Tin Box

The tin box caught my eye; bravely perched atop piles of garbage, discarded clothing and broken furniture. It was old, probably 50’s or 60’s, a bread box in it’s day; the kind of box that sat on your grandmother’s kitchen counter. Discarded behind a derelict house; tossed out in haste or aggression, left to fend for itself in the driving rain.

My fondness for vintage nick knacks brought the car to a stop, I tossed it into the trunk with nary a thought to the contents or owner. I hadn’t noticed the weight of abandoned tin box, it didn’t occur to me to look inside . I confess it lay forgotten, weeks passed before remembering to take a look, what I discovered broke my heart – I had become the caretaker of another’s life.

This wasn’t something a person discarded when cleaning out the closet or packing for a move. Tin box protected a family history; decades of photographs and letters – smiling faces of those who have come and gone, birthday cards, best wishes lacking any hint of origin. Familiar words intended for those who had no use for envelopes with return addresses or last names. A tin guardian lost forever.

Tin box rests undisturbed in my basement; I’ve pondered long and hard how it ended up in that alley, asked myself if someone came looking for it, and agonized over my rash decision to toss it in the car. Tin box refuses to reveal a single clue as to where it came from, who might be missing it or how I can return  it safely to anyone who cares. I suspect the demise of tin box was ugly – likely a casualty of circumstance – testament to a life gone astray.

In my heart I know tin box would have gone to the dump had I not thrown it in my trunk. I understand lives fallen off the rails, tin boxes the least of your worries.  All the same – my sincerest apology tin box, I had no idea how valuable you were. I’ll keep you safe and warm and promise not to use you as a flower pot. My hope your owner has their life together is sincere, your treasure testament to a once happy family – a family that loved the one who saw you languish in that dark, forlorn alley.

Vintage bread box – sadly not my tin box since my camera is acting up, but very close to my treasured burden. Photo from primrose.blogspot.com

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9 thoughts on “Tin Box

  1. I “inherited” the family tin box from my grandmother who was about to throw it out. I felt honoured and worried that my brother, sisters or dozen’s of cousins would want a share.
    To this day, I’m surprised that no one cared one bit. To them they’re just old photos. To me they’re star gates into a different place and time where I can enter at will and meet my ancestry.

    Not sure what the future of (your) tinbox will be but you’re a hero, saving all those lives from eternal forgetting.

    Perhaps your spider can make a home in it.

    • I’m not a hero, rather an opportunist who got more than they bargained for.It makes me nuts 🙂 As for that spider – I just discovered kitchen widow number two, living behind a cactus not 6 feet from kitchen widow number one.I would be happy if they packed up and moved downstairs into the tin box.

      As for that tin box – I cherish it as I would my own “shoebox” – there is no slip of paper too trivial to rest in my treasured family box.

      I was talking to my step mother a few days ago and she asked me about some things she found in the attic of my grandmother’s house. I nearly lost my mind – before she even finished describing them I was telling her exactly which closet she found them in – at that moment I could smell the attic – I’m not sure if she understood my plea to resit throwing anything away before checking with me.Tin boxes mean a lot 🙂

  2. I’ve tossed out a round tin like that. Moments when I did not want to be encumbered by the past and what it represented. I don’t miss it at all. Sounds as though you could make a storyout of them. >KB

  3. Tins like this always are intriguing to me…as a kid I loved them, as they could keep everything. Can’t help seeing one, walking over and taking a peek inside…just something about them shouts out ‘keepers of the past.’ It’s in good hands with you.

  4. I’m not sure whether pondering too long on Tin Box becomes fact or fiction. After going through the process of downsizing I know full well that sometimes long saved contents of anything can be… simply… long saved contents of no particular import.
    When my grand parents died my parents refused to discard much of what they owned, saving letters (in peasant Polish which they could not read) and images and keepsakes — to them they were a way of keeping in touch with their ‘history’ but when my parents died and I inherited all that stuff, tin boxes and tintypes and tin cans alike it meant nothing to me at all. After coming to terms with discarding what they had left behind for me to discard it became a lot easier for me to discard things of my own that ONCE meant something to me, but since have paled and faded with acquaintances lost track of and mistakes made.
    It’s romantic to think about who might be missing it, but it’s possible that Tin Box was naught but excess weight on the road to freedom and new adventure.
    Or not….
    Cheers,
    Peter
    A retired photographer looks at life from behind an RV steering wheel.
    Life Unscripted

  5. Sometimes it is difficult to know what is important and what is not. I regret tossing some items, but I know I cannot keep everything also.
    Families loose things. We had an old family bible in our book case since I was a kid. It has old tin photos in it, but no names. I think my grandmother’s birth is listed on a faded page but we do not know any of the other names.
    I have become the family historian and so I now have this bible and probably will for ever. Maybe someday I’ll figure out where it came from.

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