Recently Southern Accents salvaged an 1870’s house in Cullman, Alabama. The attic of the house was filled with memorabilia. There were boxes of old journals, letters, greeting cards, and photographs. Many dated as early as the 1920’s. We could not help but wonder why these items were left. Were there no family members available that might have had an interest in some of the personal belongings? We could not bring ourselves to leave the items behind or throw them away so we brought them back to the store. The letters, cards, and pictures were placed in various containers and displayed around the showroom.
A couple of weeks ago a family member of one of our team members was visiting from out of town. As Chris Garcia browsed through the showroom, she was both drawn to and fascinated by the letters and photos. She gathered up all that remained and took them with her. Her initial goal was to create something from the memorabilia that would honor this family. She wasn’t sure what she would do, she just knew that she could not leave these items behind either.
After returning home, Chris lovingly poured through all the old letters, one at a time. In reading them she happened upon one from 2008 from a family member. The letter, addressed to the now deceased home owner, Eda Schlichting, was written by a man, thanking his aunt for letting him see some old pictures. This letter caused Chris to wonder if there might possibly be a distant relative interested in the items. Chris began a search on the internet for the author of the letter. Chris writes, “My first contact was not the correct person, but what I found on the other line was a wonderful, helpful woman who brought out the phone book and found the family relative I was looking for.” Chris said that she then nervously made a phone call that connected her with Eda’s relative, a Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson’s grandfather was married to Eda’s sister. The phone conversation led to his sharing how he drove his mother from Montgomery to Cullman in 2008 to visit her sister. It was during that visit that Eda shared the photos that resulted in the thank you letter.
Chris writes, “I will be mailing the box of letters, journals, and photos to him this week. I am so grateful this touched me so deeply and that the family will have their photos with them to pass on for generations.” Mr. Wilson had wondered about the fate of the old photos and was surprised that a complete stranger had taken the time to track him down. He shared with Chris his interest in his family’s genealogy and expressed how grateful he was to be receiving the items.
Although, the heart of our business is to rescue architectural antiques, we always understand the importance of the re-connection of our salvageable items back to the original family it belonged to. The sentimental value of an item means it will be protected and treasured more in the future than it would have been in a home we could have provided for it. In the case of Eda Schlichting and Chris Garcia – it proves there is an underlying truth, which resonates through generations – even those who may have never even met: The People Who Preserve History Are Just As Important As Those Who Make It.