One of the attic kneewall finds was a box that probably came from my Aunt Leila and Uncle Don’s house. In that box, in an envelope marked Portrait Reorder Division was, among other things, a piece of paper with “To Elvin” written on one side and the following poem written in nearly completely faded purple ink on the other side. At first I thought it was simply an old mimeographed copy of something and nearly threw it away, but when I took a closer look I saw that it was a handwritten poem, signed by Elvin — my dad.
Elvin, age 7
I always want more than I can tell
And other folks just want a smell.
I always want things for my bike
But I don’t always get what I like.
When I ever go into the store
I want those things more and more.
I want something that’ll make a noise
But of course you know I’m like most boys.
I like to make airplanes you know
I rather do that than play in the snow.
But if that would make me real happy
I don’t think I’d have time to help my pappy.
Here is the actual poem with the contrast turned up a bit so some of the writing is legible.
Not much reminds me of my dad more than a squeeze coin purse. He carried one in his pocket at all times, packed full of change. The points where you squeezed the purse were usually darker than the rest of the purse from the motor oil that stained his fingers for most of his life. I remember him pulling the purse out of his front pant pocket, squeezing it between his thumb and middle finger and giving it a shake while holding it out for me to choose a coin. I remember the smell of the purse, a combination of copper from the pennies warmed from the heat of his pant pocket, plastic and oil. I remember the sound of the coins hitting each other.
Among the things I found in my Mom’s attic was an old, barely used squeeze coin purse. It was not one of dads, or maybe it was a spare. It is stiff and slightly cracked — probably because it was exposed to heat and cold in the kneewall, but also because it has to be at close to 40 years old. I know this because on the back is an advertisement for the B&B Tavern in Chetek, Wisconsin and my folks stopped going to Chetek for vacations in the mid-1970s when they bought their own property on the other side of the state.
This will be another of the growing pile of useless items the kids will need to deal with when I’m gone because tossing this would be like tossing out a warm memory of my dad, and we can’t have that!