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.

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 Oma

“Honey, I don’t care what anyone tells you – the golden years are shit for the birds!”

(My) Oma
circa 1992

Oma always told it like it was. To anyone who would listen.
One of the many things I loved about her. She got right to the point. No mind games.

And at the age of 86, that was her take on life, confined to a wheelchair in an assisted living facility near me. Her shoulders disintegrated. Knee replacements failing. Almost blind. Skin thin as tissue paper. Widowed. She was pissed. Understandably.

 

Omaformal2
Oma was my maternal grandmother.
Born and raised in Ohio.
Oldest of 2.
Self-proclaimed flapper.
Married at 22.
Mother of one.
Grandmother of 5.
Greatgrandmother of 6.
Lover of all things strawberry.
And Stouffer’s creamed chipped beef.
And “The Price is Right” & “Days of Our Lives”
And Andy Rooney’s segment on “60 Minutes.”
And…as I discovered…she loved yellow roses…just like I did.

When Oma was having a good day, she also liked to talk politics, gossip and reminisce about her childhood…

I played jacks and I loved to roller skate. Those were the only things I could do! Back in those days, the girls wore big bows in their hair. Boys and girls were in separate classrooms. Why, I remember visiting my cousins on their farm in Indiana. It was so much fun. It was a beautiful farm, too.

She would slip into the past and take me with her. I saw chickens and cows and the juicy pies set to cool on the kitchen windowsill. She spoke of her fireman father who developed crippling rheumatoid arthritis but doted on his little girl.  He spoiled me, she said with a grin.

Omaflapper2

Oma only completed the 10th grade, quitting to work full time and bring in money for her family. She loved her job as a secretary at a music/piano store in Cincinnati.  Customers came in to listen to the newest records in private listening rooms.  She was thrilled to be a part of that.

But I remember her long before the “golden years” overtook her.
Her quick wit, her caring and love of family.
Her spirit.

Oct 1955 oma&a001
I spent weekends with Oma & Opa several times a year. My childhood getaways. Just me and them.

When Opa was at work, Oma and I went shopping – back before the days of big box stores and Walmart.  We’d walk up and down the town’s main street. Every shopkeeper greeted her by name, the bells on the door signaling our arrival. We got fresh sliced ham for sandwiches and a thick steak at the butcher shop. Black & white cookies and warm rolls from the bakery. Opa’s shirts at the dry cleaners.

One day, on our drive home from shopping, we were waiting at a stop light next to a carload of teenage boys. The driver gunned his engine and laughed at us: the “old” woman and the kid. Well…when the light turned green that “old” woman floored it. We were off like a shot – her 8 cylinder blue Chrysler leaving those hot-rodders in the dust! I cheered!  Wow!, I remember thinking, Wow.

It is still my favorite Oma story. This “old woman” was 60ish at the time.

***

oma postcard038 copy

I know I was in her thoughts when she was on trips with Opa.
I still have a pile of postcards written just to me in her perfect handwriting…

And birthdays? She would bake each of her grandchildren a cake of his or her choosing. From scratch.
Her other specialties? Waffles made from Bisquick. Applesauce from scratch. Velveeta macaroni and cheese. Using the right brand was crucial.

The results were outstanding.

Upon moving to my first home, I asked for her famous macaroni and cheese recipe. She complied:

oma recipe039

~~~

My Oma (or Ruth, as she was known to the rest of the world), would have been 112 years old today – October 19th.
I can just imagine her rolling her eyes at the very idea of living that long.

Happy Birthday Oma!

oma 1991040

Happy Birthday Opa

Beefeater’s martini straight up. No ice. Lemon peel on the side – if I wanted lemonade I would have ordered it. 

That’s how Opa ordered his drink – the first order in the first round of drinks – when he took our family out to dinner when I was growing up. It sounds kind of rude, but I would imagine if time after time he got the lemon peel in the drink…well, he ran out of patience. I would wait with great curiosity to see what the waiter or waitress would bring. The fancy stemmed glass filled with a clear liquid served on a small plate…where a few slices of lemon peel hopefully (!) would rest. I don’t remember where the olive was supposed to go. Worst case scenario: a glass filled with ice AND lemon peel AND the gin. High drama for us kids.

Next up was ordering off the menu. We could all order what we wanted. No children’s menu. I always felt so grown up learning the fine art of “find out what goes with the dinner.”

Split and toasted!

When the inevitable basket of dinner rolls arrived to keep us fed while waiting for the meals to arrive, Opa would send it back to the kitchen. Please have these rolls split and toasted! And they did and they were amazing and warm and crunchy with butter melting all over.

The bunny!

While we crunched on warm, toasty rolls, Opa made magic happen with his white cloth napkin. He turned, napkin hidden, to the side – carefully rolled, then twisted the cloth and…turned back to face us. And there in the crook of his left arm was a napkin “bunny” – that kept “hopping” up his arm as he patted it with his right hand. All the while he would be talking to it and to us. We’d stare and stare. Wow. That’s entertainment.

The bra!

As we got a bit older, the bunny didn’t capture our attention like Opa’s napkin bra could. He’d quick fold up his napkin, pull the corners and briefly hold it up in front of his tie and pressed suit jacket. Ta Da! Opa had a bra! Hysterical and ridiculous every time. This napkin trick embarrassed my mother immensely but thoroughly entertained his grandchildren. How did he do this? Simple (but I didn’t figure it out for a long time):

  1. Fold napkin so that the 2 sides meet in the middle.
  2. Fold the opposite way so the open edges are on the outside.
  3. Grab left corners with left hand and right corners with right hand and pull.

 

Sparklers!

When it was someone’s birthday, there was a cake brought out to the birthday girl or boy. A cake with a lit sparkler! The cake could be seen from across the dining room shooting sparks into the air.  As it was set before you everybody sang Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo….

***

I am honoring my Opa’s memory on June 26th – what would have been his 112th birthday – by sharing his restaurant tricks & talents. Valuable hints for grandparents everywhere. How to continue embarrassing your children and endearing you to your grandchildren forever.

Happy Birthday Opa!

opa&me