Friday, October 17, 2014

Miller Time Friday - Down the Rabbit Hole, in a genteel way

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

Happy Friday!

I have been terribly busy all week - lots of things going on here.

I was also 'trapped' - I was doing some family research for a character in my next book and I ended up going through three Rubbermaid bins full of my parents' papers.

It was a lot like this:

losing track of time

Once you start looking through things you think "Well honestly, I ought to sort some of this out" and then suddenly it is two days later and you have it semi-organized, well on its way to be being properly corralled.

My mother was a historian by training, as was her mother, so for me it was quite torturous to determine what should stay or go.  The ephemera of our lives may or may not be of interest to future generations and we must use our best judgement when curating these things.

Now that I have them all sorted, they will, through the course of this winter, be transferred to archival quality scrapbooks, complete with a small history about who this person was.  No one but me may ever look at these things, but at least I know I will have done right by them.  When this task is complete, I will turn to Barry's and my photo albums; will future generations care to see 15 pictures of a sunset in Lake Winnepesaukee in 1987?  I think not.

I did think it fun to share a couple of things that I found in the bins which I am keeping and which I quite long for in the 21st century:

Dance Cards!

I long to be invited to a dance where such things exist and am tempted to throw such an event myself as it is simply too delicious!

Ah Mum - who was Dale?  If only you were here to ask....

She got invited to a lot of dances in high school and at University;
These are only a few that I found in her keepsakes.

I just love the heavy paper.
Wouldn't you love to hear Bruce Holder's Orchestra on Boxing Day?
My mother was 18 in 1952.

We live in such a casual world now and these are such a reminder for me of a more genteel time when a young man asked a young woman out to a dance and wore a suit and tie and brought her a corsage.

The other thing I found in the papers were telegrams.

Oh how I adore telegrams!  They remind of more glamorous times, men and women type-type-typing into machines or receiving and printing out the messages from friends and family far away.  While there were a couple of sad telegrams in the bunch, I tried to focus on the happy ones received when my parents got married or when my Mother graduated from the University of New Brunswick with her Masters Degree in History.

I love the envelopes they came in!

Getting a telegram from London in 1959 - how glamorous!

I remember the old Canadian Pacific Telegraph Building in downtown Fredericton; I believe it houses a tattoo parlour now.  The irony of that is not lost on me.

It is a treat to be able to look at these items now.  If they were alive, my parents would have celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on October 10th.  In their honour let's have a cocktail, shall we?

And what better cocktail to celebrate the 1950s:

The Classic Martini

The Martini is often mixed, rarely perfected. The key to an excellent martini is to ensure that it is ice cold. The classic martini has only two ingredients–so it’s important to use the best ingredients you can afford. Vermouth should be stored in the refrigerator to retain its flavour.  Make sure the martini glass is ice cold.

- 1 part Gin
- 1 part Dry Vermouth

Combine in shaker over cracked ice, stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Optionally, garnish with an olive or two or a twist.

I suspect that more than one of these were downed at my parent's wedding reception at the Admiral Beatty Hotel!

Admiral Beatty Hotel Saint John New Brunswick

Would love to hear if any of the rest of you are trying to sort through family papers and pictures these days - it's quite a job isn't it?

And who wants to join me for my fancy dance party?????

Have a happy Friday and stay safe out there!

xoxo wendy


  1. My aunt did some sorting on my Aussie side but she just got a lot of names but I wanted more like those little things like telegrams instead of a date or birth and death and occupation. I say keep it all in Wendy.the tidbits may make sense to someone eventually and may be the key to something but I could be overly romantic about such things

    1. Naomi - agree! And I can tell a story as I have lots of pictures to go with these - very fun!

  2. These items are definitely keepers and will be interesting to future generations even if they aren't relatives.

  3. I don't think I would be able to part with any of these treasures - how lucky you are to have such a rabbit hole to explore.

    If there are some items you must part with perhaps some of the local museums or the university would like them for their archives?

    Cheers Wendy!

    1. Jeannine - that is so funny - the archives is on my 'too call' list today - I have a whole bin of historically significant newspapers from 1939 onwards - everything from the 1930 royal visit, outbreak of war, churchill's death to Louis Robichaud's win to thinks like JFK and RFK's assassinations - want to see they would like them!

  4. What fun! I would have a hard time departing with any of those treasures. Editing my own pictures is easy. But I still have letters and cards friends and family sent years ago. I even have love letters from Hunter...boy was he smitten.

