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Friday, November 25, 2011

A treasure of days long past and people forgotten

My grandmother's school autograph book from 1928
I was recently granted the privilege of examining an autograph book keepsake from 1928. The book belonged to my now deceased maternal grandmother, Doris Courson, née Foote, and it came into the possession of my mother after her passing. It is a quaint peek into early 20th Century schoolhouse life. I really enjoyed reading page after page of elementary & middle school writings.

The maturity level of some of these writings is very impressive, as is the overall spelling and penmanship. Unless otherwise noted, all entries were written by her schoolmates, children ranging from age 10 through age 12.

I don’t know which of these little witticisms and tributes are original works and which were commonplace elementary schoolboy platitudes of the era, so I’m going to give credit to the author of each just in case there’s an original, genuinely clever idea in here.

There are a few of these that I absolutely adore, but I felt compelled to share them all. Their original formatting has been kept intact as written. I have separated them into categories for my own reasons, which I assume will be obvious as you read them.

We start with some genuine well wishes from what I can only guess were very close friends:

Another friend made
May you ever be so good and pure as you are to-day
I will always remember you
as one of my friends
~Lila Blanche Goodell
When the golden sun is setting
and your mind from care is free
and o’er a thousand things you’re thinking
Will you sometimes think of me?
~Mary Weff
When twilight draws its curtain
and pins it with a star
Remember that you have a friend
tho’ you may wander far.
~Verda Clive Dahler
In this corner I choose a spot
In which I write forget-me-not
Though it be cloudy
Or they be blue
Remember me as I do you.
~Bethol Paul

This moves us into the category of clever quips that make you stop and think:

This old world we’re livin’ in is mighty hard to beat.
We get a thorn with every rose,
But ain’t the roses sweet?
~Lois Miller
Love everybody but trust few
And always paddle your own canoe
~Your sister, Leone Foote
May your friends forever be
Numberless as the sands of the sea
~Aunt Rosa

The evolution of romance:

Happy may you live
Single in your station.
Happy be the little man
Who makes the alteration.
~Celia Lois Anderson
Long may you live
Happy may you be
Sitting in the parlor
On your husband’s knee
~Vera Walker
When you get married and live upstairs,
Please don’t come down and borrow my chairs.
~Bernadine Pearl McFarland
Forget the moon,
Forget the stars,
Forget buzzing of the cars.
Forget your husband’s socks to mend,
But don’t forget your old true friend.
~Vera Schoonover
When you get married
And your old man gets cross
Come over to my house
And eat applesauce
~Dale Roberts
When you get married and
your old man gets mad and
hits you with a stove poker
Run away to your old friend.
~Vera Marie Varner
May you forever be happy
and never get married.
~Uncle Aschel
Sure as a grape vine grows
around a rafter
Woodrow Goodell is the
fellow you are after.
~Lorraine Wheeler

Funny stories:

We mortals have to swat and shoo
the flies from dawn ‘til dark—
‘cause Noah didn’t swat the two
that roosted in the ark.
~Irene Thompson
Mary had a little lamb
She sat it on the shelf
And every time it would wag its tail
It spanked its little self.
~Mildred Goodell

Funny bits that are probably NOT original to the writer:

When you see a donkey
tied up to a tree
pull his tail and think
~Mary Lou Ellen Landon
When you see a monkey
tied up to a tree
pull his tail and think of me
~Russell W.F.
I pity the baker
I pity the cook
I pity the one
who steals this book
~Gladys Hammond
~Your sister, Ruth Foote
I pity the river
I pity the brook
I pity the one
that steals this book
~Mary Gebbetti
Way out yonder upon a stump
Just think of me before you jump.
~Avo Ford
Here I stand upon a stump
Come and kiss me before I jump.
~Emmilou Nelson
Roses are red, violets are blue
Sugar is sweet and so are you
~Hagel Horr
~Alberta Schoonover

Which leads me to the next one, a perfect segue into the "Say what?" category:

Roses are red
violets are blue
Coal is black
and so are you.
~Frances Young
Remember me now.
Remember me late.
Remember your friend
Who writes up hill.
~Ruth Miller
I bet  you a nickel,
I bet you a kiss,
You cannot guess
What little girl wrote this.
~Miss Mary Miller
I like bedbugs, I like fleas
I like you if you like me.
~Aunt Elma
When I stand up high, what do I only see?
But when I see it
It breaks my heart in to
Your friend
~Mary Margaret Marie

And the prize winner for biggest WTF moment goes to:

Pull in your neck
When you’re going through a town,
~Francis Roofner

And finally, since I couldn't end on that one, here's the best wish you can give someone:

I wish you health,
I wish you wealth,
I wish you gold in store.
I wish you Heaven when you die.
How could I wish you more?
~Aunt Pearl

I hope you enjoyed these relics of a bygone day as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you. Happy holidays to you and yours.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


