Monday, March 15, 2010

Poppa's Basement

I have been Down in The Basement. This will be of no interest to anyone who has not been in my father's basement but for those of you who have, let it be noted that there is one pick-up truck less of Cr*p down there and the re-surfacing of two items of wonderment. To wit:

My grandmother Lizzie's trunk was the repository of all her worldly possessions when she, along with her family, emigrated to Canada from Scotland in March 1912. This trunk went "below" and has her name painted on the lid. It currently houses my grandfather Poppa Joe's WW I uniform (kilt and tunic which The Jr Boy is laying claim to), some of his letters to her from overseas, a lot of photographs of people we don't know, my mother's report cards, and a lot of books including some in French (we are all Anglos). Lizzie died very young (it feels odd calling her my "grandmother" when she was only in her early 30s) and Pops the summer before I was born. The trunk was moved over here in 1963 if the newspapers in it can be believed and my mum, with me hanging over her shoulder, looked in it briefly then. It must have been still too soon for her as it was closed back up and relegated to the corner under the rest of the storage shelves and other stuff too good to throw out such as the cabinet record-player which has been down there since 1966 were stacked in front of it.

In the same corner was Gran's "cabin" trunk although I doubt they were in any cabin. I don't remember ever seeing this but it must have arrived in this house the same time as the big trunk. It, too, has photos and a collection of newspaper clippings (mostly garden so we know where that comes from!) and a small black case which, when opened, turned out to be a presentation "to Lizzie on the occasion of her emigrating to Canada, 3 March 1912" It is her toiletries case all fitted out with bottles and holders for combs and brushes (all gone - probably used up by her magnificent auburn hair). There is a mirror, miraculously intact, and when I opened it, the sense of looking a very long way back surrounded me in the dust of the basement. Four generations of women in my family hold her name; when The Jr Girl is next back this way, I will ask if she wants to have a look in the mirror.

The load of cr*p was delivered to the dump.

The dump is not as entertaining as in the old days when it was a prime place to sight in one's guns on the rats in between watching the human scavengers circling the arriving vehicles in hopes of a major score of old bicycle wheels, slightly cracked dishes or a saucepan that only needed a bit of welding in the bottom to make it as good as new. The new dump has a weigh scale and a Free Store with a sign that reads "Maximum One 15 Minute Visit Per Day" which is better than the one at the old dump that used to read "No Scava Gin" leading my brother to ask in seriousness if other kinds of gin were ok? There are employees who help/supervise if they aren't busy pushing the buttons that make the cardboard compactor go. I kept dad from saving a few "good" things by threatening to leave him at the Store for longer than 15 minutes.

There is more down below. This is going to be an ongoing project. Next up is to get in touch with the 85 year old who moved into a townhouse and asked Dad to store some of his good stuff. The local metal recycler will pick up. Dad's Basement Storage is about to be shut down!!


Still breathing

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