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Time Capsule

As mentioned in the previous post, I was back home in Illinois last week helping my sister sort through my father's personal things. I knew about many of the work-related items he'd kept: blueprints, drawings, and many huge (roughly 3'x4'), aerial shots of O'Hare Field during various phases of construction circa 1960-1962.

I was also aware of quite a collection of family portraits - some from 100+ years ago - and snapshots. (How is it that studio photos made ages ago can be in such great shape...while shapshots taken with those 110 cameras in the 1970s look so terrible?)

It was the things I didn't know he'd saved that surprised me,  a huge stack of postcards. From me. There was a period from the late 1980s until about 2000 that I traveled extensively for work. At one point I was on the road pretty much weekly, sometimes to 3-4 cities in a week.

When that phase of my career began, I started sending my folks a postcard from every stop. Initially, my thought was that it would be something fun for my mom. She'd suffered a massive stroke some years prior and was bedridden as a result; I hoped she'd enjoy receiving a little something regularly in the mail. I carried stamps in my wallet at all times, and made sure to grab a postcard from every destination.

At one point, as I seemed to end up in Los Angeles constantly, I joked that they must be the "envy of all their friends" with their exhaustive collection of postcards from L.A.! (There really are not that many interesting postcard shots of Los Angeles - trust me, I know. I probably bought every one in the racks by the time I was through. Then I ended up relocating out there for a new job!)

After my mom passed away, I continued to send cards to my dad. All told, there were well over 100. And he'd saved every one of them. I found them neatly stored in a beautiful wooden box, sorted in order of the date sent. I brought the stack back to New England with me and read through them last night. It was a little like opening a time capsule. (For starters, I'd forgotten just how MUCH I was on the road.)

Because I was responsible for the entire United States and Puerto Rico back then, I covered a lot of ground (I've been to all but 4 states - still missing North Dakota, Delaware, Alabama, and Kansas). It was exhausting at the time, but how else would I have seen that many places?

Of course I sent cards from vacation spots, too. And when I moved from Chicago to L.A., and then from L.A. to New Hampshire, I drove my car across the country each time, logging roughly 700 miles a day. Gas - check. Food - check. Sleep - check. POSTCARD? Check!

Poking through the collection, I found cards from far-flung places like Alaska, Cannes, San Juan, London, and Hawaii. There were also plenty from "everyday" locations - like Evansville, IN, Bellevue, NE, and Columbus, OH. (By the way, those less exotic places are just as interesting to me...)

Reading them all, I found myself remembering trips and things that happened during those years that I hadn't thought about for a long time. What a treat. Thanks, Dad.

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