Friday, February 26, 2016

365 True Things: 334/Papers

I went through a box of my mother's papers today, which had been stored in the garage. Two-thirds of them were old tax returns, bank statements, etc. Easily tossable. But a few folders held things of interest to me, potentially.

Among them old postcards and letters I wrote, in a folder labeled ANNE. The ones from when I was a teenager in Europe writing home are simply cringe-worthy, but later ones from after David and I moved to Monterey are quite interesting. Oh, that's what I was doing then! And clearly, since I was writing my mother, it was stuff other than what I'd squirrel away in a journal. (Which today also read as cringe-worthy, for different reasons.)

I also gleaned that the house my family was living in when I was born was one that my parents had had built! From a kit, so to speak: style no. 402. I had no idea. It makes me all the more sad my mother died before we built this house. She would have had vicarious pleasure reliving her own experience. (And probably sharing her lessons learned, which would not have applied anymore.) But today, it makes me happy to think of her going through a similar process, making similar decisions, dreaming about life in a brand-new house.

Though it also makes me wonder why they moved again. I wonder if my brother knows.

Since I like to document stuff rather than keep it (though I will probably keep these files for a while, and cull them again eventually), I took a few photos of my finds today.

That's my father on the right, in Japan. And a little book of
remembrances from his students, plus four pages of
recollections by a former grad student, signed only as Bob.
It ends: "Ted was a truly decent and honest individual.
He was independent and tough-minded. He fought against
bigotry when bigotry was more fashionable than it is now.
He had an enormous range of interests, from science on the
one hand to baseball, photography, water colors, music
and the operatic arias of Mozart on the other. He was
determined that others should understand the truths he had
learned from a lifetime of scholarship, and he worked
diligently to make certain that they did. Surely that is
the mark of a great teacher." (That was written in 1985;
unfortunately, bigotry is back in fashion. Will we ever learn?)

I was captivated by the IRS stamps here. $3.95. This deed
has to do with the house my parents built on Hanley Lane,
Crestwood Hills, Los Angeles, in 1949 or 1950.
Stamps of postcards I sent during my tenth-grade year, when
my parents left me in Germany. I vacationed in Austria,
Belgium (no postcards from there), and Finland.
A photo my mother had of me in her papers. I remember that
poster of Denmark. I had other travel posters besides.
And all the dolls. I was probably about fourteen here.
In a folder titled "The Writings of Loraine Geissman." It seems
my mother took writing classes. I didn't know. I did know that
she tried writing her memoirs, but she got stuck in a
difficult period in the 1960s, then gave up. I was hoping
to find her reminiscences of a trip to Manzanar.
Instead she left me fictional imaginings. If I can
decipher her handwriting (never an easy task), I will
look forward to seeing what she had to say.