Curled up in my reading chair, I often wonder who else spent time in this corner of the living room. Did they lose themselves in a book here, too? Maybe there was a rocking chair for soothing crying babies. Did they have pictures hung on the wall that constantly fell off like mine do? And who nailed the three brass nails into the mantle, ready to hold Christmas stockings each December? It is interesting that there are only three. One for my son, one for my daughter, and one for me.
Hanging on the wall in this little nook is my grandfather's gray fedora. I remember Papa Peach wearing this straw hat with a striped grosgrain ribbon surrounding the crown. The $24.00 price tag is still inside. There is a slight brown stain on the brim. How did it get there? I wish men wore hats again. They always looked so distinguished, like a real man. Are there any real men still out there?
On the bookshelf next to the fireplace is an old fishing reel that was made in France. A dear friend found this and gave it to me several years ago. It is grimy from years of use or maybe from just sitting around waiting for someone to love it again. Who fished with it? Did he, or she, catch a monster fish that made for a great story for years to come? Or, did this old reel cause the fisherman to lose that monster fish and he took it off his pole and threw it aside, never to be used again? I'll bet whoever it belonged to he, or she, didn't figure it would end up on my bookshelf years later.
The kitchen, with its hideous linoleum floor, has a shelf that goes around above the cabinets. It is the perfect place to display my grandmother's prairie green Frankoma pottery. Every dish reminds me of family dinners that Grandma Peach used to cook. I remember the bowl she used for the green beans, the dish for the pot roast, and the gravy boat. When I was packing up the pottery, I dropped a lid to a sugar bowl. As it dropped to the floor, I was crushed, knowing it would shatter. But no....it just bounced a little, then rolled over. Not a chip on it. Made from good ole' Oklahoma clay. This stuff is as tough as its owners were.
A few of the kitchen cabinets are glass fronts with ivy etched into the panes. These cabinets hold my great grandmother's colorful Fiestaware and etched glassware. I really only remember Maudie in the rest home, but I have loved her Fiestaware. Food just always tastes better when I use it. I wonder if she felt that way. The plates are all scratched from years of use, forks scooping up whatever she had made for dinner. And years later, they sit in my kitchen, still lovingly used and fiercely protected.
One of my favorite things is a blue and white gingham apron that I remember my grandmother wearing when she would make homemade noodles. She would roll them out on the counter and let them sit to dry a little bit. I always tried to sneak a piece of the uncooked noodles lying there tempting me. Every now and then she'd let me have a piece, but not too often. She told me I would get worms. I didn't care. That dough was soooo good! My daughter, Caroline, models it here.
Recently, I have indulged in an old love of mine....vintage luggage. I bought a caramel colored, leather Samsonite suitcase at a garage sale for $13.00 and the following day had a friend give me another Samsonite suitcase that was a little larger and a little darker. After polishing them up with some Mink oil, they look almost new. That prompted me to look a little deeper. When I did, I found a faux crocodile Samsonite suitcase and train case. They were both in good condition, but did they smell! Whew! They smelled old. Very old. But I love them. These things must be about the same age as my house. It made me think...where have they been? Maybe to the Grand Canyon, Paris, Lubbock? Were they packed in a rush to get an expectant mother to the hospital, or in a rush to get home to a dying parent? Did they sit in a closet, unused, waiting to go on a grand adventure that never took place?
This is what I love about old stuff. There is a story there. It is rare that we actually get to know the story behind the suitcase, or the blue handkerchief, or the old fishing reel. But there is a story there. These items belonged to real people, with real lives. People who made a difference in our world, good or bad. They existed, they touched these things, loved them, despised them. But they existed. They were here. They left their mark on our world. Who knows? Maybe fifty years from now, some aspiring writer will have something of mine in their home, wondering about the previous owner, trying to figure out something about my life based on some old stuff that they found, and loved just as much as I did.