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  #201  
Old 09-07-2018, 01:12 PM
joseph engraver's Avatar
joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default Re: New studio

I was barely awake when I heard the toilet flush. Then he came hobbling on his crutches into my room. “Rise and shine James, I have a lot unfinished things to do today. I want to have a good breakfast and get an early start. Is there sausage or bacon in the house and can you make Pancakes?”
With my eyes still closed I said, yes sir.
Good! , now you get up, while I fix coffee and open a can of tuna for Alice.
After I finally was up, dressed, and awake. I went to the kitchen and found a box of Hungry Jack´s old fashion pancake mix, milk and smoked bacon. Following the instructions on the box I soon had a stack of pancakes sitting in front of my uncle. I expected him to eat the whole pile, but he ate only one, along with two pieces of bacon. Then he pushed the plate away.
Eat, eat James, you are going to need the energy. Today, we are going to the city. I want go to the bank, talk to a lawyer, and go to an auction house to get something appraised. Do you have any identification you can bring with you?
Yes I do uncle; I have my library card, a social security card and my learners driving permit, and a savings account card.
Good for you nephew, bring all of them with you, they might come in handy
A bank, lawyer and appraisal from an auction house sounded ominous to me. I asked.
Uncle, is there some kind of financial trouble you are in? He finished his third cup of coffee, called Alice who immediately hopped on his lap. No trouble, I just need to put some personal things in order. Now you call a cab, while I package something that I need to take to town. He petted Alice and she began to purr, then he said,
You Alice; are staying home There are too many oriental restaurants that would like to find a place for a fat cat on their menu. Now I had never seen him without Alice, and this worried me even more
I wondered what he was up to, as I cleaned up the mess I had made fixing pancakes that he hardly touched.
It was one hour before the cab arrived. My uncle was waiting impatiently in his wheel chair outside. He was very agitated. He said,
Leave the chair here. Today we are travelling light and I will be using my crutches .I don´t like to leave Alice home but she will be fine for a few hours. Then he told me to go back into the house and bring out a package he had left on his bed.
On his bed I found a heavy package wrapped in news paper. I picked it up and rushed out to the cab, surprised to find my uncle already seated and waiting for me with the door open. The cabby opened the trunk, I put the package in, and then my uncle said to the driver. Take us down town to 2052 Mission Street.
While we were riding he told me that he intended to have the package appraised, and wanted to see how the appraiser would react when he saw what it contained.
I was dying with curiosity. Uncle; what is in the package?
He laughed, and then put his arm over my shoulder as he said .You will have to wait James, I want you to be surprised. And then the cab pulled up to the curb.
Let’s sit at that bench for a bit James. I am a bit tired and want to just rest and smoke my pipe, and watch the people as they pass by. Once he got his pipe lit and was enjoying puffing on it he said,
James at one time this street was overflowing with America’s best and bravest youth. All of them dressed in Navy, Army, and Marine uniforms. Thousands of them never returned.
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to sit here and thank God for keeping me alive this long. When I returned from Hawaii, my sister Lillian met me in San Diego .Together we returned to San Francisco, rented a small shop with living space in the back. It was on this very same street that we opened a pawn and loan business.
Lillian took care of the accounts and paid the expenses, many of the soldiers had not the funds to even pay their passage home. I made loans to them using the small savings we had to loan money on the souvenirs they brought home with them as collateral. Eventually the shop flourished, we ran that business for almost fifty years. Then this spring Lillian died. I closed the shop and liquidated its inventory, that is when you mother and father decided that I needed to move in with them.
Funny, that for all the years I have known them, it is the first time they have any interest in my welfare.
I am sure it has to do with money, and who I am going to leave it to. That is why I need to go to the bank this afternoon. They may be surprised at how little I have left. But I will make sure they are not disappointed. Now I feel rested. He handed me the mysterious package and said.
It is time we go and get this appraised. Now you hail a cab and we will go to Bonham’s auction house to see what they think this may be worth.
Upon arriving, we went into the Bonham building where met a security guard who asked my uncle what was in the package. I was surprised when uncle Earl said what I had been carrying around all morning was a Japanese sword.
