Friday, April 25, 2014

The Trunk Series ~ Undated

I've been sorting though Grandma Olive's Chinese trunk and organizing photos, writings and keepers into stand up files so I can remember where I'm going and where I've been research wise. Memory is a fleeting thing at this age and I'm working on collections that are 50 (college) to 150 years (family history) old. 

In the middle of the chaos I found a folded, typed page of what I'd call free verse. The stationary is stained and a bit yellowed with age. A partial watermark was visible so I turned it over and held it under the magnifying lamp on my beading table. I could make out Eaton's ~ Bond ~ Berkshire but that was about it. Time for a little web crawling. Drum roll please, we have a winner.

Eaton's Corrasable Bond USA Berkshire
Cotton 25% Content

It was a specially made, new fangled, erasable typing paper available from the 1950's to the 1970's. That narrows down the time frame but not much else. I've been researching this beautiful piece for a couple of weeks and have found no reference to an established author.

Okay, so I was at UCSB 1963-1967 and UCLA 1968-1969 but the verse is not familiar to me. And trust me I would have remembered if I'd received this from an admirer! 

My maternal grandfather, John Sherman Bagg, was a tireless correspondent, but not known to be a creative writerHis letterhead is the same kind of bond. Some of the discoloration and age marks are similar to other papers in his collection, but this font is smaller than the one on his letters. So we're everywhere and nowhere at the moment. 

What next? What haven't I dug through yet? Wait, Mom saved copies our letters to each other after my college years, so I dug those out today. I found one from 1977 on the same Eaton's Bond, same font size. Aha! The small "a" is slightly askew, just like the one on this note. So this begs the question of who wrote to whom?

My Mother's gifts were knitting and watercolors. She wrote travel logs that were published in travel magazines but I'd never known her to be a creative writer or a poet. However, my paternal grandfather, William Griffith "Billy" Macdonald, was quite the wordsmith. I have copies of several published poems and letters. Perhaps when Grandma Olive passed away Billy's typewriter came to Dad, and Mom used when they were on the road. This was Billy's 10th anniversary present to Grandma Olive. I'll leave it to you to decide but I think I've found my poet. 

I never met either of my Grandfathers. My mom was estranged from her father J.S. Bagg, but I've gotten to know him through my Aunt Betty. Billy Macdonald, the love of my Grandmother's life, died long before I was born. Digging through old books, photos and papers I am getting to know him too. If your grandparents are still in your life talk to them, ask about their lives, write or record a living history. It will be a treasure for generations to come.