Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The One That Got Away

An Awesome Update 

The post below was originally published here November 18, 2010. A couple weeks ago I received an email via my Contact page. John Mocci, a reader in New Jersey, wrote to say he'd been given a tag like mine as a gift when he finished college, and he treasures his as much as I treasured mine. He went on to say he had another tag just like it, and offered to send it to me. It arrived in my mailbox the following week, to my great delight (and that, people, is what's called an understatement!). While I awaited its arrival, I had thought I might put it away in safe place... maybe on a page in my scrapbook, or in my jewelry box... but once I had it in my hand, I was most excited to put it on my keyring where I can enjoy it every day. 

This is truly one of the best kind of gifts--something totally unexpected, exactly the right thing, from a friend I didn't know I had. So thank you, John. I'll cherish not only the tag but also the gift. And as my tag now has another new layer of meaning, I like to think that yours will too--a sort of "kinship of the keytag" by which you'll know when you catch sight of your tag that somewhere, at odd moments, there's a TK remembering your kindness and wishing you well.

. . . . . 
Okay, so this was not an ancestral treasure... it was mine. I held it in my hand every day for decades. It was on my keyring from the time I got it until early 2004 when it disappeared, keys and all. I didn't care about the keys, but I still miss my brass tag. I expected to have it until my dying day. And maybe beyond!

You're wondering how I got a picture of it if it's gone? Well, I was still grieving my lost tag in late 2005 so, to make myself feel better, I decided to recreate it in Paint Shop Pro and then add it to a digital scrapbook page as an embellishment. When I sat down to do that, however, I found myself with questions. Like, what did it actually say?

You've come a long way, baby.
you've come a long way baby

And where was the line-break? Details, details! It's funny how we can look at stuff every day for years and still not fully see it. I thought to google it, hoping to find an image online or maybe even an identical tag for sale on ebay. Instead I found a journal entry by a college student named Violette, in which she mentioned that she'd received a tag like mine as a gift from a friend. Next I googled her name and found a way to contact her, so I wrote and told her a bit of history about the tag. It was a promotional item from the late 1960s or early '70s (surely before she was born) that came with a purchase of Virginia Slims cigarettes.

And I told her the story of how I'd lost my tag. I'd gone out for an early morning walk around the apartment complex. I'd stopped at my minivan for a moment before taking my trash to the compactor at the far side of the complex, and either I left my keys hanging in the car lock or else had them in hand when I got to the garbage compactor and unwittingly dropped them in when I tossed the trash. Of course, back at my apartment, I noticed their absence right away since I couldn't get in! I immediately retraced my steps, but to no avail. The keys were not hanging from the minivan gate, they weren't inside the minivan, and searching as much as I could reach in the trash compactor produced nothing. Because the compactor operated automatically, I could not climb in and search there more thoroughly unless it was turned off, so I found the man in charge of maintenance and he offered to send the groundskeeper at 8 a.m. when he started work. I returned to the compactor about 7:55 to await the groundskeeper, but he'd arrived early and was already standing in the compactor ripping open all the bags of garbage that were in there and dumping them out! Of course, my keys wouldn't have been in a bag, they would have fallen down between bags to the bottom of the compactor. But now, with all the garbage set free, it was a hopeless cause.

And then I asked Violette to help me with my three questions:
  1. Was the phrase entirely in lower case letters or upper case, or was the first word capitalized?
  2. Was there a period at the end of the phrase?
  3. As I recalled, the phrase was broken into two lines, correct? Where was the line break?
She graciously replied with a friendly letter, telling me a little about herself. She was from Switzerland, attending college in Michigan for awhile. It made me smile to think that her friend had given her a tag like mine--quite appropriate for her! She answered my questions about the tag, and with her answers, I made the image above. Then I emailed it to her and asked if I'd gotten it about right.

A short time later during a break from school, she emailed me back. Yes, she said, I'd gotten it quite right except for the font. She'd been able to make a scan of her tag for me and sent it along. I've used it in the image below. Mine was pretty close, eh?

July 2006: I'm reflected in the side window of my
minivan. I was still living in Oregon at the time, but
this picture was taken at my dad's house in Michigan.

Violette has become part of the memory of my tag now. I googled her again while preparing this post. It appears she's travelled a good bit in these last five years. It still makes me smile, to think of her with a keytag that says, "You've come a long way, baby." It's so right for her! In 2006, she wrote a beautiful essay that will have you nodding and smiling too. Click to read "Big is beautiful."


And while we're on the subject . . .

Speaking of Virginia Slims, I found this fun little collection of "long way, baby" commercials at Internet Archive. Oddly, the last minute of the video is blank. Consider it a moment of silence for women who have lost their lives to cancer and emphysema from smoking.

Today is The Great American Smokeout. Every year at this time, I take a moment to thank myself for quitting smoking. At the time, I had no idea how much it would change my life.

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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