I’ve seen trophies in other people’s houses – you know, the shelf in the living room, the table in the hall, even the occasional glass case in the den stuffed to the brim with trophies and ribbons from high school and/or college sporting events – but in my family, trophies are put to better use...
...like this copper number, won by my grandfather (and three others) in 1907 at a
Athletic Association track meet: Holy
Cross vs. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston
It was for the four-man relay race, won for M.I.T. by R.B. Todd, C.W. Gram, H.W. Blackburn and G.S. Gould, my grandfather.
The family lore suggests he was overly proud of this trophy. He lugged it around to various boarding houses in
Boston, Providence and even
worked on his first engineering projects during the few years between his MIT
graduation and his marriage to my grandmother. Ohio
They settled in
, bought their
first house. Providence
And the trophy went with them.
My grandmother thought it was pretty ridiculous to put such stock in an athletic trophy. She would hide it in the attic; he would find it, polish it up, redisplay it someplace in their living room, where it would stay until she grew tired of its uselessness and hid it again.
This went on for years; their children – and even their grandchildren – knew about this routine!
When my mother died, I inherited the task of sorting through boxes of family stuff that she and my father had saved over the years: books and papers and photographs and diaries; old letters and army commissions and theater programs, etc.
And one of the things I found was the trophy, passed down to my father and tucked into a box for future generations.
I’m not that into trophies, frankly – like my grandmother, I think they’re pretty useless – but I am definitely into family memorabilia; I couldn’t bear to throw it out.
I’ll bet she’d approve of the ivy!