heavy aerial assault he displayed unusual ability, skill, and untiring devotion to duty which contributed to the defense of the ship, quick repair of damage, and aid to the wounded, thus assisting in restoring the ship to a state of highest possible efficiency. His loyalty and devotion to duty was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

2. A copy of this commendation will be filed with your service record and a suitable notation made therein.

{signed} S.J. Michael
CC: Service Record

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Napoleon Victorinus Klarstrom was my great-grandmother’s older brother.  I don’t know a whole lot about him.  He was one of 10 children of Carl Magnus Klarstrom and Christina Elisabeth Bennberg.  I posted a bit about him here and here.

I knew from an old letter written by Napoleon’s sister Olga, that Napoleon was a sailor that ended up in Australia – raising goats and sheep apparently.  He was never heard from again though and no one knew what happened to him.  I haven’t found him in any immigration records yet, but I was pleasantly surprised to actually find some proof of the link to Australia.

This was written in the New South Wales Police Gazette, dated 28 Jan 1920 – found on

It reads:

Breaches of the War Precautions Act and Regulations of 1914-1919

Binnaway. – Description of alien, Napoleon Victorinus Klarstrom, who left Hawthorne, Binnaway, about the 12th of November, 1919, and has since failed to give notice of change of abode, – About 40 years of age, 5 feet 8 inches high, medium build, fair complexion and hair, clean shaved, grey eyes, tattoo marks – palm tree on left forearm and girl on right forearm; walks with a limp in left leg; speaks with a foreign accent; a Swede; a labourer. Report if traced. Holds certificate No. 1, issued at Wallendbeen.



I really LOVE this find!  It gives such a great description of him.  A palm tree and a girl on his forearms, a limp, a foreign accent.  I can totally see him as a sailor.

The reason for the article is more confusing to me though.  I know that the War Precautions Act had something to do with aliens registering where they lived (during WWI in Australia).  I don’t know if this means that he got in trouble with the law and had to register, or he simply had to register because he wasn’t Australian.  Any ideas?  World War I ended in 1918 and this was written in 1920.  Any idea why he was still expected to register?

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Over my years of researching, I have been very bad about conducting interviews of my relatives.  I’ve often sat and listened to an interesting story from their childhood, only to realize later that I didn’t take very good notes and there is no way I could retell the story with any sense of details.  I should have recorded them, so I could listen to the stories later – in their own words and voices.

Yes, I know that I could be using my iPhone to take videos or audio clips of interviews.  I’ve used it to video record an interview before, but for some reason it felt awkward to me – holding up my phone while asking questions.  I think I like the idea of an audio recording better.  Something I can simply set down on a table and forget about as we have a conversation about the past.

And yes, I could simply use my phone to record audio of the interviews, but I have to admit that I can be really bad about uploading things from my phone.  They often seem to disappear into some folder on my computer that I can never find again.

When I was approached by the lovely folks at Saving Memories Forever about doing a review of their product, I jumped at the chance.  I love my iPhone and am always looking for useful apps to fill it with.


I was planning a trip back to my parents’ home in Washington state and thought this would be the perfect opportunity for me to interview my dad.  I’ve been meaning to do it for years, but have always put it off.  He’s an easy person to interview, because he loves to talk. 🙂


Before heading out on my trip, I downloaded the app from iTunes and set my account up on my phone.


Then we drove the five billion hours to Washington state (okay, maybe it was only 30 hours, but it seemed like FOREVER).  I was prepped and ready to interview.

I took a picture of my parents and added them as storytellers.


Then my dad and I sat outside on the patio on a beautiful summer day with my phone and I started with some of the different prompts listed on the app.

It is organized by the following ages/categories.  Childhood (0-12), Teenage Years (13-19), Adult (20-25), Adult (26-40), Adult (41-55), Adult (56+), Jokes, Philosophy, Religion, Other Stories and Songs.  Most of these have questions/prompts listed under each one.

You can see here, some of the questions that I asked my dad.


The app was very easy to use.  I simply chose a question and pushed record.  If you record more than one story for each category, it simply names it “story1”, “story 2” and so on.


When I was done recording, I quickly uploaded the story onto the website.  It was saved and organized for me to view later.

When I returned home, I logged into my account on the website and listened back through my stories.  I added tags to each story.  I am considering transcribing them also.  That sounds like a job for one of my teenagers who need practice typing. 🙂


I read through the user manual and learned that you can actually use your computer to record stories or record Skype conversations to add also.  This could be very useful for those relatives that you can’t visit in person.

I am planning to use this app on my next visit to Kansas.  My husband’s parents have a ton of great stories to share.

Here is the information on the different levels of membership.  You can be a free subscriber with some restrictions on the number of storytellers and listeners or you can pay $3.99 a month to be a premium subscriber.


All in all, I think this app and the corresponding website make interviewing family members so much easier than just using the recorder on your phone.  I like that the stories are organized by storyteller and that they can easily be shared through an email to your family members.  I was really surprised with how easy it was to set it all up and upload the stories to the website.

I think the only thing I would change about the app is that I would like the ability to type in my own questions or change the title of the stories afterwards.

I think that it would be useful to prepare specific questions for specific family members before an interview (ie. Tell me about your trip to Alaska in the 1980s or Tell me about how  you broke your leg.).  Even though each recorded story can be tagged, I think it would be easier to organize if you were able to name each story yourself with a descriptive title.  Maybe this is something that could be added in the future?


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