Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

Inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Fashion

 

I dug into my massive collection of family photos for this challenge…and immediately thought of my grandmother Oma. I remember her closet full of shoes – stacked high on shelves in carefully labeled shoeboxes. Coordinating purses piled nearby. Many with small matching coin purses. Mostly black. She once told me that her favorite color was black – because it matched everything…of course!

As a child I never saw her without makeup on. Hair styled. Stockings (or “hose” as she called them) and heels. Always a dress or skirt.

I used to be a flapper she once told me. It sounded so glamorous…and so cool…and so not the grandmother I knew. Mysterious yet thrilling.

This photo was taken in 1927 at a 4th of July picnic. Twenty year old Oma is in the middle with a girlfriend on either side. (Plus a guy trying shenanigans or photo bombing behind them)

All wearing the latest swimwear (?) fashion…

fashion swimwear 1927

I admit to being curious about the shirt emblems. Perhaps the CAC stood for Cincinnati Athletic Club…since they all lived in Cincinnati. But I know that women were not allowed as members until over 75 years later (I spent too much time online looking that up…my inner Nancy Drew at work). So were they wearing their boyfriend’s shirts? Or suits? I know there’s a story there.

Apparently for whatever reason, Oma was stylin’ in something completely different.

Somehow I’m not surprised.

Another photo highlighting the fashion of the era is undated, but I would guess mid 1920s as well. My great grandmother and Oma showing off some festive hats…

fashion car circa 1927
And not to leave out the men, I found a photo taken in 1923. A group of machine tool salesmen posing after a meeting. I think my great grandfather worked for this company, so he would be the man pointed out in the back row.

sales group 1923

It doesn’t appear that men have veered too far from this suit and tie fashion combo in the years since then.

The hats were a nice finishing touch though.

Grandparents

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The prompt this week: Grandparents

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO FEATURING GRANDPARENTS OF ANY KIND.

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I think of my grandparents often. I have written about them in this blog many times. I miss them still. I have included links to their birthday posts for those who would like a peek at the lives of these exceptional grandparents. Two of my favorite photographs are posted below.

 
My four grandparents were the definition of unconditional love.

 

May 1957 opa oma 042 copy
Opa and Oma with me (age 3) and my sister

Opa – my mother’s father, wrote me countless letters (which I still have). I was his “Pen Pal.” He showered me with words of encouragement and support in all my childhood adventures. His sense of humor is family legend. He awakened my love of all things cards and games. Opa and I would sit across from each other playing Pinochle for hours on end…one of my last memories of him.

Oma – my mother’s mother, learned to drive a car so she could make the 45 minute trip from NY to visit me – her first grandchild. At the age of 47. She baked birthday cakes for her grandchildren and made a mean macaroni and cheese. She wrote to me at camp and sent postcards from her and Opa’s many trips around the USA. We became very close as she spent her last few years near my home.

 

grammypapa and me
Grammy & Papa and me (age 3)

Grammy – my father’s mother, lived many hours away from my family…but she wrote me countless letters – full of details of her life “down South” with her sisters. After Papa died, I got to know her better as she made extended visits to stay with us. She was a character and not afraid to speak her mind. An expert seamstress, she made dress-up outfits for my sister and me. Doll clothes too.

Papa – my father’s father, made an impression on me during the short time I knew him…as he died unexpectedly the year I turned 10. I still have a few of his letters. I remember him as a quiet, sweet and patient man who made me feel special.

 

[As a grandparent to a spectacular 3 year old, I now understand how much fun it is!]

Nostalgia

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The theme this week: Nostalgia

 

charm bracelet
When I was five years old, my Opa and Oma gave me a charm bracelet.

At least I think I was 5.

My clue?

A birthday cake charm with 5 candles that pop up if you push the lever underneath it. Pushing up with a just-the-right-size 5 year old finger. I especially remember the charms with the movable parts.

They added charms to the bracelet for many years. Birthday gifts or just because. Each charm meant something special. Several were souvenirs from their trips to Europe.

