Saturday, July 26, 2014

History in the Closet

There are definitely good things about being a second generation packrat. The clutter can sometimes yield treasure.

I was going through the hall closet this past winter, cleaning out coats to give to a homeless ministry run by friends of mine, when I came across a jacket I didn't recognize. Pulling it out, I saw a Foremost Dairy patch on it, and realized it belonged to my mother's father, whom I never knew.

My mother's mother was the only one of my grandparents still living when I was born. The other three died within weeks of each other a little over a year before my birth. I was an adult when she passed away, so I knew her well. Many of her things, treasure and clutter alike, migrated to my parent's house after her death, and are still here long after my parents are gone. I've always had plenty of little things that belonged to her, or that belonged to her and him, but this was the first time I had a personal tangible connection to him.

It was so cool pulling it out and finding the jacket probably just as he left it. Pa was a driver for Foremost Dairy, and died suddenly from a heart attack while on the job.

There is just something touching about finding out that your grandfather wore a size 46 M.

His name is hand embroidered on the chest. Did my grandmother embroider it?

Stapled inside the coat is a small slip of paper with the number 1640-3 handwritten on it. Is that a dry cleaning tag? Did he leave it in there, or did my grandmother or mother have it cleaned after his death, then hang it in the closet?

Why am I thinking about cleaning the coats out of the closet in January when it's July? A website redesign on Bubblews recently changed the photo platform, removing many pictures and some of the text associated with them, and severely cropping others. Since I had many, many multiple photo posts, I was going through my Bubblews posts looking for damaged posts to repair, and to upload the missing photos to one of my blogs, and found "Time Capsule in a Closet".

The above photo is the uncropped cover photo I used. The one below is a typical 1920s/1930s photo of my grandparents and my mother when she was about two years old.

My brother, Bob Craton, wrote a follow-up article to this one, filling in some of the blanks for me. The website changes chopped Pa's head off in the title photo, and the rest of the photos are missing, but I still recommend reading "Memories of a Grandfather".


Jacket photo (c) 2013 Debbi Craton. All other photos from our family collection.

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