The Autograph Book

 

I ran my fingers along the spines of my antiquarian collection, pausing on a stack of  thin books. There layered between my parachute log book  and a pocket-sized address record was a faded black fabric cover with the lettering worn  off.

It was my mother’s  autograph book, a keepsake at her passing ten  years earlier.   When my siblings and I  closed the family home. With every drawer and closet we emptied I believed there had to be more than  knitting patterns.  Amongst the photo albums I found the autograph book.

On that afternoon  I convinced my brother  to climb into the attic crawl space. I held the ladder as his flashlight illuminated the beds of pink insulation.  My mother left no memorabilia, I knew little about her upbringing. Much of it was based on a handful of sepia photographs.  I was left with  a hollow frustration that I never ‘knew’ her.  

I don’t understand why I avoided examining this small book for so long.  Now I was ready.  I flipped through the rough textured  pages of blue, pink and yellow counting more than seventy entries.  I realized that this was a view into the life of a ten-year-old girl  in a small prairie town during WW II.  The entries began in 1939 as Canada was coming out of the Great Depression, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth had passed through Edmonton by train, and war was declared on Germany.

I imagined myself as a ten-year-old and  being raised amidst  radio reports, recruitment  posters and adult conversations about loss and devastation.

Despite the bleak back drop the handwritten pages reflected respect for each other.  All began with a formal salutation; Dear Margaret closing with ‘a pal’ ‘a friend, ‘yours truly’.   There were several themes teasing about boys, not wanting to be forgotten, doing good in the world.  These declarations were oriented to a bright future. Several were illustrated and were written with flowing elegant penmanship.

The  last entries were in 1945 when the Nore  family of six located to Hay Lakes, Alberta positioned along the main railway service across Canada

For the first time I could envision my mother as a girl  growing into a young woman of sixteen.  She married my father in May 1, 1948 when she was eighteen.

 

Margaret Evelyn Ruth Nore Sikstrom

Vegreville July 10,1929

Edmonton Oct 5, 2007

 

 

 

 

Yours till butter flys December 1939

 

 

May you my daughter be ever blest, with friends selected from the best

And in return may you extend a gem of love to everyone

Oct 1939  Mother to  Margaret age 10

 

 

December 1964 Margaret is 35 to her 9-year-old daughter Sari

 

Little dabs of powder, Little spots of paint

Make a girl’s complexion, Look like what it ain’t

 

 

 

 

A selection from Margaret’s Autograph Book

May your joys be like the capital of Ireland

Always “Dublin”

Your friend Ruth

Feb 1939

 

A laugh is just like sunshine

It freshens all the day

It tips the peaks of life with light

And drives the clouds away

Eleanor Goodwin October 1939

 

May your joys be as long as a bunnies ears

And your troubles as long as  his tail

Your brother Gordon Nore Oct 1939

 

When you are feeling blue, Shake it

For life is only what  you make it

Sincerely Mrs. ( Marion) Allen Islay  Nov 1939

 

‘Tis very nice to have a friend

Who always plays the game

Known all the faults you ever had

But love  you just the same

Sincerely Joyce Baxter Islay, Nov 1939

 

May your life be sweet and full of all good  things.   

Make it worth while for  yourself as well as others.

Always give good measure of happiness and cheer  to all

Let all good things in life be your goal and share them with  your friends

Daddy Nov 1939

Mr. Moses killed a skunk

Mrs. Moses cooked a hunk

Baby Moses ate a chunk

Holy Moses how it stunk

Bruce Smith, Westlock Jan.1940

 

Life is like a deck of cards

When your in love its hearts, When your engaged it’s diamonds

When your married its clubs, When your dead it’s spades

Douglas K. Smith, Westlock  Jan.1940

 

Learn to make the most of life  Lose no  happy days

For time will never bring you back, the moments thrown away

Your Grandpa Westlock no date

 

Never say can’t, but let your motto be I’ll try

Your Grandma Westlock no date

 

In the coal box of your memories

Regard me as a lump

Sincerely  yours Marion Gibson  April 194

 

 He said  you are a lemon dear                   

He said it just to tease her

And she replied with smiling eyes

And you’re the lemon squeezer

Guess Who?( In pencil Bennie)

 

 

 

 

I went to the show tomorrow

I sat at the front of the back

I fell from the floor to the ceiling

And hurt the front of my back

Your cousin Mildred Jan 1941

 

When  you see a pig  climb a tree pull on his tail and think of me

Eddie Borass Feb 1941

 

If all the boys lived across the sea

What a grand swimmer

Margaret would be

Your pal Eileen  Dawson

Yours till the kitchen sinks

Camrose Feb 1941

 

Love is just a little thing shaped like a lizard

It runs around the heart three times and jumps into the gizzard

Your friend Margaret Walters

Camrose March 1941

 

If scribbling in autographs

Friendship secures

With the greatest of pleasure

I’ll scribble in yours!

Yours till a bobby pin gets seasick on a permanent wave

Sincerely, Evelyn

Hay Lakes no date

 

 

 

Love is like an onion You taste it with delight and after you have bitten

You wonder what the heck made you bite

Yours truly Doreen Conger

Mercoal March 1942

 

Let your life be like the sun

And may its  rays radiate happiness all around

Daddy

Heisler Dec 1943

 

Just wealth enuf to give and spare

Just health enuf to banish care

Just friends enuf sincere and true

May life always bring to you

Nils (married to Aunt Burrantia)

 

May  your life be like a ford car,  a rattling success

Always Alice

Hay Lakes March 1945

 

This ‘ol’ world we live in Is a mighty hard ‘ol’ beat

You’ll find a thorn on every rose and ain’t the roses sweet

Sincerely Doreen Johnson Hay Lakes Sept 1945

 

Sari Sikstrom Vancouver

October 26, 2018