Swallowed Up by a Sea of Childhood Treasures

I remember being about 10 years old at my grandma’s house. There was an older lady who lived up the hill from my grandma whom my cousin and I would go visit from time to time. She lived in an old farmhouse all by herself and she was a hoarder. I had only stepped into her house once and at that time you could really only walk a few inches before being roadblocked by a huge stack of newspapers and a tower of milk jugs. Like I said, I was only 10 years old but even I knew this was beyond any mess I had ever seen.

Even though she wasn’t a housekeeper she was a very nice lady and strangely enough on one particular day I was visiting she took me with her to shop for a trailer to put on her land because she could no longer get into her house. Afterwards she took me to the local A&W stand for a hotdog and root beer and it was quite a lovely afternoon.

I often think of that dear old lady as I watch my own house filling up. I don’t save newspapers or milk jugs and you can usually find a path through our house, but the amount of stuff I save for my children is slowly engulfing our house. Someday I fully expect to be swallowed up by a sea of artwork, favorite toys and beloved baby clothes. If we had a big enough property I might actually consider buying a trailer to put in our yard to store it all and really that is just insane.

Instead of parting with all of this childhood nostalgia I just continue to add to it and with that comes more storage containers for it all. Our house is filled with tons of antique trunks and boxes holding all of these treasures and this past weekend I had to make one more:

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter's treasures

The trunk I made this weekend for my daughter’s treasures

I also made a box for one of my daughter’s friends who is having a birthday this week. I figure we can’t be the only ones who need storage containers:

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A box I made for my daughter’s friend

And as I sat working on that trunk to hold more of my daughter’s treasures I pondered our whole storage problem and how we could have accumulated so much stuff and how many more years I have left in their childhoods to grow their collections. It’s really quite mind-boggling.

Even though I realize this problem; it apparently never truly sinks in because the very next day this is what I had my children do:

My kids painting huge canvases outside

My kids painting huge canvases outside

Someday, I will be that lady taking a visiting child to shop for a trailer with me because I can no longer walk through my own home. Afterwards I will take them for a hot dog and root beer and it will be quite a lovely afternoon.

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The Girl and Her Shoes

“Oh Tony, I don’t want to go to school anymore. I can’t go. I won’t go.” moaned the young girl walking with her cousin down the dusty dirt road leading to their school.

Tony asked why and the girl explained, “It’s these shoes and socks Grandma makes me wear. The kids all make fun of me. All of the other girls have the shiny Mary Janes and the pretty, white anklet socks. Grandma says I have to wear boy shoes and the thick cotton socks because they hold up better.”

Tony listened with his head bent down as his cousin went on with her laments about her terrible shoes and socks. When she was done he spoke up with, “I’ll buy you those Mary Janes and some anklets.”

Tony

Tony

The girl’s mouth turned up at the corners and her eyes lit up momentarily until the realization that Grandma would never allow it hit her. Grandma would certainly make her return them. She expressed this to Tony who instantly said, “Well, Grandma doesn’t have to know. We will keep them under the bridge. Everyday on your way to school you can just change out of your old shoes and socks, put on the new ones for school and then exchange them again at the end of the day.

So that is what they did. Tony bought his cousin those beautiful shoes and anklets. Everyday on their way to school they would stop under the bridge and retrieve them so the girl could put them on. After school they would stop once more at the bridge so the girl could find her old shoes in their hiding place and replace them on her feet. The Grandma was none the wiser.

The girl and her Grandma

The girl and her Grandma

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If you think that those small acts of kindness that you do for others don’t mean anything; you are wrong. They have the potential to impact someone’s life greatly. You may not get a thank you card. You may not see the benefits with your own eyes. You may never give a second thought about that small kindness that you did. More than likely though; you made a difference. Maybe the girl I mentioned above would have quit school. Maybe her self-esteem would have been shattered. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected her at all. I don’t know.

What I do know is that girl walked into school from that day forward with her head held high. She went on to live a very long life with a husband and 8 children. That girl is now 73 and she told me this story about those shoes. She is grateful for it to this day. She said Tony has always held a special place in her heart. That girl is my mother-in-law.

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

The girl always wore fancy shoes in later years

There’s History In Those Love Letters Part II

I wrote a previous post about my Grandparents and shared a love letter my Grandpa sent my Grandma. I have another one to share with you today.

My maternal grandparents started courting in 1936 when my Grandma was 17 and still in high school. My Grandpa was 23 and had a teaching job in a one room school house a few towns away from where my Grandma was living.

