Friday, May 31, 2013

I keep making books, but at least this one has a purpose

First, the purpose.  I have many years of letters from my father's family in Germany to him aboard ship where he was a waiter and a porter and later when he settled in the US.  Most of them are handwritten in German and using Fraktur, so reading them is going to be unlikely, though I am looking for some options here.  The letters include pictures, and newspaper clippings and other things that a mother and sisters would have sent to the youngest son, so I would love to know what they reveal.

There are also a lot of American photos and letters from when he worked as a Bellman at the Waldorf Astoria, and as a Butler for an opera singer on Long Island as well as several other similar positions.

My Mother's history is sketchier, she was born in the US, in Fall River Massachusetts and is from a blended family,. There are some notes from a Half? /Step? brother who did some research so I can mine that a bit and see what comes up.  I also have some things I got from her older sister, though that is mostly photographs without captions or identification.

I am creating an art journal in my mind that blends both histories and as far back as I can go, which may not be far.  My father's father was from a part of Germany that is now Poland... maybe... and my mother's parents were from Ireland, so records may be thin on the ground.  But it sounds like an interesting project, and maybe my son would like the journal if I ever finish it.

SO, to start it all off, I decided to do a "collection journal" and put all the bits and pieces of information and notes in one place so I can see them all at once.  There are dates and names and even menus from shipboard dinners so this journal will hold pointers to the actual documents  and I will try to link it all to years.  I actually have 15 of my dad's Chauffer's Licenses from the 1930's with a variety of addresses on them -- some very odd things got saved -- and his draft notices for WWII along with his naturalization papers.

Anyone who knows me knows something that is a) blue b)"perfectly good" just not for what it was being used for or c) related to paper of any sort is not for throwing away in this crazy house.  So, from my stash of "could be book boards" I pulled the cover from an Italian Watercolor Pad that long ago was used up and it has become the front cover.  The back is plain old black mattboard.  The pages were project pages from a Rollabind system.  I trimmed off the holes for the little round thngees and repunched them for the Cinch Wires.  I love the page format but the rollabind never felt secure to me, so I just (see beginning of this paragraph) held onto them until a better use appeared.

Then I got out my Cinch  Binder and bound it with some red wires.  Thanks Gill for turning me on to this little device.  I love it, even though if it was an art journal I might sew it, for this kind of heavy use journal I LOVE the ease of this.

So, here it is as it is now.  I plan to cover the old cover's spine with something, and to see how it all works out over the next couple of months.  I love the color and the label just looks right somehow...

This is a closeup of the back.  I am still not getting the wires exactly round, but I can easily live with that....

The next step is to start collecting what I can mine from the 4 shoeboxes of photos and letters and general who knows what and organizing it in this book.  I see the final journal as a landscape one with pages split lengthwise in 2 different colors at least, divided based on how much information I have with some world events thrown in and a timeline across the lengthwise page divider.  We shall see, I guess.
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dorothypandorasbox said...

This sounds like a fabulous project Jordi. I shall enjoy watching it develop.

Gill said...

Me too! I was reading on my ipad and lost track of whose blog I was reading...I thought a different Gill was using her cinch and so followed the link.

Duh! Who was surprised then!?!

Nice book, great idea Jordi!