PASSING DOWN MEMORIES by Kate Peters
Before I started kindergarten, I used to walk up the path to visit my “Grandma and Grampa Folks” almost every day. Grandma was usually sitting by the window, working with her substantial collection of stamps. She also had several rare treasures of yesteryear, including a treadle sewing machine, a Civil War-era parasol, and a tiny shoe from China, that was worn by some unlucky “fortunate” who had been born wealthy enough to have her feet bound, as a little girl.
My grampa, Theodore Abijah, maintained a ‘truck” farm on a flat space near the top of our hill. He had lots of hobbies. He had been a teacher and a high school principal, by trade. Now retired, he was a rock collector and an inventor. He even had a little mail order business in rudimentary spectroscopes coming to T.A.Cutting.
Sometimes he would let me come up into the attic with him, to see his little inventions. You had to be careful not to step off the two planks, or you would fall through the ceiling into the living room, below. He had a box of colored gels framed in white, with little handles. They were shaped like suckers. Looking through one made the world turn a completely different color. It was very fun.
He taught me to read. We read a book about a little girl with blonde hair and her black cat named Smoky. When I got my first kitten, I picked the all-black one, and named her Smoky.
Grampa also wrote books and printed them on a huge peddle-operated press in the old barn. It was fun to get going really fast and ride the peddles, while I stuck my hand down into the press and withdrew it just in time, over and over again. I’m lucky I have a hand today, I guess.
In his study, Grampa had a small bookshelf with some books and a bowl of fossils and half-rocks. The half-rocks were some he had sawn in two with his rock saw. A rock saw was harder, even, than a rock, because it had real diamonds around the edge. The fossils were from a long, long time ago.
Somehow, I was fortunate enough to inherit his bowl of rocks, and I still have it, after an Alaskan odyssey and a dozen other moves. Whenever I pass it, I am reminded of my Grampa Folks. Today, I’ve brought one rock to show you. I don’t know how he acquired it, but I picture the episode as a hot dash, a quick press, and a rapid withdrawal. I think he “made” it on Mt. Lassen in 1915. Was this one of his brightest moves, or one of his dimmest? Who’s to say, but I feel proud to be its present owner. One day soon, people won’t even recognize the head of Mercury on the face of a dime that was pressed into the belly button of this piece of lava rock. I wonder, where will my Grampa’s prize go from here? Maybe my story can go along with it. I’m glad I’m telling it while I still can. Maybe that’s why writing is one of Humankind’s greatest inventions.