Not too long ago I fell in love with this vintage suitcase – I saw it on Facebook posted by one of my FB friends. You know how I roll – I love vintage luggage, because honestly, they just don’t make luggage like they used to!
This post looks dauntingly lengthy, but it’s actually a quick read…
I am now the proud owner of this vintage suitcase! I’m still a little in awe, because like all vintage pieces there ‘is’ a story, and I feel particularly connected to this one. This suitcase belonged to someone I’ve known virtually my entire life, and who has been interwoven with my family in so many ways – in part because of the small community I grew up in, and in part because of the way a small town works!
Rather than rewrite the story, here is the original script!
In 1964, I was a single mother working at the Royal Bank in Vancouver. I looked around and the highest ranked female was the head- teller. I had a child to support and the future for me at the bank looked bleak, so I decided to get a student loan and go to university. At least as a teacher I would be paid the same wages as a man. I enrolled in the Faculty of Education and there was such a teacher shortage that after just one year, I was able to get a teaching job anywhere north of Quesnel. I was 24 years old and all my friends were travelling to Europe. The most exciting place I could go and still take my daughter, was the Queen Charlotte Islands. Tom Perrin interviewed several of us in Vancouver while I was attending summer school to pick up a couple more courses…..French literature and chemistry…. and with the promise of a furnished place to live, I accepted his offer and started to make preparations for our trip. I had very little money, so I scouted out the Army & Navy, finding two second-hand trunks…. One large wood and canvas barrel top and a small flatter one , along with the old leather suitcase. These three pieces, packed with the few possessions we owned, were shipped to the school board office in Queen Charlotte City, along with my brother’s motor bike that I had borrowed because I didn’t know if there were any roads for my little beatle to drive on….. our northern adventure had begun.
I love this!
I am sharing a few more shots of the suitcase, because along with them a few more pieces will fall into place.
I love the colour of the aged and worn leather, and believe it or not, the tag is still intact from the move all those years ago!
This is one side of the tag.
And then there’s side two!
School District 50, as you read, was the cornerstone for this suitcase making the trip. SD50 also played a significant role in my life over the years – it’s where I went to school, and eventually was employed for 15 years. My Mom worked for the District for 25 years, and in the irony of life’s twists and turns, my husband worked there for 15 – but he wasn’t my hubs then!
One of the things I love about vintage luggage is the well-designed corners…
As you can see, they are made of thick leather that is secured with brass hardware. This suitcase will fall apart before these corners come undone!
I think the corners of this suitcase are metaphorically symbolic of the journey its made. A gutsy move that took strength and endurance, and a decision that was ultimately key.
You never know where a journey will take you, where it will start and where it might end. Who knew 50 years later this piece of luggage would journey into my life, and be filled with so many threads and connections?
This suitcase holds… well, I think… memories.
Did I mention, one of my first jobs was working at Charlisle? Or that I received the Charlisle bursary when I graduated from high school? Or that in the early years my Mom was a stay-at-home mom, and babysat the child in the story and her younger sister? The younger sister, by the way, is the same age as my brother and they went to school together for most of their school life. Or, when I was in my early 20s the child in the story made me the most decadent birthday cake and treats… and when we lost my Mom she made sure there were purple helium-filled balloons to say goodbye? Purple was Mom’s colour! That the child’s mom, L.J. Wilson captured memories for us through photographs, going way out of her way… Yes, this suitcase holds memories.
Vintage luggage – we definitely have some history in common!
Thank you L.J. Wilson. This vintage piece is a true treasure trove of collected memories, here to stay!
Photographs by Sheila Zeller; please link and credit if you choose to use!