Sepia Saturday #363: Tag! You’re It!

The 2016 Sepia Saturday Project is Finished!!

Welcome to the last post for the year related to Sepia Saturdays for my 2016 genealogy project. It has been immensely fun. There have been all sorts of posts: biographies, stories, recollections, musings, research results, and more. Using the Sepia Saturday photos as prompts to connect to my Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook cards and then to my blog post for the week has been exciting and sometimes challenging. Some posts were short and some longer depending on how the material flowed for that week. This project has also been a nice way to make sure the beautiful, vintage cards were not just sitting in my files without being enjoyed. Since the cards were tucked away, out of the glare of sun and lights, some are as vibrant in color as the day they were stored away.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.

I have to say, I’ve been much more diligent in making sure that my posts are scheduled in advance. They say that the more you write, the better you get at it and I have seen my creativity come out with these posts. A few of my favorite 2016 posts?

So, what is the last Sepia Saturday post for this year? Scattered throughout Aunt Sadie’s scrapbook were Christmas gift tags that were on Sadie’s gifts over the years. These are those tags. You can see the Art Deco influence of the times in many of them.

sepiatags001sepiatags002sepiatags003Scottie dogs, pointsettias, and Santa Clause…


2017: What’s in Store for This Blog

What project is coming up in 2017? My in-depth, once-a-week post will switch to Fridays. Those Friday posts will be a variation of 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks in that I will be looking at various documents in my files and what sorts of genealogical information can be found in them. Discussions around how to translate, evaluate, and connect that information to a family tree will occur. Thus, the 2017 project is 52 Documents in 52 Weeks.

I’ll still be posting a Sepia Saturday post but only once a month. Wordless Wednesday will continue with 2017’s focus being on the maternal (Pauw/Westra) side of the family. Additionally, Sunday’s Obits will be added, featuring an obituary from the family.

Shirley says goodbye! Looking forward to seeing you all in 2017!



Sepia Saturday #362: Leftovers Anyone?

It’s the end of the year and I’ve got some leftover cards from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook that I want to share with you. There’s no Sepia Saturday photo to tie to or theme or discussion. Also, because WordPress stinks at picture placement, especially around text, I’m taking the easy way out and just going to share the cards with you!

I like the elephant and the lamb in the carriage, that’s why those are first. And who remembers a two-party line?


Lots of pretty hearts and flowers. I like the cow with the stretchy neck. The one that looks like a Dutch boy is actually to Beatrice, Sadie’s mom. The very last one is a handmade card made from, of all things, wallpaper and paper doilies!

sepia362006sepia362007sepia362014sepia362015sepia362016 sepia362017 sepia362018 sepia362019  sepia362022 sepia362023sepia362029sepia362030sepia362031sepia362034-copysepia362034sepia362035sepia362036sepia362037sepia362038sepia362039sepia362042sepia362001sepia362048sepia362049sepia362050sepia362051sepia362052sepia362053sepia362054sepia362028sepia362047sepia362055 Hope you’ve enjoyed the cards on the Sepia Saturday posts, the stories and the entire 2016 project! Leave a comment and let me know.

Merry Christmas everyone.

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.

Sepia Saturday #361: Christmas Eve at Gram’s House

The end of both the year and this 2016 project is creeping up fast. On this post I’m going to put all the remaining Christmas cards from Aunt Sadie’s Shirley Temple Scrapbook that haven’t already been used in previous blog posts.


The first is a cleverly folded card. When collapsed, Santa is holding his sack over his shoulder but when opened up it’s sitting on a table. Santa is a bit pigeon-toed and is being assisted by three adorable dogs all wearing bows. This household is getting a teddy bear in a wagon as a present. The saying inside reads, “If I were Santa Claus you’d get a sleigh chock full of gift, I bet!”


A mystery card is next. This one features a beautiful poinsettia both on the cover and inside. It’s sent from Aunt Lizzie. Though the sepia361015mystery is who exactly is she? Another item for my to-do list….


Another Santa is winking benevolently at a grey kitten dressed in blue outerwear and holding a muff to keep her paws warm. Santa, though, is holding a sign that says, sepia361002“Hello, Little Girl!” meant for the card recipient rather than the kitten. The saying inside reads, “Hello, little girl! Merry Christmas! Hope Santa is lovely to you and hope there’s a lot of surprises in store for you all the year though!” This was sent to Aunt Sadie from her Grandma Anna K. Repsher.


And some kittens in “a basket full of yuletide cheer!” grace the front of this card. The sepia361009basket is surrounded by holly and has a big red bow tied to it. One of the kittens on the inside is reading to the sender, “Just a little message for Christmas and New Year but it is warm and friendly and heartily sincere.” Assuming this is from Grandma Strait this time since the capital “G” is made in a completely different way.


