Saturday, July 3

Another new obsession

Before Mom was married she lived in Tripoli, Libya with her dad and worked as a teacher for the families on a US Air Force base. Mom did a lot of traveling and saw lot of the world back then. She has all kinds of memorabilia lying around but the biggest box holds the dishes she and her dad used while in Africa. She has been saving them for me for years.

Something online today made me think of those dishes. Because I'm seriously looking at buying a house I've been thinking about what I will need in my new place. I decided to bust open the box of dishes to remind myself what the looked like. I didn't find the everyday dishes but instead found a beautiful mid century tea service that I am IN LOVE with. Mom said they picked it up in Germany. It's apparently a Seltmann Weiden service. I haven't figured out the name of the pattern but the dish style is called Isolde. I didn't take pictures but I did find one pic online of the same pattern:

How awesome is that?! However, I don't seem to have that exact set. My box of goodies contains a teapot, a creamer, a sugar pot, a tureen w/lid and two plates. Finding more of this pattern is my new obsession. I'm absolutely crazy about it. This cute little creamer stands about 3 inches tall.

The color looks gray in these pix but my set is actually a lovely shade of light blue.

On top of the service were a bunch of vintage postcards from all over Europe. I also found a stack of black and white pictures that my grandfather took while in Tripoli. He snuck a picture of a man kneeling and bowing for prayers but my favorite is of one of the protests. Mom says that government officials would just show up at their door and demand payment on "taxes" in cash. All kinds of strange "official" business was conducted in this manner. As a result the people were constantly rioting. She said that they would spontaneous gather and run through the streets. The police would then begin shutting down streets and lead the mob into town circles or stadiums. The police would then spray everyone down with paint then spend the next couple of days arresting anyone with paint on them. It was as strange time for my mom and her dad who had both been born and raised in Texas. My grandfather (aka Papa) seemed particularly curious about the burkas the women wore. I found two postcards from him to my mom with a picture of the covered women stating "This is a good picture of how the women look over here in robes." Later he sent the same postcard with "I do not know if I sent you one of these cards or not. It is the only one I've found of the Arabic women. The streets are filled with them." Talk about culture shock. It must have all seemed so very strange to Papa.

Maybe the best find were two boarding passes I found for Papa. One was the airline ticket for mom and dad's wedding the other for by birth. The pass for the wedding (an awesome First Class Pan Am ticket) seems to have cost $1000 (!) and outlines many connections: Tripoli to London to Los Angeles. The return flight began with: Los Angeles to Chicago. Papa told mom that he wanted to see if it actually was The Windy City... I'm completely serious. Papa did stuff like that. He then seems to have flown back to Texas before returning to Africa. He flew from Chicago to Dallas to New York to Tripoli. I found a similar itinerary on the ticket for my birth but without the Chicago detour.

Another great postcard is of the Empire State Building and a very flat looking lower Manhattan. Papa writes "This was the most beautiful thing all lit up at night." I couldn't agree with him more. It's still is a beautiful sight. I know I'll be thinking of him next time I see it all lit up.

If I ever get a scanner I'll scan the postcards. They are too good to not share.

The only bad part of my find was that it made Mom cry. She saw Papa's writing and immediately burst into tears which, of course, set me off. Later she said that I "Shoved me down memory lane when I didn't want to go." then we started laughing. In retrospect, my timing was not the best. Mom's beloved cousin is ill and she is planning to fly out to see him next week. She is excited about seeing him but I know that she always questions her decision to leave her family when she got married. I know I couldn't do it but the 60's were a different time and the bride generally followed the groom. Even well traveled brides seem to have followed this path. I sometimes wonder how our lives would have been different had we all moved to Texas. I don't know Mom's side of the family all that well and I know she regrets that most of all. I do have incredibly strong feelings of love for her cousin and my Papa. I hate that memory lane can make Mom so sad but I do like reading Papa's letters and cards to mom because it makes me feel closer to him. Maybe I just need to be more stealth about it next time.

I knew Papa for such a short time. He died far too young when I was around 13 years old. It's really not fair at all but I'm grateful for the time I had with him. I look forward to using his lovely tea service in my new home one day soon. I will think of him with each and every use.

1 comment:

kb said...

Wonderful post! I loved reading this and remembering a few things you've told me in the past and learning new things, too. I'm not even related to your family and reading some of this made me teary, too. Thanks Gayle!