Who Used it when it was Green?

By Jeep Collins

When Cynthia and I were little we needed a place to keep our toys.  Our parents bought two military surplus footlockers.  In those days after the second world war there was a lot of military surplus.  I remember going to my little friend Gary Stokes house and he had all the real stuff, helmets, web belts, packs, everything but M-1s, to play army; that was when I got bigger; I loved going to his house, but because it was his stuff he got to be Audie Murphy.

Our mother Enid, who Cynthia called Mimi and little brother did the same, painted them; mine blue, and Cynthia’s red; she painted everything. Today mine sits on the porch of our house and my grandsons Wyatt and Hank keep their toys there most of the time.  

In Marine Corps boot camp I had one just like it, but it was green. Everything I owned in those days fit in that box.  When we finished boot camp we put everything in our sea bag and moved to our next duty station and got another foot locker.

Since I dug my old toy box out of somewhere I have wondered about it.  I wonder who used it before I kept my toys in it.  How many men preparing to go to the islands in the Pacific, or to Europe to do battle used my toy box; how many gave their lives so I could grow up in a free country.  

I don’t know, but I am grateful to those brave men, and honored that some of them used my toy box.

Photo:  Hank - its in here somewhere.

  • Alex - September 16, 2016

    My grandmother Rubye was much like Enid, but without the talent. Rubye always said things must have beauty and usefulness, or there is no point having them around. Those lessons run deep in us.

  • Lara - September 16, 2016

    I love repurposed objects for this very reason. I love thinking about the stories they could tell. I also love that Enid painting anything that would sit still long enough.

  • Lana - September 15, 2016

    Always look forward to your stories! For of you who serve & have served…thank you!

  • Becky patterson - September 15, 2016

    You’re like me Jeep. Thinking into the past history of an object as it it’s haunted. This kind of thinking adds so much more meaning to life and it’s sacred objects. Loved that story

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