Such sweet memories…
A bicycle…I loved to ride.
A baby shoe…as I used to wear.
A mailbox…Opa and I were penpals.
Ballet shoes…my short lived stint taking lessons.
Piano…5 years of lessons and all I can still play is Chopsticks.

My favorite is the deck of cards charm. With actual cards inside – at one point I took them all out to check. And then put them all back.

It reminds me of O&O, as I called them. But especially Opa, who taught me everything I know about cards, game strategy and how much fun it is to play.

Although the 6 ½ inch bracelet no longer fits my wrist, it will always make me smile as I recall how it came to be.

 

 

 

(Photos taken with my new Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Full Frame DSLR. Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM lens)

 

Gadget

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #49: Gadget

Tell (or show) me about those gadgets in your life, or better yet, put on your creative caps and invent something new.

 

 

magnifier 1
flashlight magnifier

 

It is right here on my desk.

A gadget of sorts that I tossed in a drawer over 25 years ago.
Thinking…I can probably use this thing once in a while. If I ever need it. Someday. Maybe for teeny tiny print on a label…

Teasing my husband – who is a year my senior – you’ll probably need this before I do. 

Little did I know….

The truth is…I kept it because it was Oma’s. My grandmother, who ended up nearly blind from macular degeneration, viewed life through a blurry haze. Despite the thick glasses she was forced to wear in the last few decades of her life.

When Oma moved to an assisted living facility near me after Opa died, I arranged for her to have cataract surgery – with amazing results. Honey I can see colors!  At 84, the blurry haze was finally in color.

Many years earlier she had gone to the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York for help. Which is where she got this flashlight magnifier. A marvelous invention.

It turned out to be more than a gadget. It was her pathway to reading greeting cards, letters from family and friends. Reader’s Digest. Restaurant menus.

She died at the age of almost 87. I saved her letters. Her photographs. A few pieces of her jewelry. The hand mirror that emits a laughing sound when you pick it up. And the Lighthouse for the Blind flashlight magnifier.

It has been dusted off and put to use a few times over the years. However, the older I get – and the more I have to reach for those DARN reading glasses – the more I switch on Oma’s gadget instead…

So handy when I examine Opa’s color slides…checking for dust…before scanning them for this blog.

It works like a charm.

I think of her every time I use it.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Cake

This post inspired by Frank at Dutch goes the Photo

The prompt: Cake

 

“Honey, could you please get me a cake of soap?”

I remember my grandmother asking me that question – under what circumstances I have no idea.

I asked her what she meant…and she explained.

It was the term used back in her day. When soap was made in large blocks. A slice for personal use was called a cake. She preferred Camay. And later on, Ivory.

 

 

cakes of soap
Cakes of Soap 2019

 

And…oddly enough…now that I think about it…she was also the grandmother who made all of her grandchildren’s birthday cakes.
Every year. From scratch!
We chose the flavor.
Mine was coconut.

 

1971 oma cake
Oma 1971

 

 

 

 

 

Things my Opa said

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #40:
Things my father (or any male of influence growing up) said.

 

 

opa 59
Opa visiting his grandchildren
circa 1959

 

Are we here to eat or play cards?
You haven’t got a ghost of a chance.
Throw one away you won’t have so many.
Don’t bend the tickets!
Punt!

Discharge!! 

 

Card games: May I…Pinochle…Hearts…
Always accompanied by my grandfather’s litany of patter. To keep squirmy card players at attention. Snack crumbs to a minimum. Playing cards unbent. Always with a smile; however small, tugging at the corner of his mouth. The corner not clamped tight on a lit Pall Mall. The smile winning out at the last directive – discharge in lieu of discard – to get a rise out of my mother who was predictably horrified every time. Snickering ensued amongst the rest of us. Every time.

My grandfather – Opa – was a talker. A rabid card player. And so was I.

