Janet Hommel Mangas: Tips for old photo invitations

Well, it was time — clean-out-the-six-drawer-office-desk time.

I bought my sturdy walnut desk for $100 as a single 20-something woman in the 1980s. There must have been a for-sale ad in the Daily Journal or some other paper, many years before Craigslist was founded and FB marketplace was a twinkle in someone’s phone. On the bottom of the center drawer reads, “This desk loaned to Howard County Civilian Defense Council, 218 W. Walnut Street, Kokomo, Indiana.” Someone had written “By Continental Steel — 7-1-42.” Under that there is stamped “DEA.”

The plan was to start and finish the little chore the weekend before the new year and start out fresh — but there are always distractions. Work, playing with my grandson, going for strolls with the husband, cleaning up gardens on sunny winter days … reading.

And here I am two weeks into 2023 with only three neatly sorted drawers. The problem is, over the years, I have kept little scraps of paper, mementos, souvenirs of my life — just in case I died early. I wanted my daughters to know I actually served and did some good in my life. I wanted to leave them some detective-like clues in case the hubby forgot that I was a talented woman before I was a stay-at-home mom with baby spit-up on my padded shoulders (remember it was the late ’90s.)

For example, I have kept a Mt. Pleasant Christian Church youth group pocket fold-out activity calendar — from 1996-1997 — with a cartoon that I designed and had printed for the first youth minister These were handed out to all the students, so they’d know when student groups, Bible studies, and high and middle school church activities were and where; before websites and cell phone, we used paper.

I know you readers are shaking your heads and mumbling something like, “Poor woman,” but hear me out. At the time, Aly was 6, Chloe was 4 and Phoebe was an infant — if I got hit by a low-flying plane while taking out the trash, what would they know about me? I have never been a great cook. I hadn’t taken up gardening yet. My writing was sidelined because, well, I had three littles. I left them clues, so they could find out about me, just in case of that low-flying plane incident.

Having safely taken out the trash without incident for 33 years, I have easily released more clues to the recycle bin. And yet there are many I have kept, so I can remember, love and cherish those moments. Special notes from family and friends and hilarious letters from my mother-in-law Carmen — those are kept in a big wooden letter box.

I did realize that I had excessive duplicates of photo invitations to Chloe’s graduation (12 of them) and Phoebe’s bridal shower (also 12). So I’ve decided to keep only two and am now sending them by for 10 successive weeks as notes to the daughters — that way they can’t say they don’t want the extra copies, I won’t be wasting paper and I will be supporting the U.S. Postal Service by buying 60 cent stamps. You’re welcome for this great idea.

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to [email protected]