Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thrift Attic to Basement: 1931 Certificate

I'm an avid reader and lover of books. Given the right story, I can get lost for hours.  So when I was digging around in the basement and came across this certificate, I couldn't help but smile.

It is my Grandpa James Jones' First Grade Reading Certificate, dated for the 1931-1932 school year.

The photo doesn't show as clearly on blogger as I would like, but it reads:

Wisconsin Young People's Reading Circle
Primary Certificate
for the school year 1931-1932
This certifies that James Jones, a pupil in 1st. Grade, Bryant Graded School, Langlade County, Wisconsin, has satisfactorily read the following books, which are on the list of books of the Wisconsin Young People's Reading Circle for the school year above named, and is therefore entitled to this TESTIMONIAL of MERIT.

The ten books my Grandpa read are listed in his teachers cursive hand:

"Surprise Stories"                                            "In Toyland"
"Happy Children l"                                            "Boys & Girls at Work and Play"
"                       " ll"                                            Can't decipher...something "Boys"
"Wag and Puff"                                                "At the Farm"
"Book of Pets"                                                  "Toy Town"

Given at Antigo, Wisconsin, this 6th day of March, 1932.

It is then signed by his teacher Helen and principle Maud.

One of his listed books
Many of these books have really simplistic titles, so I'd have to do a bit of research to figure out the precise ones he read. I keep wishing they had listed author names, too, but that's getting a bit thorough for a first grader I suppose....although, this plaque is pretty serious! It's certainly the most formal 1st grade certificate I've ever seen.  I especially love the line, "for the school year above named" and the way "TESTIMONIAL of MERIT" is in all important caps. My young, first grade Grandpa must have felt prepared to go read aloud to a king after receiving a certificate like this!

It would be something to go back in time and tell little boy James, that in March 2011 someone will be writing a public blog on his March 1932 certificate, wouldn't it? That's the way you get a kid to read ten books weekly! If not for the future publicity, the poor thing would research for years trying to learn what a blog of these books must know! Or, more likely, he'd just shrug--Mom's gonna frame this, I'm good for the month!

I liked learning that he went to school in Antigo. When I was growing up my Grandpa and Grandma had a beautiful home in the woods of Pickeral, WI and we used to go out to dinner and run errands in Antigo.  My Grandpa traveled around a lot, lived in Rio for awhile, brought my mom and her two brothers up in Milwaukee, WI. But, I like that the town he went to school in corresponds with the thoughts I've always had of "Grandpa's house." James Jones, Antigo, he was always right where all my memories are.

Framed Photo also found in Basement

My Grandpa is a bit older than 1st grade here, 5th perhaps?  He lived on a farm when he was young and often needed to get up at about 4 am to do his chores before walking the miles to school.  In this photo he has sleepy eyes, and I can just imagine what a struggle it was to focus in class each day.  He was extremely cute though, and was a handsome man his whole life.  I'm the only one who was lucky enough to get his bright blue eyes, the rest of my family has hazel or brown. 

I lost my Grandpa Jones to a car accident when I was in 4th grade.  My brother and I were very close to him, and learned a lot from him in that short time.  He had an unbeatable charisma about him, and a childlike heart.  I will miss him always...

It makes me smile to come across these things; he's still telling me stories.
I plan on hanging this plaque by my bookshelf.

Have you ever uncovered something of sentimental value in an attic or basement, something you hadn't known was there?


  1. Lovely post! So great to have a wonderful grandfather you can carry around in your heart . . .

  2. what a sweet and interesting little find. 4am to do chores before school... we've been learning about pioneer days here, and the kids were shocked that back then, people did work BEFORE breakfast. we're spoiled rotten, stumbling down to our bowl of cereal while still in jammies. it sometimes feels like it was a whole other world, but it really wasn't all that long ago.

    thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  3. Jo- I really was given a wonderful grandpa, he taught me how to make maple syrup, how to fish; even hook my own worm, and took me camping, hiking, horse back riding, swimming...the list goes on.
    He was an amazing man and led an amazing life; I myself can't imagine doing the amount of truly hard work he had to do, it really is a completely different world today. I don't think my Grandpa ever slept in! It is crazy to imagine, Ana!

  4. You can definitely see the family resemblance! A really special find...!

  5. Such a fabulous find! What a wonderful treasure and peek into a past life. I'm currently researching my family tree and recently managed to look through all the old family photos and documents that my great aunt has kept over the years, it never ceases to be thoroughly fascinating to me! x

  6. What a great tribute to your grandfather!

  7. What a great story. I love things like this and how you appreciate your history and have treasured these memories. Thanks for linking up to my Share the Love party!

  8. what a great find, indeed. i love finding this kind of thing. found you through ana's friday archive dive.