Fool’s Paradise

Gramma and I spend the morning in the attic. At first we just survey what’s there, and for a moment I’m in any historian’s heaven, in that fool’s paradise, really, when it might be possible to uncover valuable treasures–discharge papers from the Civil War, the deed from the house, a Bible with generations of family names inscribed on the inside cover, furniture still bearing manufacturer labels, photographs from civic events–before it becomes obvious that what’s been stored in this attic is, in fact, priceless, but probably only to our family: a handful of letters from long-dead relatives, unlabeled photo albums, broken records Gramma’s children played over and over and over again during high school. Nothing that speaks to any larger historical themes, nothing that suggests this house stands in any kind of context. And, yet, it’s this kind of expedition that makes me want to dig deeper, look longer, ponder the possibilities. There are mysteries to solve, even if I’m a fool for wanting to follow the clues.

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