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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

No, I didn't get a literary agent yet.
No. Not that kind of mission either! But, I was able to finally bring a happy end to a long standing issue at our house. You see, a few years back, Lorri and I attended an auction in a neighboring community. We're not buyers of fancy things or collectors of junk either. We like to go to auctions for just two reasons... tiny little historical treasures that we both enjoy, like antique trinkets for the wall, hundred year old cameras that haven't worked in ninety years, and century old magazines and sheet music simply because we like to look at the pictures. We're weird like that.  Here is an example:
And why? Because who doesn't need a hundred year old peanut baby??? I mean, really.

The other reason we go from time to time, is because I am a self diagnosed bibliophile and have NEVER met a book, new or old, that I didn't love. So anyways, a few years ago, we went to an auction in a nearby town and we picked up a couple of boxes of old books for two bucks a piece. There was some old cookbook that she wanted (even though she makes me do the lion's share of the cooking), and some book about a historical Iowan that I wanted (even though I am usually in the kitchen cooking and way too busy to read anything). So, we got the books.
Well, as it turns out the auction was an estate sale by the family of legendary Iowa Hawkeye Iron Man, George 'Red' Frye. Trouble was, when we got the boxes home, we went through them and discovered a few things.
For instance, we found the diaries of Red's wife from all throughout the 1930's, the latter years of which, has her traveling around to games and talking about where all her new husband has gone off to that day. Wonderful stuff really.
And we found a couple of scrapbooks too. The first one was from about 1915 and had family pictures, graduation announcements, postcards from family members, and some really bizarre pictures from newspaper clippings. You know, the sort of stuff that a kid puts in a scrapbook in 1915.

The second one, our favorite, was done by another little kid (George Frye, Jr.) in 1954, and followed his trip from Albia, Iowa to Washington, DC. All along the way, he kept track of every river they crossed and would stop and get a leaf from the trees in front of famous places, then meticulously tape it inside his scrapbook...all the way to leaves from a tree in the White House lawn! We loved it!

But also, we wanted the family to have these things back IF they wanted them. For as much as we cherish things like that as historical and amusing and wonderful, we couldn't imagine that someone in that family wouldn't want those things. I made a few calls and discovered that none of the children lived in the area any longer. We set them aside and forgot about them for a while.
Then, I happened to be talking to a friend of mine from Albia (hence the postcard above, and no other reason, I just like pictures), and he said he knew the sons and that they were great guys, etc.

So, I looked online for them, failed, and then forgot about it a while longer. Fast forward to today. For some reason unknown to me, this morning, I thought about it again and decided that today was THE day. I spent the morning with scrapbooks and internet databases tracking down direct line family members. Needless to say, none of them had a direct contact email available from the internet. After two full hours I was almost ready to give up again for another year, and then I found it!

An email addy for the wife of one of Red Frye's sons. I emailed her instantly and told her what we had. Almost immediately came her reply about how other people had helped get things ready for the auction right after their father's death, and how they had lost so many family treasures. Yes, yes, yes, we want them, and yes, yes, yes, we will cherish them! 
Okay, I can't actually jump like that. But I would have if I could. No, I didn't get any writing done today, or anything else for that matter. And yes, we will miss looking at the leaves from Arlington that the little boy taped into a scrapbook over fifty years ago. But, today, I mailed a box to a son in Missouri, and he will forward the scrapbook to another son in Florida, and they will both be able to read their mother's diary from eighty years ago. Circle complete. Mission accomplished.

Sometimes in life, it really is the little things that bring you the most joy. And sometimes, treasure...real treasure, lurks in the bottom of boxes full of books at auctions that you can still buy for just a couple of bucks.

Thanks for reading!


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