Thursday, March 12, 2015
DOWNSIZING DISCOVERY: DAD’S “OFFICIAL BUSINESS”
Perhaps my interest in maps is genetic…
When Dad died, twenty years back, we weeded through his stuff, tossing some things and parting out others to various family and friends. The only thing I remember tagging for myself was his tobacco choked ten-hole Hohner Chromonica upon which he used to play “Sugar Blues.”
Apparently, I snagged something else.
As this is written, we are preparing to relocate. The downsizing process causes me to assess each and every item in our current house. Usually the keep-it-or-toss-it decision is a snap one. Usually.
Digging into the depths of the closet in the spare room – we all have one: a closet that, in its deepest reaches, contains stuff you have to keep but you don’t know why – in that closet, I discovered a shipping tube.
Over the printed warning “OFFICIAL BUSINESS,” the return address included this: “Washington 25, DC.” I vaguely remember the days when large cities had address zones, rather than zip codes. Dad had been a letter carrier in those days when the shift from zones to zip codes met with – as all change does – much controversy and consternation.
The delivery address was one I’d never heard of specifically. I did know that Mom and Dad lived in a Glendale (CA) attic after their marriage but prior to buying their post-WWII dream house in nearby Altadena.
Someone in the secretarial pool at the Department of Interior’s Geological Survey had dutifully typed Dad’s address. That’s the attic! I realized.
I logged onto an on-line mapping application and looked up the locale. With a keystroke or two, I found a 2014 image of the place Mom and Dad first called home. Missing was the 1946 Chevy he’d bought after the war. The image probably shows more concrete than was there seventy years ago and the apartment complex is something “new.”
The shipping tube had been opened by Dad’s very hands long before I was a twinkle in his eye. A foot soldier for the Post Office, his greatest pleasure involved slinging a rucksack on his back and taking lengthy hike on the weekend – a Postman’s Holiday.
What was inside that tube would be his ticket to new horizons.
I haven’t checked out the specific contents the shipping tube. I don’t need to. I have access to Google Maps.
Church of the Open Road Press