I spent all afternoon digging. I was, ostensibly, looking for thread. My mother once had a big green box full of sewing supplies, and I needed to find it if I was ever going to re-teach myself how to use her old Kenmore sewing machine. In the old house, the house I grew up in, it had a spot in the sunroom under the cabinet where the phone sat. Here, in this condo maybe a fifth of the size of that sprawling bungalow, the green box could be anywhere, if it still existed at all.
Somehow, against all odds, it was the first place I looked. We have this little side closet that is full of miscellany that seems important but rarely gets looked upon. Thousands of old pictures, from high school shots of my mom to my own blurry backstage photos from a 2001 production of "Singin' in the Rain"; two free scarves sent to my father by the Chicago Fire; a bottle of fancy hand lotion I bought for my dad, which he constantly forgets to use. And now, the green box. I had to work hard to remove it from its back corner position, and finally removing it was, in its own small way, like opening a box of treasure, the golden glow lighting up my face. I tossed the box aside. Behind it, I had found something better.
The first two were from Grover Cleveland High, St. Louis, MO, Classes of 1931 and 1932. My grandmothers were still toddlers then, so I struggled to think of who live it St. Louis back then. 1931 held no answers, but 1932 proved to be the senior year of my paternal grandfather, Grandpa Bob. Back then, our name was spelled "Flachsbart," and above the caption "Robert Flachsbart" was my grandfather's smiling, handsome face, blue eyes gleaming despite the faded monotone of the shot. This was a man that died at 75 when I was only eight, but he was unmistakable. Tucked inside the book was a program for a senior-year play in which Grandpa apparently played a judge. This piece of paper was 80 years old, but it looked practically new. I guess that bodes well for any old scraps you might have tucked away in your old yearbooks for future generations to find.
Behind these two books was an arguably greater treasure: my own father's 1969 senior yearbooks. Anyone who knows my dad knows that he is great – truly, to be this man's daughter is to constantly hear about how wonderful he is – and based on the paragraph-long signatures that filled Dad's yearbook, he has been great for a very long time. "Words cannot express how I feel about you," some 18-year-old had written, 42 years ago. "I admire you more than anyone," another added. Serious stuff.
Weirdest of all were the shots of Dad playing basketball. There was a shot of him shooting a free throw, which he claims to this day is the only part of the game he really mastered. And guys? He was cute.
History is creepy sometimes.