Friday, 10 May 2013

Cabinet of curiosities #2 inside

One last post from this room – and it is back to the cabinet, which contains my mother’s baby book (it’s blue taffeta, so I’m not sure if my grandparents were hoping for a boy). I can’t remember how I came to have this object, however it is (naturally) in the original box. Due to its small size it fits nicely onto the glass shelf in a standing position.

Inside my grandfather has completed each page to give a running commentary of my mother’s early years, from her first word – Teddy – to first journey by bus at 11 days old. There is also the original cutting from the local newspaper announcing her birth. Albert, my grandfather was an avid diary writer, so I imagine that he would enjoy the task of dutifully completing all the relevant information. 

My own baby book has been completed but with less rigour by my Mum, it doesn’t seem to have been a priority and after a few entries, my early years remain a mystery! 


  1. R.e. The blue baby book (in original box - see previous comments, and conversations!) - What an amazing record to have P - not only of your Mother's early year's but also of your Grandfather's own handwriting. I think it's probably quite rare for people to keep correspondence from generation to generation, so this is a great piece of family history, and as you say, probably kept up by the fact that your Grandfather was a keen diarist (do you have any of his diaries too, I wonder?), so he was more happy to record the details!
    Well, I guess that at least you have a Baby Record book with some details. I'd be interested to know if your Mum can remember your first word!

  2. Whilst my grandfather's handwriting is not unfamiliar - this is indeed the only record of it that I have. When we cleared the house, after my grandmother died there were piles and piles of tiny diaries, but it just didn't seem right to read them (although I did wonder if he would have liked us to). Paradoxically it also felt wrong to throw them away.
    My Mum can't remember my first word – if only she had completed that page of the book! I suppose the accessibility of digital media means that these things are now caught on camera or video. I'm fond of this little book though and how it captures a moment in time, and you're right this information would have been lost had it not been for his simple jottings.

  3. Yes, being torn between the feeling of invading of someone's privacy after they are gone, and yet wanting to gain perhaps unknown stories and family details is a real moral dilemma, let alone whether to keep or not to keep the diaries, regardless.

    It's interesting to consider what/who diaries are for, and now of course as you have said about capturing moments r.e. first words etc. through digital media, is the diary redundant (or an endangered species?), now we have websites, blogs and FB etc.? Private versus Public.

    I asked my Mum about my first word. Apparently, it was 'Dada' (the Dad, not the art movement!), and she revealed that, 'Mama' was a bit miffed about it at the time! Though we had a giggle about that over the phone.

    In the 'first snap' - do you have a lovely bow in your hair, or is that the background? I can't quite make it out...

  4. Now I have enlarged the pic, I can see it was a bow - what colour? Does colour of bow & dress match?
    Am also interested to know what you are holding in your right hand?

  5. The 'private v public' in terms of the web is interesting, as we have discussed before I think nothing of posting personal information about my life on this blog - perhaps because I never quite believe that anyone apart from ourselves reads it – but I would be horrified to think of someone reading my personal diary - which is a total paradox, and rather hypercritical of me!
    In terms of the photo (it is my Mum not me) - she was actually almost 4 years old when this was taken, so I doubt as the caption says that this was her 'first snap'! but she is actually dressed in her ballet costume, hence big bow - and the pose is her holding out her dress in ballet style! Most photos of my Mum taken during childhood seem to involve a dance costume and posing like a ballerina. I also did ballet, but not one photo exists of myself in costume!

    I can imagine the annoyance of the parent who doesn't get to be the first word...

  6. p.s yes you're right - the diary - another endangered species, the list is growing.

  7. Yes, sorry P - I think I had a senior moment there for a while, of course it's your Mum.

    (I think it was a must when we were young to do either ballet or tap!)


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