What’s in the mail?

Posted: March 20, 2016 in Miscellaneous
Tags: , ,

Ever since I left home, my father has been shipping me boxes of stuff. Sometimes he packs up pieces of our history. Sometimes he returns the book or the shirt or whatever it was I left behind on my last visit. Most times he ships the things he believes I can’t live without.

For example…

  • A glamour photo of Mom and Dad when they got engaged.
  • The menu from their wedding.
  • The license plate of the first car I drove.
  • The operating manual to our first power lawnmower.
  • The legs to the table Dad built when I was six to hold my electric trains, when I was thinking of adding a train room to my house. The legs were 14” tall. Dad had forgotten that I was no longer 6.
  • Army boots.
  • An anvil.
  • A brace-and-bit drill. What the Three Stooges couldn’t do with a brace-and-bit drill.
  • 40 hammers.
  • 100 bars of soap. I had just moved to Seattle and Dad was worried they didn’t sell soap.
  • 3,000 brass screws. That was two boxes.

A new box arrived on Friday. Here it is with Mr. Lucky for scale:

box 3b

Dad armors these boxes until they can withstand truck and plane travel and, if necessary, a broadside from the U.S.S. Constitution. After ripsawing my way through the top, I saw this:

box 5

The gloves make good padding. They’ll find a home with the hundreds of other gloves Dad has used for padding.

Let’s start digging!

box 6

What’s in that cigar box, and the yellow box behind it?

box 7

An ancestor of the Flair pen, 39 brass drapery hooks, sharpening stones, and the kind of springy doorstop that kids of my generation loved to thwang against the wall with the toe of their sneakers. This time around, Dad must’ve been emptying the junk drawer he started filling in 1957.

Back to the box. I’ll remove one layer at a time:

box 8

box 9

box 10

The gray boxes are sets of socket wrenches. Gotta have those. Wait, I already do!

box 12

box 13

box 14

These boxes are complicated – not because of the merchandise, but because of the emotions they represent. Or maybe these boxes are simple – they are solid love. I wrote this post and took these photos because Dad is a World War II veteran living in the 21st century and I won’t have him and Mom around forever. I once received these boxes several times each year. Now they’re uncommon, like birds that have changed their migration pattern. I’ve often felt inundated by junk, but for all the inconvenience, I’ll miss these boxes when I no longer find them waiting patiently for me on the front step.

What’s in the mail? Memories. A parent’s care. And flashlights.

Comments
  1. mikener says:

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then you’ve got 10,000 expressions of love, intricately layered into just that one box. A silent type of love it seems and misplaced possibly, but undoubtable genuine.

    I also wondered, not only how much money but how much time he invested into creating just that one box to materialize on your doorstep? Time. Money. Two things, I’m surmising, that your father holds in high esteem. And that he chose to invest into you.

    As always, thanks for sharing a little slice of your life.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      Michael: Forgive me for letting this beautiful comment languish for a month before posting it. In just a few sentences you packed in more about my relationship with my Dad than I managed in this whole post.

      Thanks for sharing? Thanks for reading!

      BTW: Dad recently sent me a box that included five horseshoes. I was excited at first, because I thought they were from his father’s horse, Sadie. Sadie pulled Grandpa’s cart in Fall River, Mass., in 1918. Then I realized they were too small for a full-grown horse. Also, they were unused. The Bielers used to play horseshoes in the backyard in the 1940s and 50s (the worn patches in the grass were still visible in the 70s), but again, too small, unused. Turns out that Dad bought them at a yard sale intending to put one up for good luck. They’ve spent the past 40 years in a box in the basement. I don’t know if horseshoes really bring good luck, but I’ll tell you this, if you keep them underground, they don’t!

      • mikener says:

        Oh, I don’t know about that.
        If those horseshoes where nailed to door frames around the Bieler homestead, like equestrian mezuzahs, then they would still be there. It is only because they’ve been in a box in the basement for the past 40 years, awaiting your father’s final steps in De-Hoarders Anonymous, that you have not only been lucky enough to realize another layer in your father’s life, but also another paragraph in the life of your blog.

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        “equestrian mezuzahs”? I have to steal that!

  2. Number 9 says:

    Darwin and I loved going through the photos – I think he wanted to crawl into the box and explore every new exciting item as it was revealed.

  3. Sherry says:

    Great story!!!

  4. seasidedave says:

    You have got to be one of the luckiest people in the U.S.A.!! You can never have too many twangy doorstops…everyone of them will break over time! None of those Chinese shit-made tools in the mix, I assume? And don’t get me started on hand weeders and the countless number you’ll need in just the last decades of your life. I also feel sad that the boxes will not be coming ‘forever.’ I may contact my lawyer and change my will such that a box of my ‘basement goods’ will be sent to Steven Bieler for the remainder of his life..after I’m gone and I no longer need my six socket sets, 9 crescent wrenches, 37 screw drivers, pounds of fasteners and 6 pairs of assorted size vice-grips…not to mention the several braces (and numerous bits). That white owl cigar box may be a collectible? I am curious as to the ‘good until’ date on those batteries? You are an appreciative and deserving son…more boxes on the porch is the very least I could wish for you.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      You’re a sweetheart for saying this. Yes, I am lucky, and I do appreciate what Dad does, but I also had to throw the cigar box and most of the rest of the paper into the recycling because of the stinky moldy aroma. Yum. Good thing we had a warm, sunny day on Saturday so I could open the box outdoors. The dog was fascinated….Sadly, Dad keeps buying tools, and Stanley and Craftsman keep ordering them from Asian factories powered by slaves, so in among the good tools there were also the shit tools.

      Not that I wish any harm toward your widow, but if you gift me with a box of your fucking basement goods for the remainder of my life, I will retaliate.

  5. ofelia says:

    Your dad is awesome but I know what you mean. You still have yours, I don’t have mine, but they were both Depression babies. Lots of Stuff. I’d give anything for a box of whatever from my dad to show up on my door step tomorrow with gloves for packing (my parents usually used old bath towels, by the way). Just saying. But I could have used a few of Irving’s flashlights when the power went out here twice last week, 25 hours Thursday, 16 hours Sunday. (Bummer but all good now.)

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I can’t deliver a box from your dad, but guess what I can do? Deliver flashlights! If my father knew you were sitting in the dark with the cat, he’d be very upset. As Robert Redford said to the bat boy in The Natural, “Pick me out a winner, Bobby.” I’ll send you a couple of good ones.

      • Accused of Lurking says:

        Three, no four, well five thoughts:

        1. I actually do need two twangy doorstops and a roll of cloth tape.
        2. I agree with my fellow commenters–You’re a lucky guy.
        3. “The I. Bielers”-ROFL (Certainly better than “The I. Robots”.)
        4. How much did that box weigh and how much did it cost to ship it cross-country?
        5. Is it not true that you inherited a bit of that “pass-along-the-miscellany” gene, although with paper items rather than metal ones?

      • Run-DMSteve says:

        1. I’ll put them in the mail. No guarantees on the cloth tape retaining the ability to tape.
        2. I am lucky…not counting the hour I have to spend on the phone while we relive the miracle of the box and Dad explains everything in the box, slowly and with great emphasis, as if I were learning English as my second language.
        3. “The I. Bielers” fell off the house while Gerald Ford was president. I like the idea of “The I. Robots” or “The iBielers.”
        4. About 30 lbs. I don’t want to know.
        5. You got me. But not to the tune of 30 lbs!

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