Last Friday, I took a photo of a Nigerian carved wooden bowl and stand for the Weekly Photo Challenge that was themed Foreign. Saturday afternoon at the Met Opera Live in HD showing of Verdi’s Othello, a friend asked me, “What do you keep in your foreign bowl besides the dust I know you seldom clean off the furniture?” It’s rough when friends know you so well, they can comment on your occasionally lax housekeeping habits. So I simple replied, “Treasures, just little treasures.” And I went home and gave the bowl and contents a thorough dusting. I also decided to take a second photo to show you what resides in the foreign bowl.
The contents of the bowl are “little treasures” and they’re also dust collectors. Thankfully, they’re not my little treasures … they’re my mother’s little treasures. They’re sundry items that she collected over a lifetime. Currently they consist of polished gem stones and mixed sea shells that she either found or her children brought her from their various travels.
If I’m really ambitious, I’ll occasionally change the bowl’s contents to one of her other little treasure collections — perhaps her miniature ceramic frogs that are posed on various stones she found around the lake when my father was pretending he was catching fish.
Yes, they are all dust catchers! But they’re all memories of the good times when I was growing up. And she never complained about the time it took her to dust her little treasures.
A couple of days ago I realized that I had no idea how my mother and father first met.
I was always closer to my mother than I was to my father, but my mother was very closed mouth about things that weren’t any one else’s (meaning her children’s) business. By just using simple math and a little historical data, I had figured out that they had met about 1933 when my father was 19 and my mother was 21. (My mother didn’t know about the age difference, because my father lied about his age, telling her he was two years older than she.) But how did they meet one another?
While they lived only eight city blocks away from each other, they lived in entirely different social and cultural neighborhoods. Both were third generation American citizens, but my father lived in a predominant German/Catholic neighborhood and my mother in a mixed Polish/Irish/Italian/Catholic neighborhood. (Sort of a Depression Era North Side Story.) To confuse matters more they also belonged to two different Catholic parishes that were only three blocks apart.
Now my younger brother was always closer to my father than I was, and they shared a passion for fishing, which all things considered is a rather boring pastime. So I figured they had to spent time talking about something other that the fish not biting while they were threading worms on fish hooks. So I gave him a call, and asked the question. Unlike my mother, my father apparently had no secrets and he had revealed all to my brother.
Flashback to My Grandpa Skip … my mother’s father. He was a baseball fanatic and he had hoped to have nine sons so that he could have his own baseball team. While he had nine offspring, three of them turned out to be girls. And while my mother, his oldest daughter was a more than adequate batting practice pitcher, she didn’t qualify to play with his team against the other all guy teams. So he resorted to picking up possible players from the guys who were watching his team practice at Fairgrounds Park in Old North Saint Louis.
One of the guys he asked to join his team was a friend of one of his sons. The friend also had a friend who had a friend who happened to be my father. So my father joined my grandfather’s baseball team as an outfielder. As he told my brother, he was an adequate outfielder who sole claim to fame was the day he was running to catch a hit ball when a woman pushing a baby carriage decided to cut across the ball field. There was no way he could stop without running into the carriage, so he jumped completely over the top of it. And also caught the ball for the out. (I was skeptical about this story, so I went on line to research early 30s baby carriages and strollers. I discovered many had smaller diameter wheels and were actually built closer to the ground. So it would have been possible for a running 19-year old to leap over one. Dumb, but possible.) When my brother retold the story, I remembered my mother’s brothers always talking about the incident at family picnics and other gatherings. But I had completely forgot about my father playing on my grandfather’s team. And since my mother was at all the games, and since she was rather hot looking at the time … …it was only natural that my father started “courting” her.
My grandfather’s baseball them was part of the Saint Louis Amateur Baseball League and they regularly played against teams in the Negro Baseball League and other semi-professional teams of the era. His two twin sons tried out for the Saint Louis Cardinals. One was a pitcher and the other was a catcher. They wanted to sign the pitcher to a contract, but he refused to sign because they didn’t want to sign his brother. So they continued to play on my grandfather’s team until the start of the war.
And finally my father married my mother in 1938. This is the picture he carried in his wallet until the day he died.
She was born on September 4, 1912 and christened Anna Rosalia
She was the second oldest of ten children …
She had to drop out of grade school to help her mother care for her younger brothers and sisters.
In the mid-30s she met her forever sweetheart Leo and two weeks before they were married in September of 1938 he sent her this birthday card …
And after that, she saved every card he ever sent her until the day he passed away.
It was one of the few things she set out to do that she didn’t accomplish.
She passed away on her way to 95!
Today, I going to feature that Wall Of Creativity that we all keep hidden in plain sight for all to see in our homes. My creative project is the refrigerator door that we keep filled with gewgaws, photos, to-do lists, business cards and a gazillion sundry magnets
I can’t claim ownership of all of the items on the door, since my mother officially started collecting items there sometime in the mid-80s. Unfortunately, my mother was a clean freak and every week she would take all of the items of door and give it a through polishing with one of the many SC Johnson products that always seemed to be multiplying under the kitchen sink. Then she’d put everything back in the exact same place it had been before the polishing.
Sad to say, I did not inherit her title of Mrs. Clean. OK, I’ll admit that I did use a Clorox wipe to remove a dirty smudge on the door before I took the photo. Every item on the door has a story, but it would probably take me a week to write them all down. And then I doubt if you would want to read them all anyway. However, if you are really curious about any of them, hit me in the comments and I’ll tell all.
I will tell you about one item right away … the blue bow. That shade of blue was my mother’s favorite color, and I think I used it on every gift I ever gave her for well over 25-years. I think she started putting it on the refrigerator so that I would know where to find it.
Day 4 already and I’m getting creative with the placement of the 30DOC in my post. Watch it closely … where it stops … nobody knows … and your guess is as good as mine.
Today’s look at creativity is a study of life imitating with the help of the digital camera. A couple of springs ago I took a photo of a plot of crocus growing along a side walk that has since turned into a Metrolink Station in downtown Clayton. My mother, who was in a wheel chair due to a broken hip and arthritis in her hands that didn’t allow her to use a walker loved the picture so I printed a few 8 X 10 for her and a couple of friends.
Was the creativity in turning real life into faux artwork in the flowers, in the camera, or in the printing?
I called the photo SPRING AWAKING in tribute to the German play of 1891 by Frank Wedekind and the American musical adapted from it that opened in 1906 shortly after my mother passed away. I doubt if my mother would have appreciated the play, but she loved the 16 X 20 print hanging in her living room that brought a little bit of spring into her life.
For Glee fans … SPRING AWAKING marked the adult* Broadway debuts of Lea Michele (Rachel Berry) and Jonathan Groff (Jesse St. James).
My photo is not responsible for their career success in any way. Actually I’m not that responsible for the photo … all I did was click the shutter. The camera added the magic.