Friday, September 30, 2011

1933 Fortune Magazine Sepia Saturday Week 94 (Click Here for Sepia Site access)

Alan's archive this week of the Queenslander paved the way for me to share just snippets of an August 1933 Fortune magazine we acquired at Uncle Carl's.  Because I have a passion for old books, photos and the like and there was only this solitary magazine  we brought it home.   I surmise my  uncle used many of the ads as inspiration in some of his sketches and paintings when he was attending the art institute after WWII.   I do wonder how and where he obtained a  1933 edition, maybe someone had tossed it or maybe each student was given a copy for inspiration.   I cannot imagine any family members  reading or even knowing about Fortune magazine, recall my ancestors were coal miners and factory workers,  so the mystery as to how he acquired it will not be solved.   Had this come from the Irwins I could have easily understood.

Back then a published magazine was a production,  this edition is large at  11 inches x 14 inches, heavy paper, 126 full pages, some beautiful paintings inside, magnificent ads, fascinating writings reflecting the history of the times and sold for  $1, an amount that seemed pricey to me for 1933.   Because the magazine is larger than my scanner can accommodate, I  took photos; it is  pretty good shape for it's age although there are a couple  pages where something had been cut out. The automobile  ads are amazing, stay tuned perhaps next week.

Front cover   Artist is Ernest Hamlin Baker
The contents of this volume, to the right below,  validate its quality literary reporting was targeted toward the  educated and better off populace. I researched
online and learned the most from Wikipedia including the urban legend about the price :

"Fortune is a global business magazine published by Time Inc.'s Fortune Money Group and co-founded by Henry Luce in February 1930, four months after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that marked the onset of the Great Depression. Briton Hadden, Luce's partner, wasn't enthusiastic about the idea—which Luce originally thought to title Power—but Luce went forward with it after Hadden's February 27, 1929 death (probably of septicemia). Luce wrote a memo to the Time, Inc. board in November 1929, "We will not be over-optimistic. We will recognize that this business slump may last as long as an entire year."
Single copies of that first issue cost $1 at a time when the Sunday New York Times was only 5¢. At a time when business publications were little more than numbers and statistics printed in black and white, Fortune was an oversized 11"×14", using creamy heavy paper, and art on a cover printed by a special process. Fortune was also noted for its photography, featuring the work of Margaret Bourke-White and others. Walker Evans served as its photography editor from 1945–1965.

An urban legend says that art director T. M. Clelland mocked up the cover of the first issue with the $1 price because nobody had yet decided how much to charge; the magazine was printed before anyone realized it, and when people saw it for sale, they thought that the magazine must really have worthwhile content. In fact, there were 30,000 subscribers who had already signed up to receive that initial 184-page issue.  During the Great Depression, Fortune developed a reputation for its social conscience, for Walker Evans and Margaret Bourke-White's color photographs, and for a team of writers including James Agee, Archibald MacLeish, John Kenneth Galbraith, and Alfred Kazin, hired specifically for their writing abilities."

I'll be keeping my eyes pealed at sales for a copy of the first Fortune, the original 1930 copy. 

Check out this glamorous ad for Chase and Sanborn tea, I have never seen the like.   The  ad was adjacent to artwork and research about tea. The article starts, "Tea for sale, the business was routine until Chase & Sanborn announced the tea that 'sways the senses'  the advertising was dull until J. Walter Thompson discovered the emotional lift." 

I was unaware that tea had been so romantically pitched.  The article includes photos and information about the notables of the thriving tea companies of the era, "Gentlemen of Tea."  The rise of the tea industry and ad campaigns to promote its consumption  and awaken the industry from "taking its beverage for granted" is interesting reading.  

The next color photo is of a billboard produced by the J Walter Thompson advertising agency that initiated the stirring about tea consumption.  The article " see a romantic episode conducted with the aid of tall glasses of tea.  Not highballs.  Not Tom Collinses.  Not mint juleps.  Simply tea.  The text clearly suggests that the gazes of this handsome couple would not be half so ardent were it not for those beakers of tea."  This billboard  was prominent in Boston, Hartford, Detroit, and Cleveland.  It is the inception of big time tea advertising which according to the writer had been "humdrum" before Chase and Sanborn went romantic. 

Page 37, excerpt above, reported about Chinese teas amidst 4 lovely paintings, in which the buildings and trees don't appear oriental to me, but that was 1933.  Below are two of the four paintings by an unidentified artist. 

