Friday, January 25, 2013

The Baby Book

After telling the beautiful story of how I was able to meet
my Aunt Flossie, it reminded me of another story...
one of my favorites, from so many years ago.

Before I moved up on the mountain, I lived in a lovely community
in Orange County called Mission Viejo. It's where I bought my
first home, raised my daughter & started my love affair with vintage.

One of my favorite shops that I had to hit several times a week, was
a nice size consignment store. It's long gone now, but the memories
of amazing finds linger on for me. I bought antique furniture there,
books & paintings, lovely old crystal & crockery, almost anything
that was in my price range & was vintage. One of the reasons this
store was so awesome, was because it was located near Leisure
World, a very upscale retirement community & they would buy the
estates from family's who had loved ones moving in there. 

One of my collections at the time was Vintage Baby. I loved anything
that was baby related & had a corner in my bedroom dedicated
just to that. One day, while browsing through this store, I found
a beautiful, old baby book, covered in satin. Flipping quickly through
the pages, I knew I loved it & purchased it along with several other
items. The day got busy & I wasn't able to admire my new found
treasures until much later in the night, but as I took my baby book out
& started reading each & every page, I had an unsettling feeling about
what I was seeing. This wasn't the typical baby book you might find
in an antique store, those are so often either blank or with maybe only
a couple of pages filled out. No, this book was meticulously filled out,
each & every page lovingly recording the milestones of this baby boy.

It had clips of his hair, pictures of his smiling sweet face, his
baptismal record. His name was Gayle Olson, I still remember
that & he was born in Minnesota in the 40's. This had to be a
mistake, someone was missing this treasured book. Who could
part with something so special, filled with so many memories?
I knew immediately that I had to reunite this book with it's baby.

Knowing that most of the items in this store came from Leisure
World, that's where I began my search. Looking in the phone book
for all the Olson's I could find, I started making phone calls. I was lucky
my baby had a fairly unusual name for a boy, thank goodness his name
wasn't Tom. One phone call lead to another phone call, which lead to
another, until I actually had the number for a man who lived in Laguna
Hills named Gayle Olson. I was so nervous when I dialed his number
& as luck would have it, I only got a hold of his answering machine.
In a trembling voice, trying not to sound too crazy in case this person
wasn't who I was looking for, I left a rambling message about a baby
book & a purchase, a mistake that needed to be corrected, the hope
that this was the same Gayle & a request for a return call. I left my
number & anxiously hung up. There's no way this can be
MY baby, he probably still lives in Minnesota!
Later that night, he called me back.

He was overjoyed that I had called, there HAD been a terrible
mistake. While moving his mother into Leisure World, the family
had packed her belongings into two different sets of boxes.
Ones to sell & ones filled with family heirlooms that were be
divided up between the children. In the chaos of the move, the
wrong boxes were sold & that was how I ended up with this
much wanted & loved possession. It was late by now & he wanted
to know if he could come by tomorrow & pick up his book. He
wanted to pay me, he wanted to do something special for me
for taking the time to find him...I said no, I was just so very
happy that the baby & the man would be reunited.

I had to work the next day, so I couldn't be there to give it to him in
person, but I would wrap it carefully & leave it on my front porch.
I could feel his gratitude through the phone. I never did meet my baby,
he came & got his priceless book while I was gone, but when
I got home I saw an envelope sitting on the same chair I had
left the package. I opened it up & inside was a simple note,
"I don't know how to Thank You! Gayle Olson"
...that was enough for me!