It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye... ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
A Day Past Due Tuesday: Finding Things in an Old Box
This is a silk dress; wrinkled, fragile, thread bare in places with smocking and a scalloped hem.Sis and I found it in the very bottom of a box filled with letters and diaries. Inside this box were my grandmother's letters from her husband who was a traveling pianist in movie theaters..., letters that gave us some insight (and some questions) about our family. Interesting letters about a time when our grandmother was very young and life was written down in long letters and personal thoughts were put into small books and dated, written with pens that had to be continuously dipped into a container of ink, sometimes dripping onto the page when hands were shaking with emotion. Life spilled out..., hand written, onto pages of small books and journals. Letters and saved things that were important to someone, that meant so much to my grandmother, so long ago. Old photos, report cards, class pictures, advertisements, announcements and obituaries. Life and death, happiness and sadness...,
...,and then, in the very bottom of this old box, folded together.., a young girls dress. A lovely blue silk dress with hand painted flowers and a pink hat, a small hand made purse and a blue handkerchief. It was the only clothing in the old box. It must have been very special. I picture the late 20's. The "flapper" style dress; short, sleeveless..., the "cloche" hat. This was not a grown up dress. It's seems more for a young girl or pre-teenager. A dance dress perhaps. A very special dance. My Mother's? Her sisters? We will never know, for a certainty, who this lovely dress belonged to, but I suspect it was either my Mom's or my Aunt Marcia's because this was my grandmother's box of things.
We found a lot of my Aunt Marcia's letters and journals, school things, pictures she drew and wonderful childhood items that my grandmother had saved.
You see, my mom's sister was always getting sick as she grew up (they think, now, that she might have had Leukemia) and she died at Merritt Hospital in Oakland, CA. in 1937, when she was only 18 years old. My grandma never got over her death. I only remember one picture of my aunt, a large one in a beautiful frame, on her living room wall. She never talked about Marcia unless I asked her and then she didn't say very much.
Mom told me that her little sister was very beautiful, popular and talented. Mom said she had a sweet personality and liked everyone. She was 2 years younger than my mother.
I think that this little box was a place where Grandma put all the memories of her daughter and laid them to rest. I think the dress was Marcia's. Maybe it was made for a "first" dance.
I wish we had known her. I know how important my sister was and is to my boys. There can be such a wonderful connection to an aunt. It's like having a "back up" Mom when you're tired of the one you live with. Another opinion, another point of view and another place to lay your head.
It would have been nice to know my Aunt Marcia, in life, but now I know her a little better ...,because we found this old box of memories.
Please go to Roomies for more Past Due Tuesday posts about old things and stories that need to be told again.