Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Visiting my 1931

My goal this week was to clean off the floor of the office, mainly throw away the stuff I didn't intend to keep. I did that, and yet... I'd like to put the good stuff somewhere. The office closet is such that I can't even close it. I know there's a bunch of tax returns in there. If I could just clean that out, I'd have room for the rest of the stuff and maybe even stuff from the middle room. That became the second goal of the week.

Well, cleaning out 25 years of tax returns wasn't easy, it turned out. So far I have spent 10 hours going through it all and shredding most of it. I don't want to shred the last three years of returns, and I don't want to shred anything to do with the Earl Street acquisition. But I don't think I have to be careful with tax returns in the '80's.

And, boy, did I learn a lot! So much of the paperwork back then from banks, credit unions, telephone companies, credit card agencies, was amateurish-looking. I could create something like that on my computer. And the big thing is, why did I spend all that money? On what? On CDs (if that) I no longer have? What a waste!

And yet, I found something more. I discovered that, in my haste of moving, I threw my Dad's diary in with my tax files. His diary from the 1930's.

It's kind of amazing I didn't know of its existence before he died. It's only when he died and I was looking through the things he left in various drawers that I found it. It's really one of the few things he left from his Navy days.

I'll reprint a small entry, manually typed onto a small, lined sheet in an old notebook full of hundreds of sheets.

"Wednesday, June 17, 1931. The Thirteenth Day

"Nothing has happened today so this one will be very short. We had general drills this morning, Fire drill, abandon ship, etc. That took up most of the morning. I will have something more interesting later on in this trip when we get to Europe and visit Copenhagen and all those places that I have always wished to go to. I have watch this afternoon and it is very quiet. Nothing at all to do but sit here and read and write my Diary. I suppose I should be thankful that I have the time to write my Diary or else how are you all going to find out what I have done on this trip to Europe. Sometimes I have the feeling that I should join the bank but I am spurred on by the thought that maybe I am doing right to stick with my chosen profession which is radio.

"We expect to sight land tomorrow and let me tell you that there will be occasion for all hands to rejoice that this long and tedious trip is over for a time at least. We are getting all kinds of European stations on our radio that we have in here to get music on. Some Dutch, English, Danish, French and all kinds of junk that we cannot understand even if we try.

"It rained last night -- the first night that it has rained since our trip started twelve days ago. This is an exceptional record for a sea-voyage. Now don't get the impression that it has not rained at all, on the contrary, it has rained some in the daytime but the nights have always cleared off so we could have the movies on schedule. They are getting ready for chow and I am quite hungry after a long day with nothing to do. I am reading an awfully lot. One has to relieve the monotony of the voyage. Now you will excuse me as I want to go to sleep for a little while......So-long ------"

Every page is nicely kept. Every page is neatly typed. There are some typos but few spelling errors. That tells so much about him.

I really should remove the sheets and put them in a better notebook. The book itself stuck to the envelope I placed it in, and the metal parts are badly rusted. I'm afraid the rust will stick to the pages and make them illegible.

I'm wondering when I'll get back to the shredding and clearing out of my office. The diary is a magnet. A portrait of the artist as a young man. He was only 19 years old. I'm fascinated.