Short and Sweet(?)

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Today I bring you another Mercer letter. This one is dated September 12, 1928. It’s addressed to Mr. J.J. Mercer and was sent from Red Oak, Iowa.

If read as a completely serious letter, it’s very cold and odd but I very much doubt that it’s meant to be taken that way. Instead, it’s a cutely written card. I hope.

Take a look:

 

Dear Mr. Mercer

at the sixth annual Mercer reunion it was unanimously voted to extend to you our heartiest and best wishes, and hopes for a speedy recovery of health.

Resolution Committee

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There is literally no point to this post. Life really is too short to bother reading it.

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A lot of my time at work is spent trying to find ways to keep myself from falling asleep. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job, but I work in a specialty store and hours can go by without a soul walking in the door. I bring along plenty to do but sometimes it just isn’t enough.

So I find myself sitting behind the counter, eyes tired from reading, hands cramped from knitting, and any actual work long since completed. But I still had four more hours before closing! What could I possibly do for all that time? What do my peers do when they’re bored?

Take pictures of themselves and post them online complaining about how bored they are.

Yep, that's a picture of my face. Don't I look like I'm having fun?

It’s seems like a silly idea, but actually…nope, nevermind. There was no way to justify my logic. Everyone does it, so naturally I should go jump off a bridge. Or something. But I can’t say I was seeing the appeal yet. Maybe I needed to try harder…

by doing over the top yet still half-hearted facial expressions to see if I could one day make it big as a stock photo model.

Okay, that took an even bigger leap in logic. But it was slightly more entertaining.

I call this one "Internet Narcissist"

If we don’t get lights on the house, how else will Jesus guide Santa to our home and give us free stuff for pretending to be nice?

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I am finally free from the tyranny that was my Spanish II class. I don’t know why no one ever mentions this but learning another language is hard, y’all!

Folksy contractions aside, my new found spare time allows me to not only indulge in some holiday cheer but to catch up on other neglected aspects of my life. For the past however long, I have been justifying the laundry on the floor and the dishes piling up on the desk because I was too busy studying for my final. The fact that I found plenty of time to shop online for wigs and watch endless 30 Rock reruns is irrelevant.

But no more! I will pick up that laundry. I will wash those dishes. I will gut my closet and ditch everything I don’t need. I will reorganize my bookshelves. I will dust properly and not just swish around one of those swiffer things and call it good enough. I WILL SCRUB THE WALLS. (Is that something that adult humans even do? They don’t look like they need scrubbing, but I’m the slob that leaves dirty dishes around forever so I’m probably not the best judge.)

Anyway, that’s my next big adventure. But on the other hand, we don’t have any of our decorations up yet, and time is running out. Surely, that’s the bigger priority. I should probably work on that instead.

Those unfolded towels have been sitting there for ages, they can wait a little longer. Stop trying to ruin Christmas, you terrycloth Scrooges.

And I’ve already had about five eggs, a gallon of honey, and a bucket of Nutella. Somebody tie my hands together.

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I’ve been desperately trying to commit to vegan(ish) eating for the past few days. It’s not going well. Like, I’ve-written-“VEGAN”-on-my-hand-in-bright-red-ink-so-that-I’ll-see-it-and-remember-that-I-can’t-actually-eat-that-orange-and-chocolate-scone-which-was-delicious-by-the-way levels of “not going well.”

Ah well.

To distract myself from some sort of mean spirited* pie that I’ve been told is in the fridge, allow me to share a few of the old pictures that I’ve collected. (click to enlarge)

*mean spirited = I can’t eat it

The four smiling faces pulled me in, but it’s what written on the back that I love the most. I like to think they remained close friends for a very long time. At least, I certainly hope so.

The obvious joy here is the kid in the middle, but there’s a simple elegance in the outfit on the left. I really hope it wasn’t just pajamas.

She’s fantastic, as is the shadow of the photographer. Also, there’s something about that palm tree that makes me want to hug it. Over sharing?

Alright, I’m off to stare longingly at some cheese.

Also, throughout most of this, I was dressed as a flapper. For no apparent reason, really.

