I may have been able to to get away with a wistful smile & a re-Tweet or two in the honor of her 90th birthday. But then I discovered of the photo show in honor of the icon’s birthday — and from there, a very important fact that I had missed for low these X years.
In 2010, a collection of Marilyn’s personal journals, poems, letters, and the like was published in Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters by Marilyn Monroe, edited by Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment. (Can you even imagine having access to such intimate ephemera?!)
As Lucy Bolton notes at the BBC, “This shows how the process of writing was integral to Monroe’s self care and well being. She could also be honest here, perhaps in a way that she couldn’t be elsewhere.” Including both the cruel and the kind. It’s the self-talk that fascinates me the most. Again from Bolton:
In her so-called Record notebook from around 1955 she writes that her “first desire was to be an actress” and that she is striving to work fully and sensitively, “without being ashamed of it”. Her drive to work on herself and her craft was merciless: “I can and will help myself and work on things analytically no matter how painful”, and she notes in her notebook a single line, “having a sense of myself” – as if the words ground her in some way and remind her of what she needs to keep in mind.
This is not just to be coveted for the personal diary of a celebrity aspect. This is the self-reflective artist at work.
remember there is nothing you lack – nothing to be self conscious about yourself – you have everything but the discipline and technique which you are learning and seeking on your own
And it’s the documentation of a woman’s life, which I find supremely interesting, most poignant, relateable. How many of us, sadly, can relate to these words of Monroe?
I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really… starting tomorrow I will take care of myself for that’s all I really have and as I see it now have ever had
This is the stuff you miss when you swear off your collecting, your obsession. Oh, but how easy it is to be pulled back in! Another book on the wishlist. No; scratch that. I think I’ll buy myself a birthday gift early. I’m convinced it’s what Marilyn would want me to do.
No Egrets Antiques has just completed our third antique show of this new year. Our first was held in West Bend, WI in January. Cold, but the snow kept away and turn-out was very high! As always, the N. L. Promotions’ events are well attended and offer top-quality vendors.
The second was in Wausau, WI on a very cold winter weekend. At this time of year Wausau is snow ski country and the sport is for the hardy outdoor types. But we were set up inside the D.C. Everett High School and the droves of customers provided our booth with constant action for two full days. They came to buy! This show and our St. Norbert’s Show were put on by AR Promotions and Audre’ and Ray really do things right.
This last endeavor was a flip of what we had expected. Weather was kind to us, but buyers were not. The venue was at St. Norbert Collage in DePere, WI, and the gym was filled with many of the same dealers that were in Wausau. We were very pleased to see the crowds pour thru on both Saturday and Sunday. But!! After talking with many of our friendly competing dealers, the consensus was that the visitors left their purses and wallets at home. Still a good show, but not up to our expectations.
And so goes the life of an antique dealer. Wait until our next show. We’ll bring better antiques or maybe lower end items. Better glass, or depression glass? Probably not, it is not selling up to its potential. Victorian period? No, we need to bring more Mid Century Modern. Sports items? Always hot. Jewelry always sells so do post cards. Yippee! Post cards and jewelry. And probably some delightful prints and paintings for home decorating This is also a great show for outdoor items for your yard decor and also heavy-metal for your man-cave. That’s what we will bring to our next event.
Our next show will be in Elkhorn, WI, (another N.L. event) and it’s always a super show for both collectors and decorators and sellers, with Inherited Values and No Egrets in booths next to each other – Row two # 216.
Today’s scrapbooks are filled with photographs of family & friends, complimented by decorative papers and supplies purchased for the sole act of creating fantastic looking photo albums. But once upon a time, scrapbooks bore more resemblance to their name: they were books full of “scraps” of paper.
It’s filled with carefully clipped images of the film star from various newspapers and magazines of the time. Looks like there are a few publicity photos sent to fans as well.
I know some people will balk at the seller’s price tag of $450. But when you consider how much it would cost to find and purchase enough vintage publications and the like to attempt to recreate this nearly-antique scrapbook, it seems a pretty small price to pay in comparison. Plus, even if you could manage to locate all the same scraps, would it be the same as knowing someone dedicated themselves to the selection and organization of this old book? I don’t think so.
