Childhood Memories


Four small boxes were among the items I decided not to throw in the dumpster as we cleaned out the family home.  Each box stores twelve empty glass vials.  Scraps of wallpaper and colored photos of flowers cut from magazines decorate the outside of the boxes.  I thought them odd.

Four Decorated Boxes of Zonitors

What was the reason my mother had saved them?  Clearly, they were from the 50’s.  The wallpaper had come loose at the corners and I was able to pull it back a bit to see the label on the box… “Zonitors ….. Vaginal Suppositories”.  Hmmmmmm.

The wallpaper was not familiar.  It had never been adhered to any of the walls in the house in Martinsville.  Had my mother attended a women’s craft session where they brought their boxes of Zonitors and disguised them by gluing decorative papers over the label that announced their purpose to everyone who might visit the bathroom?  And why did my mother keep these little decorated boxes and the glass vials?  She didn’t keep the rubber stoppers that kept the moisture from dissolving the little pellets inside the white suppository packaged within the glass vial.

The purpose of the glass vials would still be a mystery to me if it weren’t for the internet and the power of search engines.  Zonitor suppositories are a product developed in the late 40’s and sold extensively throughout the 50’s.  The advertising was directed, I believe, at newlyweds.  Without a supply of Zonitor, one’s marriage might fail.

Six people lived together in the house in Martinsville.  It was a small house, yet large enough to hide so many secrets.

sketchbook drawing: Family Treasures, No 39 – Zonitors – drawn first with fountain pen followed by watercolor

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Since Elementary School when they were first introduced to me, I have been a fan of Venn Diagrams. It is not unusual for me to see my surroundings fall into the overlapping intersections of Venn Diagram circles.  On the occasion when I can’t help but share my observation, the response is often a blank stare. Oh well ….

Kokeshi Geisha Dolls and Glass Inkwell

The wooden dolls, Kokeshi dolls made in Japan, were given to me by a childhood friend, Melvin Jameson.  He moved to the mid-west with his family when I was in the third or fourth grade.  My parents and I visited them while on a road trip.  It was during that visit that Melvin gave me these dolls.

I wanted a third object to break the background into a more interesting shape.  One of my glass inkwells served the purpose.  When the sketchbook drawing was complete I was faced with the problem of labeling it as part of the Family treasures Series or as part of the Glass Inkwell Series.  I find the labeling of anything to be a problem.

As the intersecting circles of Venn diagrams took form in my head I realized that the drawing could be part of both series.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Family Treasures No. 37 and Glass Inwells No. 7, Japanese Kokeshi Dolls and Glass Inkwell. Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink followed by watrcolor washes.  Color Scheme: Split Complements (Yellow-Orange, Blue, Violet) Dominant Color is Yellow-Orange.

In 1951 my parents hoped they would name their new baby Christopher.  Instead, they named me Christine.  Eight years later, after trying one more time to add a son to their family, David Howard Charles Carter was born.

The Boy, Bisque Kewpie Doll, 1959

To celebrate this momentous event, my mother received not one, but two, bisque Kewpie Dolls!  One sat upon her dresser as long as I can remember.  The other moved about the house back and forth between the fireplace mantel and the knick knack shelf.  Until my brother entered kindergarten we referred to him as “The Boy”.  Sharing a room with my brother until I was sixteen brought us close together.  At one point, I insisted on bamboo curtains to divide our room in half and provide a bit of privacy.  As soon as I could drive I brought him everywhere with me.  As young adults we spent our summers together hiking the Appalachian Trail and rock climbing.  Eventually, after climbing the cliffs across the country, I left him in Boulder, Colorado to begin his freshman year in college.  I headed to Yosemite to climb the north face of Half Dome with the man who became the father of my children.  It all started with a bisque Kewpie Doll.

Sketchbook Drawing: Family Treasures No. 36, The Boy – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor.

Perhaps my maternal grandmother brought this creepy doll back with her from a journey across the seas on the S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam during the 30’s or 40’s.  The jollyboy Sailor doll, created by Norah Wellings, was available as a souvenir on the ocean liner owned by the Holland America Line.

Sailor doll souvenir from the 30’s or 40’s S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam ocean liner

When I visited Kathleen in Maine, I saw the same doll on a shelf in her house.  When I asked her about it, she told me her family originally had two, but one was lost.  Most likely, the one we found in my father’s attic is the missing doll, though we have no idea how it ended up there.  I wonder how many other dolls sleepwalk.  Perhaps that’s what happened to Nicole and Alexis’s dolls, Petra and Prendergast.

Sketchbook Drawing: Family Treasures No. 33, Creepy Sailor Doll – drwn first with Vintage Sheaffer Fountain Pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by watercolor washes.

This little wire pig sat on my mother’s waist-high metal, file cabinet.  She kept her recently received letters and the unpaid bills neatly organized in the wire ribs of the perky, pink, pig.

Perky Pink Pig

Over the years, the legs became skewed.  I tried to straighten them.  Instead, I caused quite a bit of the pink paint to flake off as well as making them even more out of alignment.  Now the little pig appears to be dancing a jig.

Sketchbook Drawing:  Family Treasure No. 32 – drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Black Ink, followed by watercolor.

In spite of our efforts to feed orphaned, baby rabbits using this tiny, glass baby bottle, we failed to keep them alive more than a day or two.

Family Treasures No. 28

The rubber nipple rotted decades ago.  Still, the bottle remained at the house in Martinsville, reminding us of the love and attention we gave the motherless, pink-eared bunnies we found every couple of years in the backyard.

The roll of film, most likely for a Brownie camera, captured moments we will never see.  We can only imagine what my mother was  looking at when she snapped the pictures, now vanished from the celluloid film.

The cotton napkin is one of a set or two, originally four, that lived in the kitchen drawer with the cotton aprons.

Sketchbook drawing:  Drawn first with fountain pen filled with Noodler’s Rome Burning ink, followed by watercolor. I’m reminded of vaseline glass and the glow from the uranium content when I see the bleed of the Rome Burning ink.

A perfect title for a Nancy Drew mystery.

Family Treasures No. 18

This is the second painting of The Glass Lady. I posted the first one on the Creative Color Blog.  I wanted to stay more delicate in this painting.  The Glass Lady was my mother’s.  She sat upon her dresser, hiding the small, homeless or injured objects that accumulated during the days and weeks and years of my childhood. In the first painting, the shadow became opaque and along with its opacity it acquired the visual appearance of being an object rather than a shadow.  With this in mind, I kept the shadow more ghostlike.  At the same time, I experimented with presenting the aspect “shadow as object” by allowing it to exist beyond the boundary of the yellow cell.

Painting: drawn first with vintage Sheaffer fountain pen filled with Noodler’s black ink, followed by washes of watercolor.

Color Scheme: Complementary Triad of Yellow, Violet and Blue/Green

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