The GI and the thrift store


My husband is one of those obsessive types. You know, the kind of person who gets a laser focus about something and is unable to process anything else. The kind of person who’s obsessive about stuff he wants to do. Stuff he thinks he’ll be good at.

In other words, a typical man. AGMA male readers excluded of course…

He’s gotten so engrossed in a project before that it seemed as if he’d lost his sense of sight, hearing and speech. Doc Brown’s whole space-time continuum was suspended. He was oblivious of his surroundings while his children played with Mainway toys (Bag o’ Glass or Johnny Switchblade:Adventure Punk maybe?) or put the cat in the microwave.

Got the picture? Hubs still gets freakin’ crazy about things

In our nearly 40 years of marriage, four obsessive themes have emerged. Chess, duplicate  bridge, golf and genealogy.

All things I pretty much could give a rat’s patoot about. But it keeps him out of trouble. Most of the time.

We have multiple plastic tubs of his genealogy research done over the past 20 years. In the early years, before everything was on the internet, he’d travel all over the Eastern U.S. visiting county courthouses searching through, and copying, historical records about his family.


He’s done some work on my family too. Hubs debunked a myth that my father’s father’s family was from Ireland. He found definitive proof from multiple sources that they were actually German.

Damn it.

Round about 1914 when my father was born, it wasn’t too popular to be German. So poof, they became Irish. “Sure and begorrah, we’re from the Emerald Isle. Anybody seen a leprechaun?”

Hubs is still at it, but now he’s using DNA. I had to spit into a tube and he send it off for analysis. It’s gross to do. I can’t imagine being the one who digs the spit out of the tube.

Last week he found a 3rd or 4th cousin of mine living in St. Louis. Yawn… Unless it’s George Clooney or one of those yummy professional men’s cyclists in spandex, I’m not too interested.

My worst fear is that he’ll find some connection to Donald Trump. There are some skeletons with small hands best left in the closet.

But I did call on his expertise a couple of weeks ago.

In my hunt to find crap…eh…treasures to sell on eBay, I came across a WWII era postcard in a thrift shop. It was only 49 cents. Sold. Original WWII era “stuff” is popular with some folks. I felt like I could probably turn a big profit and sell it for at least $1.

AGMA’s nothing if not a shrewd business woman.

But my crusty heart melted when I read the back after I got home. It was a sweet love message from a GI stationed in Florida to his young wife back in Cleveland. We’ll call them Adam and Eve. Like I did the lions last month. The postmark was December, 1944.

My three uncles served in WWII. I’m lucky enough to have a couple of letters one of them wrote to his sister, my mother. I cherish those letters.

Suddenly a beam of light shone down on me and I heard a voice from the heavens saying, “You know what you have to do!” And I did.

AGMA needed to try to find the family of this couple and return this postcard to them.  I just prayed the GI survived the war.

Unfortunately the GI’s writing wasn’t all that great. His last name was hard to read. And Google Maps shows the address in Cleveland is a vacant lot. Now what?

Genealogy Man to the rescue!

When Hubs got home that night, I set him to the task. He was elated. With in 15 minutes he had found this couple’s eldest son on Facebook.

Kinda creepy in a “it’s way too easy to track somebody down on the internet” way…

I sent Adam’s son a message on Facebook and waited. And waited. Clearly he isn’t too much of a Facebooker.

So AGMA did a little social media research of her own. More like social media stalking.  I’m good at that. Did I say that out loud?

Because her FB security was nonexistent, I was able to get into Adam’s son’s wife’s FB page and read her posts. Which lead me to her daughter’s FB page which, again, had nonexistent FB security. Great for me in trying to track down Adam and Eve’s relatives, but still, kinda creepy…

Their daughter had a website listed for her business. Bingo!  I filled out the contact form, asked if Adam and Eve were her grandparents, and gave her my email address. Within hours, she replied.

She gushed with excitement. Yes indeed, Adam and Eve were her grandparents. And please send the postcard to her. She was going to have it framed and give it to her father as a gift.

Uncharacteristically, AGMA felt a sense of total and complete satisfaction with herself.