When you think about it, scrapbooking isn’t much different than blogging is today. But as ephemeral as old paper is, there’s something more lasting about it… Perhaps because none of us knows what will become of blogs and websites in the next 80 years. Even in that unknown future, I can’t imagine someone not enjoying holding an old book like this and carefully turning the pages to see what someone created.
The front page of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette for Tuesday, August 3rd, 1920, brought a mysterious story:
Diamond Merchant’s Sudden Death Closes Pages In Famous ‘Ghost Book’
Chicago, Aug. 5 — The sudden death of Samuel T.A. Loftis, millionaire diamond dealer, after a night of wine and taxis, has closed the pages of a famous “Ghost Book,’ which Loftis has kept up for 14 years.
The book was found in the dead man’s apartment. It’s pages are of glazed paper, which, after being written on, were creased down the middle, causing the writing to blot in a freakish double smear.
Loftis, friends say, gave credence to the significance of “ghost signatures.”
This verse occupies the front page of the “Ghost Book”:
“Shadows form in our ghostly past; Ho! Ho! young man. Ho! Ho! From forgotten graves they will rise at last; It is so, young man, it is so. You may run, you may dodge, you may Twist, you may bend, The flying phantoms win in the end; Ho! Ho! old man, Ho! Ho!”
No further explanation of his death is given, not even why a photograph of his ex-wife was made part of the story.
The late Mr. Loftis held the distinction of inventing a new business model for diamond dealing: selling directly to the public on credit. Loftis Bros. and Company advertised in large metropolitan newspapers, offering low monthly payments for fine diamond jewelry. Owning diamonds was now within the reach of the burgeoning middle-class, but excessive debt was also one facet of the beginnings of the lending crisis that brought on the Great Depression. Loftis’ business was launched shortly after DeBeers began their campaign to push diamonds into the forefront; Loftis’ credit system helped make the diamond the de facto wedding ring stone for people of any income.
A “ghost signature” is produced just as described in the Loftis article. The process was much more effective in the days of fountain pens, with slow-drying India ink and a loose method of depositing the ink. The ‘glazed paper’ helped the process by preventing the ink from soaking in. The book was held sideways and the subject was encouraged to sign the book on half of a page, in their official hand and leaving as much ink as possible. The page was creased in the middle and the page folded back upon itself, creating a Rorschach-like inkblot, something for the mind to interpret in innumerable ways. Faces, bodies, animals, spirits, and monsters all appeared in the squished and smeared John Hancocks of the willing contributors to a Ghost Signature book.
As you might have guessed, the business model of preying on the turn-of-the-century middle-class with a promise of acquiring unaffordable luxury doesn’t spring from the minds of well-balanced, altruistic people. In June of 1907, Samuel Loftis suffered a gunshot wound and a split scalp…caused by his brother, Joseph Loftis — one of the “Loftis Bros.” on the masthead — during a business meeting. Samuel Loftis had read a motion to remove his brother as vice president due to unignorable indiscretions; the secretary of the company, Loftis’ wife, seconded the motion. One dissenting ‘nay’, from the soon-to-be-ousted vice-president, wasn’t enough to overturn the motion. Joseph Loftis was discharged from his position, and in return he emptied all six chambers of his revolver in Samuel Loftis’ direction and then leapt upon the wounded president with the intent of finishing the job by beating him with the butt of the revolver.
Samuel Loftis declined to press charges. Joseph was sent west and was the head of the Loftis Bros.’ Omaha office until Samuel’s death.
In 1910, Clifford Loftis, the other member of the “Bros.”, was arrested, but acquitted, in the murder of Joseph Lafferty in Bakersfield, California. Lafferty had stopped Clifford from beating a horse, which resulted in a fistfight. Clifford wasn’t satisfied with the result and brought a gun along to renew the discussion the next day. The New York Times reported that Clifford, a cowhand at the time, had been sent west and left out of the diamond business “to get him away from the temptations of city life.”
Mark Twain wrote that the “last fad is ‘ghost – autographs.’ You write your name down the crease, then fold & press the paper while the ink is still wet & will blot. It generally makes something resembling a skeleton.” He had made one of his own in 1905 and sent it off to his daughter, Clara. The “fad” enjoyed a brief popularity at a time when autograph books were becoming passe. From the mid 19th century until the early 20th it was a friendly gesture to exchange or collect signatures in a little autograph book as a memento of friendships and other events. The mid-19th century also brought the fun artwork of “klecksographie,” popularized by the poet and artist Justinus Kerner. The “ghost signature” overlap of inkblot art and autograph exchanges wasn’t a lasting fad, but it held enough attraction to spawn custom hardbound books designed specifically for making ghost signatures, like the one owned by Samuel Loftis. At the height of the fad, around 1909, ghost autographs were solicited from presidents, dukes and dutchesses, and other celebrities.
