Saturday, October 5, 2019

Old magazines, old memories ...

My eldest daughter flew from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in August to get me started cleaning up the garage.  It used to be my late husband's domain.  It was packed full (not with vehicles though.)  It was not easy moving around with bicycles, boxes, broken lamps, furniture and more.  For three days we worked non-stop then had to call a junk-man to take all our discards away.  I sat on a chair watching them load it all, including our two bicycles bought in San Francisco in the mid 1960s.

When she left, only one third of the garage was cleaned up, a bit.  Then I alternated cleaning the garage and other interior rooms as it was quite warm in the garage.  My late husband kept everything.  He had been an executive at the Georgia Wildlife Federation and had started a beautiful colorful magazine there for which he was the editor.  I found many issues throughout the house and kept them to give to family and friends as mementos.  He had started writing for the Southern Wildlife Magazine then went on to create the Federation's magazine.  Some of the issues were on a single subject, such as an issue on the Chattahoochee River; they all included outstanding photographs.

One morning I went back to the garage trying to clean up toward the side windows.  It was laborious.  I finally cleared a few boxes, suitcases and lamps.  Behind another couple of boxes was a small bookshelf.  I had bought this bookshelf in San Francisco in the 1960s and thought that it had been given away in the early 1970s when we moved from Decatur, GA, to this house in Cobb County, GA.  But it was there unbeknownst to me.  It was full of magazines and sundry items.  I sat on a stool and started looking at the magazines.  There were Family Circle, National Geographic, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal and a huge amount of French magazines, such as Jour de France, Femme Actuelle and mostly Paris Match.  At the time I had a French friend who gave me her magazines (she moved back to Paris.)  I thought they had been thrown away; recycling had not started yet in our area - but there they were ...  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

My husband must have kept filling the shelves with discarded magazines then piled up boxes around the bookshelf and it had disappeared from view.  Some of the magazines were musty but most were in great condition.  I started placing them in blue recycling bags and took them to the den - they were heavy.

Deciding to take a break I selected several magazines and brought them to the kitchen for a closer look.  The 1976 issue of National Geographic had an article on climate change, yes back in 1976!  It was fun looking at the old advertisements - such huge automobiles ... true gas guzzlers!

I never was that keen on large American cars.  As a teenager my dream car was the British Jaguar, like this 1958 Jaguar XK-150 at the top of the collage below.  But then my first "steady" boy-friend in Paris owned a 1960 MG-MGA and it was nice and very similar to the Jaguar.  However, he never let me drive it (I had a car then, but it was an old Simca-Fiat coupe.)  In the picture below I am opening the driver's door, but that's it.  It was taken on the hilly street going toward the Sacre-Coeur of Montmartre, near my parents' apartment in Paris.  That was when my girl friend had dyed my hair a brunette and it had upset my parents very much.  His MG can't be seen properly in the photo so I added another.

How about this Polaroid camera ad?  I had one in the 1970s.  Then I could not imagine cameras with memory cards, or being able to look at photos on a computer.  There was a fancy ad for Eastern Airlines flying into the future - but they flew into oblivion.

Behind the bookshelf were some older magazines even, some that my grandfather had given me.  They were "L'Illustration" published during the First World War with photos of the war effort.

There even was a "J'ai Vu" magazine with Czar Nicholas II on its cover.  I read that some people buy these old magazines for the quaint advertisements from that era.  It was like opening a door to the past.  I was touching them close to me now, but they came from another time, gone forever.

Next to the old bookshelf I found a cardboard suitcase - I had never seen it.  It was full of high school memorabilia from my husband - unbelievable.  Musty school publications spilled out.  I guess they were given to students at the time to educate them on current events.

Women magazines featured articles on knitting, embroidery, and crafting - more than nowadays.  A 1971 issue of Family Circle had an article about Mary Tyler Moore making jewelry by using pasta.  In a 1975 holiday magazine I saw that I had checked a vegetable recipe as "very good" in January 1976.

My husband had a subscription to Brown's Guide to Georgia.  I checked the Net to see if this magazine was still being published but it had stopped publication years ago.  Now old copies sold on eBay for $14 each and more!  So I checked the old issue of Paris Match - same thing.  As I tried taking pictures of them on my kitchen table it was a fight with Mitsouko my cat as she was watching her mouse game on my iPad and did not want to move.

Gourmet magazine was no longer being published either - I had placed many old copies in the recycling bags.  I had also placed all my copies of George magazine in a box to give away - I had about all of them from the first issue to the last published issue.  George (relating to George Washington) had been a glossy magazine published monthly by John F. Kennedy, Jr. from 1999 to 2001.  On a hunch, I just went to check it on eBay before making my collage and my jaws literally dropped - you can see my copy of Donald Trump on the cover in my box, and please check how much is requested for it on eBay in collage below!  So I checked my copy of Family Circle with Mary Tyler Moore, it's expensive as well.  I had intended to place all these magazines in my recycling bags ... I asked my daughters, and they both said "keep them" - but I am trying to clear out the house?

