Scanning Around With Gene: Lasting Love

This column usually focuses on printed pieces that were designed to be public: advertisements, magazine spreads, letterhead, decals, and so on. In this installment, I’ll look at something very private: a scrapbook, more than 50 years old, filled with mementoes from a couple’s short life together.

An Edited Life
Scrapbooks are not a complete look at life, but rather an edited one. Some are the result of compulsive types who chronicle almost very detail; others show only a small glimpse in time. Some are the result of romance at least one party wants to re-visit. These can be the hardest to look at as an outsider — it can feel like a violation of privacy. Such is the scrapbook I recently picked up at a swap meet, which belonged to Edgar and Josephine, a young married couple from Oakland, California.

“Ed” and “Jo,” as they called each other, were married in 1939. She was 22. Since most of the contents of Jo’s scrapbook are in the form of greeting cards, I have to piece a few things together. There aren’t a lot of comments, newspaper clippings or official documents to fill in the blanks. Rather, Jo saved those items that were a gesture of affection, either from Ed or friends. And she had many. Click on any image for a larger version.

Ed was a man of few words, but he chose his cards carefully. Here, from 1941 and 1942 are Christmas cards to his wife, signed simply, “Ed.”

For their anniversary in 1940, Ed sent this gem to Jo, along with a small newspaper clipping that he placed inside.

A year later, Ed bought a card that was much bigger and had a more romantic sentiment. I don’t know if it was given at the same time, but Jo saved a dried orchid on the same page, marked with the caption “my first real orchid, 1940.”

The next Valentine’s Day, Jo gave this card to Ed, along with the greeting, “You are my love.”

When Jo went into the hospital to have her appendix removed, she received several get-well cards. Here’s the one from Ed, which came with a bouquet of flowers.

In 1943, it appears that Ed went to war and was stationed in Hawaii. This card arrived by military mail from Honolulu. Jo saved the envelope along with the card.

It’s difficult to determine the next sequence of events, but it appears that the card above is the last one Jo received from her husband. Ed didn’t make it back to Oakland.

Next came the sympathy cards for Jo. And that is where the scrapbook ends.

Yet even after the crushing blow of the death of a spouse at such a young age, people go on. Here’s a picture that was simply stuck in the back of the scrapbook, which shows an older Jo working as a waitress at a small diner.

Love Knows No Boundaries
My topic choice was inspired by the recent passage of California’s Proposition 8, which amends the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman only.

Two people truly in love have a connection outsiders can’t understand. I believe this bond exists between any two people, not just between a man and a woman. And to me, it is that connection that defines a true marriage. To suggest that the bond between any two people is not as “official” or as “real” as what is between other people is narrow-minded and heartless.

Today, Ed and Jo could be Ed and Joe. Regardless of their chromosomes, if one of them was lost in battle, the heartbreak felt by the other wouldn’t be much different than that suffered by the Jo of this scrapbook, all those years ago.

Posted on: November 7, 2008

Gene Gable

Gene Gable has spent a lifetime in publishing, editing and the graphic arts and is currently a technology consultant and writer. He has spoken at events around the world and has written extensively on graphic design, intellectual-property rights, and publishing production in books and for magazines such as Print, U&lc, ID, Macworld, Graphic Exchange, AGI, and The Seybold Report. Gene's interest in graphic design history and letterpress printing resulted in his popular columns "Heavy Metal Madness" and "Scanning Around with Gene" here on

21 Comments on Scanning Around With Gene: Lasting Love

  1. I guess the democratic process and the results of a free vote mean nothing to you? if the results where the other way around and people started protesting and causing violence and lawsuits you would flip out screaming homophobes ( even that name is offensive as I do not fear them in the least!) Gene keep your idea of morality to yourself. I had to listen to your subtle rants pushing your political views also. This is a website for creativity and graphic artists to get tips and information not listen to the rants of someone who uses this site as his personal soapbox.
    Well guess what after being a member since the beginning of this site and buying from its advertisers… I’m out of here and going to spread the word also.

    Thanks gene! Nicely done…. You are a sore loser…
    “a bird may love a fish but where do they make a home together”

  2. I have to agree with Andrew K. Gene, your political and moral views have no place in CreativePro. Not only do I find them without value, they minimize CreativePro as a resource for the people in the creative industry that don’t want a homosexual agenda pushed upon them. Sorely disappointed in your “editorial” content. Stick to Photoshop tips and techniques.