I will share more from this magazine in future Sepia posts, but have used this week's up on tea;  I learned that  our Boston Tea Party was not our only tea controversy.   Fortune magazine is still published today but to my knowledge does not have such artwork.  I will have to check out a copy at the stand my next trip to Barnes and  Noble. 

One non tea related photo from the back of the magazine, an international one to go with our international  group here on Sepia, the heir of the month, Adolph Spreckels and his bride.  Notice the fortune declined from $26 million to  $16 million!  Does he appear concerned?  Does she?  Not hardly. 

As always click on the title to this post to see others Sepia contributions from the host site.  I think I feel an urge for a cup of tea now!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Books Update Review of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"

I've not been posing my comments or book reviews but merely adding my reads to the side bars.  Life has kept me far too  busy in too many areas and so somethings had to go.  However I have been actively reading through my stacks, new purchases and books chosen by our book club, so  take a look at my  sidebar where the reads and authors will show up.  Later I will review another great read, "Blind Your Ponies" by Stanley G West, a  Minnesotta author who has a talent for great wriitng and outstanding character development.  Our book club selected  "Blind Your Ponies", the title derived from an Indian legend, for October; at first I grumbled, "oh phooey  a novel about highschool boys!"  I was so taken in that I devoured it in over 4  nights, it is a huge book but I was captured immediately about basketball, the small town in Montana and the use of Don Quixote analogies by the central character.  Since we will not discuss it until October I will hold my comments.  Be satisfied to know that I  have added Guest as another author to read more from, he writes literature rather than a book, which is one of my criteria  in reading.  

Another  excellent read I finished last month is Jamie Ford's "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and  Sweet" that was marked so cheap at Border's going out of business sale in PA I could not resist it.  I recall Sandy telling me that it was the  2011 chosen read by the Woodland, CA  community and at that time it rang familiar; I was sure  I'd read it, I was wrong.  This is the beauty of book stores and sales where one can pick up a book and  browse the pages, something not available in quite the same way online or on those  automatic reader things; well I recognized the story line and quickly recalled that for some  reason I'd not read this book published back in 2009 in paperback by Random House.  So it went into my sack and what a great buy it turned out to be.  I do prefer non-fiction, political discourse, biographies and or history  to fiction or novels unless I am reading for brain drain occasionally.  I suppose  that when I did not read this before I had something more interesting in the non-fiction genre to  take up my time.   When I read good fiction like this considered literary and I learn something, I consider it time well spent, not just dusting off the cobwebs of the brain cells.  I also  appreciate the research by the author to get historic details correct and a perspective of the times. .

I am glad I read it this time when it showed up in front of me.It is  set in  about 1942 in Seattle, WA and is the tale of Henry Lee a young Chinese boy, a back look through Henry's life whose wife has been terminally ill, Henry recalls life in Chinatown and his father who insisted he be Chinese, not mistaken as Japanese. His father wants him to get an American education but will insist that he be sent off to China for final years of schooling.  Henry gets a scholarship to an English elementary school where he meets Keiko, a young Japanese girl also chosen by scholarship which is stretching the word because both Henry and Keiko are  serfs at best  in the kitchen under the heavy arm and eye of Mrs Beatty.

 I am  familiar with Asian sects, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Hmong  and know something about differences in their cultures and even the differences among the same culture  for example Chinese Cantonese compared to Mandarin.  I also  understand the various prejudices and prides  among the cultures. So I readily understood Henry's Chinese father making him wear a button sign to school, "I am Chinese"  as World War II looms.  Keiko who is an American born lives in Japantown.   A deep bond develops between Henry and Keiko but the resettlement of the Japanese to interment camps after Pearl Harbor eventually separates them.  Before that happens, Henry who is very interested in Jazz music, smuggles Keiko into a black jazz  nightclub and there the two children see some of the rising prejudice against the Japanese.  While the book is fiction,  the places are real, the Panama Hotel, Bud's Jazz Records in Seattle, and more.

Characters and writing are excellent in this book, besides the two there are several other memorable Marty, Henry's son; Ethel, Henry's dying wife; his father and mother parents who absolutely love their only son; Keiko's parents, Mr and Mrs Okabe; Mrs. Beatty who turns from villain to helpmate, Chaz an American boy who torments Henry,  Sheldon the black street musician and so many more who weave through his life.  It is a grand sad story with  a certain bitter sweet ending.  A good read for a couple evenings at only 285 pages and then a Reader's Guide discussion with the author.  

