Looking Backward

You’re not going to believe what I found! I was looking for something, (I have forgotten what because I got so excited about my discovery). I have opened and closed that drawer a hundred times and never saw it, but today sitting on the top of a pile was my mother’s leather-bound autograph book. She received the book from an aunt and uncle for Christmas, 1928, when she was eleven years old. My mother died in 2010 and retained this treasure for all those years, yet I had never taken notice of it.

Every page, front and back, is filled with writing, some pencil, some ink, and the sentiments are interesting well-wishes, plus trite poetry, names and dates of people long gone. The rhymes are so simple and corny that they are sweet. For example: “I love you little, I love you big, I love you like a little red pig.” Your friend, Nina. Dated January 9, 1929. Nice thoughts, Nina. Love you, too.

Or another: “When you’re sitting on the sofa, With your beau at your side, Beware of all false impressions, For his mustache might be dyed.” I remain your true friend, Margaret, dated Jan 10, 1930. Good advice, Margaret. I always liked mustaches, but now I’ll look them differently, maybe suspiciously.

Every entry was written in cursive, mostly readable, although the writing had faded through the years. It might have been the 1929 version of the school yearbook since some entries had a one-inch square black and white photograph attached with glue. The girls must have all used the same hairstylist as the haircuts looked similar in the salad-bowl-over-the-head-style that all of us experienced at some point in our lives. Is it possible that the Great Depression curbed the hair cutting industry and they did use salad bowls?

Most of the poems rhymed with quick little chants, and I read several about rolling pins, like this one from Frances, “When you get married and your husband gets cross, pick up the rolling pin and say, I’m the boss.” Several referred to babies, as in Leona’s poem, “When you get married and have twins, you can come to me for safety pins.” The need for safety pins went out with disposable diapers and the threat of a rolling pin might be construed as domestic violence.

Eileen might have initiated the whole text talk movement because her poem read “yyur, yyub, icur, yy4me.” I also found a couple interesting rhymes and this one from Ruth is catchy, “May bad luck follow you all the days of your life, but never catch up.” It’s thoughtful, kind of a reverse wish and I like it. I have never heard Myrna’s truism stated quite this way before, “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God.” Myrna said that on May 23, 1933, and it’s good advice even today. Wilma offers more straightforward advice with, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

It was fun looking back nearly one hundred years. These children are all dead and gone, but they had fun writing them, and I had fun reading them. And I hope you liked them, too.

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