The Little Things

When it came time to sort through my Mom and Dad's things, I was torn about what to keep and what to give away. My brother Jim and I, our wives, and our kids all took things, but we couldn't take it all.

It was a sad process of sorting through things, sometimes very tiny, meaningless to us, but important enough to them that they had kept them all their lives. I felt like I was discarding remnants of lost family history, untold stories, and precious memories of two lives, well-lived. Now we have only the few things we all kept.

Like everyone else in the world, I assume, I have kept things throughout my life that mean a lot to me. I don't expect my kids or grandkids to appreciate or keep everything, but maybe there are a few things they will want.

Here then, is a catalog of my small things, in no particular order, and a description of what they are.

When I left England (1990), my best mate, Alan Pitcher, gave me this Stained Glass of the Parachute Regiment Regimental Cap Badge. Alan was one of my Corporals in the Depot, like my Drill Sergeant, and then moved over to 1 Para at the same time I did, when the battalion returned from across the water. The glass comes from a Salisbury Cathedral reconstruction. My goal is to send it back to him one day. He should have it, not me.

A collection of small things from Turkiye include: one of the Business Cards Sevda Oge had made for me (2001) naming me Divas' Professional Photographer, A small Tea Cup given to me by one of my Turk soldier's family for taking care of their son when he was injured (1985-they said it was very old and valuable), a Stolen Ashtray from my favorite Izmir restaurant the Altin Kapi & Keys to my last Apartment in Alsancak (2001), Muslim Prayer Beads part of my disguise for safe walks (1984), and a old brass Ottoman Cup a gift from Kady (1990).

My only gold (never been one for jewelry) includes the Cufflinks a gift from Vern on his departure from Izmir, my last wedding ring (1981), my Class 47 USASMA ring (1997), and my VMI Class (2004) Ring, all guarded by my Corinthian Helmet, a souvenir from Karlovasi Samos and a trip there (1995) with Kady and my little kids.

From my parents: Dad's broken 35mm Camera and a photo of him with it (1960s), his Masonic Worshipful Master Gavel (1965) Birmala Lodge, #836, and Mom's Plaque presented for her service to UAB in the Payroll Department.

The Meerschaum Pipes that I gave to Dad (1985) the big one stained from use, and CIB and Master Wings a gift from the NATO NCOs as I retired (2001).

Kady Things: two favorite photos, when she was a little girl (1964) and in Izmir (1985), the Dancing Shoes representing the song by Dan Fogelberg, brass Heart, Watch and Chain she gave me. The Music Box and the broken Watch Face are gifts representing the movie Somewhere in Time, one of our first dates. The music box plays Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff, Op. 43 Variation `XVIII. The watch was destroyed by a Turkish plumber who stole the watch, ripped off the face, and threw it in the toilet tank.

Figurines are few but include: Brer Rabbit from my days of reading Uncle Remus to my kids (given to E), Jesus on a Chain in a Pouch given by Bob Anzuoni, a priest in training, Color Sergeant Frank Bourne, Royal Regiment of Whales, DCM, Rorke's Drift, from John Brodie (unsure why John calls him Vaughn and gives him a VC), Cadet X-mas Ornament from Vergie Moore, Aubie X-mas Ornament, from Bill and Sylvia, and Pass the Pigs Game, favorite of rigged paratroopers waiting to load.

Every man needs Boxes, and the best are Turk Inlayed Boxes. Here is where I keep my cigars, foreign currency, and small pins. Very Handy.

Gifts from the First Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment: The Statuette is from 8 Platoon. The Regimental Belt, my Para Smock, and Sweater, and Face veil are all from my good Mate RQ Cotton. The WO and Sergeant's Mess gave me the print, The Paras are Landing, and C Company gave me the Bayonet on the Coffin Plague, both hanging in my office.

A collection of Military Things: my Maps of Grenada, Fort Bragg, and Panama, my Master Wings, British Wings, and my CIB, The Wine Bottle (1983) is from Grenada, liberated from the Peoples Revolutionary Army, filled with the Movie Stubs from years past, noting who went with me.