Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Box Part II

The box of my grandma's things contained only two objects other than photos. The first was a plastic box with some old pins and a charm in it--likely in memory of Ettiene. The charm has a name on the back, but we have no idea who Raymond is, and I'm not entirely certain of the significance of the pins, other than they are probably related to the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The other thing was her wallet. This might not seem like much, but you don't know my grandmother. I presume that at some point it held money, but instead we found all of those little papers...shoved into that little wallet. To say that it was stretched to bursting would be an understatement.

(And no, after these photos were taken I did not get everything back inside).

A few highlights...

A hospital bill from 1963 for a total of $3 for services rendered:

Her ID.

A collection of bus and subway tickets, and two learner's permits--one issued by the Province of Quebec, and one from Michigan, from the brief period when she and my grandpa lived there, around the time they got married.

Speaking of which, we found a receipt that we're pretty sure was for their wedding bands (Blogger is having issues with letting me load the photo, unfortunately). Both of them together were under $32. Current gold prices are something like $1,300 an ounce.

A "Backseat Driver's License," which would have been given to her by her husband, and made us laugh. It's a trait she carried well into her old age, and the card itself is a classic example of my grandpa's sense of humor.

This is a receipt for a shoestore, dated 1963. It is for a pair of specialty shoes that my mom wore when she was little, thanks to a birth defect in her knees. The cost of child-sized orthopedic shoes that year? $7.40.

A pay stub:

These letters were also in the wallet. From them, and the dates of various receipts, it looks like she carried it from 1958-1974. Mom and I haven't gotten to translating them yet from the original French.

There were two of these, and we aren't sure how she came by them, since as far as we know she never left the Great Lakes/Niagra region of North America. They are raffle tickets sponsored by an Irish hospital, and direct the bearer to listen to a Dublin radio station to see if they are a winner.

While  Mom pieces together the faces and names from the photographs, I've put myself in charge of the wallet. It's fascinating seeing these little bits of history, pieces of my grandmother's life long before I was born. Seeing where she went, who she was in contact with. There were at least a dozen business cards, including one from the Canadian Consulate in Detroit. Tucked into a pocket were two keys, presumably to one of the many appartments she lived in over the years. At least four different addresses are represented on various pieces of paperwork--a HydroQuebec electric bill, a Western Union wire transfer. Scraps of paper with notes on them, a slew of receipts. Some of her notes are in English, most are in French. There's even a help wanted ad tucked away for a job she might have been considering at some point.

I leave you with this, which sums up my grandmother's pride pretty well. She was always very proud, both of her own heratige, and of the American side that my mother inherited through her father. This was folded up among the other detrious:

It is an article about a Canadian woman, age 34, who turned down a ladyship (is that the right word?) in the UK because she was so proud to be Canadian that she didn't want a British title. I'm still trying to translate the article and find out more about the story to see why she was being honored in the first place.


  1. What a nice find! Must be amazing to take a look into the life of your grandmother like this. The only sad part is that she isn't there anymore to tell you the stories herself.

  2. Neat things. I especially like the back seat drivers license. I know a few who should have one.

  3. These are really important bits of your personal history - thanks for letting your readers enjoy them as much as you obviously are. And thank heavens your grandma was such a hoarder of ephemera.