Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mr. Peabody and the Way Back Machine



Jay reminded me today that I was going to post a "Way Back Machine" every Friday. Well, I'm 2 weeks late and today is Saturday, but I'm going to post one now. Thanks for the reminder!

I was remembering cleaning out my mother's house several years ago after I had moved her into a nursing home. You will notice that I didn't say "when she moved into a nursing home." I had to move her - it was an ugly scene and I wouldn't wish that kind of episode on anybody. That being said, she is comfortable there now. She will occasionally bring up to me the fact that I made lots of money from the sale of her house. Another reminder that she is unaware of things going on around her.

You have to appreciate the fact that people who grew up during the depression learned the "value" of things. It's widely known that they rarely throw things away as an adult and my mother was no exception. If I threw away one bottle of glue, I threw away 9 bottles of glue while cleaning out her house. She had rolls and rolls of paper towels. And fabric? Don't get me started. She could have easily opened her own shop.

But I would say one of the areas that I enjoyed cleaning out the most was her den. There was my dad's area (about 1/8 of the room) where he did his drawing and "figuring" as he called it. My father was a carpenter and this was where he drew up plans and figured estimates for people. It was fun to touch the papers and tools he used for his business. Everything was in a neat place and it really reflected his personality.

The rest of the room belonged to mom - and honestly, it reflected her personality as well. Her sewing machine was in there and inside of it housed any color of thread you could want - and not just one spool of each color either. You never know when you'll run out of a color and need one waiting in the wings. She also had a round metal box full of buttons. She bought buttons on cards - and it wouldn't have mattered what she was making, she was ready. That thing was FULL! She had several half-completed projects laying around and lots of patterns in a file drawer. She really was a good seamstress and used to sew quite a bit.

Her desk contained all the equipment she needed for bookkeeping for my father's business. She had a box of yellow sharpened pencils - and I exagerate not when I say there were probably 80 pencils in that box. She also had a huge assortment of pens - and little tablets. I never really had looked through those drawers before, so finding all of these was like opening a treasure box.

One of the things I found was an autograph of Jimmy Durante. If you haven't ever heard of him, google him. He's gone now of course - and I truly cannot remember where she saw him to get his autograph, but I remember she was always very proud that she had it. She also had Jim Nabor's autograph. You know him - Gomer Pyle. Again - google it. :) It's funny to me that this woman from small town USA had two pretty significant autographs.

The prize I found in that room was a photo album with metal covers that belonged to my dad. It had many, many photographs from when he was in the Phillipines in the Air Force. I had never known this album existed before and it made me so sad that it had been there all this time. My father rarely talked about his time in the Phillipines and this would have been a perfect "vehicle" for me to use to get him to talk. As I look through the pictures now, I have no idea who the other men really are. He has some of them labeled with first names, but to hear the stories behind them would have been the best. I wonder why this was stuffed away and forgotten? I'm guessing they didn't think I would be interested in it.

All in all - that room was horendous to go through - but at the same time, probably reflected both of their personalities very well. When it was all cleaned out, it of course made me sad. Not only had a put everything in boxes or in the dumpster, but I had erased a portion of two lives. I did keep the autographs though - who could resist showing off Jimmy Durante?

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