Great lines among the many on the pages:
pg. 4  But in the end, each of them occupied a solitary grave.  Alone forever.  It didn't matter who your neighbors were.  They didn't talk back.

pg. 5. Maybe the clock was ticking?  He wasn't sure, because as soon as Ethel passed, time began to crawl, clock or no he was, alone in a crowd of strangers.  A man between lifetimes. 

pg. 9.  I try not to live in the past, he thought, but who knows, sometimes the past lives in  me.

pg .34. ..choosing to lovingly care for her was like steering a plane into a mountain as gently as possible.  The crash is imminent; it's how you spend your time on the way down that counts.

pg. 36.  The International District was just a small town.  People know everything about everyone.  And just as in other small towns, when someone leaves, they never come back.

pg. 64.  ..a lot of people just don't  want to go back.  Sometimes that's the best thing to do--to live in the leave something behind.  To move on and live the future and not relive the past.

pg. 127.  This is where he lives but it will never be his home.

pg. 128. ..sigh of disappointment.  A consolation prize, of coming in second and having nothing to show for it.  Of coming up empty; having wasted your time, because in the end, what you do and who you are, doesn't matter one lousy bit.  Nothing does.

pg. 204.  His father had said once that the hardest choices in life aren't between what's right and what's wrong but between what's right and what's best.   

A good book, somewhat historical, somewhat romantic, somewhat fatalistic.  It would be a good movie with the right characters but then a movie never has the depth of the written words in the book.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sepia Saturday 93 sleepers

I've been really attempting to get the extra room uncluttered from all the stacks of photos and memorabilia this week and what I happened on fits right in with the theme--I love it when a theme comes together!  Actually if I  spent more time rummaging photos I am sure I could have found even more Sleepers. And this has also distracted me from another task paper work on financials, but I am willingly ignoring that.  Not a pleasant task these days.  

First I begin  January 1, 1943, Springfield IL, my father, Lt. Lewis S Ball,  pilot, sound asleep on his US Army cot, sleeping bag  pulled snug, with Mom's photo on top;  one of the guys grabbed his camera and took this.  I still have that 8 x 10  photo of her today, it survived through the years and is a beautiful Sepia itself.  I also have the gold and amethyst necklace that she is wearing in the photo, a gift from him to her, her birthstone and just as beautiful today as it was then, so many years later.  This photo is   in his scrapbook but I scanned it for this post. This is my oldest sleeper photo.

Next forward to 1969 and my uncle John Irwin, asleep on the couch, in exile from the bedroom,  in Pennsylvania.  I don't know the particulars but my aunt Virginia likely snapped this Polaroid of her  wayward husband to preserve the memory. On the back side she wrote, "John  being punished." He doesn't appear to be bothered by much here.  Perhaps he'd imbibed a few too many,  perhaps there were too many words exchanged, never the less it does not appear to be interrupting his sleep. 

Now to the right is a 1980 pose captured by my Uncle Carl of "Joe" one of his friends on one of their many hunting trips, where the men gathered in a cabin at the end of the day.  I don't know  who this fellow is, but Uncle Carl was quite the photographer of their events and so he is in the cyber world for all to see.  I was sorting photos this week and found this and when Alan put the Sleepers as the theme for the week, I knew I was in business.   Was this the end of a long day in the woods?  Too much to eat at the evening meal?  You can speculate with me.  

1984, to the left here are my in laws about whom I have recently blogged--that is Lyman to the left and Florence to the right.  They have made themselves  at home and comfortable in our living room in Newcastle, CA.  As I have mentioned before,  our home was their vacation site.  I suppose it was a compliment that they felt so "at home there" but I often wondered why they did not stay with their daughter, Barbara who lived 30 minutes away.  As I recall this particular day, I arrived  home from work  and there they were, awaiting when I would prepare the meal for everyone.  The newspaper on the table has a headline, something about "retirement." 

Well the photo to the right is 1986, Jerry's cousin, Milo (actually  his cousin's husband) who was catching up on some rest after a rough day at the work for the city on its maintenance  crew.  We were back in  La Crescent on  a trip we took across the country from  California to Minnesota, to Pennsylvania and then swinging back westward through the south.  So we stopped at Milo and Jeanette's.  We had come in from visiting, camera in hand and got this pose. These days, Milo does sleep a lot in his recliner, he has aged and tends to nap away the afternoons.  It is not the same as Jeanette passed away years ago, and although he has a live in companion, he misses her as do we.

