It was just a box. An old Christmas box cared with tears and rips. A junk box full of somebody else's memories. Why mother had not discarded it years ago was a mystery to me. She seemed enchanted by the little box. An avid worker of jug-saw puzzles, I think she saw the box as her ultimate challenge.
The origin of the box was cloudy. Both of my parents lived and breathed flea-markets and yard sales, so the box could have come from anywhere. When we found it, the box was safely tucked away in a large cardboard box full of old glasses and linens. The strange thing about the box was that it seemed out of place. A misfit, something from another time, another place.
The box just sat at my mother's house. Every now and then she would open "Pandora's Box" and try to visualize the people it had once belonged to. It was on one of those days that I entered the picture. I was visiting with my parents when I noticed this old Christmas box tucked away in a corner of the room. I jokingly asked about it because Christmas was just around the corner. My father laughed and told me to get the box and maybe I woule have some input about the box and it's contents.
I retrieved the box and opened it gently. Inside were several beautiful silk handkerchiefs folded and browning with age spots, two old valentines, obviously from someone who was very special, several letters, and four or five pictures. One picture, taken in 1949 at Jacksonville Beach, was of a handsome man. Who was he? What was his name? Was he the husband, father, brother, lover of the owner of the box? these questions rushed through my mind. The second picture was taken somewhere in the 1950's of an older man and woman. Could they be parents or grandparents perhaps? The third picture was a school picture of a cotton-topped "angel" about seven or eight years of age. There was no inscription or date. The last picture was another white haired beauty dressed in a pink feathered drape. This was obviously a senior portrait. I stared for a long time at this picture because it was hauntingly familiar. Was it deja vu? Did I know this person? But how did I know this person and from where?
I went home that evening puzzled and bewildered. Restless sleep followed, filled with dreams of the pictures from the box. The next day was Saturday and I returned to the box. Drawn like a sleep-walker to this hypnotic box, I read the letters and they offered no clues as to who the girl in pink was. On the back of ther pictures was written Kathryn. "Was the picture for Kathryn or of Kathryn," I asked myself.
On Wednesday, I was at work when one of our suppliers stopped by. He is a friendly fellow and a real family man. He had the newest family photo and could not wait to show it to me. When I looked at it I felt deja vu once again. The salesman's wife was a cotton-topped blonde and dressed in a pink blouse. I admired the pictures and the wheels of discovery began turning. After work that evening I went to my parent's house and borrowed Kathryn's picture.
The next Wednesday, when the supplier returned, I showed him the picture. He was floored. The girl in the picture was his wife, Kay! The two of us left the shop at lunch and went to see the box and after looking through the contents, Dan filled in the missing pieces of our puzzle. The little "angel" was in fact Kay's sister, Angel. The older couple; her grandparents, and the man from Jacksonville Beach was the man that hermother almost married. he was killed in action during the Korean War. All of these pictures had been sent to an aunt in Jasper, Alabama.
The letters were from the old, senile aunt to an old friend in California. When the aunt was committed to a nursing home, her son sold most of her belongings at an estate sale in Jasper. The buyer of the stuff had little or no use for the contents of the little Christmas box, and resold it at the Birmingham Flea Market. This was probably wehre my parents got the box.
"Pandora's box" produced a skeleton or two, an unsolved mystery, and hours of fun. "Pandora's box" is in the right hands now. The box is home where it belongs. "Pandora's box" is now "Kay's box." Kay has connected with her past. Another unsolved mystery laid to rest. Life, as it was, gones on. Que sera sera!
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
11 months ago