Crimson Album, a Golden Treasure

Underneath a stack of stuff in one of the bedrooms my sisters and I sorted through, a red album appeared. It was really not very crimson, but more magenta in hue. To whom did it belong? What was inside?

Behold! A scrapbook album my grandmother Fannie Martin Longenecker created probably when she was a teenager:

Grandma Fannie Longenecker Album of postcards, 10 x 13 inches


The Secret: Inside the Album

I knew Grandma was fancy before she became plain, but I never knew she had an artistic bent, autographing her album in decorative script and drawing a picture of her self, the ultimate Victorian selfie! The squarishness off her adult long-hand is evident here, especially in the capital letters.


The Sass

Victorian postcard artists kept a lid on romance, never straying too far into the sexy or salacious. In the scene below, the boastful driver with two armfuls of maidenhood seems to be oblivious to a recent car crash. His own? What’s the story here?

The reverse side of this card gave no clue to the sender. Probably Grandma thought the card was clever and kept it.


The Sensible, another page from the album

In Mother Longenecker’s household, each day held a prescribed task, just as in the postcards above. On Monday, Mom filled her wringer washer with soft well-water and Ivory soap flakes and hung her clean clothes on a line with clothespins. Tuesday was reserved for ironing with a hinged board that pulled down from a built-in wall space in our kitchen.

Mother sewed, but not necessarily on a Wednesday, and she baked but not always on Thursday. For certain, she cleaned on Friday, which extended into Saturday when I was old enough to help out and eventually take over the task.

The motto on the wall reads “Bear and For Bear,” appropriate for the anthropomorphic animals pictured here. As the story goes, my Uncle Clyde Metzler, a pastor who officiated at many weddings at Hernley Mennonite Church, told the starry-eyed couple “There are two bears in your marriage: Bear and forbear. Remember that!” Of course, such would be true for relationships of all kinds.



The Ugly Truth

You may think because we handle elegant artifacts, my sisters and I are sitting primly at a table with white gloves fingering each memento carefully.


We have been working from attic to cellar, sometimes in the cold as here one day in March. The “Mennonite” mummies are my sister Jean and I exiting the cellar with trash.


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