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Yesterday involved:

-Waking up at the ungodly hour of 7:30. (Did you know they have one of those in the morning, too?)

-Wondering around in the bushes behind Sears and almost falling off a cliff in the process.

-Going to the local farmer’s market.

-Being forced to take sample after unwanted sample of indian food, although it was delicious.

-Being harassed by a cupcake man.

-Going to work and getting so bored that I started contemplating whether or not I could wear any of the large dog collars as belts. Then I may or may not have tried some on to see.

-Attempting to get into the midnight showing of Rocky Horror only to be told it’s been sold out for days. And then we were given sass by the apparently amish dude that worked behind the counter at the movie theatre. (And by “given sass” I mean that he was the one that told us it was sold out.)

-Abandoning that plan and going with the next best thing: diet coke and mentos. It ended up being extremely anticlimactic, for the record.

-Leaving to go to IHOP.

-Pulling over five minutes later when we realized that we had no idea where IHOP was or how to get there. After getting that straightened out, we panicked because the car almost didn’t start again. We would’ve been stranded in the middle of the night, in front of a violin store, and across the street from the world’s shadiest looking and most expensive bingo hall. (Although, yes, a violin store. I know, that’s what I thought too)

-Getting to IHOP and spending a few hours writing a poem about the above incident.

Today involves building a 12 foot tall scarecrow. So more of the same, really. Assuming I’m not dreaming all of this.

The Mercers (Alt. Title: how to legally-I-think stalk people)

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Alternate Alt. Title: This post is absurdly long and contains too many questions.

One of my absolute favorite things to do is rummage around in thrift and vintage stores because I’m an insufferable hipster.

because I like useless old crap that may or may not contain mites.

Because I like history and storytelling.

I’ve been doing the vintage clothing, toys, and creepy tchotzkes thing for a while now. Recently though, I’ve found a new love to be on the look out for amidst the rows of ceramic knickknacks and old fishing lures: photos and letters.

Perhaps I’m just dreadfully boring, but a little window into the life of a person from a time gone by is utterly fascinating to me. In letters, for example, you learn about both the writer and the recipient from what’s on that page. How are these people related? Did the writer ramble on for pages in friendly, loopy letters? Or were they frugal, and only write in small print that fills every corner of the page? Were they funny? Opinionated? You get the idea.

The first time I ever bought a letter, I read through a few different ones at my favorite vintage haunt looking for that special one that would strike my fancy. And there it was.

A small tattered envelope addressed to Mrs. J. J. Mercer in Austin, Texas sent from Port Arthur, Texas in early September 1931. Marked “Special Delivery” and unopened. Seriously, folks, how could I resist?

I fantasized about it’s contents. A letter with exiting news? Or very, very bad news? Would it contain a gift? Money, perhaps? Would I be tempted to spend said money? Is money from 1931 worth anything in the collector’s market? What if it doesn’t contain money? How disappointing would that be? But what if it doesn’t contain money because it actually contains treasure? What if this thing is loaded full of doubloons? Why would somebody get a letter containing doubloons and then not open it?

I realize that all sounds insane, but I went through that exact thought process before getting home to open it. When I went to get my mother’s badass letter opener, I realized what a big noodle I am because the letter had already been opened from the side. Logically, looters must have already come for the doubloons.

Pushing my disappointment of not finding pirate treasure inside of a envelope sent within Texas in the 30s, I looked inside and to find a letter. (Shocking, I know.) You can click the thumbnails below to see it for yourself. Otherwise, I’ve rewritten the contents below the best I can.

Sept. 5, 1931

Saturday P.M.

Dearest Mother & Florence:

It’s so hot here I can hardly stand it. Worked up at school yesterday and this a.m. and almost passed out. My office was like a steam sweat* box.

I got another teacher, which means (unless something else happens that I’ll get an extra $100.00 or rather will get what I was supposed to get. Praise God. Providence surely is good to me. Things are sort of up in the air – waiting on the enrollment to see how many children we will have.

I want to wash out some under clothes after I get back from the P. O. – I worked up at the school too late to get a [can’t make out this word] off yesterday.

