Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Piece of History

This summer Debs and I read all nine of Laura Ingalls' Little House books to our kids. It was fascinating even for us as parents. I ended up going through my grandparents' picture book, their life history, and some license plates from the farm where my paternal grandpa grew up (I was also raised there).
Years ago, right before I went to what was then Ricks College, I went into an old wood shed behind our house (at one time the homestead used before the main farmhouse was built) and grabbed three license plates from a collection of about forty or fifty--two of which are pictured above. The third, and perhaps my favorite comes from 1928. Unfortunately, I don't have it with me. It's still packed away with my things at my parents' place in Idaho, but it looks like the following plate with numbers imprinted over a large potato--yep Idaho was even famous for potatoes back then.

So, where am I going with this? Well, I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Spain for two years shortly after that and somehow never thought to go back and grab the rest of the plates before the farm was sold. I thought each of my siblings might like to have an old, framed license plate from the farm where they grew up, so I resolved to contact the current owner to see if I could purchase some of them. However, when I talked with my mom about my idea, she indicated that they had been sold along with numerous other antiques, tools, and odds and ends; the proceeds of which were to be divided equally between my father and his siblings. Although I'm glad to have the three that I grabbed years ago, I'm disappointed that my brother and sisters won't enjoy the same fortune. I guess those things happen with inheritance.

If I'm not mistaken, the first plates issued in Idaho came out in 1913. I'll probably never know if there was one from that year in my grandpa's collection of plates. My grandpa, who passed away while I was serving my mission in Spain, turned eight years old right after the 1916 plate pictured here came out. In my grandpa's life history, he talks about his "eighth year" and of harrowing in the fields behind a pair of horses, while his father built their house (the house in which I grew up). I've since thought of all the other license plates and the stories from my grandpa's life history that are associated with the years they came out. While it is unfortunate that they will not stay in the family, there is a comical side to all this.

Last Sunday I showed the 1916 license plate to my kids and told them that it was almost 100 years old. Gabs, who just turned six this summer, querried, "From when you were little?" She seems bound and determined to make me out as being older than I really am.

Earlier in the summer, just after we had read Little House in the Big Woods we enjoyed a night together as a family discussing how journals and photo albums help us know our ancestors better. I showed Debs and the kids some pictures taken when my parents were younger with just two or three kids. One of the pictures shows a deer that my dad shot one year during hunting season. That of course led to an explanation about how I used to go hunting each year with my family during the deer hunt, which provided our family with meat for the following year. Gabs seemed to be quite fascinated with the concept, and, more as a comment than a question, she said, "Just like Laura's [Ingalls] dad from Little House in the Big Woods." Both Debra and I confirmed her statement, and with her eyes opening wide, she said, "Whoa! You lived a long time ago!"


fawndear said...

Hello Old Timer,

Love those little pieces of history. I've a couple little things from Grandma and Grandpa and they mean more to me than anything you can find in stores today. Hopefully I can pass those on to my kids as well.
Love your kids comments.

cking said...

I'm sad about the plates. I always loved looking at them on the walls in the old building and thought they were really cool.