This I have learned

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

The Brief Encounter – Part I

It seemed that the planets aligned that cool, but sunny day in April in 2008. Family members from Indiana came for a visit and I took them to the Wolcott House Complex in the city of Maumee, Ohio. The Wolcott House Complex is named after James Wolcott who was a prosperous businessman during the late 1820s to the mid-1840s in Maumee. The Wolcott House is original to the site and was built by James Wolcott and his wife, Mary, who was the great granddaughter of Chief Little Turtle. The Wolcott House began as a log house and evolved into a beautiful 14-room Federal style mansion between the years 1827 and 1836. I had never been to the museum before and I was eager to go and take my family to see this lovely, historical site.

My family and I were waiting for our ticketed tour to begin, which was the last tour of the day, when one of the docents, Tom, walked up to me. Tom told me that he was a local historian for the city of Maumee. He asked my name and we exchanged some pleasantries. Tom left and another 20 minutes transpired before our tour was to begin.

Just prior to our going on the tour Tom came running up to me and said, “Did you say your name is Bellner?” After I confirmed my maiden name Tom said, “I have a box for you. I think you should have it.” As it turns out, a few weeks earlier Tom was asked to go to my deceased uncle’s home which was being emptied of its contents by my cousin who was my uncle’s guardian. My cousin had told Tom, “Take what you want from the house.” Tom took some glassware and assorted nick-knacks, which he would later turn over to the Maumee Historical Society.

As he was about to leave he spotted a box that was discarded at the curb. Tom grabbed the box and took it home. Tom thought that I might want the box as he had no interest in its contents. I said I would take the box and Tom said that he would bring it to my home later that day.

After my family and I finished the tour Tom was waiting. “I went home to get that box for you,” he said with excitement. So we all went to the parking lot and Tom placed the box in my car trunk.

Driving back home the excitement was mounting as I wondered what could be in that non-descript cardboard box. I mused – it could not have contained anything worthwhile, otherwise Tom would have kept it. Still, my family and I were a bit excited to find out just what that box contained.

After we arrived back at our home we placed the box on the kitchen table.

To be continued—.