My Grandpa in his school room in 1937

My Grandpa in his school room in 1937

Even though this is when they started dating they knew each other since they were children because they grew up in neighboring farm houses. My Great Grandma never liked my Grandpa but I don’t know why.

My Grandpa’s Mom, Alice passed away on January 9th, 1936 leaving her husband, my Grandpa and a young daughter Bonnie to live at the farm on their own.

Even though I don’t know for sure, I would think all of these circumstances play a part in my Grandpa’s following letter to my Grandma. I mentioned in my last post that my Grandparents did not express their love outwardly but this letter truly proves that my Grandpa was a very sensitive, emotional man and loved my Grandma very much.

My Grandma Charlotte's Senior Picture

My Grandma Charlotte’s Senior Picture

March 17, 1936

Dearest Charlotte,

Well I hope you are not disappointed in finding this letter is from me instead of some other guy.

I got home o.k. last night, but I had to get up and get breakfast. Ruby and Art didn’t come back last night. Bonnie and Dad were back sick this morning. And I felt so darn blue I cried all the way to school.

It is noon now and have I felt mean this forenoon. I bet the kids think I am terrible. They have all gone out of the school house; because they are afraid of me I suppose. I wish you were down here; I would have you make out some tests for me. Not only that but I would just like to have you here. You seem to make my heart beat faster, and I feel as though it should.

I have got to take Dad to Readstown to-night. I think I will mail this then if I don’t forget it.

Gee I wish I could come up some night this week, but I am afraid I can’t. I have got to go to bed more and redeem myself for things I have been doing. I can just imagine what your mother thinks of me.

Well I know what I think of you any way. I think you are the sweetest darn kid I have ever been with, and I was never so darn crazy over anyone in my life. But the question is just what do you think of me. I have thought a lot about it and have come to no definite conclusion.

I shall be expecting a letter from you; if I get it I will be surprised and if I don’t I shall be disappointed.

Write Soon

With Love

Eddie Heal

Love Letter

Page 1 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

Page 2 of Love Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To read the first love letter click here!

A Gumball for You and You and You

My children often ask for some change so they can get a gumball out of the candy machines at the exits of stores.

I rarely have any money on me as I am accustomed to paying for everything with a debit or credit card.

The other day when we were exiting the grocery store they asked if they could get a gumball. I quick answered “no” because as per usual I knew I didn’t have any quarters in my purse. I then stopped and remembered I had a dollar bill in my wallet. I walked across the length of the store over to the customer service desk. I waited in line. I asked the lady behind the counter for 4 quarters in exchange for my dollar. She gave them to me and then the kids and I walked back across the store to the gumball machine.

I did this because I remember.

I remember being a little kid and going to The White Store with my mom. It was a clothing store in our town. It was kind of a fancy store.  The smell of new hit you when you walked in. The floors were carpeted in a plush dark green. The walls were papered with gold and cream stripes. All of the clothes hung perfectly organized and straight on their racks. The mannequins wore perfectly assembled outfits fit for a glamorous girl ready to go to work or out for the evening. In the middle of the store was an elaborate glass showcase filled with beautiful jewelry. The store clerks were always eager to show you a tray of rings or help you find the perfect bracelet.

I hated this store. It was so boring to me to have to walk around and look at clothes. It was torture to have to be quiet and not run around. Admittedly, we did not shop there too often. It was only when they were running sales or someone in the family needed something for a special occasion.

In my eyes there was only one good thing about an outing to The White Store. I always knew on the way out my mom would let me get a gumball from the little red machine sitting in the entrance way. I remember the gumballs had the word FORD printed on them in white. I always wondered why. I remember always hoping I didn’t get black and more times than not I ended up with black. It tasted like black licorice. I would have rather had the purple one with the grape flavor but I never complained. I was just happy I got to turn the crank and hold my hand out waiting for the gumball to roll down the tunnel.

So that is why I walked across the store to retrieve some quarters for my kids. I hope someday they remember the times their mom gave them each a quarter so they could turn the crank and watch the gumball travel down the chute and then place a gumball so huge in their mouth that they could barely close their lips around it. I hope they remember they got the good ones; the purple with grape flavor.

1984 My Dad and I all set to go to the Father/Daughter dance. I'm wearing a dress from The White Store

1984 My Dad and I all set to go to the Father/Daughter dance. I’m wearing a dress from The White Store