Friday, November 19, 2010

Old Things to Hang On To

A couple of weeks ago while I was visiting my mother in Georgia, I took some time to see the details of her guest room where I stayed. My mother is going to be moving in with one of my sisters after Christmas, and she's thinking about what to take and what to leave behind. The plan is to rent her house out to missionaries who return to the States for a kind of temporary furlough, so she won't need to completely move out, just take the essentials and the things she can't stand to part with.

As I looked around the room, these are a few things I found that I would keep. They have no real monetary value, but they hold generations of family history, and they remind me of childhood visits to my grandparents' house.

Older people keep their houses as warm as an oven. It's not just toasty in there. It's a toaster. My bed was layered with blankets, and this is one of them, a quilt my mother has had for as long as I can remember:

This is a braided rug my grandmother made from dress scraps. Women made their own clothes back in the day and saved the scraps because nothing went to waste:

Some of the things on the walls were hanging in my grandmother's guestroom in Alabama, and when I was a little girl, I would sit in that room and marvel at the stuff. It was all so unusual to me. This is a rounded mirror with an eagle above it. I don't know the purpose of it because you can't really see yourself in it without looking like your staring into a fish-eye lense, but it's cool:

And these little pictures have curved glass with black detail painted on to give them a 3-D effect:

This is a painting (now hanging in my mother's TV room) my aunt created of my grandfather's old barn. As my mother tells it, the old log house was sort of in shambles with doors that didn't fit their frames and no heat, but the barn was top notch. The painting used to hang above my grandfather's chair in the big kitchen. He was a chain smoker, and everything in the room was covered with yellow tar. When he died, my mother got the painting and cleaned it, and it was amazing to discover the painting wasn't done of a sunset scene but of the barn in the light of day:

And this is the oddest of it all, a wall creation my grandmother made. She cut out a piece from hunting dog fabric, stuffed the individual dogs and then framed it. I've seen this same dog thing in other family member houses, so I think my grandmother must have made several all at once. I don't think I'd hang this in my house, but I'd hate to get rid of it. I think it represents such a frugal but thoughtful time in American history, not just my family's history. It's from an era when people didn't have to spend money to give gifts to people—they used what they had:


dive said...

Oh, what wonderful memories, Robyn. I love every single one of those mementos, especially the odder and more original things like the stuffed hunting dogs. You've made me feel all nostalgic for the weirdness of my own family heirlooms.

Shan said...

They are wonderful Robyn. I'm glad you were able to visit before she moves out. I cannot believe that rug!! Incredible. And it looks like it's in perfect condition. The dog picture is hilarious. I'm glad you described it because I couldn't tell they were stuffed. So unique.

Glad you got to capture these memories. :)

Madame DeFarge said...

It's lovely to have these memories attached to objects. Most of us forget what things mean and it's good to know where they come from and that they matter.

MmeBenaut said...

I loved seeing these family things Robyn. Childhood memories and mementoes are to be treasured without doubt. The little mirror with the carved eagle just screams "America" at me; I suppose because of the eagle but then in Vienna, many buildings have eagles on them. It represents the ultimate predator metaphor I suppose.