Having organized the papers I brought home from my office and found places for the books by culling out other books, yesterday afternoon I tackled the so-called archives room down cellar. Everyone in my family has given me the archives they have collected, letters, photos, clippings, birth and death certificates. Yesterday I was dealing with a banker box full of papers my stepmother gave me after my dad died. I was going through these papers one by one, weighing whether each should be saved or not. I would think, I can’t throw this out. And then I would think, But who would want it after I go? Would anyone want the tender love letters my mother wrote to my father before they were married?
I have a box full of my mother’s letters to me. I know how happy I was to get the letters sent to my great grandmother, so I am pretty sure that some great grandchild would be pleased to get these. But where will they go in the meantime, where will they rest for the next hundred years? And for that matter, where will my great grandmother’s trunk go, the one filled with a hundred letters, two diaries, a fur cape and lace she made, jokes and valentines and calling cards? She died in 1913, so the trunk and its contents have survived for nearly a hundred years already.
And where will the horse chestnut go, the one that Bill’s great great grandfather carried in the Civil War for luck? It was lucky, too, because in the Petersburg campaign he was shot through the mouth and survived, the story being that he talked so much that his mouth was fortunately open.
Would anyone want the cartoons of my father that the artists in the Boston Globe art room drew? Often they would use these cartoons in ads, so there are not only the originals but the actual ad. My father was the director of the art room. Sometime ago the Globe asked for memorabilia for their archives, and I joyfully offered them all of these, but they must have changed their mind, perhaps after the paper was sold to the NY Times, because I never heard from them.