What am I thankful for this holiday season?
  1. I am thankful that I have three healthy, talented and creative children to carry on my name into future generations. They have each made me proud in their own ways and I couldn't ask for a better set of youngsters to perpetuate the family name and genes into the future.
  2. I am thankful for my parents and the upbringing they gave me. I was taught by example the difference between right and wrong and how to be a good person and a loving husband and father.
  3. I am thankful that I have the love of a good woman who not only puts up with all my shit but also challenges me to be a better person than I was yesterday.
  4. I am thankful that I have a steady job where I feel appreciated and the goal of the company is to help people. In this volatile climate I am fortunate to be celebrating my five-year anniversary at the same place of employment when many companies are downsizing.
  5. I am thankful to have not only a family of my own that supports me but also a family of in-laws that have made me feel a welcomed member of the family from day one. I owe an enormous debt to the Saffords, as they have also helped shape who I am in these last 14 years. I would not be the person I am today were it not for their love and support.
  6. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to send my children to a top-notch school where they are getting an education that will serve them well throughout their educational careers and put them in a category above most public school students.
  7. I am thankful to be living in this wonderful (though sometimes frightening and occasionally terrifying) Information Age. Gaining new knowledge and insights has never been easier for any previous generation, and I feel fortunate to have entire libraries of knowledge at my fingertips whenever I want it.
  8. I am thankful that there is so much left to learn, see and do in this life before I leave it behind. I grow more in my skin each day and I find that each year finds my outlook on life growing more and more positive. I am finally beginning to shed some of that angst that was so close to my heart for many years.
  9. I am thankful for my ability to make others laugh. A sense of humor is important, and making others forget their worries, even for a moment, and blast out a healthy guffaw or two is a gift I cherish. Seriousness has its place, but it's good for the soul to be able to let your hair down now & then and to help others do the same.
  10. I am thankful for the holidays such as the ones fast approaching, which bring family and friends together to celebrate their love and respect for one another while creating memories to not only last a lifetime but to pass down to future generations. Thanksgiving and Christmas are a wonderful way to end each year, in the company of the people you love, giving one another gifts and sharing warm & fuzzy feelings with one another.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Online Christmas shoppers beware

I thought it was a misprint meant to read "8.5 centimeters in width." Guess not.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I see an opportunity

I send my kids to what I guess you could consider a very enlightened and EXTREMELY diverse private school. Diversity is celebrated there, sometimes overly so in my opinion. Every little holiday that each culture at the school celebrates is noted in school emails, commons area decorations, and even sometimes it's reflected in the curriculum. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I recognize that it's *my* problem to deal with.
But this is one instance that put a special kind of bug up my ass. This is an excerpt from the latest school email. Let me preface this by saying that I realize the way I feel is not necessarily correct. It's a gut feeling that is being perpetuated every day in this country by well intended, god fearing, flag waving patriots with no intention of opening themselves up to the possibility that they could ever have been misinformed or misled with regards to their knowledge of other cultures.
Some of our families will commemorate and celebrate sacrifice in very different ways this upcoming week.  
Eid-Al-Adha, one of the major holidays of Islam, will be celebrated on Sunday, November 6. According to Muslim tradition, it celebrates the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to make of his own son Ishmael when he was commanded to show his commitment to Allah. The name of the holiday, Eid Al-Adha, means "The Feast of the Sacrifice." Students celebrating will be excused from homework and no tests should be given on Monday to them.  
November 11 is, of course, Veterans Day (official celebration on November 12). We wish to honor all of you who have served our nation, and those grandparents who also served. I am reminded of the quote from journalist Elmer Davis, journalist, who wrote  

"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."

My initial reaction to this section is one of disgust. My gut tells me that these two holidays are at odds with one another, and to remind us of a Muslim day of sacrifice immediately preceding a reminder of the honor we bestow upon our dedicated soldiers is a slap in the face to not only those soldiers of ours who sacrificed their lives in our most recent military confrontations, but also to our nation and each of its citizens.
I'm going to go out on a limb here, though, and open myself up to the possibility that my gut is wrong. That makes me very uncomfortable, but I think that discomfort might be a growing pain of sorts.
Are the Russians evil? Are the Japanese evil? Are the Germans evil? Are Southerners evil? Are the English (British) evil? I say "no" to each of these, but over the last couple of centuries, I guarantee there was a time when the common answer in this part of the country would be a resounding "yes."
During the Cold War, all the propaganda was anti-communist. "Better Dead than Red." And I believe many Americans would have considered themselves enemies of the USSR. A Russian was a communist, therefore an enemy of the USA and its citizens. I don't think I'm far off in carrying these sentiments back in time through WWII ("Krauts" are evil), WWI ("Japs" are evil), Vietnam, etc., all the way back past the Civil War and even the American Revolution.
Today is no different. We have been engaged in a conflict for many years with an enemy who happens to be represented by people who claim the Muslim faith. To many of us, that translates to "Islam is evil." That's what my gut tells me. Perhaps my gut is caught up in the game just as many others are. Islam is the world's second-largest religion. It's not going anywhere so we might as well learn to tolerate it, maybe even welcome it as this country welcomes everyone.
Just as there are assholes in the world who claim Christianity as their faith, there are assholes in the world who claim to represent Islam. Assholes should be judged by their behavior as representing assholes, not as representing people of color or of a specific religion. By that standard, the IED-wearing asshole who blew up some military motorcade in the desert near Kabul would be a first-degree asshole rather than a lowlife Muslim.
I understand there are passages in the Quran which might demean women or represent them as lower-class people. I have news for you, there are similar sentiments shared in the Bible. Not to mention all the flogging, stoning and sacrifices endorsed by the Holy Bible. It's what we do with these words and the rest of them as a whole that is the issue.
The Bible directs its adherents to abide by the laws of the land in addition to the higher laws of God, as "the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13:1). Does the Quran? I don't know. But there's always the possibility that some asshole is going to take the parts they identify with best and turn them into a holy crusade. Look at Fred Phelps. He's king of the Bible-twisting assholes in this country. Again, this makes  people like this ASSHOLES. When it's a government or an army, it's just a BUNCH OF ASSHOLES. Nothing more. We shouldn't judge and punish the normal folks who live by the virtuous parts of these writings by the actions of the rogue assholes.
I'm going to make a better effort to not become a slave to my gut, but to keep it in check with continued education and enlightenment.