Thursday, December 01, 2005

Baby book

My mother kept a baby book, but not obsessively. It's called Our Baby's First Seven years and was published by the Mother's Aid Society of the Chicago Lying-In Hospital in 1941. She filled in some of the forms (birth, Christening, first medical exam, ...) and wrote occasional notes from time to time. Though she started the book not long after my birth, it wasn't just about me. She would occasionally put in notes about my sister since, it seems, she didn't have separate baby book for her. Most of the book is empty and there are not too many anecdotes, just the usual first this and first that.

Here are a couple of exceptions.

1. On a page meant for some photographs:
April 14, 1950 - Today is Jeffrey's 8th birthday. He radiates happiness and is very proud of his Lionel train. It was snowing when we got up and Jeff said, "The snow is like confetti because it's my birthday."
2. On the page headed "Six Years Old:"
1949 - Jeffrey would not eat all his dinner but wanted his dessert. His explanation: "You see there are shelves in my stomach. The shelves on one side for the good things are all filled upbut the shelves for the dessert are empty."
Elswhere in the book: "Baby's First Home" is given as RFD#1, Box 3, Briarcliff Manor, NY. I remember that we didn't have a house number until the 1950s, but I'd forgotten how mail was addressed to us. I recall our first phone number, a party line: 2151R. You picked up the receiver and told the operator who you wanted to talk to.

Under newspaper clippings (right where it belongs!), there's a paid birth announcement in NYT:
Heynen-Mr. and Mrs. F. C., announce the birth of a son, April 14, 1942, at Polyclinic Hospital.
Other info on nearby pages:
Born on a Tuesday, 11:30am; 8lb. 50z. at birth [not bad for the times - presume mother smoked & drank during pregnancy]; 5Hr 40Min labor, normal delivery. Christened at All Saints, Feb 28, 1943. Named J for Julius. Edith is Godmother, Robert Ackerman is Godfather.
Edith was mother's eldest sister; I adopted her as surrogate mother after my mom died. Robert Ackerman was father of my friend Bobby. They lived in the last of the houses in our row and moved away when I was about five. As far as I know the my family and the Ackermans had no real contact after that time. I grew up thinking that my Uncle Ben was my Godfather. Odd memories just show up: The Ackermans had current bushes in their back yard, both black and white. Delicious. Their garage was plastered with old license plates and they owned a phonograph player in which accepted the old 78rpm records sideways through a slot rather than top-down onto a spindle. Bobby and I would sell Cokes to golfers on the verge of the 14th green diagonally across the street from his house. His dad had a mustache and smoked a pipe.

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