Florence, you didn’t give me those jokes & stories to copy & I want want ’em. any good ones you’ve got. – I’ll copy them & send them back if you’ll let me have them.

The fruit was fine – just finished up the last when I came in from school today. – twas* still good. Met some of the girls in Houston so I had company the rest of the way home.

Called Miss Score*, but she didn’t have time to get to the depot* – she wanted to come, but, I was only ther about 45 minutes. Less than that for waiting time.

The flowers look fine. Didn’t have time to get the dirt in the window bed – so have put them out here temporarily. The [something] that [something] [something] back have surely grown*.

Have to finish my speech & [something] up my copy of my requisitions. It’s so hot I haven’t pep for anything. – Hope it’s cooler in austin.

lot’s of love

Helen*

*Words I’m not entirely sure of.

A few things of the things I love about this letter:

– I’m much too amused that Helen spends a large portion of the letter complaining about the heat, and that it was the first thing she wrote about.

– The little errors, such as forgetting the closing parentheses or that the handwriting seems to get sloppier or rushed towards the end.

– “or rather will get what I was supposed to get”

– I’m completely obsessed with the idea that she wants to copy Florence’s jokes and stories.

– “I haven’t the pep for anything”

– The fact that there really isn’t anything worthy of the “special delivery” written on the envelope.

So why do I love this some much? Doesn’t everyone complain about weather and their jobs? Why is this any different? To that I say…I don’t know why. I have yet to hide my insanity here, I see no reason to start now.

So anyway, back when I first got this letter, I got it in my head that I’d try find out more about these people using the magic of the interwebs. I honestly thought I’d just punch the names into Ancestry and it’d be done, but I couldn’t find any information on the Mercers anywhere at all. Ever since, the letter has been staring at me, balanced on top of the bulletin board near the computer.

BUT WAIT, this post gets even longer.

Today, I visited the same store that I found the original Mercer letter and I went to rummage around for a new letter to see inside someone else’s world. To my surprise, I almost immediately found a letter addressed to Florence Mercer. I was over the moon. If I couldn’t find our more about them online, I could add another piece to the puzzle with a second letter. But the then I found a third. And a fourth. It became quite clear that the seller had likely picked up a whole collection from an estate sale or some such. I had a momentary outburst of madness and dug around until I collected a whole mess of letters addressed to one Mercer or another. I bought everything that might contain more solid bits of information, leaving behind a few impersonal cards and countless empty envelopes. I’m sure I left even more letters behind, and that will keep me up at night.

I realize that I’m a nutcase. If by any chance there are Mercer descendants reading this, I’m sure they’re completely horrified and want to arrest me for being a creeper. There’s very likely nothing in these letters that is anything more than the one above, which is just a little slice of life from someone I will never meet.

But I really don’t care. I’m beyond eager to go through this stack of old mail. I mean, the postmarks range from 1919 to 1963. Doesn’t that excite you? No, just me? Regardless, I intend to document the letters here over the next however-long-it-takes-my-lazy-butt-to-do-it. And I’d also like to throw out into the great void that is the internet, if anyone has any information about the Mercers to let me know.

And if you think this is odd, just wait until I start posting about my old photos of strangers collection.

Because I can, and you should too.

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All of my life, I have wanted one thing.

Well, lots of things.

Okay, everything in sight.

BUT! There has been one thing haunting me for all my years. Yes, I remember seeing those colorful boxes at store after store. I didn’t even know what they were but I’d ask for one anyway, because that’s how a little kid’s mind works. Yet again and again I’d be told that I was “too young.” I vowed to get my hands on one as soon as I was old enough, and that desire has never wavered. (Unlike other things I said I would do, such as watching Sugar and Spice and White Chicks when I was finally old enough to see PG-13 movies)

For years I agonized over the unobtainable new releases and variations. Watched as others enjoyed what was rightfully mine.

At eleven, I was brave enough to begin asking again but was given that same tired reply. (“It’s not appropriate”,”You’re too young”)

At thirteen, I felt it was finally my time. All of my peers had not only known it’s wonders, but had long since grown bored of them. It even said on the damn box that I was of age. AND STILL, I was denied!