1989 another one to the left,  from Uncle Carl's photos.  This man is Fred Hemming and he was in the Army, 809th Tank Destroyers in WWII with Uncle Carl.  Each year the men and families gathered to reminisce and usually to tour some site.  This time they were in Altoona, PA, I believe which meant that Uncle Carl and Aunt Marge had likely made arrangements for the group.  As we have seen, no one was safe when Carl, the photographer was around.  

For my finale I could not resist this one, also from Uncle Carl's collection.  This is Punkin, his last pet and beloved "pal."  After Aunt Marge passed in 1997 Punkin and Carl went everywhere together.  He  had many photos of Punkin.  I have to say, I have shared an array of sleepers and to end this post, let sleeping dogs lie.  (Groan.....)
1988 Punkin
As usual, click on the title to get to the Sepia host site and see what others are sharing this week.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Applefest Parade 2011 more MIL saga

This was the 65th year for the local Apple Fest in La Crescent, a tradition established way back when there were  apple orchards all over the hillsides and this tiny town of 5000 was even smaller, without any thought of expanding. In it's early years there was always a prgram with recipes and information about La Crescent.  Today most of the information is sponsored about town by the Chamber of Commerce and a group of local volunteers, The Applefest Board, so designated by themselves.   Here is a page from the 1954 program:

1961 Program cover

These days there is no published program.  The carnival comes to town, there is a craft  show of sorts and a flea market of sorts, and old cars come out on display, and the finale on Sunday is a parade.  Despite our visits here when we lived in California and being citizens of the town for the past six years, (Six, OMG,how time flies...) I had never gone to the Sunday Applefest parade.  Sometimes the rain kept me away, sometimes we were traveling, and there are any other myriad excuses or lack of interest, not being a native Crescenite.  It became part of my mystique to state, "I've never been to an Applefest parade." Rather odd because when we travel around the country if there is a local parade, we generally attend. More so odd because I do love a parade!

You know that  Jerry's mother is 94 and  for the past year has resided in the Golden Living Center (skilled facility) here in town.  You also likely know that life has not been easy having to look out for the old lady, to put it nicely.  Her other  two living "children" her daughter  in Colorado and son in California and have not visited her, but what else is new?  In 1990, twenty one years ago now, after the death of Lyman, her second husband and  father of the other two siblings, we became the "chosen" or drew the short straw to look over and after her. This is a twist of life in itself as she did limited to naught in raising or mothering Jerry, her eldest and first born.  He and his deceased sister, Diane, were from  her first husband, Diz; that marriage lasted briefly, through the birth of Dianne following which Florence moved back to the family  farm with Mom and Dad who  raised the two kids while she "worked" and played. Part of the time was interrupted by her commitment into a state  mental institution by  her sister.  I can't help but believe she should have been medicated most of her life and not let loose. 

1950 Dianne, Florence, Jerry leaving La Crescent
  Immediately following her mother's death in 1950 she departed La Crescent to the consternation of the family and against all sound advice, dragging her two kids along to Las Vegas, where Lyman who would become her second husband and father of the other two would come from California to  meet them and they would be married.  On a desert highway, she nearly killed herself and the kids enroute and turned the wheel over  to Jerry, age 13,  to drive the rest of the way into Las Vegas while she fretted her misjudgement.  All this so  she would  have a man (Lyman)  to take care of her, the two kids be damned.  It is quite a tale of a person who did what she wanted without regard for others; it is a tale comparable to that told in  "Prince of Tides" and would consume pages of words to lightly  describe, some of which I've shared.  

But here we are today still responsible for her although the burden is decreased with her being in 24 hour care. Taking a look at her today people might think, "what a sweet old woman."  Those people would be very wrong.  So we go along with our lives and try not to be drawn into her cantankerousness and nonsense.  Jerry says, "she does not get to rule nor ruin us."

