On Easter Sunday, my family gathered at my mother's house on Waldo Street for a big dinner. Over 30 were in attendance, including six siblings.
Easter at my mother's house is always a grand occasion because we grew up in a Christian home and our mother's faith has been a constant in our lives. Her daily prayers have undoubtedly brought bountiful blessings to the entire family. Thus, Easter is not only a time to celebrate Christ's resurrection, it is also a time of family celebration.
My siblings and I had decided before Easter to ascend to the third floor of our mother's house after the family dinner to remove some of our personal belongings that had been stored there for years. We all grew up in this house and it has been in the family for 63 years. They moved in March of 1951 on the day my sister was born.
My mother's house is one of the grand old houses in Independence. It sits on a block that once was the home of the Woodland College, a 19th century women's college. A professor at the college was George S. Bryant, which accounts for the name of the elementary school that now occupies part of the block. Professor Bryant must have owned the property as he platted the property in 1910 as Forest Place, an addition to Independence, which includes my house.
The 33rd president of the United States used to live a half block down the street, and as a young boy he used to play on the grounds of the college. His courtship of Bess began nearby as she used to play tennis on the grounds of the college. I have lived on that same block my entire life and there are bricks from the demolished college buried in my back yard, which probably accounts for the lack of grass. The Truman boyhood home is also now in our family as my nephew, his wife and twin daughters now occupy the house.
There is a lot of history in the neighborhood and as we climbed the stairs of my mother's home, we would also be embarking on a journey through our own personal histories that were stored on that dusty third floor. There was a box of my stuff in the corner. At some point, wasps had entered the third floor as there were two abandoned wasp nests in the box. There was also plenty of dust, which triggered allergies that still afflict me almost three weeks later.
Also in the box were my notes from law school. For some reason, over 34 years ago, I thought it was necessary to keep my law school notes. I spent about 10 seconds looking at them and decided I was no hoarder. They are now in the landfill. I also had some commercial outlines from some of my law classes produced by a company called Gilbert's. I never used the outlines very much, so I saw no need to keep those old outlines either.
I also encountered some booklets for law schools that I must have been contemplating, including University of Missouri, Wake Forest. Miami University and the University of Florida. Why I ever thought I might go to those schools is a mystery. I never applied, so they must have been some passing fancy. My legal career has turned out well after attending UMKC. It was not the Harvard of the Midwest, but it taught me the basics and I took it from there. I am satisfied with my decision. I saved nothing from the box of my personal history.
There were some other interesting items we discovered and that I did keep. I was named after my paternal grandfather, Charles Dayton Buckley. He died in 1945, eight years before my birth. My dad's only sibling was also named Charles and he died as a teenager in 1936 from meningitis. In fact, my grandfather died from “coronary thrombosis” caused by hypertension, a disease easily treated with medications today.
I found a book that had my grandfather's initials in it. It was a mapping book from World War I. My grandfather served in the Army, although I don't know any of the details of his service. He must have been in a cavalry unit, because there once was a sword that belonged to him in the basement of the house. Because I never knew my grandfather, I never got to hear the stories of his service and unfortunately I never thought to ask my father about it.
But I now have something from that era and I can let my imagination run wild. I wonder if that mapping book was ever used. I would like to think so. It is my connection to the grandfather that I never knew. My mother said that my grandfather was a good man. I know that he moved his family around a lot before finally settling in Independence in 1941. I have always been grateful that his nomadic ways ended here.
I think my grandfather would have been proud of the fact that I graduated from law school and practiced law in Independence all of these years. My grandmother passed away two years after I graduated law school and was in declining health throughout that time, so I never was able to share the joy of graduating from law school with her.
My grandparents had strong faith and gave our family that legacy. Since we all believe in the promise of Easter, I know that someday we will still have the opportunity to catch up on old times. I do have a lot of questions.
Bob Buckley is an attorney in Independence. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org