Birthdays and Scrapbooks

Based on best wishes I’ve received from friends on Facebook, a lot of folks thought it was my birthday yesterday. Because Bad Guys use social media to sniff out all kinds of personal data I will neither confirm nor deny that.

Y’all have figured that I’m a bit of a pack rat.You might have figured that out when I posted Valentine’s Day cards from elementary school.

I got it from my parents. Being the firstborn, everything associated with my young life was recorded in detail in a number of scrapbooks. By the time Number Three, Bro Mark, came along, his scrapbook just said, “See Previous.”

This wasn’t just Mother’s project, either. That’s Dad’s handwriting. When I really dive into the Baby Book, I’ll post the great diary he typed of my early years.

Make no bones about it

When I say EVERYTHING was recorded, I mean EVERYTHING

First Birthday

The house trailer that moved from town to town while Dad was building roads and bridges is behind me.

What are you doing with those balloons?

Birthday cakes are cool. This was shot in my grandparents’ yard in Advance.

OK, one balloon is fun, but what is my grandmother, Elsie Welch, doing behind my back?

Once I figured they were trying to launch me into the air, I decided a protest was in order.

Celebrating higher education

There are a bunch of me dressed in a cap and gown and holding my Trinity Lutheran School Kindergarten diploma. I think my parents were afraid that might be the only time I’d wear a cap and gown, so they wanted to make the most of it.

Actions have consequences

On what appears to have been my sixth birthday, I made the mistake of (A) wearing a funny hat and (B) chewing with my mouth open.

The next thing I know, I’m dressed with some kind of funky collar around my neck (left) and dragooned into a Trinity Lutheran School play with some equally excited kids.

I recognize, in no particular order, Jerry O’Connell, Della Heise, Cheri Huckstep, Judy Schrader and, maybe, Bonnie Strom.

Career Choices: Jockey?

Before long, it was time to think about career choices. Dad made it clear that he didn’t want us boys to follow his tracks into the construction business, so he first sized me up as a jockey. That wasn’t a good fit.

How about cowboy?

I tried the Hopalong Cassidy look for about a year, but that was too much like my jockey experience. Not for me.

How about  the Air Force?

This was my favorite outfit. I still have it. We dressed Grandson Malcolm in it when he was the right size. It’s as close to military service as I ever got. (Except for that trip to National Guard camp.)

Trust me, this is NOT the last time we visit my childhood scrapbooks. I haven’t looked at them in years, but they contain a wealth of photos worth sharing.

Learn from others

Learn from others: that was the most important lesson I learned in my childhood. I found this expression equally useful against recalcitrant public officials, obstreperous editors and tight-fisted vendors.



a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing!

27 Replies to “Birthdays and Scrapbooks”

  1. How lucky you are to have these wonderful mementos!!! If that is what you call being a packrat, live on!!!!

  2. The cowboy outfit reminds me of my two younger brothers, who lived in those outfits in the late 40’s-early 50’s. The old car could be our 1941 Oldsmobile–except that ours was black. During that era, all cars were black–so your family must have had special connections!
    This was a fun trip down memory lane, Ken, and clearly shows your talent in being able to pull anything together for a blog!!

  3. There must have been a Western craze in the ’50s – every young boy (have never seen girls) of 5-8 years old was mounted on a horse/pony and docked with a hat, fitted with chaps and photographed – often with sheer terror on their faces.
    Were these traveling photographers? I picture some old guy in a wrinkled coat using an old Graflex camera directing.
    The bunny, though, takes the cake!!! It strikes fear in me even now!

    1. The 50s was the age of the cowboy. In one year 7 of the top 10 TV shows was a western.

      And there were cowgirl outfits too. There was Dale Evans, to match Roy Rogers, and my wife had an Annie Oakley outfit complete with toy guns.

      Moms and Dads took most of the pictures.

  4. OMG… they say these days. These are amazing. I was the fifth child and have scavenged all family resources to come up with only handful of things regarding my young life. What glorious mementos you have. I can only say I am envious. Guess I can “ditto” brother Mark’s comment. Love seeing such treasures.

  5. It seems so obvious, I am surprised no one commented on how similar the expressions of you and the dog. I have long heard that people often bear a striking resemblance to their pets but never witnessed it in one so young.

  6. In my family photo quantities stayed the same through all nine of us. The home movies, however, seriously declined.

  7. Ken, I just love these iconic photos! Either of your parents could have been historians which is what you have become.

  8. 1. I’m glad Jon Webb established strict rules for neatness in our darkroom!
    2. I love the composition of some of these photos. People who do not think about composition I think unconsciously include things that make the picture; some of the stuff outside the subject carries an incredible amount of cultural/historic information. I love the details in the trailer; of course I’m trailer trash myself…

    1. I’ll be posting a whole batch of trailer photos later.

      How do you like the white picket fence? Dad made it so it would fold up so it could be moved from town to town.

  9. Ken, Had to comment on the Hopalong outfit, I must have had the next order as mine looked identical. Great shots and great memories from home, regards, kkr

  10. Even though I am a few years older than you I have similar pictures as I, too, went to Trinity Kindergarten. I’m not sure what play you did but we did Little Black Sambo! Can you believe it?? I still have those pictures and if I had some tech skills could post them. I was an only child with lots of pictures but no wishbone…I am so jealous. But I did have a cowgirl outfit that my 6 or 7 year old birhtday picture was taken in. That picture was in the SE Missourian when I was elected queen at Lorimier School in the first grade. Thanks again for all your pictures and memories…

  11. so you don’t feel alone kenny, i had the hoppy look too and i have a similar picture taken at brookfield zoo in chicago

  12. Ken, in the Trinity Lutheran kindergarten play photo, my husband Don Neumeyer says he is the one in the darker hat in front with his back to David Haas in the lighter hat. He remembers his mother making the vest, but can’t remember where the hat originated. Don was at Trinity only for kindergarten and then went on to St. Mary’s.

  13. LOL Ken, my mother kept every card I ever received – even from her baby shower – and everything else in a scrapbook. I don’t think it had a wishbone, but I’ll have to check.

    Happy belated birthday…guess it’s belated cause no one knows the date for sure. Thanks for all the memories…

  14. Belated Happy Birthday. TLS brings back memories. I was a squirrel or chipmonk in the Snow White and Seven Dwarfs production. 🙂

    Since Easter just passed … I still love to hear Beautiful Saviour. I can’t believe I learned it there when I was only 5 or 6 yrs old.

    Ken, thanks for the memories.

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