Diaries were read aloud to the amusement of the whole family. A particular favorite was this entry from Erin which reads, "Dear Diary, I've got to do it. HANDS ACROSS USA!"
(Do you remember these awesome endpapers???)
Of course my favorite literary find was not the vintage Nancy Drews, but...you guessed it: my Sweet Valley High books. Oh those Wakefield twins! You were so slutty and unlikable, but I just couldn't stop reading about your lives!!
And here I feel a need to put a special spotlight on book #6, titled "All Night Long", in which Jessica apparently dates a mustachioed gay man. Was this really what we thought of when we thought of "bad boys" in the '80s?
We found ugly earrings from the '80s...slick gobs of plastic molded into geometric shapes.
We found Raggedy Ann, whose pants refused to stay up. (Much to our hilarity.)
There were dolls with missing parts, like this one that we named "Holly Bucket Hands".
In the end, the four of us flipped coins to decide on an order, and then we went through and each picked a handful of our favorites. I don't think any of us took more than 10 dolls. And the rest, I'm afraid, we'll be giving away to charity. There's only so long you can carry around another person's collection, and while we love them, none of us has room for 140 dolls. So we took our favorites, and now we'll display them. Better to have a few treasures out in the open than a collection out in the garage.
Aunt Ginny wondered if Neva was watching us from beyond as we played with her doll collection, fought over our favorites, and giggled at their disrepair. And I would have to say yes, without a doubt. Neva's presence, as well as the presence of so many other ancestors, was loud and clear all of last weekend. From Great Grandma Katie's crocheted and embroidered dish towels to Great Great Grandpa Myron's underlined passages in century-old books and hand-written sermons tucked between the pages.
The moment when I most felt their presence here, in our present world, was when my mom found a photo--one of many in a mish-moshed shoebox--of a house in North Hollywood that my great great grandparents moved into when they first came to Los Angeles in the 1930s. It was a lovely single story Spanish style house, and on the backside was written an address, a description of the facade, and a mention of the young jacaranda trees that were planted in the front yard. I said to my mom, let's look it up on Google maps! Maybe it's still there? And so we typed in the address and switched to the satellite view, which first showed us a view of the greater LA area. As we clicked to zoom in, we saw the neighborhood, the street, and then there we were, at street level, looking at the exact same house--the same arches, the same white stucco, the same tiles--as shown in the photo from the 1930s. Aside from a swapped out fence, all that was different were the jacaranda trees, which now reach far beyond the roof of the house and are full of purple blossoms.