My mother sat next to a pile of newspapers that teetered and sometimes slid from their stack to spread across the floor around her. I cautioned her not to step on those and go sliding, so she tried to keep the papers in their place.
In the 1940s radio cabinet, she kept her clipping tools; her scissors, tape, stapler, pen and rubber cement. The cabinet served as a lamp stand and a place to set her Pepsi can too. Her brother-in-law Ralph Martin made the cabinet in his high school shop class.
Gail Lee Martin in her favorite spot for TV watching, newspaper clipping and chatting.
Hours passed as she watched the Cubs or other baseball game on TV while between plays, she scanned the newspapers for articles to clip. Soon there was a second stack of papers for recycling and a batch of articles saved for filing.
What merited clipping? There were obits and mentions of people she knew. Some were inspiration for her writing. Here’s a sample of those:
- The changing style of the Morton Salt girl from 1914 to 1968.
- Old-fashioned autograph books
- The discovery of an old trunk filled with family letters in Kanopolis.
- The 50 year anniversary of Tupperware
- 1880s jigsaw puzzles
- 1918 Flu Epidemic
- Advertising cookbooks distributed by Jello, Quaker Oats, etc. in the early 1900s
- 90 years of the Fuller Brush company
- Pre-1960s kitchen tools becoming collectible
- Vintage butter churns
- Grandma’s version of TV Dinners
- Adding coloring to margarine in WWII
These are just from the folder labeled “Around the Home.” Mom had an inquiring mind and liked to learn about the history of everyday objects. These served also as triggers for her memory writing.
I can’t just toss these folders of yellowed clippings. First I have to determine if it was written by anyone in the family or about someone in the family. Then I look at the topic and try to imagine what Mom would have written or why the subject intrigued her.
My librarian genes come from her, I’m sure. Information is precious and knowledge is power, so I hate to fill my recycling bin with these. Since she is no longer here to use these, I have to remind myself that they are just paper and are expendable.
Gail wrote on June 4, 2002
“I was talking with Carol about when she was in second grade at Seeley, a country school. She had Mrs. Neumayer as teacher and that teacher’s daughters, Peggy and Ann, attended the school too.
I was just first year out of high school and I stayed with that family during the week to take care of a younger girl, Ann. That family ate huge amounts of fried potatoes every night and I had to peel those spuds.” Gail Martin
Seeley School, 2nd grade class with Carol Jean McGhee in it. I think Carol is 3rd from the left in the front row.
View of the Seeley School with an oil pump jack in front.
Karen adds an update to this story: “Ann’s (the one that Mom babysat) had an older sister Peggy and an older brother Robert. Both are deceased. All three of them lived in El Dorado. Ann’s married name is Fankhauser; Peggy’s was Little. Mom and I ran into Ann at the Senior Fair the year after Dad died and I took pictures.”
Gail and the little girl that she babysat many years ago, Ann Neumayer Fankhauser
(Written in January 2014) – They came of age during World War II with their formative years being during the Great Depression. Now they are in their 80s, and not just their early 80s, but in their late 80s, and some even into their 90s. The ranks are thinning.
Over the last two years, I lost my parents at age 87 and 88. I knew we couldn’t keep them forever, but kept hoping for just a few more years. My dad outlived 6 of his 7 siblings. Mom had a younger sister who is still going strong.
It’s sad to see a whole generation pass from our midst. In the last few days I heard about three of mom’s cousins being hospitalized or going into hospice. They are siblings and my heart aches for their children, my second cousins.
My sister’s mother-in-law just had a stroke yesterday. The father-in-law is already in the VA hospital for long-term care. Then I heard that another sister’s father-in-law has been in and out of the hospital a few times lately.
They are the parents of the baby boomers, the grandparents and great-grandparents of the generations after that. There is a lot of collective wisdom disappearing, a lot of family memories that are being wiped out.
They will be missed.
Gail Lee McGhee is right under the words Hamilton Seniors.
Somehow in posting my A to Z blog challenge articles, I skipped the letter O. Sorry about that.
I’d intended to use O to tell about Our Echo, the website where Mom was the 80-year-old webmaster. Luckily I was able to cover the topic in W is for Writing Family Memories.
Other ways I could have used the O is by featuring some of Mom’s essays that started with O. Here are a few for your reading pleasure: