Though I grew up in Michigan, I cannot say that I am a die-hard University of Michigan fan like many of my family members nor am I a Notre Dame fan like my KDC colleagues Alison and Shandi. That said, given the upcoming game this weekend, I wanted to share a ticket stub I found in my late grandfather’s scrapbook from the University of Michigan vs. Notre Dame game he attended on November 14, 1942, while he was a student there. The price of the ticket was $3.30.
The ticket was among hundreds of things my grandpa saved and eventually compiled into scrapbooks that my dad found a few weeks ago while we were vacationing at my family’s lake house in Northern Michigan—from news clips and photos to letters and Christmas cards—he must have saved every important keepsake that he ever had. His life before I ever knew him was documented right there before my eyes.
I always knew he was an accomplished golfer—he played for Michigan and won many championships—but seeing all of these accolades in dozens of news articles from The Chicago Sun to The Detroit News was a different feeling all together. I knew that he was in the Navy during WWII, but seeing a letter from his Commander Officer promoting him to Lieutenant made that somehow more real to me. I knew he and my grandmother were married for more than 50 years, but reading a note that she wrote him back when they were dating calling him “Benjie,” congratulating him on a recent golf tournament win made me realize how deeply their love ran and maybe something I never really comprehended, given that I just knew them as my Grandma and Grandpa.
Sadly, he passed away several years ago so I didn’t have the experience of going through this with him, but flipping through these pages, I felt a sense of pride and love that I find hard to describe. I am blessed to be able to call this accomplished man my grandfather and to have known him well for many years.
It also made me think about the fact that in our digital age, our tickets are printed on computer paper filled with bar codes and advertisements, our news articles read on a computer screen, and when was the last time you wrote a hand written note to your significant other let alone saved it? Technology has done a lot for society, but I can’t help but think off to the future and wonder if I’ll have anything like this to show my family 50 years from now. It had really made me think about being more proactive to take the time to save the things that are important to me, printing the pictures that mean something, and not to solely rely on Facebook or Instagram to share my memories. I can only hope to have a fraction of the lasting legacy that my late grandfather has had on me, my family and countless others.
In loving memory of Benjamin Sandipher Smith (March 16, 1921 – July 21, 2009)