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Archive for the ‘Family Heirlooms’ Category

It’s in the trunk

In Collecting, Family Heirlooms, Inspirational, Reinventing/Recycling, Uncategorized on March 5, 2013 at 3:27 pm

trunks & cases

You always hope there is something inside a trunk when you open the lid.  Sometimes when lucky, there is a tray/insert inside and you get another chance at discovering something underneath.  One more moment of hope and anticipation.  Funny how our minds think that no one else had the same thoughts, like there was no one before us doing the very same thing.  However, that is exactly what we are looking for.  That someone before us that left something behind. I say ‘something’ because our minds are never too specific on what it has to be.  Of course the joke is always money, but truly we seek something that is more valuable.  Now, there’s the theory of GEO caching where all you truly do find is junk inside of a box.  That is different in a way because you are actively seeking the next station to find your treasure.  A trunk, now that’s a whole nother adventure on its own.  We stumble upon trunks. They feel mysterious, unpredictable. Tell us a story dear old smelly trunk.   Did it belong to the piano man?  “Sing us a song, your the piano man”  Did it make travels across the country by train or by ship?  “Ride Captain Ride, Upon Your Mystery Ship. On Your Way To A World That Others Might Have Missed”   Military – which war and where? Maybe it was a Lady’s trunk preserving precious moments from her childhood.  It doesn’t always have to be a treasure per say, just something that feels undiscovered or forgotten that you made alive again.  Alive once again.

Luck had it one day when we stumbled upon two estate sales.  Funny, I suppose you figured out we didn’t actually “stumble” upon them. Yes, we strategically planned our attack on getting from one to another in the correct amount of time AND on the last day which usually is half off the marked prices.  You see here, this is my mode of thinking.  Swoop in on the last day, don’t pay the high dollar, and clean up what others think to be worthless.  Yes mam, or sir, I DO make money doing that.  Admittedly, we do wonder what we missed at full price.  I always tell my husband to not think about the radios and clocks that had to of sold for “big money”.   Of course we could get a number, wait in line, elbow around all those dealers.  Nah, I prefer to take my time.  Feel the goods. Pick and choose.  Look for the story.  I haven’t been wrong yet, well maybe that wood children’s potty chair from World Mission Thrift Store.  (money went to a good cause!)   I am a calm and patient person.  (seriously)  I wait for what is meant to be, come to me.  “Come to Butthead” Mike is more like Beavus.  He’s not very patient, but kind.   Our luck gave us two amazing trunks and an adorable, CLEAN suitcase.  Even better, each had a treasure inside.  No kidding! So, my story continues.

Mrs.Lester Hill

Mrs. Lester Hill, also known as “Peggy Darling”, once owned this very trunk that now resides in my sunroom.

Trunk Display

Usually, a writer keeps you wanting more, waits till the end to give the best.  I’m starting with “Peggy Darling”  The initials on this trunk states, J M H in red paint. We know her name to be Peggy, based on a letter written to her by her husband that was found in the trunk. Hence, M for Margaret. H for Hill, obviously from the last name on the envelope and per her overseas husband’s letter.  J will remain a mystery.  Outside of this beloved trunk were several shipping labels via rail that stated destinations and declaring books as most of her content. Inside, oh you wait for it.  Recall that suspense of wondering what could be?  Let me back track.  For some strange reason, nor I, my husband, nor the estate sale employees ever opened the trunk.  They threw a price sticker on this trunk without caring what could be in it.  After all, it didn’t rattle when it was moved.  Nothing heavy of value, right?  Mike found it with other things and brought it up to me while I was already in line and said “what do you think, should we get it?”  (sometimes we do that when we think we’ve seen it all and make the commitment to be done. Then one of us looks around more, just in case) The price was right and we took it home.  Right on our front lawn as I decide to take pictures before cleaning them up, we investigate.  Curiosity takes the lead.  The story unfolds of Lester Hill and his wife, Margaret.  In 1945, Lester was stationed in Biarritz, France with the United States Army.  Mr. Hill worked at the Biarritz American University, Science Section, Mathematics Branch.  As stated in his letter to his wife he supposedly was “very, very lonesome”, he impressed the “beaucoup French women” with his “fluency in their language”.  He then goes on telling her that she needed to send the tobacco and chocolate bars that he had already asked for and that she wrote her letter S like the number 3 and that she better cut that out.  Let’s not forget about the tax bill of $8.10 that he reminded her twice to pay.  Men. Guess he better go to bed a little earlier than 3am after partying at the Officers Club with the French women.  (yes, he did tell her that).  Maybe she kept the letter for leverage later?  French Language guides, French newspaper clippings where men are frozen in time looking handsome in uniform, and military manuals filled the top tray of the trunk.  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!  Upon lifting the tray, my husband discovered the rest of the story.  Mrs. Lester Hill’s wedding dress. All “wows” aside, there was the treasure.  Not just the dress, but the story.  Here were her beloveds.  We can tell the story not from the details, but from what was most cherished. Whether it was hardship or elation, here lies the beginning of her story.  From wedding (early part of the 1940’s), Lester’s job in New York as a professor, being shipped to France as a civilian to teach, and her letters that kept a relationship while apart.  The treasure.