Jerry and I have said, "If she could be 1/4th as agreeable, and content as Carl was" in reference to my 93 year old uncle who passed in May in PA.  But Florence is not Carl, neither is she content,.  I am  convinced, personalities really do not change later in life, that as an elderly friend told me years ago, "People just become more of who they are."  So today with her enhanced dementia she is more Florence, although she is still quite mobile with use of a walker, and has no  chronic illnesses, she is more miserable and more unhappy and bound to maintain her family at ends with each other.  She has been most successful at the latter, which has been  something I have never understood.  But she always wanted to be the center, the manipulator, the one in control though in truth she led a life of being controlled. Lyman actually maintained her in a delayed state of adolescence taking her here and there, to the grocery store, telling her what she could and could not do, and so on, their life suited them, I suppose.  Right before his death  on one of their visits to our home, where they felt free to come unannounced, Lyman apologized to Jerry and warned him that he would have his hands full with his mother in years to come, that the others would not participate and that it would fall to us.  Over our married years, everytime I think we have made in roads in building a semblance of cordial family with these people, I am proven wrong. I no longer try.

Florence never drove again after the 1950 escape.  But today, her legacy there is little of  sibling relationship between Jerry and the other two; Diane died in  2004.   Barbara, the sister in Colorado,  is the spitting image of Florence in facial features and in personality, given to self centeredness, secrets and moodiness, two failed marriages and now in a relationship, busy with her own life.  Rodney, the little brother in California, has managed to escape the tentacles of  Florence and her mental legacy and is about living a decent life with his family.  He recognizes his mother's mental short comings and expects naught and is master at ignoring and avoiding. Actually both sons, Jerry and Rodney,  have adapted the tactics of  ignoring or letting it not phase them.  We keep in touch at times by email and the like.
But back to Applefest 2011. Each year, staff  at the Golden Living Center pick two residents to  be their royalty in the parade and to be honored at the senior luncheon.  Bingo, you guessed it, Florence was chosen as a Golden Apple.  Well meaning  intentions were that she would be pleased, which she was off and on, but being herself she had to complain to elicit more attention and to be constantly assuaged. She would complain how she is not social, like her sisters were, and that is true, partly because she cannot hear in  normal conversations and partly because she lives inside her own thoughts and  years back from the present.  She and Frank, a male resident who is a long timer from the area were chosen to ride in the horse drawn carriage and to attend the senior luncheon donning royal capes.  to the right is the newspaper photo, which she collected  from everyone who had a paper to send  to all Diane's survivors in Southern California.  That's a side of the family we have no contact with and that is just fine.       Somewhere in her demented head she has assumed herself as the mother figure to Diane's prodigy, most of whom have lived the drugged life and on  the ragged side, in and out of prisons, you name it they have done it.  

End of long post, this year we were both compelled as duty called to go to the parade and take some photos of the Golden Apples.  These photos  we have shared online with our side--Allen, Angel and grand kids, and with Rodney.  Barbara who has not spoken with us in over a year now  either has chosen to keep her email a secret or only uses her work computer. I do not develop photos so anyone not online loses.  The rains came but the carriage for the two  Golden Apples was early on in the parade following the young  queen and her court and others, so they did not get wet, as at the end of the parade they were whisked back to the facility.

Frank and Florence, the two Golden Apples
The pesky autumn gnats that arrive here were out in full force Sunday and I spent a great deal of time swatting them away from my face.  They seem to be drawn to me like a magnet.
Golden Apple Carriage.  The boy along the side was
refilling  his candy bucket to throw to spectator children along the route.

Following the carriage, the Lancers, our
High School Marching band

More of our Lancer's High School Marchng Band

The young royalty escorted by Applefest Board
Apple Annies, local singing group

Last but not least, in case you think I exaggerate to have a tale to tell, how about this 

There were about 70 more entries, and community people who participate in the parade, but we took few more pictures and did not stay as the rains began and we departed for home.  MIL just called on the phone and despite claiming to not be interested, was angry that no photo showed of her in today's newspaper, after the Applefest.  I tried to tell her it is for the young people, who were featured at the carnival and around town.  She replied, "It's a big joke!  That's what I think."  Now she is convinced in her mind that they did this just to ignore and slight her, ahh go figure.    It's all supposed to be  about her!

