zaterdag 29 oktober 2016

Shaped by years of memories

Last weekend, my sister and I had another stab at clearing the contents of my dad's house.

My parents moved into the house, me as a toddler in tow, in 1964.

As my dad lived there until just a few days before he passed away, I am sure you can imagine the accumulated stuff after 52 years!

My childhood home's front door in the 1960s

This was our third session at the house, sorting through mountains of paperwork, getting rid of things like out of date medicines and most of my dad's clothes, as well as emptying drawers full of assorted junk.

Odd socks, candle ends, broken Christmas ornaments, boxes full of picture postcards, half-finished crosswords and scribbled notes: what are they but sad reminders of a lifetime of day-to-day living, carelessly abandoned or saved for the rainy day which will now never come.

Being of the sentimental kind, there are some things, valueless at first sight, which I am keeping, even if purely for their vintage appeal.


These booklets of stamps were the loyalty cards of their generation. The stamps were obtained when one bought certain products at the corner shop, and they were kept in a silver and blue Tetley's tea tin, until my mum had saved enough. In my mind's eye I can still see us, my mum and I, sitting at the dining table, diligently sticking the stamps into the booklets. Full booklets were saved up until November, when my mum used them to buy us the presents Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas, who is the primary source of the popular Christmas icon of Santa Claus, and who is celebrated on December 6th) supposedly brought us.

Me with "Sinterklaas" in 1968

These booklets somehow never got filled, but they're part of my childhood memories, so I'm definitely keeping them.


And how could I throw out these unused vintage Christmas cards?


When we were emptying one of the cupboards in my parents' bedroom, we found three boxes of baby shoes, one for each of us. These were mine. How poignant that, scuffed and whitened to within an inch of their lives, and minus their shoe-laces, they have lived, forgotten, at the back of this cupboard all this time.

My paternal grandmother and me in my grandparents' garden

They are probably the very same shoes I am wearing in this photo.


This framed certificate is proof that I was baptized, and the little card was my birth announcement.


My sister was about to throw out these hatpins, when I realized my mum must have worn these on her wedding day, as they are covered in the fabric of her wedding dress and hat.

Although there are only black and white photographs of my parents' wedding, I remember my mum's wedding dress, which for a long time she kept in her wardrobe. I have no idea what happened to it, but I'm sure that it was long gone when, after my mum died, my dad got rid of all her clothes.


I also kept two pairs of my mum's glasses and her rosary beads, which will find a home in this gorgeous vintage tin.


The same cupboard revealed a tattered carton filled with odds and ends, among which these pocket watches were hiding. They aren't in the best of condition, but will get a place in Jos's small collection.

The small gold toned one is in working order, but is missing its glass cover. It's got a gorgeous porcelain dial.

The one at the bottom, although it's missing one of its hands and its glass is a little scratched, is a "Roskopf", and might be worth having repaired.


I'm guessing the bowler hat which Jos is modelling belonged to my paternal grandfather. It could be the one he is wearing in the photo below, but I'm not sure.

As it is quite exquisitely lined, it could have belonged to my great uncle Joseph, who was married to my grandmother's sister Josephine, as they were quite well off.

The thought of them always makes me smile.  Joseph and Josephine: could there ever have been a better match?

My grandfather (left) with his father-in-law, late 1930s
I brought home two tins of assorted haberdashery, some of which must have belonged to my paternal grandmother.

A satisfying Sunday afternoon was spent sorting through it all, wondering at the items' history and their original purpose, and I've now got every conceivable colour of yarn and enough pins, bias binding and assorted trimmings to last me a lifetime!


“Sometimes you have to travel back in time, skirting the obstacles, in order to love someone.”
― Frances Mayes, Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir

30 opmerkingen:

  1. This is such a meaningful post, filled with all your precious memories. In so many situations 'stuff' doesn't matter, but here all these items are imbued with your personal family history which makes them so special. Look at your tiny baby shoes! They obviously couldn't bear to part with them. That last quote is so poignant. Sometimes I look back at old photos and I see so much in them I wasn't aware of at the time. This whole business of clearing a house can be really bittersweet. Xxx

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    1. I loved writing this post! I also love it that we're not in a rush to finish the house clearing, which gives us time to look at things properly. It's all too easy to throw things out which at first sight don't have much value, but which are nonetheless valuable due to the history attached to them. xxx

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  2. What beautiful things aan what lovely memories a great post

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  3. What a lovely post. My Nan had a load of old pictures and we never really talked about them, now she is gone I wish I knew who the people were and where they were taken.

