Newspaper Clippings, Part Two

Newspaper Clippings, Part Two

When Stevie stays with me for the day, he spends a lot of time going through old newspaper clippings and memorabilia. He sits on the floor where a “newspaper clipping mess” had spilled out of a box.

He has intentions of taking care of the mess for me, but he gets into the same rut as I – he reads the material.

The other day, I was in another room in my house while Stevie was sorting through a stack of papers. I could hear him talking out loud. It sounded as if he was crying between words. I didn’t know if it was a happy cry or a sad cry.

Turns out, he found some photos of himself and some Edgerton basketball players from 2015. He was indeed crying the happy cry. I took a video of him as he pointed to the pictures and wiped away tears as he told me their names.  

In the video, he points at a picture of himself standing at the three-point line and says, “That’s me shooting. Edgerton High School.” Some team players can be seen gathered below the net. The photo shows how Stevie was included.

Here I am, trying to finish my second book which is about him. And what does he do but find more material? More photos. More things for me to write about. 

Stevie came across a 1978 article Mom had written about Cleo Sleesman and his stolen car. By the time Cleo had recounted the story to Mom, he could tell her the end of the story – his car was unharmed and back in Edgerton.

Mom wrote that Cleo had started his day by stopping at the school to check the furnace before heading uptown to pay his utility bill. Standing in front of the school in the rain were two boys, ages thirteen and fourteen.  Cleo asked them what they were doing. They said they were from Hicksville, and they were “waiting on a ride.”

Cleo didn’t know they meant what they said. They really were waiting on a ride – which ended up being Cleo’s 1977 burgundy Mercury. 

After he checked the furnace, Cleo walked out of the school to find his car and the boys were nowhere to be found. He had left his car keys in the ignition.  

Mom wrote: “Area police were alerted. Cleo and Ellen knew there was not as much gas in the car as there usually is and they were hoping the boys would not wreck the car before it ran out of gas.”

At 4 p.m., they received a call. Their car was located on the State Line Road near Newville, Indiana. The keys were missing from the car, so the police needed to arrange for it to be towed back to Ohio.

After my mother passed away, I remember jokingly feeling sorry for myself because I needed to go through all her paperwork. You could easily ask yourself if any other person on earth has been given the job of sorting through too many newspaper articles. Too many greeting cards. Too many papers. And this was before I knew just how many she had saved. Who else has to read so much and decide what to do with the papers? Woe is me. 

As time passed, I realized how interesting some of the articles were. I was having fun reading those old stories.  My feelings went from “Woe is me” to “Woe is you” if you did not inherit newspaper clippings. What do you have to read at your house if you don’t have old newspaper clippings? I’ve already forgotten what life was like pre-newspaper clipping days.

Those who have sorted through an estate have unique stories to tell. It’s comical to think we live a good life on this earth, and we leave a house full of stuff to prove it.

The youngsters who took off with Cleo and Ellen Sleesman’s car back in 1978 are now senior citizens. Do you suppose they have a collection of photos and newspaper clippings that would tell us how life turned out for them?

I’ve begun the task of selecting photos for Stevie’s book. There are more photos than I could count of Stevie holding babies – many who are now old enough to be grandparents themselves.

There are pictures of him with athletes, cheerleaders, and friends. You can imagine what his collection looks like.

Just the fact that others made sure he had a printed copy of the photo shows how much he is cared for. 

My mother’s last earthly task was baking a birthday cake for Stevie. It was chocolate. We laugh at the fact that Mom baked the cake. It was ready. But she didn’t get the kitchen cleaned before she experienced a stroke at the age of 92. She left this earth with a sink full of dirty dishes.

Was there a final lesson to be learned here? Mom left one last birthday cake for someone she loved. It was the fiftieth birthday cake she had baked for him. 

But she didn’t have time to clean up the mess. Kind of like those newspaper clippings she left behind. She did the work. Now someone else has to take care of them.  

When I sit at my desk in the early morning hours, I can see the moon through the west window. And the sunrise is showing off in the east window. Perhaps the morning moon and the sun are here to remind us that each day is a day in which we can write our story.

My mother wrote about other people and the interesting things that made them who they were and how they’ll be remembered.

We all have stories to tell about things we’d never do again. Like be involved in a car heist. Or leave our keys in the ignition of a car – even though we’re in a small town where the stealing of a car is never on our mind.

Stevie’s fifty-fourth birthday is “coming up” in May and there’ll be more photos. More videos. More things to write about. More stories to be shared about the little – yet sometimes big – things that happen in small towns.

2 Comments on “Newspaper Clippings, Part Two

  1. Marlene I love your stories they are about real family and life going on 🥰 You have such a wonderful family and are so Blessed to have had such a talented Mom and Super Fine Dad ❤️

Leave a Reply