All right, I won't move the magazines for now.  Before leaving the garage I thought I'd check that little box on top of the shelf.  Again, it was full of very old receipts, cancelled checks from the 1960s and 1970s.  I left it there and just took a small package that contained some postcards.  I brought the package to the kitchen table to have a look, and then ... and then ... something came out with the postcards - three old letters and a postcard from Berkeley, California, sent by my first husband, Patrick.  I mentioned him in my post of June 21, 2013 "Recollection: being in San Francisco in the 1960s - part 2" (click here if you did not read it.)  He had sent these letters and postcard to me in the summer of 1966 while I was back in France.  They had sat in that box, undisturbed, for 53 years?  Good gracious.  It was like receiving a message in a bottle.  I certainly was surprised they were still there - they brought a few old memories.

It reminded me of the song "A Few Old Memories" -

Just a few old memories 
Slipped in through my door
Though I thought I had closed it
So tightly before
I can't understand it
Why it should bother my mind
For it all belongs to another place and time


Just a few old memories
Going way back in time
I can hardly remember...

...I can't understand it
Well I'm surprised at myself
First think tomorrow morning 
I'll clean off that shelf

OK, first thing tomorrow morning I'll clean all of this ...well...maybe later... I'm planning to leave early for the North Carolina and North Georgia mountains and take several days off to go and smell the fresh air, watch nature and the leaves turning gold.  I'm looking forward also to visit a Swiss friend from Lausanne who now lives in Hiawassee, GA., by beautiful Lake Chatuge.  I'll think about these letters another day...


Elephant's Child said...

Soooo many precious memories. No wonder decluttering is so hard for so many of us to do.
Enjoy your time away revelling in the autumnal changes - and your time with your friend.

Christine said...

I think that these nostalgic finds are one of the joys of being a senior. I too am discovering old things but we have to think of the time it will take to photograph, box, advertise and then lump to the PO I ask my self do I want to waste my time doing this? I found the answer to be NO. I send them now, neat and tidy, with a suggested price on the box, to local charities who I know will photograph etc. Enjoy your trip, hope the weather stays dry for you.

Colette said...

What an amazing experience this must be for you, although I imagine it is often overwhelming. I wonder if some university libraries would want some of those magazine collections?

Divers and Sundry said...

Clearing away is hard, but you've found such treasures and so many happy memories. I'm glad to hear you might be able to sell some of the things you don't want to keep. It can be time-consuming, but I know folks who've found it worthwhile.

Enjoy your time away :)

DJan said...

I wondered when I saw all those old magazines if any of them had value. And sure enough, some of them do! All of those memories stirred up along with the dust, I hope you have recovered from all that by now, VB.I enjoyed the trip along with you. :-)

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, You've been busy with the 'discovery'process... It has to be bittersweet.

Over the years we've slowly disposed of some of our accumulated 'stuff' but we still open drawers, boxes, etc. and 'rediscover' stuff! I have some old road maps, 200 - 300 old postcards (1920 or earlier), postage stamps, antiques we'd purchased over the years, toy soldiers, mementos and collectibles from Montgomery Ward Stores, over 10,000 photos and more. Nothing is worth all that much although there is some value with some items.

I used to keep magazines and I still do have a couple 'radical' publications from from the late 1960s. I dumped most of my magazines. I used to keep all of my National Geographic Magazines but I threw everything away that was dated 1970 or later. I've been looking at one from March of 1923 and the ads are a hoot! Train travel, watches, portable typewriters and cruise lines for those wanting to visit Europe or the Orient. One ad was for a French Line, "Compagnie Generale Transatlantique" that had 7 ships plying the Atlantic from New York City to Havre. Lots of auto ads too...Essex, Packard, Chevrolet, Maxwell and LaFayette.

Its very cool that you discovered those back issues of the Georgia Wildlife Magazine. Great heirlooms! Loved MG's too except when my grandmother drove me in hers! 60 MPG in a 40 mile per hour zone... Scared me and I would never ride with her after that. Your photo of Mitsouko with her video mouse game is really cute! Have a great time in the mountains... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Thérèse said...

Quels souvenirs! Quelles collections! Formidable de prendre au fur et à mesure des photos pour garder en mémoire. J'aime particulièrement la photo du chat et de la souris.
Réduire les possessions est toujours difficile et douloureux quelque part. Les souvenirs heureusement sont là pour atténuer la peine.

Jeanie said...

I suspect you could make rather a bundle on the magazines but the doing of it all is such a challenge, especially when you have a lot on your plate. Love the photo of Mitsouko! Adorable. And I'm so glad your daughter is helping you. It really is too much for one person and especially going through the memory stuff.

Roderick Robinson said...

Strange, I almost resist making a comment. You have this episodic style which appears to be unravelling, and then - flash! - everything is brought under control with one short sentence. A true sense of narrative within what might seem to be a documentary. By commenting I risk intruding.

But there are parallels in my life. My mother refused to throw away the big fat issues of the UK newspaper, The Sunday Times. Said she'd never quite read them and - whoops! - along came another Sunday. Said she'd get back to the unread bits but never did. When she was ill my two brothers started in the attic and pushed rubbish down three flights of stairs until it was possible to walk out on to a promontory of rubbish from halfway down the cellar stairs.

Eventually I became a magazine editor and my last twelve years were the best, tackling a subject - logistics - which I knew well and which took me all over the world. The monthly issues of my mag, between 1983 and 1995, are up in the attic with the dead bodies of wasps (we've had two infestations). Meaningless to anyone else but a reminder to me that I retired on a high note. These days I write novels, short stories and sonnets but the bones of discipline in my fiction are to be found in an earlier, evolutionary form in those mags. Chuck 'em out? I suppose I should.

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