More Show And Tell
Or, You Guys Must Really Put Pictures and Words Together
by Nicole Freire
First of all, I want to say thank you for all the anniversary congratulations and kind words and for sharing your wedding pictures with me. For a voyeur like me it was heaven.
In keeping with the theme of sharing good things and because I was reading this interesting, yet utterly sad, book about schizophrenia but couldn't write about it yet, I wanted to make an easy transition from weddings.
Besides, it is about a hundred and ten degrees inside my house and that kind of heat, plus the white noise of the fans we have set up in the living room ......well, not very conducive to writing about something sad. Very conducive to a nap however, and also to paging slowly through old books. Don't you worry, there is a nap in my future, but I wanted to share some of my old books with you.
How to Continue - but Not too Far - and Keep Your Reader Interested.
That is the title to chapter three of Someday You'll Write, by Elizabeth Yates. I love to collect old books, and this one I love because it has a typewriter on the cover. And despite the simple title and slim 94-page count, it manages to be boring. But the chapter titles are great. Don't you want to learn to write from a book that encourages ‘Discipline That Delights'? How about ‘How to Start with an Interesting Beginning and How to Make an Ending Come Gradually'.
Let's do children's books. I have a few favorites here. This particular edition of Peter Rabbit has illustrations made using little wire and felt. Ok, puppets. Mr. McGregor looks positively menacing. And the rake! My god, McGregor, put that down. It's only a bunny, not a giant timber wolf. Run, Peter, Run!
How about a little history lesson from a history textbook for children written in 1939? This was my father's fourth grade history book. Here's a thrilling passage that describes how Vasco De Balboa escapes from his bad debts in the West Indies.
HOW BALBOA ESCAPED. Balboa hid in a barrel. A workman put the lid on the barrel. Now one knew that a man had hidden in the barrel. Then the barrel was placed on the ship. The ship was going to the aid of a party on the mainland. Before the ship reached land a strange thing happened. The barrel began to move. Everyone was surprised. Some of the men were frightened. Soon Balboa stepped out of the barrel.
Holy cow - that is not thrilling at all. Here's what I heard, "barrel, barrel, barrel, a ship, barrel". I now know how to escape bad debt though -- in a barrel.
This is from one of my favorite storybooks. I wanted to be a Girl Scout and go to summer camp based solely on the illustrations in SAL FISHER at Girl Scout Camp by Lillian S. Gardner, pictures by Mary Stevens. Girl Scouts got to go to camp on a bus, and I had never ridden on a bus. But then a stern counselor makes Sal feel badly about her swimming abilities. Not so much fun now, is it Sal?
Here's a sweet illustration about something quite disgusting. Why hello there, little girl! Welcome to the Village of Liver & Onions! Please, uh, come live in an onion! We have Brussels sprouts for all your landscaping needs.
From The Oxford Nursery Rhyme Book, chapter eight, ‘Riddles, Tricks, and Trippers.'
I SEED not your needles,
They're needless to me,
For kneading of needles
Were needless, you see:
But did my neat trousers
But need to be kneed,
I the should have need
Of your needles indeed.
I'm too dizzy to figure out what kind of ‘Tripper' that is. Maybe I'll have some apple juice and play with blocks instead.
Another component of a successful childhood is to be seen and not heard. Well, if you have to be heard, please do it politely. Or at least eat politely. You can read all about it in one of my favorite books, Manners To Grow On by Tina Lee, Pictures by Manning Lee. I especially like some of the food suggestions. Here are some from the "Don't, Don't, Don't" chapter.
Don't play with your bread as if were modeling clay.
Never leave the table in a fit of anger.
Never clean your teeth by running your tongue around them while at table. It is ugly to see.
Don't drink the juice from the bottom of a dessert cup. Use your spoon.
Don't push your plate back when you've finished. It should remain where it is until taken away.
What I really want to know is, who is taking the plate away and where I can get the kind of soft white bread that is perfect for modeling clay?
These two photos seem particularly poignant right now. They're from Homes Around The World by Kathryn Jackson, published in 1957.
And did you know that people in Holland are neat freaks? They are.
What is Mother doing back there?
Why it's housework! And I'm sure Mother learned how to do housework from this fun tome, The Ladies' Home Journal Art of Homemaking. This edition is from 1973 and is gigantic.
A sample of some of the section titles (there are sections, chapters and sub-chapters in this weighty book) remind me of why I don't enjoy the magical art of homemaking.
Managing Time, Motion, And Money
Cleaning The House (sections on cleaning supplies, tools and techniques, general directions on cleaning, cleaning specific rooms, floor care, rug and carpet care, care and use of metals, plastics, and other household materials)
Of Dirty Clothes and The Laundry Basket
On Stitching And Mending
About Storage And Stashing
About Health, Fatigue, And Safety
Mother is very very fatigued. Perhaps Father could make Mother a Stiff Drink. And now Mother is going to sip her Stiff Drink and plan a vacation instead, using another favorite book, Around The U.S.A. In 1,000 Pictures, published in 1955.
Perhaps Father will take Mother to San Francisco, where the outdoor flower stands of Union Square are what cafés are to the Champs-Elysees.
Or perhaps Father will take Mother to Michigan. Oh no, Mother! Watch out! Don't go to the Tulip Festival! They think its fun to wash the streets.
Seriously Mother, let's go back to sunny Southern California.
Now that we're safely at home we can end with a pleasant childhood poem.
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Nicole Freire is a freelance writer who lives in Santa Barbara.