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    1. Thanks Gisela. I know what you mean. I know quite a bit about my dad's side of the family, but I have boxes full of pictures which came from my mum's side, which I know little about. How I wished I asked my mum at the time ... xxx

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  4. I've started leaving notes on things of sentimental value so they can be told apart from the general vintage in my collection. My son likely won't care if a pair of shoe clips belonged to his grandmother, but at least I'll feel better knowing the information is there if he wants it.

    That's lovely that you found your baby shoes and baptismal certificate-those are meaningful things to have.

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    1. Leaving notes is actually not such a bad idea! We never knew about the baby shoes, and had to guess a little as to which belonged to whom. xxx

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  5. oh my - this baby shoes!! sooo touching...... an the hatpins - they are so little but mean so much! my mother made me a dress out of her weddingdress - pale blue with dainty glitter - for strewing flowers as a toddler at the wedding of a cousin.....
    i too remember this booklets with the "konsummarken" - and the stamp sticking into them on dark winter evenings....
    thankfully my mother moved house very often the last few years - so there will be not much clutter - the romantic stuff from my granny is already here - the treasures were catched by my cousins when granny was in the hospiz and i´m fare away......
    huge hugs to you ann!!! xxxxxx

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    1. I know that my mum had her wedding dress remade at some point, but it's long gone. My mum - unlike me - was not much of a hoarder. I guess my dad kept more stuff for sentimental reasons. I'm glad they decided to keep the baby shoes, though. That was a nice surprise! xxx

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  6. Oh so many memories here. And things are in such good condition! When we cleaned out my Grandad's house, we had SO much to go through, sadly so much of it was ruined and filthy. It was always exciting finding certain things though!x

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    1. When I think about all the stuff we still have to go through, I start hyperventilating ... We're lucky that we can take as much time as we want, though. xxx

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  7. It's such a daunting task, my Dad's been gone just over a year now and I've kind of reached a halt.
    I love the photos of your parents' wedding and that wonderful bowler hat, I bet it is one and the same, I imagine they were very expensive to have more than one. How fabulous that it fits Jos.
    I've found those perfectly preserved baby shoes at the back of the drawer and our baby teeth, too. I've got boxes and boxes of family photos going back to the Victorian era. There's only me and my brother left so there's no-one left to tell me who many of them are. xxx

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    1. I wonder what happened to our baby teeth ... I've also got quite a few boxes of family photographs, especially from my mum's side. There's only my mum's niece left now. As she's in her 80s, I guess I shouldn't wait too long to go and talk to her ... xxx

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  8. It's a bitter-sweet process. Treasure those memories x

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    1. I am actually finding much solace from the whole process, even if it is bitter-sweet indeed. xxx

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  9. Beautiful, poignant post! What lovely things, so glad they are being appreciated.

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    1. Thank you! As a "thrifter" I couldn't throw any of these things away, even without the family connection. xxx

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  10. Lovely post and I'm glad you have these wonderful mementoes.

    There were things of my nans I wish I'd saved, but it was all so stressful and rushed, I got a few bits though, so I have something xxx

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    1. Thanks Melanie. We don't want to rush things, but it's still stressful at times ... xxx

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  11. Aw, that is so sad. Seeing the little shoes made me feel really sniffly. Your parents must both have treasured you so much to have kept them in such lovely condition. I hope the things brought back lots of happy memories.

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    1. I will treasure those shoes forever, and they've already been put away for posterity. We keep finding things we'd forgotten about completely, but which bring back memories, happy as well as sad ones ... xxx

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  12. That was a sad duty but it brought memories of days spent together... I felt a sort of tenderness for a father who has been keeping those small shoes for years...

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    1. We never knew our parents had kept those shoes ... It's something to treasure forever ... xxx

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  13. Aw, what a beautiful trip down memory lane for you, even though its in sad circumstances. I love that your mum kept your little shoes, that's just too cute! And that bowler hat, my word the lining is just stunning. They're all really lovely mementos for you keep. xx

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    1. Thank you Cate. I was quite impressed with that lining too, which made me think it might have belonged to my great uncle instead of my grandfather. We'll never know now ... xxx

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  14. It must be so emotive for you and your sister when you stumble across these treasures at your parents' house, especially finding your baby shoes. I still have my mum's glasses also, I can't bring myself to throw them out, they were so much a part of her. xx

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    1. It is quite the emotional roller coaster ... As for the glasses, I'm thinking of having one of them adapted for me ... xxx

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  15. You did share your shoes! They're so sweet. I'll have to come back and have a proper read, I need a good blog catch-up.

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    1. Thanks Hazel. They're cute, aren't they? I am a little behind with blog reading as well. I try to be up to date, but it's not always easy with a full-time job ... xxx

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