Tattered Past

Tattered Past: My ongoing journey through genealogy, history, writing, self-exploration and art. ~~~ Rita Ackerman

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Remember When: Critters

My sister had a way with critters. She always preferred their company over most people. Over the years she had horses, dogs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, and, well, I'm sure I'm forgetting some of them. (She hated cats and only allowed them in the barn but she did have them.)


 I remember her in this position. Her forehead on that of an animal, talking softly, and making peace with the world. They always listened as if they understood every word and wanted her to know it.

She was like Ellie Mae from the "Beverly Hillbillies" except she reminded me more of Granny with all the spitfire and gumption. Betty wouldn't let anybody get away with anything. 

At times it was embarrassing. Like in a store when she grabbed a salesclerk's tie and pulled him over to where she wanted to be to ask questions. She never got in trouble for that. I often feared for her but people seemed to take her in stride.

There was the time she went to the high school band room with her grandson and saw one of those kids with his pants down around his hips. I was told she went right up to him, pulled his tee-shirt up and told him to get a belt. 

I think she shocked them so much they just went along. But, nobody ever came back and filed a complaint or anything. 

Yeah, my Sissy was a handful. I often wish I had her gumption and strength to do the things she loved. Besides all her critters she was an amazing artist. In high school she was selling oil paintings. She could etch on glass and ostrich eggs, she did ceramics, and amazing pen and ink drawings her entire life. 

Most of all she loved her critters. Especially the goats and dogs. She had to give up the horses and eventually the goats because of health problems but there was always a dog at her feet. 

Is there somebody in your family or friend list who had a way with critters? 

Write a story about them.



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Remember When: Yearbooks


Do you still have your high school yearbooks? (Assuming you were in a time and place to get one.)
When you come across fellow classmates do you run to look them up? Or flip through the pages to find a face to go with a memory? 

I love my yearbooks and they have a choice position on my shelf. I was on the yearbook staff in high school and college so there is that added connection. 

Friday night I met two energetic and fun author's: Chris and Bev. After talking for a bit Chris and I realized our families came from the same tiny town in southwestern Kansas. Further "do you know?" questions led to the fact that people with her maiden name married into my family a couple of generations before the move west. So we may or may not be cousins. 

Over the weekend I dug out my mother's 1941 yearbook. She was a senior in that tiny little town. So was Chris' father. 


This yearbooks isn't just for the high school. All classes are in this slim volume. Some of my aunts and uncles are on the other pages. 


There's my beautiful mother second from the bottom. She wasn't on the yearbook staff but the girl shown below her was. I won't point out Chris' father but he's up near the top of the page. They were both in the glee club and in band. 

I have a really hard time imagining my mother as a teen. I don't know if she had a job or helped out at home with her five younger siblings. Her grandmother ran the switchboard in Fowler for many years. Her father became a barber. Chris' father or grandfather was a barber (perhaps both.) Her family also owned the ice cream parlor. 

I'm sure Chris and I will have many stories and hopefully some photos to share. 

You just never know when this small world will shrink right onto your own doorstep. 

Do you have similar stories? Have you imagined your parents as teens? 
The possibilities for memories and stories are endless when you use your yearbooks as a memory jogger. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Art Journal Fun

I haven't shared my art journals in awhile. In the meantime, they've taken on a whole new look. At least for now.

That is one of the wonderful things about these journals. Nothing is right or wrong. It is just how you feel at that time. I've gotten away from the layers and layers of paint, paper, stencils, tape, stamps and anything else that comes along.

I've learned and adapted this technique which I learned partly through my friend Barbara and partly through a couple of on-line classes taught by Kelly Kilmer.

Kelly calls this "painting with paper." I find this technique more restful and certainly easier to do when on the road.

Basically with a couple of magazines, bits of left over paper from other projects and some gel pens I'm ready to go. Oh, some scissors, a glue stick and a glue tape runner.

For this project I was simply working in a Canson multi-media art notebook. It has heavy paper meant for "regular" art journaling but I like the spiral binding. I've also done this in books I've stitched myself and, well, any book I like.

