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The Time Traveling Blue Steamer Trunk
I had just finished watching One Foot N5D and the show Conspiracy Couch #25 which was about alternate realities with some time travel aspects. It got me thinking about something that happened to me many, many years ago.
To be more exact it started in the year 1967 when we moved into this house in Martinez California on Adelaide Drive. I had some weird stuff happen at this place that to this day, November 8th 2021, still perplexes me. But I’ll try to keep this on just the subject of my blue steamer trunk that I found in the tool shed of this residence shortly after we had moved in. I say “MY” blue steamer trunk because it literally had my name on it, first and last! It was taped on the top center of the trunk with that raised lettered, plastic label maker tape. I found it while exploring the property and wandered into a tool shed aside of the main house.
I go inside and ask my mom and dad if it’s something they had hid from me and could be mine or maybe something that had belonged to my auntie after whom I was named? They both said no! But suggested that it could’ve belonged to a previous tenant as we were renting the home. So I let that go for a bit. (That was odd for me because I was quite the inquisitive child and had always sought answers to all of the mysteries of life)
I had no idea if my name was common or not as I was just a 10 year old kid. Some time later I got friendly with the land lady who lived just one street over from us. So I asked her if someone with my same name had ever lived there and explained about the trunk that should be returned to the rightful owner. But she said that I was the only Maighread that had ever lived there and suggested my parents were just hiding a gift till my birthday or Christmas maybe!?
I knew better. My parents were not the type to ever think that far ahead about gifts and I would most likely be the recipient of either a last minute gift from the local grocery store, or something from a Thrift store or even worse, a hand-me-down from my older siblings. I tried to put it outta my mind and for a while it worked.
Our dad and my older brother Jack had used the shed to store tools and stuff for working on the cars. But neither of them ever mentioned seeing this blue steamer trunk that took up a large amount of space for the relatively small shed. (I remember that Jack had removed the transmission from his old car and had stored it in the shed. Because of the minimal space it was practically in the middle of the floor of the shed setting next to that friggin trunk that was placed neatly under the workbench at the left inside of this storage shack.)
Then one Saturday in late spring (1968, I was 11) I had a great idea for a slumber party. Remember this was the time of the hippie protest and things like, “Sit-ins” and even “Love-ins” so I decided to have
a “Bake-in” where me and my chosen list of guests would bring their favorite cookie recipes and bake cookies for fun, entertainment and of course the all important ingredient for a slumber party, “snacks”
It all went pretty well although my poor parents had to deal with loud giggling, a constant train of young girls traipsing back and forth from the back patio, kitchen and bathroom. (Who ever thought to build a four bedroom house with only one bathroom never had to deal with the preteen bladder)
When it got late we finished cleaning up the kitchen. (Tho I’m sure we had left the patio a bit more than messy) We all washed our faces, brushed our teeth, put on our jammies and prepared for “lights out” around 12:00 am. Of course we rolled out sleeping bags, pillows and such, to pretend we were going to sleep. For goodness sake we’d all practically eaten our own weights in sugar so sleep was not even in the wheelhouse at that time!
We tried to play quietly. But if you can find a way to have a pillow fight quietly I’d like to know how? Because we did not succeed. My older sister who was up and sneakily talking to her boyfriend on the phone. Told me if mom got up because of us and found her on the phone that I’d regret it for the rest of my life. So we tried a quieter game.
We got into a circle with me standing in the center as the other girls sat on the floor. We were trying to do what’s now called,“Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” although I wasn’t lying down and I’m not sure what we had chanted. It was dark accept for the light of a streetlight coming through the open window and a slight dull stream of light under the bedroom door coming from the nightlight in the hallway. I was watching myself in the reflection on the window as I saw myself start to rise. It freaked me out a little so I looked down at the other girls to see if they were seeing what was happening. Most of them had their eyes closed and were saying something like RISE in unison. It was then I noticed Elenor Nicholas had her eyes open with her jawgaping! She and I looked at one another and screamed! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I promptly fell the six or so inches I’d been raised. Everyone had stopped their chant in fright and my mom popped through the door and yelled that we better shut up and go to bed right now! So we tried, well some of the girls made it. But Elenor and I were still too freaked out to sleep.
I got up and ruffled through my top dresser drawer. I then took out a cigarette and matches I had hidden there. I motioned to Elenor to get up and we tiptoed to the door. We peeked out to see my sister sitting there watching the door. We weren’t gonna get out that way.
The only other way was to clime out of the bedroom window and go around back to sneak a smoke. So that’s exactly what we did! I took the Salem menthol cigarette placed it to my lips and struck a match. As I did this I saw my little sister coming around the corner of the patio closest to the back door. “Crap!”
