Thursday, December 27, 2007

Staring at Your Childhood

I received a letter during the holidays that was very interesting to me. And I think it will be to at least a few of you who read this blog. The writer of the letter asked me for a favor that seemed reasonable enough to her. Although I cannot do what she asked I did the best I could.

Let me explain.

For as long as I can remember, a wooden train sat on top of a shelf in our family store. If you have read my book you are familiar with the store that “sold everything from Evinrude motors to hoop cheese.” Generations of people who visited that store on a regular basis with their parents or grandparents will remember the train that is pictured here.

When we moved out of that old store building in the late 70’s, I had a shelf built for it in my office at the funeral home. When I moved away from Reynolds, the train came with me. It is now displayed in our den in our home.

My grandfather carved the train with a pocket knife in 1908. For you folks old enough to remember such, he carved it out of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda boxes. Although a railroad company offered my grandfather a healthy sum of money for the train many years ago, you will not be seeing the train on Ebay anytime soon. As you might imagine, the sentimental value to me is worth far more than dollars.

I can tell you many a wide eyed little boy wistfully stared at that train for over seventy years when it was displayed in that store. And many adults who happened on the back office at the funeral home stopped in their tracks (no pun intended) when they saw it in my office for the next 20 years or so. To see the train was to see their childhood again.

Now back to the letter.

The letter writer’s dad, who lives in another state, had recently read my book. He told his daughter of the childhood memories he had of Goddard’s store and the long time relationship between his family and our family. And he told his daughter that one of his greatest memories of the store was the little wooden train that sat on top of a shelf. He explained to her that when his dad died many years later, he wandered into a back room at the funeral home and saw that train again. He told his daughter seeing the train was like “staring your childhood in the face.” He also told her that he would give anything to have that little wooden train.

So in attempt to surprise her father with a gift he would give anything to have, she wrote me a two page handwritten letter telling me this story and asking me for the train.

I couldn’t give her the train, but I did go to the trouble to get the train off the shelf tonight and take a few digital pictures. It was no small task. The train is 6 ½ feet long and finding a place to photo it was not easy. But I did it and those pictures were emailed to her tonight. Hopefully she can get one framed for her dad.

Some of you will remember this train. Or maybe this story will remind you of something special from your childhood that you have not thought of in years.

As a friendly undertaker, I will say it would do all of us good to figure out a way to “stare at our childhood” every now and then. May we never forget the special people, places and things that impacted our lives in years long past.


Judy S said...

I haven't thought about that train in years. It is great to go back to our childhood sometimes. Thank you so much for taking me back. Happy New Year to you, Kathy and family.

Love to all.

Anonymous said...

Everybody should have a train in their life. I can't believe the daughter only cared about her Dad and not your family, oh yes I can. She never had a train.