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Saturday, October 2, 2004

Every time I drop by Mom's house these days, I come home with something new. Or rather, something old. Usually it's something I can use, like a wok.

Come to think of it, what am I going to do with a wok? Or the bottom half of a double boiler? Well, they seemed like good ideas at the time.

Mom is moving next weekend. She's packed and ready, mostly. We're having a garage sale for her the following Saturday, so she can get rid of some of the things that won't fit into her new apartment. She's losing about half the available storage space that she has in her mobile home.

Today was a little different. She was looking through her old scrapbooks, not having a place to pack them but not wanting to throw them out. She asked me what she should do with them, but I couldn't make that decision. I did agree to bring them home with me, so at least she doesn't have to decide before she moves whether to toss them or not.

When I looked through the albums, I started to feel an improbable nostalgia for the ten years or so before I was born, because they seem to be pretty well documented. I can understand how hard it must be for my mother to part with things she's been saving since before, during and shortly after World War II. There is, in fact, one entire album of wartime cartoons clipped from the newspaper.

But even more than that, I found the cards she received at her sixteenth birthday party, and the following Christmas and Valentine's Day. (She was very popular, by the way, and I wonder how much all those boys knew about each other. It was a small town, so I can't imagine secrets would have been easy to keep, even if she cared to do so.)

She saved some of her school assignments, including a homemade world atlas that consists mostly of various types of maps cut out and pasted onto scrapbook pages. This was 1943, though, so even that has some historical resonance. There are maps showing the allegiances of the world's nations during the war. Occupied France is shaded gray, while Vichy France is shown in blue. The Axis countries are all green.

Mom's bridal scrapbook includes cards from well-wishers at the time of her wedding, and also from her baby shower the following year. In those cards, by the way, I am referred to as the "dear little bundle," and the "baby-to-be." Someone had the audacity to wish I would be twins.

Obviously, there's no way I'm throwing any of this stuff away. I probably knew that before I even started looking at it.

circa 1942

Why we won the war.

In case you think the cult of celebrity is a late-twentieth / early-twenty-first century phenomenon, think again. Mom has several scrapbooks consisting solely of photos and articles clipped from newspapers and movie magazines, showing stars of Hollywood at work and play. Even during the war, when there was real news, Americans were interested in the private life of Joan Crawford (and little did they know at that time).

My mother has preserved for prosperity the entire September 1942 issue of Modern Screen magazine, with Olivia de Havilland on the cover. Don't make me an offer, though, because it's not for sale.

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The Giants did the near-impossible today. When you go into the bottom of the ninth inning leading by three runs, it's nearly impossible to lose by four, but the Giants' porous bullpen managed that feat. The Dodgers won the game (and the division title), 7-3. The Giants still have a slim chance to get into the postseason, but since it depends on the useless Rockies winning a game, they might as well start packing up and saying, "See you in spring training." The thing is, if you lose the way the Giants lost today, maybe you don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Expansion Team
"We will have the privilege of seeing another well-loved child come into the world, and hopefully I'll have the pleasure of walking around with a sleepy baby on my shoulder once again."

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