It was a hot August afternoon in Texas. I was out for a Friday afternoon drive when I came across an indoor garage sale. I thought to myself "Great. Cold air conditioning. As I was looking over the assorted items I happened to wander into the garage. In one corner sat an large antique wooden chest covered with dust. Out of curiosity I opened it and the adrenalin started pumping.
Underneath a carefully folded 48 star American flag was a story. It was a story that began with a marriage in 1880 and the birth of a son 9 years later. The son worked for the railroad as a young man until the outbreak of World War I, where he served in the artillery. He married soon after the war and began a family of his own. His wife later became an award winning newspaper journalist. Two of his sons served in World War II. One of them proudly carried a Texas flag with him as he battled with the Marines across Okinawa, Corrigador, and the Phillipines. The flag returned after the war but he never did. It's the very short story of another son that was born during the war. He died of pneumonia 3 months before his second birthday. It's the story of a mother who traveled to the South Pacific as a photo journalist after the war, perhaps trying to find some closure in the death of her Marine son. It's the story of the adopted daughter and her quest to find her birth mother and another daughter who recalled in an interview the day in 1945 the military came to the door and informed them of her brother's death. These are just a few of the many stories of family triumph and tragedy that lay under the stars and stripes in that magic chest. This could have been any family in America, even yours.
All of these items had been carefully sorted through by a grandaughter, placed in several manila envelopes, and labeled. Each photo had a sticker on the back explaining what it was.
I had barely begun to look through this treasure when the gentleman running the sale walked into the garage. He told me that all these things had been left behind by the previous owners and to look through it and see what I might want. I asked him what he would take for the entire contents of the chest to which he replied "We don't want it. If you want to haul it off it's yours.". This is what every ephemera collector wants to hear but happens so rarely in this greedbay society we live in. He went over to his car and retrieved a box of heavy duty garbage bags for me to put everything in.
This all happened yesterday and I was up until 4 AM looking through all the wonderful pieces of living history that were in the magic chest. The photo below is a small example of these treasures. It is a certificate given to military personnel after an initiation ceremony the first time they cross the international date line. More photo posts will be coming soon.