She just wanted to share the smoke, but when I said no I was blackmailed into giving her some because she was the “baby girl” and mom would believe whatever stuff she wanted to makeup about me. So I passed it to Elenor then she passes it toSylvia who of course hotboxed it by taking too many drags. I stomped it out and thought we’d go back to my room to try to sleep.
This is where it gets a bit more weird. I thought we went back in the house via the front door where Sylvia came out. Deb our big sister wasn’t in the hallway so we got back in the room and our sleeping bags with no issues. However I awoke just around dawn sleeping on the floor of the tool shed next to that freaking blue steamer trunk that had my name on it!! Suddenly the shed door opens and it’s Elenor and my little sister. They say something like…
You win hide-and-go-seek! We’ve been looking for you since last night after the smoke. I just laughed and went along with the idea that I’d hidden there on purpose, but I was perplexed. It’s strange but when you’re a kid you can somehow let stuff you can’t wrap your head around go and proceed with just whatever comes next. (Or maybe it was an aspect of this trunk to mask ourthoughts about it? Such weirdness was a part of this time)
I tell this short event to help express that many other strange, weird and even borderline outrageous things happened at that house. Not sure if it was just this trunk or the location that wasthe vortex of strangeness but I’ll attempt to completely focus on the trunk now!
My brother graduated high school, joined the Army and was sent off to Vietnam. Our parents started having even more issues than before and I was 12. Things were changing!
I finally went into the shed and extracted that damn trunk. Nobody could tell me how it got there or why my name was on it! I slowly opened it. It never had a lock on it but for some reason I’d never opened it, nor had anyone else in the family. Who doesn’t open something like that? It had been there fornearly three years yet with all of my questions about it I’d never once as much as peeked inside. (Let me tell you my sisters were always going through my stuff. Sylvia was very curious and always sneaked a peak at everything! Christmas presents included)
This part is a bit confusing as I cannot remember the first thing that I saw or took out of the trunk but I’ll give some of the stuff I remember…
A picture of a girl I called Yvonne Streeter,(although my sister said it was her friend Debbie Streeter! A few years later when incarcerated in Juvenal hall I met Yvonne Streeter (yes Debbie’s Streeter’s little sister, Debbie and my sister Deb had been friends in school)and I had gotten that picture from Yvonne herself) There was also a picture of a cute chubby baby, a black night gown, a glass water picture clear with yellow flowers and some things that proved to be the objects that would astonishand amaze me. One was a paperback script of the play, “The Wizard of Oz” it had the initials P.J. On it. Also there was a library book of the script for the musical, “The Music Man” the card in the front said the one who last had checked it out was “Maighread Birdsong” and the return date was, July 30th 1975. (Remember I was 12 so this was late 1969 when the trunk was first opened)
Now many years later I know how this trunk came to be. It was bought by my 26 year old boyfriend to help me pack up stuff for when I ran away to live with him in Green River Wyoming when I was 16. I was found, returned to California and incarcerated in Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall where they used the label maker to put my name on it. Okay so that happened but there is more…
I was sent to foster care in Oakdale California. My trunk was lost for a time but eventually got sent to me in my new home. I buckled down and managed a B average for the last semester of my junior year as well as throughout my senior year. It was quite fun there and without my family dogging me I did pretty well.
Senior year I got chosen to be Glenda the Good in the high school performance of, “The Wizard of Oz” I’d taken on the nick name, P.J. (As my auntie for whom I’m named had always called me Peggy and my middle name is Jean.) I later also participated in the high school musical, “The Music Man”
Tho after graduation I went back to Martinez to live with my mother and stepfather. Not a great move but it brings me to another object found in the trunk. The library book of the script of that aforementioned musical.
The local summer stock was holding auditions for, “The Music Man”, as I’d already done this musical, I thought I’d be sure to get a singing roll. I went to our local library and checked out the book. I really didn’t get the correlation at that time. Really how could it have completely missed me? I just went forward and did not give that trunk I found as a young girl one single thought.
So there was a picture of a cute baby. Now years before when I’d first opened it my mom said that it looked like my baby brother. But it wasn’t. This is who it was and how now I can write it down and deal with this freaking weirdness…
In 1977 one month before my 20th birthday I gave birth to a ten pound nine and one half ounce bouncing baby boy. Me and mythen husband named the baby, Jason Adam Nicholas. Oh, my goodness he was the baby in the picture. (Thus the family resemblance to my baby brother)I still don’t know how or when that trunk traveled through my own timeline but I was the one who packed it when I moved out from our house during theseparation and eventual divorce from my now ex-husband.
This is just some of the weird ass timey-wimey “Doctor Who”shit that happened. It was hard for me to even write this out. It does still perplex me, but I know that some day I will completely understand.