I’m still sorting through and processing the hundreds of artifacts that my late father stored inside of his oldest house. While much of the stuff is easily relegated to the garbage heap, other items are worth a second look.
Most of the things have been in the basement, gathering a thick layer of dust and mildew. I’ve gone through the clearing out process slowly so as not to stir up the dust and microbes. Sweeping the floor cannot be avoided, so when clearing horizontal surfaces, I wear a face mask. The items I deem as candidates for cleaning and restoration are swept off outdoors, first with a broom, then with a large, dry paintbrush.
This week, the only box worth saving is a small cigar box, much smaller than a regular cigar box. I didn’t know, until now, that cigars were made in the state of Nebraska. The bottom of the box is marked, “Julius Pepperberg, M’fr, Plattsmouth, Neb.”
Inside the lid, in small print, is the statement, “Copyright 1854 by Schumacher & Etlinger N.Y.” Dad or the previous owner used the old box to store a handful of antique keys and a Japanese “Pacton” lighter that looks like a Zippo.
Also, from the basement, came a heavy, cast-iron bridge marker plate. Dad had cleaned this one up and applied a coat of paint to preserve it. I’m not sure what the number “24” signifies, though.
After filling the dumpster and not wanting to expose myself to any more contamination, I cleaned myself up and started going through a manila envelope that had been stored in the attic. It contained several old black and white glossy press release photos I’d never seen before.
I was delighted to see the motorcade/parade photograph of Ladybird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon Johnson. In the center is the popular three-term Democratic Nebraska Governor Frank B. Morrison, wearing the “cats eye” glasses is his wife, Maxine. Mrs. Johnson was probably in the state to promote her highway beautification program.
Also inside the envelope was a studio, publicity photo of Amos and Andy (Amos holds the telephone). This was probably taken in the late 1940s to promote their radio show.
The real treasure and shocker was an EMI/Capitol Records publicity photo of The Beatles. I was surprised to find it because dad had always expressed displeasure whenever he heard me playing one of their records. Either he secretly liked some of their music or, more likely, he realized the significance of their memorabilia. I’m still stunned by this discovery.