March 18, 2014|
Strangers in the Box
I have talked with several persons this past week and they, as I did, took advantage of the snow days this month by going through old boxes and cedar chests that held family treasures. Old family letters, family photos, birth and/or death certificates and wills were found, as well as squares ready to be sewn and quilted. An old autograph book from high school, a wedding scrapbook that held a corsage and wedding announcement, congratulatory letters and cards from people from the couple's past, and more photos, these being of persons with no name, no address. There was a doll from the past, baby shoes, a small comb and brush for a baby, a crocheted sweater and cap to match. One can't throw these items away without totally going through the items and papers, and this is what takes so long cleaning out the boxes and drawers. What do you do with them?
Many people will immediately give them to family members, while others will bequeath them to family members or special friends. Other people who do not have family members who would appreciate these items will share them with the Historical Center, a donation of treasures with provenance that is very much appreciated by our staff and eventually by the public. Each item is inventoried, preserved, and will be accessible to the public in a display or family file. These items or "strangers" found in a box or drawer or cedar chest tell a story of the past, sometimes our own past.
One of these persons who has been going through her family letters, family research, family photos is a friend of ours, Lisa Smith. Lisa has been doing genealogical research for years, and she loves to share her research and what she has found on her family. The Center has been the recipient of some of her findings, photos in particular, of what she has found during those snow days. Genealogy is to share, and Lisa truly believes this statement. She has given me permission to use the following poem, something that she found during one of those days. The author is unknown.
Strangers in the Box
Come, look with me inside this drawer,
In this box I've often seen.
At the pictures, black and white,
Faces proud, still, and serene.
I wish I knew the people,
These strangers in the box,
their names and all their memories,
are lost among my socks.
I wonder what their lives were like,
how did they spend their days?
What about their special times?
I'll never know their ways.
If only someone had taken time
to tell who, what, where, and when.
These faces of my heritage
would come to life again.
Could this become the fate
of the pictures we take today?
The faces and the memories,
someday to be passed away?
Take time to save your stories,
seize the opportunity when it knocks.
Or, someday you and yours
could be strangers in the box.