Thursday, June 04, 2015

Virginia Louise Hart: Pre-Marriage Years (0-24)

Remember when I did that very-long post in 2011 on 'A' is for Astrid of All Trades because I wanted to make sure all her art work and creativity would not remain under a portfolio bushel the rest of her life?

Well, then.

In a few more days I'll be turning the BIG 70 and something very weird is happening to me.  I'm not scared, afraid or alarmed.  Not even second-guessing it.  HA!  But I AM definitely understanding better than ever before that the time left on this end going forward is much less than looking back.

And since I have these shoeboxes of photos just sitting here, I've decided to look back on 70 years and encapsulate them somehow...for the online record.  And as I've mulled them over, the only thing that makes sense is to break them up into 3 posts/time-periods based on my 21-year marriage to Bill (with family):  Pre-Marriage Years (0-24), Marriage Years (24-45), Post-Marriage Years (45-70).

Thus, the beginning, starting with a line-up of all those school portraits:

 Whenever I think of "my inner Child," this is who I see.

Definitely not this!
Did I really look like that age 9-13???

Sometimes I remember this high-schooler.

My high-school senior photo, 1962-63.

As soon as I started college, I changed my name from Virginia to Ginnie,
started wearing contacts, changed my part to the other side...and allowed my hair to keep growing.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

At birth, 13 June 1945, I weighed 5lbs 8-1/2ozs (considered a preemie in 1945).
They kept me in the hospital for 3 weeks and then released me to family and home.
Home then was in Lynchburg, VA.
AND from that point on, I was called "Boots" (a fun story about booties that were too big).

Dad was a small-church preacher/pastor in those days...when I was 9-11 months old.
After I turned one year old, we moved from Virginia to Michigan for a new pastorate.
Nelson is 3 years older; Susan is 2 years older.

My maternal g'pa and g'ma lived in Bayonne, NJ.
I still have memories of the gold-fish pond, even though I was there maybe only twice?
Mom, an only child, came from a well-to-do family and married a poor preacher

Nancy was born 13 months after I and quickly became my buddy.
Nelson and Susan watched over both of us.

Don't you wonder what we would remember without photos?
But, yes, I always had strawberry-blonde hair
(to be differentiated from Susan's auburn and, later, Bennett's carrot-top red).

By age 9, we moved from Pullman to Grand Ledge, MI.
In fact, I turned 9 in the hospital right after moving.
That's when they discovered I had a mild case of non-paralytic polio.
Notice that the family is growing...but still no Ruthie, the youngest.

There she is!
Nelson, Susan, Boots, Nancy, Bennett, Jim, John, Ruth. 
Yes, count them:  there are 8 of us, with a spread of 14 years from Nelson to Ruth.
4 boys and 4 girls.  Dad called us girls the "step sisters."
I was 11 when Ruth was born and remember her being "my baby."
She was 7 when I went away to college...but this is still high school for me (1962).

There's my buddy Nancy again but mostly I was off by myself, in my own world.
The tree between Dad's church and parsonage was my haven.
(I was "different" from everyone I knew but had no clue it was called "gay" back then.)
I graduated from Grand Ledge High School in June of 1963.

I went to no proms during high school (I wasn't "allowed" to dance),
but had plenty of dress-up time in college.
I was Susan's buddy at her wedding; and Nancy was my buddy again at college,
attending a few months with me at both University of Michigan and Moody Bible Institute.
I graduated from U of M in December of 1967, taking a year after my sophomore year
to study Greek and Theology at Moody as prep for Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT).

 My degree at U of M was Linguistics.
I attended the Summer Institute of Linguistics at the U of Oklahoma for 3 summers,
teaching phonetics the last year (1968), preparing to be a missionary linguist with WBT.

 This is what my family of origin looked like then, with additional spouses and significant others.
It was 1968 and I was 23.

After graduating from U of M in December 1967 and then teaching phonetics the summer of 1968,
I started packing for Peru, to work with the Campa Pajonal indigenous people in the Andes' foothills.
They had no written language and my job, along with partner Alleen, was to start transcribing it.
I took a freighter from New Orleans to Lima with 2 55-gal. oil drums filled with my earthly possessions....

