A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
butterflies are free
Today I can wait no longer. I am definitely going to Publix to buy the ingredients to make an egg cream or two. It's at the top of my Saturday To-Do list, which only exists on my cell phone in my favorite shopping app, Out of Milk. No more grocery lists on the fridge, held tightly by magnets we bought on trips to places to which Gordon and I can never return now, at least in this lifetime. Kimberli recommended that app and I don't know how I ever did without it. All I have to do is remember to take my phone into the store.

Update on today's fruitless search for Fox's u-Bet chocolate syrup: I let my fingers do the walking and called every possible store in town and no one stocks it anymore. My daughter Priscilla (Cilla) is in Nashville and will search for it there. Once again I am reminded that I've never excelled in delayed gratification, or spatial coordination either, just ask my kids!

I ended up with the family albums that went back to when my father was born to Italian immigrant parents in 1899 Brooklyn.
It was popular then to have studio photos taken of bare baby boys on bearskin rugs, not more than a few months old. (I know the grammar's off but I couldn't resist the alliteration.) I never saw a similar photo of girl babies. Just noting, not judging. People also took pictures of dead relatives in their coffins, especially if they didn't have pictures of them. They didn't usually show them around. They scared me when I was little and had no idea what death was all about. When I asked Mom, she said they were sleeping, but when I asked when they would wake up, she changed the subject and asked if I wanted a cookie or candy or something. Now I believe, as Gordon also did, that there is no so-called-death, that we just leave our bodies behind and enter into a dimension of energy bodies. I'll probably talk about that later and tell you about the message I got from Gordon via automatic writing not too long after he went invisible.

But my life is happening Now. Today I was looking through the oldest family album, specifically looking for clues, like the detective I am in another life, not the lifetime when I am a librarian, and certainly not the lifetimes in Rome or France or Egypt. I am fascinated by the idea that all time is simultaneous and rather glad I only have to focus on one life at a time. I wanted to check out the photos to see if I looked happy or not in my childhood photos. I know I was happy at the World's Fair, but what about my day-to-day life? I scanned photos for awhile and then decided this page would be a good place for some of them.

I got tired of putting photos in albums in the 1990s. After that I just put them in boxes I may never get around to opening. Suddenly, it seemed archaic to me that in a digital world we still put photos in albums that share shelves in bookcases with beloved books we can now read on our tablets. Maybe it's just me justifying my unwillingness to add one more thing to my To-Do list. Truthfully, I dearly love the feel of a book in my hands. I think it's time to upload photos to a cloud somewhere, but not today. 

I remember when Gordon's mother, Annette, passed from this life and we emptied her house of all her treasures. I found a large box of family photos. She saved every card she ever gave sweet Arthur, Gordon's father, and all the cards Arthur gave to his bride. He called her that even after 60+ years of marriage. She also stopped putting photos in albums somewhere along the line that had nothing to do with a digital age she was not part of. 

Gordon's sister, Melody, came to Jasonville, Indiana, to help Gordon and me go through a lifetime of their parents' memorabilia. When they got to the part of sharing their photos, I backed away and watched them from afar, giving them space to reminisce about the photos and their lives when they were young and their parents were, too.

  Baby Priscilla 1935       Priscilla's 2nd birthday        Priscilla@2-duh       Mom dressed me as Mae West

I looked happy in these pictures. Since we didn't have cameras that took colored photos yet, people paid someone to color them, like my first picture above. The 2nd photo was taken at my 2nd birthday party. My mother loved to make crepe paper party hats and all the children at every party got one to wear. I'm pretty sure that 3rd picture was posed by my mother. My hair was very blonde then and started turning dark when I was eight. For the last photo, Mom dressed me up with a big hat and bag, and a  real fur around my neck. Now it would be politically incorrect to wear fur, but then people didn't think anything of it. Mom used to call this my Mae West picture. If my grandchildren or great-grands are reading this, you're probably thinking, "Who the heck's Mae West?" She was a famous actress born in 1893 in Brooklyn, six years before my father. When my grandparents owned the house at 37 Conselyea Street, Mae West lived at 137 Conselyea Street on the next block. Everyone in the neighborhood was rooting for the neighborhood girl to make it big, and make it bigger than life she did. She moved to Hollywood, California, in 1932, a few years before I was born, but Brooklyn always claimed her as one of their own.

Priscilla at 2 1/2
                            with broom and dustpan       Priscilla @2 1/2 on tricycle at 37
                            Conselyea       Sister Jean 15,
                            Pris 2 1/2, Aunt Mary Normandy

Oh dear, that was not my happy face in the first two photos above taken on the same day on Conselyea Street. I found the photos upsetting, and I have a theory about why. I'll tell you what it brought up for me. (Memoirs should be called Therapy101. You may want to  just enjoy the photos and music and spare yourself my angst.) Mom raised me to be a housewife. It was how she was raised and all she knew. She could read, but never read a book until Mommy Dearest came out and it was her favorite book after that. I still can't use wire hangers.

Education was not valued by her parents. Her father went to take her out of school on her 14th birthday, The teacher tried to convince him to let her stay two more weeks so she could graduate from the 8th grade. According to Mom, he said, She's 14. She's gotta get her working papers now so she can go to work and help the family. 

Fast forward to my senior year of high school. My mother went to a meeting called by my teacher who tried to convince her to let me go to college. I was embarrassed when my mom said, My daughter is getting married right after graduation. She's going to be a housewife, so tell me, what does she need college for? (I didn't marry right after graduation.) I cried myself to sleep that night and told myself I would find a way to go to college some day. (I did find a way, when I was 33 years old.)

So there I was, only 2 1/2 years old in that picture, if the writing on the back of the photo is right. Of all the props she could have chosen, she picked a broom and dustpan, no doubt in keeping with her beliefs about a woman's worth. Then I remember, when she was born in 1902 women weren't even allowed to vote.

I did enjoy seeing my tricycle again. I had forgotten what it looked like. That was not my happy face either.
That brings me to what I believe is the only baby picture of me with my mother and father. She does not look happy. I thought that was her hand on me and then enlarged it to see that her two hands were together. It was my father's arms that were around me. It was from my father that I felt unconditional love.  He always gave me permission to do whatever I wanted to do, or be, at any given time. Oddly enough, he also had the experience of being told by his father that he couldn't continue attending Cooper Union in the City to learn about fine art. He was the first son and was needed at home to be a house painter in his father's business, Normandy and Son.
    Mom, Priscilla and
                            Dad - 1935      

Mom was the only one in our entire extended family who owned a camera. It was a Kodak Brownie box camera, possibly a Hawkeye No. 2, Model C that was
manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company in England. Originally it was offered for free and the response was so overwhelming they discontinued the model. Some of my cousins told me they wouldn't have any pictures of their childhood if it wasn't for Mom and her Brownie camera, always snapping away. She chronicled all the special moments of my life and theirs, and for that I am eternally grateful.  Thanks, Mom