“When you’re in the kitchen frying meat, remember me and my big feet.”
Last month I was helping my ninety-three year old Aunt Viola sort through some of her keepsakes. We came upon an autograph book she received as a gift in 1934. It was filled with messages from her school classmates.
Before the advent of school yearbooks, autograph books served as a way to remember the young people with whom you had attended classes. And it certainly had served that purpose for my aunt. I went through the book with her and she remembered almost every person, telling me what they had done after graduation, whom they had married, where they had lived, what careers they had pursued and what kind of families they had. She recalled tidbits of information as well about their academic abilities or schoolyard behaviour from more than seventy-five years ago.
Some of the messages in her autograph book were very funny, like the one that opens this blog post……..
Some of the poems in the autograph book didn’t apply to my aunt at all, like this one, since my aunt never married. Others did apply to her.Aunt Vi has lived her life with purpose. She had a long career as an elementary school teacher. She has traveled the world. She has served as a volunteer in her church and community in a myriad of roles. She has maintained close ties with her family and has boxes full of guest books that record messages from the literally thousands of guests she has entertained in her home.
I so enjoyed looking through Vi’s autograph book. There were messages from her classmates written in German, others contained lines of poetry, some conveyed spiritual truths and each reminded my aunt of someone who had played an important role in her school life. Here’s a couple of my favorite autographs.
There was one autograph that made me cry. It was the one my mother had penned in her big sister’s autograph book in 1938 when she was thirteen years old. Mom writes about always remembering her sister. Sadly my Aunt Vi is now the only one in her family left to remember. My mother and Aunt Vi’s other two siblings have all passed away.