Gerardine Baugh

Geraldine’s father was a WWII veteran; her Uncle was in the Korean War; her Brother and Father-in law were in Vietnam; her Great Uncle was in WWI.

MY FATHER’S SUITCASE

Robert Easterway: US Navy, WWII
Robert Easterway: US Navy, WWII
I have my father’s handmade, wooden suit case,
With names of places, neatly printed, prominently displayed,

Pearl Harbor

Quarter inch pieces of wood
Carefully glued, nailed together

Eniwetok

Varnished to a deep, reddish brown,
Wooden grains visible,
with etchings of life scratched into its surface.

Saipan

Lined with a heavy, red piece of fabric,
Carefully folded to fit the interior

Iwo Jima

Crisply tucked into the corners
Then held neatly in place,

Okinawa

With rounded, tarnished, sliver headed,
Upholstery tacks

Manila

My father explained
He needed a place to keep his things,

Cavite

A place to keep himself
During the time, when life was one second at a time

Guam

This suitcase followed him through;
WWII

Peleliu

Gently I removed his folded handkerchiefs and ties;
I touched his watch in silence.

Balboa

I placed his Wallet with money and tie clips on the bed,
Searched through a stack of old lottery tickets

Shanghai

A few packs of cigarettes
And a book of matches

Tsingtao

Pictures of a Young man in dress whites,
Another of his buddies, smiling men in hula skirts

Panama

His VFW cap, with pins and buttons
His fathers watch.

Bermuda

I remember his stories of shore excursions,
He laughed, embarrassed

Newfoundland

Relaying the time he slipped into an empty oil container,
While carrying a bunch of bananas back to the ship.

Trinidad

I asked how he got the oil out of his clothes;
He answered flippantly, “it wasn’t easy’.

Scotland

He showed me how to swab a deck,
And the `correct way’ to make a bed; using a quarter.

Africa

He never spoke of the war, at least not to me;
If asked, he would get a far away look.

Azores

It takes two weeks,
But -Seasickness eventually stops, he said.

Casablanca

As a child, I traced the lines of his tattoos he got during shore
leaves,
Dancing girls, birds and military designs

Brasil

I wonder how many soldiers have
their own handmade suitcases.

Gibraltar

Carefully painted,
With the names of places they were sent?

Nova Scotia

A piece of themselves they hold on to
As they endure

Iceland

Witnesses to history;
That speaks without words.

Esterday, R.J: U.S. Navy WWII

I haven’t forgotten –
My father’s handmade, wooden suit case

Submitted for the March 2007 IWVPA Club Theme Project, “Anthropomorphic