Sunday, March 30, 2008

A 1930s Gentleman and The Birthdays


I never knew my Grandpa Charlie. A tailor in the garment district of New York City's Lower East Side, he died two weeks before my little sister was born. She was named Caroline in honor of him.

My grandfather exists in my mind through Grandma Minnie's wedding pictures--quite the 1930s gentleman with a flair for fashion, a confident gait and a sly look.

Delivered in the hospital on my third birthday (yes, we are exactly three years apart), Caroline's birth is my first memory.

Aware it was my birthday and the importance of having one as well as the fringe benefits associated, one can imagine my devastation at the conspicuous absence of both my parents. Rather, my great Aunt Octavine celebrated with me. I received first a Fisher Price record player, and then a baby sister.

Forced to then share all birthdays following, every year "our" birthday celebration included all the neighborhood children. With the Fisher Price record player in tow, we endlessly played musical chairs outside. My mother dressed us in matching Victorian style dresses in differing colors and put our hair in ringlets. Great Aunt Octavine made a cherry cake (white cake with maraschino cherries in the batter and pink icing and maraschino cherries on top) and we would blow out the candles...together.

Most of the presents consisted of Barbie and Tracy (Barbie with brown hair--a favorite among us brunettes) dolls. My mother, not thrilled with the whole Barbie idea, only let us keep one each. My father then stashed the rest. To this day, hidden in the depths of some closet lie various late 1970s and early 1980s Barbie and Tracy dolls, still in their original packaging.

My sister and I are very close and live only minutes away from one another albeit not in our hometown. We still celebrate "our" birthday ever year together and sometimes even wear matching outfits. I think Grandpa Charlie would laugh.

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21 comments:

David Thompson said...

I've been following your illustrations for a little now and I really love them especially the ones relating directly to the 1920s and 30s.

Grizzly Mountain Arts said...

Lovely illustration! I'm really missing my sister now after reading your post. She's thirteen years younger than me, so we have this weird mother/daughter relationship rather than your normal sister one. Thanks for sharing your wonderful family memories!

Helen said...

There are so many shared birthdays in my family. It had to be tough on you as a kid but when older it has to be a kick to have a sibling born on the same day! My son was born on my mother-in-laws birthday, my other son on my father-in-laws birthday! My mom and her brother share the same day but have seven years difference. My daughter was born on that day too!

Curly Girl Glass said...

I love how you're illustrating your history and I love the stories that go along!

A World in a PAN said...

THank you for sharing your memories with us. I enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy your illustrations.

espionage said...

This is amazing. I love your art. It takes me back to a time that I thought I should have been born in. And your stories are charming!

Diana Evans said...

wonderful artwork and a lovely story ...how sweet....family is a wonderful gift!!!

Rosebud Collection said...

What a beautiful story..so glad you are near your sister..bet your birthdays are fun..

Mary-Laure said...

Hola from Uruguay!

I loved reading about your childhood memories.
It's wonderful to be close to one's sister. I adore mine.

design for mankind. said...

OH my goodness; what a LOVELY illustration!!!!

LeaKarts said...

That is such a wonderful story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us all :)

Waterrose said...

Great story and depictation of your grandfather! And, so nice to have someone to share a b'day with!

Obsessive Foodie or Food Addict....You Decide said...

I love your work. I have reproduction art deco posters framed all through my house. How wonderful to be so talented!!!

snowy652 said...

you and your sister share such an amazing bond -- I always wanted a sister

Blessings

pve design said...

Wonderful illustration. Have you done an illustration of your sister?
Did you ever have "skipper" - she was one of my faves!
Love hearing and seeing your story.

Callooh Callay said...

What a dapper gent and a great story. I love reading memoirs like this.

Karma by Morgan said...

thats a very honorable and fitting illustration. I love it! and what a wonderful memory you have - your sister being born. wow!

Sandra said...

What a wonderful memory. The poignant nostalgia is beautifully written. It made me remember the wonderful birthdays that I have had and my mother’s efforts to make the day very special.

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

I want your great aunt Octavine's cake recipe! I have some recipes from my own great aunts, but it's stuff like the family moonshine recipe and mince meat pie. The latter begins, "Start with a whole hog's head..."

Now, I'm not complaining. Every family has its own unique and wonderful legacy. I just think a pink cake with Merichino cherries sounds like the best thing this side of Christmas right now.

I love the illustration, too. I always wanted some of those two tone boots for myself.

Octavine Illustration said...

i've decided to start responding to blog comments within my comments page before i do my next post as many people are asking wonderful questions i would like to share the answers with. oh, and thanks so much for all these comments. it really makes me feel wonderful. cheers.~

david thompson-love your art deco blog. thanks so much!

grizzly mountain arts-nothing better than a sis!

helen-love those shared birthdays! makes for much better parties, if you ask me.

curly girl glass-thanks so much my dear. your encouragement and support is invaluable.

a world in a pan-thanks so much. i like to post about what i know best...

espionage-thank you! i also feel i was born in the wrong century.


diana evans-thank you!

rosebud collection-thank you! and yes, our birthdays are a lot of fun. now we have a big party with all those who share leo birthdays.

mary-laure-hola to you in uruguay. can't wait to see more pictures!

design for mankind-thanks so much!~

leakarts-thank you my dear for all your encouragement!

waterrose-thank you! i love my shared birthday (now.)

obsessive foodie-i too love the deco and nouveau illustrations and have many prints in my home as well. thank you!

snowy652-don't know what i would do without her!

pve design-i have indeed done an illustration of her. in fact, just a few blog posts earlier is a loose illustration i did of her playing her electric viola. it was used for her business cards.
oh, and yes. i had a skipper doll.

calooh callay-thank you. i do like to write about those i love and remember fondly.

karma by morgan-thank you. it is a wonderful memory indeed!

sandra-i know, mom's are the best.

hadley gets crafty-i love the two tone boots as well.
and i'm going to post a recipe for the cherry cake. so stay tuned.
the mince meat pie sounds gross. anything requiring a whole hogs head is definitely out in my book. but the moonshine? hmm......

tangobaby said...

A story about sisters AND birthdays AND wonderful ancestors (I had a grandpa who was a tailor, too). Thank you for sharing your birthday cake, ringlets and Barbies. I can imagine all of it.

I love seeing such a dapper male image amongst all of my favorite vintage-style ladies.