It’s your average suitcase made of oilcloth-covered cardboard from the early 1900’s. The corners are reinforced with leather and the handles are also leather. Outside hinges are made of brass and one is broken and part of it is missing. The inside of the suitcase is lined with gauze loosely woven fabric and there is a water stain and also an indication of mice and signs of some minor carpet beetle infestation as seen by carcasses.
What can be said of this suitcase? It has certainly seen better days. How did this particular piece of luggage end up in the attic of the lodge in Glenwood Cemetery? And why were the contents kept for approximately a century?
Throughout the life of Glenwood Cemetery there have been three caretakers. The first was Silas Putnam and he maintained the grounds from 1913 until 1948. The second was Neil Bixby and his reign at Glenwood lasted until 1978.
Today, you can see Chuck Losey walking and working the grounds of Glenwood cutting grass, managing the plots and preparing the individual lots for upcoming burials. If you have any questions or a loved one in need of securing a final resting spot, Chuck is the one to talk to.
So what is the story behind the mysterious suitcase located in the attic of the Glenwood Cemetery lodge? If you ask Chuck you might get a chuckle. Chuck has no qualms about the background and history of the “suitcase.” In fact, he is very candid as he regales his listeners about the attic in the lodge.
“Sometimes the suitcase relocates itself in the attic and sometimes there are unfamiliar and indiscernible thumps in the attic,” states Chuck.
While the suitcase was gone from the attic for the Troy Historical Society (THS) to analyze its contents, weird noises and doors not latching correctly came about. In other words, Chuck and Galva wanted it returned quickly to settle down the attic.
“Now the suitcase is back where it belongs and everything is settled,” says Chuck with a grin.
There is still a question of what is inside the luggage. Initially Chuck thought it was a dress, just a single piece of clothing. However, when some members of the THS gathered together to open, reveal and analyze its contents, there were surprises.
Nervously, the lid was opened and instead of a dress there was a conglomeration of clothing articles, some whole and some salvaged from possibly worn-out clothing. Many of the articles could be described as undergarments: full-length stockings, chemises, slips, blouses, skirts, a purse, lace bodices and sleeves, remnants of yarn, a buckle and even some unrecognizable items.
“But what is really crazy and hard to understand,” said Joie Brasington, “is that there isn’t a dress in the entire collection.”
Many of these items, women would remove from a worn-out garment. People were much more frugal and would never think of throwing an article away, especially if something could be reused such as an intact collar or a pair of cuffs. There were not the shopping opportunities like today, and so the motto, make it do, wear it out, use it up, do without was key. Women would perhaps use a collar from a worn out garment to place into a new one.
“Surely the owner of the suitcase felt these items were good enough to keep,” added Brasington.
There are some recent changes at Glenwood with an expansion on the west side. The new beautiful columbarium for cremation still does have some remaining availability. And the cemetery has a beautiful bench with a lighted flag pole to sit and visit past “loved ones.”
If Glenwood is your choice for an eternal resting place, Chuck and Galva Losey are the people to talk to.