In 1909, Samuel Loftis and his wife, Harmon — the company secretary — dissolved their marriage in a fit of hostility. Harmon cited abuse and neglect, stemming from Samuel publicly striking Harmon in the face at at the South Shore Country Club ballroom. Samuel responded by charging his wife with drunkenness and infidelity. The divorce was granted in 1912, and Harmon moved to California with a $125,000 check in her pocketbook.
Samuel, free of the shackles of marriage, set himself on a path marked by wine, women, and song, and his multi-million-dollar diamond business allowed him to afford all the indiscretions his heart desired. The housekeeper of his Chicago apartment described dozens of women coming and going over the months he resided in the apartment, which would prove to be his final residence. On August 30th, 1920, a drunk Samuel Loftis brought a girl to his apartment, Miss Ruth Woods, the fiancee of a business partner. By the end of the night, the fiancee, furrier Roy Shayne, was at the apartment, and Loftis was dead from a blow to the head. Woods claims she called Shayne for help after Loftis fell and hit his head on the floor. The story the police believed was that Loftis had attempted to ravage Miss Woods by force; she summoned Shayne for assistance, and a liquor bottle to the head ended Loftis’ conquest. An inquest was held, both Woods and Shayne were questioned, and when the inquest ended on August 4th the death was ruled accidental, due to a fall. On August 8th, ten days after Loftis’ death, Shayne and Woods were married in Milwaukee, after receiving a special dispensation to waive the five-day waiting period on Wisconsin marriage licenses.
The original, complete wire story about Loftis’ death included many more details of Woods’ and Shayne’s testimonies, and more information about Loftis’ life. Whether due to sloppy editing or a taste for the bizarre, most newspapers cropped the story down to end just where my quote above finishes: Loftis died, and he had a book of ghost signatures. The sensationalism of the reporter who composed the original wire story appears to have attempted to tie together the reckless life of the Loftis clan to the occultism of the 1920s, and to start a much longer story with an attention-getting zinger. Reporters visited crime scenes, and the book probably caught the eye of a beat reporter looking for something interesting to punch up the article. Loftis was probably just hip to the fads of the time, and used it as a conversation piece, collecting the autographs of friends and marveling at the mysterious shapes. Loftis’ actual life was far more sinister than the so-called “ghost book” of the news reports.
The poem the newspaper quoted from the forward of Loftis’ ghost book helps identify his book as The Ghosts of My Friends, the most common of the preprinted spirit autograph books from the first decade of the 20th century. The poem is by Gerald Villiers-Stuart, and appeared in his book The Soul of Croesus. Ghosts is attributed to Cecil Henland, who had made a name for herself by producing other books of the same format, with some front material and then blank pages for the purchaser to fill in, and in founding the National Society of Day-Nurseries. Henland married Lieut. Col. Arthur Percival at age 38 in 1907, but was widowed in World War I. Heland’s next most popular book was The Christmas Book, which included blank pages for people to write their wish-lists, and additional pages laid out to record the celebrations and events of the Christmas season.
The Ghosts of My Friends is somewhat common in online stores and websites, with the price varying quite wildly, but mostly sells for around $40. In 2009, a copy belonging to Fred Astaire, or someone in his family, was placed for auction and sold for several hundred dollars. Your Hidden Skeleton is less common and tends to bring a little higher price. People who own copies of either book tend to be rather proud of their ghost signatures, frequently posting samples online. If you’d like to make one of your own but without damaging an antique book, there is a company producing ghost autograph books similar to Cecil Henland’s, which can be purchased from Reflections of My Friends.
Most collectors are aware that they are curating their collections — or at least they should be! But now, there’s online curation, or more specifically, online content curation.
