Sep 15, 2017

Fritter Franks & So Much More

Yesterday I spent most of the day on my overdue family photos, documents and records project.

After going through my first hurricane, the experience was significant motivation to get started. Hopefully a storm like Irma won’t happen anytime soon. If I have to evacuate with my most cherished possessions, the boxes won’t fit in the car.

When I moved to Jacksonville last year, I packed 11 boxes of photos albums, documents, letters, recipe cards, newspaper clippings, diplomas, etc.  Wednesday I moved them all to the kitchen table area and got started. Maddie and Morgan and Alexa my wonderful companions.

Yesterday for 6 + hours I reviewed, sorted cataloged and recycled. I made decisions on what is being saved, shared, what will be converted to digital files. And yes it’s true that even in an already curated collection of what was saved over the years, there were still many, many photos of landscapes, churches, monuments. All those are now recycled.

JoAnn de Arosemena 

What surprised me, how emotional the process is; how a worn, yellowed recipe card or a piece of paper with my Mom’s signature, how these simple objects can in seconds get the memory movie reels in my head and heart going on overdrive. I cried, I laughed, I remembered, I cherished.  And thanks to WhatsApp I texted photos of the photos to my siblings and niece and nephew. 

Little Roger 

JoAnn Catherine & Tia Elena 

Some photos I don’t remember. I found one dated July of 1958 where I’m in the photo, sort of. My Mom was a few months away from my October birth that year.  And there she was in the photo pregnant and I was the baby yet to be born.

My Dad & Ana, Fabio Arosemena(Great-Granfather) & Roger, My Mom
July 1958, Panama City, Panama 

The Fritter Franks recipe card, I can’t begin to describe the visceral reaction that recipe card evokes when I see it.  Fritter Franks for us as kids was such a treat. My Mom used to make a big mess frying them up, they were worth every minute spent cleaning the stove top afterwards. The Fritter Frank corn dogs are so good, if you don’t believe me try the recipe.  It’s basic and it’s a classic.  

I found my DAD’s application for employment to join the medical staff at Barstow Hospital. That document 47 years old, not sure why my DAD saved the application, I had never seen it before. I found a letter dated July 2, 1951 from a professor, Charles L. Coolahan, from Georgetown University, where my Dad completed his undergraduate studies. The letter is addressed to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, it is a letter of recommendation for my DAD’s application to be a Fellow in Surgery at Mayo, One of the paragraph reads:

"Rare, at least in my experience, is it to find a student who combines hard work with a keen intelligence; but to possess both of these qualities and a good, strong character and a pleasing affable personality, as Dr. Arosemena does, is a mark of great distinction. Possessing an affable disposition, one would expect to find one considerate of others, their desires, their opinions, their tastes, and this is very true of Dr. Arosemena. He is a perfect gentleman."

I’d never considered my Dad as a student, the letter describes him in great detail, the professor had known him for 8 years. The letter is 66 years old, the onion skin paper holding up well. It certainly has yellowed it is now the tone of sepia. The font used, American Typewriter, the text single spaced.   There are a handful of other letters, some handwritten to my Dad by his Father, Rogelio and his Uncle, Justo Arosemena – they are absolute treasures.  I’m saving these for sure.

The oldest photograph I found, 101 years old.  It is a portrait photograph of Elida Arias Perez Arosemena. She was the mother of my Grandfather Rogelio, she was married to Fabio Camilo Arosemena.

The photo is inscribed with a dedication from Elida to her Mother and family, and it is signed and dated, London, July 1916. Yes London, England. From recent documents I've  read, Elida died in Cannes, France, in May of 1918. She was 49 years old.