I’ve hit the mother lode (note, not mother load) of mementos.
My husband has been cleaning out our attic, and my box of collected treasures has emerged from the clutter. I’ve scooped out just the first layer, so let’s call this post the first in a series. There are sure to be more.
In this tranche were all those charms I thought I’d lost, some religious relics, including my First Holy Communion book, an Immaculate Conception medal and an honorable mention certificate from Saint Dominic’s Catholic School in Shaker Heights, Ohio. There were a few old pictures, lots of cards and letters and my photo album from summer semester in Spain.
My favorite relic to be unearthed was an autograph book I got as a souvenir of Disneyland when my father took me there in 1969. I scored no celebrity autographs, unless you count that of the five-year-old daughter of the TV comedy writer with whom we stayed in L.A.
I didn’t wear a watch on that trip. I do remember asking my Dad what time it was about every 10 minutes. When I let him sign the first page of my autograph book, he wrote, “It’s twenty after ten.”
My Uncle Henry made note that he signed it on the weekend man first walked on the moon—which had nothing to do with the poem he penned:
Saint Monica, Saint Bernadette,
Her patron saints, don’t give up yet,
For though you’ve seen the demon’s taint,
You’ve seen the promise of a saint.
Imp or angel, bad or bonnie,
In equal portion, that’s our Monnie.
The other pages hold what we all know as autograph book rhymes. Things like:
Don’t worry if your pay is small, and if your jobs are few.
Remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you.
Remember the girl in the city. Remember the girl in the town.
Remember the girl who ruined your book by writing upside down.
See you in the ocean, see you in the sea.
See you in the bathtub. Oops, pardon me.
When you’re in heaven and it gets hot,
Pepsi-cola hits the spot.
When you get married and live in a hut,
Send me a picture of your first little nut.
When you get married and you have twins
Don’t come to me for safety pins.
It tickles me and makes me laugh
To think you want my autograph.
Never kiss by the garden gate
Because love is blind but the neighbors ain’t.
When I turned 50, my father gave me his mother’s autograph book, which is dated 1927 — 42 years before I had christened mine.
Allow me to share a few ditties from my grandmother’s crackled pages:
Lock up thy heart, keep safe the key,
Forget me not, til I do thee.
I wish I were a bunny with a little tail of fluff.
I’d climb upon your bureau and be your powder puff.
Some write for money, some write for fame,
But I write for the honor of signing just my name.
Down by the river there lies a rock,
And on it is printed, “Forget me not.”
If you get married and live upstairs,
For heaven’s sake, don’t put on airs.
It’s now 43 years after Disneyland and this place is my autograph book. Won’t you please sign it?