The time machine

The secret treasury of my grandparents’ house


Graphic by Holland Rainwater

Story by Charli Hueter, staff writer

There is a corridor that I have walked many times – a hallway that leads me to the past. The walls are covered by a timeless coating of memories printed upon monochrome pages. With every step, I advance deeper into the world of my relatives, watching years of their lives blink past within squared frames. As I draw closer to the end of the hallway, I am vaguely aware of my grandparents watching, and soon they are at my side. Together, we wander through time.

I remember being asked who I would most like to eat dinner with if I could, living or dead. I would automatically think of my grandfather–the one I had only known under the cloak of Alzheimer’s disease–because I was told of how wonderful he had once been. So, there I sat one Christmas evening in my father’s hometown of Houston, Texas, bored and prowling through a heavily lacquered desk drawer. Little did I know that my wish would soon come true.

If anything caught my eye, it was the sight of a journal, especially a small, worn, particularly charming little journal. Upon closer inspection, I found myself holding the pocketbook “ex libris Leonora and John Hueter,” my deceased grandparents. Inside, written in a script reminiscent of my own, there were several dates, phone numbers and financial logs. I was able to pinpoint the exact price of my father’s favorite red fire engine at $15, among a tricycle for the same amount, golf clubs for $30 and an automobile for $2,000.

In retrospect, it is hard to believe that, had I not felt inclined to investigate that day, I would never have been aware of all of these amazing feats.”

— Charli Hueter

Fortunately for me, the journal was more than just a checkbook. I found out later that there was a list of grandpa’s “Favorite Songs,” totaling to 197 at the very back. Fourteenth on this list was “Always” by Irving Berlin, a song that when we used to play it together on the piano, it seemed to pull him from the mires of Alzheimer’s. Accompanying the book was a slip of paper attached by a feeble paperclip. This time, the words were pasted in the blocky font of a typewriter. What I found, typed up almost a century later on my 21st century keyboard, was a song he had created himself.

Through this journal, I discovered that my grandfather had also produced his own book. It is available as an ebook online, under the name “Now Judas and His Redemption.” In retrospect, it is hard to believe that, had I not felt inclined to investigate that day, I would never have been aware of all of these amazing feats.

My grandfather had no idea I would be writing this story two generations later. I hope that I have become the writer he would have wanted me to be. Someday, descendants of mine might stumble upon the fruits of my own endeavors; perhaps even this article, however outdated it may be by that time. I hope that I can leave them with enough time machines to make the journey.