A Mouse Machine & Mrs. Topp

I forgot that I had this picture and article about Mouse (Move Only Under Spring Energy) competition that my daughter, Ife (smiling in the middle of photo 1) participated in as a middle school student. Unfortunately I can’t put my hands on a photo of her contraption but you can see one of them created by Mr. Bigford.

Article from The Lake County Star, about 1988.
Article from The Lake County Star, 1986.
Mrs. Topp reminded me of the woman in the prompt in this photo. Unfortunately she’s not riding in any sort of contraption.

Mrs. Emma Davis Topp roomed with Moses and Jean Walker, after her husband died in 1912. Her husband, John W. Topp was twenty years older than she was. He was an engineer, a black Canadian who arrived in Detroit at age 17 in 1875. My grandparents, Mershell and Fannie Graham were also roomers after their marriage in 1919. Mrs. Topp was born in Mississippi and attended school through the 8th grade.  She was working as a dressmaker in 1920.  By 1930 she had moved to Los Angeles, CA and was living with her cousin and aunt. She was no longer working and lived the with her cousin until she died in 1948.

My grandfather Mershell Graham and Emma Topp in the Walkers yard. 1919.
My grandfather Mershell Graham and Emma Topp in the Walkers yard. 1919.
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30 thoughts on “A Mouse Machine & Mrs. Topp

        1. I’m pretty sure she’s not reading this and I don’t believe she had any descendents. I’m sure she can hold her own. What’s the male equivalent of a battle-axe?

          1. I’m not sure there’s quite an equivalent, but I can certainly think of far worse terms for stern and domineering men. For me anyway, the term “battle-axe” has always been used with not just a little respect for the capable women who dared to hold their own ground in a male-dominated world, and I always think of the matron in the school hostel where I boarded as a young lad.

  1. That’s what all of us stout over 50 ladies look like when we put our corsets on and look firm. Actually, even when we smile as she is definitely smiling in photo #1.

  2. The composition of the 1st Mrs Pott photo is interesting.Her body language is quite open & generous.Proud of the building she stands in front of, but willing to let us share the viewing of it.(although,for all I know, she might be packing a pistol behind her back!)

  3. Both elements of the post were intriguing. Your daughter’s smile is great and I loved the acronym “mouse.” Now Mrs. Topp did indeed have the pizazz of the lady riding on the contraption and I liked getting to know her — made me remember the lady on the contraption was a real person too. Nice choices.

  4. I think Mrs Pott had a lot of sadness in her life; I’m sure she was lovely really!

  5. The MOUSE contraption idea is wonderful. The kids must have had a great time preparing and presenting.

  6. Mrs. Topp looks like she’s just waiting for the kids on the stairs to make a wrong move. That smile would give me the shivers if I was one of them.

  7. You are absolutely right, there is a clear resemblance between mrs Topp and the woman in the prompt photo. As for the MOUSE competition, what a wonderful idea.

  8. Was the mouse remote controlled. These days it would probably be by Wi-Fi. Mrs Topp would be one not to ague with, I’m sure. Shame she had no descendants.

  9. Pictures can say so much. This is what I see in both pictures. Although, in appearance Miss Topp looks stern hands folded behind her back, there is a slight smile, showing that Miss Topp was probably a dear heart. The way she is wearing that hat (which I like) shows that she is fashion conscious. In the second picture, I laughed out loud thinking, just look at Miss Topp with that fox fur? , no one would dare run up to her pulling that fur from around her collar for animal rights.

  10. What a great acronym for a competition! I think Mr Jax might use this with his scout troop.
    My nephew would have got right into it too.

  11. Actually I’m thinking Mrs. Topp is probably wearing quite a contraption when you think of the undergarments women used to wear.

  12. Ah, I remember these competitions. fun times!!
    We had something similar here, as they still do nowadays.
    Mrs Topp had great posture!!!

  13. The MOUSE competition reminds me of the OM competitions (Odyssey of the Mind) my girls participated in during Middle School. It was amazing to see how creative kids were.

    I like Mrs. Topp — and a great name for a fictional character. That coat looks like it would keep you very warm on a cold day.

  14. I’ve known a “Mrs Topp” at times during my life and they always had a heart of gold regardless of their looks. The poor dear. Just look at her hemline.

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