“Dear Old Golden Rule Days…”

“Grandma Louise” Easterday frequently exchanged original poetry with my mom, as the two ladies seated themselves beside one another in the exact same Jackson Street Methodist church pew each Sunday morning.  Mother composed her creative verses via a script typewriter, since she held little self-confidence in her usually hasty handwriting, and slipped her compositions inside plastic pages then finally into three ring binders.   Mrs. Easterday placed her own signature literary offerings into empty paper towel rolls decorated with festive wrapping paper and ribbons.  What fun they had! 

My late mom’s spiritual and spirited camaraderie with Louise continues via every supportive, cheerful phone call I receive from Mrs. Easterday whose joyous surname certainly fits my friend’s unique and very special personality.  Louise’s congrats arrived consistently and promptly upon our son’s many successes ranging from his four years of composing Post & Mail columns which were entitled “Adole-SENSE”, through his salutatorian  designation, national merit finalist ranking, selection by Senator Richard Lugar to serve as a teenage ambassador to Japan, first place ranking in his Wabash College graduating class, Graduate Assistantship at the Ohio State University, MBA degree from University of Michigan, job promotions, and theatrical endeavors.  Like clockwork, congratulations emanate always from this gracious lady.  And she approves of my newspaper columns, too!

Louise and I both pat ourselves on the back for our “pack rat” endeavors.  We never ever part with what I refer to as eternal keepsake “ephemera” consisting of scrapbooks, movie and theater tickets, church bulletins, greeting cards, favorite newsworthy   articles, clipped out magazine pieces, photographs, inspirational quotations, old report cards, diplomas…ad infinitum.  We serve as willing archivists…fortunately, we both maintain aisles through the stacks of “stuff” so we can still find our kitchens, however!

Recently, my postal carrier delivered this treasured, copied note to me — sent from the Easterday house to the Sexton mailbox:  (an August 20, 1996, letter to Louise’s grand-daughters and their doggie named R J)

 “Dear Lauren & Megan & RJ,

It was fun seeing you girls getting ready for school last night, and RJ giving his ‘sniff test’.  When I went to school, we went for one-half day to get the list of books we needed for our class.  Then we’d go to the Columbia Drug Store on W. Van Buren Street, Columbia City, to purchase new books.  If you knew of a family who had a child one grade ahead of you, then you could buy the second-handed book from them, if they were selling it. Now if you were in a big family, then you could pass the book on down to the next child.  You see there wasn’t such a thing in those days of ‘renting’ books.  So you will notice in old school books a number of names on the front page which tells you who all owned the book.

At the Columbia Drug Store, Mr. Leininger would stack all the books the family bought and wrap them in one bundle with Post & Mail newspapers.  So this cost the parents a lot of money and was quite heavy.  Most of us were in luck until the State Superintendent of Education was persuaded by some ‘Educated Business Publisher’ to use his textbook for the coming year.  This meant the older book could no longer be sold in the area for the school year. The new books were covered with a newspaper jacket which you made at home to preserve the nice look of your book when new.  This way you had a better chance of selling it next year.  The title of the book was written on the outside cover.

The advantage of owning a book was that you could read it during the summer and brush up on things.  My mother had to hustle to sew us new dresses for school.  Off we went down the lane with our new pencils, rulers, yellow tablets and books.  Then we would wait for the old bus to arrive.  Enjoy your school days and learn a lot.  ~ Grandma Louise”  (Both girls suffered from childhood cancers simultaneously.  Darling Megan died on January 29, 1997 at 16 years of age.  Lauren survived and currently enjoys a successful career in Southern Indiana.)

Louise attended Washington Center School during the close of the Great Depression years yet joined her classmates in an 8th grade traditional graduation ceremony held at the Columbia City High School/West Ward auditorium.  George Leininger’s Columbia Drugstore, where a young Orval Fisher clerked, was located where The Eagles’ Lodge now stands.  (What a small world in which we live!  George Leininger built our current house, I believe?  Gotta confirm that by retrieving some official-type, paper trail “ephemera”!)  Beautiful, sweet-faced Mary Anthes I shall never forget as she prepared cherry, lemon, vanilla or chocolate cokes for us antsy, thirsty, wriggle-worm kids in the 50s, while our young eyes fixated upon spinning, ceiling fan blades overhead.  TIn Roof sundaes topped with Spanish nuts appealed immensely to my sister Sarah!  A rotating, black, wrought iron, greeting card holder’s nearby positioning to the immediate left of the soda fountain provided a few quality moments of twirl/browsing as we munched potato chips and slurped flavored pop through our bendable straws.  I probably still own some salvaged flattened paper which originally encased those very straws in addition to Hallmark and Gibson cards squirreled away in a drawer or trunk.  I wager that Louise does as well!   “Take a straw and throw it up into the air; you shall see by that which way the wind is…” ~ John Selden  (Interest in printed ephemera dates back to Mr. Selden, 1584-1654, an English historian and antiquary, who provided its definition:  “the minor transient documents of everyday life.”)

 “School days, school days

Dear old Golden Rule days

Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic

Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick

You were my queen in calico

I was your bashful, barefoot beau

And you wrote on my slate, ‘I Love You SO’

When we were a couple o’ kids.”  ~ Sheet Music, Gus Edwards/Will D. Cobb, 1907

“Printed ephemera–any printed or hand-written item normally discarded after its intended use–is now widely recognized as the latest charming and historically significant collectible.”  (from “Collecting Printed Ephemera” by Maurice Richards)

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