Friday night, when we picked up the desk, I also acquired a couple of boxes of family pictures, letters, keepsakes and other paper. My cousin Lisa took me over to a trunk of letters and told me to take several handfuls. I dipped my hand in four times and on the last reach, pulled out an old stationary box from the John Wanamaker Department Store.
When we got home, I opened up that box and in it I found old postcards, Christmas cards and a small envelope containing the invitation to my great-great-grandparents wedding in 1886. In addition to its age, this invitation is particularly special because the wedding was here in Philadelphia. The ceremony was held at the Grace M.E. Church at Broad and Master Streets and the reception was at 1400 N. 16th Street, just a few blocks from the church. That neighborhood is now essentially part of the Temple campus and is sort of rough. My mind keeps reaching back, hoping to be able to imagine what it must have been like on the day they got married.
The final card in the packet, and the one that has given me the most delight, is the one labeled “At Home.” It indicates that the newly married couple lived at 1738 Green Street in Philadelphia. This is across the street from where my friend Georgia lives today and just a couple of blocks from where my cousin Harlan lived while he was in medical school. The idea that I’ve unknowingly walked the same blocks that my great-great-grandparents did thrills me in a way I find hard to articulate but enjoy deeply.