My older brother recently fulfilled his lifelong dream of moving to Albania aka “The Old Country”. Before he left he sent me a couple of envelopes of random items from our shared past.

One of my favorites was his yearbook from junior high. In it there are heart warming messages from old friends.

In John’s defense, Mr. Cochran did have a distinct odor.

This kid won the prestigious superlative award of Most Chic

That hat definitely looks couture.

Also included was a postcard of the Japanese movie poster for The Good The Bad and the Ugly. 

If our family had a family crest, it would probably include that image of Tuco’s face in the noose.

My mom’s well loved copy of The Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker. Not quite a first edition, but almost. Time for a reread.

This is a bag from the oldest department store on the Monterey Peninsula. The building is still there, but now it’s an antique mall. Steinbeck wrote about it in Cannery Row. In the book, the store was having a sales event where a guy rode a bike in circles on the roof for 72 hours straight. This other guy wakes up in the middle of the night all nervous and sweaty. He goes down to the store and yells up at the man, asking him how he goes to the bathroom. It bugged him like a lot, I guess. So, that’s Holman’s.

Then there are pictures of old friends.

This is a picture of Greg and Melissa in our old house on Pine St. circa 1990. If I remember correctly, this was taken at a party Thomas threw when my mom and I were out of town. He totally got busted because the neighbor (who we hadn’t spoken to in a decade) called to say that her house had been pelted with ice cubes and cooked spaghetti. The spaghetti had dried onto the house and the removal of it had caused the paint to peel. Did I mention she had cancer? She did. Anyhoo, he went and fixed it, becoming friends with her in the process. Parties bring people together.

Last but not least, a book of photographs by Pietro Marubi, an Italian born photographer who ended up in Northern Albania during the early part of the 20th century. Here’s a picture a dog from 1917.

And here’s a photograph of some Albanian dudes. The guy on the right is our great uncle, Mati Logoreci.

Too bad for Thomas that he inherited his hairline. But he also inherited his gift for language. Mati was a linguist and teacher who helped shape the modern Albanian alphabet. I hope the old country lives up to it’s mythology. Also, baklava for breakfast 4-eva!