He called the Arms and armor department, and then he directed us to be seated.
We waited for at least a hour before a fat man wearing thick glasses, baggy pants and a tee shirt with large black question marks printed all over it showed up.
Sorry to keep you waiting so long, you have no appointment and I was in a meeting, I would have turned you away but I am very interested in seeing your sword. Let´s take a seat at that table where you will be comfortable-Once we were seated and before seeing it he asked. Where did you find it?
I did not find it I bought it after the war from a returning marine. I have had it for over fifty years and need this appraised... The appraiser asked my uncle to unwrap the bundle. Uncle Earl gave me the package and told me to remove the wrapping. The first thing I saw was a white and blood red silk cloth.
At that moment the appraiser took hold of my arm, looked at the cloth and said.
I think it will be better if I do the unwrapping.
I looked at my uncle not sure what I was to do. He nodded his head saying, Go ahead James, he his more experienced in these things. I watched as the cloth was unwound.
Excited, I said, it’s a flag. I could see that the appraiser was also excited as he said. This is not just a flag; it is the Imperial flag of the Japanese navy.
With the flag removed the sword lay exposed on the table. The appraiser but on a pair of white gloves picked it up and began to study the markings embossed into sheath, he drew the sword from the sheath studied the gold tassels attached to the swords grip, and then he asked the guard to bring him a magnifying glass. While we waited, he said to my uncle, this appears to be a very rare item that belonged to high ranking naval officer, and the flag is most interesting. Do you want to put them up for auction or sell it outright?
Uncle Earl nodded his head saying as he did, he indeed want to sell both the flag and the sword.
Let me complete examining the blades forging, engraving and maker’s proof marks and then I will be able to give you cash price for these items.
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  #202  
Old 09-15-2018, 03:51 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: New studio

As we were walking out of the auction house with the bank draft and appraisal letter, I asked,
Uncle Earl, did you know that your sword was worth thirteen thousand dollars? He did not answer me instead he lit his pipe, and then he said. You must be hungry, let´s find a Chinese restaurant...When we were seated , he finally said.
No James, I did not have any idea of its value, and I am sure that the auction house will sell it for at least fifty percent more. But what is more interesting to me is that I have three just like it put away in a trunk. And, there are more trunks in storage, full of rare things I have collected over the last fifty years. Now I think it is time to have some Chinese food for lunch.
I was very hungry and ate all the Shrimp Chow Mein and Spring roll, but my uncle only ate his rice and drank his tea, then read his fortune cookie. What does yours say uncle? He handed it to me to read. “You will go on a great adventure.”
Now James what does yours tell you? I broke mine in half pulled out the white slip of paper and could not believe my eyes when I read “Good Fortune is near “
I was worried that he was not eating and asked him why he was not hungry?
Don’t you fret, James I am saving my appetite for the right occasion?
He asked the waitress to call for a cab, paid the bill, and we sat in silence until it showed up.
As I helped him into the cab he said, Let´s go to your bank first, I owe you for the day at the park; I want to put this check in your savings account.
I thought he was joking, and did not believe my uncle.
Uncle Earl have you lost your mind, you must be going senile.
He laughed so loudly that the cabby turned to see if he was having a fit. With tears of laughter and a huge smile he said.
No James, I am completely sane. I have precious little time left , and if I don’t give this money away it will end up in my estate and your parents and lawyers will get it, but as long as I am alive I can give it to anyone I care to and I care that you should have it on one condition. That you promise me you will take care of Alice after I die.
I promise you Uncle. Then I began to cry.
Don’t cry James you have nothing to cry over, now let’s put this money in your account .What bank do you have you savings account with? I dried my tears and wiped my dripping nose on my sleeve and said. It is the Bank of The west on Bush Street.
Cabby, Take us there and wait for us. The cabby shrugged his shoulders looked at us in his mirror and said. "The meter on this cab don’t stop running until I shut it off .It ´s your money and I aint got no place I want to be."
As I helped my uncle out of the cab and into the banks lobby. He said.
James it has become a long day for me, I am feeling a bit tired. I will just sit here enjoy the air conditioning. You take the check and have it deposited into your account.
