IMAGINE MY SURPRISE WHEN I FOUND CATHERINE MAY SHUMAKER’S BABY BOOK – WITH MY MOTHER’S BABY DATES ENTERED IN MY GRANDMOTHER’S HANDWRITING!
The little book, which measures 4-1/2 inches by 6 inches, is padded with a tightly packed cotton batting, and covered with silk moiré fabric. The fabric has become frayed over the past 9+ decades. I think the silk was probably originally white, but has aged to a taupe color. Painted onto the fabric is a blue ribbon and pink flower design.
In case you’re wondering what moiré is, here is a description from Wikipedia:
The term originates from moire (moiré in its French adjectival form), a type of textile, traditionally of silk but now also of cotton or synthetic fiber, with a rippled or “watered” appearance. Moire, or “watered textile”, is made by pressing two layers of the textile when wet. The similar but imperfect spacing of the threads creates a characteristic pattern which remains after the fabric dries.
In French, the noun moire is in use from the 17th century, for “watered silk”. It was a loan of the English mohair (attested 1610). In French usage, the noun gave rise to the verb moirer, “to produce a watered textile by weaving or pressing”, by the 18th century. The adjective moiré formed from this verb is in use from at least 1823.
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Catherine May Shumaker’s Baby Book
Here are photographic scans of all the pages of Catherine May Shumaker’s baby book. Some pages don’t have personal entries, but I’ve included them anyway. That way, you’ll have the complete book if you choose to print the images on photographic paper to save for yourself (hint hint). Put them in page protectors in a ring binder the way that Catherine used to do when giving us the images that she wanted us to have.
As soon as I saw this baby photo on the first page, I knew that it was Catherine’s baby book. I’ve seen other photos of her as a baby wearing this huge bonnet!
Catherine Edna May Shumaker’s handwriting on these pages makes the book even more special!
May 11th 1927.
We’ve found a blessed Baby
That in the night-fall came
All unannounced from Heaven,
Without a card or name;
The angels must have brought it here
For us to love – Our Baby Dear!
Place of Birth
522 Dabney Ave.
I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn.
Of course, I had to google “522 Dabney Avenue, Vicksburg”. The house is still standing, on the corner of Dabney Avenue and Oak Street, and about a block from a railroad track (Vicksburg Southern Railroad) that runs along the Mississippi River.
Here are some screenshots:
Catherine May Shumaker
Now that we claim it,
What shall we name it —
Rosiest, cosiest lamkin Pet?
Best of all titles we’ve heard of yet.
At birth 7 lbs. 4 oz.
1st week 7 ” 12 ”
1 month 9 ” 12
2 ” 11 ” 00
3 months 12 ” 12
4 months 13 ”
5 months 14 ” 2
6 ” 15 #
1 year –
Every grain of gain is noted,
Every scratch of the scale so fine —
What’s the use when the precious bundle
Far outweighs a rare gold mine!
2 Months 23 inches
4 Months 25 “
Measuring Baby, that bundle of sweetness,
How can one measure such measureless charms!
Ne’er was a baby such pink of completeness
Rose-cheeks, and sweet eyes, and fat dimpled arms.
David Jesse Shumaker
Catherine Edna May
Better a home with a baby,
And floor all littered with toys,
Than one that is empty forever
Of childish prattle and noise.
Mr. and Mrs. Geo. W. May
Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Shumaker
It were a noble tree
To shoot forth such a bud.
“Silk shoes and supporters”
Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Walter
“Dress” from Mrs. Womack
“Cap” from Mrs. F. Finkie
We bring thee gifts, so rare and fine
Wrapped with a love that is all thine,
But the gift thou givest, precious elf,
Is costlier far — thou givest thouself.
“Mr. and Mrs. C.W. Walter” were Charlie and Annie Melissa Parmenter Walter. Annie (who later changed her name to Anna) was the sister of baby Catherine’s grandmother Ada Parmenter May, which made her the great-aunt (“Aunt Anna”) of baby Catherine. Anna was born in November 1888 in Lamar Colorado, and so was eight years younger than her sister Ada.
Mother told me one time what “suspenders” were, but now, I honestly have no idea. I know that I’ve seen those silk booties somewhere among my mother’s things, but don’t know where they are now. When I run across them, I’ll put a photo of her actual ones right here. In the meantime, here’s a photo from https://www.1860-1960.com/xs0494p0.html of what they look like:
I found “Mrs. Womack” online. She was Dorothy Lou Guin Womack, married to Frank Hugh Womack, Jr. (May 31, 1901 – June 2, 1975). The Womacks had a baby also born in 1927, Dorothy, who later married a man surnamed Crawford. The younger Dorothy’s gravestone lists her birth/death dates as June 19, 1927 – October 14, 1997. A son was also born (late) to Frank and Dorothy Womack, Frank “Sonny” Hardiman Womack, who was 68 years old at his death in 2011.
“Mrs. F. Finkie” was Eloise Leach Finkie (January 19, 1902 – November 15, 1963), who was married to Fred G. Finkie (January 16, 1889 in Germany – June 9, 1966). The Finkies also had a child born in 1927, Mary Elizabeth Finkie. I also found, in Vicksburg’s Cedar Hill Cemetery, Viola M. Finkie (June 22, 1925 – March 14, 1926), who may also have been a child of Fred and Eloise Finkie. Eloise was from Utica, and it’s possible that Catherine and David Shumaker knew her from when they lived in/near Utica.
Baby’s First Laugh
30 July 1927 –
What sound can have such music
As thy sudden laughter bright?
What words can have such meaning
As thy murmurs of delight?
Baby’s first Outing
June 4th 1927 –
Hear the birdies singing,
Listen what they say —
“Here’s a new, new Baby
Coming out to-day.”
I wonder where they went on little Catherine’s first outing?
First Short Clothes
Come, fold the long white robes away;
Baby’s to wear short frocks to-day.
During the times that little Catherine was born, all babies, boys and girls, wore long gowns. Only after they started creeping, were they dressed in shorter clothing, so that they could creep around without tearing up or tripping in their long gowns!
Baby’s first Picture
14th Aug. 1927
Here a dimple, there a dimple,
Rose-leaf flushes peachy pink;
Surely not a charm is lacking —
Baby’s perfect, don’t you think?
I wish the actual picture were there, not just the date. Catherine is standing on her own in the one at the beginning of the book with her wearing the bonnet. Hopefully, I’ll find one that looks like it was taken when she was about three months old. If so, I’ll add it right here.
Baby’s first Party
All homage to the King, this day of days.
For he holds his court and seeks thy praise;
Each tribute fair he will requite
With crows and gurgles of delight.
Baby’s first Word
Sweetest music, soft and clear,
In the stammering word we hear;
Gladdest sound of human voice,
Making mother’s heart rejoice.
Baby’s first Step
April 25th 1928
Two little feet so small, that both may nestle
In one caressing hand —
Two little feet upon the untried border
Of life’s mysterious land.
Catherine lacked about two weeks of being a year old when she took her first step.
1st tooth arrived when she was 6 months and 11 days old.
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.
A dreary place would be this earth
Were no little people in it;
The song of life would lose its mirth
Were there no children to begin it.
– N.P. Willis
Be sure and let me know how you enjoyed seeing Catherine’s Baby Book! Thank you for reading.