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My grandmother’s birthday book

January 1, 2011


My grandmother, who I always called Manny, had a little birthday book as a child.  She was born in 1912, so I imagine she received this book as a gift in the early 1920s.  The book is called Kate Greenaway’s Birthday Book for Children, and the illustrations are very ’20s-ish – reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh, even.  The girls in the Kate Greenaway book illustrations have always reminded me of Elizabeth Ann in the AA Milne When We Were Very Young book – or at least EH Shepard’s illustrations of Elizabeth Ann.

As an aside, the story goes that as the first grandchild, a decision had to be made about what I should call my grandmother .  It was decided (I’m not sure by whom) that ‘Granny’ was the appropriate name.  Only I couldn’t say ‘gr’ but I could say ‘m’ so they said ‘granny’ and I said ‘manny’.  And I think she liked it.  Because Manny, she stayed.  Not all of my cousins followed suit.  Perhaps their parents had other ideas, or perhaps they had ideas of their own.  But some of them did.  So about half of her many grandchildren called her Manny.  Most of the others called her Grandma, and others still called her Mama Cass.  Only one of my children was born before Manny died, but they all call her Manny too.

Kate Greenaway's Birthday Book for ChildrenManny used the birthday book throughout her life, and then one or more of her daughters have used it, and it has been handed on to me.  It has been well loved, and used, over a long period of time.  Manny’s entries are in a variety of handwritings – her own childish hand writing through to grandmotherly  handwriting, and then there are entries by others over the period between the 1920s and when it was passed to me.  It looks like Manny asked people to enter their own birthdays into the book.  Whether I have made entries in it remains to be seen.  I can’t remember, and I’m not going to look.

I think the first entry in the book is on January 2.  It’s hard to tell, because the first page has been removed, turned around and taped back in place.  I’m not sure if this was a mistake, or if the first date page was removed or lost, and then when the first entry became necessary, in 1968, the first page was turned around to make the date right.

So anyway, I have decided that I will post the entries in the book as they come up through the year.  Watch this space.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 1, 2011 1:38 pm

    The same thing happened with my grandchildren – the first couldn’t manage Granny so I became Gummy (but still have all my Teeth) and now I am Gummy to the other seven and their parents. The children-in-law also call me Gummy.
    I love my special name

    • snpdragon permalink*
      January 2, 2011 10:12 am

      Oh Gummy is a gorgeous name.


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