Funny how things looked bigger when I was eight than they do now at fifty. I was home for the first time in almost thirty-two years. I left home at eighteen to join the Air Force. Now I'm back for my mom and dad's funeral. They died in a fiery car crash on their way home from seeing my younger sister in Olean, New York. They lived in Jamestown almost all their lives and in the same house since I turned seven. It was a hundred year old house with two floors, an attic, and a basement. The stairs were narrow, barely two feet wide and very steep. My bedroom in the attic was very small only six by eight feet with slanted ceilings due to the roof. My younger sisters and younger brother slept on the second floor on each side of our parent's bedroom. Because I was the oldest I got relegated to the attic.
Sure I had at times come home from the service for a visit, but I sometimes stayed with friends or in a motel. My grandparents, until their deaths had extra room for me so I usually stayed there. But now my family existed of my younger siblings and me.
I had never found the right girl to marry, but I did have a few girlfriends and lovers over the years. I was now at a point I was ready to retire from the service as a Colonel. I went in as an enlisted man and over the years I gained an education and now hold a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, a Masters in Electrical Engineering and a Doctorate in Computer Science. I know it's kind of a hodgepodge of degrees, but you take what courses are available where you are stationed or what you can get from correspondence courses from different universities in the states by what is available where you are. In the service I have worked as an electronics technician, and analyst and then as an officer as a maintenance officer, and squadron commander.
I look now at this home that I grew up in and think I have had barracks rooms much larger by far than my old room in the attic. But growing up I thought of this room as my castle. I had the small rooms off the main room as my own dungeons and hiding places when I was still small. Now at six foot-three, I can't even stand up straight in this space, let alone sneak into the many hiding places I knew as a child.
I opened the one cubby hole door (barely two foot by 2 foot) and reached my long arm in to see if my treasure chest was still there. I think I had forgotten about that chest a long time before I left this house. It was still there. I dragged it back into the light of day to see what I found so precious when I was young.
My treasure chest was actually an old Roy Rogers lunchbox. One I carried during my elementary school days. The lunchbox was still in very good shape despite the years that had passed with it hidden out of sight.
I opened the box and found things that invoked memories I had forgotten many, many years before. I had a four leaf clover pressed between two pieces of waxed paper. My Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and Enos Slaughter baseball cards. For their age, their condition was very good. I found my lucky penny that had been stretched and smashed by a train running over it. It was almost paper thin. It had been run over by a locomotive only, not a whole train, but somehow I never cared, it was precious to me. I found a few other mementoes of my youth that reminded me of the happy or sad times in my younger days. The sad time was when my fraternal grandfather died. I really didn't see him a lot but when we drove to Scranton to see him and my grandmother I always had a great time on their farm. Grandpa Giles had given me a German 5-Reichsmark coin with the swastika on the reverse side. He got it from a dead soldier when he was in Belgium during the war. He gave it to me to play with as a young child. He said I should keep it for a long time as it was very valuable. It was still there after all these years.