And was in Peru the first 6 months of 1969, till returning home to marry Bill Tiffan,
the only guy (from U of M days) I had ever seriously considered marrying.
I turned 24 while in Peru and married Bill that September, 1969.

 William (Bill) Ray Tiffan

(to be continued....)


  1. Through tears here I can't tell you how much I LOVED this!! You have so inspired me with ideas of doing something similar (addition to more projects!!) but oh so worthwhile. Omg...those glasses. Did you keep any of them? They would be worth gold today! I see so many young people on the streets of NYC (mostly from Brooklyn) that would just die to get their hands on them, ha! I just loved seeing you grow up during these years...and actually didn't want this post to end for this time period!! Words just can't describe how much this moved me while getting to know you even more. The hair styles during your early cute! I love it and you! Can't wait for the next series!

    1. Your words have touched me deeply, Robin. I think we learn so much from each other when we get into our separate histories. But how often do we do that? I've already started the next phase and have had many of my own tears. It is as it is. We can't change our history. So it behooves us to be reconciled with it and accept it with grace. As for you, go with your own inspired ideas and just do it!

  2. What a great autobiography of your life's events and the photos to bring it all to life. It's wonderful to see you from year to year, through life's transformation. Thank you for sharing -- and looking forward to Part 2! However, I'm stunned by the fact that I have never seen 99% of these photos. Where have you been hiding them?? I remember pouring over the many photo albums you created of Mark and me prior to losing them in the fire; however, I do not recall any photo albums of you and/or Dad.

    1. It's so funny how we always make the albums of our kids but seldom of ourselves, isn't it! Well, then, let it be a word to the wise to do the same for yourself. You'll see a bit of that in my next post, on which I'm already working. I can't include everything, of course, but getting the highlights sure works a treat.

      It means the world to me that you read this post and commented on it. That you, dear Amykins!

  3. This is wonderful Ginnie! I look forward to the next instalments.

    1. Thank you, Anne. It's been a very rewarding project! :)

  4. Oh Boots! I can't begin. Can't even begin.

    I'm overwhelmed. Not sure why, but yes, this is tremendous.

    One big surprise: You wore contact lenses!!!! ??? I never ever knew that. Wow.

    I need to let this sink in, partly because I'm at work. But wow wow wow. I love it all ... one section of your life in one page.

    1. Actually, Ruth, this has been very fun. I'm not sure why I never had the idea before but I guess it really is the BIG one that has moved the juices, so to speak. :)

      Yes, I had contact lenses for years, before I decided to go back to glasses again...can't remember why. I would never go back to contacts, to be honest. But they were okay while I had them.

      I especially like how you said "one section of your life on one page." When you put it that way, it does seem quite...awesome. :) Thank you.

  5. P.S. I remember so many of these clothes. The belted swimsuit. Most fond of: the plaid pants and peacoat. Super cool. I look forward to the photos of your married phase, when you wore those red-tab Levi's: super duper cool.

    1. How is it possible that you remember these things, Ruth???? The belted swimsuit, the plaid pants and peacoat, AND the 501 Levi's! That's a hoot. I LOVED those jeans. :)

  6. This is an amazing post Ginnie. I'm so glad you did this. It's always nice to look back at old photographs and all the memories that come with them. I'd keep tuning in. Happy happy 70!!!!!

    1. Thank you, Maria. I'm glad I did it, too. It's been a great walk down Memory Lane! :)

  7. How fascinating it all is! I love looking at all these old photos. It is also very interesting to see your very large family when I had one younger sister. Boy I recall those wild plaid pants and the "flip" hairdos we wore. But I graduated in '68...the Summer of Love, so we were a tad wilder than those of you in the MidWest I guess. I had an all-girl jug band performing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine! Such a blast these photos. THANK YOU for sharing some of your life with us Ginnie. I sure recognize that smile-:)

    1. The things we remember as we walk down Memory Lane, Susie! You're not far behind me, but, yes, from almost a different era/place. Of course, everything was different for me just by living in a preacher's home!

      Thanks for coming along for the ride. :)

  8. really let us in when you told us you were "Boots!" I love it.

    1. Oh, yes, Susie. My family still calls me Boots...but no one else to speak of. I was Virginia in those early school years, until I went to college...and have been Ginnie ever since (but not to my family).

