Every day we sit by idly, we are losing our history. If we do not take action now, I fear what our children and their children will lose by our idleness. I discovered something last week that both upset and delighted me at the same time. Inside a “last chance” room in a local thrift store, I found a scrapbook that whispered to me as I was leaving because the cover was so intricate and pretty. On a whim, I purchased it for no other intention than to photograph the cover. When I opened the pages of the scrapbook a few hours after I was settled in back home, I uncovered the best opportunity I could have ever imagined to teach my children about the Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
It is no longer a secret that I am in the process of collecting vintage items and ephemera for personal projects I have in mind. I find it exciting to go treasure hunting because the thrill is never knowing what you will find. If you want to, you can read more about what has drawn me into this hobby by reading my previous post found here.
As I said, I purchased the green scrapbook shown below for a mere 75 cents from a room where the items were destined to be thrown away after a time. The last time I was there, I had noticed this scrapbook, but I didn’t look at it because I was focused on looking for something else at the time. However, when I was there last week, I was simply getting out of the house and enjoying some time to myself. When I noticed it again, I picked it up, stroked the cover, and said, “My, the details and materials you are made of are simply lovely. I think I can use you!”
Yes, I talk to inanimate objects; we all do admit it!
I carried it to the counter where the lady told me she would sell it to me for 75 cents. I carried it out to my car in a box with a few other books I found that looked lonely and needed a friend and headed home.
After a light lunch, I started unpacking my new finds and laid the scrapbook out to see what was inside it. I opened the first page, and some articles fell out and landed on my living room floor. Pixel came running towards them, so I quickly scooped them up and placed them back on the table.
When I turned back around to see what they were, I was startled. Lying before me were original newspaper articles and magazine clippings from 1941 and 1942. I was instantly enraptured, and I pulled up my office chair to my table.
Page after page inside this inconspicuous scrapbook lay one article after another of battles, maps, propaganda, photographs, and more events during World War II. Many were from Life Magazine, but there were clippings from others as well.
The more I turned the pages, the more shocked I became, and I will be candid with you, I started to shake. When JJ walked in, he found me teary-eyed and babbling to myself, “What did you find, hon?”
You can imagine my enthusiastic response. It took only a heartbeat for my husband to get as interested as I did. Nevertheless, my emotions quickly shifted from awe to heartbreak. This painstakingly crafted journal of events that someone felt needed to be kept was almost destroyed. I was holding history in my hands, and I almost left it behind without even knowing it.
Today I pulled this scrapbook down and placed my son and daughter on either side of me. At the same time, I turned on an age-appropriate video about Pearl Harbor for a few minutes on the television. When it was finished, I opened the pages for my kids to hold history in their hands and let them discover what I had found and ask questions. It took a little bit for me to explain the events on their level, but even my six-year-old daughter was able to understand. My 11-year-old son picked up on all of it quickly, though. There could never have been a better way to explain this critical event in American history to them without taking them to Hawaii myself.
To think that these pages were almost sent to a landfill cuts me to the core. However, I have to believe I found them for a reason because they are safe now. They will be well protected until I can work on them further.
Today I can say that I am highly grateful for my background in archival work. I spent years working in the archives of Mars Hill University and running a frame shop as a certified custom art framer. I have yet to uncover pages due to deterioration and the acidic tape that I will have to carefully remove. Some of the tape fused with other pages, and it will take focused attention, white gloves, and a sharp straight razor to get them apart, but I will in time.
I do not know who preserved this timeline or why they felt they needed to do so, but I am grateful to them. If I had to venture a guess, I believe the creator of this scrapbook, their home contents were donated to this charity without a second thought after they passed. It would not be the first time such sad events happen because I hear of it daily. At least I was able to preserve this and use it as a tool to start teaching my children to appreciate history and learn why it is so important.
In conclusion, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to those who serve have served and their families. Your sacrifices are not in vain, and I will do everything in my power to honor you. I still believe we live in the greatest country on this earth.