October 15, 2005
The Greatest Generation
In my work as the volunteer coordinator at the Minnesota Historical Society, I help to plan a recognition event for our volunteers each year. This year we chose the theme of “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation” as a kick off for the Society’s new project by the same name.
My coworkers and I like to dress up for the party to add a bit of fun for the volunteers. Last year we were lumberjacks; this year we dressed for the occasion by borrowing our fathers’ World War II uniforms and coming as Rosie the Riveter.
Dad was drafted in April 1945 at age 18 and spent a year in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima. He was discharged in December 1946. He’s the guy in the bottom left hand portion of this photo.
As I wore his jacket during the event, everyone asked me about the different medals and patches along the sleeves and front. I knew that the rifle pin was for completing artillery training and that he had held the rank of staff sergeant in the Corps of Engineers.
Some of the volunteers who had also served during the war filled me in on the other patches, including a brief but heated debate over whether my dad deserved to wear two particular stripes down by the left wrist since he had not actually served for four years. That argument was cleared up when someone recognized that the patches were each for six months spent overseas. I can tell you I was pretty angry that someone was insinuating that my dad was a liar!
The whole thrust of the Society’s Greatest Generations project is to gather the stories of those who were born during the Depression, came of age during WWII and went on to prosper during the boom afterward.
For me that night came the recognition that while I had some information about my parents’ lives during that time, I had better get going to gather more. This particularly came home for my supervisor as well.
Jean’s father was in the Navy, which he chose over the Army because he didn’t want to sleep in a tent! Jean knew that he had served in the South Pacific but had little other information. At some point in recent weeks, she told him about an exhibit of Pulitzer Prinze-wining photographs that was going to be on view at the History Center, including the famous image of the soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima.
“I saw that happen, you know,” he told her. Actually, she didn’t know it and it floored her. Her father had never thought it worth mentioning that he had been aboard a supply ship off the shore of Iwo Jima and that he had cheered when he saw the flag go up.
So get out there and start asking your elderly family members questions about their lives. Write it all down or videotape it so future generations can know about the great events that shaped their lives.
You will be glad you did. Who knows what you could learn?
If you need help to get started, visit the Society’s website for helpful tips at http://www.mnhs.org/people/mngg/stories/index.htm
A Few of My Favorite Tools
While Julie Andrews had long woolen mittens, snowflakes on eyelashes and schnitzel with noodles, I have my favorite spade, secateurs and gloves. View the videocast below as I dramatize my favorite tools for you!
A Through the Garden Gate Web Cam Moment:
:: Tools, Tools, Tools! :: View the videocast below as I dramatize my favorite tools for you.
Click photo or HERE to view the video
You can also view me in the following videocast as I walk you through my prairie garden:
Get Off your Asters
I tried something new this year by cutting back my asters in two successive efforts. At the end of June, I cut some of them back by a half to a third. Two weeks later, I cut back the others. This was to prevent them from getting so leggy, produce a fuller shape and get more blooms.
While the plants were certainly less leggy, I don’t think the blooms were increased, particularly not on the hot pink “Alma Pottschke” asters to the left of this photo.
While the results are mixed, I will probably do this again next year, if only to avoid staking the plants.
What I’m Reading
In the middle of: “A String in the Harp” by Nancy Bond, a teen novel set in Wales.
Next in the queue: “Pardonable Lies” by Jacqueline Winspear. The latest in the Maisie Dobbs series about a young female British detective following WWI.
Listening to: “The Serpent’s Tale” by Sue Henry about a middle aged woman solving her friend’s murder.
Graham’s current favorite: Any “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon book. Graham has found his new anti-hero!
Here’s What’s Blooming Now
“My Favorite” mum – lavender, red and coral
Nicotiana – all shapes, colors and sizes
Nasturtium “Peach Melba” and others
Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Garden Chores for the Week
Repot the amaryllis.
Start cutting back the dead stuff.
Tomatoes are still trying to ripen on the vine.
“Do you think I will ever die?” What makes you ask that, Graham? “Well, what if a bad man shot me in the arm?” Then we’d take you to the doctor.
Which was immediately followed by, “Do you know what my favorite number is? It’s 15 because if you take away the 1, you have 5 and I’m 5.”
“All leaves are green because they have chlorophyll, you know.”
“I had a bad dream last night. A meteor landed on earth and it was filled with dinosaurs. They came into our house and wanted to sleep in our beds. George Washington came and he was really mad at them. All of a sudden, the dinosaurs did something that made them go back into the meteor, and they returned to the asteroid belt. What did you dream about last night?”
February 21, 2005
Worst Bridesmaid's Dress Competition
I took part in the opening celebration of a new exhibit at the History Center called "Happily Ever After," about love and marriage in Minnesota. For the day, I wore a replica of an 1890s wedding dress and helped judge an ugly bridesmaid's dress competition. About eight women entered dresses they had worn or friends had worn in weddings from the 1970s to the 1990s.
Some bridesmaid's dresses were truly hideous but were probably considered the height of fashion when they were worn. You can imagine how carefully each bride selected them to make a lasting impact on the audience. I just wonder if the marriages lasted as long as the dresses.