I am actively de-cluttering my home. Last weekend, I shredded my Blockbuster membership card. Afterward, I wondered if I had destroyed a treasure future generations would marvel over.
Okay, that's a bit ridiculous. However, I am marveling at this receipt dated 1/13/1931. I found it in an old chest my mother left to my brother. He asked me to clean it out, to save old family photos for what's becoming a massive archive.
Mrs. Clark purchased underwear and hose from C. A. Smith & Son, General Merchandise, in Willow Lakes, South Dakota. The cost was $1.58. On the back of the receipt is the admonition to "Keep This Check."
Indeed, Mrs. Clark and her descendants kept that check, although the underwear and hose have long ago disintegrated and returned to the earth. I have a vague notion Mrs. Clark was a relative or at least neighbor to my mother's family.
Great-great grandfather Captain William Nelson Berry homesteaded in Willow Lake in 1882, but passed away in 1909. He was no longer alive to witness the momentous occasion of Mrs. Clark's underwear purchase, but my great-grandparents and grandparents were around.
Did Mrs. Clark walk to the store? Ride in a horse drawn wagon? Or was she escorted in an automobile, still a bit of a novelty in semi-rural South Dakota in 1931. Was Mrs. Blogg or Blagg a shop clerk? Or did she run an errand for Mrs. Clark? Was Mrs. Clark actually there? Which neighbors might she have encountered? Was the January weather intense? Or had she taken advantage of a mild day to obtain the critical items?
When I have the time, I may be able to find a photo of C. A. Smith & Son's establishment. Who knows, maybe Mrs. Blogg/Blagg and Mrs. Clark are depicted in the Clark County history book. My great-grandfather's journal might have clues to the happenings of the day. Or at least the weather report, which he recorded with regularity every single day.
I have to be careful not to become too caught up in the past, although teasing out the story fascinates me. It's the mystery author in me, I suppose. I may eventually create a "murder board" style research tool to put together the crumbs of history to complete this day in 1931.
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