Monday, March 18, 2013

This WAS Me - a Long, Long Time Ago

Sometime in my youth I was given a book called THIS IS ME, copyright 1956 by Polly Webster. While searching for some tax papers I needed the other day, I came across this book. (Normally my papers are organized, but our move last year changed all that.) I wrote in this book, according to my pencil notations, when I was 8, 10, 11 1/2, 12, 13 1/2, 14, 17, 20 and 43 years old. It's intended as a sort of diary, but I'm not surprised to see additional notations by my little sister Laura and Kerry, who was my best friend back in the day. (We're still friends now but we don't see each other very often.) 

Me at about age 8 - sadly lacking a tiara

I was interested to see the books I liked back then. (Most of these I remember, but I was surprised to see a list of classics posted in 1969, when I was 17. I have to laugh when I read the headings: "Books I read because I had to" and "But these books I read because I wanted to read them." Under that list, my comments included Mystery Books and Good Books and (my daughter will snicker) the misspelled "Island of the Blue Dolfins."

This one is funny and kind of sad. The heading of the page is "If I had a thousand dollars I would..." (Well, there are no ellipses, but - damn it - there should be!) In my innocence at age 10, I wrote: "If I had a thousand dollars I would send 1 hundred dollars of it to CARE, 1 hundred the slums in Chicago and with the rest (!!!) I would buy myself a house, new clothes, some kittens, furniture food and (gotta love it) a tiara. I would (editor needed here to insert "spend") the rest for mostly bills." The REST???

As a teenager, when I should have been more worldly-wise in economics, I still expected that a thousand dollars would pay for a year of college (clearly, my son did NOT get his math smarts from me!). In the midst of my charitable inclinations, I also included a haircut and makeup for myself, as well as CHOCOLATE ECLAIRS.

On the "When I Grow Up" page, I'm shocked to see "hair stylist" at the top of the "Things I Want to Be" (along with writer, wife, mother, social worker, saleslady, newspaper reporter, etc.). I think that was wishful thinking, because I've always found the talent for hair styling elusive. Judging by the sample of my artistic talents on the right, it's clear to see why I never became an artist. I'm surprised to see that on the list. (I'm also mystified by chef, nurse, dressmaker and architect - those must have made the list because I'd recently read books that featured heroines with those careers.)

Easy to see where my priorities were! Notice house and baby came before college and car. I was mad about the Beatles, but did eventually marry an Englishman and got my wish to go to England. (Who knew I'd eventually live there, too?) Nowadays I can afford to treat myself to dried apricots and chocolate eclairs - rare treats growing up in a family of seven - although it's a tragedy neither are quite as appealing as they were back then.

On other pages I listed things I worried about:

"If I'm really all that much taller than everyone else" (I was 5'7" in middle school, eventually reaching 5'8")
"If my dress is up in back"
"If I'm a pest"
"If I'm monopolizing the conversation" (odds are, yes!)
"If I'm going to pass math"
"If I'm going to be late to school"
"If I have food on my face"
"If my hair's messed up" (I'm going to guess "yes" on this one, too!)

My favorite things to do? According to this book:

Goof off (sub-heading: Goof off with BOYS) *snicker*
Watch TV
Listen to radio (that would have been my primary source of Beatle music)
Ice Skate

My favorite colors were, surprisingly, white and pink. Favorite magazine was Ingenue, favorite books - same as now, too many to list. Favorite food: pizza. (What? Not chocolate eclairs??) Favorite place - now this is a mystery: Indiana! Favorite pastime: Reading. Then, apparently when I was trying to be cool as a teenager, "Gin & Tonic" was added to the list of favorites.

I went back and commented on my earlier comments when I was older. There is a chart to show responsibilites and I put an X under "Neat." Later I went back and wrote "You're kidding!" next to that one. Next to "I am bossy" I wrote "I DON'T KNOW" in big red letters. (It was a constant oldest-sister concern.)

Under physical talents I put Xs next to I Can Turn Somersaults, I Can Do Cartwheels and I Can Stand On My Head" but next to I Can Do Clog Dancing I wrote in all caps "WHAT IS IT???"

So that was my trip down memory lane. My son glanced through this book today and was interested that many of my early career choices came close to the mark. This phrase keeps coming up in my life lately:
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Loosely translated, it means "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

A scary thought just struck me - this book is more than fifty years old. It's an antique! Or is an antique over 100 years old? Whew - I've got a few decades before the book and I are antiquarian, in that case. Maybe I'll update it again in another 20 years or so!


Debbie Haupt said...

this is a great book, thanks for sharing :)

Becke Davis said...

I'm glad I filled it out, Debbie! Now I have to get cracking on a Grandma's Memories book Adaline's mom and dad gave me.

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