Black Swank Trifold

Since Project Keepsake was published in February, several men readers have remarked, “I don’t have keepsakes—that’s kind of a ‘woman’ thing.”

Au contraire! Twelve of the fifty-five keepsake stories in the first collection were penned by men. My husband, Gene, has a few keepsakes he stores in a Lundstrum stacking mission-style lawyers' bookcase in his office. My brother, Andy, has one keepsake that I know of, and if I plundered around his house, I bet I could find more. Yes, men have keepsakes.  They may not talk about them a lot, but men keep things.

So today, I cast a light on a man’s keepsake and keepsake story.

Ed's story is about a wallet and the kindness of a stranger. "Black Swank Wallet" begins on page 252.

Ed's story is about a wallet and the kindness of a stranger. "Black Swank Wallet" begins on page 252.

I first heard Ed Huey tell his keepsake story while at a gathering at Jane Starner’s riverside condo just north of Chattanooga. He delivered a short summary while I ate salad and sipped wine. Ed’s keepsake is a wallet that belonged to his father. His story tells the tale of a broken family, a son’s sadness, and the kindness of a stranger. 

“Oh wow! You’ve got to write that story down,” I said afterwards.

But Ed’s a busy guy—he’s a thriving blues musician with dozens of irons in the fire all the time. He teaches music. He plays music. He’s recorded songs and documented conversations with Mississippi blues greats. He even played the part of a dead body in an independent film a few years back—a performance worthy of an Academy Award, I might add. Plus, he and his beautiful and multitalented wife, Sharon Huey, had recently moved to Natchitoches, Louisiana, so I didn’t think that Ed would ever be able to carve out the time to write his story down on paper for me, or for anyone else. But I was wrong.

When Ed learned that I needed one more story for the book, he sat down and wrote “Black Swank Trifold” and sent it to me with a lovely note.

I am a rather stoic gal—a hard-as-nails, female Mr. Spock, of sorts. I rarely show emotion unless someone is sick or dead or I have been pushed to an extreme limit, but Ed’s kindness and his story evoke strong emotions in me.

His story begins on page 252 of Project Keepsake. Enjoy!

My father died of a heart attack at a traffic light in Monroe, Louisiana. His divorce from my mother and marriage to his third wife caused a bitter rift in the family that was never repaired. My sister and I were never offered any of his belongings after his death.

When the phone rang the caller asked, “Is this Mr. Lynn E. Huey, Jr.?”

I said to myself, “Telemarketer, what do you want? How did you get my number? And why are you calling me?” I went into defense mode.

“Are you Lynn Huey? Please don’t hang up, I have something that belongs to you.”

I was angry now, the gall!

“My name is Michael. I found your father’s wallet. I’ve been contacting all the Lynn Hueys I could find. When I found Lynn Huey, Jr., I had a feeling.”

Michael said he was in Melbourne, Florida browsing an antique toy store and saw a wallet on a shelf for $10. Strange offering for a toy store. He opened it and found identification, family pictures, membership cards, even a voter registration card for Lynn E. Huey. He thought it very curious that an intact billfold was in a location so remote from the address listed on the driver’s license, Bossier City, Louisiana, but he replaced it on the shelf and left the store.

As he reached the sidewalk, Michael kept thinking about the billfold. He couldn’t let it go. That billfold belonged to someone. He went back and purchased the item. There must be some way to restore it to the Huey family, he thought. Now he had finally called the right Lynn Huey.

Memories flooded my senses. I was speechless for several seconds. When I found the words, I told Michael I did not have anything that belonged to my father. The next few seconds Michael was silent. Then, in an choked-up voice, he said, “Well, Mr. Huey, I have something very special for you, today. Something that belonged to your father.”

He told me about the items in the billfold, a picture of my son, an appointment card for the cardiologist and other things that verified that this was in fact my father’s billfold.

When Michael mailed the parcel, he related the story to the UPS store manager. UPS insisted on participating in the restoration of the billfold to the Huey family as a gift. The package was sent at no charge.

The swank, genuine cowhide, trifold, black billfold with the accordion card windows arrived. All available card windows were occupied with his current driver’s license, employment photo ID, Masonic Lodge card, golf club membership, bank ID, family pictures of his mother, current wife, me, grand sons, assorted reminders for medical appointments. All up to date for 1974. I was looking directly into Lynn Edmond Huey’s face, a moment rescued from 1974. I had not seen him or any of his belongings since October 1974. Michael M. walked into an antique toy store in Melbourne, Florida in October 2010, saw this object on a shelf, purchased it, and sent it to me!

Michael enclosed this letter:

October 21, 2010

Mr. Huey,

In life we all have angels that watch over us, wherever we go and whatever we do. Also in life there are times where a stranger will pop into your life and change things, even just a little, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. This time, was for the better.

Today, I found something that belongs to your family and I did not believe that it was right to to leave it on that shelf in that store. It belongs in your home, in your hands. When you said that you do not have anything of your father’s, I choked up a little, and I knew I did the right thing. Sorry it took me so long to find it, but today, as you read this, you hold in your possession the very thing that your father took with him everywhere. It has his important identifications, and most of all, his pictures of what I am thinking are your kids. Here are the details about how this came about, I am sure you will want to tell this story to family, I found this at an old antique toy store in Melbourne, Florida on 10-21-2010. I contacted a Lynn Huey in Alabama, a female, and she said that she was married into the Huey family, but has no relation. Then I went to the white pages and found you, Jr., and had a good feeling that you are who I needed to speak with.

My father is my best friend and I know one day I will have to say goodbye to him. That will be a sad day. Today, you can say hello again to yours, through memories, and keep a part of him with you forever.

Thank you for not hanging up the phone today and God Bless you and your family.

Sincerely,

Michael M.

I will never know how my daddy’s billfold came to be in Melbourne, Florida, but I know how it came to Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Thank you Michael.
— Ed Huey, "Black Swank Trifold" from Project Keepsake
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