Snow, a Precious Diary and WWII Handkerchiefs

A Departure from Sewing

The intent of this blog was to share information about sewing and to learn from you.  But, since I haven’t done any sewing, I’ll follow the last post with what has filled our lives this week.

Just a week ago I posted a brief tribute to my mother-in-law who died unexpectedly.  Thank you to all of you who sent such kind comments about the tribute.  The seven days which have passed have been full of challenges, stories, fun and sharing of endless memories.  I’d like to share a few:

Challenges:

  • As we received the news of Rhoda’s death, the snow started to fall, and this wasn’t just any snowfall.   We couldn’t get flights out of Philly because of what would become a 26″ carpet of  beauty however it incapacitated our city.  Plan B was to drive as soon as the snow stopped falling.  Kevin, our son Shaun and our nephew Brian, drove straight through the night and arrived in Wisconsin with only a single interstate mishap – a deer ran into our car.  Unbelievably, there was a loud thunk but no damage to our car (who knows about the deer?).

    Deck – Feb 6th

  • A funeral in the midst of a major snowstorm was another of our challenges but Wisconsinites took it in stride, came out to support a relative/friend and even brought apple pie and brownies for the luncheon.

    Wisconsin Snowstorm

  • The family sorted and divided 60 years of family mementos, personal belongings, household goods,etc.  Amazing as it may seem, this was done without a sore word or disagreement among the sisters and brothers.
  • We then cleaned the family home to ready it for sale and at 3am on Friday, we left for our return trip to Philadelphia.  As everyone knows by now, the East Coast and Philly had another record snowstorm.   We faced the remains of this storm as we arrived home – after hours of travel there was no where to park.  Finally in the house, we realized that we’d inadvertently turned the furnace off while we were away.  In case you’re wondering, 53 degrees is pretty cold for the interior of a home.

Philadelphia is a beautiful city but we don’t do so well with snow!

Memories:

  • The Diary: When going through the house and sorting through the memorabilia, one of the most romantic, insightful and relevant finds was Rhoda’s diary which began two days before her wedding.  Last week I mentioned that Rhoda and Bob had 2 days to plan their wedding.  In case that seems like an exaggeration, here’s the evidence.  This family treasure which was previously unseen by her children details their wedding and their experiences being re-united after  a war kept then apart for 16 months.  Respecting Rhoda’s privacy, even after death, I must resist my urge to post the full loving account of Bob and Rhoda’s life.  That said, the opening statement in the diary is so humorous or cute that it’s hard to refrain from sharing it.  I can hear my father-in-law say “…breezing in Friday late”.  Most of us can’t imagine planning a wedding in 2 days but they did it.  BTW, July 19th was a Thursday and they married on Saturday.

More than a page in a diary: The beginning of 60 yrs of marriage

  • World War II Hankies: One of the sweetest memories was Rhoda’s collection of hankies (handkerchiefs) she received as gifts from Robert while he was in mainland Europe.  These were another treasure which family members knew about but really hadn’t seen often.  We learned from Rhoda’s cleaning person that Rhoda recently brought them out, laid them on her bed and told her the story that went with each one.  Unfortunately those stories are now lost forever.  Most of the handkerchiefs seem to have been souvenir quality – made of rayon or ? shiny fabric.  Possibly some of you are more familiar with this WWII phenomenon of sending handkerchiefs to one’s loved ones – if so, please leave a comment below.

WWII Souvenir Handkerchiefs

In a future post, I’ll also detail the wedding dress, which 25 years ago was re-fashioned and worn by my sister-in-law,  which has it’s own story, and is more consistent with the purpose of this blog.

Whether your interest is WWII history, fabrics or another related topic, please add your notes about souvenir hankies.

4 thoughts on “Snow, a Precious Diary and WWII Handkerchiefs

  1. I briefly looked up WWII souvenir handkerchiefs online and the first link I clicked on had one of the same hankies that grandma had. The site said “As a young sailor in France, Robert N. Garrison of Salisbury purchased for his wife this white handkerchief embroidered with the words ‘WHILE I AM IN FRANCE/MY HEART IS WITH YOU.’ After the war Garrison returned home and operated a jewelry store.” http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/workshops/wwii/Artifacts.htm

  2. Annette:

    Keep the stories coming. I think it is such a wonderful way to remember Rhoda and Bob’s life together.
    Your notes above about sitting together as a family reviewing old memories and personal belongings reminds me so much of what Peter, Geraldine and I went through after mommy died a few years ago. We never has a cross word for each other as we sorted and divided a lifetimes collection. We also found a love note that my dad had written to my mom. We had never seen it before but it is now one of our most treasured family items. It was amazing to actually think of my dad writing a love letter. He was such a “man’s man” yet some of his words were very poetic.

    Love to all.

    Barri

  3. I just read your loving memory of your in-laws and founding so touching. Not everyone has such wonderful experiences. I can see a good Catholic value was instilled in the whole family via that little Irish lass so many years ago. Can only imagine what it must have been like leaving hearth and home for a new life, with a young husband, for sights yet unseen. This warmed my soul and caused a tremble in my heart, it was so well written and with so much respect and love. Thank you.
    PS: I left my own heart in Philadelph but that’s another story about a daughter.

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