Doug and Polly Smith

Letters from the Island with Doug and Polly Smith

To: Joseph W. Smith III

English Department

Loyalsock Township School District

Montoursville, PA

Dear Joe: Thanks for coming last weekend to help us clean the room Dad calls his “office.” (Sanford & Son called their place an office, too.) It used to look as if a hurricane had just passed. Now it looks like a mere high-end tropical storm. It’s amazing how you kept from gagging. You must eat in the school cafeteria a lot.

Then we read about a man rescued from a burning house. The firefighters said it was especially difficult because of all the “collectibles” lying around. “Usually there’s at least a pathway through the clutter,” one said. “Not here. He was lucky we got him out. Usually these things end badly.”

Dad clipped the story. We’ll send it to you, soon.

Aye, there’s the rub, as your Shakespeare says in “Hamlet.” Most everything Dad sees, he thinks will interest somebody. But he doesn’t want to mail just one clipping, so he waits until a few accumulate. Some he could have mailed for 6 cents.

Here’s got a cartoon about a guy named “Tim” tunneling out of his office to play golf, earmarked for Sports Editor Tim Schmitt. By the time Tim gets it, he’ll be hitting off the senior tees.

The timetables, the books, the boxes and hats from Freddie’s Doughnuts, a flyer promoting the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge as the “secret way” to Canada, quick and easy, 25-cent toll. Here’s a pre-Metro Grand Island Transit schedule, a bus every half-hour. Who says government does it better?

Surely somebody’s interested in this, yes? The rub again. Were we wasting time and space retaining them, and in jettisoning them now, do we admit a lifetime of foolishness?

Why have we retained this receipt from John T. Dacre, B.D.S, who pulled Dad’s aching tooth in Didcot, Oxon, England on July 10, 1982? Ten pounds, $28. What value a rescued vacation, or its recollection?

And here are two letters from two gentlemen friends in New Orleans, the last either wrote while alive. Their lifestyle wasn’t ours but we loved them dearly. No survivors. To whom do we send them?

Photos of Perkinsville, NY, 50 miles south of Rochester? Mark Harris, our favorite author, invented a fictional Perkinsville downstate, not knowing a real one existed. Did we ever send him these? And if these are the discards from our 1999 trip down Route 62, Niagara Falls to El Paso, where are the good ones?

Here’s a South American sword in an exquisite scabbard, a gift from Melody Fair, circa 1973. Sorry demolition guys, you missed this one. Wither now, blade?

So, Joe, thanks for the effort and the memories. We’ve still got a few thousand left but we’re working on it, honest. That story of the guy who almost burned to death scared us. Here it is … uh, we know it’s around here someplace.

         Yours collectively…

         Mom and Dad



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