Friday, September 4, 2009

The Suitcase Sagas

By Gracie Prior
My father’s old suitcase is brown and tan with leather trim. Though it isn’t in great shape, I love it because it reminds me of college in the 20s and 30s. My dad had to go to college during the depression. This suitcase probably held everything he needed: underwear, pajamas, a pair of slacks, a few shirts, socks. That was probably all. This handsome container could have held a pin stripe or a cotton suit though I don’t think my dad had either one of those. The suitcase reminds me of young gentlemen, polite and well bred, laughing with white teeth showing, a boater hat pushed back on dark curly hair. And if the man with that suitcase saw a lady, she might have worn a long gossamer dress. Maybe her hair was short, maybe piled up on her head. They would sit on a porch swing and drink lemonade. They would have their futures before them. Little did they realize the generation they were to produce. For who could ever imagine the baby boomers.
But for now, the Victrola is on and there is mosquito netting on the porch. The lady has a palm frond fan and she has begun to fan herself nervously. There is a little breeze. She stops and listens to the man with the suitcase. It turns out they are both borders of the same house and will be staying there while they are in college. She is going to be a teacher. He is what? I don’t know. Maybe an architect. He has lots of ideas. He used to help his dad build and he saw things that did not exist. He dreamed what was not out of the substance of his imagination.
He is happy to meet the lady. His plans are open. He treasures new friendships. The Victrola has stopped and someone on the porch plays a ukulele softly. These are most certainly all cliches, yet they paint my picture. The honeysuckle is so thick on the trellis; the scent hangs on the air. It is deep and almost suffocating, yet somehow lovely.
The talk between the couple ends. She goes in for the night. The man puts the suitcase by the swing and remembers he has come so far. Raised on the farm, he blends in with the city boys. Only his meager possessions give him away; no distinctions mar his easy manner. He is tailored and conservative yet full of elegance and good breeding. Though the depression has begun, he has hopes. His is the face of the future. He will ascend to the top of the mountain called the good life. After him, what then?
My son sits on our porch with the old suitcase on his lap. It is now an antique, a relic of times past. He looks inside and admires photographs of his grandfather: a naval officer, a builder, and a father. His clear eyes note the character in each visage. He is determined to continue the traits that made this gentleman great: honor, hard work, and love. He arises and carries the suitcase confidently into the future.
(The wedding is Sunday, September 6. Details next week. Have a great weekend. Nancy)


  1. Great post.
    Blessings and prayers, andrea

  2. Love the story! Have a wonderful weekend:)

  3. What a neat story. I love seeing my grandparents things and wondering about what they mean. :-)
    Have a good weekend!

  4. Nancy: How lovely and poignant. I love that the heritage your grandpa passed down was hard work, honor and love. Your son will be a rich man indeed if he follows his father's footsteps.
    Audience of ONE

  5. This was so beautiful. I love how you took us on a walk in the past and brought it full circle.