My mother, Gail Lee Martin, lived into her late 80s. She was the family archivist carefully preserving her uncles’ WWI helmet, her father’s moth-eaten wool bathing suit from the early 1900s, and many more items entrusted to her care as the previous generation died.
Here’s Albert Vining’s shelf that he made. Mom used to keep books on it in her writing room.
Gail’s uncle, Albert Vining, left this diary from World War I about his experience in France.
Albert Vining’s 5th-grade report card from Gentry, Arkansas 1909
Now, I’m 70 and as a Baby Boomer find that it makes me sad to let go of the earlier generations’ belongings. At some point, one realizes that you can’t keep everything, but choosing what to preserve and what to let go is very difficult.
I saw this in The Estate Lady’s blog and it hit the spot.
The older Boomers are so traditional and as loyal as their parents; they generally have a difficult time letting go of stuff. They may feel a profound sadness in letting go of previous generations’ things, even as they realize the younger generation no longer wants these things. They are in the middle of making tough decisions to keep or sell these items.
Yes, these are tough decisions. Sometimes you have to decide that a photo of an item will serve to keep the memory fresh even if you have no room for the what-not shelf that your great-uncle made. It isn’t that we don’t care about these ancestors, but recognizing that integrating dozens, even hundreds of their possessions into our already full home isn’t practical.
As it is, I’m clearing out lots of stuff that I’ve bought and no longer use. It makes no sense for me to keep my own junk like a broken vacuum cleaner that I’ve already replaced while giving up something that is meaningful in my family. Decluttering meaningless modern stuff makes some room for treasured family items.
I’m also using some of the photos in nostalgic blog posts and in making some family history books. Hopefully, even when an item is no longer in the family’s possession, they will enjoy the memories in the blog and in the books which take up minimal space.
Stashed away in Gail Martin’s boxes of memorabilia are tokens of affection from children and grandchildren and even from the great-grandchildren. This item deserved to be brought out for the holiday today.
It probably was displayed on Gail and Clyde’s bookshelf in the living room for some weeks before being preserved in the folder with cards, letters, and other bits and pieces. Let’s see, this one is from 43 years ago. That little grandchild who wielded the crayons is now a nursing home administrator with almost gown-up children of her own.
When I think of Hollyhocks, I picture in my mind a cottage garden in England with all kinds of old-fashioned flowers crowding together. The Hollyhocks with their long flower stalks stand out from the mounds of lower-growing flowers.
Gail’s sister, CJ thinks of her childhood. “When I was a youngster, I made “dolls” with the flowers for skirts.” She said that the hollyhocks were there when she moved into her home in Kansas. Her niece, that she rents from and who lived there first must have planted them.
CJ says, “I totally ignore them, and they seem to thrive! They’re extremely self-sufficient. I do nothing to or for them; they come up every year, and this year (like a lot of other flowers) are more bountiful with flowers. My local horticulturist says it is due to the weird & long winter we had. Even the maple tree had way more “spinning” seeds than usual.”
Photos of the hollyhocks by C.J. Garriott
Her friend commented, “I only know Hollyhocks from the song, “English Country Garden.” So good to finally know what they actually look like! They’re beautiful.”
Browsing online, I found some pictures of children making the flower dollies. They put a toothpick through the center of the flower base and use a bud for the head. Some put a toothpick sideways through the base of the flower to serve as arms.
(post by Virginia Allain) Last year in the spring, I took cuttings from some sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry. Covering them with a little soil in my patio pots enabled them to start growing. Before long they sent out nice vines that trailed nicely down the sides of the pots.
Sweet potato vine on the patio
Now and then, I trimmed them back so they wouldn’t get too jungle-like. It reminded me of childhood times when Mom showed us how a carrot top or sweet potato cutting would put out roots if you placed it in some water.
That fall, I turned up the soil in some of the planters to put in fresh plants. To my surprise, my trowel struck something large and solid. Digging around the object, I turned up a large sweet potato. I checked all the pots where I’d put the cuttings and ended up with about 5 meals worth of the tubers.
I boil the sweet potatoes, then remove the skin, and mash them. Then I add cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and brown sugar before baking it in a casserole dish.
I don’t usually grow vegetables in my containers on the patio, but since it was so easy to raise some sweet potatoes, I planted more this year. My crop wasn’t quite as big, but it took only a minimal amount of effort and it was free.
Have you tried planting anything from your kitchen scraps?
It’s Father’s Day which can be rather sad when your father is no longer there to hug or give a card or gift to. It always embarrassed Dad to have a fuss made over him, but I think deep down, he appreciated the attention. Even though he is gone, this special day gives us time to pause and remember what a special man our father was.
Clyde Martin and a card that his daughter Karen sent him some years ago.
The rest of the message inside the card was well-chosen. It said, “for all the things that helped me grow, the staying close, the letting go, the honesty and humor too… for being real and being you.”
Too many cards featured images that just didn’t fit our dad. The sailboats, the formal tie, the golf scenes… Sis did a good job choosing this one with its thoughtful verse and earth-tone colors. Clyde Martin was a down-to-earth sort of guy.
The last part of the verse said, “for all your love, the gifts you give, the man you are, the life you live, for all these things and so much more, you’re the dad I’m thankful for. Happy Father’s Day.” Many thanks to Hallmark for this thoughtful, not-too-gushy card. Just right for our Dad.
I’ve always liked this photo of Karen and Dad. They are in the side yard of the El Dorado house.
Here’s a little poem by Gail Lee Martin. She only wrote a few poems, but this one drew some appreciative comments on the Our Echo site.
In the month of June
our thoughts turn
to love and marriage
and our God envisioned
Queen Anne’s lace
For the wedding flowers.
Susan Hammett Poole
commented, “When I see Queen Anne’s Lace, instead of weddings, I always think of my mother. These lovely lacy flowers (akin to the carrot family, of all things) grew along the roadway about a mile from our house and many times Mama would come home with a bucket full. She’d put some red food coloring in one fruit jar, some yellow in another, and some blue coloring in still another jar. Then she’d plop the flowers into the jars and wait several hours or overnight, long enough for the coloring to soak into the stems and out into the flowerheads. Voila! She would then arrange the beautiful pink, light yellow, and baby blue long-stemmed flowers into a bouquet fit for the real Queen Anne. We children thought it was magical!
Thanks, Gail for stirring up my memory with your poem about Bridal Flowers.”
“Dear Gail, I see beautiful lace all around us on windows, doilies, delicate little hankies. Whether on windows, hair or polished wood, lace is always about letting the light in. You are a beacon of light for OurEcho.” Veronica
“Lace in any form lights up my day, especially Mother’s hand made lacy doilies. When I made family books for each of my 6 children I put one of my Mother’s doilies in the inside front of each book.” Gail
Doily, crocheted by Ruth (Vining) McGhee, displayed on the inside cover of a Martin family history book.
[poem and comments from the Our Echo site]