Sunday, February 28, 2010

There must be stories there

I remember once, a long time ago, when a woman my family knew went to her closet and pulled out six hand-crocheted blankets, courtesy of my grandmother's handiwork--one blanket for each of her children. Each blanket was in a protective plastic bag, the children whom they belonged to long past babyhood. Look, she said, I kept them all.

Similarly, I remember my paternal grandmother showing me her wedding picture--she was smiling, young, no more than 18, I think, and she wore a polka-dotted knee-length dress. She then reached into the depths of her wardrobe and pulled out that same dress, a pale pink background with (I think) black or dark blue dots. At the time, she would have been somewhere near her fiftieth anniversary.

These things--wedding dresses and handmade baby blankets--are heirlooms. Or, ideally, should be. I understand that circumstances happen--marriages crumble, babies don't always make it, and sometimes, you just need to clear out the old to make space for the new.

But it always gives me a twinge of sadness to see abandoned wedding dresses and baby blankets in thrift stores. For each cast-off, I think, there must be a story, and I often wonder about that.


Elizabeth said...

I once knew a woman from my hometown quilt guild (quilters: generally a pretty sentimental group) who bought old cast-off studio photographs when she visited antique shops. She had quite a few of them and she displayed them in her home on something like a seasonal rotation. She said someone should have cared enough to keep them. To her it was something of a rescue.

One time I bought a very beautiful and worn silver thimble in an antique shop. It fit me perfectly. Every time I used it I wondered about its original owner. Who was she? Where did she live? What did she make while wearing it? Items of beauty or items of necessity? If only these items could tell their stories.

I enjoy your writing - Liz M

Thoryke said...

Years ago, NPR had a short story challenge that required you to give the backstory to why a wedding cake would be found by the side of the road. I wish sometimes objects _could_ speak, just to give a hint of their original purpose or owners.

The first commenter on this thread mentioned someone who collected old photographs, which reminded me of a sad moment when my mother opened a box of sepia-toned images and said "You can make up any stories you like about these people -- you're probably related to some of them, but the only people who knew which ones or how are dead now.."