Saturday, January 25, 2014

Sometimes "hording" can be a good thing

So I know that it has been a very long time since I updated my blog and I do apologize for my absence.  My grandmother had hip surgery earlier last year (2013) and it has been a long road to recovery for her since she is 91.  We just recently moved her from her retirement community apartment to a very nice assisted living apartment so the family has spent a lot of time boxing up her belongs and finding places to store it all and selling old furniture.  In that time span I have unfortunately not been able to spend as much time on my genealogy as I would like to be.  That being said, all of this kind of ties together in an interesting way.  The apartment my grandmother lived in had a storage locker in the basement garage and we decided this past weekend to clear that out & bring the contents upstairs so everything was in one central location.

My Dad had mentioned there was a box the in storage locker of things that had belonged to my grandfather, but I have never really made the effort to look for it.  For those of you who may be new to my life/this blog you may or not be aware that my grandfather passed away when I was 9.5 in 1997.  That being said I am always searching for ways to feel close to him and the idea of this "memorabilia" box sounded great to me.  I couldn't wait to get the box home and open it up to see what was inside.
Memorabilia box
As can be expected the box smelled like old paperwork haha.  Sometimes you just never know what your grandparents might deem worthy to save and I'm pretty grateful none of the stuff in this box was tossed out.  There were documents related to my great-grandmother's estate from when she passed away in 1978, documents related to the sale of my grandparents' house in Glenview in 1989, my grandfather's personnel file from the Bell Telephone company and all this old school stuff from Northwestern.  Also in this box of mystery were all 4 of my grandmother's high school yearbooks from Austin High School in Chicago as well as my grandfather's last 2 high school yearbooks from Steinmetz, also in Chicago.
Steinmetz High School Yearbooks
Something else interesting that I found was my grandfather's diary.
Dated from around the year 1937/1938 when he was just a 15 year old boy. What I also came across was a file folder that had no indication of what was inside.  When I opened it I first discovered the Death Certificates of both my great-grandparents (whom died in Florida) as well as their Marriage Certificate, my great-grandmother's Delayed Birth Record and my great-grandfather's Birth Certificate.  The death certificates I had already obtained over a year ago from the state of Florida, but the other documents I was unable to find ANYWHERE.  So just for that alone I am grateful that for whatever reason my grandfather saved these things.  Also in that folder was the bill of sale for the house my great-grandparents lived in in Pompano Beach, Florida, as well as all the paperwork for both of their funerals & burials.

Then I hit the money load.  Behind all the random paperwork was a sizable stack of different pieces of paper, which at a quick glance had all been hand written on.  Turns out that even though everyone in my family had telephones in their homes, my great-grandparents made a habit of writing letters to my grandparents from their house in Florida.  As my luck would have it, it looks like my grandfather saved the majority of those letters.
Old family letters
I spent the rest of the afternoon just reading those letters; 20 in all.  Most of them were from either my great-grandmother or great-grandfather, but there were a few from my Dad's cousin to my grandfather.  Now I never got to meet either one of my great-grandparents, but I always have heard the stories.  They were both full-blooded Polish and both seemed to know how to enjoy themselves.  My great-grandfather loved himself a cigar and my great-grandmother was always full of life.  I'll spare the details as I would say the contents of these letters are probably best kept as family secrets.  What I can say is that by reading them I got an amazing look at what life was like between 1962 & 1975; I got to hear in my great-grandparents' own words the struggles they went through and the happiness they had in their lives.  Unfortunately the letters end after the death of my great-grandfather in 1975.  I decided that in order to make sure they stay preserved for another 30-40 years I would put them in sheet protectors in a binder.

 With that all being said I will leave you with this bit of wisdom I learned; it may seem like trivial junk to you now, but you just never know who it might mean the world to in 30 years.