Saturday, February 28, 2015


Frank W. Meserve, Jr.
Preble Chapel S.S.
for Not Missing a Sunday
between Sept. 1926 to June 1927

I found it at an indoor flea market. It caught my eye, not because bibles are hard to find—in fact, there are almost always bibles jumbled into book stacks at flea markets—but because it was full of clippings, notes, etc.  It was clearly a “family” item, and those lost items always make me curious.
          Inside the front cover was a newspaper clipping including a photo of Frank W. Meserve, Jr.: Seaman Wounded In Sinking Spending Leave At Home Here.
          And there he was, Frank Meserve himself, in Naval uniform (cap tipped back on his head, eyes bold and clear, mouth slightly open in a half-smile.
          He was a handsome man.
          I bought Frank’s bible for ten dollars, and then I took it home.

I went through the entire book, picking out the clippings and postcards, reading them all carefully (making notes as I went along), putting them all back where I’d found them.
High school in Portland, Maine, WWII enlistment in the US Navy, service in North Africa, Trinidad, Newfoundland; wounded in the battle of Luzon; marriage to Bernice; a small photograph of a baby, a clipping from a calendar—September 13, 1946—with his handwritten note to his wife: Happy anniversary...; a clipping of a photo of the winners at the July Fourth Old Home Day parade, one of whom isCharles E. Meserve who won first prize!
His son, I’m sure of it.

 Another clipping had a photo of volunteers who were working on the Cystic Fibrosis fund drive (first woman on the left? Mrs. Meserve); two colored bells cut from stiff paper—clearly a school project; a spelling paper; a short article from the Social Notes about a party Mr. and Mrs. Meserve hosted honoring their son Charles E. on his 11th birthday.

You get the idea—a family record (of sorts); lost to a flea market.

After a bit of scrambling, some research on and a few weeks of emails and responses, I found a relative of Frank Meserve’s—a woman in Wisconsin—and sent his bible to her.

Lost...and found.

Friday, February 13, 2015


It was mailed in Boston in 1848, folded into its own envelope and sealed with orange wax; the recipient, Roxanna Adams Wilder, was my great-great grandmother—she was sixteen years old in 1848.
          We have no idea who sent it. It’s not signed, not anywhere—and we’ve looked, believe me! We’ve always assumed it was her future husband, Lucius Henry Sabin, but we’re not at all sure of that.

The calligraphy is astounding; just look at that initial capital W:

Within this heart dear Valentine
          Resides a lady fair,
And if you’ll raise its coverlet
          You’ll find that lady there.
And should you wish to know for whom
          That pictured form is meant,
For that fair maiden I reply
          To whom these lines are sent.

The man looks a bit like Edgar Allen Poe, I think. I’ve seen photographs of Lucius, and he doesn’t look a bit like Edgar Allen, but it may not mean anything. I love the details – the sealed envelope on the table, the inkwell with quill; the Cupid-looking creature in the painting behind the red drapery.
          And the border! Gold and red and green; painstaking work here, what with all the roses and the doves, the human figures and all that.

The heart, poking out of the man’s waistcoat, is pasted on the back of the page – whoever it was cut out a section of the man, slipped the heart in, then pasted the whole thing over.

All that work?
Boy, if that ain’t love, baby...

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all – from one hundred sixty-seven years ago!

Friday, February 6, 2015


All I could think of was “she can run, but she can’t throw.”

Well, yes, I could.
I could throw as well as my older brother; I could run and hit, too, but in those days, my skills weren’t enough to get me a slot on the Little League team—girls weren’t allowed to play organized baseball in the 1950s. The officials said it had something to do with protecting my “delicate internal organs,” but I suspect it was really about how I could play better than most boys at that age.
          Ah, but I digress.

Back in the sixth or seventh grade, I really could throw a baseball, but I couldn’t throw a pot.
          Art class was a trial for me—couldn’t draw, couldn’t make anything more than stick figures or rough facsimiles of flowers in vases; couldn’t sketch a house with curtains in the windows; couldn’t paint a fat Jersey beside her red barn.
I managed, though, to push out three items of fired pottery that remained in my parents’ houses for close to fifty years before coming to mine. I nearly chucked all three of ‘em, but found that I couldn’t do it.

The top photo is of something (we were never quite sure what it was supposed to be): a sugar dish? an odd container for a single flower bud?   Maybe it was an ashtray.
          I have no idea, but the shape of it appeals to me; I like the curve in its lines, the roundness of it.

And this one, which I think is a penguin, although I can’t be certain. I know for sure that I made it, for it has my initials (DHG) on the bottom. I have a vague recollection of a round table full of little birds, different colors and sizes, in the art room in my middle school. I remember, too, the fact that we couldn’t glaze the entire piece or it might stick to the bottom of the kiln—a concept that fascinated me for some reason.

This last piece—my piece de resistance—is a whisker-saver, a little trinket that my art teacher told us about. She was of Asian descent, and told us all that saving cat whiskers was certain good luck, and that there was a special item to store them in. We rolled three separate tubes, stuck them together with a little slip and pulled the bottoms into this trunk-like base.

          I actually had about five or six found whiskers in it, and had them all for a good long time, until I cleaning lady I had (when I had my hip replaced and couldn’t do housework for a couple of months) knocked it to the floor and never saw the whiskers...they were probably sucked up in the Electrolux.