Friday, September 16, 2011

MIL photos on Sepia Saturday 92 (Click here for the Sepia Site)

Behrndt girls in black dresses, Cloutier girls in grey dresses
 Without a story this week because time is a'wastin' I will show two more photos of MIL, Florence.  This first photo was taken in Fountain MN, which is about 60miles from La Crescent today on a good highway.  I suspect this photo might have been taken in about 1922-23 when Florence was 5-6 years old and the roads were not so accessible. I am told that Esther, the mother was quite a driver and  would drive any distance in the old model car.  Charlie, the father  could drive as well but did not enjoy it so left the driving to Esther, certainly different for those days.   The identification on the  back says "Cloutier girls and Behrndt girls in Fountain."  Somewhere in the genealogy we have  found the name Cloutier and believe they were relatives perhaps cousins.  On the left  back row is Aunt  Bernice,   standing with the  three Cloutiers; in the front  left is Florence (MIL) who must be about 5 or 6 years old,  and to the  right standing in the dark dress too is Aunt Marie.  It appears they are squinting into the sun.  Notice the dog is prominent in the photo as well, appearing to turn its head just as the photo is snapped.

About 1933-34 Behrndt's without Myrtle

The above photo is one of the very few of MIL in trousers but there she is seated on the ground and appearing to be wearing dungarees.  Standing from left to right are Aunt Marie, Aunt Ruth, Charlie Behrndt--their father and Aunt Bernice on the right.  Seated in the very center is Esther, their mother.  And Florence on the ground.  Although the fenders of the auto in the background look newer than  1934, I think this is prior to Florence's first marrigage to Diz Morrison, Jerry's father.  Aunt Myrtle is the only sister missing and she may  have been married and living away.  At this time there are no grandchildren which helps to confirm the approximate year.  That Aunt Marie is dressed up more than the others makes me think she had come home to visit and was already married to Uncle Tommy, not living on the farm.  Aunt Marie would have been most comfortable in the dungarees so it is odd to see her posed, almost at attention.

This is my Sepia post for the week.  As always click on the title to see others from the host site. 

A glimpse of life in a Pickles Cartoon

One of  our favorite cartoons which our local newspaper does not carry but which we enjoy when in PA is Pickles.  Brian Crane’s Pickles is a laugh-out-loud comic strip gem that features Earl and Opal Pickles, who have been married for over 50 years, it shows the funny side of family and friendships. Earl and Opal share their golden years with their 30-something daughter Sylvia, her husband, Dan and their beloved grandson Nelson. Their dense dog Roscoe and cynical cat Muffin also enliven the Pickles’ household. Whether observing the differences between genders and generations or taking a wry but sympathetic look at life in the twilight years, Crane’s good-natured wit and dry humor are just downright funny.

Well yesterday on my various errands here and there I was in West Salem, WI  delivering a small end table to the refinisher.  West Salem is home to a fabulous bakery, Linda's which has been designated as the best in Wisconsin.  I never go to West Salem without a stop in Linda's to purchase various delicacies for home and to treat myself by consuming  something special with my coffee right there in the bakery at a table.  

 Yesterday morning was a day of such a treat and I thought of my Grandma Rose who made delicious pastries, the likes of which I have never mastered.  But then when there are real bakeries here opposed to those in the grocery store that  are OK, why bother to try to out master the masters.  It is always a difficult choice and Linda's is always busy with locals buying, ordering special occasion cakes and folks just treating themselves.  Yesterday was no exception.  I chose a  gooey calorie laden Danish pastry filled with cream cheese and apricot and made my way to a table to savor the treat.  So many options and certainly a place where my eyes can get "bigger than my stomach/"  Something else Grandma always said about me.

There  as I sat down and nodded were two elderly couples at separate tables talking about driving, how they do not drive at night and how they do not go very far these days.  They agreed that driving was not so much fun anymore, too many people in a rush and their conversation moved on to differences in aging as one couple mentioned they no longer drive to Arizona for the winter, but fly.  They admitted to not being so sharp in reflexes today as they once were and I thought how very astute these people are to recognize their declining abilities with aging and to not plunge ahead as they would have in their younger days. Astute and considerate so they do not put other drivers at risk.   I was at a table off to the side close enough to overhear their conversation, but able to gaze outside as though I heard not a word.  Then a young mom came in with her toddler son and took the child's table ahead of me.  Soon one couple left.   The remaining couple had their treats to finish and the husband looked at his wife and asked, "Who were those people?"  "How should I know," she replied, "I thought you knew them."  I had to keep my face toward the window as I stifled laughing out loud.  The young mom, burst out with a gale of laughter though and looked at me.  The couple just kept eating their  delicacies oblivious to anything comical happening. 

