Somehow I forgot to note yesterday’s significance. It was the second anniversary of my mother’s death.
Over time, we’ve realized many things that we should have asked about. Other things that we should have paid more attention to when she told us about them. Long life, lots of experience and knowledge to share. Take advantage of it while you can.
Meanwhile, I’m still discovering surprises and mysteries, like these hand-penned poems from a very long ago time. These were among some of the last of my mom’s papers that I was able to find. But they are a mystery.
I don’t think that’s her handwriting, although I’ll have to get my sister’s opinion. My dad’s hand? Possibly, although I would be shocked if he had talent as a poet, even as a young man. Did she have a once-upon-a-time poet boyfriend? Girlfriend? Whatever their origin, these were important enough to her that she hung onto them through her nearly 99 years of life. Another little mystery to treasure as I reassemble my understanding of both my parents.
The two poems at the bottom are on paper that is worn soft and thin, almost worn out on the folds. It feels like it was handled a lot at one time, although the ink remains clear.
Click for a larger view so that you can read the poems. They are actually pretty good. I tried an online search to see if they were copied from a published work, but came up blank. Your results may differ.
Here’s one of the items that was stolen, and then returned, over the weekend. It’s a small medal, presented to my mother as a member of the UH Women’s Swimming Team in February 1933 after winning a major local competition. It was, if I’m not mistaken, the first time the university had fielded a swim team.
It’s small, and probably worth only pennies if melted down for its metal value. But it’s quite a treasure for me.
The 1933 Ka Palapala described the win commemorated by the medal (and unfortunately misspelled my mother’s name, an error repeated on the medal as well (it was Helen Yonge, not Helen Young). According to Ka Palapala:
In the A.A.U. Swimming Meet, held this year at the Punahou swimming tank, the women’s relay swimming team…won the 200 year relay Hawaiian Championship race. They received their letters in the sport for this win.
As usual, click on any photo to see a larger version.
And here’s a photo of the 1933 UH women’s swim team, again from the pages of Ka Palapala.
Left to Right in the photo: Beatrice Nicoll, Helen Yonge, Georgina Cooper, Libana Furtado, J. Bains-Jordan.
Another “find,” this time a typed, single-spaced, five page inquiry into the origin of the Hawaiian flag by journalist and historian Albert Pierce Taylor.
This version appears to have been copied and typed by my mother from a version found in the Hawaiian Historical Society library when she worked there in the 1960s. Taylor was an officer of the historical society in the 1920s.
Taylor’s essay on the Hawaiian flag traces several conflicting beliefs about “when and how the Hawaiian flag was designed and by whom it was designed,” comparing accounts recorded in the journals of several ships captains in the early nineteenth century. Quite interesting.
Taylor himself must have been quite a colorful character. He is apparently best known for his 1922 book, “Under Hawaiian Skies,” but led an extraordinary life.
Here’s a brief excerpt from Taylor’s biography, which skips past his participation in national politics and his brief foray with the rebels in Cuba in 1896. The full bio is amazing.
Employed by the patent law office of Wedderburn & Co., Washington, D.C., for
a short time, Mr. Taylor later in 1897 joined Lorrin A. Thurston at
Washington. He arrived in Honolulu on the transport Arizona, Aug. 28, 1898,
was commissioned a secretary to ex-governor W. F. Frear, then a member of the
commission appointed to draft the Organic Act, and later served as deputy
clerk of the Supreme Court of Hawaii. During the Spanish-American War, Mr.
Taylor was in active service in the Philippines and returned to Honolulu, Nov.
16, 1899. Joining the editorial staff of the Honolulu Advertiser at that time,
Mr. Taylor continued there until 1907, when he was appointed chief of
detectives of Honolulu. He returned to the newspaper staff in 1908 and
remained until 1913, when he was made secretary of the Hawaiian Fair
Commission to the Panama-Pacific Exposition. He was with the commission until
1915 and was responsible for the establishment of the Hawaii Promotion
Committee branch in San Francisco in 1913. He was appointed secretary of the
Hawaiian Promotion Committee in 1915. He rejoined the staff of the Advertiser
in 1917, resigning in 1924 to accept his present position.
That last reference was to his appointment as librarian of the Archives of Hawaii in 1925.
Another day of sorting and throwing things away, and another unexpected find–four tiny bills, measuring about 3-1/2″ x 1-3/4″.
They read: “De Japansche Regeering, EEN CENT.” They were in a small brown envelope sent to my mother from Australia. The envelope has red logos at the top left for the Salvation Army, Australia Comforts Fund, and YMCA. It has a large stamp indicating it had been passed by Censor 86B. I can’t make out a date.
An online search quickly identified these as WWII Japanese invasion or occupation currency, apparently from Indonesia.
There are a number of letters from the sender, W.C. DeRenne, among the things my mother kept from that period. In one, written from a base in England, he says something like, “One D-Day is enough for this soldier.” I read it yesterday, and that might be a little off from the actual wording, but the sentiment was clear. I don’t know anything more about DeRenne or if he survived the war. Perhaps if I organize these letters, I’ll piece together some of those basics.