The first thing I noticed when I went out in our kitchen was a board leaning up against the back door. It was a very old board that was still dripping with dirt. It was a little over 2 inches wide and at least 3 feet long. There were grooves in the sides that were also full of dirt. How on earth did it get here? Well, with only two of us living in the house, I was pretty sure of how it got here, but what was it doing in the house? If I didn’t know better, I thought it was supposed to be against the door so as to keep it from opening. But that wasn’t possible. I knew there had to be a good reason George wanted it inside the house, but what was it? I didn’t think it could be of any value, but it must have meant something to him. Maybe this is something that could come under the heading of “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” After all, it wouldn’t be the first odd thing he has brought in the house that I found out later had some value.
My example of “beauty being in the eye of the beholder” became evident to me when I was hunting for a picture frame. It was to be for my painting of the pink blossoming trees at OWU. It’s a painting that was done by Jeannette Kraus, whom I had known from when we were both working at OWU. At one of OWU’s Secretaries’ Luncheons, a painting just like it was given away as a door prize. Sorry to say, I didn’t win it, but I sure would like to have. It’s a painting of several of the trees when they were loaded with pink blossoms. These trees were growing near the little wooden bridge over Delaware Run. (What gives it away are the few lines off in a distance that are painted to look like the steeple of Gray Chapel.) I just loved it. I don’t know how long it took me to get up the nerve to ask her if she would paint one for me. But when I did, we settled on a price, and within a short time, she brought the finished product to my office. When I brought it home, I put it on my wall and have enjoyed looking at it for the past 30 years. I never thought I needed a frame for it, but as time passed, I got serious about finding one. In the past, if I needed to frame a picture, I always asked a neighbor down the street to make one for me because he had a miter box. Since he’s no longer living, I hadn’t gotten this one framed. I know that for a decent price, you can buy framed pictures at yard sales or flea markets. So the hunt was on.
Since it was not a standard sized picture, I had a hard time finding the right frame. But, while at a huge flea market on the east side of Delaware, I found the right size and knew it would be perfect. This is where the saying of “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” comes into my story. The frame I wanted was already framing a picture of a stuffed bear that had on some type of a military uniform and was sitting behind a desk. I certainly didn’t want the picture, just the frame. As we were paying for it, the owner said that he loved that picture of the bear and had thought about putting it up in his home. Really? Really! Since it was priced at $15, we said we would pay him $10, keep the frame, and give the bear picture back to him. He said he would split the difference, so for $12.50 I got the frame and he got the picture. My pink blossoming trees are now framed and looking better than ever. Writing this story makes me wonder about two things. Had the owner really wanted that stuffed bear picture? And, which secretary got that original painting of the pink blossoms at the luncheon so very long ago?
Now, back to the board leaning up against the kitchen door. You remember, the one that was dripping with dirt. Somehow, I was not home when George cleaned it up. Seeing it cleaned up, almost to a shine, I then remembered him saying that he wanted a piece of the gym floor from his old high school that was being torn down that very day. And he had gone over and asked one of the workers if he could have one of the boards. He wanted it because for four years of his life, he had played high school basketball there and had run up and down on that floor. He not only wanted pieces of it for himself, but also for our daughters who had gym classes on that very floor for all their years of elementary and junior high school, too. And, also would plan to give pieces of it to anyone else who would enjoy having a part of their history. I also managed to pick up a brick from the area, so now we have two mementos from their days at their old school. It was originally called the Ashley School, then was called Elm Valley, and later became Buckeye Valley East. But, the entire original parts of the school are totally gone now and are being hauled away as I am writing this. Soon, the only things left of the school will be the memories that are in the minds of the beholders.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.