This cut-out Santa is wishing everyone Happy Holidays but I’m unsure why he’s wearing a wreath around his neck. He’s wearing a yellow belt and mittens and the red part of his suit sepia361004is fuzzy to the touch. The inside is different, being a card made from red card stock. The saying explains the wreath, “I’m on my way this Christmas, All wrapped up in holly, My rosy cheeks are wreathed in smiles, I’ve come to make you jolly!” This is the only card in the collection from Sadie’s Aunt Bernice (and the boys) sent to Sadie in 1941.


This simple red, grey, and black Art Deco card features a couple of candles nestled in holly.

sepia361013Sent in 1937 from Grandma (Repsher, based on the capital G), it says on the inside, “Wishing you all the joys that come with a Merry Christmas.”

The next card is another Santa in a fuzzy-to-sepia361005the-touch suit on a rooftop with his sack getting ready to deliver his presents. He’s waving and giving a sepia361006generic “Howdy!” as greeting. I particularly like the vignette on the inside of this card. It shows a very cozy fireside scene with the “stockings all hung by the chimney with care” and a decorated Christmas tree. Uncle Adam and Aunt Kitty sent this one to Sadie. The saying inside reads, “From Christmas tree to jingle bells, to gifts and holly, too, I hope old Santa bulges, with loads of joy for you!”


The last Christmas related card has a little boy and his dog standing in front of a large wreath. The boy is “singing out” and it certainly looks like the dog is helping out or perhaps scowling at the caterwauling. The card comes from Kitty Smith before she was married to Sadie’s Uncle Adam.


Bea and Bill’s first Christmas.

Bea and Bill’s first Christmas together was celebrated in 1935 and they took a picture to commemorate. I like the simplicity of this photo; the radio sitting on the table, the doilies on the chair, the strings of beads along the windows, the tinsel on the tree itself, the style of the furniture.


Jen’s first Christmas at Gram Strait’s house.

Up until the year Sadie’s mother Beatrice (my grandmother) died, Christmas Eve at Grandma Strait’s house on Lincoln Place was a tradition we observed for many years. As my parents started their family, and because my grandmother was widowed fairly young, it was a way to celebrate the holidays with Gram while still having Christmas day at our own home on Merriam Avenue. We would gather at Gram’s house for dinner along with Aunt Sadie and Uncle Jimmy. After dinner, Gram would open her presents from Dad and Sadie and then we would open our gifts from Gram to us. She often embroidered pillowcases, table runners, and dresser scarves for us as gifts and she always included a hand-made felt ornament on the packages for everyone.


Martha, Jenni, Jodi, Jill and Bill


Martha with daughters Jenni, Jodi and Jill

Over the years, we had a few variations to the usual cast of characters. When Gram married Joseph Guirreri in 1976, Maryann Ulmer, and her children, Mike and Lisa, joined us for Christmas Eve. After Joe’s passing in 1980, Maryann and my grandmother had a falling out over some of Joe’s things. They didn’t join us again. Unfortunately, after my parent’s divorce, my Dad quit joining us for Christmas Eve.

Grams’ house was always decked out to the nines with Christmas decorations. They hung from the ceilings, covered the tables and overran the bookcases. This picture highlights some of that:


Martha with daughters Jenni, Jodi and Jill


Jenni, Jodi, Martha and Jill

A running joke about Christmas Eve at Gram’s house started when the granddaughters were old enough to start bringing boyfriends as guests. Gram’s standardscreen-shot-2016-09-28-at-12-59-36-pm gift to all men invited that weren’t yet family or were brand-new to the family was a sturdy soap-on-a-rope from Avon.

We also had one memorable year when my grandmother surprised us all with the gifts for that year. Gram grew up during the Great Depression, then felt the effects of rationing during World War II. As a result, she was very frugal and loved to send away for free things or receive free gifts when buying something else. Think bookmark-when-you-order-a-magazine-subscription type free gifts… Well, unbeknownst to us, she spent a whole year collecting free things and squirreling them away for Christmas. We all tramped into the house with our gifts for Gram in our arms. While placing those under her tree, we took one look at the gifts already there and knew something was up. Instead of a bunch of wrapped gifts there were only a few things along with a blue, lumpy, pillowcase type bag. We started whispering amongst ourselves, “What the heck is that?”