Unlike blogging or writing on the web (called “content creation”), content curation is the process of sorting through the created content on the web and presenting it to others. In the most simple terms, it’s rather like being the editor of your own magazine, picking the stories, images, and information you’d like to keep and/or share with others (unless you want to keep it private). Almost all curation sites include standard social networking features (being able to follow members and/or subscribe to curated collections) as well as allow you to connect and even sign-up easily via Facebook and Twitter.
While a lot of attention has been made of using digital curation for businesses and bloggers, collectors of antiques and vintage items will enjoy this as well. It’s a great way to organize information on what you collect, save links to resources, show off what you and your collecting friends have posted of your collections online, do some window shopping… Maybe drop a few hints… *wink*
Here are my favorite three sites for content curation for collectors of antiques & vintage collectibles:
The most well-known content curation site is Pinterest. While Pinterest is not the first of these content curation sites (far from it!), it has managed to capture a lot of media attention and an incredibly high number of users.
Pinterest is primarily image based, which works well for showing off pretty things, such as collectibles and DIY project ideas, but it isn’t necessarily suited well for articles and “how to”s. In fact, many Pinterest members go out of their way not to properly credit what’s shared, like Tumblr folks. This can be quite annoying for both those who have created content as well as those who want the information behind the photograph. Also, such little text also makes searching a bit more difficult.
However, Pinterest is rather easy to use, and allows for a rather unlimited number of collections or “pin boards” and probably has people you know there, making interacting easy. The site currently has you join a wait list rather than begin immediately. Typically, you only wait a day or two, even less if a friend invites you; but it does put a damper on one’s enthusiasm.
If your intent is to drive traffic to your own website, Pinterest leaves a bit to be desired as most people there for the pretty pictures — and once they’ve seen them on Pinterest, they aren’t as inclined to find out more. Pinterest does not show you any statistics on how many people have seen your pins or pinboards.
Scoop.It has a great name which invokes what you are doing: You “scoop” content off the Internet and create pages which resemble little newspapers or magazines.
Since Scoop.It is focused on articles, you get to include far more text with your “scoop,” yet not give away the whole article, which just makes for better Internet friends. You also can add an image to your “scoop”, which is a nice visual when the article you are using doesn’t have one. And Scoop.It also has a suggestion option which allows you to suggest a link for another member to scoop onto their own topic. If your suggestion is used, you get a little link crediting you. This is a nice community feature that allows you to connect with other members and participate in topics past your own.
At the free level, you may have up to five collections, called “Topics.” Because you only have five free collections, you should think ahead of time and decide just what collections you want to focus on curating. If you collect a lot things, or do a lot of research, you probably want to go make each topic a bit broader, rather than being too specific on each one. Or you can pay to upgrade your service, which includes not only a larger number of topics but the option to use your own domain name. Unlike many other content curation sites, Scoop.It does not have a main page on which you can just watch the action of what other members are doing, so you’ll have to rely on the site’s search function to see what other topics you’ll want to subscribe to. And Scoop.It does not allow for you to have private topics.
Scoop.It is designed to push folks out to the original content sources, so even though finding topics and scoops is a bit more difficult, there is some traffic to be found here. Scoop.It‘s stats take some getting used to; paid members apparently get more information on stats and analytics than free users.
Now we get to my favorite content curation site: Snip.It. Like it sounds, you curate by “snipping” content from the web, making your own digital scrapbooks out of the articles and images others have produced — while giving the creators proper credit and encouraging folks to go visit the content creators website, blog, gallery, etc.
Why is Snip.It my favorite? Because it primarily focuses on article curation in ways that suit me best. Along with being able to have a rather unlimited number of collections (including private ones for research I don’t want to share yet), Snip.It highlights or features great collections on the site, making it easier to find collections to subscribe to and collectors to follow.
On the main page, the most recent “snips” from featured collections are shown, with the most recent at the top. And there are also specific categories (such as “Arts & Culture” and “History”) which contain featured collections, also with the most recent “snips” at the top. Since featured collections are selected by the folks working for Snip.It, real people are differentiating good curation from spammers who join and just want to promote junk. Because of this way of showcasing good snipped content and good snippers, I’ve been able to find a number of great resources for reading, researching — and maybe even collecting, who knows? *wink*
This is the site I’ve also had the most conversations with other members, via comments. I like that.
Snip.It is created with readers and snippers in mind, and drives people to the curated content. Even though I’ve been participating in Snip.It the least amount of time, I’ve seen the most about of traffic to my sites from it. Snip.It does offer stats on how often your collections are viewed; additional, more in depth, stats will be available soon.
