GASTONIA — A crumpled bag of memories fell from a top shelf as Jim Morrison stood in his closet full of business suits.
They were not Morrison’s memories. But the Lincolnton traveling salesman could not shake the idea these pieces of the past belonged to someone — that the satin-edged baby blankets, the baby book, the pediatrician receipts for $5 office visits were part of a history someone would want restored.
Morrison and his wife, Diane Morrison, found the buried family treasure in a secondhand chest of drawers. They bought the piece of furniture more than five years ago, probably in Gastonia. They found the cedar-scented bag of baby memorabilia tucked inside a bottom drawer. The couple put it away for safe keeping but have recently renewed a search for its rightful heirs.
The original owners of the keepsakes — the baby book lists them as the Walden family of Central Avenue in Charlotte — took the time to detail their son Jonathan’s measurements. His length of 20 inches. Silver blond hair that grew like a skull cap on his 14.5-inch head.
A doting mother, Margaret Keever Walden as recorded in cursive script of the family tree, dutifully recorded her son’s baptism at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in May 1961.
She kept track of who called first with congratulations.
Under the baby book’s entry for birthmarks she wrote, “Absolutely none (perfect boy).”
Jim Morrison has a keen respect for that kind of family history.
He has no memory of his own father and knows only that his dad went by William. The man who gave him the Morrison name was no longer in his life by the time Jim Morrison was 8 and his mother died. He had been too young to ask. And the small family had moved so often — living in 18 states by the time he was 5 — that Morrison had little awareness of his roots.
He has searched for his own family tree. His research turned up more than 1,000 William Morrisons. It led to almost that many dead ends.
Jim Morrison turned his efforts instead toward his wife’s family, collecting volumes of genealogical records. And he concentrated on making memories with the family he created. His youngest son died too early. His oldest manages a Huntersville jewelry store.
Both mom and dad are proud. They count among their most cherished possessions the first booties their boys ever wore.
And so the Morrisons can see value in the faded pages of this forgotten baby book, the preciousness of the baby’s now sepia-tone first photo.
It’s priceless to someone. Jim Morrison says he knows that for certain. It would, he insists, be prized either by the family who remembers this baby or to the baby himself, now a 52-year-old who should remember how much he was loved.