My reputation of family treasure hunter precedes me. The word treasure is not only in the title of my book, Stored Treasures, but it is also my twitter name: @StoredTreasures. The treasure the name refers to is my great-grandmother's, Minnie Crane's, manuscript. I unearthed this hidden gem two and a half years ago. Of the hundreds of family treasures I've discovered, this manuscript holds a special place in my treasure chest, as it is the only one turned into a published Memoir.
The manuscript was lost in my mother and her brother's attics for over thirty years. What I pulled out of the moldy boxes, was not the original manuscript, but yellowing and smelly photocopies. Everyone had a slightly different sets of copies. Deciphering the handwriting was doubly difficult because of the quality of the copies, parts of which were dark, blurry or cut off. How I longed for the original.
Despite extensive searching and attic cleaning, the original never appeared. I settled for the copies and completed the book. In foreword of Stored Treasures, I recap how at every step, new material resurfaced. Yet the elusive journal remained hidden.
A few weeks ago, my uncle Michael mentioned that he had more stuff for me. For years, when ever anyone finds family memorabilia they simply label them "Smadar's Stuff"and forward it me. I am happy to take the "old stuff" off their hands.
The last thing I expected to receive from Michael, was the one and only..... STORED TREASURE. Minnie's original journal! But that's what I got.
A leather bound burgundy book in mint condition! Someone wrapped it in a protective plastic cover years ago. My uncle had been to New York and visited his sister in-law who was in the processing of moving. In preparation for the move, she found the journal and set it aside for me. Michael, the messenger, knew this was at least part of his grandmother's writings, but he assumed I had seen it before so was in no hurry to give it to me. When he presented it to me this weekend, he was thrilled to discover, this was the book I had been after for years!
I particularly enjoyed, seeing the color version of the dedication my late Uncle Larry drew his grandmother when he gave her this book. As I leafed through the first time, I immediately saw that the handwriting is much easier to read in the original. I have my work cutout for me and it will take a long time to carefully review the original and located words which I may have misread in the xerox copies.
The other sticking insight I got from the original book is that much of what Minnie wrote is upside down. She began the book from left to right but only wrote on the right side of the page. When she filled the journal this way, she realized she wanted to continue writing. She turned the book upside down and began again, this time writing from right to left, filling in the blank pages. She numbered this new set and consistently wrote upside-down (see photo bellow). I had never seen a book written this way. Working from the photocopies, I assumed there were at least two notebooks. Now, I know that the two volumes were written in the same notebook, only one was written upside-down and backwards. I loved discovering Minnie's creative solution to her space problem.
|Note the upside-down writing on the left hand side.|