Unique Shipshewana Antique Auction Find Inspires Amazing Story

Post Date: Feb 02, 2024

This wasn’t young Calla’s first time at the Shipshewana Misc. & Antique Auction as she has been attending with her grandma as early as 3 years of age. But, her first bidding experience (with her grandma’s number of course) was inspired recently by a challenge she gave to all of her grandchildren this past Christmas.

Each grandkid was provided with a journal and a budget of $50 to buy something old and write about it. Calla decided to take her search to the Shipshewana Antique Auction where she was on the hunt for special treasure.

Upon arriving at the auction, her search was bleak and just when she thought she would not find anything that inspired her inner author, she spotted a beautiful box that was intriguing.

During the auction preview time, she examined the find and discovered a secret compartment full of all kinds of little trinkets and memorabilia. Upon seeing this, she quickly closed the box placing it where it was to be sold, hoping no one else bid on it so she could take it home.

Calla bid and took the box for $20 and when she was able to fully explore its contents, found war rations, an old handkerchief, a spoon, some recipe cards, and even the names of some of the characters she would soon write her creative journal entry about.

Interestingly the recipe cards were from White House Milk, who with the contribution of their war effort was so important that the Manitowoc and West Bend plant were awarded the “A” Award from the War Food Administration in 1945. (Enjoy a couple of these old sweets courtesy of them.) Feel free to read more about their efforts on the Manitowoc County Historical Society.

While her story is primarily fiction, some of the information she discovered in the box made the names and timeline for the story real. Calla shared that she loves going to the auction and spending time with her grandma because they always do cool things together including writing this story. She hopes you enjoy the read about this family from Detroit, MI and how Calla imagined their lives to be at this time in history.

Cathy (Calla’s Grandma) loves to encourage creativity and fun experiences and this story is a wonderful example of that very thing and was all inspired by her recent trip to the Famous Shipshewana Antique Auction. Enjoy…

The Memory Box By Calla Schoon
What would it be like to live during World War II? Most people think it was simple. Men went to war, some died and some never came home. Well, it wasn’t simple: there was much more. At an auction with my grandma, we simply found a unique box. Inside it was empty but looking closer I could see a hidden compartment. It was filled with papers and little trinkets of a man’s life. I closed it and hoped no one else investigated this. I held my breath and bid. No one else bid. The man handed me the box and I knew it held a story inside. Part of this gift was that I had to compose a story about his journey. Good thing those papers were enough for me to write a tale based on this marvelous generation.
This story took place in Detroit, Michigan in 1944 where there lived an ordinary but loving family. In this family there was Jesus, who was eighteen, his sister, Irene, who was sixteen, and their mother and father. One peaceful day, Jesus received a letter saying that he was to go to war. Jesus despised war but he had to go for it was the law. While Jesus was packing, Irene felt devastated because she had heard terrible things about the war and did not want to lose another brother. Woefully, the next day had come—the day that Jesus would suddenly leave—and when the door shut Irene felt something she had never felt before—emptiness.
Irene never realized that this was only the beginning. Influenza was spreading. People were getting sick and people were dying. Naturally Irene was scared. On August 19, 1945 her father started showing signs of illness and Irene was trying so hard to stop it from spreading. She scrubbed and treated her father with care. All of her hard work had not been enough because her father abruptly died the next day. When he was sick Irene focused so much on helping him that she didn’t realize her mother had caught influenza too. Poor Irene! Her father and now her mother both died. She felt alone and scared. A month later Irene received a letter that was addressed to their family from the mailbox and read it. The letter was about Jesus, but it wasn’t joyful because he had died too.
Years later when the terrible war had ended, she boarded a steamer ship to Germany where the camps were. Her heart was heavy with grief as she arrived. Irene slowly walked to pick up her brother’s belongings. When she was grasping the items, she found a box with Jesus’ clothing. Inside the box there were many things, including a handkerchief. Irene held it as she remembered Jesus wiping away her tears when their eldest brother died. Next, she saw the gold watch their father gave Jesus when he left for war. Steadily Irene clasped his baby spoon. It was the one Jesus loved and would always use. Irene found the book in which she taught him how to read when he was only six or seven. Irene closed the box. She then realized that her family was still with her and on her way home she smiled for the first time.
This is a sorrowful story because of all the hardships and misery. Since there are many World War I books I decided to write one about World War II. World War II was worse because we had bombs and better guns. Still in some places it wasn’t as bad. In the end Irene was very brave. She shared this hope and love with her husband and children.
The memory box which holds all those treasures of Jesus’ life sits in my room. A memory box of hope. The items actually consisted of all that were in the box I got with my grandma. Although the story is sad, I know there is always hope.
Written by: Calla J. Schoon
With the help of: Catherine J. Schoon

We hope you enjoyed learning all about Cathy and Calla’s Shipshewana Antique Auction adventures and you can take part in the thrill of treasure hunting every Wednesday. Learn more on how to bid at the weekly Misc. & Antique Auction

You may also enjoy a previous story of Cathy's Shipshewana Adventures Here!

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