Tuesday, November 22, 2005


Stopped at the craft store after work to pick up a custom matte I'd ordered for a picture that hung in my bedroom as a child. The picture is nothing fancy, but I have a sentimental attachment to it (it has been in both my grandmother's and my mother's rooms when they were little girls; Mum and I were very close; my relationsip with Gram was more complicated, to say the least -- we were alike in ways that made it hard to get along, while we were different in other ways which also made it hard to get along; the fact that she was an alcoholic didn't help, either.........), and the frame it had been in was getting very creaky.

When I first left home (at the age of 18, to work at acamp for the summer before going away to university), my mother actually found a note card with the same picture, which she sent me (and which packrat me still has -- including the picture of my dad holding my forever favorite cat Priscilla) as a reminder of home.

Somewhat surprisingly for me (as I've had several people tell me that I'm the most inquisitive person they have ever met**), I'd never looked into the background of the picture, until I took the note card off the fridge today to scan it. It turns out the artist was a woman named Jessie Willcox Smith, born here in Philadelphia, who spent a decade and a half doing the cover art for Good Housekeeping in the 1920s/1930s, as well as illustrating lots of children's books.

When I took the old frame apart (which I'd never done before) to put the picture in the new matte/frame, I noticed a tag that said Bookshop for Boys & Girls, Women's Educational & Industrial Union, 264 Boylston, Boston which is an organization my mother and grandmother supported, and where Mum bought a particular plastic spoon, with a certain angle between the handle and the business part of the spoon that was perfect for scrambling eggs. (It got quite mangled, but we kept it for years in its less-than-perfect condition, as we couldn't find anything similar anywhere {and we looked!}, until Mum found some a couple years ago at a dollar store in October, at which point she went around for two months saying it was going to be a good Christmas for me and Dad --- and it was. And, yes, she waited 2 months to put the $1 spoons in our stocking instead of using them right away; she was a master of delayed gratification!).

** Including not only friends and co-workers but one college admissions counselor and my father, who says I'm a vacuum cleaner (he'd started with sponge -- soaks up information but you need to squeeze to get it out -- but finally decided the vacuum was a better analogy -- sucks up all information/data in my path, and when you open it to get one thing out, everything spills out.) Well, anyway, back to my oroginal thought -- the Internet has been great for me this way. You don't want to know how many times I developed a burning question at 5 p.m. on a Saturday, when I was living in an area where the library wasn't open on Sunday. Now I just need to wait for Shabbos to end, instead of the library opening on Monday.

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