Treasure in the trunk

Trunk Tresuare

The other two trunks are a bit of a let down compared to the first one, but none the less interesting.   It’s a good mystery here.  Just when I think I have it figured out, I find another clue.  My story really is a story based on SOME facts.  All I know is that once you get past the first trunk everything gets confusing and my story gets boring.  Honestly, somewhere between J. M. H, we go to J. H. M.  monogrammed on that lovely mustard suitcase.  Then there’s the military trunk  issued to Lieutenant Richard Marcus and then restamped upon promotion to Captain. The two trunks were at the same sale.  This apparently doesn’t HAVE to link them together as far as family relations.  There were return address labels that said Mrs. Richard Marcus. I guess saying that Peggy was a nickname based off her middle name could work.  J will remain a mystery.  Let’s call her Josephine.  For arguments sake, lets say that Peggy was called that by her father, Lester.  She then married Captain Richard. Fine, that works, but why in pray tell would a father talk to his daughter about French women and staying up till 3am with them, and “OH HOW I MISS YOU”.  Pay the darn tax bill daughter!  Hmm… We can create our own mystery story here.  Maybe “Peggy Darling” went and found herself a Captain instead of a civilian? The lovely mustard yellow suitcase in fantastic condition resides in my loft, suggesting travels yet taken. A simple note stuffed in the pocket written in pencil, “426 anniversary”.  Let’s let the stories create and travel to faraway lands.  Need a trunk?  I’ve got plenty

Marcus trunk

Little Obessions

In Collecting, Family Heirlooms on August 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

It feels like an addiction.  The verdict is still out on whether it’s a healthy one or not.  Collecting stuff.   In our case, vintage or antique “stuff”.   Little pieces of memories or precious artifacts keep filling our home.  We weren’t  going to go to any estate sales this weekend, didn’t even check the newspaper.  I am driving to work and there’s that yellow sign showing me the way.  We went, after work that is.

I think there is more than one pull for me on collecting all these antiques.  As I have stated numerous times, I have a strong desire on preserving the past.  Telling their story, but also discovering it.  I let all these trinkets that come into our home “call” to me.  I pick something up and I feel.  Yes, feel.  Not like stroking my hands all over it, I’m not that weird.  But, feel.  What story does this have, what story can that tell me.  The Historian in me wants to hear the tale, but I even more strongly want to share it.  I want to be that story-teller, a modern-day folk tale. A gypsy without the lies.  Recently, I landed four boxes of a family’s life.  It feels like their entire life anyway.  Boxes of postcards, letters, pictures, date books, diplomas, newspaper clippings, all that personal paper that you can’t ever get rid of.  I own it now.  Or do I?  I certainly own the parafanaillia, but can I own their story? No, but I can cherish it and maybe even write about it. Mike and I spent hour after hour flipping through paper after paper, picture after picture.  Over a bottle of wine and my grandmother’s dining room table we pieced together how everyone was related based on old cursive hand writing.  We touched newspaper clippings from 1890’s regarding the beginning of prohibition.  I’m still blown away with having newspaper clippings from pre 1900’s.  History all over the place and I have been chosen to give it life once again.

Here lies just one of those reasons why I do what I do.   The breath of life and honoring one’s existence.  Holding hands with those that shaped who we are today.  Continuing to shed light for those who wonder what was.  Strengthening bonds of our foundation.  All of that and more.   Maybe someday I will make lots of money preserving the past, in the meantime I am blissfully happy finding what was.

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