Monday, May 4, 2009

Trunk filled with magazines

I drove home Sunday with 54 years worth of National Geographic magazines filling my trunk and back seat.

My family cleaned my grandparents’ home Friday. We removed the last of their things in anticipation of the house’s new owners.

We, the scavengers-cum-schleppers, collected keepsakes. I took my grandpa’s dog tags, a box of picture slides and the National Geographic magazines.

I had already picked their library clean. Most of their books pertained to hiking or history. My grandparents are rural. I don’t mean that in a condescending or deprecating way. They are country folk, the kind of people who cooked too much so they could give some to the neighbors or shoveled their half-mile driveway as long as physically possible.

My grandpa has spent the last 80 or so years of his life involved with the Boy Scouts. It’s how he knows Senator George Voinovich and Judge Forrest Burt. He was a wilderness man. He married my grandma while he was on furlough from the Army. I’ve never been to a single scout meeting, and probably couldn’t start a fire with a case of lighter fluid and an acetylene torch. The closest I’ve ever been to the military is, well, collecting my grandpa’s dog tags.

Honestly, I have no clue what I’m going to do with the November 1955 edition of National Geographic or the 600 or so other editions. The old maps of Africa are almost unrecognizable. The countries have changed names so many times, I was grateful to recognize Egypt.

Old pictures of dinosaurs looked liked enormous bloated crocodiles, instead of the sleek, birdlike animals into which they have “evolved.”

I may never crack a page on their archives again, but I can’t throw out or even donate them to a library. My grandparents spent 54 years collecting them. That’s more than twice as long as I’ve been alive. It meant something to them, so it means something to me.

I’ll need to find a place to keep them, maybe get another bookshelf exclusively for them. (My grandpa would have built one from scratch. I’ll probably buy one at Wal-Mart and spend an afternoon struggling to assemble it.)

Hopefully, 60 years from now, my grandkids can figure out where to keep 110 years worth of National Geographics... and their great-great-granddad’s dog tags.

-Jason Lea,



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