But I hesitated when I put it the postcard in an envelope on Monday. The whole thing seemed alive with the spirit of these two young people who were in so love so many years ago. AGMA wanted to feel that for just a few more minutes…

I sent her an email yesterday to let her know I’d mailed the post card. I also made the suggestion that she may want to delay framing it. Her father may actually want to touch the postcard; to make a physical connection with it. It could be a powerful way of reaching out, across the years, to his parents.

I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

Not sure she’s planning to listen to the wisdom of AGMA or not, but I’m just happy that Hubs and I could return a bit of family history rescued from a thrift store.

Turns out this eBay thing isn’t a bad gig.

Even if I missed out on my massive 51 cent profit.

53 thoughts on “The GI and the thrift store

    • Of course I took a picture of the back with the writing & postmark, and the front which at the top of the post! I still think it was in remarkable shape for being 72 years old! A testament to the wife so lovingly kept it tucked away for so many years…


    • Yikes is right! My FB page is on total security lock down – you really don’t see anything about me other than my name, cover picture and profile picture (which I still think is too much!) People don’t realize how much they compromise themselves by not putting tight security on their social media accounts!

      And thanks for thinking it was sweet! I’d better watch out or my reputation as a cranky sort might get ruined! Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks CC! I have to say that of my husbands obsessions, his genealogy one is the only one that generates a spark of interest in me. And I think he got a lot of satisfaction from helping “crack the case”!!

      I just don’t want to have to spit in a tube again! 🙂


    • That’s the way we roll here at AGMA Eric…. You just never know what you’ll get from one week to the next! Kind of like Donald Trump’s hairstyle. Ha!

      At least in this one tiny case, it was a happily ever after ending. It’s nice to have one of those. In spite of what Disney movies would lead you to believe, they tend to be few and far between.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great story AGMA. I’m lucky enough to have a little tin of post cards from my mother’s families past. Some date back to WWI and many are post marked from Italy and written in Italian. I’m sure the family of this GI will appreciate your thoughtfulness. And your old man’s genealogy skills.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the lovely compliment! And – oh my Ilona – what a wonderful “stash” of family history you are blessed to have! You are one fortunate lady…

      I gave the “old man” his credit when I contacted the GI’s granddaughter. I made it clear that it was a team effort. Ha! And I really do think my hubs was as pleased as punch he could use his skills and help out!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Joyful! I DO love a challenge! I thought it would be like days of work tracking this family down and was a bit disappointed when hubs cracked the case in 15 minutes. But not too disappointed. I don’t know if my GI was shipped out or not during the war, but I was thrilled to find out that he came home from his service and lived a long life. There were so many young men who never came home.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have done some family research myself, and found out my great-great grandfather pistol whipped his half breed wife and got off scot-free. I come from really good stock. Nice decision on your part. Makes you feel good about yourself, doesn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! Yeah – I was feeling kinda warm and fuzzy about it… I’ve still got a bit of the glow going on. Ha!

      That’s the danger of digging back into family history – the skeletons come out of the closet! And I don’t care what anybody says – we ALL have those skeletons in one form or another. Better to expose them to the light than keep them hidden away. That way we can see how very far we have come right?


    • And I’m glad you found AGMA too Anne!! Welcome!

      Thanks for your kind comment! I don’t know about you, but I try to keep a low profile on social media. I guess if somebody wanted to find me, they could, but hopefully it takes them longer than 15 minutes! Ha!


  3. Yay for you! (And for your husband and his genealogy obsession.) I’m so glad you did this. When my daughter and I were selling stuff on eBay, she’d been allowed to go into an old house a friend had bought and was going to move. She was scrounging in the bug-infested top of a linen closet when she found a cardboard shirt box. It had part of a WWI uniform, a handkerchief from Paris and a diary the young man (the owner’s brother) kept from when he joined a Texas National Guard unit and subsequently was sent to France. A man who collects items from this particular Guard unit contacted us through eBay. He takes much of his collection around to schools and Boy Scout groups to show kids that many of the soldiers were not much older than they are now. Long story somewhat shorter, we ended up giving him a lot of what we had to add to his collection. We just couldn’t justify trying to make a buck off of it to the detriment of the greater good. Kudos to you and your husband for all your hard detective work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh good – I was hoping I wasn’t the only “soft touch” out there…

      I love your story about your daughter’s find and what you did with it! God heavens – you can just tell we’re both bleeding heart liberals from these stories can’t you? We’d rather give this stuff away than make a buck off of it! 😉

      Thanks for the yay!


