Monday, April 4, 2011

in six boxes: finding a place to start

I begin with an understanding of how the story ends--or one version of it anyway. According to the certificate of death issued on June 8th, 1981, Dorothy G. S------, after an 18 month battle with colon cancer, passed away on June 7th, 1981 at 7 am. According to this document, this married, white, self-employed woman was born on Oct. 2, 1909 in Missouri USA, making her 71 years old at her last birthday. The document, issued by the State of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, goes on to identify William J. G--- and Marguerite E---- as the deceased's father and mother. It goes on to name, in box number 17 of the form, Dorothy's husband, Helmuth F. S----- as informant. The certificate indicates that no autopsy was performed. Dorothy was buried on 6/9/81 in Druid Ridge Cemetery in Pikesville, MD. Henry Jenkins & Sons Co. was named in box 24 (as Funeral Director).

Flash-forward. It's March 29, 1984 and the State Registrar of Vital Records issues a copy of a certificate of death for Helmuth F. S-----, husband of Dorothy G. S-----. [Note: According to the document, it is illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat or photograph.] The document goes on to state that Helmuth, a 72 year old widowed white male (born in MD, USA on 1/16/12), died suddenly of cardiac arrest at GBMC 6701 N. Charles St. on February 4, 1984 at 1:42 pm. An accountant by "usual occupation," the document indicates that the deceased was, indeed, "ever in the armed forces" and lists his participation as WWII. The document names Otto O. S---- and Johanna K----- as the deceased's father and mother and lists Otto C. S---- of Balto, MD as informant. No autopsy was performed on Helmuth. The cause of death was determined natural and he was buried in Druid Ridge, Pikesville, MD on 2/8/84. Henry Jenkins & Sons Co. was again identified as Funeral Director.

And yet another ending from which to begin: I found in the same box as Dorothy's and Helmuth's death certificates (these were found inside a tan memory/funeral book compliments of Henry Jenkins & Sons Co) a church document from May 7th, 2009. During the 11:00 service members of the Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church in Catonsville, MD celebrated the life and resurrection of Otto C. S-----.

While I am not yet clear on the exact relationship between Otto S----- and Dorothy and Helmuth S----- (I'm obviously hoping the contents of the boxes will help illumine this for me), my understanding is that the six boxes of materials I purchased at a yard sale on April 2, 2011 had been sold, along with Otto's house, after his death.

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