Whichever online curation site you choose, I’m sure you’ll quickly find yourself enjoying it — just don’t spend so much time online that you forget to go to garage sales, flea markets and auctions! *wink*
Have you found any good content curation sites? Please do share in the comments!
On shows like Oddities there’s much talk about cabinets of curiosities, but you needn’t have a fancy cabinet — or anything morbid, or even Victorian, to display in it — to arouse curiosity. In fact, I consider my entire home a display and I thrill when anyone stops and looks in wonder. It’s like a large, living, scrapbook. My home may not be at the level of Anthony Pisano’s, but whenever friends and family, like my young niece, take the time to look at what I’ve got on my shelves, I’m ecstatic that my objects start the conversations, the stories, the wonder…
The very juxtaposition of the graphic crime news against happy illustrated fashion models makes this a fascinating work of altered art! The fact that it’s a vintage voyeuristic preservation of crime news as well as a time capsule of fashions makes it even more rare and collectible.
Many people collect postcards for what’s on the front… Maybe they collect real photo postcards, or vintage images of animals on postcards, or antique images of cities… Maybe they collect by artist or publisher. But some of us fall in love with what’s on the backs of the postcards.
Some postcards were used as contest entry forms, or direct response responses, like this vintage postcard requesting a Sergeant’s dog book. But perhaps even better than that, are the handwritten notes — like little glimpses into lives, short stories as sweet as snapshots.
Here’s an example:
Aug. 12, 193(3?)
At last we are back on the coast again (and much too soon to suit us). The Kenai Peninsula camping trip we have had these last two weeks has been unbelievably glorious. One very interesting place we visited is the biggest and most scientific fox farm in Alaska on Kenai Lake not far from Moose Pass. (?) Mrs. Williamson (she attended the V. of California) showed us around their farm and we handled this very tame silver fox.
Call me a romantic, but I like to imagine or create their stories… How the “spinster” sisters enjoyed the postcards from Ben. Who Ben traveled with. For how long… And, of course, that the tame silver fox lived to a ripe old age, despite his “scientific” home at a fur farm.
Before storing snapshots, classify them according to the year in which the pictures were taken. The put them in individual envelopes with the year written on the upper right hand corner and file in suitable container.
At first read, the tip seems quite quaint; not all of us recall the days of bringing home multiple packets of photographs from the film processor. But even in today’s digital age, we do sometimes have more prints than photo frames, right? Plus, we collectors know that once you bring home your garage sale, flea market, thrift store, and antique mall finds, there are piles of vintage photographic images, antique postcards and other bits of old and odd ephemera that we must deal with…
I’ve written about this problem of storing ephemera before — and sadly, there’s been little sharing of what you all do. So maybe I’m not the only one struggling with organization?
While O’Connor’s tip may seem faulty in terms of sorting or organizing by year, certainly it’s a starting place — and the basic idea can be extrapolated into other categories or themes that suit you and your collection(s) best. Just remember, you absolutely want to interpret O’Connor’s envelopes and “suitable container” to mean proper archival photo storage items and/or decent archival quality papers, sleeves & containers in general. But hey, this is a start.
If you’re like me and enjoy collecting and have a creative streak, you’ve probably faced the issue of balancing your delight in making things with your collector’s desire to keep the integrity of your antiques and vintage items. While this clash of interests often presents a quandary for all artsy folk who collect, my primary problem persists in the area of vintage graphics.
I love to make collages, make special scrapbook pages, and in general practice the paper altered arts — but I’m extremely uncomfortable destroying antique books, vintage magazines and other old piece of ephemera. If a book or magazine is so damaged that it’s of no real value; fine, I can render the rest of it useful and beautiful once again with a paper project. But if the work is sound, no matter how filled with lovely images it is, I just can’t do harm. …Yet another part of my soul aches to use what’s right there, in reach. However, this digital age now puts an end to the majority of our concerns via the gift of the scanner.
In most cases, even the most delicate antique books and papers can be safely scanned. Not only does this offer collectors a virtual copy of the works, but, when scanned at a proper size (300 dpi or larger), this gives you a printable file. In just a few minutes you’ve preserved a copy of the image and created one you can now print (as many copies as you’d like) for use in collages, altered art paper projects, scrapbooking, and other projects.
