Tuesday, May 29, 2012

DESPERATELY, OBSESSIVELY SEEKING PRECIOUS HISTORY

Those close to me will attest to the fact that I get more than a little nuts when I've begun a project. This is no exception.

On my personal Facebook page, I mentioned to my friends that I wanted to scan and share some newspaper columns that my mother wrote back in about 1966 -- or was it 1968? They were for the now-defunct Van Nuys Valley News and Green Sheet. But, I can't find them, and Mom now can't be sure where they are!!

I've ransacked the living room desk several times over the past weekend--where Mom swears they were last time--and I'm eyeballing other potential storage places. How can I describe the frantic, frustrated feelings I have?

Okay -- the back story: My mom, Norma Cook, was then still a housewife, prior to her midlife jump to her longtime nursing career. I was a sulky teen, observing my parents' doings from the periphery of the household with careful adolescent disinterest. I remember the hair salon appointment -- a rare indulgence given how little money we had, followed by the visit to the hole-in-the-wall photographer for black-and-white head shots. I remember the "breaking-news" reaction of our family when Mom's column first appeared...and Mom's feelings of betrayal when she was abruptly told that her words were no longer going to be printed.

Only three or four printed columns, and a spiral-bound notebook with Mom's handwritten musings for potential articles that were never finished...where are they?? There are other drawers, other closets...hmm...

I've called my son, who, as a youngster, had been shown these items by his grandmother, and remembers marveling at his grandmother not always having white hair and wrinkles. His recollection -- they're in the desk. Mom swears she has not thrown anything out.

Now I'm beginning to question my eyesight and my cognitive faculties. That's it -- I'm going to enlist the aid of one of the major libraries, who might have the ability to retrieve my mother's articles on microfilm. Crazy fortune being what it is, just when I get reproduced copies, the originals will show up...somewhere in the house.

The moral to my readers is this: don't be careless with any pieces of family history! Have several family members know for certain where they are, and do an occasional check. Someone who has the heart and interest needs to appoint him/herself the family historian, to take collective memories seriously.

There's little that's more heartbreaking than seeing random, unlabelled photos in boxes at some swap meet, or handwritten letters consigned to the trash by an uninterested third-party cleaning out a house for a property auction.

Stay tuned...I'll find my Mom's articles yet!

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