Time Capsule on a String

yo-yo, 1955, Duncan, tournament, family, history, family tree, remembering, memento, genealogyIt sits on my mother’s kitchen table amidst a flurry of papers I’m helping her sort. Searching for documents to add to the family tree that grew from my Grub Street Writers Six Weeks, Six Poems class, we have become sidetracked.

Mom has kept a stack of condolence cards from dad’s death, in 2011. He was born in 1935, and now, unearthed from somewhere in the house, sits a remnant of his youth. It’s a red 1955 Tournament Yo-Yo, preserved for all time in a plastic box. A time capsule.

It’s strange how like an iceberg my father’s passing has been for me. Alive, I knew only a small amount about him, the part that broke the surface of our lives.

He left for work bearing a domed battleship gray lunchbox with two silver latches, incongruously festooned with yellow smiley stickers. He supplied us with yellow legal pads and black “U.S. Government” pens from his job with the Federal Aviation Administration at Logan Airport. He kept a gun in the car.

Now that’s he’s gone, I have slowly uncovered parts of his life that were previously unknown. Like his being a yo-yo champ. He would have been 20 when he won the tournament, and received this coveted prize that sits in front of me 60 years later. I can picture him now. Tall and lean, he lofts the bright red orb into the sky. For just a second, it hovers there against the vast blue, suspended on a thin tether.