The Almost Daily Thread

musings from the blue chair

My winter project – 2017

on January 11, 2017

To go through, sort and organize a box of letters collected from the home office of my Uncle John, retired newspaper editor.

Uncle John died in 2007. In our disassembly of Uncle John’s favorite area’s of the house, the basement and his office/library we discovered…well, we discovered Uncle John was rather a pack rat. Not a hoarder. He had discriminating preferences!

Very notably, Uncle John collected books. Lots of reference books and biographies and books about Kentucky. Books whose information is now readily, immediately available online- at the push of a button or the statement of a command.  Articles that he cross referenced to other articles and books he had read. A newspaper man’s legacy.  (Ah, what will happen to the love and connection of the turning of a page.)

Uncle John also collected oddball stuff like swizzle sticks, matches, parts of clocks. He had one glass jar labeled “the tiniest nails on earth.”
He saved stacks of paper’s from Hazel’s, his mother, who taught him everything he knew about saving stuff. “Save it, it might be worth something someday,” I can hear her say, as plain as if she were right here beside me.

Also, we found a box of ephemera from his first wife, Janet, who passed in 1975. Her baby books, high school yearbook. On my.

After Uncle John’s passing, my sister and I spent many months visiting Carolyn, his widow. On “Tuesday nights with Carolyn” after dinner, we organized the paper and personal belongings, pilfering, plowing, crying, grieving, laughing with wonder and curiosity at our findings. I came home with 9 Rubbermaid tubs, full. Many of these items were returned to the Cincinnati Enquire for their archives. Two winters following I sorted from the late 1800’s to digital. Ten+  3-ring binders later – it is archived!

Except for this small box of personal correspondence gathered from drawers and files. Some of the letters are written to Uncle John. Many are copies of letters he wrote to others, particularly Aunt Mary. He retold many family stories and reported on his life in general.
This winter I will open the box and sort and organize. I will cry and laugh as I read and experience the calm, curious, humor and opinions of my Uncle.

I had hoped to share these moments with Carolyn and rehear the storied through her voice, but I waited a winter too long. Carolyn died at the grand age of 97, having only retired her high heels for 5 years!

My procrastination to dive into this project (which is much smaller than the first one) has found it’s way to the kitchen table for completion this is the winter.  I approach my project with fresh grief and one of the first pieces of paper to fall out of the box is Carolyn’s acceptance speech and the newsletter from the Cincinnati Junior League announcing her designation as Carrie Nowland Sustainer Award!  She notes in the speech that she, Carolyn, is the same age as the Junior League.  so, wish I could share that with her.

So, Carolyn and John, as I review a few of our years together in letters, I am so incredibly grateful for for the lessons, the memories, the meals, the stories, the books, the editing, the Grater’s, the blueberries, the impatiens (restarted from reseeding from 1956 to 2007), the blooming of the Cereus  and…and…and…

Your written memories will soon be in linear order. I promise!

 

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3 responses to “My winter project – 2017

  1. Leslie Gallaher says:

    You are so good about organizing all that. Want to come here next?

    Like

  2. Sara says:

    Beautiful! So many memories in their house. They will be missed by many.

    Like

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