  3. Thank you, Gene, for sharing this touching account, and for reminding us all what, exactly, marriage is really about.

    Such issues as human dignity and the right to live one’s life without harming others should never be considered for a vote. No constitution should ever be used to deny any right. The very purpose of a constitution is to ensure rights may not be abridged by governments or other groups. And one of the very reasons for our three-party system of checks and balances is to ensure that any majority may not impede the life, liberty, and happiness of any minority. The court is doing exactly what it was created to do when it overthrows laws created by legislatures or majorities to restrict the exercise of liberty of others.

  4. well said! it disheartens me that people in this day and age are so narrow-minded.

  5. At first I was wondering where you were going with Prop 8… and then I see all the husband and wife stuff and I’m thinking, “No, he isn’t, right?” And then you tied it up in the decent, moral, open-minded way that anyone should.

  6. First off, scanning with Gene has never been about Photoshop tuts. It’s always been Gene’s bloggish opinion on some old stuff he found. It just happened to step on YOUR agenda’s toes this time. If you were the KKK you would probably have a problem with his suffrage article he did last time.

    2nd. C’mon guys, part of being a creative is being open minded. If you’re stuck in a black and white box, your work can’t be very impressive. Maybe you would be more suited for a different line of work.

    3rd. As far as the democratic process… I don’t have respect for it when it’s paid off by the Mormons.

    4th. Legislation isn’t supposed to inhibit the inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness. And, really, everyone knows that the gay marriage controversy is founded in religion and homophobia. Both of which have no place in the government that America’s forefathers intended.

    This isn’t a political issue, it’s a social and moral issue that isn’t black & white enough for the government to put their hands in it, just because the zealots are stampeding.

  7. Marriage is the term associated with the union between two people of opposite sexes and even if one doesn’t wish to define it from a religious viewpoint of it as being a sacred act, why do some people with odd inclinations wish to defy the laws of nature? So, if two people of the same sex want to share their lives together as the very best of friends, and with the legal securities such as inheritance, property rights, etc. that are associated with traditional marriage, I’m quite certain that most competent corporate lawyers could frame the required ‘articles and memorandums of associations’? Gene, I’ve enjoyed reading almost all your previous stories, but this one is kind of messy, huh?

  8. Seriously, if Andrew K is so easily offended that he will stop coming to Creative Pro b/c of a scanning around with gene article, then I feel sorry for him. You don’t have to agree with Gene, or even read his article. Just come here for the parts you like and skip this column. Gene doesn’t give out tips anyway! Personally, I find his article a nice breath of fresh air every friday at the end of a long work week! Bravo Gene for the 5 minute break you give to all of us that is usually a fascinating look into the past (just loved the station wagon post).
    My wife and I find it sad that during this historic election, this ugly issue reared its head again. Certainly, our marriage is not threatened if a gay couple were to get married as well!I hope one day that this will no longer be an issue just as the glass ceiling of a minority or woman acheiving the highest office has been shattered in this election.

  9. I agree with your comment about looking into someone’s intimate life through their memories and memorabilia. That’s what the best stories are all about, and this story had parts of all the best: love, tragedy and continuance. It was a wonderful peek into the life of a couple who obviously loved each other a great deal, and whose love was cut short.

    As far as tying it into your political views, I don’t have any problem with that. If I disagreed with you I could voice that, if it offended me I could tune you out (neither of which I did). However, I don’t have any patience with the “I’m going home and taking my ball with me” whiners or people who think a “professional” forum should present a sterile list of information. At least you know you pushed some buttons, which in any mature person would be reason for self-reflection, not lashing out.

    Your articles are about life, and that’s why I read them. If you stuck to “Photoshop tips and techniques” I could find that data in a million other places.

  10. combsdesigncorp

    November 7, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    And to think you don’t even have to be married to feel that connection!

  11. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your posts is because you make them ‘personal’ and link emotion to the ‘professional’ aspect of design. We’re not robots here, we are human beings- with glorious imperfections and timid emotions.

    I believe firmly that love knows no boundaries.

    Quote from The Monicker: “Legislation isn’t supposed to inhibit the inalienable right for the pursuit of happiness. And, really, everyone knows that the gay marriage controversy is founded in religion”


    I feel no person has the right to tell me who I can and cannot love, share my life, my wealth or body with. Regardless of sex, ethnicity or creed.

    A poem I live by:

    It was MY CHOICE by chance or curse
    to adopt the cause for better or worse
    and with my worldly goods and wit
    and soul and body worship it.

    Edgar Allen Poe

    Keep on doing your thing, Gene.

