Historic Stuff

Some of us go on to do great and historic things. Most of us don’t. That’s part of growing older, is accepting that the life you have is the one God gave you and enjoying it the way it is. But sometimes some of the things we don’t think matter much start to acquire value. This happened to me, starting about three years ago.
It all started when I met my friend Oskar Lang when I joined a German youth group about two months after I had moved off my Army base in the summer of 1975. I returned to the United States at the end of 1976 and we started corresponding by postcard. In those early years neither of us had much money and there weren’t too many cards. As the years have gone by, we have been sending each other many cards, in recent years usually three to five a week, all in German. (Oskar’s English is pretty good but my German is better than his English, I think). I saved all my incoming postcards in a box in the basement.
We were cleaning up the basement and I saw this big box of postcards and I thought I really need to do something with these. Maria suggested that I should give them to a museum. Great idea! I contacted the local history museums in the towns where I was stationed and they would not take them. I thought, “Oskar lives in Berlin, I’ll see if there’s a museum there that would be interested.” I got in touch with the Alliierten-Museum (Museum of the Allies), which is dedicated to memorializing the occupying armies that were in Germany and Berlin from 1945 on. They responded positively that they would be interested–but only if they had the other half of the correspondence, the cards I had sent to Oskar. So I called Oskar up and told him what was going on; I asked him, “Do you still have the postcards I have sent you?” He said, “I’m looking at the big box of them right now.” He agreed to donate his as well. The project began, sorting all the cards. It culminated earlier this spring when we both turned our collections over to the Museum. In the picture you see Florian Weiss, our main contact at the Museum, carrying my shipment of cards (25 pounds) into the museum. He was thrilled that they came in an apple box!
The cards will be put into the collection there and be available to historians and researchers as documents of “historic value.” The mundane postcards I’ve been sending, about music, politics, work, kids, etc., have turned into something historic. I never would have thought that when I started sending them 45 years ago!

Daniel Read ’70

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