I’m headed back to the attic today. It’s a steep ascent, one it’s hard to imagine my parents having climbed at all as they aged, much less bearing the swollen boxes they toted up over the years. But tote they did, well into their 80s, sometimes making it only as far as the dusty bank of shelves that runs alongside the staircase. The stuff of these shelves represents a variety of eras, and is often laughable (see egg carton remains). In fact, I can hear mom now, kicking back with her fresh copy of To the Lighthouse (Woolf was a particular favorite) and chuckling at our labors. It is Our, by the way. We’re a small village up here. Otherwise, this project would be endless, so here’s a shout-out to my sister and sisters-in-law, my daughter and nieces. We get by with a little help from our friends, and along the way we laugh, a lot.
So put away the tissues and come on over to the lighter side, the pack-rattier side, where my mother reveals her true hoarding colors, and proud of ’em. At left, Exhibit One: A swim cap. My mother liked to swim, sort of. At low tide, she was wont to pull on such a cap to wade knee-deep into the sunny Atlantic as my father floated just beyond. Now and then, she took a few free-style passes through the gentle waves, but the last time I witnessed her taking her lady-like dip was in the early 1990s. Yet here we have a nearly new cap, tucked in its original Jantzen bag, along with the receipt (from Atlanta Beach?!?) because who knows when one might be inspired to fetch down such a treasure for return. It might have gained value!
Above right, Exhibit Two: A cardboard pear crate, its compartments jammed with miniature toiletries pilfered from any number of hotels and motels around the globe, their lotions and shampoos gone stiff and gummy with age. Taped on the lid is a note that reads “Travel Cosmetics” in my mother’s neat cursive. Oh how she loved to travel, and were she still doing so today, she’d have no trouble getting her carry-on through security.
Final Exhibit (for today) and perhaps my favorite: Stacks and stacks of old catalogues–Calico Curtains, Pierre Deux (ooo, la, la), and Hanes’ Underwear. Did my mother prefer Hanes? The jury is out. Certainly Maidenform bras, generic girdles and flannel PJs populated her lingerie drawers, but these were jumbled drawers. A Hanes’ cami could very well have been in there somewhere.
Well, I’ve developed a case of the sneezes and the recycle bin is full. The Christmas card collection will have to wait. I’ll leave you with one last gem–the program from one of my brother’s Pop Warner football tournaments (in 1954!). With four boys in the house, there were lots of sports being played. Mom wasn’t much of a fan, but it seems she was paying attention after all, and keeping up best she could.