Just like a Pickle's cartoon, life  shows  us funny moments if we can just catch  and appreciate them when they come our way.   Everyone I told this to laughed out loud today. I am going to have to subscribe to a daily Pickle's if available over the 'net. Here's Earl speaking about donuts.  Hope this makes you smile.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sepia Saturday 91 Hidden stories in photos (Click here to go to the Sepia site)

While my photo this week may appear to be one of folks merely enjoying travel, standing or admiring scenery, there is a story  behind the faces, an unsuspected tale of secrets, jealousies, pettiness and revenge amidst the  unsuspecting.  These two photos are not that old, certainly not Sepia quality, taken in  June,1980 the year we drove to Minnesota from California to attend an aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary.  With  the three of us, we took Jerry's mother (MIL) Florence and her husband, Jerry's  stepfather and (FIL), Lyman Larson.  It was her eldest sister's Golden anniversary and they could not have gone otherwise; so as a dutiful son, Jerry with my agreement, he says at my urging, invited them to come along.

It amazes me to look back to those years when we 5  grown people Jerry, Steve who was 16, myself and the two inlaws all traveled in our  cab over camper truck the entire  approximately 1800 miles, one way.  Today, Jerry & I have another new  luxurious 40  foot motor coach, with slide outs for travels, our retirement house on wheels.  But back in 1980 we thought we were right uptown with the camper.  There is no way I would squeeze into any such accommodations today to travel and certainly  not with four others, but back then we did.  Steve rode mostly in the back except when he shared in the driving.  We had  4 drivers, Jerry, Lyman who drove bus in Los Angeles, myself and Steve, so  we planned to  drive right along through the night, alternating drivers, stopping only for gas and making the  journey in two days. 

Arrival in  Minnesota, left to right
Lyman, Jerry and Florence
 By the time we arrived in Minnesotta about 70 miles from our destination, Jerry, Steve and I  knew we were  down to three drivers, but we kept that secret.  Lyman, though well intended had started to doze off on his driving shift, which Steve and Jerry both noticed from their seats in the cab; the agreement was that at night  another person would stay awake with the driver, so while Jerry tried to merely rest his eyes, Steve was wide awake.   I was snoozing in the back of the camper with  MIL.  Steve made Grandpa pull over at the next stopping place and took a shift, while Grandpa Lyman was shifted to the back to bed, and I staggered to the front cab to snooze.   This photo shows Jerry with coffee cup in hand after pulling the longest shifts driving, insisting that he was not in the least tired so that Lyman would not feel it necessary to  help drive.   If Lyman ever realized that he had been permanently relieved of driving, we never knew.  Jerry just said, he could drive and did so with infrequent help from us two.  

Our return trip involved sightseeing stops and overnight rests at motels; we were not in such a hurry to return home and Lyman had wanted to see some of Yellowstone and other sights.  He was enjoying not having to drive for once in his life and maybe a rare if not the only trip where he could just sight see.  We returned through  the Black Hills of South Dakota, the badlands, and Yellowstone.  We have many pictures of this trip, but the following photo is one that sticks out for Jerry and me after something I  read early this year, 31 years later.  Lyman died in 1990 but Jerry's mother, Florence is still alive at 95, in the local nursing home with dementia but physically pretty good. 

1980 at Yellowstone   Lyman, Jerry, Florence
You can see in this photo that Lyman is enjoying the sights; this was just one of our stops in Yellowstone.  I recall when I took this photo that Lyman had mentioned to be sure to get copies of the pictures for him when we developed these because he had lost his camera somewhere on our trip, or so we all thought; we had even back tracked when he discovered it missing.  It was filled with memories and photos he had taken on the trip, relatives, the family gatherings and now the sights, well the sights until the camera disappeared. It was kind of unusual for him to take so many photos but this was a different trip for him and one he wanted to remember.  Generally all the trips to Minnesota were he and Florence and while they were younger their daughter and son.  Lyman was so very upset but said at least he was seeing the sights and that was worth it and if we shared photos it would be all the same to him.  Florence standing there with her coat collar covering her mouth to shield the smell of the sulfur from the hot spring behind, Dragon's Mouth. Later when Lyman saw this photo he teased about having the Dragon Mouth out there with us, referring to Florence.

Here is where appearances are most deceiving and most unrevealing.  Florence had been in some sort of snit after we left Minnesota, none of us knew why, but she made it her mission to make sure everyone became miserable.  When her misery was not shared by the rest of us,  she declared herself ill and demanded that we get her home to California  quickly.  Jerry vehemently told her that we were going to see some things as planned and that we could stop at a local emergency room to determine what was wrong with her.  Suddenly she was no longer ill.  We never knew what had set her off, but went along our way and did tour Yellowstone, enjoying its wonderful sights. 

