Grandpa showed me the album of his WWII photos and postcards when I got to see him at Christmas. I didn’t know it existed.

Grandpa couldn’t bring his camera with him when he was deployed, it would have been confiscated during inspection. Luckily his friend Renee Neuman brought his box camera when he came back from leave, so Grandpa got to borrow that sometimes. They developed the photos in soup bowls. He said that Neuman unfortunately passed about 5 years after returning from the war. I asked about the cause, but he said he wasn’t sure.

The photos here are all positioned in order on a single page captioned “Diving for movie film in 40 ft of water”. Grandpa laughed when describing it.

Their LST ran aground in Pearl Harbor, so they had to stay there for repairs. While there, another ship came along and they exchanged 35mm films. Unfortunately the film from the other ship fell in to the harbour. It wasn’t financially valuable, but very valuable in terms of morale so they asked tower to send a diver to recover the movie. The diver wasn’t happy, he had been at a party, but he did recover the film.

Most of the photos in the album are of Grandpa and the others from his ship doing jobs here and there or “just horsing around” as he said. There was a lot of down time. There are a few landscapes of Hawaii, Guam, the Kwajalein Atoll, and the Enewetak Atoll. Some are in the aftermath of a tsunami. There were also some intense images towards the end of the album, hard to tell if they were photos or postcards. Some would be pretty gruesome for postcards, others were of the signing of the Japanese surrender on the USS Missouri. At any rate, Grandpa said he hadn’t taken those final album images. He developed a bunch of negatives for other people, so if these weren’t postcards then they may have been copies of others’ photographs.

There were two photos of a large cemetery in Guam with many small Christian grave markers. Grandpa had gone to school with one of the men buried there, he and Grandma had gone to senior prom with this boy and his date. After graduation, he went in to the marines and was killed. Grandpa took photos of the grave for the man’s family.

Grandpa carried a pocket-sized spiral bound photo album with him throughout WWII filled with photos of family and friends, but mostly of Grandma. It’s very worn apart now. The sleeve with the photo of Grandma and him in his uniform also includes a pressed four leaf clover and a Japanese stamp.

In the back of the main album, there was originally a college photo of Grandma with a gardenia behind her ear. That’s on the wall of his apartment now, with other family photos.

Over the holidays, Grandpa showed me Effie Bradley’s daily memoranda. Effie was his grandma on his mother’s side, so my great-great grandmother. I asked if Effie was short for anything, he wasn’t sure. It may have been Euphemia, but maybe Effie wasn’t a nickname.

The relative that typed up the memoranda was June Bradley Piper, Grandpa’s double cousin. Double cousins are related via both parents (two brothers partnering with two sisters). I’d never heard of that before. I think June was named after Grandpa’s paternal grandfather June Piper. I didn’t know June was used as a male name. Via Wikipedia: “As a boy’s name, June reached a peak in 1922 at 697th, but then also declined and left the top 1000 list in 1939.”

Read Effie Bradley’s January 1902 memoranda

Grandma’s holiday open house notes

After a rotten week health-wise, it was really nice to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving yesterday with a few friends. The image here is one of Grandma Piper’s very many post-party notes, a sort of debrief she wrote to herself about what she made and what she might change next time. This particular page seems to be her neighbourhood holiday open house plan from early December 1971 for around 110 guests (guest list is on reverse). I expect she found these notes super useful, particularly since she seemed to keep every single one of them.

Here’s what I made this year, documented for a similar purpose.

Read Thanksgiving 2018 notes

light blue stucco
navy blue shutters
kitchen window like a fishbowl, or a porthole
one floor, mostly

mom splitting her knee open on the brick stairs up to the front door

pots & pans band

dad’s lime green motorcycle, briefly

agapanthus & jade plants
bougainvillea
the scariest palm tree

garage always full, but never the car

where did mom keep her drawing board?

huge glass sliding door at the back
games through the wicker rocking chair
cinder blocks and chain link

ice plant covering the hill to the creek behind the house

sliding closet doors, the paint would stick

neighbors with the scary Halloween ghost
Zeke & Aileen, and the toys they made for us

white painted brick surrounding the fireplace that we rarely used

– – –

blue stucco and blue shutters again,
but this time with white wrought iron
two floors now
wisteria taking over at the back

parents’ brass bed frame, with ceramic decorations on the spindles

mom and her study, wooden artboard and captain’s chair
endless stacks of continuous form paper
tins of colored pencils, meticulously organized by hue
AOL and computer games

the oven that went baroom

Sega Genesis behind the couch
Brett was way better

possom in the wood pile under the lemon and lime trees

the water main broke, water gushing down the street
jumping over the water to get to school

Mr. and Mrs. Redlitz next door
the not-so-nice lady on the other side
Teddy & Dmitri

games barefoot on the berm
until I stepped on a bee, and dog poo
Cassiopeia, Pleiades, Big & Little Dippers

Pleiades was mine, my little tornado

people jumped off that cliff sometimes, but we didn’t hear much about it; probably on purpose

falling about 5 feet on to my back on the rocks after trying to climb the cliff instead of using the path
I was lucky, it was one of the first times I really felt lucky
it could have been so much further
the grass at the top felt incredible

there’s an edible plant that grows on the cliffs and tastes sour, dewy and pink
and mustard, and fennel

owls, sometimes; gulls, always

still dream about walking down the storm drain, through the rocks and down to the bay
not sure it’s possible

we were always told to keep well back from the cliff edge, it could be soft even when it’s been dry
it was usually dry

the road leading to a friend’s house near the school fell in to the sea not long before we moved away
the rollercoaster road near the best tidepools was always changing
we didn’t go there often

countless tadpoles in the storm drain
one day we weren’t allowed to play in the storm drain
it didn’t seem like anything had changed in the little tadpole pools

never once saw the green flash

running my fingers through the sand just after the wave recedes, feeling millions of sandcrabs

mile swims around the buoys
mile runs in blistering, soft sand
Neil, a first crush
his real name is Donald
he was the only faster swimmer

a ray in the shallow water, briefly, before I can show anyone
a vivid purple jellyfish
dolphins in the bay, rarely

don’t dive in head first, always wade out and check the levels first
how to brace someone’s neck if you’re waiting for first aid
don’t touch a seal, it’s probably sick
don’t step on kelp bulbs barefoot, there might be something sharp inside
don’t step on the black “rocks”, they’re chunks of hot tar

cold water didn’t hurt my ears


Grandma Piper’s Sugar Cookies

The best & easy
Bake @ 375°F (190°C) 8 min

Cream:

  • 1 c (226 g) butter
  • 1 c (200 g) granulated sugar

Beat in:

  • 1 egg
  • ½ t vanilla

Add:

  • ½ t baking powder
  • 1 c (120 g) wheat flour
  • 1 ½ c (188 g) white flour

Use 3 trays. Make a fat rope. Pinch off pieces on to trays. Flatten each 3x by dipping ⅓c measure into sugar in ½c measure. Cool cookies on newspaper.


The recipe above was written by hand in to a community cookbook she gave me in 2001. It retains her original wording and formatting, though I have added gram and Celsius conversions.

We miss you so much.