Saturday, October 16, 2021

Treasure Hunting In Unique Places On Land

Rumination from the Rock and Beyond

Photos by Jory Westberry

We just moved after having almost everything we own in storage for two years. Okay we had clothes, but not much else! Opening boxes of things stored that long was a trip down Memory Lane. I could hear my husband in the other room saying, “Why did I even pack this and keep it?” My exclamations, however, were more about discovering long lost priceless treasures or “old friends.”

I thought the letters from our son throughout his Navy tour had been destroyed in Irma, but they were all intact – (sound of cheering!) I still intend on putting them all in chronological order in a notebook so he can share them with his twin sons, now in high school. I can imagine the conversations that they’ll have about his teenage observations overseas. I doubt he even thought about keeping our letters to him, but that’s okay, he didn’t have much storage in those bunks stacked three high, with barely enough room to turn over.

Along about the time I was cheering, I ran across an antique bottle of Coke with the University of Florida Gator imprint and 1984 SEC CHAMPS on it. Knowing that my husband was mercilessly purging his “finds,” I promptly threw it in the trash. Darned if didn’t hear the clink of the full bottle hitting something and wandered over to see what it was. “What the heck?” he said as he reached in for the bottle, “Why in Gator Country did you throw that away? It’s priceless!”

“Well, the Coke inside the bottle is obviously flat,” I said. “Who cares about the soda, it’s the bottle that has value. Some collector is just dying to get that antique and I’ll have it to sell, or maybe I’ll just keep it until it’s even more valuable,” he replied, as only a true U of F Gator would. While I controlled my deep sigh, I could see him eyeing the new shelf in the living room and considering a place of honor for the Florida Football 1984 SEC 9-1-1 list of teams bottle. I mumbled something like, “Don’t… even… think about it.”

The unpacking continued, empty boxes were strewn around like autumn leaves amid exclamations of wonder, “I wonder why I kept this?” to wondering, “Why did I ever buy it in the first place?” Case in point; you’ll wonder, as I did, why I saved The Nile Fortune Telling Cards. Was it possible that I was considering a change of careers? Nah. I pulled out a few cards just to see what they said and lo and behold, there was some wise advice on them like, “Guard against loss in investments.” I’ll have to show that to our financial advisor! “A journey or change in residence?” Bingo. “News from across the water,” could be the letters from our son, and “Curb your extravagances or they will bring ruin,” is good advice, although I don’t consider myself extravagant, except for…

How many of you were in Brownies, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts back in the days when the groups were segregated? I really think we learned the same basic things, had badges to earn and moved on to the next higher group. If you were in any of those groups, you might remember this amazing invention, perfect for camping and taking up small spaces! Yes, I still have it – the “expando cup!” I brought it out for one of our recent camping trips and my Gator husband was holding his sides with guffaws bellowing from his belly to his brain. “What is tha…tha…that thing?” I took a deep breath and explained; he obviously had never been in Scouts. “Put that antique away and pack your Yeti, it will keep your drinks hot or cold and you won’t have to worry about it collapsing,” and he touched the top and sure enough, it folded back up. I’m thinking of putting it in his Christmas stocking, just for the laughs.

Illustrations in books today reflect the changes in our country over the last 72 years.

I’ll share two more with you that make me laugh and make me think. The first is a woodpecker toothpick holder. When I see objects like this, I just have to have them because of the humor they provide. The woodpecker has a metal beak with a space in between the beak. When you press down on its head, it does what it’s supposed to do, pecks the toothpick and brings it up to you! Hilarious. Who had the idea, the ability to make this out of metal and paint it? The other hilarious part is that the trough that holds the toothpicks is non other than a fallen log. When I unpacked this, all smiles, the Grinch started to say, “Get rid…” and stopped when he saw my face! Smart man.

As you can see, treasure hunting on land can be rewarding, funny and thought-provoking. I was in an antique store one day and found a copy of a 1947 Laidlaw Basic Reader called “We Learn to Read.” It is worlds away from the books and strategies that we use in education today.

The cover portrays a 1940’s culture and the stereotypes in the book are remarkably outdated according to the life we experience in 2019, 72 years later. These comparisons are interesting and make you wonder what the future will bring. There are so many electronics already, will that medium continue to grow, or will scientists and teachers discover a better way to learn? Time will tell. I’m off to find more treasures as I continue to unpack.

Jory Westberry has been a dedicated educator for over 40 years, the last 14 as Principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary, where she left her heart. Life is rich with things to learn, ponder and enjoy so let’s get on with the journey together!


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