Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grandpa's Stuff

My great-grandfather Ellsworth J. Davis was a teacher for a while--out in Norton, Kansas.  He didn't stay with it long--though I do have, via my father, a pack of his little report cards from the 1880s.  (See image.)

Presumably tired of all the paper-grading (I'm projecting now), he left that profession entirely, moved to the Northwest and got into some things a bit more profitable--banking and politics.  He founded a bank in Milton, Oregon, and served two terms in the state legislature--1895, 1897.  During the latter, he was elected speaker.  I never knew him, but one of his daughters, Pearl, married my father's father.  And my younger brother's name?  Davis Dyer.

I was thinking about E. J. Davis the other day because all material things I have from him fit in a single manila file folder.  A newspaper clipping.  A land-grant certificate (yes, his father got 160 acres in Kansas, 1889).  Some Civil War documents of his father's.  That's it.  No furniture, no plate, no pictures to hang on the wall.  Nothing.

There are, of course, others in the family who may have things.  My father's was a large family--he had ten siblings.  So who knows what's scattered around, here and there?  I'm fairly certain, though, that my brothers do not have anything at all.

Joyce and I are now in the process of "down-sizing"--and a considerable task lies before us.  As I've written here before, I'm a pack-ratty kind of guy, and I have so many things I now don't know what to do with.  A few examples ...

  • the 8mm and Super 8 films my students made in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • all the records of the more than thirty play productions I did at the middle and high schools in Aurora between 1967-1997--programs, photographs, practice schedules, etc.
  • more than a half-dozen file cabinets stuffed with information about writers and books and cultural history
  • thousands of books--thousands
  • dozens of items now hanging on the wall--autographed documents, photographs, and the like
  • posters I used to hang in my classrooms (I gave many away--but I still have some)
  • about twenty coffee mugs bearing the images of writers and/or books I used to teach (when I taught Gatsby, I'd have my Gatsby cup in class--dorky, I know); again--I gave many away; I still have quite a few
  • dozens of VHS tapes of films I used to use or refer to in class
  • dozens of phonograph records I used to use in class--and in shows
  • Etc.--and there is a lot of etc.
The difficulty, of course, is that so many of these things mean something.  They are not just boxes of stuff.  Or trash.  They are pieces of my heart, my life.

And so I temporize ... delay. 

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