October 24th, 2019 / posted by paularath

Six little tropical fishes in exquisitely detailed enamel comprise the mystery bracelet.

This is the story of a mysterious bracelet that entered my life shortly after Mother died in 2013.

My sister, Roberta Rath Cullen, and I were going through Mother’s dressing table and discovered the bracelet, which neither of us had ever seen before. This seemed odd because Mother made a point of giving her treasured things away to her three kids and four grandkids throughout her later years. (She had a great give-away system, which I will share in a future blog.)

Three of the fish up closer.

I always wondered what the story of this bracelet might be. It must have been highly significant, or surely Mother would have given it away.

Recently, I was polishing some silver and decided to polish these fish, which are made of silver and had totally blackened over the years.

Aha! There, neatly etched on the back of the orange fish, was the following: RHR – JLJ, 9-10-37.

That would be my father, Robert Helsher Rath, inscribing a gift to my mother, Jacqueline Lee Jacobs, on September 10, 1937.

RHR-JLJ 9-10-37

My parents’ love was somewhat legendary. They met at a U.H.-Manoa beach party when mother was 16, a freshman at U.H. , and Daddy was 22, working as an office boy at Alexander & Baldwin. (Ahem, Daddy had no idea she was only 16, as she was 5′ 8″ and very mature.)

Daddy was known around the Jacobs household as “the barefoot boy who wouldn’t go away.” Sure enough, he stuck around for 66 years, until he passed away in 2006.

I remembered that my mother often spoke about her graduation trip with her father, Col. James Paul Jacobs, when they spent four or so months going around the world from Hawaii until he left her at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland.

In the 1930s, parents and their children shared passports.

I dug around for a passport and proof of her departure date. And guess what? It was September 10, 1937.

This wonderful bracelet, featuring Daddy’s beloved Hawaiian fish (he was the rare fisherman who could throw net off a reef or set a lobster trap beyond the reef, or put a pole in the sand at Yokohama Bay and provide dinner for the family), was his parting gift to the love of his life as she went off to college 5,000 miles away.

It was a remarkable romance. Daddy had never been to the Mainland before, but he and his eldest brother drove across the country at some point during those three years and he was able to visit Mother for a few days.

Meanwhile, they had agreed to date other people, but return to one another in Honolulu after she graduated.

Date other people? Oh yeah. At least she did! Mother once said with a secretive smile “I dated every Phi Beta Kappa at Johns Hopkins,” the brother school of Goucher College. I’m pretty sure Daddy was dating too, but neither of them ever forgot each other, not for a moment.

And I’m guessing she wore this fish bracelet every day she was away in remembrance of “the barefoot boy who wouldn’t go away.”

Mother returned to Hawaii in the summer of 1940, and I recall they told me that Daddy took a friend’s boat out to meet Mother’s ship as it came into Honolulu Harbor. They were married on August 28, 1940.

Jacky and Bobby Rath on their wedding day.

Now I wear this treasured bracelet often and it’s a reminder of the great love from which I came, a love that survived many years and great distances, only to grow stronger.

-Paula Rath

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Jerry Mayfield
October 25th, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Heart warming

Jerry Mayfield
October 25th, 2019 at 8:49 pm

Ahh, what a story.

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