In my garage sits an old table. It has a small round top with a drawer underneath and has been used for many things, but mostly it serves as a reminder of special days gone by.
I have many such items in my garage.
My dad’s track shoes hang there – the ones he wore in 1956 when he won the 880-yard dash at the South Central Ohio League championships. Nearby are the track shoes I wore my senior year in 1979, when I, too, won the SCOL 880.
Many of the shoes my sons wore while winning SCOL championships also have their place in the garage.
There’s a black and white photograph I took of late Cincinnati Reds radio personality Joe Nuxhall sipping a cool beverage under a tree at Buckeye Hills Country Club, with Ken Griffy Sr. nearby.
A rough piece of cardboard hangs there, too. It’s a makeshift diagram one of my sons made of a tennis court we used to walk off for games we played in our front yard. The measurements, according to certain numbers of footsteps, are a priceless reminder of when my boys were younger.
There are lots of other things in my garage like that. They are there because I like them, and they make me feel good.
I do not always notice them, but when I do, they transport me, if only for a few seconds, to another place and time.
Now I have a new memento in my garage.
Last Saturday I was in my garage, with the big garage door wide open, enjoying a college football game on a glorious autumn late afternoon. I was talking to a sister-in-law when an old high school friend pulled into the driveway. The friend came in and chatted for a bit, then just as she was getting ready to go inside to see my wife, she stopped.
“Oh, I have something for you,” she said.
She walked back to her car and when she returned I could hardly believe my eyes. She was holding a large, old, steel “The 7 Caves” road sign. I cannot guess its age, but it’s much older than its new owner.
“I thought you were about the only person who would appreciate this as much as I would,” she said.
I did not know how to respond. I laid the sign on top of my pool table, admired it a bit, and then the only thing I could think of to say was “Can I give you a hug?”
This particular friend spent most of her youthful summers on Cave Road, where The 7 Caves were located. She visited the caves often. I spent uncountable days and nights at The 7 Caves for about 20 years, and worked there one summer, when good friends owned them.
I have always coveted a reminder of those memorable days gone by. For years, all I had was a bumper sticker, stuck to one of my garage walls. A couple years ago my wife purchased a 1951 “The 7 Caves” banner for me as a Christmas present. It has a special place in my garage, too.
Now I have a new keepsake.
Where it will go exactly, I do not know. But it will likely find a home in my garage, where it will rest along with the table and all its friends.
The table belonged to a kindly woman whose family opened their home to me and many others when we were young. She never said a lot, but offered guidance from time to time in her own way.
The sign comes from a woman who was a friend when I was young, and has been generous beyond words to my family. She, like the table owner, has looked over us in her own way, too.
Now the table and the sign will look over me and those in my garage in their own way. They will make me smile.
The wheels of life have a wonderful way of spinning their tale. And everything in my garage has a way of reminding me just how special that tale is.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.