Inside of an old briefcase where my childhood family pictures are stored there lay a small blue tin.
Below the “Black Cat Virginia Cigarettes”, labeling there are the enticing words …
Mild Quality Superfine.
It has been a long time since I smoked cigarettes but in my younger days this would have led me to lift the lid and slowly inhale the sweet aroma of fine tobacco. Then lift one to my lips and light it ever so deftly with the flick of a match and savor the find of such a treasure. One by one they would have been smoked until the thrill was forgotten and the tin tossed away, never to be seen again.
Well, that was then and this is now. The tin is now slightly rusted and some 50 years old; a similar one sold recently on eBay for $20.00, which is almost the current market price for a pack of cigarettes. How times have changed, indeed.
My excitement came upon opening and finding inside there were postcards and a poem, now how cool is that! Someone, perhaps my mother, the cigarette smoker in the family, found a useful purpose for this icon of that which eventually took her life.
Anyway, I will share with you the contents of said tin, the sum total of 22 postcards, only one of which was ever sent and one handwritten poem:
Bahia Mar Yacht Basin, Ft Lauderdale, Florida
The New York Stock Exchange
A diorama of the founding of the stock exchange
Mural ” Stength and Beauty” by Dean Cornwell
General Motors Building, 1939 New York World’s Fair
The Transparent Car – General Motors Building
1939 New York World’ Fair
An unusual postcard
Two from The Village Barn, Greenwich Village NY
one advertising… Excellent Dinners for $2.95
First with Jets across the U.S.A.
The Jet-Powered Electra Flagships
The Mourne Mountains, Co. Down N. Ireland
St. Patrick’s Grave
postmarked from Co. Down N. Ireland
The Royal Courts of Justice – Belfast, N. Ireland
NY World’s Fair posers
on the left are my mother and father
My ever dapper father…
“Where d’yuh get dat beer stuff?
Beer, hell! Beer’s for goils – and Dutchmen.
Me for somep’n wit a kick to it! Gimme a drink, one of youse guys.”
– Eugene O.Neil
Three beautiful pen an inks honoring
A little below Cape Cod
where I spent summer vacations
Marsh scene with one of
the bridges over the Cape Cod Canal
in the background
Mid-Cape highway heading to Provincetown
” Bartholomew Gosnold’s Dream,”
is often quoted as one of the poems
referring to the christening of the Cape,
a few of its stanzas will be deemed appropriate :
“There sailed an ancient mariner.
Bart Gosnold was he hight,—
The Cape was all a wilderness
When Gosnold hove in sight.
”He saw canoes and wigwams rude,
By ruder builders made,
Squaws pounded samp about the door,
And dark pappooses played.
“The hills were bold and fair to view,
And covered o’er with trees,
Said Gosnold, ‘Bring a fishing line,
While lulls the evening breeze.
“‘I’ll christen that there sandy shore
From the first fish I take—
Tautog, or toadfish, cusk or cod,
Horse-mackerel or hake,
“‘Hard-head or haddock, sculpin, squid,
Goose-fish, pipe-fish or cunner,—
No matter what—shall with its name
Yon promontory honor.’
“Old Neptune heard the promise made,
Down dove the water-god—
He drove the meaner fish away
And hooked the mammoth cod.
“Quick Gosnold hauled. ‘Cape—Cape—Cape—Cod.’
‘Cape Cod,’ the crew cried louder ;
‘Here, steward ! take the fish along,
And give the boys a chowder.’ “
There you have a brief collage of sacred memories neatly placed into a small cigarette tin and stored away.
Oh yes, what about the Poem in the tin with all of this…
the author is unknown and there are several versions circulating but this was handwritten with care in very good penmanship. On unlined paper the words lay across the page as if by typewriter in a forward leaning slant to lead you on to the next verse.
Whether my mother wrote it or someone gave it to her when she was being treated for her emphysema and cancer, I will never know, but I do know that this would be her doing, to place all this in a cigarette tin for me to find years after she’d gone;
I present it in Edwardian Script to render it as close to the original.
There’s nothing whatever the matter with me
I’m just as healthy as I can be
I have Arthritis in both my knees
And when I talk’ I talk with a wheeze
My pulse is weak and my hair is thin
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in
I think my liver is out of whack
And a terrible pain is in my back
My hearing is poor and my sight is dim
Most everything else is out of trim
My Doctor says that my days are few
Every week he finds something new
And the way I stagger is sure a crime
I’m likely to drop at any time
I jump like mad at the drop of a pin
But I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in
I have arch supports for both my feet
Or I wouldn’t be able to walk on the street
Sleeplessness I have night after night
And in the morning I’m a perfect sight
My memory’s failing, my head’s in a spin
I’m awfully well for the shape I’m in
There are treasures everywhere, sometimes where you least expect them and if you take the time they will always present you with their wonderful stories.