Archive for May, 2011

Lady Reading

I don’t know what it is about Moms. They can both puzzle and amaze us at the same time. Take my mother, My Brooklyn Mama, and her obsession with saving product manuals.

The other day I was helping her look for a long-lost document we were interested in looking at again. Our search was unsuccessful. While we don’t think the paper was thrown out, it managed to relocate to that special place where things go when they are put away to be kept safe and sound but are never seen again.

However, we did manage to find every owner’s manual from every product my Mother has ever owned. She even has a file folder with all her instruction books carefully placed alphabetically. Products purchased recently, she’s got the manual. Products from 10 years ago, there’s instructions. Even items from her days in Pittsburgh and California have a manual. She no longer has the product, but the manual remains.

I even found the instruction book from my old Walkman®. For my younger readers, the Walkman® was the precursor to the iPod®. Actually it was the precursor to the Discman® which was the precursor to the iPod®. This got me wondering, even if Mom found the Walkman® and got out her cassettes and wanted to use it (hopefully in private) would she need the user’s manual to figure out how to operate it?  The same reasoning would also go for the books for all the old toasters and can openers.

Recently, she purchased a new DVD player/recorder. There she was filing away the instruction manual. The French one. Canada being a bilingual country you receive two instruction books. My mother does not speak one word of French. When I asked her why she would ever need the French book, she looked at me with that look only Mothers give you and stated the obvious, it has diagrams.

When ever something begins to malfunction, not to worry there will be my Mother, book in hand, ready to help. If only life itself came with a users manual.


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I know I had promised not to get too political in these postings. However, circumstances have occurred that have caused me to question myself. I may be writing this blog under false pretenses. I may not be an American citizen after all.

Recently, as seen all over the news, Donald Trump has called into question the actual birthplace of President Barack Obama and demanded the release of his birth certificate. President Obama eventually held a press conference to display his ‘long form’ birth certificate after the commonly issued ‘short form’ version showing his birthplace as Honolulu, Hawaii still left doubts in “The Donald” ‘s mind.

After looking at my own Pennsylvania issued birth certificate, I now have questions concerning my own citizenship. I know I still would  have obtained US citizenship through my Brooklyn born parents, but I always considered myself a natural-born citizen. The Pennsylvania birth certificate is very basic. Identifying me not as child, but as “SUBJECT”, it’s a small, simple, yellow diploma like document listing only my name, date of birth, county of residence, and that I am female. It makes no mention of how much I weighed, what time I was born, what hospital I was born at or even the names of my parents. I guess I can’t even prove my citizenship that way. Although I’ve always been envious of my mother’s New York and my brother’s California birth certificates with all their details and information, I’ve never felt mine made me less of an American. My birth certificate with its embossed state seal has always been accepted when I applied for a passport or drivers license. It has drawn stares at times, especially when compared to the credit card style of birth certificate some people here in Ontario have. 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Vital Records, this certificate qualifies as valid proof of birth. It should and would allow me to vote, apply for a passport, return to live and work in the USA and possibly, sometime in the future, hold the highest office in the land. Take that Mr. Trump.

I’m interested in learning about birth certificates from other states, provinces and countries. Do you have an unusual or different looking birth certificate?  You can learn a great deal by looking at the birth certificates of your ancestors. What information does yours tell? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.

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