I almost didn't go to the antiquarian book and paper show. We were headed to Grand Rapids later in the afternoon to see more of ArtPrize (and I'll have some terrific pictures in another post!). Going to the show would give us a late start. But I'd missed it before and it was time to go splunking for postcards.
I always look for photos of the lake, either by where my house is now or where the family house is. That's the place where my mom, her sisters and my grandmother spent the summers -- Grandpa would come up for the weekends.
You have to step back in time when you think of those days -- It was the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. Grandpa -- like others at the resort -- brought the family up from Lansing by the first of July. Then he hit the trout streams. When he went home, life at the lake continued. For mom, it meant playing with her lake friends -- and Fran was her very best friend.
The played in the water, sang songs on the dock. They hung out with Fran's brothers and all the other kids whose dad's worked during the week and fished on the weekends.
Grandma oversaw her brood of four girls and for a few years, a little boy. Fran tells me that she was the nicest lady, and had the best sense of humor, laughing all the time. Nothing seemed to phase her. Well, she had to have a sense of humor, raising kids solo over the summer -- and back then, it really was the village raising the children. They were in and out of each others' houses constantly!
It's no wonder she could manage -- she never hesitated to play a role! (That's her, second from the left in the top hat!)
And she certainly seemed to have more nerve than I would have expected a city girl to have back during that period!
My grandmother, Minnie, had worked in my grandfather's insurance office. Somewhere along the way, he recognized she was a special sweet soul -- and married her.
She was lovely, Mom said. This photo is one of my favorites -- that little baby is my mom.
Mom told me that Minnie had so many crafty tendencies, it's no wonder she and I did, too. It came through the gene pool. And she loved a cup of tea -- mom always regretted she didn't stop more to have tea with her.
Lake days were fun for kids -- when they were smaller, they were lake rats, in the water all the time. But as they grew older, they'd travel into town -- it took about an hour to get where it now takes us about seven minutes!
Meanwhile, Minnie would spend time with the other mothers -- there were three Minnies who lived within a few doors of one another. On occasion -- but only when it was very hot -- they, too, would go bathing in the lake.
Fran remembered how frustrating it was when her Minnie-mom and my Minnie-grandma would can vegetables and make jam on different days. It meant those were days the girls wouldn't be able to play together.
And, she also tells of the time my aunt Grace -- about five, I think -- accidentally locked our Minnie in the outhouse. No one could find her, and as darkness fell everyone went looking for her in the woods, carrying their large lanterns. Someone got the wise idea to follow the dog, who led them to the small wooden building. Some would have been angry. Minnie just laughed.
My mother was pregnant with me when Minnie died.
I've always been sad that I never knew this woman -- she sounds so much like my mother, and so filled with zest and life. She was only in her 60s, and I just wish she'd had more years. I have a small kitten she made before I was born, but I'd never seen her handwriting, had a letter from her or a card. She was gone before that could happen. The photos were all I had.
Sunday I was at the show, visiting all the postcard vendors in search for all kinds of cards from all sorts of places. (Yes, one day I'll share the Paris ones, too.) Then I saw this one.
Wah Wah Soo was the resort area where our old family cottage was (and is today). It is set back from the lake. I have other postcards and the house never shows. But in this one, it seemed as though you could just see the corner of the upstairs window.
I turned it over -- and to my surprise realized it was addressed to the woman who was my childhood baby sitter. So of course I read the message.
Minnie L. -- it was written and signed by my grandmother.
I stood at the booth and cried. And bought the postcard for $14. I would have paid much, much more.
NOTE: New book post on Chopsticks and String. If you like folk music or Christine Lavin or knitting -- you mustlearn about this book. (and you don't have to like all to enjoy it!)
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