  4. Wonderful story and great humour in it, agingrace. Love the postcard in your post featured photo.
    That is an interesting story about your father hiding his German background
    My partner immigrated from Germany shortly after WWII as a little boy. He was bullied for being that at school.

    Now what are your obsessions? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know that Jean…watching elite professional cyclists in spandex! 🙂

      And the postcard pictured is THE postcard – the one in the story! The front of it at least… It doesn’t look too bad for being 72 years old right? I snapped a picture of it before I sent it off.

      Sorry about your partner’s experience. 😦 People can be very cruel.

      And I think it was my father’s father who may have decided to mask the truth about their German heritage… My dad believed his family was Irish until the day he died even though hubs showed him the evidence to the contrary several years before. My father had nothing against Germans – his mother’s family was all German. But I think he really embraced that Irish thing and couldn’t imagine that it wasn’t true because his dad had told him it was true. Oh what a tangled web….

      Thanks for the lovely comment Jean!


  5. That is a great story, Things like that really mean things to people. And, Cudos to Mr. AGMA for his help with the Cyber Stalking and the genology thing my Aunt does that too… yes, they tend to get a litte OCD… but seriously that was a great thing you did. once of my most precious things I have is a tin filled with letters that my father wrote to my grandmother while he was in VietNam along with his purple hearts, and Silver Star… I also have the the telegram that the Army sent my Great Grandmother to let her know that they were sending my Great Uncle Lawerences body home from Italy during WWII and somehow I inherited ( they said I looked and acted just like him) his coffin flag and his toe tag … I know that sounds kinda of gross, but it really is a cherished item.. you did good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words!

      What a wonderful collection of family history you have! I don’t think any of it is gross. It’s all fascinating and a connection with the past. That tin of letter’s is truly precious. Take good care of it!

      You made me laugh with your comment about your OCD genealogy researching aunt! Mainly because that’s how hubs is!

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      • lets just say I should of bought stock in post it notes when she is onto something those things are flying… She just did my maternal grandfathers all the way back to the 1700’s I’m listed in page 46 🙂 in a beautimus blue notebook. now she is working my my grandmothers side…


  6. Having the spare time to pursue any and all obsessions is a great benefit of retirement which it took me a while to appreciate. My scattered pursuits include genealogy, which I understand is a very current craze for all ages. I hope to learn more about my family tree, and maybe find some treasures, while digging through many closets, boxes and old suitcases where my mom has stored such things when I visit her this summer, as well as picking the brain and possibly possessions of my late father’s only cousin. I don’t know how accurate any of the info I’ll get from Mom or cousin Donald will be since dear old Mom recently changed Dad’s entry point into the US from L.A. to N.Y, which means I’ll have to do a lot more digging and cyberstalking to pursue any clues I might find. I don’t expect this to become an obsession, though, since I don’t handle frustrations of any kind very well these days. That’s why I’m happiest just reading a good book or an old magazine or digging through layers of info on Wikipedia!
    BTW, my spouse always knew what he wanted to do with his spare time in retirement. He has now recruited all his new neighborhood BFFs (and I’ll admit I’m a little jealous of his new bromances with his fellow John Deere mower riding buddies – that’s how they met) to find new kinds of wood he can cut, sand, polish and varnish into clocks, tables, signs and other stuff that have now taken over “his” garage and basement! In my defense, I have directed him to another obsession that we can share, the Civil War, as I am also a history buff and we now live closer to battlefield sites and such. I’m hoping, after my visit with Mom, to add genealogy to his list of obsessive pursuits that will benefit me as well. Wish me luck with that one, OK?

    Liked by 1 person

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