Monthly Archives: January 2011

Found Items: 2. The Nite Owl

For the last decade or so of my father’s life his bedroom was his sanctuary. He spent more time in his room than out of it — and not always asleep. I once asked him what he did when he went to bed at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. He said he usually lay in bed thinking.

Dad’s room was pretty much off-limits to anyone not invited in, but the stench of unwashed old-age was enough to not want to be invited in. Occasionally my dad would ask me into his room to look, for the umpteenth time, at the photograph of the navy ship he’d spent 4 years on or to look at something he’d found among his trinkets. I was never very curious about what was in his room — I couldn’t imagine there was anything of interest I’d not seen many times before.

I couldn’t have been more wrong as I found out after my father’s death in October. I found his father’s wallet, still with the cards and photographs he carried while alive. I found his wedding ring that my mother thought was lost. I also found a ziplock bag of things that belonged to my Uncle Don, my father’s brother-in-law and best friend until Don’s death in 1963.

Some of the things in the bag are bizarre — a hat with a tassel and matching purple satin sash from some honorary Moose Lodge event. Some are historical — correspondence between my Uncle Don and the War Department in 1945. Some possibly valuable — an unopened pack of Milwaukee Road playing cards.

My favorite of the trinkets, however, is the plastic box of key-chains. When I opened the box, the top key-chain was one I recalled from my childhood. Probably not the same key-chain, but I had one just like it.

It is a red and white plastic key-chain shaped like an owl. The red part (the body of the owl) separates from the white part (the eyes and tail) to make two key-chains. The white part also glows in the dark. I think the reason for the two parts is because two keys used to be required for the ignition and trunk, so this way you could keep your car running and get something out of the trunk. The back of the key-chain advertises a store called “Rorry’s: Apparel for women who care”. I vaguely remember Rorry’s — I wonder if there was one in Elgin.

Clare loves owls so, for Christmas, I parted with the Nite Owl key-chain and placed it in her stocking. I feel good that a memory of mine is now a concrete object for her.

Found Items: 1. Grandma Patrick’s record of Baptism

My mom’s house is a treasure-trove of interesting things. She has stacks, drawers, closets, kneewalls and rooms filled with stuff. Photos, letters, trinkets, newspaper clippings, reel-to-reel videos, and cassette tapes are a few of the items waiting to be discovered in my mom’s house. Some people may consider her a hoarder. I think she’s a keeper of family history.

One of the items I found in a pile of old photographs at my mom’s house was the record of my paternal grandmother’s baptism. She was born in Denmark, so the text is in Danish. The paper is yellowed and old and the spidery handwriting is hard to read. I posted a scan of the baptism record on Facebook with a plea for help deciphering it. Barbara, a long-time friend, suggested that her daughter, whose next door neighbor is from Denmark, might be able to help so I sent Teri an email and attached the scan of the document.

Grandma Patrick's Record of Baptism
Grandma Patrick's Record of Baptism

After several emails back and forth it was determined that it reads something like this:

Emilie Margrethe Marie Nielsen
Daughter of [kroferpayter] Kristian Nielsen and wife Ane Marie Sorensen(?)
from the city of Rold in the parish of Hindsted in the district of Aalborghus

Born 8 June 1895
baptized in a church 14 July same year

Recorded 13 Dec 1897

I still don’t know what the word or words are just before my great grandfather’s name is. He was an innkeeper and according to Teri’s neighbor kro means tavern or beer establishment. Perhaps the word has something to do with that because it begins with kro.

Here is a photo post card of the building where my grandmother was born. I’d always thought she’d meant this was the city where she was born — but apparently she was born in the building — which was (and still might be) an inn.