School supply envy

Typical. The grand Trunk Project began as an effort to cull, weed, lessen, unload, clear out, deselect, downsize, ship off, digitize, or all of the above, the contents of a decaying old trunk so as not to burden my sons when I am nearer the cul-de-sac on the road of life.

Allegedly, we can discard items that do not "spark joy." Trouble is, most items spark curiosity. I untied the bundle of letters, and opened the envelopes. Next thing I knew the contents of the trunk were fanned out all across the floor demanding to be read, related, curated, contained and preserved for perpetuity.

My father's letters home to his mother during World War II are now encased in seventy dollars worth of archival clear sleeves for 3-ring binder. The zippered giant binder with shoulder strap, accordion file, and zippered pouches was a bargain on clearance, just $10.75. It's not archival, but it is an ode to junior high school supply Spiderman fans everywhere. It is the Peter Parker of nerd notebooks. I should have bought two.

Maybe it's all about junior high school supply envy.

© 2013-2018 Nancy L. Ruder


Canned food drive greatest hits

It's food drive time again at my place of employment, and probably yours, too. Again this year someone thought it would be fun to make the food drive a competition between departments. Again I am the volunteer team captain, which thankfully involves a spreadsheet, not pompons. We are collecting items for the South Dallas Community Food Center, part of the S.M. Wright Foundation.

Dropped my car for repairs on this beautiful afternoon and had time to ponder the food drive while walking home. Minnie's Food Pantry used to be housed across the parking lot from my mechanic's shop, spurring this reverie. The founder of Minnie's Food PantryDr. Cheryl “Action” Jackson, is a rock star of food pantries. Oprah was the keynote speaker at the nonprofit's tenth annual gala.

So, my perambulating question is, "What do food pantries and those using their services really need?"  

  • Clients need food they can use. They need food they can open! Consider donating food with pop-top lids for those who may have difficulty opening cans with a can opener.

  • Consider cash gifts. Food pantries may have bulk purchasing arrangements that stretch funds. Many employers have charitable giving matching programs. Monetary donations are used to purchase the foods that traditional canned food drives don’t bring in like fresh fruits, produce, meats, milk and eggs.

  • Food pantries cannot use baby food, formula, alcohol, home-canned items, items in glass containers, items without ingredients listed in English.

This is not the time to pull all the fast food ketchup packets hoarded by your dad with dementia, and the three opened and expired jars of tartar sauce from his fridge. Don't even think  about those cans of beets and butter beans that have been in the pantry since the first Bush administration. The leftover Halloween candy is not appropriate. You think I'm kidding, but this is not my first term as food drive team captain! Don't waste food pantry volunteers' time and effort sorting out expired and inappropriate donations.  Now, GO TEAM GO!


History paused, or ...waiting for preservation

Sis, we were one of the Div. who stayed with the 9th Army last winter. It was mighty shaky too, our lines were spread mighty thin. By the way, the slide rule that didn't get home was probably a victim of the "Bulge." They picked off a lot of mail. You also remember how late it was during that time.

It's typical that Private Mastalir, (soon to be Tech Sgt. Mastalir), would attempt to mail a slide rule home to Nebraska for his sister to use in high school math class. That he posted it during the "Battle of the Bulge" was unfortunate, as it never got to perform calculations in Pierce.

Dad loved slide rules, and I remember how excited he was to bestow one on me in high school. Sadly, I have no idea how to use one any more, and no idea what those calculus algorithms were all about anyway! Still I remember sitting with him at the dining table long after supper while Dad demonstrated the slide rule's magic precision, efficiency, and cool design. Soon we would enter that ugly teenage daughter/square disapproving father dynamic, but at that slide rule moment we were still a team.

My WWII project has been paused while looking into storage and preservation options for the letters, photographs, clippings, and even ephemera! My order of archival sleeves will arrive any day now. "Ephemera tipped in" is probably my very favorite MARC field 500 general cataloging note ever:

EPHEMERA Printed material of passing interest in every day life (e.g.: advertising, ticket stubs, photos, postcards, programs, some booklets and pamphlets, etc.). Of interest to collectors because they are often the only record of many quotidian events.

TIPPED IN Paper, photograph, or print glued down by only a narrow strip.

The 1965 movie "Battle of the Bulge" was viewed sitting on the cold, hard linoleum squares of the next door neighbor's dark basement close enough to the t.v. to make us blind. It joins the "Outer Limits," the "Twilight Zone," some "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," and occasional "Wonderful World of Disney," viewed in this venue. The "Battle of the Bulge" had lots of tanks, but no intergalactic giant ants as far as I can recall.

Dad's letter from July 1945 referring to the Bulge and the slide rule sent me to the mildewed booklet, 102 Thru Germany. Dad and the 102d were not in the Ardennes region during the "Bulge." His cookies and letters from home were slowed, but still reaching him along the Roer with the 9th Army for Christmas 1944 and New Year's 1945. His letters from that time took 4-6 weeks to reach Nebraska, and I can imagine the agony this delay was for his mother, aunts, and sister.

I was so glad to find 102 Thru Germany already available online at Lonely Sentry. Dad's copy is full of stains and mildew. The 406th of the 102nd was defending the Wurm River between the towns of Wurm and Barmen at Christmas 1944, although the letters just say "somewhere in Germany." By July 1945 Howard could give more locations in his letters.

Had another one of those heart breaking letters from a brother (a Lt. in the Pacific) of one of my buddies who was killed. I had written the boy's wife and this letter was a thank you for what comfort that gave them and also a request for more information. They are so hard to write.

© 2013-2018 Nancy L. Ruder