He did not offer endless pieces of advice…but a few come to mind:


The Ticket

I was 21 and had just started seriously dating the man I eventually married 3 years later. I was home that March on my college spring break…and spent a weekend visiting Opa and Oma. As we shared a booth waiting for pizzas at a local restaurant, he sat directly across from me. Oma was on my right. The conversation shifted from his questions about my nutrition classes…to questions about my romantic boyfriend. Who had sent a dozen yellow roses. To me. At their house…FTD!

What does he do? He’s a musician…
Uh, huh…?  He’s going to be a music teacher when he graduates this year.

Okay that’s good. Opa’s expression at this point relaxed somewhat, but remained neutral. I suspected he was hoping I was in love with someone who would earn lots of money. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen. Never mind what my career would bring…but I was a year away from graduation at that point.

And then he got to it…
Shifting in his seat, he leaned forward. Looked straight at me, his glasses sliding down his nose.

His blue eyes bored into mine.

Honey.
Remember This.
Wait For The Ticket.

Immediately Oma kicked him under the table. Muttered his name in a warning.

Waiting for my reply, he repeated:

Wait For The Ticket.

Never breaking his gaze. Uncharacteristically serious.
I nodded. Not really embarrassed, I kept my reaction as noncommittal as possible.
He didn’t want me to repeat his history.


Breastfeeding Is Best

Opa was beyond excited at the prospect of becoming a great grandfather. When I was expecting my first child, he would check in with me every so often to ask about my health. And plans for the baby. Including what the baby’s diet would be. I told him I was planning to exclusively breastfeed. He was thrilled. Your Oma breastfed your mother for a year!

He was one of the first people I called when my daughter was born. His first words…after congratulating me…were:

If You Breastfeed Her For The First Year Everything Will Be Fine!

And she was.

opa & K 1983008
Opa & his great granddaughter
1983

 

 

Happy Birthday Papa

Chopsticks!

Papa showed me how to play the classic simple song. A waltz actually. On his piano.
Sitting right beside me. Just the 2 of us.
At his big old house in Cincinnati, Ohio. One warm day in the 1960’s during a rare family visit.
I was only 8 years old.  I wish it had been the first of many lessons.

Papa, my paternal grandfather, was born March 9, 1886 in Chicago, Illinois. The middle child of five.  I don’t know much about his early life except he met Grammy when passing through her small rural Tennessee town. He often traveled by train from Cincinnati, working as a lumber inspector for his brother’s company. He rented a room in my grandmother’s childhood home during stops in Graysville. He eventually won her over…and that was that!

Papa and Grammy married and raised my father and his older sister in Cincinnati, where Papa owned and operated a lumber company. No small feat for a man with only an 8th grade education.

I probably saw Papa maybe a dozen times before he died unexpectedly at the age of 78. Cincinnati was very far away from where I lived on the east coast. Visits did not happen often. The last one was a whirlwind car trip a few weeks before he died.

papa& me baby006
Papa and me

What do I remember about Papa?

He was a short quiet man with kind brown eyes. Papa loved to put on his cap and go for long walks. Sometimes he asked me – just me! – to join him. During one of those walks, he stopped, plucked a wide blade of grass from a nearby patch and carefully positioned it between the sides of his thumbs. He pressed his thumbs together…held them up to his mouth, took a deep breath, puffed out his cheeks…and blew out…. It whistled!
Was this magic?
He then plucked one for me. And waited calmly until I was able to make it whistle all by myself.
I’m (obviously) still impressed all these years later.

I learned how to play chopsticks on the piano during one long…patient…lesson with him. Later, in their sunny kitchen, we’d sit across from each other by the window and play double solitaire. Or a new card game he taught me called 7Up.  At the metal table with the shiny sides and checkered formica top.

papa and me
Papa and me
circa 1958-59

Sadly our connection was short lived, but fortunately he left his loving stamp on my memory…and my heart.

papa letter004 copy

Happy Birthday Papa!

papa fishing007
Fishing in Tennessee

 

[ps…Papa would be thrilled to know…that coincidentally…his middle name is the same as his great great grandson’s first name…and…also coincidentally…they were both born on the 9th day of the month…]