MOMENTOES – 1950s AUTOGRAPH BOOKS

I save things from the past; somewhere, deep inside, I must have known they would interest me when I grew older. Or perhaps they helped me make sense of my gypsy life. They were fodder for my writing, if nothing else. I recently ran across my Autographs Book, which was popular in the 1950s. They were small: about 6 inches by 4 inches and filled with small sheets of colored paper. The front of the brown fake leather cover has already come off, but the autographs, many in now faded pencil have lasted.

Autographs

Inside, I wrote that Viki Williams, my name at 11 years old, lived at 1460B 5th Avenue in Ft. Knox, Kentucky from 1954-55 and my 7th grade teacher was Mrs. Wright. Cindy Brackett, who lived a few houses away in this area of typical two-story Army brick houses for officers, was my first signature. She and I had something in common besides our ages: our mothers had both given birth to little boys about the same time. We were still occasionally playing with dolls, but live babies were much more fun. I remember taking my brother, whom I gleefully nicknamed Doodles, in his stroller down to Cindy’s house. We fed “our” little boys together.

My Baby Brother

My Baby Brother

 

Cindy wrote that I was “the sweetest girl” she knew, along with typical poems like, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I know a bulldog that looks just like you!” In the those simpler times, it was largely assumed that girls would get married and have babies shortly after high school or college and several autographs had the poem, “When you get married and have twins, don’t come running to me for safety pins.” (no disposable diapers in those days!)

I had a crush on a boy who played baseball, Ward Morton. Our first date was for a movie on the post, and my dad insisted it had to be a double date. Ward brought a friend and I brought a friend, and we all paid our own way, probably no more than 25 cents. In the summer of 1955, things must have heated up—Ward signed my book very simply, “I love you, Viki.” And he listed his Ft. Knox address! He sent me postcards when his family went to the family home in Wisconsin for vacation. Young love doesn’t last long in the Army; a few months later my family flew off to Tripoli, Libya for a few years.

In 8th through 10th grade at Wheelus AFB, we were so much more sophisticated! My friends wrote longer messages in the book to remind me how we had had fun together or to tease me, like Steve Gaynor, that I pronounced donkey as “dunkey”. William Maguire said I was a “real swell gal,” and Tom Henderson hoped we’d be within shouting distance when our parents were transferred to the Washington, D.C. area. I found autographs from Tanya Thomas, who reminded me of a hayride, Kay Ray, Sue Wisdom (who remembered us taking algebra together), Gail Carlson (who said “yours until Lassie marries Rin Tin Tin) and Marla Bush among others. Karen Gamel recalled our climbing the wall around our villa one evening to spy on the British general’s party next door.

I had gotten to know a few Italian teenagers in Tripoli and they signed my book in Italian. I couldn’t read it then or now, but Enzo, who was half British, penned, “Ti voglio tanto, tanto, tanto bene…remember me.” Sounds romantic! I wonder how his life’s turned out. Stefano, Enzo’s good friend, wrote a message in German, which I can barely translate– something about being a good friend. As a footnote, Stefano visited my parents when they were stationed in Germany in the 1960s, and Enzo got my address and wrote me a few times when I was in college. The Internet has connected many old friends and classmates, but it’s not quite the same as looking at a friend’s written message and signature.

5 Comments

  1. You’re a saver like I am, Diana. I wonder what happened to some of our classmates. Karen’s brother shared some Tripoli photos with me a few years back. And I know Jimmy Badley died in Viet Nam. Thanks for keeping up with my blog.
    victoria

  2. Diana Becker Mullins says:

    Love alll the autographs and the messages in my yearbooks. Also saved all the letters I received when we were transferred out of Tripoli, twice. Letters from Jackie Grant, Karen Cederstrom, even one from
    Jimmy Badley. Helped keep me grounded with
    all the moving.

  3. I believe the theme I’ve used is Prime Press. My son added my personal artwork to the top. Victoria

  4. Hi! I stumbled this blog on Twitter. I am making this comment to find out which theme you are using on this blog,
    I would like to have the theme that you are using
    so I can put it on my site

    Thanks.

  5. Becky Goddard Riizek says:

    Viki,, once again your ability to transport the whole person, heart and soul right to the spot you are remembering by your mesmerizing words.. is very very unique. love the trips , feelings and long ago memories. Viva life and all its engaging moments.. Becky.

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