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Archive for collect

collect . My Childhood Christmas in Vinyl

I don’t remember us having a record player at our house until I got the little green and blue kids version from Santa one year. He brought my eight-track cassette player with the removable speakers too, and my first stereo. The turntable took a back seat to the double cassette deck in that one. But as far as vinyl goes, Christmas music was synonymous with the big white record player at Grandmother’s house – and the small collection of classic Christmas albums we kept there. I can clearly remember lifting the cover of the record player, choosing the speed, moving the arm, and hearing the scratch of the needle, an experience practically lost to my children and their digital world. I’m slowly trying to pique their interest these days with our little orange Crosby.

We’ve been at Mom’s this week, making merry with an updated set of traditions. But, yesterday I pulled out the records from Grandmother’s and found so many of my favorite songs and memories staring back at me. In fact, some of my first memories of music center around this collection of Christmas records. Each year growing up, we spent about two weeks at Grandmother’s house on the farm, and the records served as the background score for a lot of holiday traditions and fun. They are an odd mix of unnamed choral singers, big band crooners, and old school country – with a little pop and folk thrown in, courtesy of Aunt Betty. Most are classics now. Some were already classics in the second release versions we had. And not only the music. The album covers! Like favorite book illustrations, they instantly send me back to childhood Christmases.

The Little Drummer Boy (late 60s?) and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1962) compilations — those illustrations! I don’t know the singers, but I’m pretty sure this is where I learned most of the Christmas carols I know.

No Christmas is complete without Elvis’ Christmas Album (1970 re-release of 1957 classic) and the classics, “Blue Christmas” and “Here Comes Santa Claus” in his one and only style. I think everyone in the family took a turn as background singer on this album each holiday season. I’m betting this album is also why I know my mom saw Elvis at the Tupelo Fair before he reached iconic status. Stories just seem to abound around old Christmas albums.

I attribute a lot of my love of show tunes, crooners and the big band sound to Saturday evenings at Grandmother’s watching “The Lawrence Welk Show” on E-TV… and to The Dean Martin Christmas Album (1966). For sure, it’s the reason why I sing ” Marshmallow World” every time we make hot chocolate! My grandmother loved the Perry Como (1961 reissue) and Bing Crosby (1973 reissue) albums, with their rich voices. My favorites were “C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S” and Bing’s iconic rendition of “Adeste Fidelis”.

My Aunt Betty loved records. She always brought new ones home. The old John Denver and Olivia Newton John LPs she handed down to me where my favorite childhood songs. I have most of her records now, but her love of classic country music didn’t really stick. I’m sure she’s responsible for the country and folk albums that were part of our Christmas collection… Tennessee Ernie Ford Christmas (1971), Glen Campbell’s That Christmas Feeling (1968), Christmas in My Hometown (1970) from Mississippi-native, Charley Pride, and Emmylou Harris’ beautiful Light of the Stable (1979). I love Tennessee Ernie’s version of the Negro Spiritual, “Children Go Where I Send Thee”, along with Charley Pride’s “They Stood in Silent Prayer” and Glen Campbell’s cover of Willie Nelson’s “Pretty Paper”. I also remember thinking as a little girl how cool The Partridge Family Christmas Card (1971) was, since it was so obviously a younger sound. I felt like I was a girl in the know listening to it — even though it was really before my time!

Memories, memories! When I look through the issue dates on all these records, I realize what classics many of them already were before I ever heard them in my 70s childhood. I realize it every time one pops in my head in response to some family activity. It’s fun to think about what the sounds added to how we celebrated Christmas. I’m already humming them again!

collect . 13 Jack O Lanterns for the 13th

It’s Friday the 13th, and we’re almost in full spook here! The kids and I been having fun getting our house harvest-ready over the last couple of weeks. The mantle is decorated with turkeys and pumpkins. The Halloween and Thanksgiving books are gathered in our “book basket,” and the wreaths are up on the doors. This weekend, we’re planning to add our little family of scarecrows to the porch along with some pumpkins and colorful crotons, and the decorating will be complete. My kids have never really gotten into trick-or-treating that much. They’ve always been more interested in handing out candy at the door than walking around the neighborhood. But, that doesn’t mean we shy away from “Jack.” It’s not every year that Friday the 13th falls close to Halloween, so in honor of this so-called unlucky day, I wandered around the house and captured a lucky 13 from our jack-o-lantern collection – all ready to lend their toothy grins to the season’s festivities. Enjoy!

collect . childhood card games

I’ve been slowly cleaning out the storage closet in the studio this summer and realizing what a packrat I am! I’ve been finding all manner of art supplies, paper ephemera and cast-offs from various attics that I apparently couldn’t part with. It seems that I come by my packrat-ness naturally, since there are several boxes that have been transported from my parents’ attic. I’ve shared some of the randomness found in “the closet” on Instagram, so you can follow the adventure there. Meanwhile, I came across several sets of vintage playing cards from my 70s childhood, and the illustrations just made me smile. Gotta love Fifi Fluff, Diver Dan, Fickle Frankie and Fly Boy Floyd! Do you remember any of these?

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“Go into ORBIT and soar into space
Be lucky — be lively — and win the race”
Aarco Pla-More Creative Cards

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collect . Merry and Bright

The holidays are full of traditions. It’s one of my favorite parts of celebrating. On my mom’s Christmas tree, we have a combination of ornaments from my childhood and from hers. Now, we’re adding my own kids’ memories. Every year I enjoy looking at the older glass ornaments with their discolored spots and chips — the evidence of many years of Christmas joy. They remind me of home. Here’s a look, and merry Christmas to you and yours!

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collect . woodland nostalgia

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When the kids and I took this trip to our farm earlier this year, they began a mission to create some kind of natural history “exhibit.” It’s possible “exhibit” was one of their reading class “amazing words” and thus produced a keen interest in it’s meaning. I can’t really remember, but they set about scavenging the spring walks for items to include in the exhibit. They even scoped out a newly cleaned out (but ancient) barn to house the exhibit. I’m sure when we return to the property later this fall, more work will be done on the project, but meanwhile, their idea has been fermenting in my brain ever since.

I love the idea of exhibit specimens. Those random, but highly detailed objects that seem to catalog and document one thing or another. They are closely akin to collections, which I also love, and I’m sure they are the ultimate reflection of the truly obsessive pack-rat spirit.

Since I tend to have one of those obsessive pack-rat spirits, I seem to have acquired a huge trove of “specimens”. A recent weeding through of my parents’ attic confirmed that these pack-rat tendencies go way back. In fact, to this day, I firmly believe that anything created or acquired prior to 1980 should be kept as sacred. Further, my role as serial collector extends to all manner of ephemera found here and there.

The specimens…

1. Oyster shell gathered from Long Beach, Mississippi

2. Buffalo wooden nickel — printed on back with “Southern Trailer Dist., Inc. – Recreational Vehicles Pas Road Biloxi”
I can’t be sure, but I believe it’s circa sometime in the early 1980s

3. The youngest baby deer in a 3-sibling set of porcelain figures

4. 39¢ Indian Corn U.S. stamp dated 2006

5. Blue Jay feather discovered this spring in our back yard

What do YOU collect? And, if you have any of these same treasures among your specimens, I hope you’ll let me know.

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