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Lum: Going and coming around

Su Lum
Slumming

Last spring, I mentioned in a couple of columns that I was searching, to no avail, for a 1945 Christmas card. I don’t know why I thought 1945 was the year of my search the card was from— that was just a stab in the dark.

Jennifer Coultas, of the Boonton, New Jersey historical society, was putting together an exhibition of the Kingsland Marionettes, originated by our neighbors Mabel and Cedric Head, and she was in need of a photograph of Mabel, who died when I was 12.

As clear as clear could be, I could picture a Christmas card: a photograph of Mabel and Cedric holding the controls of marionettes, sent to my family in the early 1940s — and I was as sure as sure can be that I had this card somewhere among my possessions.

Jennifer’s exhibit wasn’t going to take place until October, so I had plenty of time to shake down my little miner’s shack and find that card.

The outcome of this endeavor was that I opened up many Pandora’s boxes and drawers full of memories from disparate chapters of my life, but I never did find the card.

Another item I’ve been looking for is the book “The Jackdaw of Rheims.” Written in 1913 and handed down in my family, it is the beautifully illustrated rhymed story about a naughty jackdaw who steals the cardinal’s ring. The cardinal then casts a curse upon the perpetrator (“Never was heard such a terrible curse!”); the jackdaw’s guilt is revealed when all his feathers fall out, the ring is returned and all ends well. I love this book and put it somewhere especially safe, which turned out to be a black hole.

Then, over a month ago, I lost my winter fleece jacket somewhere in the house and it still hasn’t turned up. My housecleaner Betty, my friend Hilary and I have all turned the place inside out — the jacket must have gone off with the jackdaw.

That wasn’t far from the truth, because when I was, for the umpteenth time, tossing my bedroom closet in further search for the jacket, there was the jackdaw book, just sitting on one of the shelves. As my father would say, “If it were a bake it would have snit you.” Jackdaw, yes, I must be getting close.

And this wasn’t far from the truth, either, because while I didn’t find the jacket, I did find a medium-sized box that contained an old Christmas card with a photo of Cedric Head and all the marionettes from the production of HMS Pinafore. Not the card I had been looking for, but I took it as another omen that I must be getting close.

If I hadn’t found the Pinafore card, I might not have gone through the box so carefully and might not have unfolded a full-page feature story about the Kingsland Marionettes cut from a yellowing Dec. 9, 1945, issue of the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, including the headshot of Mabel and Cedric with the marionette controls that I had been so sure was the photo on their Christmas card.

How I missed this box and the jackdaw book in my massive search for the non-existent Christmas card I can’t say, except that it’s pretty clear that I did a shallow job of it in my closet and should probably go back again and dig a little deeper for the jacket.

Meanwhile, my friend Helen Palmer, who had read my reference to the old radio program “Land of the Lost,” found a 1945 book (1945 again) containing three written episodes of the program (surprisingly violent) and drawings of Red Lantern and the merry sea creatures. This was a great present; I only hope I don’t lose it.

Su Lum is a longtime local who had copies of the feature story made—including a huge poster for Jennifer—at Aspen Repographic. No waiting, so only one trip up and down the stairs! This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. su@rof.


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