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Now what was I looking for?

It’s surprising what you find when you’re looking for something else.


A while back, while looking for notes I took years ago, I ran across some stuff I’d totally forgotten about. After a frustrating initial search, I decided to look in some boxes stashed in the closet of our “library/computer lab.”


It was in one of my mother’s old Avon Cosmetics boxes that I found the jackpot. Not only did I locate what I was looking for, I discovered a stash of old relics.


There were mementoes from a trip to Mississippi in July of 1989. I’m sure of the date because I found the invoice for an emergency stop at B&A Enterprises in Mendenhall on US 49 between Hattiesburg and Jackson. Total charge for replacement of an alternator belt: $18.60.


Along with the invoice was a flyer from the Old Fashioned Independence Day Celebration held at the state Department of Agriculture grounds in Jackson. How could I forget that Fourth of July when the paraders marching down Main Street of the reconstructed small town never missed a step despite a sudden drenching downpour.


We stayed dry by watching from the porch of the country store.

Also turning up in the mother lode were programs from my high school graduation and senior day, letters I wrote home from college, a Sanitary Fish Market & Restaurant picture postcard sent from Morehead City during Ginny and my honeymoon, a stack of my old newspaper clippings and a slew of other items only I could appreciate.


There were a couple of documents that seemed of particular interest, in view of rising health care costs during the past few decades. One was from March 1974, the month our firstborn arrived.


It was a list of charges from Wesley Long Community Hospital from the period of March 12 — the day Michelle was born — through March 16, when she and Ginny were discharged.


There were two sheets to the invoice, one for delivery and hospital room and the other for nursery. According to the bill, the rate for the room was $42 per day and they charged for three days. I guess that’s because Ginny didn’t give birth until late on the 12th and they left the hospital early on the 16th.


Delivery room charge was $80, anesthesia was $10.50, drugs and dressings were $24, supplies were $4.20, birth certificate and bracelet were $3.50 and telephone was $1.


The nursery charged $88 with $3 for drugs and $1 listed under dressing.

Total bill for both invoices was $408.80.


If you think that sounds cheap, hold on a moment.


Somehow or another, my father’s bill from Salem City Hospital Association in Salem, Ohio, got mixed in with our stuff. He had been involved in a coal mine accident in December 1940 and spent 80 days in the hospital with a compound fracture of his femur.


His invoice shows a daily rate of $4, or $320 for the entire stay. X-rays were $35, laboratory was $3, medications for 80 days added up to $1.50, the operating room was $10, and two other items I couldn’t make out since the bill was written in longhand came out to another $8.50.


With taxes, Daddy’s 80 days in the hospital came out to $379.60.


But don’t worry. It was all covered by his workman’s compensation.


Incidentally, the stamp on the envelope was a 2-center. By the time I went off to college in the late ’60s, first-class stamps had skyrocketed to a nickel.


And the Eisenhower stamp on our honeymoon postcard in 1972 was 6 cents.


Next thing you know, we’ll be paying a dime to mail a letter.


But the gist of all this is, sometimes you find things more important than what you’re looking for.


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.