Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

What’s In Your Box?


Last week, I received a Panic Call from the Admissions Office of the University. They had requested my transcripts from the high school I graduated from but had yet to receive them.

I imagine that someone from my school was still wandering through the catacombs to find this ancient document and had yet to return from their dark and dusty search.

I was asked if I had ANYTHING that would prove I was a high school graduate. They would be able to accept a copy of my high school diploma until the transcripts arrived.

“Well, I doubt that after forty five years that I still have my diploma on hand, but I guess I could check ‘The Box.'”

“What box?” the admissions director asked.

With a sigh, I said, “You don’t want to know.  I’ll get back to you.”

I have kept up the family tradition, passed down by generations of McMahon’s, of owning a Family Box.  It’s cardboard and dwells in my closet along with unused shoes and the Christmas decorations.

What’s in it?  It’s filled with photos and family memorabilia that never made it to the Family albums, never earned a place of honor on the wall and usually, it’s hard to identify where the contents came from.

Many times over the years, I would stare at the box and swear to go through it and put the photos in albums.  Never happens.  When the contents threaten to overflow, I just go out and get a bigger box.

A search through “The Box” normally involves spending countless hours staring at dead relatives, places I can’t identify or people who have escaped into the dark recesses of my memory; their names just on the tip of my tongue but never remembered.  The box holds the memories but doesn’t always share it’s secrets!

A lot of hours are spent looking at pictures at a younger version of my parents, my siblings and yours truly and of course, my own little darlings.  I’ll shake my head when I come across pictures of ex-husbands and reach out to throw them out, but never manage to do so. They were a part of my life, albeit an unpleasant part, and they had earned their place in “The Box.”

I think the only thing that I ever managed to take out of the box and discard was the flower I so carefully wrapped in cellophane from the wrist corsage I wore to my Senior Prom.  It had turned into a dangerous looking fungus and turned out to be the source of that funky smell I noticed each time I approached “The Box.”

Having to spend a day or two searching through the box was not what struck fear into my heart.  I knew if my box failed to turn up the elusive diploma, it just might be in my deceased sister’s collection which I inherited when she passed.

She didn’t have a box like mine, she was a more prolific family historian.  Her collection is stored in two suitcases and three garbage bags.

Of course, my mother who is still alive and kicking (bless her heart) has a box.  That box resides in the state of Washington, where my mom now lives, and there is no way I’m jumping a plane to look for my diploma.

After the Admissions departments phone call, I did the next best thing than to having to go to “The Box.”  I called the high school and begged the woman who answered to help me out.  She took pity on me when I explained about “The Box” and faxed a copy of my transcripts to the University.

Whew, it was a narrow escape!  Now I can rest easy and get back to my studies.  I did make a note to buy a bigger box…after all, I’ll need room for all of those Christmas pictures I’ll be taking!

If my daughter is reading this, and giggling over my dilemma, she should be forewarned.  When I go, honey, you get “The Box.”  Tee hee!


Report Card Memories


There I was, in the Admissions office, going down the list of requirements that were necessary to gain acceptance into Keiser University.

“We’ll need your High School transcripts,” Doreen, my Admissions counselor said.

“I don’t have them.”  I said.

“We can accept a copy.”

“I don’t have them.  I do have my yearbook…will that do?” I thought having my picture in the senior yearbook would suffice to show that I was a 1968 high school graduate.  After all, I look exactly the same as when I was 17, right?

Evidently, that isn’t enough to satisfy the registration demons, so today I must call my old high school and request my school transcripts. I’m happy to say that the high school still exists and has not been declared a historical monument…yet.  I’m very curious as to what a copy of my original transcripts will look like.

In 1968, teachers didn’t have computers to track their student’s grades.  They had what was termed “The Hell Book” by students such as myself, but were actually called “grade books” by our instructors.


The instructor would use a pen and mark down your attendance, your participation grade (this grade was usually based on your ability not to snore in class), your homework grades (including the 0’s for the one’s the dog ate) and of course, your test grades.  At the end of each marking period, the teachers would then average your total and again record it on your Report Card!

In elementary school, we got A’s, B’s, C’s, etc.  In high school, much like today, you got a number that represented your total grade.  Anything in the high 80’s to 90’s and you would run home eagerly to show your parents.  Grades in the 70’s were still respectable, but you didn’t run quite so fast to show it off.

Grades of 69 or under and you dragged your feet until it was dark and hoped your parents would forget that today was Report Card Day.

So, seeing that my transcripts were recorded for all time using a pen, I wondered how they have fared over the years.

Will they look like parchment paper found in the King’s tombs of Egypt? Will the ink have disappeared?

Will they have those special notes teachers always deemed necessary to stick on our report cards in the “Comment” sections? Snide little remarks, such as, “Mary Ellen could do much better if she would just APPLY herself!” God, I hope not!  If I’m lucky, my memory will be accurate and the college will find that I was a fairly good student.

It wasn’t hard to maintain a “B” Average (I don’t know if I was a B+ or B-) for me…I was in Secretarial Course and working after school and on Saturdays in an office, so I got lots of on the job training.

Also, the majority of my subjects were based on turning me into a prim and proper secretary, complete with stenography and typing skills.  (Anyone who still remembers or uses their hard won steno skills….raise your hands.  Anyone?) Algebra, biology, and Latin were for the college bound kids.


Well, I do remember going to a graduation ceremony and receiving a High School Diploma…so how bad could those transcripts be?  My main concern, after 45 years hibernating in the dark basement of Bassick High School, that they are still intact! We’ll see!

I imagine the phone call tomorrow could possibly sound like this.

“Good Morning, Bassick High School.  How may I direct your call?” a young eager voice will ask.

“Yes, I need a copy of my High School Transcripts.  Could you tell me how to get them?”

“No problem…what year did you graduate?”


“No, really, when did you graduate?”



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