I’d like to introduce…

Edward George "Ted" Turner

Edward George Turner, known affectionately to his family and friends as Ted, was a kind hearted, gregarious, right jolly English gent, loved by all who knew him. He was born on the 27th of June 1911 at Blake Cottage, Horn Street in Winslow, Buckinghamshire, where his father was employed as head groom to Mr Gosling of Blake House.

And His Lovely Wife…


Miss Phyllis Mary Collins, daughter of William Collins, publican of the George Inn in Winslow, which is where Ted met her one fateful day in the 1930s

Mystery Monday and The Curious Tale of the Handkerchief Box

A few years ago, on a sultry Tuesday morning in what may have been Maine’s hottest August on record, I was strolling down Water Street in Hallowell, doing a little antiquing with my Mother-in-Law. It wasn’t turning out to be a fruitful hunt, and we were withering in the heat and about to call it a day when I stepped into Love Joy Antiques and happened upon a small Flemish Art box with “Handkerchiefs” carved into the lid. I’d been collecting old boxes for some time and knew this would be an interesting addition. The wood and the hinges were in good shape, but the inside lining was torn and shabby. I set it aside, and we headed to Hattie’s to cool off and have some lunch. Afterwards we stopped in one more shop where I found a lovely collection of vintage hankies. This seemed like Providence. I purchased the hankies and rushed back to Love Joy to buy the  box, knowing it was meant to be.

Later that day, I got the box out to show some friends, and someone suggested that I could rip the damaged lining out and replace it with a lining made with some of the hankies I’d found. We pulled out the fabric, which was wrapped around pieces of on old cardboard cigar box, and that’s when I found it.

Tucked underneath  the base of the box, hidden for who knows how long…

a folded square of faded paper.

I’m not exaggerating when I say a chill ran down my spine. The paper contained a poem, written by hand in pencil:

There are lights in the kitchen,
Lights in the hall.
Lights in the parlor
On the wall.

A car drives up,
And stops at the door;
The funniest car
I’ve ever seen before.

Leander climbs out,
Oh! What a sheik,
With his high stiff collar
He’s hard to beat.

Eleanor greets him,
A cute little miss,
And puts up her cheek
For a great big kiss.

She ushers him into
The lighted hall
And hangs his coat
Up on the wall.

His soft grey spats
She puts on the floor.
His tall silk hat
Finds rest on the door.

Then into the parlor
They softly go,
To the huge blue sofa
And turn the lights low.

There are lights in the kitchen
Lights in the hall
But lights in the parlor?
No – not at all.

The fire is flickering
And dying down
But from the sofa
There comes not a sound.

‘Tis two in the morning,
The car is still there,
And Papa is angry.
Leander – BEWARE!

My mind instantly began to finish the story. What happened to Leander? Did Eleanor’s father disapprove to the extent that the relationship ended and she tucked the poem into the lining of her handkerchief box as a reminder of a love that couldn’t be? Surely if she and Leander had remained a couple there’d have been no need to hid the poem. In my own mind, I decided the star crossed lovers where kept apart, and hiding the poem in something she’d have kept in her room, and used every day was a way for Eleanor to keep the memory alive and Leander close to her. If she did eventually married someone else, I suspect her husband and children never knew the story of Leander or the existence of the poem. And so the handkerchief passed out of the family, somehow making its way to a dusty shelf in a little shop in Hallowell Maine, waiting for me to happen upon it; it’s secret intact; its story waiting to be told.

I have no idea who Leander and Eleanor were, or where the box came from. I contacted the dealer who’d sold it to me, but he’d had it a while and couldn’t remember where it had come from. He thought maybe it had been somewhere in the North, possibly Canada.

It’s probably a mystery we’ll never solve, but it’s a story I never tire of thinking about. I did eventually make a new lining, using the same pieces of old cigar box Eleanor had used, and some of the vintage hankies I’d found that warm, August morning. In the end, I decided to hide the paper where I’d found it: A secret waiting for someone new to discover someday, when it’s left me and found itself a new home.

(Mystery Monday is a blog series hosted by Geneabloggers)

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