Selling A Dream – Where Are They Now?

Elizabeth Harper 1979

Elizabeth Harper – Woolco Department Store -1979

In 1979, I worked briefly in Woolco department store which was owned by a name you may more easily recognize as Woolworth’s. While my job title was ‘Camera Department Manager’ the only thing I had to manage beyond inventory and sales was the boredom I felt on the job everyday. (See goofing off image above)

Woolco was well into its decline when I landed there as most of its potential customers had moved on to the new malls that offered more excitement than our discounted merchandise and a long-term lay-away plans.

While I did my job well enough to receive an employment offer from a local station (religious broadcasting, as I remember it) for finding some dated equipment that they had not been able locate anywhere else, the biggest deal I closed was with two young men about my age who were passing by the camera counter during a slow day in March of 1979.

After realizing pretty quickly that they were not interested in camera gear, I remember talking about the future and what I wanted to do with my life. At that point, I was secretly considering joining the military. Having graduated early from high school and spent six months studying commercial photography by the time I’d turned 18, I was back at home with my parents while working and trying to decide what to do next.

I probably told them that I had three immediate goals which were,  to see more of the world, save money for school (University) and become independent. I can’t remember what they said or how I convinced them that three years in the army might give them opportunities they could not get by staying where they were, but by the end of our across the glass counter chat, I had talked two strangers into a life changing decision.

A few days later, they met me at the recruitment office and before anyone could say, ‘ I’ve changed my mind,’ we were all in the employ of  our Uncle Sam. I came in at a higher pay grade having earned one stripe for bringing two qualified candidates in with me which fit the requirements for the Buddy program in place at the time.

All this occurred 34 years ago this month and I can’t help but wonder how things turned out for the daring young men who joined the army after talking with me. I guess I was doing a bit of life coaching before it was trendy.

One of the things I like about Facebook and the internet is the ability to see what folks you haven’t heard from in years have done with themselves. I enjoy seeing who they’ve become, what dreams came true, and what new ones are in front of them. I wish I could remember the names of the two young men who enlisted with me so I could see if the leap they took on an afternoon in March was one that helped them live a bigger life than they had imagined possible in 1979.

I know it sounds crazy, but I thought with the internet being what is today and the way we can share information, if you could pass this along to your social network, then perhaps someone who has heard a similar story from a man, describing how a young woman with a dream talked him into a bold adventure at a camera counter on an afternoon in March … maybe I might find out how things turned out for them.

Thank you.

Packing It Tighter Than OctoMom’s Uterus

DSCN4506As most of you who’ve been following my blog lately are aware, I’ve just completed the enormous task of downsizing 48 years of my physical life into a box measuring 200 cubic feet for shipping to England where I now live with my husband John. As you might imagine, 200 cubic feet is not a lot of space especially for a woman with a tendency to place value on the memory of a day or event and hold on to whatever object heightens the memory. Thank goodness my daughter Miranda was willing to take on some of the things that were too difficult to part with over the last few weeks.

I was fortunate to find a home for most of my furniture and big things last May when I came to England for my first long stretch. What I left behind in storage seemed in my mind to be a smaller amount to sort through than it turned out to be after I saw it all again. I wrote here about what it looked like when I began the weeding out process and below you’ll find a couple of pictures before I condensed it to a more manageable group of boxes.


Group One Of Boxes

Group One Of Boxes

Group Two Of Boxes

Group Two Of Boxes

As you can see, I had stuff in two places…one a basement room and one in the garage of my step-mom’s home.  She was so gracious about it all. As hard as I tried to keep it all contained to a few places, there were times when it spilled over briefly into other areas as I went through it.  Everything you see is the before image. All of these boxes had to be opened and sorted and repacked. I went through everything creating piles to re-box and take with me or packing them up to give to Miranda. What was left went into a section for my garage sale which netted enough to pay about half the cost of shipping my stuff over.


Day Two Of Sale

Day Two Of Sale

I had some telling signs up for my garage sale and between my Craigslist posting and a few signs, I did little else to alert the world that there was good stuff to be had out in Marietta. I did blog about it and three of my blogging buddies showed up  to say hello and help finance my move….thanks to Jules, Leslye and Taylor  along with some long time friends, Patrice and Scott. Additionally, two old boyfriends that I’m still friendly with from 25 and 30 years ago stopped by to say hello.  It was good to see each of them and I was pleased to see some things that were special to me go to people I know. Taylor bought a birdcage that I loved and I can’t wait to see what cool photographs she creates with it. You can see her first image of it if you go here.

A few more shots of stuff no longer mine from the sale…




By the time the movers came to box up the breakables, I had packed the rest of it. I could pack the non-fragile items, but had to leave the boxes open for the movers to note before sealing. Here are a few images from that day.






I shipped loads of art over as well as a chair that looks like the female version of one John has. I’ll post them side by side when it arrives.

Below are some of my boxes repacked and stacked to mimic the dimensions of the storage crate.




The wooden crate you see above is what ALL of my stuff went into.  You’re going to see why I chose the title I did for this post in a minute.


These men from Atlantic Relocation Systems did an excellent job packing the breakables up and numbering everything. They have a history of working with Rainier, the company I contacted to do the international move and everyone from Doug Wiviott at Rainier to Mike Orlin with Atlantic Relocation Systems and all of the guys who did the hard work of packing it up have been great to work with. I’ll update you in 45-65 days when my crate arrives as to the condition of things, but it’s been good experience so far.


Remember what I said about OctoMom’s uterus….well….it wasn’t eight babies, but it was pretty tight!













The next time you see the crate will be when we’re unloading it here in Cornwall. I wonder if it will seem strange to see my things in this setting. I have to say that as they were putting the very last thing into the crate, I got a little teary. The last two things were a large framed photograph of Miranda as a barely walking toddler sitting in my grandmother’s wicker rocking chair and the last minute addition of sewing box given to me many years ago by my Aunt Wylly, the children’s book author. There was something about seeing that old sewing box slip into a little opening to make the journey that caused me to feel something other than relief and exhaustion. I think it was the thought of Aunt Wylly and her sense of adventure that affected me in the moment. She was such a special woman and an inspiration to me in many ways…thinking of her and knowing how she lived her life…I think she’d approve of this new love and life in Blisland .