Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why My Mother-In-Law Used 629 On Her Luggage Locks

My mother-in-law Fannie Harriet Love Robbins (1901-1987) used 629 for her luggage combination locks when traveling in her later years after she retired from teaching. I did not know the significance of 629 until I began researching her life in genealogy.
Ken, Fannie, and Robbie Robbins about 1948 before Robbie passed away on May 6th
629 is significant because it was the marriage date to her only husband, William Augustus Robbins, on June 29, 1929 at First Baptist Church (American) in Syracuse, NY until his death on May 6, 1948 in Islip, NY where they lived on Rose Street and Grant Avenue. His death was due to a perforated bowel obstruction. He spent 10 days at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, NY. They were married for 18 years, 10 months, and 7 days.

Fannie had taught home economics in central and western New York, in smaller towns south of Rochester, NY including Cooperstown, NY before she married. She also had been a 4-H sponsor in several small towns in central NewYork. Her degree was a bachelor of science in home economics from Syracuse University in May of 1925.
Fannie Harriet Love, Cooperstown, NY about 1926
During her marriage to William Augustus Robbins, she worked as a family case worker, home economics substitute in many school districts in the Islip, NY area, a census enumerator for the U.S. Census in 1930 and 1940, and a pet enumerator for the state of NY. Fannie also was the bookkeeper for her husband's civil engineering/land surveying business. She was a PTA President at Ken's Islip Elementary School and President of the American Legion Auxiliary.

She became a second grade teacher by returning to Syracuse University for two summers while living at her parents' second home on Madison Street after her husband's death. She taught for almost 20 years in the Hauppauge, NY school district as a second grade teacher before retiring.

In 1951 Fannie began traveling abroad with a trip to visit her friends Christy and Judge William H. Roberts in Germany, France, and England. She would continue with many flights and cruises to all parts of the world in the next 20 years.
Fannie's 1951 Passport, pages 8-9. The right side of the passport page shows Fannie was accepted by the German immigration authorities to enter Germany.
 She bought a new set of three suitcases that nested inside each other when she began overseas traveling. Each had the same 3-part dial combination lock. Her son, my husband Ken, told me the numbers on the locks were all the same: 629. He did not know the significance of the numbers until I discovered Fannie and William's (Robby's) wedding date in my early days of genealogy. Then it became clear about the importance of that date in Fannie's mind and her use on her luggage. After Fannie passed away, we became the owners of her luggage and continued to use the set until we donated it to charity about 10 years ago. My only regret is that I did not take a picture of Fannie's set of luggage. It was a black leather-like set with red and yellow banding around the lid of each piece.

Ken told me one story that happened many years before TSA. Someone figured out her combination before a flight to visit relatives in Florida and removed a knife that she planned to use in the family's kitchen in Florida. The official wrote her a note that explained that he/she removed the knife from her luggage.

I doubt that anyone would be given a note of explanation today. Sometimes my checked luggage has been opened and rifled through, but nothing has been taken since I try my best to not put anything of value in my checked bags.

I am grateful to my husband Kenneth Charles Robbins for sharing many of the facts with me that are not able to be documented.


  1. What an interesting post, Linda! Love that you finally discovered the significance of the numbers. But I know how you must long for a photo of the set of luggage ~ I would! Thanks for sharing this story and the beautiful pictures.

  2. Thanks, Judith! Enjoyed your tweet, also. Maybe I'll get lucky and find a picture of the luggage with my mother-in-law on one of her trips!


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