“My Stacey.” That’s what Mom says Grandmother used to call me.
Grandmother died of breast cancer when I was 3 years old, but I still have a few scraps of early memories that I hold onto dearly. Many of these memories are precipitated by old photos, like when Grandmother and Granddad were sitting on the banana couch one Christmas and gave me a Miss Piggy hand puppet. Other memories capture senses and feelings as you would expect from a small child’s recollection, like when I was sitting on Grandmother’s living room floor pulling the tin of Crayola crayons and Little Orphan Annie coloring books out of the corner curio. Happily coloring—slightly frightened by Annie’s ocular anatomy—I felt warm and secure with the adults congregating behind me in the kitchen as Grandmother played her Chickering in the other room.
As an active Daughter of the American Revolution, Grandmother was a family archivist and genealogist. She not only kept an extensive scrapbook for her Fort Dix friends serving in WWII (which features everything from playbills from soldiers’ off-duty down time and photos, to badges of honor, invitations, and U.S. communiques), but she also kept her mother’s scrapbooks (featuring family newspaper clippings, Victorian calling cards, dance cards, and post cards) and photo albums. Between Grandmother Adêle Stockham Ayres Summers and Great Grandmother Adêle Kite Stockham Ayres, I have inherited a collection of stories both personal and public: From the tragedy of cousin Widener who perished on the Titanic to the mystery of horologist Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Weatherly who promised to build a clock for a Pennsylvania schoolhouse if the town changed its name to Weatherly, PA….It did; He disappeared; And 50 years later, Charles Schwab fulfilled the clock promise, instead.
These scraps of Adêle (I and II) have lasted more than a century in some cases, but as a librarian I know the time has come to tackle the immense task of digitizing these stories. So here begins the journey. “Scraps of Adêle” will host each digitized piece of my grandmothers’ scrapbooks in the form of a blog post.
I didn’t have a lot of time with Grandmother. And with the recent passing of my grandmother-in-law, I’ve been thinking of Grandmother a lot. Late last night after spending Easter with my Connecticut family, the idea for this project occurred to me. When I sprung out of bed this morning and began collecting materials, I realized that late last night, 33 years ago, was when Grandmother died.
I guess I do still get to spend time with Grandmother.
I hope you enjoy,