a thanks to a friend

attached is an article that I wrote for the newspaper of my hometown. It’s a little piece expressing gratitude and nostalgia for places my travels have taken me to. Enjoy.

http://www.freelancestar.com/2013-11-24/articles/23176/ode-to-a-thrift-shop-find-ewb-sheds-baggage-becomes-a-globetrotter/

UPDATE: within 48 hours of the newspaper being put on news stands, the son of the real EWB wrote me the following message:

“Elizabeth Weisbrod Beck…….your bag is a she.  Recognized it immediately. Thank for the great story, my mother would have been thrilled, she was a historian, mother, geneologist, teacher, poet, mother, wife, carefree soul it is such a shame is not here any longer, maybe she is with you and E.W.B.”

Human life is so amazing.

7 thoughts on “a thanks to a friend

  1. Elizabeth Weisbrod Beck…….your bag is a she. 😎 Recognized it immediately. Thank for the great story, my mother would have been thrilled, she was a historian, mother, geneologist, teacher, poet, mother, wife, carefree soul it is such a shame is not here any longer, maybe she is with you and E.W.B.

    • wow! It’s a pleasure to hear from you! It means a lot to know about your mother and fill in the blanks behind this old companion. Thank you for writing!

      Just out of curiosity, do you have any idea when she had the bag made? Was your mom a naive of Fredericksburg?

      Again, thank you for sharing. It’s nice to be reminded just how interwoven the web of humanity is and how many interesting stories can be unfolded if we make the effort!

    • Hello Mr. Beck,

      thanks again for writing back; it was nice filling in some of the story behind EWB (the bag). I wrote a follow up piece to the initial article a while back and FLS has just gotten back to me; I’m sort of trying to trace the chronology of the bag’s story before it ended up in my hands.

      I was wondering if you remember whether or not you donated the bag to the thrift store on Lafayette Blvd directly, or if it was given to someone else before it ended up there. This was probably a very long time ago and no worries if you cannot remember. Again, nice to connect with you.

      -David

  2. Our family got excited after reading your EWB story too – we’re the family of Evelyn W. Bradshaw. I was only 90% sure it was my mom’s suitcase. I used it for many years, but one doesn’t really memorize exactly what a suitcase looks like (I couldn’t remember if it really had gold initials on it, and maybe it had decorative brown straps towards the ends of the suitcase. Ours definitely still had the handle in tact. I’m not sure what happened to our suitcase.) I assume the suitcase was with my mom when she got married in China to another American, both working on rebuilding the country after WWII. They were both pacifists & Quakers. Dad died in 1962; mom (who grew up in New England & was a Radcliffe graduate) died a few years ago at the age of 95. She became a CAVER at age 60, injuring her neck while exploring a cave, but continuing to be active in cave organizations. After retiring from a job (working for the Va. Beach school board where she was proud that they integrated their schools while Norfolk VA’s schools closed down), she worked in D.C. for several lobbying organizations (Law of the Sea, FCNL). The suitcase became mine in my first year of college, and traveled with my family while we lived overseas (my ex-husband was a civilian with the corp of engineers) – 2 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and 2 years in Japan (so if it had been the same suitcase as yours, it might have remembered Mt. Fuji), not to mention several overnights in Europe & Hawaii. So even though my mother’s suitcase is not the one you have, our family enjoyed your article, giving us a chance to reminisce.

    • wow, thank you so much for sharing! Its amazing how many human stories are just waiting to be shared and uncovered if we just put forth the tiny effort required to set things in motion. Its been a while, but yes, when I bought the suitcase the handle was brown learner and there was decorative leather lining the edges. It was pretty old and beginning to crumble, and somewhere in France the handle had to be replaced by string and the decorative leather by a strip of brown duct tape 😉 Sounds like your mothers story fits; I’m really happy to have been able to continue the journey/story of this bag that your mother started.

      You aught to write a follow up to my article for the FLS describing your mother’s life and the voyages her suitcase got to partake in when the bag was in her possession; I’m sure the editors would be thrilled!

  3. My mom, Martha Adams, wrote you above. Though we were never 100% certain that the suitcase belonged to my grandmother, Evelyn W. Bradshaw, we were hopeful and had a wonderful time remembering all the wonderful, interesting things about her. If the suitcase were her’s, and I see someone has claimed it so I’m guessing it isn’t, she would be so happy that you are bringing it on adventures. I almost want to say, “Pick us! Pick us!” Our Evelyn W. Bradshaw was really a very amazing woman. Grandma was into taking care of the environment, recycling back before it was the thing to do, so she would have been thrilled to know you were getting use out of her suitcase. Grandma loved camping…REAL camping, with tents and sleeping bags and everything. She loved driving herself around the country to go to The National Speleogical Caving Conventions and going camping there, even up in her 80’s. She was a well known cave spelunker and loved bats, not fearing them, but finding them fascinating. As my mom mentioned, Grandma was widowed when she was still very young with 3 children. She never took her wedding ring off and she never dated again. John Bradshaw was her true love. She was very active in the Quaker community, the Sierra Club, The National Speleogical Society and many more organizations. She loved computers and was always typing and doodling cute pictures. Back when computers were fairly, new, my Grandma was the first person to show me what cool things you could do with them (back when pie charts seemed impressive). She was a computer genius, even up into her 80’s. My grandma didn’t play bingo, but she did volunteer to help run it, coming home with her wig smelling like smoke from all the bingo players (not from Grandma!). My grandma was brilliant, reading New Yorker magazine, keeping up with politics and the world and earning college degrees in mathematics and astronomy, back when women didn’t commonly do that. She came to a work celebration one time, when I worked with the local health department and Grandma fascinated the environmental health workers with her knowledge and ideas related to the environment and politics. My grandma was fiercely independent and very much a glass half full kind of person. You would have loved her and she would have enjoyed you. We grieved twice for her…once when her Alzheimer’s dementia progressed to the point that she was no longer independent and again when she died. Alzheimer’s, I believe, is the cruelest thing to occur to someone who is so intelligent and vibrant and independent. Your article in the Free Lance-Star helped my family remember THAT grandma, the one before Alzheimer’s set in. Thank you so much for your article. Grandma would have enjoyed talking with you and reading your blog, and probably would have started a blog of her own. 🙂

    • Hey Jenna!

      I’m so happy you wrote! The bag could in fact belong to your grandma! There were a few others who wrote to me as well saying that the bag looked familiar, so you never know! It’s amazing all the great stories that people have and just how much we can learn about people if we are willing to open up and ask 🙂

      Whether the suitcase was your grandmas or not, I’m glad the article allowed you to think back to how awesome of a person she was.

      -David

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