On short notice, what would you pack up and take with you?

A relative got out of New Orleans a day ahead of the storm, leaving behind everything she couldn't fit into a suitcase hurriedly packed into a friend's car.

Now, our neighboring Texans fled their homes on short notice, some with only the clothes on their backs.

It got me thinking what would you gather up if you had one trunk and an hour or so to leave the comforts of your home knowing all the while the premises may be consumed by water, fire, tornadoes or birds before you come back.

After your family was made safe, what material goods would you want to take with you? Clothes can be replaced. Furniture, dishes and appliances, too.

After finding important papers, I'd pack up the photo albums which remind us life is a journey, not a destination. Then some old hand tools passed down from fathers and grandfathers. My baseball glove. A few albums that remind me of my youth. Quilts made for special occasions.

I'd cram in my first bylined story from a real newspaper job and grade cards from a now non-existent school. My kids school remembrances. A file of genealogy items including a grandmother's autobiography.

Letters from former students thanking me for helping them get through college and find some direction in life. A print-out of a final e-mail from a friend who was dying. Perhaps, a couple of keys with my father's handwriting still on the tags.

A plaque noting my second-place finish in the Catholic School spelling bee, another one honoring me as the college daily newsroom's "designated grownup."

Then, I'd gather up those old family heirlooms that came with my ancestors and now rest with me for safekeeping before being passed along to the next generation. There's a kerosene lamp that lit their simple home, a few German Bibles and crucifixes from the late 1800s. Photos from the homestead in the county's southeast corner.

I'd make room for the rest of my season football tickets plus a couple to the Texas game. My "Good Luck Chuck" chair cushion. Final copies of afternoon newspapers ? The Oklahoma City Times and the Washington Star.

If space were tight, I'd toss the Christmas card mailing list and pack several years of tax records. Relatives and friends would likely be more forgiving than the IRS.

Andy Rieger editor@normantranscript.com 366-3543

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