My mother said the first thing I ever did was pack a suitcase. I was two years old when someone gave me a tiny valise intended for doll clothes. I still remember it: a little gray box around 12 inches square. Mom said I would pack it endlessly with things to take on my imaginary trips. It seems I was born with a love of travel.
When I was 14 Mom gave me a very stylish white Samsonite “train case” for Christmas. It was the beginning of a set of four pieces of matched luggage that I would own by the time I graduated from high school. Mom used S&H Green Stamps, saved all year, to purchase that luggage for me. (Those stamps, popular in the 1960s, each stamp representing ten cents spent, were one way homemakers had of “earning” money for their own use.) That luggage traveled with me through a too-early marriage to California and Texas and Okinawa. Although I no longer use it, I still have it.
In 1943, when she boarded a train in Charleston, West Virginia to meet and marry my sailor father in Ames, Iowa, my mother brought along the suitcase shown at the top of this blog. During World War 2 she used it each time she traveled to meet my dad: for a few weeks in Iowa, in New Orleans, in Brooklyn. I’ve carried Mom’s suitcase with me through several moves. My mother died much too early of a terrible disease that slowly took her from us, and I treasure the few things she left us that were important to her. When I brought her old suitcase down from the attic to photograph it for this blog I found it contained a wadded up nest of my old doll clothes.