  12. I am saddened by the name-calling (“sore loser”) and tone of retribution in the first post. Gene took nothing from you.

    I had a sense of where this was going from the very first line, and it was a subtle and eloquent case for the notion that people should not suffer a loss of rights based merely on who they love.

    As for the suggestion that an attorney could draw up a contract equivalent to marriage, even such a contract would not compel a hospital to permit visits with an ill or dying partner, or the survivorship of social security benefits, nor (for that matter) the obligation to endure the exigencies of divorce upon a decision to part ways.

    Thanks, Gene, and kudos to Creative Pro for standing behind you. You’re the #1 reason I visit the site, and I see the other articles etc. principally because of you.

  13. I have to agree that the creativepro column is not an appropriate place for Gene to express his views on gay marriage. I am so tired of the intolerance of those who think men should be allowed to marry men (and women, women) toward those who don’t. Those of us who hold the opposing view are called all kinds of names and put down as “narrow-minded”. Society is expected to redefine a major cultural institution and people with convictions based on the teachings of Moses, Christ or Mohammed are supposed to deny those convictions because people of the same sex want to have sex and marry.

    I think the reference to “stampeding zealots” is being applied to the wrong side. Tolerance works both ways. Have tolerance for those who respectfully disagree with you and respect our right to vote our conscience.

    Another thought based on Monikers remarks: The framers certainly did have religion in mind when they founded this nation. Just read it:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    Religion has no place in government? If we are not created, are we still equal? I’ve heard a convincing argument that the American constitution stands on very shaky philosophical ground if, in fact, we do live in a godless, materialistic universe.


  14. Thanks, Pamela, for a calmer and better-reasoned reply. We don’t agree with one another on the policy, but you have my full agreement regarding name-calling.

    Two thoughts:

    – Regarding the role of CreativePro, I can understand those who say “this is not the forum”. But Gene’s column has always stood to one side of the nuts-and-bolts aspects and has inhabited its own remarkable place. The “Scanning” editions are the ones I always make time for, even as I follow the heated battles between serif and sans-. In my view, his column makes this a far richer (and more creative) forum, and this very discussion is testament to his impact. I am reminded of his personal stories about raising his wayward nephew, and other columns that have gone far beyond reminiscenses about graphic layout in the auto club industry. Those are the ones that really stick (although, strangely, that auto club magazine one has stuck with me, too). I would far rather see him stretch the boundaries than to muzzle the best thing Creative Pro has going.

    – If the Constitution were static, the “he” you refer to would truly be “he”; women still would not vote, among other things. Our society evolves through creative discussion and sometimes conflict. And while the framers were largely religious folk, they did ensure that ours is not a theocracy.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  15. What a beautiful story/illustration by Gene Gable…! The heart of his message is precise, considering what Californians had to endure w/ Prop 8 this past Tuesday. These “Scanning Around w/” and regular informative articles by are always a puller, and this latest scrapbook story by Gable really, really pulls me…! Wow… qbk

  16. I have to agree that this IS an appropriate forum, as “Scanning Around With Gene” has always been as much about Mr. Gable’s personal views and remembrances as it has been about the images he presents.

    Do you have to agree with Gene? Absolutely not. But please don’t hand me that tired routine about “professionalism”, when the only reason that the issue comes up is because some people disagree with Gene’s personal views.

    I love Gene Gable’s column, in part, *because* of his ability to inject a personal perspective – not in spite of it.

    As others have noted: If Gene’s personal views offend you, either just view the remarkable images he presents or skip this feature entirely. You certainly have that right.

    I’m very impressed with for its its willingness, even encouragement, of features such as “Scanning Around With Gene”. Such cosmopolitanism is the main reason I have been an ardent reader for all these years.

  17. Nothing like hitting up a controversial topic to get the comments to flood in, huh?

    I love your column, always have, it’s the only reason I ever come on or log in to CreativePro. I’m always very curious to see what new theme you’re going to discuss this week and am always pleased with the images, designs and commentary.

    I love your column, and this article in particular brought a tear to my eye. Thank you Gene, for being unafraid to voice your opinion, in this land – the land of the free.



    “We are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.
    – President-Elect Barack Obama


  18. @Arthur Pazo:

    “…why do some people with odd inclinations wish to defy the laws of nature?” And so in that phrase, it is obvious that your opinion is founded in misunderstanding and intolerance. If someone is to engage in an activity that through your (I find) “odd” moral “inclinations” you have decided that people that engage in certain acts and feelings that have absolutely nothing to do with you, have “odd inclinations,” that “defy the laws of nature.” Explain why nature creates such defiant people, you don’t define nature, nature defines itself.