At 16, I thought enough was enough. It wasn’t even about my desire any more, but the principle of the matter. I was like Gandhi and Rosa Parks all rolled into one, and I harnessed their energy to do what they would’ve done:I put it on my Christmas list. A plan which had failed me so far, but this time I would insist. But alas, it failed again. True, I could have purchased the item on my own, but I saw that disapproving flicker in the eyes of my mother. Her internal monologue singing that old refrain: “it’s not appropriate.” (In fairness, I may have been projecting.) Would my plight ever end?

A few days ago, I finally won. I happened to see it staring at me from the shelf at Target, teasing and tormenting as it always did. But this time, I took a stand. “NO!” I shouted (in my head) “I am an adult! I decide what is and is not ‘appropriate’ and I know full well that there is nothing wrong or shameful about this. I will buy this BECAUSE I CAN. I shall make a statement and declare that I, Shae Taylor, am finally old enough. WE ARE ALL FINALLY OLD ENOUGH!” I then waited for the uproar of applause and for the crowd to lift me high into the air and carry me out of the store as we began making the world a better place with this new movement that I had just created. Unfortunately, the aisle was empty. If it hadn’t been, all of that would’ve totally happened.

So anyway, I am now the proud owner of a Sims games. That’s right. A freaking Sims game.

I haven’t even so much as opened it yet, since I have been trying to catch up on homework BECAUSE I’M A RESPONSIBLE ADULT. But later this week I will finally know the satisfaction of forcing a little animated person to do my bidding. And I will likely get bored 2 minutes later. But it’s more about the symbolism at this point, really.

The point of all this: barring anything that’s harmful to yourself or others, go do something that you weren’t allowed to do when you were young. Something that would spark that “maybe when you’re older” response that comes standard in all parents. Watch an R rated movie, put a blue streak in your hair (the clip-on extensions totally count), buy a PC game that most nine year olds have played. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it means something to you. Because getting older may suck in lots of ways that are out of our control, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have the power to make the rest of it awesome.

That closing statement was all kinds of terrible. I feel I should end this with some uplifting music and a link to someone who phrases things more eloquently.

Instead: read it and weep, suckers.

I don't see anything inappropriate going on here.

PS. Don’t let the fact the game box has been hiding in the shopping bag for the past few days undermine anything that I have just said.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go watch the one where Lucy and Ethel get up to some shenanigans.

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Earlier today, tumblr informed me that yesterday was the 60th Anniversary of the first airing of I Love Lucy. I’m so serious about …Lucy that I don’t even plan on making any stupid jokes in this post. You’re welcome.

It seems silly that a television show could mean so much to people, myself included. But it’s impact on my life has been hugely important, in ways both big and small yet always surprising.

I raised myself on a diet of cartoons and TV Land, but when I discovered I Love Lucy it rocked my world. Late at night, a five-or-six year old me flipped through the channels, stumbling across the season one episode “Young Fans”. I was hooked and stayed up to watch the several other episodes that aired immediately afterward.

From then on, if Lucy was on tv, I’d be sat in front of it. I shared my love with my family, and anyone else who would listen. I’d hum the theme song unrelentingly, and quickly incorporated “‘splainin'” into my vocabulary. It became a part of my life. And now, many years later, watching an episode is like visiting old friends.

It’s funny, because it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I actually think in terms of Lucy. It has influenced me in ways I never would have thought of, from the clothes that I like, to my passion of theatre, performing, and comedy. Occasionally, I’ll see something in a completely different way than someone who didn’t grow up on the show like I did.

And I’m so glad that I did.

ps. This is the most serious post I ever plan to write. At least until some Brady Bunch related event comes along.

I knew staying up until 6 am watching Nosferatu the day before meeting my new counselor was a good idea.

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What this has taught me: go with your whims.

Also, Count Orlok = unexpected fashion inspiration

I think watching this movie may have to be a new October tradition. Like how I always watch The Grinch after everyone else has gone to bed on Christmas Eve. Or how I always eat Fruity Pebbles on my birthday.

On second thought, maybe I should just get out of the house more often.

Seriously though, dude pulls off hats like Norma Desmond.