What other projects, you ask? Well, now, thanks to all sorts of printers, gadgets, programs, and papers, you can transform your digital image files into patterns for cross stitch, needlepoint, and other needlework patterns; iron-on transfer papers to images to use on t-shirts, quilt squares, pillows and other fabric projects; LCD projector or DLP projector, opaque projector, and even slide projectors (though the lights often burn out before your project is done, resulting in problems lining up the image again) allow the image to be projected onto walls, canvas, etc. for painting murals and other larger decorating or art pieces — really, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
If you’re unsure where to start, there’s an online course you can take. While it focuses on paper art collage principals, it will help you get used to a lot of the basics. And there are places like Zazzle which do all the work, placing your images onto everything from posters, apparel and mugs, to greeting cards, iPod cases, and skateboards. You can make stuff just for you and your friends and family (at discounted prices) as well as sell stuff with your images to others. (I do it! This is my Zazzle shops with friends.)
The only note of caution I have is that if you decide to sell anything, you should know your intellectual property or copyright laws; items created for personal use fine.
So start flipping through your antique books, your vintage magazines, your postcards and other paper collectibles, with a creative eye… Who knows what images you can now safely use? It’s like having your cake and eating it too!
Image Credits: My own altered art piece made from antique and vintage images, used in my art collaborative project, Kindness Of Strangers, at Etsy & Zazzle.
I spotted this clever display at an antique mall and I thought it would be great for use in the home too: a simple vintage wall shelf, with the vintage postcards in the little spaces for knick knacks — the vases and glassware keep the postcards upright.
Wouldn’t it be great to pair travel postcards with little travel souvenirs? It would be like a 3D scrapbook that everyone could see!
Of course, you don’t have to be limited to postcards or travel items; any ephemera of a similar size would work. Antique trade and advertising cards paired with related smalls; vintage paper and fabric bookmarks with metal bookmarks; baseball cards with signed baseballs in cases — nearly endless ideas!
(I would advocate placing the postcards and other ephemera inside those firm plastic sleeves first, to keep them protected.)
At an estate sale I recently was lucky enough to get this little, unassuming, antique book… Plain brown boards, penciled notes and a math problem… A slim 6 and one-half inches 3 and one-half by inches.
It may not seem appealing to you — and that, likely, is how I managed to procure it. But hubby and I always look for old books; no matter how bland and boring their outsides are, the insides can be fabulous. And this is one of those fabulous ones. Inside, on the fragile old pages, are little Victorian hair braids — Victorian mourning pieces!
There are only a few of them, each carefully glued in place, the fading script documenting the details. But holding the book in your hands is a magical sort of a moment. I find it as close to sacred as any experience I’ve had.
Some people find this creepy. Or just plain wrong. But Victorians didn’t pretend death wasn’t a part of life, yet they also took their mourning seriously. They had more than the short and simple funeral services we have today; they had many more rules of etiquette. And they had more rituals, most of which I think would be more comforting and that I find beautiful. Including mourning hair art.
Because hair is symbolic and it lasts forever, Victorians would save hair from the deceased loved one and make mementos they could keep forever. According to Godey’s Lady’s Book (circa 1950):
Hair is at once the most delicate and last of our materials and survives us like love. It is so light, so gentle, so escaping from the idea of death, that, with a lock of hair belonging to a child or friend we may almost look up to heaven and compare notes with angelic nature, may almost say, I have a piece of thee here, not unworthy of thy being now.
Sometimes it was jewelry they could wear. Other times it was incredible sculptures, like the one seen on Oddities. And sometimes the hair was simply and eloquently braided and placed in a memorial book like this.
Notice how the neat old script includes the name, age, and either the death or birth date of the lost person below their braid of hair.
In the above photo you’ll see the wispy curl of hair that has not been braided so much as decorated around… It is the only piece of hair not braided and glued in place, but rather it’s affixed to a small swatch of fabric and golden “stickers” surround it. The roughly inch long piece of hair was not long enough to braid… It belonged to a three month old baby.
[Everyone say, “Awwww…”]
I’ve not yet decided how long I’ll keep this beautiful memorial book…
Part of me wants to keep it forever. But I also know I risk becoming obsessed with finding more, of building another collection… And this is a pricey category of collecting.
