Richard Friedlander goes on a mission to get rid of junk in the attic, and discovers a surprising past he’d long ago forgotten.
Well, I finally did it.
Not only had I, at long last, resolved to rid the loft of most of the books gathering dust there for 20 years, but I had actually climbed the ladder to begin the expulsion.
And then, along with the books, I found this box. I should have left it and gone ahead with the evictions, but of course, I didn’t. “Should” has never been a way of getting my attention.
The first thing to emerge was the yellowing program from my college graduation. Nothing personal about it. Not even my name. Out. Next, a copy of a front-page article from the New York Times, dated September 17, 1931, detailing how my father was arrested for trying to smuggle 8,000 immigrants in from Canada. A conversation piece, maybe, but in fact, no big deal. Next, two poems I’d written, published in my junior high school’s mimeographed newsletter. In one, I praised the Statue of Liberty for its golden promise. The other was an ode to an imaginary coal miner, Joe Anthracite. Neither presaged a challenger to Willie the Shakes.