Friday, January 3, 2014

Memory Lane

Dad and I spent yesterday looking through boxes of old photos and memorabilia that he's saved through the years. He kept what seems like every greeting card we ever gave him, along with his old Boy Scout uniforms and his baseball mitt. He has a heavy brass plaque from a sundial that once stood at Camp Emerson in Idyllwild, Ca., dedicated to the memory of his father, a local scoutmaster. The sundial was done in by vandals long ago, but someone sent him the plaque.

He also has several carousels of slides from a trip he took to Europe with three high school friends in the late 1950s -- they steamed across the ocean on a freighter, and wandered through England, France, Italy, Switzerland and beyond. We hauled out the slide projector and the viewing screen and went through some of the slides last night. It's so strange to see my father, who loathes travel and who can barely bring himself to cross the bay to St. Petersburg to visit the dermatologist, standing in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower in super-cool black sunglasses and a beatnik beard.

He has a hilarious cigar box filled with paperwork of dubious value, like receipts from his childhood paper route, listing all his customers and how much they prepaid for their subscriptions.

I hope it's comforting for him to look through all this stuff. He says he wants me to know what's there. It's a bit unsettling for me given the circumstances, but not unpleasant, and it is great to hear the stories. I only hope I can remember them.

(Photo: A roadside cafe in Lutz, Fla.)


  1. The important part is the telling-of-the-stories. Of course. As you know.
    How odd we humans are in what we keep. That which is of such deep meaning to ourselves so useless and meaningless to anyone else in this world. Speaking strictly for myself now.

  2. when my mother finally moved to go live with my brother (dad had died years before), which lasted about 6 weeks before he put her in a family home because she needed 24 hour care, my sister and I went through all her stuff. my sister and her husband were going to move into the house and so we had to dispense and dispose of all her stuff. she had kept every card she ever got, every gift tag off every gift she ever got, every letter she ever got. the cards and letters I can understand, but every freakin' gift tag?

  3. You are making some great memories! You might have to preserve a few of those slides!

  4. That is so cool that your Dad kept receipts and little insignificant paper memorabilia. You can make a great collage out of them and frame it. I think that is such a good idea I intend to do that with my Mother's report cards.

  5. Whew! I'm all caught up now!

    So sorry to hear about your dad's health problems, & I'm so glad you're getting to spend some good time with him. Last Christmas my dad took me down to his office to show me where his will and life insurance policies are. VERY unsettling! But he's in great health (at 73) & will probably outlive me.

  6. I just caught up re. your family/dad and, having just gone through something similar this past year with my mom, I hope things go easy for all. My mom is now in a care center and when we cleaned out the house, it was unbelievable. I finally got to see my mom's wedding pictures...she had never brought them out...even when my dad was alive. Go figure! We are a strange bunch!

  7. Sounds like a bittersweet experience. I'm so glad you're there to go through your dad's stuff.

    Will we be allowed to see a pic of your dad in cool shades at the Eiffel Tower?

  8. I love stories -- always loved when my parents would tell of their growing up. It's so weird when we are reminded of their personhood as opposed to their parenthood, right?