At the tellers window I presented my saving book and gave him the check, then told him that the man sitting by the entrance was my great uncle and he had endorsed the check. He looked over to where he was sitting, then went over to him and asked for his identification. Five minutes later I had a new savings account balance of $ 13, 200 and 68 cents.
Uncle Earl looked very pale as I helped him into the cab.
When we were seated he said to me. Let’s go home nephew. I would like to take Alice back to the park, listen to the birds singing and the children playing.
Alice was watching from the window when we arrived home. I sat my uncle in his wheel chair, opened the door and she came outside and immediately jumped on to his lap. He petted her, let out a long tired sighed and said.
It is good to be home again. Now please take us to the park, I would like a chocolate milk shake. Do you think you can find that for me there? I was relieved to hear that he wanted to eat something and said.
Of course I can uncle; I also know where to find a great ham sandwich with tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce on pumpernickel bread. I was happy to see him smile again, but sad when he answered,
That is good James. If you want one buy one for yourself. I will just sit here and watch Alice chase the squirrels.
The sun was settling into the horizon, the air had turned cool and the fireflies began to glow in the park. He looked at the flowers and said,
I think that amongst those roses will be a nice place to spread my ashes.
When we finished eating, Alice jumped onto his lap, I knew it was time to go home and help him undress and put him to bed. As I pushed him along the walkway he began to ramble about his life.
I never married or had children, but I wish I could have had a son. When I came home from Hawaii I decided that no woman would want a half man, so I stayed a bachelor and lived with my sister, we lived on my pension and the income from the pawn shop.
The sword I sold today I bought for forty dollars in 1947, you can see that it has appreciated in value over the years. I have many things from the Pacific and Europe wars .I also have a large collection from the civil war and the Indian wars out west...I have absolutely no idea of their worth, but I know that they are valuable.
When I die and they become part of my estate and they will go to your parents. And if that happens they will want to get rid of them and call someone from The Salvation Army to take them away. That is why I am going to give them to you as payment for taking such good care of me.
James, I wanted to show you my collection today, but I became too tired. Tomorrow we will have to go back to the city, I want you to see my collection and I still need to go to my bank.
I expect your parents will return soon, and then your job of taking care of me will be done.
I am very tired now please take us home and feed Alice before you retire.
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"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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  #203  
Old 09-24-2018, 04:04 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default The Navy Cross

I had to wake him in order to undress him and put him into his bed. With tears flowing down my cheeks I put away his artificial leg, folded his clothes and put them on his dresser and went to feed Alice her tuna fish, then I turned on the TV but found nothing of interest. After she had eaten, she jumped into my lap and stayed there until I turned out the lights and went to bed.
It was impossible for me to sleep. My uncle’s conversation and the thought of his collection kept me awake until I felt Alice jump onto my bed and curl up near my feet.


He was up at sunrise; I could smell his coffee brewing. I found him in the kitchen, dressed in his bath robe and opening a tin of tuna for Alice while she pranced around his crutches. He looked pale and grey, but he smiled when he saw me.
Do you ever feed your cat anything but tuna uncle?
No James, if you read the label on all the different brands of cat food you will see they all have, “Not for human consumption” on them. Now why in the hell would I feed my cat a product that I am not supposed to eat? I am fixing a piece toast with peanut butter and marmalade do want me to fix some for you?
Uncle you need to eat more than a piece of toast, you don’t look well and I am worried about you.
James, I told you that I plan to eat a good meal. I think that I am ready for a rib eye steak, mashed potatoes and maybe green beans in butter, and a glass or two of win tonight. Now you stop worrying and eat what you want, then fix me a bath in that Jacuzzi, then we will be going back to town.
He put the tuna in a bowl and gave it to Alice, and then he ate his toast and finished a second cup of black coffee.
This time he willingly got into the Jacuzzi and soaked for a half hour. When he was finished and I had dried him off and helped him to dress, he again kissed me on both cheeks and said,
Thank you James, I feel much better, now call us a cab and we shall go to town. Today you are going to see my collection after I stop at my bank.
When we were parked in front of the Wells Fargo Bank I got out and opened the door for him, then helped him out of the cab. He adjusted his crutches stood up tall and straight, then told to wait for him. He turned around and walked towards the bank.