Thinking of taking a family vacation by car this year so you can go antiquing along the way? Getting there is half the fun — or at least half the story you and the kids remember (complain about?) years later. Below are 10 tips for creating a great family road trip — with a heavy emphasis on journaling or scrapbooking to preserve your memories.
A quick word about my emphasis on actively collecting souvenirs and journaling (or blogging) during the trip: It’s an excellent way to provide each member of the family with some much-needed “down time” and individual attention. It slows things down, allows events to be savored more “in the moment, “which makes for much better memory building and sharing later.
1. If you have a destination in mind, a place where you’ll be spending some time, call ahead. Not only for a guaranteed hotel or motel reservation, but for antiquing too. Search online and through your saved booklets, fliers, and antiquing publications for antique shops and malls in the area you’ll be visiting. Call to snailmail to verify hours and dates open (some smaller shops may be closed for their own vacation time) and ask them for a list of other shops in the area. (This can be done with any attraction or shopping plans.)
2. Road trip music. Yes, each kid over the age of four will have his and her own individual Mp3 player or other gadget, but I’m talking about shared music for sing-a-longs. Make a “family mixed tape” with each member of the family suggesting a handful of songs to be burned or downloaded to the compilation audio. (I heartily recommend including some Three Dog Night and folk music!)
3. Along with your usual antiquing gear, make sure you have all chargers, cords, memory cards, etc. for your cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, audio players, etc. packed.
4. But don’t only count on your gadgets. You’ll hit places without cell phone service to upload photos, no WiFi spots for travel blogging from the road, etc. So bring along pads of paper or — even better — a few of those blank journals for the family to write diary entries in. Not only is this a way to record in the moment, but you’ll have paper pages for scrapbooking — and nothing beats the feeling of sitting down together and turning the pages to share the memories. Plus you’ll have another family project for when you return home.
5. You’ll want to take photos — lots of photos. Having a few of those disposable film cameras is also nice. Not only as a backup for technology issues, but waiting for the film to be developed and gathering to share the photos is fun too. Plus, younger children you don’t wish to entrust with the care of expensive gadgets can still carry around a camera to take pictures with.
6. Don’t only rely only on GPS; bring actual maps. You can more readily see your options, your spouse or navigator in the shotgun seat can more easily assist you, and paper never hits zones without service bars *wink* Plus, you can mark maps with your own notes and include those pages or panels in your scrapbook. (Including an angrily circled “got lost here!” lol) And isn’t the whole point of vacation to take those roads not traveled?
But Keep It Flexible:
7. Include plenty of time for spontaneous stops. When kids have had enough of each other and the close quarters, take a pit stop to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, or enjoy a roadside treat. Keep whiny and sullen kids entertained by looking ahead on the map to help make decisions or rock picking (especially if you have a rock polisher!).
Even if this means you end up with a destination much closer to home, you’ll all have more fun if your pace and agenda is more relaxed.
8. Speaking of spontaneous souvenir hunts… Challenge or inspire the whole family to collect souvenirs for your travel scrapbook. Along with taking photos, have family members snap-up promotional pieces like brochures and place mats from the places you visited. (Multiple copies are a good idea.)
Other souvenir possibilities can be handmade, such as doodling the huge roadside Paul Bunyan statue, sketching every breakfast, or handwriting a diary page of the silliest things said that day.
9. Take as many of the smaller roads as you can, go through as many smaller cities as you can. Not only is the scenery more beautiful, the speed limits lower (resulting in better gas millage and increased safety), but here’s where you’ll find all the fun — and old — roadside attractions. Don’t fear that this will limit your antique shopping; many of the smaller towns do have antique shops. Heck, you’ll even be able to find local flea markets, farmers markets and even rummage sales this way!
As history-loving’ geeks, we find winding your way through smaller towns also means quaint and interesting local historical societies often many of these are free to visit or have a very small suggested donation. (Note: Purchasing postcards from historical society museums and small attractions helps support them — and your family’s journal of your trip!)
10. Always bring swimsuits. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, it never fails that there will be swimming or some water attraction along the way. Don’t dampen the fun; make sure everyone brings a swimsuit along. And mom, remember those towels!
Scan from a page in one of my vintage scrapbooks (crayon and ephemera glued in).