This post is dedicated to my mother. I grew up in the same town she did–Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Zuidwegs and Mulders and DeKorns and Paaks and Waldecks and Noffkes and Gorsses and Bomhoffs are her relatives and ancestors. I “inherited” them from her.
But I always assumed that my interest in local and family history came from my father who enjoys history and always has been a magnet for “old stuff.” He’s also a collector, whereas my mother (other than collecting her beautiful bells) prefers to start fresh with new and not keep a lot of “old stuff” hanging around the house.
As I’ve gotten older, I see that it’s not quite that simple. But I still didn’t realize where my interest actually originated until last week. Suddenly, I knew: Aha!
My interest in vintage American culture, local history, and my family (and by extension, this blog) developed when my grandmother babysat me. My mother’s bedroom still had her books, miniature collection, hope chest treasures, and the little “dickies” she wore with her sweaters. Dickies were collars that made it look as if she were wearing white blouses under her sweaters.
Mom’s dickies were like the style in the upper right
So while my love of history was nurtured by my father, what really triggered my love of the old was finding the scrapbooks my mother had made when she lived at home with her mom and dad.
Born in 1934, she was an inveterate scrapbooker. Her scrapbooks collected American culture of the 1940s, as seen by a middle-class girl. I learned about Shirley Temple and Frank Sinatra. About what color lipstick and nail polish to wear for my complexion. If I’d found the original teen magazines that her clippings came from, it wouldn’t have been as interesting. This was the culture through the prism of my mother’s perspective. That made it closer to how I would have seen the world if I had been born in 1934.
Many of the scrapbooks made it to my house, and I remember being eleven and looking at them stacked on the shelf of my closet, happy that I had these mementos.
Of course, eventually my mother, true to her nature, got rid of the scrapbooks ;). I don’t remember when or how, but I don’t think they exist any longer.
My mother’s love of scrapbooking didn’t disappear with the old scrapbooks, thank goodness. One by one, she’s made scrapbooks for each of her children and grandchildren. Our lives as prismed through Mom’s perspective. Pretty neat.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Mom, the oldest, with her two siblings
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