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I was riding with a friend to an appointment out in Chesterfield when she asked me to check the map in her glove compartment. I retrieved the map, and something was entangled in its folds. She must have sensed my puzzlement, because, with her eyes firmly on the road, she laughed and said, “You found a piece of my memory.”
It was a square inch of ceramic, with ragged edges and a pattern of pink and brown and a touch of green. I didn’t have to inquire, as she easily went into her explanation.
“It’s from the summer I was seventeen. I had my first job, clerk in a grocery store, and I was pleased with my new status as a wage earner. With my first paycheck I bought a coffee mug at a craft show, a huge mug with a patchwork pattern.
“That was a lovely summer, full of fun and work and friends and adventure. At the end of it, I reached for my coffee—and it fell to the floor. I picked up the biggest piece of the remnants, and for all these years that little scrap of pottery has taken me back to that summer. I can even smell the coffee.”
I carefully replaced the little piece of memory. Artifacts always encompasses a memory, and we do well to save them.
(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)
Bob Archibald is the President of the Missouri Historical Society