Monday, October 23, 2017
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They read like the 1930s relics they are. They are tiny little booklets, tasseled and corded so women could tie them to their wrists, with numbered lines so dance partners could sign up for the dances they wanted when they asked permission to sign a girl’s dance card.  Photo of a dance card from a June 26, 1899 dance hosted by the Sphinx Senior Society at Dartmouth College (Photo credit: Wikipedia) These are from my Mother’s college scrapbook. None had the numbered lines filled in. All were reserved for and signed by her date of the evening. Fifth Annual University of Michigan Union Formal Friday,... (Read More ...)

I asked my mother what was in her mother’s cedar chest when she gave it to me. Doroteo Arango Arámbula (June 5, 1878 – July 23, 1923), better known as Francisco or “Pancho” Villa, a Mexican Revolutionary general. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) “I don’t know.” “You don’t know?” “I’ve never opened it.” This is as close as my mother ever came to admitting she had emotions. Over the years, I’ve taken a few things out. My grandmother’s wedding dress was packed away carefully. I took it out to wear to my mother’s 80th birthday and it now hangs in a closet. A poster... (Read More ...)

My mother was the older child, the only daughter of a single Mom. Group portrait of students around snow-covered school building–the children are standing on the roof, on snow banks, and in snow troughs. Valdez, Alaska. Circa 1910 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) She and my Dad married in the garden of the Women’s League at the University of Michigan, where they’d met. My Mom, Elizabeth Frederick, neé Notley, born in 1917, known all her life as Betty, had signed up to be a dance teacher, as a Sophomore, to meet guys. My Dad, Raymond Frederick, Junior, born in 1918, known as Ray after he left... (Read More ...)

Did your Mom ever break her own house rules? Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. From left Benton County, Linn County, and Jones County. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I was in second grade, seven years old.We almost never had dessert in our house. Years later I learned, though she never talked about it, my Mom was always on a diet. I never quite figured out why. She served healthy food. Nothing was fried. We never had gravy. We had a home-cooked meal every night, with a glass of water. Dad, and only Dad, had one slice of Wonder bread with dinner. We only had bread in our lunch-bag sandwiches for school. Food... (Read More ...)

Merry Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Cards for Hospitalized Kids. Fun with Grandchildren My grandmother was the Principal in the school at the University of Michigan’s hospital. She was responsible for making sure that children who were hospitalized for a long time did not fall too far behind in school. Today, there are still children who will be in the hospital over Christmas. Cards for Hospitalized Kids was founded by an 11-year-old girl, Jen Rubino, in 2006, because of her own chronic illness, multiple surgeries and extended hospitalizations. You and your grandchildren can make much-welcomed... (Read More ...)

Aesop’s Fables My copy of “The Aesop for Children” was printed in 1919. A chromolithograph of The Dog in the Manger from a McLoughlin Brothers book for children, New York, 1880 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It must have been old and torn already by the time my grandmother brought it home from the university hospital where she worked. She was the principal for the hospital school at the University of Michigan, which taught children who were confined for a long time. She taped the torn pages, covered the book with fabric, and gave it to her grandson, my brother, who was born in 1944. He was old... (Read More ...)

Funeral Blues. Poems about love and loss. When my father died suddenly, four days after being felled by a hemorrhagic stroke, I was truly surprised when the sun came up the next day. He died preparing for his 50th wedding anniversary. Yesterday was the anniversary of his marriage, July 27, 1941. W.H. Auden captures this feeling that the world should just stop. Auden taught English at the University of Michigan in 1941-42. My parents met there, but just missed him by graduating in 1940.   Funeral Blues Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone, Silence... (Read More ...)

How Did Your Parents Meet? I’m always interested in how couples meet. Especially couples who have been together a long time. I’m no longer surprised by couples who met in a bar. I’ve stopped worrying about couples who met online. A navy photographer snapped this photograph of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, just as the USS Shaw exploded. (80-G-16871) (Photo credit: Wikipedia) One of my sons met his wife when she stopped walking down the street to watch him juggle. They both now enjoy circus arts, such as walking on high or bouncy stilts. The other son met... (Read More ...)

Do You Have Anything of Your Grandfather’s? I told my family at a recent family reunion, where I’d brought family trees, genealogical records, family stories and photo albums from both my mother’s mother and my father’s father, that I was looking for two things buried among all the records. I was looking for the story about how my great-grandfather, Abraham Lincoln Frederick, had come to be named. And, I was looking for a poster from my mother’s father, a customs agent in Nogales, Arizona, where my mother was born. “Pancho” Villa, a Mexican Revolutionary general. (Photo credit:... (Read More ...)

What Did You Get When You Graduated from College? When I graduated from college, my parents gave me a beautiful Parker pen set. It sits in my desk, long past the time I could still get ink cartridges for it. I’ve never used it. Oberlin College seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia) I lose pens walking from upstairs to downstairs in my house. I buy pens by the box. I didn’t want to lose the pen that represents not just my college degree, but my parents’ expectation that I would go and their decision to continue to pay my tuition, even after I got married. After I graduated, my mother told me I was... (Read More ...)