Story of a Whitman’s Sampler
In the year 1912, a young man of 14 years who was not much more than a boy, bought a young woman of 12 a box of chocolates in the hopes of winning her affection and it did successfully. Four years later, they would marry and start a life together, which surpassed two world wars, the depression and all events in between until 1975 when his young recipient of the chocolates would exit this world, and yet the box remained intact and traveled through the decades of their life together. Over the years, the box may have been used for many objects finding a home or possibly at times was empty and yet still full of a memory.
Ten babies were born during the life of the Whitman’s box, two babies – Max and Donna were grieved and buried during their life together, and yet the box remained. The young couple began their life together in the belly of the Ozarks, proud to be, as the oldest son would say in his life “hillbillies” and strong! Depression years took the couple, children, and the box north to find work and rode home again intact when returning to the roots they loved. As sons left home to fight in World War 2 and Korea, the box remained and held the memory of a day in 1912. As one son chose to disappear from the life they had created without being seen again before his mama’s passing, her box stayed close as did letters of times gone by she would rubber band and read over again in the remaining years of her life. I can only imagine the thoughts she held as she viewed life and yet kept her chocolate box from decades gone by.
Her life was not easy or was she soft in how she approached life, though she had two daughters who survived, the boys grew up with a strength born of the Irish fire of a parents blood. Her box of chocolates from a time when the heart was young and timid in years, courage was her forte’ in life, with a presence, which would have the weak step from her way. The couple spent many years owning a mercantile where she would make children’s clothes, which hung from the walls and crochet the finery, which adorned many homes and still was known to walk with a shovel and take the head of a snake if necessary, while her Whitman was kept in perfect condition. A tenderness not only shown but also held in the heart of a box of chocolates from so long ago!
I can say I knew this woman, though I never felt I knew her well. I felt the energy of her strength and the fear, which could overtake through her voice. Having no memory in my life of this being a woman who reached out to hold me in life, I felt I was only watching her life rather than participating in her life. This couple I knew as my grandparents. A grandfather who was soft and gentle to approach possibly, as he was when the Whitman’s was given in a time of youth, walking soft in memory as she walked with force.
After her death, my grandfather took the Whitman’s box and placed objects, which belonged to his love; he then could touch and remember a woman who was his heart and soul. As I watched this time unfold so many years ago, I once again felt I was only an observer in another life, now gone from this world and yet the Whitman’s box still remained and held the mark of love. As my grandfather held unto the Whitman’s box in the time following her death, the box seemed to pull him into a space of time of happiness, with periods of moments or days and eventually longer when he chose to remain with the woman and memories he loved. Was this the power of the box with a tie so strong in death it brought them together again? I remember one afternoon in the spring of 1976, at the time he was living in my parent’s home and as I peeked in too say hi, he was once again looking at the box. I laid my newborn daughter in his arms and as he smiled and started talking, I realized he was in my world but not of the time at the present as he talked to my daughter as if he was talking to his infant daughter so many decades ago. Within that year, he moved on to a nursing home and his Whitman’s box was left behind, separated for the first time since 1912 from a box carried through all life experience they had known together.
Left behind, I took possession of the Whitman’s box, having packed and carried the Whitman’s in the years since , forgotten until recently when I moved myself and took the time to uncover all boxed parts of my own life and uncovered the Whitman once again, finding now only the lid survived my own travels . Legacy of sorts, through a box of chocolates exchanged in another time with a wonderment in travels , events, times and thoughts transpired in a lifetime of it’s own still unending, still holding a power of thought and understanding of generations of being a connecting energy of my world and surviving from a time when an automobile was a new thought to a time now when travel to space is creating reservations for flight, through depression and recession, through birth and through death, wars of the decades and a special energy of thanksgiving which held the Whitman’s in esteem for life and love possibly only they understood, originally photographed with a tin snip to being scanned today!
On this eve before so many embark to celebrate Thanksgiving, I give thanks to the Whitman box, memories of those who touched, knew of and have passed beyond the Whitman’s, nourishing my life, heritage and legacy and allowing through a box lid today to take the time to remember a box of chocolates and the love they shared during the life of their Whitman’s treasure. A keepsake of life, love, and a story only the box could tell. Happy Thanksgiving 2010!