This is not really about a blue cooler. Okay, maybe it’s a little bit about a blue cooler. It’s mostly about the man who owned the blue cooler. To be precise, the man who owned the blue cooler prior to me. I’ve owned it since yesterday.
Many of my Saturdays are spent in search of interesting items at estate sales. I’ll begin the day with a cup of coffee and the classified ads to see what might catch my eye. Yesterday, the ad that made me take notice read like this:
John Swords Estate
Not simply an address. Not just a listing of the items I might find when I arrived. A man’s name. I always think I learn a great deal about a person when I am in their home during an estate sale. Rarely, however, do I have a name to associate the items that made up their history with an actual person. So this sale was going to be different.
A Google search told me a little about John Swords before I left. Born in 1920. Died in May of this year. John had served in WWII, worked a long career at Iowa Manufacturing, liked bowling and gardening, and had written a book of memoirs about his time in the war.
At John’s house, I learned even more about him. John liked to read. Nearly every room in the house had bookshelves packed with books. Time periods ranged from the early 1900’s through the last few years. Many were of the war he participated in. Stories of battles. Biographies of war heros. Pictorial anthologies of the places he spent the early part of his twenties. There was also a cardboard box filled with Grumpy’s Trials, the book he had written.
I learned that when Grumpy bought something, he held onto it and took good care of it. It didn’t matter where you were in the house, or what you were looking at. Kitchenware, tools, appliances. All appeared to be in nearly new condition even though some of them were 60 or more years old. The blue cooler I purchased was from the forties or fifties and although there were a few scratches from a trip or two to the river or lake, It was in fantastic condition. Most things that get purchased around my house end up missing pieces and parts within days or weeks of coming home from the store. This cooler had been sitting around for decades and still had the can opener and icepick neatly tucked inside the lid, just as they had been the day it was bought.
So now the cooler is in my care. I will take care of it. It will be put to good use at Shores Event Center with the Philco radio and other pieces of history that have moved from one person’s life to begin a new purpose and bring some happiness. I wish I would have met Grumpy when he was alive. I think we would have had an interesting conversation or two on his front porch.