When I was little. my grandfather had this box. It wasn’t very big. Grandma had her own box just like it. It was Grandpa’s habit to break that box out when I was a little boy and empty out its contents on the coffee table. There were old straight razors, fountain pens, tintype pictures, old letters, even horn buttons. Grandpa would pick up each item and as if it were a cue to the start of a story. He would launch into the story of the person who’s belonging that was. he would hold up a fountain and begin to tell a story of my great grandma. how she was a telegrapher, how as a boy one summer she was stationed at the top of the Bright Angel Trail of the Grand Canyon. he told of riding the mules to the bottom of the canyon how wonderful the old cowboys had been to him. the things he learned. and on and on. I could just picture my Great Grandma sitting there tapping out messages or scribbling down an incoming message with that old fountain Pen. I could go on and on about the Razors the cavalry aged mess kit spoon. the old pocket knife with on broken blade and the ivory handles. Pictures of my Grandpa young and in the United States Coast Guard during World War 2. It really was a treasure trove of things and memories and stories that could keep a boy occupied for hours.
Like I said my Grandmother had her own too. Pictures of horses they had taught to sit and bow and count, group pictures on the farm yellowed with age of her and her family. what I remember the most is the thick sheaf of letters from a Great Uncle I never got to meet because he died in the Hedgerows of Normandy. Reading those letter that were tied to together with a bit of string I got to meet a man I never knew. Grandma while sharing them smiled, laughed and ultimately cried for her best friend and brother from childhood. With fresh tear stains on them the letter’s were bundled back up, the string bound around them and they went into the box. Today we have so few special things like that. what a hole in our history we will have without those tangible precious letters, those yellowed pictures. The fountain pen and those Razors that were used so long they took on the character of the person who owned them.
I think of those things often. and I think about the age we live in now. our emails that once read disappear into a virtual box where message after message buries them forever. Once read never to be read again. The pictures that live on a computer or our mobile devices that we don’t think important enough to print out. Time and technology as well as upgrades will rob us of those moments. Our disposable world will prevent our children and loved ones from having that tin box to show our grandkids if we don’t make a point to hold fast to them and make them tangible .