    @Pamela Poll

    I completely admit… {hangs head} I have intolerance for intolerance. Would you call someone who opposes racism “narrow-minded” because they think that racist are scared ignorant people? Or one who openly opposes any other bigotry for that matter?

    And as far as the constitution and religion. This is the definition of religion to which I am referring: An institution to express belief in a divine power. It is obvious that the framers (at least some) believed in a creator, but believing in a creator does not make you part of a religion. There is no place for the bureaucracy and political policies of religious authority in the government, and that has always been clear. America was founded on religious freedom.

    And the founding fathers… heh. George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson (who created the “Jefferson Bible”), and Benjamin Franklin. All were anti-clerical or anti-organized church. To quote Benjamin Franklin… twice:
    “The bell calls others to Church, but itself never
    minds the sermon.”

    “Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    Oh, and how about one of my favorites for the road:

    “It is the fist responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”


  19. @ Gene: Thanks for another fine article. Extraordinarily touching and nostalgic.

    @ arthurpazo: Same-sex pair bonding is common in nature, from fungi up to primates and everything in between. Do your research before spouting noinsense.

    @ The intolerant and close-minded (you know who you are): How about keeping YOUR morality to yourselves? A bigot is bad enough. But, there’s nothing worse than a preachy bigot.

    It is not our place to tell other people how to live or love. Yet, Prop 8 seeks to do just that. It is discrimination, pure and simple.

  20. Scanning Around with Gene is one of my favorite features on CreativePro. it’s always a pleasure to see the artwork you’ve found and shared, Gene, along with your personal perspective.

    Marriage equality matters for many reasons, but here are three that relate to my life as a professional designer who is gay:

    1. California businesses will lose an estimated $125 million each year as a result of the ban on marriage between gay people [Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law]. That’s thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenues that those who voted for the ban have lost for all Californians. This definitely affects creatives, particularly those who work in the wedding industry and related industries that weren’t counted in the estimate, such as tourism, restaurants, hotels and travel.

    2. I’ve lost business on one occasion that I know of, when a client read an article I wrote about marrying my long-time partner in San Francisco in 2004, then losing our license a few months later and reverting to domestic partners. It’s complicated because the CA Civil Rights Act correctly outlaws discrimination in employment. But client relationships are so important in our business, and that client wasn’t comfortable working with a gay person. It hurt my feelings a little, but I’m actually OK with it. I don’t accept work related to weapons, and while my marriage doesn’t hurt anyone the way weapons do, I understand personal preference.

    3. My partner and I married again this year. We were then able to change retirement benefits from my first career so she will continue to get them if I die first. We were in the process of changing our insurance so I don’t have to pay Workers Comp for her to work in my business, as sole proprietors who are married do not have to pay WC for their spouse. That dropped the workers comp rate I pay for my single employee and our overall insurance rate. We still pay double to have our taxes figured out, as we have to file joint in CA but single for the feds. Anyone who tells you domestic partnership or civil union is equal to marriage is misinformed or lying. There are a zillion little gotchas like these.

    Anti-gays like to talk about activist judges, but the CA Supreme Court is predominantly Republican, and they applied the most stringent legal standard before deciding the ban on marriage between gay people that was placed in our state constitution in 2000 by another voter initiative (also funded by the Mormon church and a few others) deprived individuals of liberty and equal rights protected under the constitution — exactly the reason the ban on inter-racial marriage was declared unconstitutional and struck down in CA sixty years ago.

    The opinion for the court written by Chief Justice George specifically rejects tradition as a reason to exclude gays from “the most socially productive and individually fulfilling relationship that one can enjoy in the course of a lifetime.”

    Now our marriage is in jeopardy once again, but we have every reason to be hopeful that gays will eventually have the same right everyone else has (including criminals) to be married.

    Terre Dunivant

    San Luis Obispo, California

  21. Many undoubtedly wondered when they’d see the first gay couple on the Newlywed Game. Well, it turns out that the first gay couple on the Newlywed Game is famous – the pair being George Takei, and his husband Brad Altman. That’s right – Mr. Sulu started things off. The Game Show Network will air the episode in the fall. The show has been around since 1966, has been reincarnated several times with host Bob Eubanks, and was created by Chuck Barris, the host of the Gong Show. Of course, the bigots hate the first gay couple on the Newlywed Game, and perhaps they should go to a payday lender and find something to do.

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