As I watched him go I could see that he was having trouble, at one moment I was sure he would collapse. I went to him but he refused my arm.
I am fine, now please wait, I need to do this on my own. I will not be long.
Then he left me and disappeared behind the automated glass doors .I could tell he was determined to go alone and told the cabby to wait. It seemed to take forever, but then I saw him slowly making his way back to where I was standing.
He put a bank bag and some envelopes on the seat and let out a sigh of relief.
There, James, that business here is finished, now we go and see the collection.
I helped him into the cab and he gave directions to our next stop .As we rode, he said.
There is a storage unit where I have put all the things I have collected over the years. The sword is one item that I sold from it. The reason I sold it is so you would have a better understanding of the potential value of my collection. Not because I needed money.
Today, I will make arrangements for all of it to be shipped to your home. These trunks and cases contain memorabilia from the Revolutionary, Civil and the Indian wars, pistols, swords, flags, uniforms, bayonet, medals, photographs and much more. They are very heavy, too heavy for us, but I will arrange for them to be shipped today. I am sure everything will be delivered to your home by this afternoon.
There is so much that I want to explain .But I have saved books on the value of things such as these, and I am sure you can figure it out what to do once you study them. You are a bright boy, and I will be well pleased if these things help fund your education.
When we arrived at the storage company, he stopped at the office and picked up the keys, and then we opened the storage unit. It was not very large, it was dark but I could see four large military style trunks on the floor.
He gave me a set of keys and said. There is two hundred years of history in those trunks. You will find the contents well packed away, safe from mildew, mice, and moths and rust. I have not opened them since I had them brought here after Lillian died.
I was overwhelmed by emotion and I began to sob as I said.
Uncle, I do not want you to die for a long time, I want you to live, I love you and I don’t want these things you have cared for.
I know you love me James, and you must know that I love you.
You are so very young and I am sure you cannot comprehend death.
I want you to understand that every one’s life is a series of steps, each one bringing us to its inevitable end. One of the most enjoyable moments in my life has been meeting you, and finding a person that can be rewarded by my existence on this earth. I could never have told you anything about them, but I know that the storage company would sell them, you parents will give them away to the Salvation Army and they would be scattered everywhere, and my total life would be meaningless. I am not giving you an easy task, you will have to spend many months researching each item if you want to find the rewards they can bring .Do you understand how I feel?
Here are the keys to the trunks and an inventory letter that goes with them; this is not the right place to open them.
Now we go to the office and get these things shipped to your home. With your help tonight I will fix dinner .We need to buy steaks, vegetables, and a bottle of good California wine, cognac, and chocolate ice-cream for desert.
We had been home not long when the delivery truck drove up to the house. Looking very pleased, my uncle told them to take the trunks to his room and deposit them there. After settling the bill he said.
I feel much better. Now we will take Alice to the park, where I can enjoy the fresh air, late afternoon sun and look at the roses. Tonight, we will have a good meal together, and I promise I will eat everything.
That night he did eat everything and drank two glasses of wine. After dinner he gave me the bank bag and two notarized letter´s he had had written for him at his bank.
This, James is all the money I have. This letter confirms that I am giving it to my niece, your mother and her husband as payment for the care they have given me.
And this letter gives you the four trunks as a present for the wonderful time i have spent with you. Now would you open that bottle of brandy for me James? I am tired and want to have a good night’s sleep, and a bit of brandy is just what I need.
I said, I hope sleep well uncle, and then i helped him to bed. I returned to the kitchen, opened a can of tuna for Alice and cleaned the table, and then I went to bed. As I was falling asleep Alice curled up next to me.
In the morning I woke late. Alice was gone and my uncle was still not up.
I went into his room and found Alice sitting next to him. There was a note on his bedside table along with a small navy blue leather case. The note said, Open this up now.
Inside I found The Navy Cross.
I touched his hand and felt his flesh cold as ice. My heart was shattered by a devastating sadness. Five day later I put the Navy Cross around Alice´s neck took her to the park and we spread my Great Uncle´s ashes amoungst the roses.
The End
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