Saturday, June 25, 2011

Autograph Book

I went to 5 or 6 different yard sales on the way home from knitting group this morning. AMAZINGLY, I only bought stuff at three of them, though I totally made out like a bandit, especially at one! I've been looking for some very specific things, which I might start showing you after a bit, and I did not let myself look at any clothes (er, except I did buy a Cheshire Cat t-shirt and a pretty wrap skirt, and I coveted a couple of fur coats but didn't buy them). I could yammer on about the other things I got, but I'll save that for later. Today I want to tell you about the autograph book.

An autograph book is a little book of blank pages in which a person collects the autographs of friends and acquaintances, although they often also contain little notes, poems, rhymes, jokes, or even drawings.

I like how she added "Sunday" before School-day Memories, and wrote the name of her teacher, "Brother Wilcox" instead of the more typical year she graduated from that class. It's also got her address, which you can bet I will be scoping out soon, if possible.

This is the autograph book of Annie Lillian Lambert. I know her middle name, even though it isn't in the autograph book, because I also bought her 5-year diary, which was sporadically filled out for 1943 up until July 16th, with three entries in 1944. (The diary, the autograph book, and a really cute 1930's children's book I got for $1 all together.) In the diary, she mostly wrote about the parties she went to with friends, receiving letters from various boys, who drove her home or who she sat next to on rides around town (and what a "swell guy" the beau of the moment was), and the occasional prayer meeting at church or test at school.

The first handful of pages appear to be filled in by visiting preachers, maybe at revivals or just from gentlemen who came to preach at her church. I know sometimes "back in the day," nearby towns used to swap preachers for a Sunday. After that, the rest of the pages (and there are many!) are written in by Sunday School friends. There are also quite a few from people she met at a church camp called Pinecrest (written "Pine Crest" in the book) Camp in Palmer Lake, Colorado. A Google search pulled up The Historic Pinecrest, a lovely place to get married, with a chapel, an event center, and a lodge. Only the chapel looks like it might be remotely "historic," but I couldn't find anything more about it. Either it's a different place altogether, or it's undergone a lot of remodeling since 1945.

"May 28, 1944

Dear Annie,

Cows like punkins
Pigs like squash
I like you
I do by gosh!

A friend
Ruth Rupe"

There are several Rupes in the book; I assume they're siblings and/or cousins around Annie's age.

"June 11, 1944
Grand Junction, Colo.

Dear Annie,

Annie is your name.
Grand Jct. is your station,
Flearting (sic) with the boys
is your chief accupation (sic).

Sgt. George Gray
Bertha Whitesel
Flora Rupe"

I wonder where she met these folks! I'll bet she was very excited to spend time with a Sergeant! And who are Bertha and Flora, and why did they feel the need to sign the same page but in lead pencil as opposed to the blue pencil George signed with? Just friends being silly after the fact, or were they really there and just used a different pencil?

"Aug. 16, 1945

Dear Ann,

When you are kissing your sweetheart,
Out by the gate,
Remember, love's blind
but the neighbors ain't.

Your friend at Youth Camp,
Carlene Alexander"

From the 1944 diary entries, I'm assuming she's at least in high school from all the talk about "driving around" and "he drove me home!" Was she really that big a flirt and that boy-crazy? Or am I just getting a small part of the story--the things she thought were important and wanted to write about and the things her friends wanted to remember and tease her about.

Many of the preachers and some of the friends or acquaintances wrote well-wishes and exhorted her (one even used that word, exhort!) to live a life for God, that she would be a blessing to others, that the Lord would bless her, that God needs her talents, and so on. Reverend C.E. Myers from Osborn, Missouri, at a revival in Grand Junction on May 6, 1944, wrote Rom. 11:33 on his page. The verse is, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" John H. Kane of Anderson, Indiana, (camper, preacher, or friend?) recommended Annie memorize 1 Cor. 10:13, as "It will help you much." That verse is, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."

Lila Mae (with whom Annie spent many days and nights, according to the diary) wrote "In your fruitcake of friends, remember me as the nut!" after her little note, but she wrote it upside down and added in the corner, "Ha! ha! I made you turn upside down." There's also some sort of code on the edge of her page. I'm sure they were very close friends with lots of inside jokes.

There are several references to the colors of the pages, usually in rhyme (these are only a couple): "I'll be polite and write on white/ And save the yellow for your fellow." (Lila Mae) "I'll write on yellow 'cause it is mellow" (Myron Hogen/Hagen?) In the book there are white, yellow, pink, and blue pages. I think this must be typical for autograph books because of the rhymes, which the folks who signed must have memorized and written often in various autograph books. One person named Lowell Ely (maybe? water smudged it) wrote around in a spiral, "Some people write up some write down Just to be different I will write around." Bertha Whitesel (who may or may not have known Sgt. George Gray!) added to the end of her cute poem, "Yours till the Mississippi wears rubber pants to keep its bottom dry." I also saw "Yours til the butter flies," and, "Yours till the popcorn balls."

I'm sure this is WAY MORE information than any of you really wanted or certainly needed, but I just love this whole thing! I understand the thrill of being a historian or an archeologist, now. You only have so much to work with, but by putting pieces together, matching up handwriting, finding out information on places, dates, and names, and using a little imagination, you can put together a picture of someone's life decades or even centuries in the past!

Did any of you ever have an autograph book? What are some memorable things you've seen in autograph books or yearbooks? What sorts of things did you used to write?


Cherry said...

Oh, no, cannot believe someone might SELL my diaries someday. I was thinking more along the lines of leaving them for my children after I am a famous author.
BTW - I do know who Flora Rupe is nowadays.

Cherry said...

P.S. (that means postscript:)
We had autograph books when I was young, too.

missdonna said...

I had an autograph book, I think I saw it the other day. Nothing thrilling in it that I remember, but I DO think someone wrote in a spiral in it. We were so amazingly neato back then. I also remember writing in autograph books so that you would have to read it in the mirror. OOOooooo..