Pirates’ Booty

Yesterday morning I awoke, determined to put my shirt on with the front side facing forward, unlike yesterday when the shirt I wore backwards indicated the nature of my day. I gave a determined look at my cedar chest, and decided I was going to jump in with both feet.

My grandmother gave me the cedar chest when I graduated from high school. She and I walked from her apartment above the bakery about a half a block to Brenner’s Furniture Store. There, we looked at their selection of cedar chests.

I believe cedar chests have gone the way of the raptor dinosaurs. In fact, I don’t ever hear anyone talk about preparing their daughters’ hope chests. For that’s what it was. It was designed to be filled with mementoes of my life, and things to bring into my marriage. Maybe it was a midwestern thing.

To be perfectly frank, I never really liked my cedar chest. Fifty years ago, when I picked out my chest that would hold all of my treasures, dark wood and leather were all the rage. The chest indicates the dictates of the time. Somewhere along the line, the leather top was damaged. As I recall, I set a hot iron on it. Not good. The dark wood is a magnet for dust.

Anyway, true to its purpose, it holds 50 years of precious memories. Included with the chest, my grandmother gave me a couple of sets of pillow cases onto which she had crocheted beautiful lace. She also gave me several pairs of booties and a couple of baby sweaters in neutral colors of green and yellow that she knitted. My son never wore a single one of the sweaters because the sweater arms were disturbingly long and the booties would have fit a 5-year-old. Plus, in 1980, when Court was born, babies weren’t really wearing booties. They were wearing Baby Jordans.

But I was determined yesterday to open up the treasure chest and rid it of some of its contents.

The smell of cedar hit my nose immediately. The chest was filled to the brim with memories. I was determined to be brutal. But as I perused its contents, I was surprised at the number of tears I shed. I had forgotten everything that I had put in there over the years. Stupid things. For example, I saved every one of Court’s report cards from elementary school. (Hmm, I don’t remember him having those not-so-good grades in conduct.) I also saved every class photo from the same years. I have his high school diploma, along with his graduation cap. Oh, and his cub scout uniform, still stiff as ever.

I’m hoping he doesn’t read the post today, because I plan on bringing all of those things over to his house sometime in the next few days. He may toss everything, and I wouldn’t blame him. However, I don’t want to make that decision.

I did decide to toss the yellowed newspaper clipping and faded banner from my days as the Sweetheart Queen of my high school. I threw away graduation announcements from my nieces and nephews. I glanced at and then discarded cards from Bill’s and my wedding.

Buried deep in the bottom of the chest was a sad-looking silver cup with Court’s date of birth engraved on it, its uselessness apparent because it was smashed flat as a pancake. It took me a minute, but then I remembered it came from his great grandmother on his father’s side, a person he never met. In fact, I never met her myself. I hope I remembered to send a thank you note.

I worked for several hours, and then grew too weary to continue. Memories can make you tired. I will continue tomorrow.

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