I put one large picture from a magazine down and then start adding stuff on top. 
A focal point, stickers, washi tape, and finally pen. 
I did these first few pages while at my daughters and soon my grandson had his spiral book out and was doing his own pages. 

You just never know when a memory will be made.

The one thing I'm carrying through this book is making a quote or saying with some plain word stickers I'd picked up at JoAnns. The page above became "life is a journey." 


This page grew out of thinking about things I like and want to do. You can see all kinds of cutouts from magazines, stamps, scrapbook papers, and some artwork. Whatever happened to be in a folder I had with me and a magazine. 
(I really like working from magazines about flea markets and thrift stores.)


This one got a bit whimsical. Mostly because it just wasn't coming together. That's okay. 
The butterfly sticker on her nose topped it all off. 


I did this page after I got home and had a little more to work with. Whimsy, fun. It came from losing some friends last month and facing a bit of my own mortality. Sad, yes. But I'm not going to let my inner child fade away with sadness. The friends I lost and certainly the friends I see now wouldn't want that. 

So gather some paper, tape, glue, stickers and anything else that strikes your fancy
and go have some fun. 

Let YOUR inner child play.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Remember When: Summer Casualties

That's my cousin, Lisa, in the laundry basket and Granddad Cecil who put her there. This picture is dated June 1960 but that is the developed date so it may have been a year older. I do remember this because everybody was rushing to get cameras to take a picture of Lisa in the basket. I was about seven years old. Granddad was probably reaching into his shirt pocket for a Camel cigarette.

My grandparents lived in a small Kansas town where most everybody had huge gardens and the farms rolled right up to the edge of the property. I don't remember if Grandma had a ringer washer but we did at that time. Laundry day was a big job but those sheets and pillowcases strung out in the Kansas sun smelled so fresh.

I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They lived in another town. Mom would drive me there and leave me for a few weeks and then come back and get me. I loved to explore and seldom wore shoes. I stepped on many a bee and rushed in crying to have grandma put a poultice of baking soda and water on the area to "draw the stinger out." I also had more than one run-in with red ants.

Stubbed toes were common, still are. I got a good one on the bed leg this weekend. Also splinters and other vicious pointy things. It was all part of growing up.

So was a family laugh over some little thing that would have been forgotten if somebody hadn't grabbed their camera.

Do you remember childhood injuries from going barefoot?
Do you remember a grownup doing something completely unexpected?
Do you have an old photo that needs the story to go with it for future generations?




Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Remember When: Thoughts



 Saturday was my niece's fiftieth birthday. Or it should have been. We lost her way too soon. Here's Jackie in the first four generation photo in the lap of my grandma. My mother is next to her and my sister standing. They are all gone. My niece's daughter pointed out that I am now the matriarch of the family. That was really a strange thought to me. I don't feel strong enough to live up to these women.

This post is about my niece. She was 9 years my junior and as we got older became as one. We were so close in so many ways. Through my teen and college years and her growing up years I missed a lot but as she got older we bonded in special ways.

We would talk about our memories and one of them was this planter. I loved this planter which apparently the rest of the family hated. I imagined little people climbing around the edges and going in the door. I made up stories about this house.


When Mom and I moved to Arizona she apparently gave it to my sister. I didn't know that and as an adult I bought a replacement at an antique store. There were so many memories of making up those little stories and losing myself in them.

One day Jackie and I were in Prescott and we came across another one. She told me about doing the exact same thing as she was growing up. We bought her the third version. Sometime later we were telling my sister we found one and she said, "That ugly thing? I have it. You could have had it if I'd known."

I don't know where the original is or even the third one but I still have mine on the shelf over the television.

As time went on Jackie and I found we both loved history, Reese's peanut butter cups, Pepsi, writing, and so much more. We'd spend hours watching Elvis movies and eating those peanut butter cups and drinking Pepsi. We'd laugh over the smallest things. Often only a knowing look between us would set us off.

I miss her very much, but I'm glad to have the memories and to be able to share them.

Write about a special person in your life. Or a special object that nobody else seemed to care about.