Purses and Impressions

June 3, 2010

Aren’t the impressions we have of things as kids funny? And later, when we learn how off we were, isn’t that funny too?

For example, when my son was little he thought his great-uncle Ken was Watertown’s claim-to-fame astronaut Dan Brandenstein. He thought this because Uncle Ken had emphysema and toted a portable oxygen tank.

Or, when I was little, I often heard my grandmother Ruth speak of her brother Carl and his wife Maybelle. Because Carl and Maybelle lived in Chicago, I never remember meeting them. But being a young, impressionable Michigan girl, I assumed Maybelle was Mabel, from Black Label Beer commercials.

(By the way, this week, would have been Carl’s birthday. He was born June 6, 1906.)

Perhaps my most profound, yet disappointing, misconception was of my grandmother’s sister Charlotte. Before I can ever remember meeting her, Aunt Charlotte sent my sisters and me glamorous gifts such as party dresses, umbrellas and little white gloves. She also regularly attended the Ice Capades and afterwards would send us the program filled with pictures of beautiful skaters wearing flowing taffeta gowns.

Now, I wasn’t much of a girly-girl back then so the flowing gowns weren’t that important. But I did have this sense of Aunt Charlotte being an Ice Capade. When I finally got to meet her, I remember feeling greatly disappointed because she was just like every other old lady. I may have even thrown a temper tantrum about it, which supposedly was common for me at the time.

In retrospect, when I first met Aunt Charlotte, she couldn’t have been old at all. She was was born May 21, 1921, and was twelve years younger than my grandmother.

Unlike Carl, who was never part of our lives, Aunt Charlotte involved herself very much with the younger generations. She had no children of her own, but she had money and time to spend. She adorned us with the most impractical and delightful fluff. That’s where the previously mentioned little white purses come in, also the purse pictured above.

In Aunt Charlotte’s view, the little white purse was as much a needed fashion item as the little black dress. I could easily supply a boutique had I saved all the purses she sent during my childhood and young adult years (before she gave up on my sense of style). Obviously, my disregard for their value was another of my off impressions.

How about you?

Do you still have your purses?

What funny ideas did you have as a kid?

I had always thought this was a picture of Carl Hooge (Ruth’s brother). However, now that I know more of history and dates, I’m not so sure. This looks like a military uniform, doesn’t it? Yet his age doesn’t coincide for either World War I or II.

Ruth also had an uncle named Carl Hornburg. Perhaps it’s him?

This picture was taken during the “Charlotte-is-not-an-Ice Capade” visit, circa early 1960s.

Seated from l-r, Charlotte (Arendt) Matz Prischman, Emma (Hornburg) Hooge Arendt (Charlotte and Ruth’s mother) and Ruth (Hooge) Larson (my grandmother).


10 Responses to “Purses and Impressions”

  1. Buck Says:

    I still have two purses from Great Aunt Charlotte. One that was given to me when I was about 8 or 9 yrs old (My girls always want to play with it). And another more adult purse. Both are stashed in my cedar chest. Cayla just wore a Great Aunt Charlotte dress a few Sunday’s ago. It was given to Lauren when she was 4 yrs old. Cayla appreciates the frilly lacy stuff more than I ever did…but she’s a princess!

  2. Terri Says:

    I still have the purse I was Suppose to carry at my wedding. I was lucky enough to remember to toss it in the box of stuff going to church. So, I guess it did get carried at my wedding…

    That is Uncle Carl in the picture. He was in the army during WWII, serving as a German interpreter. (as told by Grandma!)

    • Buck Says:

      Mom always said that was Uncle Carl (grandma’s brother) too. I didn’t know he was an interpreter though. I heard during the wars they took men of all ages who could speak the languages, so maybe that explains the age thing.

  3. Dave Says:

    I think Carl was about 36 when he was drafted – which was the maximum WWII draft age limit. I thought I remember hearing a story that he was in an anti-aircraft gunnery unit while in England and he disliked the English military because they didn’t bother shooting at the German bombers but let them fly past until they reached US military installations. Carl followed the war across Europe and was in the Battle of the Bulge.

    • adunate Says:

      Dave, how interesting! Imagine the things he must have seen. He never had any children so his stories, if he ever talked about them, probably died when he did.

  4. adunate Says:

    Oh my goodness…look at Carl’s picture…it’s a cleft chin! No wonder we’ve got it, it’s on both sides of the family!

  5. Lori Says:


    I still have a beaded white purse Charlotte gave me. I did use it for my wedding; after that it has never seen the light of day. It still has
    Aunt Charlotte’s penny in it.

    • adunate Says:

      That’s right! I forgot about the pennies! Very important to mention…she always put a penny in the purse. Thanks, Lori, for the reminder!

  6. joel amos Says:

    From what Grandma told me, Carl was known as “Grandpa” during WWII because of his age. She said that he was in the Battle of the Bulge which is when the Germans started a major conter-offense around Christmas time in 1944.

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