  9. Just noticed: your Papa looks a bit like Russell Crowe! Wow. What a magnificent project Ginnie, Bravissima!

    1. Russell Crowe. Oh, wow, Susie. Now wouldn't that be something. :D

  10. Oh my I had those glasses from third grade on....this was fabulous Ginnie...allowing us to glimpse your life with these precious pictures...I have precious few of these types of pictures and each is treasured....I cannot believe you are going to be seem so young still or maybe 70 is the new 50. a Gemini woman so I mom's 83rd is the 12th...all in good company!

    1. I never thought about those glasses until Robin mentioned them. HA! Too bad I didn't keep them. But yes, I do suppose 70 IS the new 50, or so I've heard. It does help to be Gemini, however, since there does seem to be something to us all looking younger than we are. I'll take it. :) THANK YOU.

  11. Thank you for sharing this, so in tune with my own meditations. Jane and I spent a part of the winter collecting and organizing photographs and documents related to my Roth-Grossman ancestors and putting it into a self-published book for our children and nieces and nephews. It is one of a bunch of projects similarly inspired. So many thoughts occurred to me as I read your part 1, but I was especially drawn to your discussion of those early photographs. Like you, the inner child I picture is before I was 7. Jane has the only copy of the iconic child me, but there are others of that vintage that serve. It is the face, I now realize, my mother saw when she told me I had her father’s smile, and even though child me was already something of a loner who kept close friends; he smiled a lot and lived in a rich world of make-believe.

    Like you, I disown the me of ages 8 through 12 or 13 when my sister-in-law recalls my eating the tops off the napoleons at her wedding reception. ….and then the journey from the nest begins.

    This May I entered my 70th year and will turn 70 as you turn 71. Like you, I’ve learned that time is finite and life is about trying every day to make something new of the journey. I take pleasure also in seeing that both of my children seem to be finding their paths and living their lives with intensity in their own ways that add to the social fabric that is our humanity. Like you, Jane and I both take pleasure in seeing our grandchild fill out his own place in things.

    At the same time there is the nasty question, what right do we and ours have to so much when so many have so little? Guilt is a wasted emotion. The only answer I have is to make something of what ever you have.

    Thanks for sharing your photo bio part 1.

    1. At only a year apart in age, Ted, we're the same age at this point in time! And I see we're thinking about the same well as DOING the same things, as photographers. Well, the difference is that you're making real books. HA!

      Astrid and I are always talking about how much we have compared to others in the whole wide world, so many of whom have nothing by comparison. I don't know how to reconcile that either. I like your conclusion, that we have to make something of whatever we have.

      Thank you for sharing this journey with me....

  12. Pictures tell more than a thousand words. I sit here and see you go over all those pictures and I see the pleasure you have from this enormous project. Some of the pictures I see for the first time and I smile....
    I have read all the comments and answers and realize that it is so recognizable. Everybody has those pictures with cloths and glasses 'that fit the timeline' and we smile.... You can be very proud of what you did, taking out the most important pictures and make them into a 'fast-forward-mode' project to the present time.....which is 70 years YOUNG, you are young of heart. Looking back on our life we both realize we have a good life (however we don't take it for granted) looking forward to the next post. IHVJ.

    1. Many times I have thought how much fun we would have had if we had known each other from the beginning. But then, who knows about these things. I do think we found each other at just the right time. I like the thought of ending our lives together! :)

      I'm almost done with the second part of this saga, which has some pain and sorrow, as you know. It's not all been a bed of roses is as it is and I am thankful!

  13. It was so much fun to look at you through the years. So many brothers and sisters – 8 of them! I wish I had had one sister, at least. We just were in Florida with the 4 grand children – and I thought that it was a lot of kids … I admire you for going through all these memories and writing them down. My blog was supposed to be about writing about my memories of France but so far I have only come up to my parents’ engagement – still have a lot to write, but then I prefer writing about trips. Going to Peru must have been quite an adventure – I hope you’ll talk more about that someday.

    1. It's been a good undertaking, Vagabonde, and quite a challenge, I must say. I'm not sure why I had the brain fart for my 70th, other than that I really do want it "for the record," instead of the shoe boxes!

      Thanks for coming along for the ride.