Jodi, Jenni, Martha and Jill

We got through dinner and then gathered in the living room to start the gift exchange. As usual, Gram opened her gifts first and after that it was time for the grandkids to open theirs. She picked up the blue bag and announced, “This year we’re doing something different. Everybody gets gifts but it’s going to be a grab bag this year!” And sure enough, it was. She had individually wrapped things but you didn’t know what you were going to get. There was a checkbook size year calendar, a decorative plate, a tote of some sort, a comb and brush, mittens, a mug, etc. All sorts of little odds and ends. We got a kick out of it (another running joke for the years ahead was born) and Gram was so proud of herself for thinking of something so unique.


Jenni, Gram Strait, Jill and Jodi

You can tell in the picture above that it’s Christmas since the Christmas tchotchkes are everywhere! Elves on the lamp, toy soldiers sitting on the bookcase shelves, gift bows on the marble-top table. Apparently, we got purses for Christmas that year.

 One final, parting Christmas Eve at Gram’s House photo:


Jenni, Jill, Jodi and Martha

The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.
Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #310, 19 Dec 2015): Christmas Eve


Sepia Saturday #360: Attention!







This beautiful Christmas card was given to Aunt Sadie by her grandmother Repsher. The white teddy bear holds a large candy cane and some holly. It is surrounded by other toys like a yellow elephant, a toy plane, a green giraffe and a white dog. The inside features a poem, “May old Santa Claus grant all your wishes, So your Christmas is surely a dandy, And as gay as the red and white stripes On a big stick of peppermint candy!

What does a big teddy bear on a Christmas card have to do with the prompt photo of a soldier eating a donut? Well, the inside of the card has a couple of saluting soldiers. And I have a photo of my dad, William Strait, and his sister, Mercedes Marie Strait, that reminds me of these saluting soldiers:


With the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, America was plunged into the middle of World War II. Billy and Sadie’s mother, Beatrice, was a seamstress and support for the “boys” overseas led to a wave of patriotism. Beatrice constructed the uniforms for them, even incorporating hats into the outfits. Billy and Sadie proudly showed off their new uniforms, while standing at attention and snapping off a crisp salute for the camera. 

During the war, rounds of rationing were implemented, starting originally with a sugar ration. The war caused supplies to be short for things like rubber, metal, clothing, and other items. However, food rationing and price controls caused households to feel the pinch of supporting the America War effort. Per the National Archives at Boston:

“During World War II fewer manufactured goods were available because of military needs. A system of rationing and price controls were established to provide resources needed for the war and to avoid the kinds of economic problems that had resulted during World War I, such as high inflation. Government programs for rationing and price controls were administered by the Office of Price Administration (OPA) whose activities were especially important at the local level and affected virtually every household in the United States.”

Among my grandmother’s things, I found her War Ration Book Four #30096AQ.


Front Cover

The person signing the front of the book was attesting, “In accepting this book, I recognize that it remains the property of the United States Government. I will use it only in the manner and for the purpose authorized by the Office of Price Administration.” It was void if altered in any way. It was also noted on the front cover that “It is a criminal offense to violate rationing regulations.”


Back Cover

The back cover contains an important notice, “When you have used your ration, salvage the TIN CANS and WASTE FATS. They are needed to make munitions for our fighting men. Cooperate with your local Salvage Committee.” The tin cans I could understand being recycled but what use would waste fats serve? Turns out people were instructed to turn in their grease to their local butchers. This grease/fat was then used to make glycerin which was a key component of explosives. The rationees were also cautioned to “Never pay more than the legal price” and to “never buy rationed goods without ration stamps.”

There are a few stamps left in the booklet but it is obvious that some pages were completely used up as indicated by the remnants found in the middle crease. This ration booklet had printed stamps in black, red, green, and blue.




The stamps themselves were printed with patriotic symbols like Liberty’s torch, the horn of plenty, wheat stalks, tanks, naval ships and airplanes. Ration schedules were printed in the newspaper indicating what color and letters/numbers could be used for particular goods on what days. The rules were pretty strict dictating things like when and how the book and its stamps could be used; stamps must be torn out of the person’s booklet in the presence of the shopkeeper or the store’s employees, keeping an empty book to turn in for the next one, etc.

The rationing also ensured that people were much more careful in the preparation of their meals and making sure that nothing went to waste. I know this bit of rationing affected my grandmother even into the later years of her life. She was always very frugal and continued to buy “somewhat less than fresh” vegetables that were on the sale rack to take home to make stew.

Between rationing and some patriotic clothing made for the children, the Strait family made it through the trials of World War II.


The concept behind these weekly Saturday posts can be found at Sepia Saturday Intro.

Theme taken from Sepia Saturday photo (originally #309, 12 Dec 2015): War efforts