On an overcast day in early spring, a stout, ordinary man in a plaid flannel shirt, a tractor logo cap, large black sneakers, and a younger version of himself, came barreling through the front door hauling a wooden slatted World War II footlocker.
The older of the two men, perhaps in his 60's came up to the counter, took off his hat, and as though ordering a beer, he called me over and said, "You the person who takes unwanted stuff from people's houses?"
"Well, yes," I replied, "depending on what it is. We specialize in personal history, photo albums, diaries, collections, stuff like that. We don't take furniture or anything like that, unless it is an antique of some kind, like an old record player with a collection of vinyl, for example."
"We're hired to clear out places and this trunk looks like what you are talking about. The guy was obviously a veteran and I couldn't just throw away his personal stuff. The piles of crap, okay, no problem hauling that off, but his footlocker, I had to try to do something with it and some guy in the business told me about you."
"Would you be so kind as to help carry that footlocker into the back reception area?" I asked.
"Sure, no problem. Jacky, grab hold of that footlocker and let's help the lady out."
On the way to the back examination and distribution, acquisitions area, the man added, "There ain't anything of value in there. I checked. Just a couple of books, his military uniform, no gun or anything like that, couple of photographs, a discharge paper."
The two men put the foot locker on the big table where my assistant Carol, with the further assistance of Ed, our World War II expert would make an assessment of what to do with our new acquisition.
I thanked the men and they opted to depart out the back door and walk around to their truck.
"It's a good idea, what you have here, saving the memories of ordinary people. I'll have to come back some time and have a look around. You have exhibits?"
"Yes, in fact, in a few months we will have our exhibit on women getting the right to vote. It will be the 100th anniversary, being August, 2020.
"Is that right. Got any plans for a World War Ii exhibit. I might come back for something like that! My old man was a veteran of World War II."
"A year after our suffrage exhibit we will host our 80th anniversary of World War II exhibit. Got e-mail? I can put you on our notification list? No? Well, leave your address and I'll send you a mail out invitation for being a volunteer and for donating to the museum."
The man wrote his name and address on an index card and tipped his hat and left.
Carol and Ed already had the foot locker open and the uniform out on the table. They said it appeared to be in good shape, and they handed me a green marbled copybook that apparently was the owner's diary from some years later. There was also a manuscript of some kind. I took them up front with me, intending, if the next hour or so were peaceful, to have a look and decided if they should be returned to the footlocker and uniform and discharge paper which would all be kept together in the World War II room.
Up front, at my seat at the counter, I started to page through the manuscript.