Sunday, October 19, 2008

So, What was in that Box?

Well, it's been nearly 5 weeks since Denise Levenick issued a Treasure Hunt! A Challenge for Genea Bloggers so I should have had plenty of time to open and explore the contents of the box! But, as always it seems, time has gotten away from me and the box was still sitting in the same spot, unopened. Until last night.

I didn't really expect to find any valuable treasures within, but I'll admit I was a little surprised. It's been a little over two years since the box was packed up, and memory can be a funny thing. Just get my mother and her four siblings together telling family stories and you'll get five different versions of the same event! But I digress. Back to the box.

After cutting the tape and pulling out the crumpled newspaper that was used as a filler, the discoveries began. On top, several magazines, from the 1960s and 70s, in very good condition by the way, especially considering that they would have traveled with me to every duty station while I was in the Navy.

  • Kennedy And His Family in Pictures by the editors of Look. No date on the cover but one of the inside pages has a copyright date of 1963. It probably came out the week after his funeral. I was a sophomore in high school. Inside the pages was a "First Day Cover" envelope issued by the post office on May 29, 1964.
  • Flying Saucers was another special edition by the editors of Look, copyright 1967.
  • Apollo 11: On the Moon was a Look special edition that came out in late 1969. Sunday, July 20th, 1969 10:56:20 P.M. Neil Armstrong declared "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind." My youngest brother was graduating from Navy Basic Training at Great Lakes that weekend. Mom, my sister and I were there to visit him and spent some time glued to the television screen in the motel room.
  • There is life on the Moon. . . was a publication of Pace magazine in August 1969 and includes essays from Arthur C. Clarke, Wernher von Braun, Ray Bradbury and eight other scientists and science fiction writers. It was billed as a "down-to-earth" look at space.
  • Prizewinning Pictures from Life's photography contest was published on December 25, 1970. I was stationed at Norfolk, Virginia and pilfered this copy from the station library, where I was working at the time. I was hoping to get into the Navy's photography school.
Next up was a mess of cards, letters, photographs, and travel pamphlets. Just tossed in the box haphazardly. Most of the cards and letters are still in their envelopes. Birthday cards (predominantly that 50th milestone), along with notes from cousins and aunts. I haven't sorted through them yet to determine whether I want or need to keep them. They will temporarily go into another box for sorting at a later date. With the travel pamphlets were post cards and souvenir brochures, all from our trip to Mississippi and Louisiana the end of June and into July of 2003. Pascagoula, New Orleans, Monroe, Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee.

Beneath that mess was a sheet of cardboard. At first I thought I had reached the bottom of the box but then realized I'd only gotten halfway down. Lifting the cardboard revealed, what else, but another box! Measuring 9x12 and 4" deep.

I totally do not remember this box! It may have been packed up when we sold the farm house in 1997, but I'm thinking it may have been earlier, back when I quit my job in Fort Wayne in 1986 and put all my belongings in storage for a year. Regardless, these are my treasures, rediscovered!
  • My birth certificate, issued in 1969 to prove my age for joining the Navy. Why is it a treasure? It includes my mother's maiden name. Current birth certificates issued by the state of Indiana no longer have that, they just have the mother's first name.
  • Several "at a glance" calendars from 1972, 1978, 1979. With sparse notes but enough to jog the old memory about certain events.
  • Letters. Letters that I thought had been lost. In a way, I guess they were. Being boxed up for 10 or maybe 20 years. Most appear to be from my time in Japan (May 1977-May 1979) and through school (Indiana State 1979-1982). From family, and from friends long relegated to the back recesses of my mind. I opened several, but they are all going back into the box for now. I'm just not sure I'm ready for the flood of emotions they are bringing back. Long lost, found again. These letters won't be making it into the pages of this blog!
Personal treasures partially revealed, to be put back for yet another day. I can only wonder what will happen to them after I'm gone. Who will be the one to re-discover them then and what will they think? The question becomes, for me, is this: Do I really want someone else to find some of the letters? Taken out of the context of my life their true meaning is lost. And, as with most discoveries more questions will arise than will be answered.

So, there you have it. Are my treasures valuable? Intrinsically, yes. Monetarily, no. But as a family researcher, where does their real value lie?


M. Diane Rogers said...

Well, they are mostly valuable to you now, to jog your memory at least, but I would guess some of your treasures will be fascinating to those you'll leave behind someday far in the future, Becky. Don't 'delete' them all, even if you don't want to share everything.

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

When the time is right enjoy a trip down memory lane. Don't destroy any of the letters without giving it lots of thought. I am blessed to have the glimpse into the lives of aunts, uncles and cousins that I previously knew nothing about.

Anonymous said...

I should put all of "my things" in a special box. What a good idea. In that way, my children will see what was important to me. I have things, Becky, that belonged to my grandmother's brother and his wife. They had no children, and I'm delighted to have them and to know about the couple through the things they saved. . . . and yes, they include letters. Keep them!

TK said...

Well, here's my 2 cents' worth: I remember a big hot session with me, a huge pile of old correspondence, and a fireplace. Wish I hadn't done that!