I was gifted a real treasure yesterday! One of my most favourite things in the world...books! And not just books but very old books.
These books in particular once belonged to my great-grandmother, Iva Teresa Apple. They are school books actually; Arithmetic, Grammar and Readers of various levels. And they are wonderful!
The oldest book of the bunch was published in 1883. That is eighteen eighty three. Not a typo. 1883!!!!!! Holy Cats! Of course it didn't come into her possession until 1891. And I know this because she signed it.
Isn't her handwriting beautiful? Mine is barely legible even to me. And hers looks like artwork. I believe it is called "copperplate" penmanship. They used to teach penmanship in school. Even when I was in primary school it was one of the things right on my report card. And it was never a good grade either. But Iva T. Apple on the other hand, her penmanship was gorgeous.
It says here that in 1891 she was going to school in Swayzee Indiana (which is in Grant County apparently). She was born in 1881 so she was ten years old when she signed her name in that Fourth Reader.
I looked up Swayzee Indiana - and as far as I can tell it is in no way related to Patrick Swayzee. At the last census, 2010, it had a population of 961. Which is not that far off the populationat it's peak in 1900 when it was 1,162. The town of Swayzee claims that it is the only town by that name in the entire world. I will not argue the point. It's claim to fame is 9 basketball overtimes in a single game!
It appears that the town was officially established in 1880 when the Clover Lear railroad tracks were laid through the town , just one year before Iva T was born. I don't know much else about the town other than it had it's booms and busts, like almost every other town in existence, but has remained, for the most part, a rural farming community.
I should probably go back and read through my dad's notes to see if I can find out why and when Iva T moved from Indiana to Michigan. I know she married a man named Harrison Samuel Hurley and that among her children was my grandfather, Ira Irvin Hurley.
I remember my great grandmother vividly. She was adorable. Her little house was across a cornfield from my grandparents in Hemlock Michigan on a dirt road. I loved walking over to visit her. She had an enormous flower garden that she lovingly maintained and made quilts and dried apple dolls. One year she made a popcorn cake for my birthday. I remember her as a soft spoken, gentle, sweet natured lady who always wore an apron, sensible black lace-up shoes and her hair up in a bun.
My children never met her, which is a shame. And it's entirely my own fault. Somehow, I just never made it happen. She was in Michigan, we were in Connecticut and life was busy and complicated. It's not a very good reason and I greatly regret it. She was still living when my children were all born because she lived to be 105 years old. She is one of the reasons that I claim have descended from a long line of very long lines.
It's hard to imagine that lovely silver haired lady that I knew as a 10 year old, carefully writing her name in her new school book more than a hundred years ago. Way back then, her entire life still lay before her and she had no idea how it would all play out.
I am looking very much forward to reading her old school books where she wrote notes in the margins and underlined certain passages and occasionally wrote adorable little mysterious secret things such as: Harry Apple + Hazel Whitecraft. That's 'Plus' not 'And'. An important distinction.
As soon as I saw those two names written like that, very small and down on the corner of a page, in my head I heard, "Harry and Hazel, sittin' in a tree, k.i.s.s.i.n.g". Probably because it's the sort of thing I might have written, very small and down on the bottom corner of a page when I was only 10. I can only guess that Harry Apple was someone related her Iva T (same last name and all) but I have no clue who Hazel Whitecraft was. I suppose it doesn't really matter.
It's another connection to real history and to my own personal history. Like I said, treasures.
PS wishes too all of you for a safe, yummy, Happy Thanksgiving however you spend it. I will be taking off the rest of the week to enjoy the holiday AND to begin my annual Cookie Baking Marathon! We can all catch up next Monday!
Hugs all 'round!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.