My father smoked a pipe using Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. It came in a small tin, coral in color with black lettering and smelled lovely. My mother was a non-smoker. One of their wedding guests on Feb. 8, 1941 must not have known their smoking habits, gifting them with a 3"x4" ceramic cigarette box and matching ash tray. Only the box remains — a vintage Vanro. Number 8678.
I remember it on a small mahogany coffee table in our Cleveland, Ohio apartment where we and the wedding gift lived for eight years. It safely survived my father's job transfers to Detroit, Chicago, New York, back to Chicago for eleven years. Its next destination was to the Bay Area in 1975 and finally Portland in 1997.
Sturdy, with few tiny chips, the cigarette box features a hand-painted bird perching on three wispy flower stems. It now holds assorted paper clips with a few old ragtag stamps. Emotionally unable to bequeath it to Goodwill, it represents my family's mid-to-late 20th century odyssey and history that is also my history, rich with memories of cities, ethnically diverse neighbors, parochial schools, and many friendships, sadness and laughter, dependence and independence, life and death. It brings me joy!
Pat Perkins is a member of the Jottings Group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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