Memory of the Past

In trolling through my maternal grand mother’s matter, I found, stufft in a shipping tube from CEIBA-GIGY that originally contained pharmaceutical advertising posters to a dead doctor, this:

HappyRetirement

It’s a deflated aluminum balloon (the kind that would short out power lines) from either her, or her husband (my maternal grand father’s) retirement party when they left the civil service. Both were janitors for years at a public school. I think it was her retirement, which was a year after his, but I could be wrong. There’s no copyright date printed on the design (though by this time it wasn’t required for protection), so I can’t tell. It’s just named “CLASSIC BALLOON”.

This doesn’t have much significance on it’s own, so skip the part between the HRs below if you don’t want to read a family story.


My grand father on my mother’s side died about a decade ago. I do not remember him very well as I was young enough that it seemed as though he would always be around, even though he was always in bad health. He worked on the railroad after leaving 8th grade during the Great Depression, and later went to work in the public school as a janitor. After 30 years there, he was essentially forced to retire early on account of his ill health. This was about 15 years before I was born, so you can imagine the state he was in when he and I overlapped lives. A year later, his wife (my grand mother) retired normally and looked after him.

Their retirements were (understandably) mile markers for her. Dates in the 70s are constantly so many years before or after he retired. I don’t disbelieve that it happened, but it was much like the Battle of Clontarf: an event tagged with a name. Having a piece of realia from it just gave me an uncountable validity to me. The top of the balloon (not shown) still has a little hole from a pin that was used, probably by one of their fellow janitors – or themselves – to tack it to the cieling or wall. That obviously failed, because there’s a torn peice of scotch tape there as well. Little works of disperced hands give an odd immediateness to this, for me.


A question, though, for the designer of image: Why make it look like a diploma? People who retire generally don’t care about their formal educational instruments of identity anymore because they are no long needed to maintain imployment.

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