Recently, I took a trip with some friends, and we stopped in the quaint little town of Jenks, Oklahoma. What a gem!! They have these adorable antique stores downtown where we spent hours perusing the aisles of items that we were once loved by many others. Items that have become outdated, unloved, unnecessary…. yet hold a romantic quality to this beholden eye. I skimmed along the kitchen bowls wondering whose hands had held them and what she had made for her family. Records that used to spin and emit a cheery tune for a room full of party-goers now discarded and sold for $1 to anyone desperate enough to try them out. And junk. So much of it was just junk.
Others, were treasures. Sheer treasures. Like this picture I found….
This picture from was about 1″x1.5″ in size- a tiny thing. Yet as I held it in my fingers, I was enraptured and swallowed through time into an entirely different world. Gazing into the smiling faces of two young lovebirds caught in the era of World War II, my mind swirled with what might have been their life stories. Perhaps he was home on furlough for Christmas, and decided that THIS was the time, THIS was the moment to ask THE question. Dressed in his army green, she in her finest fur, they make an evening of dinner and champagne and pretend that the world is not in distress around them. They laugh. They talk. They sit in moments of companionable silence. He waits. Waiting for that perfect moment. Waiting for the perfect words. The world floats by them. As Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” melts through the restaurant, he wipes his palms on his slacks, takes a swig waiting for the bubbles to tickle him into action, grabs her hand across the walnut table, gazes into her hazel eyes and says, “Baby, let’s get married.”
I then had the audacity to open the frame to see if there was anything written on the back. The picture had been cut to fit. What was left of the handwritten caption said, “… to one of the best friends I’ve ever known Feb. 4, 1943”.
Another story spirals around in my head. One of a couple being stationed far away from home, seizing the moment to snap a happy photo, sending it with a handwritten letter to a friend back home. She licks the envelope and seals it, pressing it closed with her red-nailed manicured hand. Holding it to her heart, sending her best friend love in every thought. Pausing a moment to remember the better times…. before The War.
Who knows? The names, the location…. all lost to History, sucked into a vortex of the Unknown. The only shadow of yesterday left is their smiling faces, his protective arm around her shoulders, and …. and…. that is all we know. That is all we will ever know. Their story…. lost, tragically amongst the heaps of junk and treasure within a small-town antique store.
THAT is the appeal of History; the romantic endeavor to imagine and recreate a person’s story with just a few details.