Son Adam turned 36 on July 7. He posted this on Facebook: “Sadly, this will be the first year I won’t get a card from Mary Welch Steinhoff for my birthday with some family photos in it.”
See, Mother had drawers full of hundreds of photographs of family from way back, plus hundreds more we sent her over the years. I’m not sure when she started the custom of mailing pictures BACK to us on our birthdays, but she was way ahead of Facebook in returning memories. The birthday envelope would contain a card, a stack of photos, and a check that roughly correlated to your age (I think she may have capped it at 50 bucks when we got older, but I’d have to go back to look).
I hope this tides you over
There was no telling if you’d get a picture of you as a baby, a toddler or an adult. I think she just reached into a drawer or a box and grabbed whatever fate dealt.
Happy Birthday, Kid
So, Adam, I’m not your Grandmother, but I DO have access to her stash. I hope these bring back good memories. Click on the photos to make them larger.
Folks, if you’re looking for a nice family tradition to start, give this a try. P.S. please write dates and names on the back of the prints. Locations, too, will help down the road.
Tucked away in an envelope in a nondescript Bible buried in a metal cabinet that hadn’t been opened in decades was this telegram to Mother that validates a story that she told for years. (Click on the photo to make it large enough to read.)
Washington would never have been the same
Had this young college girl from Advance jumped at the War Department’s offer to become to junior clerk or typist in Washington, D.C., for the munificent salary of $1,440 per annum, D.C. would never had been the same.
“I’d rather be married than type”
When Mother told the story, she always said, “I’d rather be married than type.”
Dad and Mother were in a movie theater when the word about the attack on Pearl Harbor broke. When they came out, my grandfather said, “If you kids are going to get married, you’d better do it right away.”
And, they did, exactly one month later, on January 7, 1942.
The telegram has a time of day stamp – 3:23 p.m. – but it doesn’t have a date, so I don’t know when it was sent.
One of those things
We’ve had a long-standing family tradition of giving the car horn two short beep beeps when we pull out of the driveway. When I left Cape on Friday, I backed out onto Kingsway Drive, then, out of habit, went “BeepBeep.”
That’s when it hit me: there was nobody there to hear my good-bye beeps. Dammit, it’s those little things that sneak up on you.
For as long as I can remember, Dad carried some silver dollars in his pocket they had been there so long they were nothing but slick disks. I don’t know why he carried them, but I always liked to think it was to remind him of my two brothers and me.
When Son Matt came along on September 27, 1975, I went right out and got a silver dollar from the bank and started carrying it.
When Son Adam came along on July 7, 1980, I got a second dollar. I needed a way to tell the coins apart, so I snatched up the photo department’s engraver and scrawled Adam Lynn 7/7/80 on his.
I got the date wrong
In a burst of enthusiasm, I scratched Matthew Louis on his coin. Unfortunately, I was so caught up in my new son’s birth day that I inscribed Matt’s date as 9/27/80 instead of 1975. My only option was to scratch the 80 out and put 75 beneath it.
What brought this to mind was Daughter-in-Law Sarah asked if I had an engraver. We traded emails where I said that Adam still had it from the birth of Grandson Elliot, but she was welcome to use it.
Adam responded by writing, “I’ve still not engraved Elliot’s dollar. I’m too scared to mess it up.”
In 50 years it’ll be slick
I told him the story of Matt’s coin and said that even if he makes a mistake, it adds a certain character to the token. “Besides, in 50 years or so, it’ll be slick anyway.”
I don’t know why Dad carried his silver dollars, but I know that every time I rattle the change in my pocket, I think of my two sons. I hope they do the same with their boys.