If you have been following my web site, the last two blogs have focused on the death of my mother and my realization that I was mourning more than my mother; I was mourning the parts of my mother that I never got the chance to know. With that as my motivation, I perused my mother’s high school diary. Here is an entry from 1938. You tell me what I have learned …
“My eighteenth birthday will always be on one of the happiest days of my life. Early in the morning my Dad rushed into my room and gave me eighteen dollars and eighteen whacks. Then my brother sneaked in his present and asked me how I felt after eighteen years of insanity. He gave me the darlingest lapel gold clip with five charms, representing a street scene. At school everyone commented how nice I looked. I had on a navy blue swing skirt with a red linen blouse. Over it, I wore a navy blue jacket, which had white Chinamen faces with top hats printed on it. I put a blue bow in my page-boy style hair to complete the ensemble.
At school we received our grades from some recent exams. I was worried, but I received a 95+ in English, a 95 in History, a 95 in Latin, and either a 90 or 95 in French. I wanted to ask to ask the teacher, Madame Scutt, as her writing was difficult to decipher. However, I thought she might think me pretty nutty. So, I rather think it was a 95 because my translations are always well prepared. In Latin, the teacher asked me to read my original Latin poem. I wanted the poem to be written in dactylic hexameter, but alas, I discovered that was too challenging so I just tried to make it rhyme. Afterwards, she called me a Latin poet and made me read it again, translating my poem to the class.
After school I hurried into town for some frenetic window shopping. I was so vexed that I had forgotten my money, but mother arrived and insisted on buying me some items. I got a Cutex nail set in a blue leather pouch with so-called “Smokey” shades. I selected a dull green Shetland wool suit with wine accessories and then a pair of black patent open-toe pumps, plus a pair of high-heeled pumps. I also was given an aqua-marine blue bonnet with a fish-net veil and a black ribbon, which ties under the chin. The lady, who works in the store, knew my mother and convinced her to also buy me a cute purple hat. Golly, it was such fun.
At night we went to watch Jerome’s basketball game. It so exciting, sitting behind all of the cute boys. His team won 44-42. After the game I waited until he had showered. When he came up, he gave me a bracelet and then he introduced me to the captain of the football team. The boy was so good looking! After Jerome had boarded the bus, the boy asked to walk me to the corner. He was such a good conversationalist. When the bus drove by, all the boys stuck their heads out the window and yelled, “Good night, Natalie.” Ah, it was so thrilling.
At home we had a little party. It was so much fun blowing out the candles. Afterwards, I played a piece on the piano: “Bie Mir Bist Du Schon.” And then we all took turns, playing the piano and singing together. I did not get up to my bedroom until after midnight. I still had a Latin and French translation to complete. Instead, I donned my blue broadcloth mannish pajamas and just climbed into bed. I was too tired to do any ridiculous homework. Ah, it was a fabulous day. But then, I’m prejudiced, n’est-ce pas?”
Now, what did I learn from reading through pages of one of her high school diaries? That she was focused on her clothes, that she was a good student, and that she already had a penchant for a captain of a football team.” In short, I learned nothing new. She loved clothes, jewelry, and books. She had a great vocabulary and she married the captain of a college football team. So, what is the message? If we want to really get to know our mothers, we’d better accomplish that goal while they are living, not through old photos or old diaries.
Shall we all spend a little more time together?
Sounds good to me … just a little late …