Flash forward to 2011, when early in the year I was browsing through some of Florence's writings in the calendar/journals she kept, before we tossed them. There it was 1980, June and so I thought maybe she had some reflections about the trip.  She had written very little about  her sister's Golden wedding anniversary and other visits.  But, she bitterly wrote how she did not want to leave Minnesota to just drive and see sights as Lyman and Jerry planned.  This was not a surprising statement because she is a very self centered person, quite selfish at times, has been all through her life.  Jerry recalled many bad decisions she made, over the years always thinking of herself and her needs.  But then, reading the remarks she made along the journey home, came the revelation of how twisted and evil this woman could be.  

It was in the South Dakota Badlands when Jerry, Steve, Lyman and I left the camper to walk along an area and just observe the vultures circling.  Florence intended to suffer and had been saying very little, but said she did not want to see the dirty birds or the hills.  So we all left her in the camper at  the parking lot.  And she wrote...."..Well I tossed his damn camera in the trash and I covered it up so they could not see it.  While they walked along I saw to it that he would not have any pictures......"  Although nothing really surprises me about MIL at this point, I was astonished and called Jerry to read it himself.  He too was astonished and commented something like, "Well that old witch did it, that's what happened to Lyman's camera!" 

She never said a word when the four of us searched and backtracked several miles looking in vain for that camera.  Yet she very well knew what she had done.  Why?  Who knows?  Jerry said, that explained her "tantrum" along the trip, not getting things her way.  And yet, he admitted over a lifetime now he can look back and see how she was manipulative and vengeful. I consider it downright mean.  So today when people may think, what a sweet old lady, we know differently for many reasons, one being the missing camera.  While we wondered if she ever told Lyman what she did, we think not.  That is the story hidden behind this photo.  We will never look at it the same way again.

As always, click on the title to this post to go over to the Sepia site and see others' photos and tales. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Four sisters as little girls Sepia Saturday 90

We have just returned home while I read that Alan, our SS host,  is off for sunny Spain, an example of how we are all at different spaces  and yet united  by sharing our old photographs here on Sepia.  I have missed this the past weeks and did not get to  view as many as I planned, but then life often changes or plans for blogging. I will go with Alan's suggestion of little girls and offer a photo of Jerry's aunts, taken before 1917.

We know this  because his mother who was born in January 1917 is not in the photo with her sisters.  From the ages of the aunts in the photo and the years of their birth,  I suppose this may have been taken about 1915 or 1916.  Bernice was born in 1912 and she appears to be about 3 years old, while  Marie, who was born in 1910 could be about 5.  Aunt Marie gave us this photo many years ago because she was tossing stuff out and I was there helping her with paperwork, so I rescued it from the waste basket.  She laughed and said, "oh that old thing"  Well it is that, but scanned and shared it has lots of Sepia memories. 
Starting to the left, the eldest girl sporting the black or dark colored bow, Aunt Myrtle, standing Aunt Bernice, To the right Aunt Ruth and at the bottom Aunt Marie.  All are gone on now and all except Aunt Ruth lived into their 90's.  Bernice was the red head in the family and was a no nonsense person all her life, she appears ready to go standing there behind the sisters. 
4 Behrndt sisters
Their mother, Esther, mailed this photo post card to their paternal grandmother in Hokah for a penny.  Hokah is a distance of only 8 to 10 miles from where they lived and farmed in  the Pine Creek area of La Crescent but in  travel limited to horse and buggy, there were not many visits.  Notice the penny postage stamp and the LaCrosse meter stamp.  La Crosse is across the Mississippi river, farther than Hokah but it had the post office.

Esther apologizes saying, "not very good" and inquires about other photos that she had taken when they visited in Hokah.  Yet considering where it has been and what it has  heard in its 96 years, it is quite a family treasure.  Jerry likes this because it has his grandmother's writing, in pencil no less.  Another amazing survival.

I wonder what will remain 90+ years from now of our writings?  Will the cyber world preserve us or will we fade, muter than a 96 year old pencil written card? 

This is my Sepia Saturday post.  Click on the title above to go tot he Sepia host site and link into other's  sharings for the week.