Rediscovering Buried Treasure

'TWAS poignant indeed about that college basketball player who almost didn't get to the big playoff game. He missed his plane after being in Philadelphia to attend his granddaughter's wedding. An enormous accomplishment has accrued. I have my cubicle or nook, known to the IRS as ``place of business,'' tidy and back to rights after an Augean cleansing worthy of popular attention. I am ready for the 1990s.

During the 1980s it got to be quite a mess. Since the cubicle is apart from family areas and nobody enters save me, I am not in a day-to-day dither to keep it neat, and so long as my typewriter carriage can swing its length I am content. One pleasant thing about swamping out from time to time is the recovery of things forgotten, the revelation of things lost, and the peeping up of things I last saw in 1953. I can start with this question:

How do I go about getting a silver dollar for my silver certificate? Up turned, amongst old snapshots and ticket stubs from the Scollay Square Olympia, a dollar bill that I had laid by some years since. It is a silver certificate, so called, and it says in Uncle Sam's sweetest tones, ``This certifies that there is on deposit in the treasury of THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA one dollar in silver payable to the bearer on demand.''

You may well ask. It is Series 1935B, and is signed by Fred M. Vinson, who was Secretary of the Treasury at that time and should be reliable. I haven't had the bill all these years - it came in change from the hardware store maybe 15 years ago, and I laid it on my desk to await attention. I will be grateful for instructions as to how to go about demanding my silver dollar.

I also found, again, the tinder box Howard Irish gave me. When I was wee, my grandfather instructed me in making fire with the family tinder box, and sometimes it took longer than others. Mostly this was when we were having lunch in the woods, and if Gramp was hungry he'd strike a ``promethean'' instead of waiting for me to bring forth fire. Gramp always called a striking match a promethean. Really, he had modern strike-anywhere matches, but in a tin box on the kitchen mantle were some Portland Star matches, left over from years gone by. These were half-split from a pine ``card,'' and came to a flame after a desultory display of sulphur. Before the Portland Star, a match was a promethean. Gramp told me things like that.

So I was sad when the house burned and we lost all the family things, and my tinder box was gone. I told Howard Irish about this, and he gave me a replacement. I'm glad to find it again, because I've been meaning to instruct the grandchildren in making fire. They learn so many things in school nowadays that aren't so, and I want them to be ready if need arises.

I also turned up a good many notes to myself, some of which I understand. This one says ``contact'' and I understand that. This is to emphasize that contact is properly a noun, and that senators and professors shouldn't say, ``please contact me.'' Things like that irk me, but there's really nobody nowadays to complain to.

This note, here, says, ``people-cavalcade.'' I remember it was on Wheel of Fortune - the puzzle was ``people'' and the answer was ``cavalcade.'' Well, maybe - but the active ingredient is the horse, not the rider. Caballus, cheval, cavalier, cavalcade. And here is ``lend-loan.'' If you're well-to-do and don't need it, a bank may lend you money, and will expect you to pay back the loan along with shirt and trousers.

Here's a good one - a school superintendent said he was hoping to ``replicate'' some pictures lost when the schoolhouse burned. A Washington bureaucrat, probably - but a school super? I didn't throw any of these notes to myself away. I'll let them enfold themselves back into the residue of passing time and when they turn up again I may find a use for them.

And wonderful to behold! (Isn't that an ablative absolute?) Here is a postal card that says, ``I can't come Mon., is Tue. OK?'' No date, no signature, no address. I wrote it. I send things like that for fun, and I forgot to mail this one. I'll think of somebody, but meantime postal cards have gone up to 15-cent stamps.

So I'm ready for the 1990s with a swept hold and the reek of detergents and wax. That basketball player reminds me of Stewart Martin in my primary school grades. Stewart started late, but was a good student. He sang bass for One Little Chickadee, and had a full beard.

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