Friday, April 8, 2016


My paternal grandparents were English. My grandfather came over from England around 1908 to settle in Valley Falls, Kansas, a small town about two hours drive northwest of Kansas City. My grandmother came two years later when her soon-to-be-husband built her a home and opened the general store in town until he died.
During the summers of the late 1950′s my parents would send me to spend the summer with them. He went every day but Sunday to run the store and she tended to the house and garden. I was free to go anywhere I wanted so long as I got home in time for dinner. In a small town a 7-9 year old kid can’t get lost. There are too many neighbors to see you’re ok.
My grandmother was thrifty to say the least. She kept every package anything came in after they were done with it (dairy products were in glass jars so easy to recycle). She would throw away any paper inside boxes, etc. and then put the boxes on the shelves in the basement, which literally had everything they bought in packages since they moved into the house.
In the basement was the history of many packages, mostly food, but anything else than came in a box. He died in the early 1960′s when we lived in Europe. She lived for another 15 years. When they passed away, the kids, my aunt, uncle and father, wholesaled everything in the house that wasn’t removed by them for themselves. Her will was even read to know what she wanted.
I never knew what became of the collection in the basement, even my father didn’t know since it was one of the many things left for the wholesaler. I’ve always regretted not having a say in the dispensation of their belongs but their 3 kids, who didn’t like each other very much, were greedy for themselves with their parents legacy.
But the memory of the summers is always there. Not many, but always the basement full of commercial package history.

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