    1. Keep those love letters! I have some too! It was so touching to read my dad's to my mom....

    2. I loved reading pop's old letters to mom, although it took us a little time to figure out who "Dear Red" was.

      And dance cards. Oh, my.

  5. Those dance cards are a treasure! Did one carry them in one's gloved hand whilst waltzing?

    I am a Bad Mother when it comes to organizing photos; every winter I vow to tackle the boxes and put them in books. I think I'm up to ages 3 and 6. My mother,preparing to die in her 70's,organized all the old things and has been deaccessioning since; she has keys to all the old country photos, who's who, on separate pages. We have a family tree back to 18th c. on the Swedish side and early 19th on the Norwegian. She is nearly 90 now.

    1. I love your mother - can I borrow her for the winter???? That's my plan and I know it will take me several years to accomplish, but do it once and do it right, I always say (okay - I NEVER say that, but I'd like to say that!)

  6. We had a huge box of photos from my husband's parents house and we wished that they had remembered to write on the backs of them who all the people was a shame not knowing more. His mother has Alzheimer's and could not help us at we swiftly put all our photos in order and made notes about each image. Going through those totes must have been exciting and discovering those mementoes that were kept by your family obviously were significant if they were not thrown out. We have such a small house that we rarely save anything.

    1. I think it is a blessing and a bit of a curse, but in the end, tells a story!

  7. Good work Wendy, and cheers!
    I keep lots of those kinds of treasures. I'm an avid, though very behind, scrapbooker and I keep everything, at least for a time. Someday I'll have to sort through the photos of faces I don't know, but not yet. My mom did a huge heritage project a few years ago and even scanned some crumbling documents to print on photo safe paper so the prints could be safely put into a scrapbook and enjoyed. It was a good project for her and brought back a plethora of memories.

  8. Wow...they really are such treasures, Wendy! I think you are very fortunate that you have all this history of your parents' lives. What a fantabulous era to have lived in...telegrams, dance cards, gloved hands, corsages, and boys who showed up at your door in a suit and tie. They truly must have been 'happy days'. :)

  9. Wow this is so funny I've just been going through papers as I pack up our house, I found MrBP's high school valedictorian speech. Also a play he wrote back in 1989.
    I also found a history of our family my sister had done by the French Canadian Genealogical society of Michigan, our family went across the border and back again for a couple of hundred years as did many in that part of Ontario. I forgot I had that history and it's pretty interesting, lots of women named Archange in our family, isn't that unusual!
    Dance cards and telegrams, why does it seem that the past was a much more civilized place?
    Cheers Wendy!

  10. I love poring over that old family memorabilia. As our families' designated historian I finally discovered the identity of my paternal grandfather's ('Pete's') family whereupon my dear Auntie J happened to mention in passing that she had a telegram from "I think he's a Canadian politician" (they were all expat Americans living in Canada). Upon closer inspection it was a very intimate birthday greeting from Mackenzie King to my great great grandfather as he was a prominent Newspaper man in the first half of the 20th Century. I almost strangled her as I had put in many hours trying to sort all this out.
    Oh well, I'll take a classic Martini and put me down for that 1st Extra Waltz with your mum and we'll let Dale take a breather.

  11. Too occupied to sort through things now. I spent my childhood summers on Lake Winnepesaukee, so I would happily look at all 15 pictures! One suggestion Wendy- I scanned many old papers and I put them on flash drives and cds in my safe deposit box. Have a wonderful weekend.

  12. How interesting but how difficult to sort through it all and have to discard some artifacts.

  13. Oh my gosh, what treasures. I would keep them all.
    My family barely has any photos (and what ones they have are bad and fuzzy) let alone dance cards. They are not really keepers and it's a shame, you could frame a lot of these things or put them under a glass-top table like an art piece, seen that a lot in galleries for "found objects" type pieces and it looks really cool. I was going to do it with the kids old baby sweaters that I cannot toss.

  14. I love going through old papers. What treasures! Believe it or not, dance cards are still being used. My daughter was invited to be a member of the local 8th grade cotillion club last year which has been in existence in since 1936. They print out your card with your dance partners by computer but leave some spaces to hand write in names too. The club is very popular still in 2014 and hundreds of young ladies & gentlemen are members. White gloves are not required, they save those for the debutantes I guess.

  15. I have not been sorting family archives but have been at the local historical society doing some background research too. It's fascinating as the 1908 brochure for the subdivision I'm in is there and so little has changed in some ways. It is a rabbit hole indeed!


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