Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

August 25, 2013

Packing, moving and finding memories

- — My latest adventure — as if getting married wasn’t enough — is packing and moving from Princeton to Bluefield. This will be my third move as an adult. The first time I left home I shared an apartment with my college friend Leslie. I left a lot of things behind with my parents; it only took about a day and a half to move too. After all, a college apartment is only temporary, another chapter of young adulthood. I returned home after graduation. I needed time to sort out life, consider the future and chart a new path. A lot of my friends did the same. For me, it was easier to plan my future within the walls of family. I saved money along the way. The second time I left home I packed up more than just my belongings. I changed a lot of things, including my job at the time. I was ready to be on my own. This time, it took several days of moving, packing and shopping for my new home. I still left a few things — my old toys, basketball trophies, high school mementos  and a few other sentimental objects. It felt OK leaving them in my parents’ attic, tucked away with countless other family memories. At Christmas, when looking for missing decorations in their attic, I always find the time to sort through those old memories, even taking a few things back to my place, just on a whim. Last year, I discovered an old Barbie — her hair still in a messy, frizzy braid — and smiled. She had no shoes; I lost those tiny pink heels as a child.

Now five years later, I am about to move again. Instead of packing up old memories like I did with my childhood home, I am going to wrap up dishes, tupperware, pots and pans and other sensible items. I won’t come across any old toys, high school memories or sentimental childhood items. Eventually, I will go through my parents’ attic again, carefully choosing my memories and incorporating them into my married life.

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The new house in Bluefield stills holds memories of the former occupants. We have to clean out the basement and the attic. We are still not finished yet. A yard sale is in our near future. Last week, we finally started clearing out the attic. It was jammed full of forgotten books, leftover fabric from sewing project, fans, suitcases, old-fashioned Christmas decorations and furniture from a forgotten age. We made some progress and divided everything into sections. For every strange find — a suitcase full of travel items from hotels —  was an equally sentimental treasure from a family I didn’t even know. A box full of old black and white pictures, a few ledgers from the ’40s, a huge portrait of a child, a mining certification from the old Goodwill mine, greeting cards, letters and more.

Perhaps my favorite discovery was a plastic bag full of old Bluefield Daily Telegraph newspapers from important dates. Big bold headlines about the assassination of JFK, the death of Martin Luther King Jr., along with editions from World War II. I have seen old newspapers before. Several of them hang on the walls of the newsroom. But I never expected to find papers in my soon-to-be new home. As a BDT editor and reporter, it was exciting to find a piece of the newspaper’s past in the attic. I image the original owners never expected a Lifestyle editor to find them more than 50 years later.

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As for the photos, I am at a loss. I feel sad knowing so much history is sitting in a box. What future generations will be able to see them? And how did they get left behind? Even though they were in the attic, they are still important, just like the old mementos in my parents’ attic. I have a few ideas on what to do with these photos. I hope I can either track down the owners or donate the photos to the library for preservation. Our home is just one old home in Bluefield. I wonder how many other attics are filled with treasures, just waiting for a new couple to sort through and examine. Right now, the move is slightly overwhelming, but it holds a lot of promise. I am moving memories, making new ones and rediscovering some of Bluefield’s past at the same time.

Jamie Parsell is the Lifestyle editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at jparsell@bdtonline.com or on Twitter @BDTParsell.

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